Muslim sects

Muslim sects

Over the period of time after the death of the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammed, there have arisen many Muslim sects by means of schools of thought, traditions, and related faiths. [ [ So Many Different Groups of Muslims] by Sheikh Yusuf Estes] [ [ Why are Muslims divided into different Sects/Schools of Thought] by Dr. Zakir Naik on]

However, the central text of Islam, the Qur'an ordains that Muslims are not to be divided into divisions or sects and rather be united under a common goal of faith in one God alone - Allahcite quran|3|103|103, failure to do which has also been deemed a sin by God and thus forbidden.cite quran|6|149|149|expand=nocite quran|6|159|159|expand=no The Qur'an also ordains that the followers of Islam need to "obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Prophet Muhammad)" stressing on the importance of keeping the commandments mentioned in the Qur'an by Allah, and following all the teachings of Muhammad,cite quran|4|59|59|expand=no; labeling everyone who concurs as a 'Muslim'cite quran|22|78|78|expand=no as a part of the "best of communities brought forth from mankind".cite quran|3|110|110|expand=no

Major Sects


Sunni Muslims, often referred to as "Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h" or "Ahl as-Sunnah", are the largest denomination of Islam.

The word "Sunni" comes from the word "Sunnah", which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Therefore, the term Sunni refers to those who follow or maintain the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad. It is also found in some books that the word "sunni" comes from a movement "Am-ul-sunnah" started by Mu'awiya.

The Sunni believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, and after an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr Siddique, Muhammad's close friend and a father-in-law, as the first Caliph of Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the first four Caliphs, Abu Bakr, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abu Talib as the "al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn" or "Rashidun" ('The Rightly Guided Caliphs'). Sunnis also believe that the position of Caliph may be democratically chosen, but after the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, there has never been another as widely recognized Caliph in the Muslim world.


Shia Islam is the second largest sect in the Muslim world. Shi`a Muslims believe that, similar to the appointment of prophets, Imams after Muhammad are also chosen by God. According to Shi`as, Ali ibn Abu Talib was chosen by Allah and thus appointed by Muhammad to be the direct successor and leader of the Muslim community. They regard him as the first Shia Imam, which continued as a hereditary position through Fatimah and Ali's descendants.


Kharijite (lit. "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, eventually rejected his legitimacy after he negotiated with Mu'awiya during the 7th Century Islamic civil war (First Fitna). [ [ Overview of Kharijite islam] ] Their complaint was that the Imam must be spiritually pure, and that Ali's compromise with Mu'awiya was a compromise of his spiritual purity, and therefore of his legitimacy as Imam or Caliph. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.


Not strictly a denomination, Sufism is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam practiced by many Sunni Muslims. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. [Trimingham (1998), p.1] Sufis usually considered Sufism to be complementary to orthodox Islam, however it has widely been criticized by many Muslims on the whole for being an unjustified "Bid‘ah" or religious innovation. One starts with sharia (Islamic law), the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam and then is initiated into the mystical (esoteric path of a Tariqah (Sufi Order).fact |date=September 2008 Sufi followers consider themselves as Sunni, while there are also others who consider themselves as just 'Sufi' or Sufi-influenced.

Major divisions on the basis of "Aqidah" (Belief)

Aqidah is an Islamic term meaning creed or belief. Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However this term has taken a significant technical usage in Muslim history and theology, denoting those matters over which Muslims hold conviction. The term is usually translated as 'theology'. Such traditions are divisions orthogonal to sectarian divisions of Islam, and a Mu'tazili may for example, belong to Jafari, Zaidi, or even a Hanafi sect/jurisprudence school, though the latter is usually a rare occurrence.


Mu'tazili theology originated in the 8th century in al-Basrah when Wasil ibn Ata left the teaching lessons of Hasan al-Basri after a theological dispute. He and his followers expanded on the logic and rationalism of Greek philosophy, seeking to combine them with Islamic doctrines and show that the two were inherently compatible. The Mu'tazili debated philosophical questions such as whether the Qur'an was created or eternal, whether evil was created by God, the issue of predestination versus free will, whether God's attributes in the Qur'an were to be interpreted allegorically or literally, and whether sinning believers would have eternal punishment in hell.


Ash'ari is a school of early Islamic philosophy founded in the 10th century. It was instrumental in drastically changing the direction of Islam and laid the groundwork to "shut the door of ijtihad" centuries later in the Ottoman Empire. The Asharite view was that comprehension of the unique nature and characteristics of God were beyond human capability.


