Islamic schools and branches

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Islamic schools and branches
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{{short description|Islamic schools and branches}}{{more citations needed|date=September 2015}}{{Islam|culture}}{{Islam by country}}This article summarizes the different branches and schools in Islam. The best known split, into Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, and Kharijites, was mainly political at first but eventually acquired theological and jurisprudential dimensions. There are three traditional types of schools in Islam: schools of jurisprudence, Sufi orders and schools of theology. The article also summarizes major denominations and movements that have arisen in the modern era.


{{see also|Succession to Muhammad}}The traditional divisions between the branches of Islam can be traced back to disagreement over who would succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Muslims have been instructed to stay united. Division among Muslims is prohibited.{{where|date=June 2019}}{{cn|date=June 2019}} However, disagreements and difference of opinion among people do occur. A few months prior to his death, Muhammad delivered a sermon at Ghadir Khumm where he announced that Ali ibn Abi Talib would be his successor.BOOK, Majd, Vahid, The Sermon of Prophet Muhammad (saww) at Ghadir Khum, After the sermon, the Muslims pledged allegiance to Ali. Both Shia and Sunni sources agree that Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and Uthman ibn Affan were among the many who pledged allegiance to Ali at this event.WEB, A Shi'ite Encyclopedia,weblink, Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project, 27 February 2018, BOOK, Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Volume 4, 281, BOOK, al-Razi, Fakhr, Tafsir al-Kabir, Volume 12, 49-50, However, just after Muhammad died, a group of Muslims met at Saqifa, where Umar pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, who subsequently assumed political power. The event of Saqifah led to the formation of two groups in the Muslim community. One group followed Muhammad's announcement at Ghadir Khumm and kept their allegiance to Ali; they held that while Ali's right to be the political leader may have been taken, he was still the religious and spiritual leader after Muhammad. The other group followed Abu Bakr on the basis of the gathering at Saqifah.Eventually, after the deaths of Abu Bakr his successors Umar and Uthman, many of the Muslims went to Ali for political leadership. During this time, these two groups crystallized into more distinct identities, with the supporters of Ali becoming known as the Shi'at Ali (the party of Ali) or al-Alawiya and the supporters of Saqifah becoming known as the Shi'at Uthman (the party of Uthman) or al-Uthmaniyya.BOOK, Jafri, S. H. M., The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, 2002, Oxford University Press, BOOK, Ali, Kecia, Leaman, Oliver, Islam: The Key Concepts, 2007, Routledge, Ali's followers, known as the shi'at 'Ali or "partisans of 'Ali" as opposed to the shi'at 'Uthman, During the reign of the Umayyads, the latter group was referred to as the Shi'at Muawiyah and Shi'at Banu Umayyah.BOOK, Nadvi, Moinuddin Ahmad, Tarikh Islam, Volume 1, Lahore, 352, BOOK, Najeebabadi, Akbar Shah, Tarikh Islam, Volume 2, Karachi, 482, BOOK, Rezvani, Emad, The Forces of Change and Resistance in Twentieth Century Iran, 1999, University of California, Berkeley, Their opponents were named "Shi'at Uthman" and later "Shi'at Mu'awiya.", BOOK, Cornell, Vincent J., Voices of Islam, 2007, Greenwood Publishing Group, 191, The struggle between Mu'awiya's partisans (shi'at Mu'awiya) and 'Ali's partisans (shi'at 'Ali) continued., Later, in the third century of Islamic history, the Sunni theologian Al-Ash'ari chose the name Ahl As-Sunna wa al-Jammat for himself and his followers. The name came to be used to refer to the Shi'at Muawiya.BOOK, Mirathi, Muhammad Idrees, Sunnat ka Tashri'i Maqaam, Karachi, 46, In the end of the third century (hijri) Imam Abul Hassan Ash'ari gave up the Mu'tazillah set of beliefs and decided to obliterate them and named his party "Ahl us-Sunnah wal Jamaat", The Shi'at Ali and the Ahl As-Sunna wa al-Jammat are normally referred to as simply "Shias" and "Sunnis," respectively.In addition to these two main branches, many other smaller branches of Islam have formed.


