Articles on the subject will be added and a brief description of the uniqueness of each one of the 10 different denominations will presented as we move along. Please remember, we will strive to keep every one on par without throwing negative light on any group. If we fail in that area, please point the mistake and send me the correction, we will appreciate you and credit you with the paragraph, sentence, phrase or the word.
"The division is not based on religion, it is neither in the Qur'aan nor is it in the Hadith. Differences are politically motivated, as to who should have the influence and governance. The differences have been accepted with resistance, a hard pill to swallow. On the other hand over a period of time, followers have created basis to justify it religiously. There is indeed a greater desire in Muslims to be called just Muslims and some day Insha Allah, it will materialize. Personally, most of us do not want any classification and that is the right attitude. But we are bound to use it for a while.
None of the words describe the differences within the Muslim community in its approach to Islam. However, given the deficiency of the language, I have used the word Denomination, as, much of the Christian world uses the word denomination to denote the range of beliefs within the followers of Christ. The other words used are "Sect" in general. In India, even the word "Caste" is used.
The Muslims are making an effort in the last 5 years, to recognize plurality of approaches to Islam, however, in the past century the attitudes were not to recognize members of other groups as fellow Muslims. Even today, Pakistan officially denies the Ahmadiyya denomination the right to call themselves Muslims, it was purely politically motivated for the convenience of the politicians. In India, in smaller towns in the northern belt, there is a caste system among Muslims like the Caste System in the Hindu faith where it is un-common to have marriages between members of different castes. However, religiously there is no restriction in a Muslim marrying a non-Muslim either gender. But over the time, it has become one way, i.e., A Muslim man can marry a woman of other faith, conversion is not required religiously but the practice has been otherwise.
Originally, there were Muslims, and that's all it was, Muslim (pronunciation - Moo-Slim) After the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the difference gave birth to differences in approaches - still it was not based on religion, rather it was the question of political leadership that divided the community.
Thus the ones followed the first leader Caliph Bakr (ra) became the followers of tradition called Sunnah, hence Sunni Muslims and the ones who followed the leader, whom they believe should have been the leader came to be known as Shia, followers of Ali (ra) who was he first person to become a Muslim and is the Son-in-Law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Over a period of time each group developed it's own theological grounding. (A separate Page will be dedicated to understanding the Shia-Sunni differences). The Sunnis developed 4 schools of thought namely: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali. Whereas the Shia developed the Jafaryia and two sub schools of thoughts. The Major one is "Jafaryia" also known as the "Twelvers" and "Seveners" and "Fivers" depending on the Imams each sub group recognizes after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Usually Jafaryia and Twelvers is used to mean Shia.
The division is neither in Qur'aan nor was it in Hadith. The differences have been accepted with resistance, a hard pill to swallow. I believe, understanding the differences will lead to accepting that there are different ways of asking the divine to help and may actually lead us in to Plurality. We have accepted the different schools, and in fact great scholars like Imam Zia Kavakci will explain the differences with utmost respect.
Most commonly accepted estimates are 85% Sunni and 15% Shia and denominations within each other.
THE KNOWN DENOMINATIONS OF ISLAM
- Others (will be added as we find out)
Let's accept our unique differences, but show our civility, integrity and faith in God to bind us and make us better humans. That really is the bottom line. You can pray all you want, but that is for you, Serving mankind is serving God, all else is selfish and we need to develop a good balance between the two.