A Maturidi is one who follows Abu Mansur Al Maturidi's theology, which is a close variant of the Ash'ari school. Points which differ are the nature of belief and the place of human reason. The Maturidis state that belief (iman) does not increase nor decrease but remains static; it is piety (taqwa) which increases and decreases. The Ash'aris say that belief does in fact increase and decrease. The Maturidis say that the unaided human mind is able to find out that some of the more major sins such as alcohol or murder are evil without the help of revelation. The Ash'aris say that the unaided human mind is unable to know if something is good or evil, lawful or unlawful, without divine revelation.


Athari is a school that derives its name from the Arabic word Athar, meaning "Narrations". The Athari methodology is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. They use the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and sayings of the Sahaba.


Murji'ah (Arabic المرجئة) is an early Islamic school, whose followers are known in English as Murjites or Murji'ites (Arabic المرجئون). During the early centuries of Islam, Muslim thought encountered a multitude of infuences from various ethnic and philosophical groups that it absorbed. Murji'ah emerged as a theological school that was opposed to the Kharijites on questions related to early controversies regarding sin and definitions of what is a true Muslim.

They advocated the idea of "delayed judgement". Only God can judge who is a true Muslim and who is not, and no one else can judge another as an infidel (kafir). Therefore, all Muslims should consider all other Muslims as true and faithful believers, and look to Allah to judge everyone during the last judgment. This theology promoted tolerance of Umayyads and converts to Islam who appeared half-hearted in their obedience. The Murjite opinion would eventually dominate that of the Kharijites.

The Murjites exited the way of the Sunnis when they declared that no Muslim would enter the hellfire, no matter what his sins. This contradicts the traditional Sunni belief which states that some Muslims will enter the hellfire temporarily. Therefore the Murjites are classified as "Ahlul Bid'ah" or "People of Innovation" by the majority of other Muslims.

Divisions in the Shi'a Sect


Twelvers are members of the group of Shi'a Islam who believe in twelve Imams. The twelfth Imam is believed to be in occultation, and will appear again just before the Qiyamah (Islamic view of the Last Judgment). The Shi`a Hadiths include the sayings of the Imams. Many Muslims criticise the Shia for certain beliefs and practices, including practices such as the Mourning of Muharram (Mätam). They are the largest Shi'a school of thought (80%), predominant in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain and are also present in the Indian subcontinent, Kuwait and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.


The Usuli form the overwhelming majority within the Twelver Shia denomination. They follow Ayatollahs on the subject of taqlid and fiqh. They are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.


Alevis are sometimes categorized as part of Twelver Shi'a Islam, and sometimes as its own religious tradition, as it has markedly different philosophy, customs, and rituals. They have many Sufi characteristics and express belief in the Qur'an and the Shi'a Imams, but reject polygamy and accept religious traditions predating Islam, like Turkish shamanism. They are significant in East-Central Turkey. They are sometimes considered a Sufi sect, and have an untraditional form of religious leadership that is not scholarship oriented like other Sunni and Shia groups. They number around 25 million worldwide, of which 22 million are in Turkey, with the rest in the Balkans, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Iran and Syria.


Akhbari, similar to Usoolis, however reject ijtihad in favor of hadith. Concentrated in Bahrain.


Alawites are also called Nusayris, Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya. Alawites claim to be Muslims, but they are not considered so by many Muslims, as their religion is to believe in Allah, Prophet Muhammad and the Qu'ran. Slightly over one million of them live in Syria and Lebanon. [ [ Alawi Islam] ]


Shaykhism is an Islamic religious movement founded by Shaykh Ahmad in the early 19th century Qajar, Iran, now retaining a minority following in Iran and Iraq. It began from a combination of Sufi and Shi‘a and Akhbari doctrines. In the mid 19th century many Shaykhis converted to the Bábí and Bahá'í religions, which regard Shaykh Ahmad highly.


The Ismailis and Twelvers both accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima Zahra and therefore share much of their early history. However, a dispute arose on the succession of the Sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. The Ismailis are those who accepted Ja'far's eldest son Ismail as the next Imam, whereas the Twelvers accepted a younger son, Musa al-Kazim. Today, Ismailis are concentrated in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. The Nizari Ismailis, however, are also concentrated in Central Asia, Russia, China, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, North America (Including Canada), the United Kingdom, and in Africa as well.


The Nizāriyya are the largest branch (90%) of Ismaili, they are the only Shia group to be have their absolute temporal leader in the rank of Imamate, which is currently invested in Aga Khan IV. Their present living Imam is Mawlānā Shah Karim Al-Husayni who is the 49th Imam. The Nizāriyya believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir was his elder son al-Nizār. However, the Fatimid Regent appointed al-Mustansir's younger son al-Mustaˤlī as caliph and as a result, an-Nizār died in prison after he failed to claim the throne by rebellion.


