This is one topic I have touched on at a few different points in this series. (If you’re coming from a non-Muslim background, we’ll have a series of articles on this, too.)
A quick introduction to Islamic theology might help. Islam has a number of different sources of knowledge, all of which are called “Quran” from a “Quranic verse.” There are four major types of Islam:
The Sunni, or orthodox, school of Islam considers the Quran to be true. While there have been some Muslim apologists, apologeticists, and “reformed” or “new” Muslims, this is still considered the official doctrine of the Islamic faith. (See the following article for further insights.) The Shia, or non-Sunni, school of Islam considers only “Quran” to be divinely inspired, and thus non-Muslim scholars cannot be “reformed.” The “other” school of Islam called Sufism is not considered a “true” religion and is not accepted as the official doctrine of Islam.
This list is not exhaustive! There have been imams and scholars from different types of Islam. Each one has specific views on how to interpret the Quran and which parts of the Quran to accept. Some groups accept the book with no modifications whatsoever and many others are more forgiving depending on their own personal experience. This is a short overview of some major differences and similarities from Sunni/Shia.
Sunni vs Shia (the main differences)
Most of the time, when we see Muslims we immediately think of Sunni/Shia and the main differences concern the place in Sunni/Shia scripture. To start off, lets find out which of these is what.
1. In the Islamic tradition, the Sunnah is the prophet’s sayings and actions.
In other words, the Quran is the sunnah, the Prophet is the sunnah, and his actions are the sunnah. This is very important when it comes to interpreting the Quran.
Sunni scholars generally accept the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Mohammad’s life as being true in an Islamic context, even if they don’t agree with the statements in the Quran as the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Mohammad. The most famous case where it is accepted that the Quran is true is the Hadith. Many non-Muslims know that the Hadith is a collection of hadiths from the Holy Prophet and the companions. One has to assume
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