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Main articles: "Iman (concept) and "Islamic theology

All the branches of Sunni Islam testify to six principal articles of faith known as the six pillars of iman (Arabic for "faith"),[29] which are believed to be essential for salvation. These are:

These six articles are what all present-day Sunnis agree on, from those who adhere to traditional Sunnism to those who adhere to latter-day movements. Additionally, classical Sunni Islam also outlined numerous other cardinal doctrines from the eighth-century onwards in the form of organized "creeds such as the "Creed of Tahawi, in order to codify what constituted "Sunni orthodoxy."["citation needed] While none of these creeds gained the importance attributed to the "Nicene Creed in "Christianity, primarily because "ecumenical councils never happened in Islam, the beliefs outlined in these creeds became the "orthodox" doctrine by "ijma, or binding consensus.["citation needed] But while most of the tenets outlined in the classical creeds are accepted by all Sunnis, some of these doctrines have been rejected by the aforementioned movements as lacking strictly scriptural precedent. Traditionally, these other important Sunni articles of faith have included the following (those that are controversial today because of their rejection by such groups shall be denoted by an asterisk):["citation needed]

Theological traditions[edit]

Some Islamic scholars faced questions that they felt were not explicitly answered in the Quran and the Sunnah, especially questions with regard to philosophical conundra such as the "nature of God, the existence of human "free will, or the eternal existence of the Quran. Various schools of "theology and "philosophy developed to answer these questions, each claiming to be true to the Quran and the Muslim tradition (sunnah). Among Sunni Muslims, various schools of thought in theology began to be born out of the sciences of kalam in opposition to the textualists who stood by affirming texts without delving into philosophical speculation as they saw it as an innovation in Islam. The following were the three dominant schools of theology that grew. All three of these are accepted by Muslims around the globe, and are considered within "Islamic orthodoxy". The key beliefs of classical Sunni Islam are all agreed upon (being the six pillars of Iman) and codified in the treatise on "Aqeedah by Imam "Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi in his "Aqeedat Tahawiyyah.



Founded by "Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (873–935). This theological school of Aqeedah was embraced by many Muslim scholars and developed in parts of the Islamic world throughout history; the Imam "al-Ghazali wrote on the creed discussing it and agreeing upon some of its principles.[45]

Ash'ari theology stresses "divine revelation over human reason. Contrary to the Mu'tazilites, they say that "ethics cannot be derived from human reason, but that God's commands, as revealed in the Quran and the Sunnah (the practices of Muhammad and his companions as recorded in the traditions, or "hadith), are the sole source of all morality and ethics.

Regarding the nature of God and the divine attributes, the Ash'ari rejected the "Mu'tazili position that all Quranic references to God as having real attributes were metaphorical. The Ash'aris insisted that these attributes were as they "best befit His Majesty". The Arabic language is a wide language in which one word can have 15 different meanings, so the Ash'aris endeavor to find the meaning that best befits God and is not contradicted by the Quran. Therefore, when God states in the Quran, "He who does not resemble any of His creation," this clearly means that God cannot be attributed with body parts because He created body parts. Ash'aris tend to stress divine "omnipotence over human free will and they believe that the Quran is eternal and uncreated.



Founded by "Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (died 944). Maturidiyyah was a minority tradition until it was accepted by the "Turkish tribes of "Central Asia (previously they had been Ash'ari and followers of the "Shafi'i school,["citation needed] it was only later on migration into "Anatolia that they became "Hanafi and followers of the Maturidi creed.["citation needed]) One of the tribes, the "Seljuk Turks, migrated to "Turkey, where later the "Ottoman Empire was established.[46] 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 and "Maliki schools within the empire followed the Ash'ari and Athari schools of thought. Thus, wherever can be found "Hanafi followers, there can be found the "Maturidi creed.["discuss]["citation needed]


Traditionalist Theology (Islam)

Traditionalist theology is a movement of "Islamic scholars who reject rationalistic Islamic theology ("kalam) in favor of strict textualism in interpreting the "Quran and "sunnah.[47] The name derives from "tradition" in its technical sense as translation of the Arabic word "hadith. It is also sometimes referred to by "several other names.