{{further|History of Islam}}The original difference between Sunnis and Shias is over who the true successor to Muhammad is. Shias believe Ali ibn Abi Talib is the true successor to Muhammad, while Sunnis consider Abu Bakr to hold that position. The Khawarij broke away from both the Shias and Sunnis during the First Fitna (the first Islamic Civil War) and subsequently opposed both the Shias and the Sunnis, often violently.In addition, there are several differences within Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. Sunni Islam is separated into four main schools of jurisprudence, namely, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali. These schools are named after Abu Hanifa, Anas bin Malik, al-Shafi'i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, respectively.WEB, Schools of Islamic law and their differences,weblink Untold Islam, Maslaha, 28 November 2018, Shia Islam, on the other hand, is separated into three major sects: Twelvers, Ismailis, and Zaydis. The vast majority of Shias are Twelvers (a 2012 estimate puts the figure as 94% of Shias being Twelvers)BOOK, Guidère, Mathieu, Historical Dictionary of Islamic Fundamentalism,weblink 2012, Scarecrow Press, 978-0-8108-7965-2, 319, to the extent that the term "Shia" frequently refers to Twelvers by default. The Twelver Shias are also notably the only sect of Muslims that complies with the saying of Muhammad that he would have twelve successors, a saying accepted by both Shia and Sunni Muslims. All mainstream Twelver Shia Muslims follow the same school of thought, the Jafari school of thought (named after Jafar as-Sadiq,WEB, Schools of Islamic law and their differences,weblink Untold Islam, Maslaha, 28 November 2018, the sixth Shia Imam). All four founders of the Sunni schools of thought gained knowledge, either directly or indirectly, through Jafar as-Sadiq.{{cn|date=April 2019}}Zaydis, also known as Fivers, follow the Zayidi school of thought (named after Zayd ibn AliWEB, Schools of Islamic law and their differences,weblink Untold Islam, Maslaha, 28 November 2018, ). Isma'ilism is another offshot of Shia Islam that later split into Nizari Ismaili and Musta’li Ismaili, and then Mustaali was divided into Hafizi and Taiyabi Ismailis.Öz, Mustafa, Mezhepler Tarihi ve Terimleri Sözlüğü (The History of madh'habs and its terminology dictionary), Ensar Publications, İstanbul, 2011. Tayyibi Ismailis, also known as "Bohras", are split between Da'udi Bohras, Sulaymani Bohras, and Alavi Bohras.WEB, Branches of Shia Islam: Ismailis, Twelvers, and Bohras,weblink Ismailimail, 28 November 2018, Similarly, Kharijites were initially divided into five major branches: Sufris, Azariqa, Najdat, Adjarites and Ibadis. Of these, Ibadis are the only surviving branch of Kharijites.In addition to the aforementioned groups, new schools of thought and movements like Quranist Muslims, and African American Muslims later emerged independently.The Amman Message summary – Official website

Main traditional branches

Sunni Islam

{{Sunni Islam |width=22.0em|collapse}}Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam and then Shia Muslims, as for Sunnis they are known as Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l-Jamā'h or simply as Ahl as-Sunnah. The word Sunni comes from the word sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic Sahara and the prophet, Muhammad. In many countries, overwhelming majorities of Muslims are Sunnis, so that they simply refer to themselves as "Sunnis" and do not use Muslim as a label.The Sunnis believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, however they approve of the private election of the first companion Abu Baker which is also known as a small group of Muslims referred to pre-Islamic customs to allow Abu Bakr to seize power at Saqifa after Muhammad's death.BOOK, Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher, A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims, 331-335, BOOK, History of the Islamic Caliphate, Lahore, Urdu, In pre-Islamic times, the custom of the Arabs was to elect their chiefs by a majority vote...the same principle was adopted in the election of Abu Bakr., Sunni Muslims regard the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib) as "al-Khulafā'ur-Rāshidūn" or "The Rightly Guided Caliphs." Sunnis also believe that the position of caliph may be attained democratically, on gaining a majority of the votes, but after the Rashidun, the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule because of the divisions started by the Umayyads and others. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, there has never been another caliph as widely recognized in the Muslim world.In recent times, followers of the classical Sunni schools of jurisprudence and kalam (rationalistic theology) on one hand and Salafis, who follow a literalist reading of early Islamic sources, on the other, have laid competing claims to represent orthodox Sunni Islam.BOOK, Jonathan A.C., Brown, 2009, Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, Oneworld Publications (Kindle edition), 180, Anglophone Islamic currents of the former type are sometimes referred to as "traditional Islam".JOURNAL, Kasper Mathiesen, Anglo-American 'Traditional Islam' and Its Discourse of Orthodoxy, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 13, 2013, 191–219,weblink WEB,weblink The Muslim 500, {{Dead link|date=July 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}

