Sunni Islam: Difference between revisions

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{{Sunni Islam}}
'''Sunni Islam''' is the [[Demographics of Islam|largest]] [[Divisions of Islam|denomination]] of [[Islam]]. '''Sunni Islam''' is also referred to as '''Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘ah''' ({{lang-ar|أهل السنة والجماعة}} "people of the example (of Muhammad) and the community") or '''Ahl as-Sunnah''' ({{lang-ar|أهل السنة}}) for short. The word Sunni comes from the word ''[[Sunnah]]'' ({{lang-ar|سنة}}), which means the words and actions<ref>[ Sunna - Definitions from<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref> or example of the Islamic [[Prophets of Islam|prophet]] [[Muhammad]].
== Sunni schools of law (''Madhhab'')==
Islamic law is known as the ''[[Sharia|Sharī‘ah]].'' The Sharī‘ah is based on the ''[[Qur'an]]'' and the ''[[Sunnah]],'' and those who respective founders are:
*[[Hanafi]] School (founded by [[Abu Hanifa]])
''Abu Hanifa'' (d. 767), was the founder of the Hanafi school. He was born circa 702 in [[Kufa]], [[Iraq]].<ref>Josef W. Meri, ''Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia'', 1 edition, (Routledge: 2005), p.5</ref><ref>Hisham M. Ramadan, ''Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary'', (AltaMira Press: 2006), p.26</ref> Muslims of [[Bangladesh]], [[Pakistan]], [[India]], [[Afghanistan]], [[Central Asia]], Muslim areas [[Southern Russia]], [[The Caucasus]], parts of [[The Balkans]],[[Iraq]] and [[Turkey]] follow this school.
*[[Maliki]] School (founded by [[Malik ibn Anas]])
''Malik ibn Anas''(d. 795) developed his ideas in [[Medina]], where he knew some of the last surviving companions of the Prophet or their immediate descendents. His doctrine is recorded in the [[Muwatta]] which has been adopted by most Muslims of Africa except in Lower Egypt, Zanzibar and South Africa.
The [[Maliki]] legal school is the branch of ''Sunni'' that dominates most of the Muslim areas of Africa, except Egypt and the [[Horn of Africa]].
*[[Shafi'i]] School (founded by [[Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i]])
''Al-Shafi‘i'' (d. 820) He taught in Iraq and then in [[Egypt]]. Muslims in [[Indonesia]], [[Lower Egypt]], [[Malaysia]], [[Singapore]], [[Somalia]], [[Jordan]], [[Lebanon]], [[Syria]], [[Kerala, India]], [[Palestine]], [[Yemen]] and [[Kurds]] in the [[Kurdistan|Kurdish regions]] follow this school. Al-Shafi'i placed great emphasis on the Sunnah of the Prophet, as embodied in the [[Hadith]], as a source of the Shari'ah.
*[[Hanbali]] School (founded by [[Ahmad bin Hanbal]])
''Ahmad ibn Hanbal'' (d. 855) was born in [[Baghdad]]. He learned extensively from al-Shafi'i. Despite [[Mihna|persecution]], he held to the doctrine that the [[Qur'an]] was uncreated. This school of law is followed primarily in the [[Arabian Peninsula]].
These four schools are somewhat different from each other, but Sunni Muslims consider them all equally valid.
There are other Sunni schools of law. However, many are followed by only small numbers of people and are relatively unknown due to the popularity of the four major schools; also, many have died out or were not sufficiently recorded by their followers to survive.
Interpreting the ''Shari'ah'' to derive specific rulings (such as how to pray) is known as ''[[fiqh]],'' which literally means understanding. A ''[[madhhab]]'' is a particular tradition of interpreting ''fiqh.'' These schools focus on specific evidence (Shafi'i and Hanbali) or general principles (Hanafi and Maliki) derived from specific evidences. The schools were started by eminent [[Imam|Muslim scholars]] in the first four centuries of Islam. As these schools represent clearly spelled out methodologies for interpreting the ''Shari'aa,'' there has been little change in the methodology per se. However, as the social and economic environment changes, new ''fiqh'' rulings are being made. For example, when [[tobacco]] appeared it was declared as 'disliked' because of its smell. When medical information showed that [[tobacco smoking|smoking]] was dangerous, that ruling was changed to 'forbidden'.{{Fact|date=May 2008}} Current ''fiqh'' issues include things like [[download]]ing pirated [[software]] and [[cloning]]. The consensus is that the ''Shari'ah'' does not change but ''fiqh'' rulings change all the time.
