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What do you know about Sunni Islam?

Sunni Islam (/ˈsuːni, ˈsʊni/) is the largest branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word Sunnah, referring to the tradition of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims arose from a disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and subsequently acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions. According to Sunni traditions, Muhammad left no successor and the participants of the Saqifah event appointed Abu Bakr as the next-in-line (the first caliph). This contrasts with the Shia view, which holds that Muhammad appointed his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor.

The calligraphic representation of religious Sunni Islamic figures, such as Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, along with Allah (God).
The adherents of Sunni Islam are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah ("the people of the Sunnah and the community") or ahl as-Sunnah for short. In English, its doctrines and practices are sometimes called Sunnism, while adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, Sunnites and Ahlus Sunnah. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as "orthodox Islam", though some scholars view this translation as inappropriate.

The Quran, together with hadith (especially those collected in Kutub al-Sittah) and binding juristic consensus, form the basis of all traditional jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. Sharia rulings are derived from these basic sources, in conjunction with analogical reasoning, consideration of public welfare and juristic discretion, using the principles of jurisprudence developed by the traditional legal schools. In matters of creed, the Sunni tradition upholds the six pillars of imān (faith) and comprises the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools of Kalam (theology) as well as the textualist school known as traditionalist theology.

There is broad agreement that the Sufis are also part of Sunnism. This view can already be found in the Shafi'ite scholar Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi (d. 1037). In his heresiographical work al-Farq baina l-firaq he divided the Sunnis into eight different categories ( aṣnāf ) of people: 1. the theologians and Kalam Scholars, 2. the Fiqh scholars, 3. the traditional and Hadith scholars, 4. the Adab and language scholars, 5. the Koran – Scholars, 6. the Sufi ascetics ( az-zuhhād aṣ-ṣūfīya ), 7. those who perform the ribat and jihad against the enemies of Islam, 8. the general crowd. According to this classification, the Sufis are one of a total of eight groups within Sunnism, defined according to their religious specialization.

The Tunisian scholar Muhammad ibn al-Qāsim al-Bakkī (d. 1510) also included the Sufis in Sunnism. He divided the Sunnis into the following three groups according to their knowledge ( istiqrāʾ ):

the people of Hadith ( ahl al-ḥadīṯh ): Their principles are based on the hearing-based evidence, namely the Book (Qur'an), the Sunnah and the Ijmāʿ (consensus).
The people of theory and the intellectual trade ( ahl an-naẓar wa-ṣ-ṣināʿa al-fikrīya ): They include the Ashʿarites and the Hanafis, the latter of whom consider Abū Mansūr al-Māturīdī as their master. They agree in the rational principles on all questions where there is no hearing-based evidence, in the hearing-based principles in everything that reason conceives as possible, and in the rational as well as the hearing-based principles in all other questions. They also agree on all dogmatic questions, except for the question of creation ( takwīn ) and the question of Taqlīd.
the people of feeling and revelation ( ahl al-wiǧdān wa-l-kašf ): These are the Sufis. Its principles correspond in the initial stage to the principles of the other two groups, but in the final stage they rely on revelation (kašf) and inspiration (ilhām).
Similarly, Murtadā az-Zabīdī stated elsewhere in his commentary on Ghazzali's Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm ad-dīn that the Sunnis consisted of four groups (firaq), namely the hadith scholars (muḥaddiṯhūn), the Sufis, the Ashʿarites and the Māturīdites.

Some ulema wanted to exclude the Sufis from Sunnism. The Yemeni scholar ʿAbbās ibn Mansūr as-Saksakī (d. 1284) explained in his doxographic work al-Burhān fī maʿrifat ʿaqāʾid ahl al-adyān ("The evidence of knowledge of the beliefs of followers of different religions") about the Sufis: "They associate themselves with the Sunnis, but they do not belong to them, because they contradict them in their beliefs, actions and teachings." That is what distinguishes the Sufis from Sunnis according to as-Saksakī their orientation to the hidden inner meaning of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. In this, he said, they resemble the Bātinites. According to the final document of the Grozny Conference, only those Sufis are to be regarded as Sunnis who are "people of pure Sufism" ( ahl at-taṣauwuf aṣ-ṣāfī ) in the knowledge, ethics and purification of the interior, according to Method as practiced by al-Junaid Al- Baghdadi and the "Imams of Guidance" ( aʾimma al-hudā ) who followed his path.

In the eleventh-century, Sufism, which had previously been a less "codified" trend in Islamic piety, began to be "ordered and crystallized" into Tariqahs (orders) which have continued until the present day. All these orders were founded by a major Sunni Islamic saint, and some of the largest and most widespread included the Qadiriyya (after Abdul-Qadir Gilani [d. 1166]), the Rifa'iyya (after Ahmed al-Rifa'i [d. 1182]), the Chishtiyya (after Moinuddin Chishti [d. 1236]), the Shadiliyya (after Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili [d. 1258]), and the Naqshbandiyya (after Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari [d. 1389]). Contrary to popular Orientalist depictions, neither the founders of these orders nor their followers considered themselves to be anything other than orthodox Sunni Muslims, Many of the most eminent defenders of Islamic orthodoxy, such as 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani, Al-Ghazali, Sultan Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Al-Ayyubi (Saladin) were connected with Sufism." The Salafi and Wahhabi strands of Sunnism do not accept many mystical practices associated with the contemporary Sufi orders.

My parents are very much Sunni Muslims, as most of my family are, although I have become a little more secular, and I have been going to Orthodox Christian church from living in Kyiv, and having so many Christian friends.

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