Shia Islam

{{Shia Islam |width=22.0em|Branches}} Shia Islam is the second-largest denomination of Islam, comprising 10–20%See
  • WEB,weblink Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population, 2009-10-07, 2013-09-24, Pew Research Center, The Pew Forum's estimate of the Shia population (10–13%) is in keeping with previous estimates, which generally have been in the range of 10–15%. Some previous estimates, however, have placed the number of Shias at nearly 20% of the world's Muslim population.,
  • WEB,weblink Shia, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Shi'a Islam is the second largest branch of the tradition, with up to 200 million followers who comprise around 15% of all Muslims worldwide..., December 5, 2011,
  • WEB,weblink Religions, 2010-08-25, The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, Shia Islam represents 10–20% of Muslims worldwide...,

of the total Muslim population.BOOK,weblink Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population, Miller, Tracy, October 2009, Pew Research Center, PDF, 2009-10-08, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2009-10-10, Although a minority in the Muslim world, Shia Muslims constitute the majority of the Muslim populations in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan as well as significant minorities in Syria, eastern Africa, south Asia, and Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Persian Gulf.WEB,weblink Shi'ite – Islam,
In addition to believing in the authority of the Quran and teachings of Muhammad, Shia believe that Muhammad's family, the Ahl al-Bayt (the "People of the House"), including his descendants known as Imams, have special spiritual and political authority over the communityCorbin (1993), pp. 45–51 and believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs.Tabatabaei (1979), pp. 41–44The Shia Islamic faith is broad and includes many different groups. There are various Shia theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements.

Major sub-denominations

{{See|List of extinct Shia sects}}
  • The Alawites are a distinct religion that developed in the 9th/10th century. Historically, Twelver Shia scholars (such as Shaykh Tusi) did not consider Alawites as Shia Muslims while condemning their heretical beliefs.WEB,weblink The Real Reason Why Iran Backs Syria, Barak, Barfi, Ibn Taymiyyah also pointed out that Alawites were not Shi'ites."The Nusayris are more infidel than Jews or Christians, even more infidel than many polytheists. They have done greater harm to the community of Muhammad than have the warring infidels such as the Franks, the Turks, and others. To ignorant Muslims they pretend to be Shi'is, though in reality they do not believe in God or His prophet or His book ... Whenever possible, they spill the blood of Muslims ... They are always the worst enemies of the Muslims ... war and punishment in accordance with Islamic law against them are among the greatest of pious deeds and the most important obligations." – Ibn Taymiyyah, as quoted by Daniel Pipes (1992). Greater Syria. Oxford University Press. p. 163. {{ISBN|9780195363043}}.
  • The Druze are a distinct traditional religion that developed in the 11th century as an offshoot of Ismailism.

Ghulat movements in history

Muslim groups who either ascribe divine characteristics to some figures of Islamic history (usually a member of Muhammad's family, Ahl al-Bayt) or hold beliefs deemed deviant by mainstream Shi'i theology were called Ghulat.

Kharijite Islam

Kharijite (literally, "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, later on fought against him and eventually succeeded in his martyrdom while he was praying in the mosque of Kufa. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.The major Kharijite sub-sect today is the Ibadi. The sect developed out of the 7th century Islamic sect of the Kharijites. While Ibadi Muslims maintain most of the beliefs of the original Kharijites, they have rejected the more aggressive methods.{{Citation needed|date=May 2009}}A number of Kharijite groups went extinct in the past:

