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SUNNIS

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The word sunni literally means one who is a traditionist. They are called the "people of custom and community" (ahl al-sunnah wa'l-jama'a). The Sunnis number majority of the total Muslim population of the world, in which the Hanafis being the largest. They recognized the first four caliphs and accept the legitimacy of the Umayyad and the Abbasid caliphates. The Sunni emphasized the teaching of the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet along with the collective judgment of the Companions as authoritative source of Islamic legislation. The Sunnis stand fast by both the letter and the spirit of the law emanating from these three sources. The Sunnis believe that the words and deeds of the Prophet must be followed in every walk of life. They are divided into four schools of law i.e., Hanafis, Sha'afis, Malikis and Hanbalis, deriving their guidance from the Koran and hadiths as primary sources, and ijma (consensus of opinion) and qiyas (analogical deduction) as the secondary sources. The Sunnis offer five daily prayers, give zakat, fast in the month of Ramzan and perform the hajj to Mecca if they are able to do so. The Sunnis also believe like the Shi'as in the articles of faith: belief in the Oneness of God, the angels, the sacred scriptures, the finality of the last Prophet and the last day.

"Outwardly" writes Frithjof Schuon, "the Prophet is legislator, and he can easily be grasped as such; inwardly, in his substance, he represents esoterism at every level


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