Sunnism (Arabic: أهل السنة والجماعة, 'ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah' or abbreviated: أهل السنة, 'ahl as-sunnah') is the movement within Islam with the most adherents and the largest distribution area. Sunnism is divided into several madhahib (schools of law), which coexist without significant mutual conflict.
The name Sunnism is derived from the Arabic word sunna which means 'tradition' (of the prophet Muhammad). The full name of Sunnism is ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah (the followers of tradition and the community), often abbreviated as ahl as-sunnah (the people of tradition).
Sunni Muslims follow the tradition based on the life of Islam's last prophet, Muhammad. The Hadith, a collection of traditions of the speech, action and approvals of Muhammad, has great authority for Sunnis in addition to the holy book of the Muslims, the Qur'an. Also the assent of the sahaba, the early Muslims, called 'ijma-as-Sahaba' on certain specific matters, and the 'qiyaas', analogy, with these and other occurrences are sources within the Sunni branch of Islam.
Sunnism, like Shiism, arose from the struggle for the rightful succession to Muhammad, which began after his death in AD 632. The Sunnis assume that Muhammad did not designate a successor during his lifetime, nor did he indicate how a successor would be chosen. had to be determined. The struggle was between followers of Muhammad's nephew and son-in-law Ali and those of the caliphs. The Sunnis are followers of the latter. The first caliph was Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr.
After the first four elected caliphs, the great schism within Islam was a fact and the caliphate fell into the hands of successive Sunni dynasties, the Umayyads and the Abbassids. Their influence extended within a few generations via wars of conquest from Spain (the Pyrenees) to the Punjab in eastern India.
Sunnism has been criticized a lot from followers of other Islamic denominations and from outside for being too much influenced by the Umayyads in its practice, choice of hadith and teachings.
Sunnis and Shias
Sunni theology differs in certain respects from that of the Shia. The main difference is in the succession of leadership after the prophet Muhammad. The Sunnis believe that the Prophet did not appoint anyone. However, the Shiites believe that the Prophet was very clear who should be the leader of the Muslims after his death, Ali ibn Abu Talib (nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet).
About 90% of all Muslims, including those living in the West, are Sunni. The other schools of thought are Shiism, professed in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, etc. and Ibadism, professed in Oman. The Ummah is the worldwide Islamic community.
The Sunnah as recorded in the 6 Hadith collections is interpreted by jurists of 4 Sunni madhabs, schools of jurisprudence: Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i, and besides the Qur'an as the primary source for the rules of Islamic law, the Sharia, which covers practically every aspect of life, from personal hygiene to macroeconomics.
International Sunni Conference in Grozny