Sufi orders

{{Sufism|Orders}}Sufism is Islam's mystical-ascetic dimension and is represented by schools or orders known as Tasawwufī-Ṭarīqah. It is seen as that aspect of Islamic teaching that deals with the purification of inner self. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use.Trimingham (1998), p. 1The following list contains some notable Sufi orders:
  • The Azeemia order was founded in 1960 by Islamic Saint Syed Muhammad Azeem Barkhiya aka Qalandar Baba Aulia, at Karachi, Pakistan.
  • The Bektashi order was founded in the 13th century by the Islamic saint Haji Bektash Veli, and greatly influenced during its fomulative period by the Hurufi Ali al-'Ala in the 15th century and reorganized by Balım Sultan in the 16th century. Because of its adherence to the Twelve Imams it is classified under Twelver Shia Islam.{{Citation needed|date=May 2011}}
  • The Chishti order () was founded by (Khawaja) Abu Ishaq Shami ("the Syrian"; died 941) who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day Afghanistan. Before returning to the Levant, Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local Emir (Khwaja) Abu Ahmad Abdal (died 966). Under the leadership of Abu Ahmad's descendants, the Chishtiyya as they are also known, flourished as a regional mystical order. The founder of the Chishti Order in South Asia was Moinuddin Chishti.
  • The Kubrawiya order was founded in the 13th century by Najmuddin Kubra in Bukhara in modern-day Uzbekistan.WEB,weblink Saif ed-Din Bokharzi & Bayan-Quli Khan Mausoleums, 15 February 2015,
  • The Mevlevi order is better known in the West as the "whirling dervishes".
  • Mouride is most prominent in Senegal and The Gambia, with headquarters in the holy city of Touba, Senegal."Mourides Celebrate 19 Years in North America" by Ayesha Attah. The African magazine. (n.d.) Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  • The Naqshbandi order was founded in 1380 by Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari. It is considered by some to be a "sober" order known for its silent dhikr (remembrance of God) rather than the vocalized forms of dhikr common in other orders. The Süleymani and Khalidiyya orders are offshoots of the Naqshbandi order.
  • The Ni'matullahi order is the most widespread Sufi order of Persia today. It was founded by Shah Ni'matullah Wali (d. 1367), established and transformed from his inheritance of the Ma'rufiyyah circle.BOOK, Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, The Garden of Truth, 2007, HarperCollins, New York, NY, 978-0-06-162599-2, 195, There are several suborders in existence today, the most known and influential in the West following the lineage of Javad Nurbakhsh, who brought the order to the West following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
  • The Noorbakshia order,WEB,weblink Sufia Noorbakhshia, Sufia Noorbakhshia, 15 February 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-12-18, yes, also called Nurbakshia,BOOK, Ravina, Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control: Performance and Politics on the Disputed,weblink BOOK, Raj, Kumar, Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables : Ancient Medieval And Modern, 2008, 345,weblink claims to trace its direct spiritual lineage and chain (silsilah) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, through Ali, by way of Ali Al-Ridha. This order became known as Nurbakshi after Shah Syed Muhammad Nurbakhsh Qahistani, who was aligned to the Kubrawiya order.
  • The Oveysi (or Uwaiysi) order claims to have been founded 1,400 years ago by Uwais al-Qarni from Yemen.
  • The Qadiri order is one of the oldest Sufi Orders. It derives its name from Abdul-Qadir Gilani (1077–1166), a native of the Iranian province of GÄ«lān. The order is one of the most widespread of the Sufi orders in the Islamic world, and can be found in Central Asia, Turkey, Balkans and much of East and West Africa. The Qadiriyyah have not developed any distinctive doctrines or teachings outside of mainstream Islam. They believe in the fundamental principles of Islam, but interpreted through mystical experience. The Ba'Alawi order is an offshoot of Qadiriyyah.
  • Senussi is a religious-political Sufi order established by Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. As-Senussi founded this movement due to his criticism of the Egyptian ulema.WEB, Metz, Helen Chapin, The Sanusi Order,weblink Libya: A Country Study, GPO for the Library of Congress, 28 February 2011,
  • The Shadhili order was founded by Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili. Followers (murids Arabic: seekers) of the Shadhiliyya are often known as Shadhilis.WEB,weblink Hazrat Sultan Bahu, 22 April 2015, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 27 March 2015, WEB,weblink Home – ZIKR, 22 April 2015,
  • The Suhrawardiyya order () is a Sufi order founded by Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi (1097–1168).
  • The Tijaniyyah order attach a large importance to culture and education, and emphasize the individual adhesion of the disciple (murid).

Schools of jurisprudence

{{Fiqh |width=19.0em}}Islamic schools of jurisprudence, known as madhhabs, differ in the methodology they use to derive their rulings from the Quran and hadith.


In terms of religious jurisprudence (fiqh), Sunnism contains several schools of thought (madhhab) such as: The Ẓāhirī school or al-Ẓāhirīyyah, founded by Dawud al-Zahiri. Some consider it as a fifth madhhab, but some do not.The Salafi movement, a reform branch or revivalist movement.The Wahhabi movement, an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.The Ahl al-Hadith movement. Followers call themselves Ahl-i Hadith or Salafi, while others consider them to be a branch of the Salafi or Wahhabi movement.


The major Shia school of jurisprudence is the Ja'fari or Imāmī school.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Law: Shīʿī Schools of Law, Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009,weblink It is further divided into two branches, the Usuli school, which favors the exercise of ijtihad,ENCYCLOPEDIA, Usulis, John L. Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014,weblink subscription, and the Akhbari school, which holds the traditions (aḵbār) of the Imams to be the main source of religious knowledge.ENCYCLOPEDIA, AḴBĀRĪYA, E. Kohlberg, Encyclopædia Iranica,weblink Minor schools include the Ismāʿīlī school (Mustaʿlī-Fāṭimid Ṭayyibi Ismāʿīlīyah), and the Zaydī school, which have closer affinity to Sunni jurisprudence.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Schools of Jurisprudence, Iza Hussin, Robert Gleave, Bernard Haykel, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014,weblink subscription, BOOK, Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice, Diane Morgan, ABC-CLIO, 2010,weblink 182,