A ''madhhab'' is not to be confused with a religious [[sect]]. There may be scholars representing all four ''madhhabs'' living in larger Muslim communities, and it is up to those who consult them to decide which school they prefer.
Many Sunnis advocate that a Muslim should choose a single ''madhhab'' and follow it in all matters. However, rulings from another ''madhhab'' are considered acceptable as [[dispensation]]s (''rukhsa'') in exceptional circumstances. Some Sunnis, however, do not follow any ''madhhab,''. Indeed, some [[Salafi]]s reject strict adherence to any particular school of thought, preferring to use the ''[[Qur'an]]'' and the ''[[Sunnah]]'' alone as the primary sources of Islamic law.
Allah says in the Quran, Obey Allah and obey the messenger. Hence, according to Sunni Islam Quran and the authentic teachings of Muhammad (the last and final Messenger of Allah, previously Moses, Jesus, David, Solomon, Noah etc) supersede all schools of thoughts.
==Sunni theological traditions==
Some Islamic scholars faced questions that they felt were not specifically answered in the ''Qur'an'', especially questions with regard to philosophical conundra like the [[nature of God]], the existence of human [[free will]], or the eternal existence of the ''Qur'an.'' Various schools of [[theology]] and [[philosophy]] developed to answer these questions, each claiming to be true to the ''Qur'an'' and the Muslim tradition (''sunnah''). Among Sunnites, the following were the dominant traditions:
* [[Ash'ari]], founded by [[Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari]] (873–935). This theology was embraced by Muslim scholars such as [[al-Ghazali]].
** Ash'ariyyah theology stresses [[divine revelation]] over human reason. [[Ethics]], they say, cannot be derived from human reason: God's commands, as revealed in the ''Qur'an'' and the practice of Muhammad and his companions (the ''sunnah,'' as recorded in the traditions, or ''[[hadith]]''), are the source of all morality.
** Regarding the nature of God and the divine attributes, the Ash'ari rejected the [[Mu'tazili]]te position that all Qur'anic references to God as having physical attributes (that is, a body) were metaphorical.<ref>{{cite web | url= |title = Ash'ariyyah Theology, Ashariyyah | author = Bülent Þenay | work=''BELIEVE Religious Information Source'' | accessdate=2006-04-01}}</ref> Ash'aris insisted that these attributes were "true", since the ''Qur'an'' could not be in error, but that they were not to be understood as implying a crude [[anthropomorphism]].
** Ash'aris tend to stress divine [[omnipotence]] over human free will. They believe that the ''Qur'an'' is eternal and uncreated.
* [[Maturidiyyah]], founded by [[Abu Mansur al-Maturidi]] (d. 944). Maturidiyyah was a minority tradition until it was accepted by the [[Turkish people|Turkish]] tribes of [[Central Asia]] (previously they had been Ashari and followers of the [[Shafi]] school,{{Fact|date=March 2008}} it was only later on migration into [[Anatolia]] that they became [[Hanafi]] and followers of the Maturidi creed{{Fact|date=March 2008}}). One of the tribes, the [[Seljuk Turks]], migrated to [[Turkey]], where later the [[Ottoman Empire]] was established.<ref>{{cite web | url= |title=Maturidiyyah |work= ''Philtar'' | accessdate= 2006-04-01}}</ref> Their preferred school of law achieved a new prominence throughout their whole empire although it continued to be followed almost exclusively by followers of the [[Hanafi]] school while followers of the [[Shafi]], [[Maliki]], and [[Hanbali]] schools within the empire followed the Ashari school. Thus, wherever can be found [[Hanafi]] followers, there can be found the Maturidi creed.
** Maturidiyyah argue that knowledge of God's existence can be derived through reason.
* [[Athariyyah]] (meaning Textualist) or [[Hanbali]]. No specific founder, but Imam [[Ahmad ibn Hanbal]] played a key historic role in keeping this school alive.
** This school differs with the Ash'ariyyah in understanding the names and attributes of God, but rather affirms all of God's names and attributes as they are found in the ''Qur'an'' and ''Sunnah'' (prophetic traditions), with the disclaimer that the "how" of the attribute is not known. They say that God is as He described Himself "in a way befitting of His majesty." Thus, regarding verses where God is described as having a ''yad'' (hand) or ''wajh'' (face), the textualists say that God is exactly as He described himself in a way befitting of His majesty, without inquiring as to the "how" of these attributes.