Adherents of traditionalist theology believe that the "zahir (literal, apparent) meaning of the Qur'an and the "hadith have sole authority in matters of belief and law; and that the use of rational disputation is forbidden even if it verifies the truth.[48] They engage in a literal reading of the Qur'an, as opposed to one engaged in "ta'wil (metaphorical interpretation). They do not attempt to conceptualize the meanings of the Qur'an rationally, and believe that their realities should be consigned to God alone ("tafwid).[49] In essence, the text of the Qur'an and Hadith is accepted without asking "how" or ""Bi-la kaifa".

Traditionalist theology emerged among scholars of hadith who eventually coalesced into a movement called "ahl al-hadith under the leadership of "Ahmad ibn Hanbal.[50] In matters of faith, they were pitted against "Mu'tazilites and other theological currents, condemning many points of their doctrine as well as the rationalistic methods they used in defending them.[50] In the tenth century "al-Ash'ari and "al-Maturidi found a middle ground between Mu'tazilite rationalism and "Hanbalite literalism, using the rationalistic methods championed by Mu'tazilites to defend most tenets of the traditionalist doctrine.[51][52] Although the mainly Hanbali scholars who rejected this synthesis were in the minority, their emotive, narrative-based approach to faith remained influential among the urban masses in some areas, particularly in "Abbasid "Baghdad.[53]

While "Ash'arism and "Maturidism are often called the Sunni "orthodoxy", traditionalist theology has thrived alongside it, laying rival claims to be the orthodox Sunni faith.[54] In the modern era it has had a disproportionate impact on Islamic theology, having been appropriated by "Wahhabi and other traditionalist "Salafi currents and spread well beyond the confines of the Hanbali school of law.[55]

Sunni view of hadith[edit]

The Quran as it exists today in book form was compiled by Muhammad's companions ("Sahabah) within a handful of months of his death, and is accepted by all sects of Islam. However, there were many matters of belief and daily life that were not directly prescribed in the Quran, but were actions that were observed by Muhammad and the early Muslim community. Later generations sought out "oral traditions regarding the early history of Islam, and the practices 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 have through the ages sifted through the hadith and evaluated the chain of narrations of each tradition, scrutinizing the trustworthiness of the narrators and judging the strength of each hadith accordingly.

Kutub al-Sittah[edit]

Kutub al-Sittah are six books containing collections of hadiths. Sunni Muslims accept the hadith collections of "Bukhari and "Muslim as the most authentic ("sahih, or correct), and while accepting all hadiths verified as authentic, grant a slightly 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:

There are also other collections of hadith which also contain many authentic hadith and are frequently used by scholars and specialists. Examples of these collections include:


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  3. ^ Harney, John (January 3, 2016). "How Do Sunni and Shia Islam Differ?". "New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
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  13. ^ Hughes, Aaron. Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam. p. 116. Each of these sectarian movements... used the other to define itself more clearly and in the process to articulate its doctrinal contents and rituals. 
  14. ^ Tore Kjeilen. "Lexic". Lexic Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  15. ^ Minahan, James (2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations. p. 547. 
  16. ^ Source for distribution is the CIA World Factbook, Shiite/Sunnite distribution collected from other sources. Shiites may be underrepresented in some countries where they do not appear in official statistics.
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  22. ^ Meinhaj Hussain, A New Medina, The Legal System, Grande Strategy, January 5th, 2012
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  29. ^ "Sunni Islam Afterlife and Salvation". 
  30. ^ Al-Ṭaḥāwī, Al-ʿAqīdah aṭ-Ṭaḥāwiyya LXVI
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  36. ^ Al-Ṭaḥāwī, Al-ʿAqīdah aṭ-Ṭaḥāwiyya XLI
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  47. ^ Halverson, Jeffry R. (2010). Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood, Ash'arism, and Political Sunnism. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 36. "ISBN "9781137473578. The Atharis can thus be described as a school or movement led by a contingent of scholars (ulama), typically "Hanbalite or even "Shafi'ite, which retained influence, or at the very least a shared sentiment and conception of piety, well beyond the limited range of Hanbalite communities. This body of scholars continued to reject theology in favor of strict textualism well after Ash'arism had infiltrated the Sunni schools of law. It is for these reasons that we must delineate the existence of a distinctly traditionalist, anti-theological movement, which defies strict identtification with any particular madhhab, and therefore cannot be described as Hanbalite. 
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  54. ^ Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oneworld Publications (Kindle edition). p. 180. The Ash‘ari school of theology is often called the Sunni 'orthodoxy.' But the original ahl al-hadith, early Sunni creed from which Ash‘arism evolved has continued to thrive alongside it as a rival Sunni 'orthodoxy' as well. 
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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