The fiqh or jurisprudence of Ibadis is relatively simple. Absolute authority is given to the Qur'an and hadith; new innovations accepted on the basis of qiyas (analogical reasoning) were rejected as bid'ah (heresy) by the Ibadis. That differs from the majority of SunnisUzi Rabi, The Emergence of States, p. 21. but agrees with most Shi'itesMansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, p. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. and the Zahiri and early Hanbali schools of Sunnism.Camilla Adang, This Day I have Perfected Your Religion For You: A Zahiri Conception of Religious Authority, p. 15. Taken from Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies''. Ed. Gudrun Krämer and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2006. {{ISBN|9789004149496}}Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th–10th Centuries C.E., p. 185. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840–1940: A Sourcebook, p. 281. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Schools of Islamic theology

Aqidah is an Islamic term meaning "creed", doctrine, or article of faith.J. Hell. Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed, Brill. "'Aḳīda", vol. 1, p. 332.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Aqidah, John L. Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014,weblink subscription, There have existed many schools of Islamic theology, not all of which survive to the present day. Major themes of theological controversies in Islam have included predestination and free will, the nature of the Quran, the nature of the divine attributes, apparent and esoteric meaning of scripture, and the role of dialectical reasoning in the Islamic doctrine.{{Muslim Beliefs|all}}


Kalām is the Islamic philosophy of seeking theological principles through dialectic. In Arabic, the word literally means "speech/words". A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallimūn). There are many schools of Kalam, the main ones being the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools in Sunni Islam.


Ash'arism is a school of theology founded in the 10th century by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. The Asharite view was that comprehension of the unique nature and characteristics of God were beyond human capability.


Maturidism is a school of theology founded by Abu Mansur Al Maturidi, which is a close variant of the Ash'ari school. Points which differ are the nature of belief and the place of human reason. The Maturidis state that belief (iman) does not increase nor decrease but remains static; it is piety (taqwa) which increases and decreases. The Ash'aris say that belief does in fact increase and decrease. The Maturidis say that the unaided human mind is able to find out that some of the more major sins such as alcohol or murder are evil without the help of revelation. The Ash'aris say that the unaided human mind is unable to know if something is good or evil, lawful or unlawful, without divine revelation.

Traditionalist theology

Traditionalist theology, sometimes referred to as the Athari school, derives its name from the word "tradition" as a translation of the Arabic word hadith or from the Arabic word athar, meaning "narrations". The traditionalist creed is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. They rely on the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and sayings of the Sahaba, seeing this as the middle path where the attributes of Allah are accepted without questioning their nature (bi la kayf). Ahmad bin Hanbal is regarded as the leader of the traditionalist school of creed. The term athari has been historically synonymous with Salafi. The central aspect of traditionalist theology is its definition of Tawhid, meaning literally unification or asserting the oneness of Allah.BOOK
, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah
, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah
, Tariq al-hijratayn wa-bab al-sa'adatayn
, Dar al-Hadith (1991)
, 1991
, 30
, al-Hanafi
, Imam Ibn Abil-'Izz
, Sharh At Tahawiyya
, 76
, al-Safarayni
, Muhamad bin Ahmad
, Lawami' al-anwar al-Bahiyah
, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah
, 1/128
, Abd al-Wahhab, ibn Abd Allah
, Ibn, Sulayman
, Taysir al-'Aziz al-Hamid fi sharh kitab al-Tawhid
, 'Alam al-Kutub
, 1999
, 17–19


Murji'ah was a name for an early politico-religious movement which came to refer to all those who identified faith (iman) with belief to the exclusion of acts.W. Madelung. Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed, Brill. "Murdji'a", vol. 7, p. 605.


Qadariyyah is an originally derogatory term designating early Islamic theologians who asserted that humans possess free will, whose exercise makes them responsible for their actions, justifying divine punishment and absolving God of responsibility for evil in the world.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Qadariyyah, John L. Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014,weblink subscription, J. van Ess. Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed, Brill. "Ķadariyya", vol.4, p. 368. Some of their doctrines were later adopted by the Mu'tazilis and rejected by the Ash'aris.


Mu'tazili theology originated in the 8th century in al-Basrah when Wasil ibn Ata left the teaching lessons of Hasan al-Basri after a theological dispute. He and his followers expanded on the logic and rationalism of Greek philosophy, seeking to combine them with Islamic doctrines and show that the two were inherently compatible. The Mu'tazili debated philosophical questions such as whether the Qur'an was created or eternal, whether evil was created by God, the issue of predestination versus free will, whether God's attributes in the Qur'an were to be interpreted allegorically or literally, and whether sinning believers would have eternal punishment in hell.