** The Athariyyah still believe that God does not resemble His creation in any way, as this is also found in the texts. Thus, in the Athari creed, it is still prohibited to imagine an image of God in any way. The Athariyyah say that the ''yad"'' (hand) of God is "unlike any other yad" (since God does not resemble His creation in any way) and prohibit imagining what God would be like, even though this attribute of a ''yad'' is still affirmed.
** This is the view of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal who said: "The hadiths (regarding the attributes of [[Allah]]) should be left as they are... We affirm them, and we do not make any similitude for them. This is what has been agreed upon by the scholars."<ref>Reported by [[ibn al-Jawzi]] in '''Manaaqib Imam Ahmad''', pg. 155-156.</ref>
==Sunni view of hadith==
The ''Qur'an'' as we have it today was compiled by Muhammad's companions ([[sahabah|Sahaba]]) in approximately 650, and is accepted by all Muslim denominations. However, there were many matters of belief and daily life that were not directly prescribed in the Qur'an, but were actions that were observed by the prophet and the community. Later generations sought out [[oral tradition]]s regarding the early history of Islam, and the practice of Muhammad and his first followers, and wrote them down so that they might be preserved. These recorded oral traditions are called ''[[hadith]]''. Muslim scholars sifted through the ''hadith'' and evaluated the chain of narration of each tradition, scrutinizing the trustworthiness of the narrators and judging the strength of each ''hadith'' accordingly. Most Sunni accept the ''hadith'' collections of [[Bukhari]] and [[Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj|Muslim]] as the most authentic (''[[sahih]],'' or correct), and grant a lesser status to the collections of other recorders. There are, however, four other collections of ''hadith'' that are also held in particular reverence by Sunni Muslims, making a total of six:
*[[Sahih Bukhari|Sahih al-Bukhari]]
*[[Sahih Muslim]]
*[[Sunan an-Nasa'ii]]
*[[Sunan Abu Dawud]]
*[[Sunan al-Tirmidhi|Sunan at-Tirmidhi]]
*[[Sunan Ibn Maja|Sunan ibn Majah]]
There are also other collections of ''hadith'' which, although less well-known, are still thought to contain many authentic ''hadith'' and are frequently used by specialists. Examples of these collections include:
*[[Muwatta]] of [[Imam Malik]]
*[[Musnad]] of [[Ahmad ibn Hanbal]]
*Sahih Ibn Khuzaima
*Sahih Ibn Hibban
*[[Mustadrak al-Hakim|Mustadrak]] of [[Hakim al-Nishaburi|Al Haakim]]
*[[Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq]]
== Demographics ==
[[Image:MuslimDistribution2.jpg|thumb|left|Distribution of Sunni and Shia populations]]
{{main|Demographics of Islam}}
There are many challenges to demographers attempting to calculate the proportion of the world's Muslim population who adhere to Sunni and Shi'a Islam. Using various sources, estimates of the proportion of Muslims adhering to Shi'a Islam range anywhere from 15% to 20% worldwide depending on the sources.
== References ==
== See also ==
*[[Shi'a-Sunni relations]]
== External links ==
* [ The belief of Ahl as-Sunnat]
* [ Islamic Law Infobase]
* [ University of Southern California, Compendium of Muslim Texts]
* [ Fiqh al-Akbar by Imam Abu Hanifah]
* [ Muwatta by Imam Malik]
* [ Searchable Ar-Risala by Imam Shafi'i ]
* [ Foundations of the Sunnah, by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal]
* [ Source Methodology in Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh), by Taha Jabir Al 'Alwani]
* []
{{Islam topics|state=collapsed}}
[[Category:Sunni Islam| ]]
[[ar:أهل السنة والجماعة]]
[[bs:Sunitski islam]]
[[cs:Sunnitský islám]]
[[dv:ސުއްނީ މުސްލިމުން]]
[[he:אסלאם סוני]]
[[lv:Sunnītu islāms]]
[[ms:Ahli Sunah Waljamaah]]
[[simple:Sunni Islam]]
[[sk:Sunnitský islam]]
[[tl:Sunni Islam]]
[[ta:சுணி இசுலாம்]]
[[tr:Ehl-i Sünnet]]
[[ur:اہل سنت]]

Revision as of 18:35, 11 March 2009