Jahmis were the alleged followers of the early Islamic theologian Jahm bin Safwan who associate himself with Al-Harith ibn Surayj. He was an exponent of extreme determinism according to which a man acts only metaphorically in the same way in which the sun acts or does something when it sets.JOURNAL, W. Montgomery, Watt, P. W., Pestman, The study of the development of the Islamic sects, Acta Orientalia Neerlandica: Proceedings of the Congress of the Dutch Oriental Society Held in Leiden on the Occasion of Its 50th Anniversary, May 1970, 85,weblink


The Batiniyyah is a name given to an allegoristic type of scriptural interpretation developed among some Shia groups, stressing the bāṭin (inward, esoteric) meaning of texts. It has been retained by all branches of Isma'ilism and its Druze offshoot. Alevism, Bektashism and folk religion, Hurufis and Alawites practice a similar system of interpretation.M.G.S. Hodgson. Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed, Brill. "Bāṭiniyya", vol. 1, p. 1098.

Later branches

African-American movements

Many slaves brought from Africa to the Western hemisphere were Muslim. Although it is thought that the Islam of slaves did not survive past 1920,NEWS,weblink Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane A. Diouf. Reviewed by Daniel Pipes, Pipes, Daniel, December 2000, Middle East Quarterly, 2017-06-16, Diouf, Sylviane A., en-US, the early twentieth century saw the rise of distinct Islamic movements within the African-American community, such as the Moorish Science Temple of America and the Nation of Islam. They sought to ascribe Islamic heritage to African-Americans, thereby giving much emphasis on racial aspectsJOURNAL, Herbert, Berg, Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, and the American Society of Muslims, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 2005, 73, 3, 685–703,weblink pdf, 10.1093/jaarel/lfi075, 2016-07-16,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-10-22, yes, (see Black nationalism). These Black Muslim movements often differed greatly in doctrine from mainstream. They included:
  • Moorish Science Temple of America, founded in 1913 by Noble Drew Ali (born Timothy Drew). He claimed it was a sect of Islam but he also drew inspiration from Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Taoism. Its significant divergences from mainstream Islam and strong African-American ethnic characterWEB,weblink The Aging of the Moors, Chicago Reader, 15 February 2015, make its classification as an Islamic denomination a matter of debate among Muslims and scholars of religion.
  • Nation of Islam, founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in Detroit in 1930,Milton C. Sernett (1999). African American religious history: a documentary witness. Duke University Press. pp. 499–501. with a declared aim of "resurrecting" the spiritual, mental, social and economic condition of the black man and woman of America and the world. The group believes Fard Muhammad was God on earth,Elijah Muhammad. History of the Nation of Islam. BooksGuide (2008). pp. 10. a belief viewed as shirk by mainstream Muslims. It does not see Muhammad as the final prophet, but Elijah Muhammad as the "Messenger of Truth" and only allows people of black ethnicity and believes they are the original race on earth.
    • American Society of Muslims: in an attempt to bring the teachings of the Nation of Islam more in line with mainstream Sunni Islam, Warith Deen Mohammed established the American Society of Muslims in 1975. This offshoot wanted to bring its teachings more in line with mainstream Sunni Islam, establishing mosques instead of temples and promoting the Five pillars of Islam.Evolution of a Community, WDM Publications, 1995.Lincoln, C. Eric. (1994) The Black Muslims in America, Third Edition, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) page 265.
    • Five-Percent Nation
    • United Nation of Islam

Ahmadiyya movement

{{Ahmadiyya|collapsed=1}}The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in India in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the promised Messiah ("Second Coming of Christ"), the Mahdi awaited by the Muslims and a "subordinate" prophet to Muhammad whose job was to restore the original Sharia given to Muhammad by guiding or rallying disenchanted Ummah back to Islam and thwart attacks on Islam by its opponents. The followers are divided into two groups, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam, the former believing that Ghulam Ahmad was a non-law bearing prophet and the latter believing that he was only a religious reformer though a prophet in an allegorical sense. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and claim to practice the pristine form of Islam as re-established with the teachings of Ghulam Ahmad.In many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.WEB,weblink Localising Diaspora: the Ahmadi Muslims and the problem of multi-sited ethnography, Association of Social Anthropologists, 2004 conference panel, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2006-08-19,

Gülen / Hizmet movement

The Gülen movement, usually referred to as the Hizmet movement,NEWS,weblink Profile: Fethullah Gulen's Hizmet movement, BBC, 18 December 2013, established in the 1970s as an offshoot of the Nur MovementBOOK, Christopher L. Miller, The Gülen Hizmet Movement: Circumspect Activism in Faith-Based Reform,weblink 3 January 2013, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 978-1-4438-4507-6, 2–, and led by the Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen in Turkey, Central Asia, and in other parts of the world, is active in education, with private schools and universities in over 180 countries as well as with many American charter schools operated by followers. It has initiated forums for interfaith dialogue.WEB,weblink The Turkish exception: Gallipoli, Gülen, and capitalism, 31 August 2013, Australia's ABC, Radio National, 3 September 2013, WEB,weblink Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics, Jenny Barbara, White, 13 August 2017, University of Washington Press, Google Books, The Cemaat movement's structure has been described as a flexible organizational network.Portrait of Fethullah Gülen], A Modern Turkish-Islamic Reformist] Movement schools and businesses organize locally and link themselves into informal networks.WEB,weblink Islam in Kazakhstan, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-02-13, Estimates of the number of schools and educational institutions vary widely; it appears there are about 300 Gülen movement schools in Turkey and over 1,000 schools worldwide.Turkish Islamic preacher – threat or benefactor?WEB,weblink Turkish Schools, 2015-09-29,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-10-06, yes,


{{Islamism sidebar|collapsed=1}}Islamism is a set of political ideologies, derived from various fundamentalist views, which hold that Islam is not only a religion but a political system that should govern the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state. Many Islamists do not refer to themselves as such and it is not a single particular movement. Religious views and ideologies of its adherents vary, and they may be Sunni Islamists or Shia Islamists depending upon their beliefs. Islamist groups include groups such as Al-Qaeda, the organizer of the September 11, 2001 attacks and perhaps the most prominent; and the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and perhaps the oldest. Although violence is often employed by some organizations, most Islamist movements are nonviolent.

Muslim Brotherhood

The Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun (with Ikhwan brethren) or Muslim Brotherhood, is an organisation that was founded by Egyptian scholar Hassan al-Banna, a graduate of Dar al-Ulum. With its various branches, it is the largest Sunni movement in the Arab world, and an affiliate is often the largest opposition party in many Arab nations. The Muslim Brotherhood is not concerned with theological differences, accepting Muslims of any of the four Sunni schools of thought. It is the world's oldest and largest Islamist group. Its aims are to re-establish the Caliphate and in the mean time push for more Islamisation of society. The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and sunnah as the "sole reference point for... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community... and state".{{Citation needed|date=April 2012}}


File:Abul ala maududi.jpg|thumb|Abul Ala Maududi (with alternative spellings of last name Maudoodi), the founder of Jamaat-e-IslamiJamaat-e-IslamiThe Jamaat-e-Islami (or JI) is an Islamist political party in the Indian subcontinent. It was founded in Lahore, British India, by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (with alternative spellings of last name Maudoodi) in 1941 and is the oldest religious party in Pakistan and India. Today, sister organizations with similar objectives and ideological approaches exist in India (Jamaat-e-Islami Hind), Bangladesh (Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh), Kashmir (Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir), and Sri Lanka, and there are "close brotherly relations" with the Islamist movements and missions "working in different continents and countries", particularly those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (Akhwan-al-Muslimeen). The JI envisions an Islamic government in Pakistan and Bangladesh governing by Islamic law. It opposes Westernization—including secularization, capitalism, socialism, or such practices as interest based banking, and favours an Islamic economic order and Caliphate. {{Citation needed|date=April 2012}}

Liberal Muslims

Liberal and progressive movements have in common a religious outlook which depends mainly on Ijtihad or re-interpretations of scriptures. Liberal Muslims at thought have led to the birth of certain small denominations from primarily unaffiliated followers who believe in greater autonomy of the individual in interpretation of scripture, a critical examination of religious texts, gender equality, human rights, LGBT rights and a modern view of culture, tradition, and other ritualistic practices in Islam.{{Citation needed|date=May 2013}}


Zahirism or the Ẓāhirī school, founded by Dawud al-Zahiri is a movement that opposes human authority in legal matters.


Mahdavia, or Mahdavism, is a Mahdiist sect founded in late 15th century India by Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri, who declared himself to be the Hidden Twelfth Imam of the Twelver Shia tradition.{{Harvnb|Balyuzi|1973|pp=71–72}} They follow many aspects of the Sunni doctrine. Zikri Mahdavis, or Zikris, are an offshoot of the Mahdavi movement."Zikris (pronounced 'Zigris' in Baluchi) are estimated to number over 750,000 people. They live mostly in Makran and Las Bela in southern Pakistan, and are followers of a 15th-century mahdi, an Islamic messiah, called Nur Pak ('Pure Light'). Zikri practices and rituals differ from those of orthodox Islam... " Gall, Timothy L. (ed). Worldmark Encyclopedia of Culture & Daily Life: Vol. 3 – Asia & Oceania. Cleveland, OH: Eastword Publications Development (1998); p. 85 cited after

Non-denominational Islam

Non-denominational Muslims is an umbrella term that has been used for and by Muslims who do not belong to or do not self-identify with a specific Islamic denomination.NEWS, Benakis, Theodoros, 13 January 2014, Islamophoobia in Europe!,weblink New Europe (newspaper), New Europe, Brussels, 20 October 2015, Anyone who has travelled to Central Asia knows of the non-denominational Muslims – those who are neither Shiites nor Sounites, but who accept Islam as a religion generally.,weblink" title="">weblink 31 January 2016, yes, dmy-all, NEWS, Longton, Gary Gurr, Isis Jihadist group made me wonder about non-denominational Muslims,weblink 21 October 2015, The Sentinel, 2014, THE appalling and catastrophic pictures of the so-called new extremist Isis Jihadist group made me think about someone who can say I am a Muslim of a non-denominational standpoint, and to my surprise/ignorance, such people exist. Online, I found something called the people's mosque, which makes itself clear that it's 100 per cent non-denominational and most importantly, 100 per cent non-judgmental.,weblink" title="">weblink 26 March 2017, yes, dmy-all, NEWS, Kirkham, Bri, Indiana Blood Center cancels 'Muslims for Life' blood drive,weblink 21 October 2015, 2015, Ball State Student Sadie Sial identifies as a non-denominational Muslim, and her parents belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. She has participated in multiple blood drives through the Indiana Blood Center., yes,weblink" title="">weblink 25 November 2015, BOOK, Pollack, Kenneth, Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy, 2014, 29,weblink Although many Iranian hardliners are Shi'a chauvinists, Khomeini's ideology saw the revolution as pan-Islamist, and therefore embracing Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, and other, more nondenominational Muslims,


Tolu-e-Islam ("Resurgence of Islam") is a non-denominational Muslim organization based in Pakistan, with members throughout the world.WEB,weblink Bazm-e-Tolu-e-Islam, 15 February 2015, The movement was initiated by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez.


Quranism () is an Islamic branch that holds the Qur'an to be the only canonical text in Islam, as opposed to hadith and often sunnah collections. This is in contrast to orthodox Muslims, who consider hadiths essential to the Islamic faith.WEB, The Quranist Path,weblink 14 December 2011, Quranistic movements include Abdullah Chakralawi's Ahle Qur'anWEB,weblink A Look at Hadith Rejecters' Claims, Khalid Baig, 15 February 2015, WEB,weblink, 15 February 2015, and Rashad Khalifa's United Submitters International.WEB,weblink Cmje, 15 February 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-11-28, yes,

Salafism and Wahhabism

Ahl-i Hadith

Ahl-i Hadith is a movement which emerged in the Indian subcontinent in the mid-19th century. Followers call themselves Ahl-i Hadith or Salafi, while others consider them to be a branch of the Salafi or Wahhabi movement.Alex Strick Van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, p. 427. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. {{ISBN|9780199927319}}BOOK, Lieven, Anatol, Anatol Lieven, 2011, Pakistan: A Hard Country, New York, PublicAffairs, 128, 978-1-61039-023-1, "Ahl-e-Hadith ... a branch of the international Salafi ... tradition, heavily influenced by Wahabism.", Rabasa, Angel M. The Muslim World After 9/11 By Angel M. Rabasa, p. 275

Salafi movement

{{Salafi|collapsed=1}}The Salafi movement is an ultra-conservativeBOOK, Naylor, Phillip, North Africa Revised, 15 January 2015, University of Texas Press,weblink 5 December 2015, reformBOOK, Esposito, John, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, 2004, Oxford University Press, 275,weblink 5 December 2015, movement within Sunni Islam that emerged in the second half of the 19th century and advocated a return to the traditions of the "devout ancestors" (the salaf). The doctrine can be summed up as taking "a fundamentalist approach to Islam, emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers—al-salaf al-salih, the 'pious forefathers'....They reject religious innovation, or bid'ah, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law)." The movement is often divided into three categories: the largest group are the purists (or quietists), who avoid politics; the second largest group are the activists, who get involved in politics; the smallest group are the jihadists, who form a small (yet infamous) minority.NEWS, Salafism: Politics and the puritanical,weblink 29 June 2015, The Economist, 27 June 2015, Most of the violent Islamist groups come from the Salafi movement and their subgroups. In recent years, the Salafi doctrine has often been correlated with the jihad of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and those groups in favor of killing innocent civilians.BOOK, Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks,weblink 21 September 2011, University of Pennsylvania Press, 0-8122-0679-7, 61–,

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