The Mustaali group of Ismaili Muslims differ from the Nizāriyya in that they believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph, al-Mustansir, was his younger son al-Mustaˤlī, who was made Caliph by the Fatimad Regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah.


In contrast to the Nizaris, they accept the younger brother al-Mustaˤlī over Nizar as their Imam. The Bohras are an offshoot of the Taiyabi, which itself was an offshoot of the Mustaali. The Taiyabi, supporting another offshoot of the Mustaali, the Hafizi branch, split with the Mustaali Fatimid, who recognized Al-Amir as their last Imam. The split was due to the Taiyabi believing that Tayyab Abī al-Qāsim was the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Hafizi themselves however considered Al-Hafiz as the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir.

The Bohras believe that their 21st Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim, went into seclusion and established the offices of the Da'i al-Mutlaq (الداعي المطلق), Ma'zoon (مأذون) and Mukasir (مكاسر). The Bohras are the only surviving branch of the Mustaali and themselves have split into the Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Alavi Bohra.

Dawoodi BohrasThe Dawoodi Bohras are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Dawoodi Bohra and the Sulaimani Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Pakistan and India.

Sulamaini BohrasThe Sulaimani Bohra named after their 27th Da'i al-Mutlaq, Sulayman ibn Hassan, are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Sulaimani Bohra and the Dawoodi Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Yemen.

Alavi BohrasSplit from the Dawoodi Bohra over who would be the correct dai of the community. The smallest branch of the Bohras.


Zaidiyyahs separated from the Twelver and Ismaili sects of Shi'a Islam over a disagreement as to who the fifth Imam was. Twelvers and Ismailis believe it was Muhammad al-Baqir, while Zaidis hold that it was his half-brother, Zayd ibn Ali.

chools of thought of the Sunni Sect

Madhhab is an Islamic term that refers to a school of thought or religious jurisprudence, or fiqh, within Sunni Islam. Each of the Sahaba had a unique school of jurisprudence, but these schools were gradually consolidated or discarded so that there are currently four recognized schools. The differences between these schools of thought manifest in minor practical differences, as most Sunni Muslims consider them all fundamentally the same. Sunnis generally do not identify themselves with a particular of the following schools of thought - simply calling themselves "Sunnis".


Founded by Imam Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man, Hanafi is considered to be the school most open to modern ideas. It is predominant among Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, northern Egypt, the Indian subcontinent, Iraq, Turkey, Balkans and in many western countries.


Hanbali is considered to be the most conservative of the four schools and the one that relies on Hadith the most. The school was started by the students of Imam Ahmad. Hanbali jurisprudence is predominant among Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula.


The Maliki school derives from the work of Imam Malik ibn Anas. Maliki is practiced in North and West Africa. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims.


Shafi`i was founded by Imam Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, and has adherents among many high ranking Islamic scholars. It is practiced throughout the Ummah, but is most prevalent in Egypt, Somalia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, and is the school of thought officially followed by the government of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. It is followed by approximately 15% of Muslims world-wide.

ubdivisions of Kharijites


The only surviving Kharijite sect -at least by name- is the Ibādī. The sect developed out of the 7th century Islamic sect of the Kharijites. Nonetheless, Ibadis see themselves as quite different from the Kharijite. Believed to be one of the earliest schools, it is said to have been founded less than 50 years after the death of Muhammad.

It is the dominant form of Islam in Oman, but small numbers of Ibadi followers may also be found in countries in Northern and Eastern Africa. The early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi.

Ibadis usually consider non-Ibadi Muslims as unbelievers, though nowadays this attitude has highly relaxed. They approve of the caliphates of Abū Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, whom they regard as the "Two Rightly Guided Caliphs". Specific beliefs include: "walāyah"- friendship and unity with the practicing true believers and the Ibadi Imams, "barā'ah"- dissociation and hostility towards the unbelievers and sinners, and "wuqūf"- reservation towards those whose status is unclear. While Ibadi Muslims maintain most of the beliefs of the original Kharijites, they have rejected the more aggressive methods.


The Sufris ( _ar. سفريين) were a sect of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries, and a part of the Kharijites. They believe Sura 12 (Yusuf) of the Qur'an is not an authentic Sura.

ubdivisions of Sufis


The Bektashi Order was founded in the 13th century by the Islamic saint Hajji Bektash Wali, and greatly influenced during its fomulative period by the Hurufi Ali al-'Ala in the 15th century and reorganized by Balim Sultan in the 16th century. Bektashi are concentrated in Turkey and Albania.


The Chishti Order ( _fa. چشتیہ) was founded by (Khawaja) Abu Ishaq Shami ("the Syrian") (d. 941) who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day Afghanistan. Before returning to the Levant, Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local Emir, (Khwaja) Abu Ahmad Abdal (d. 966). Under the leadership of Abu Ahmad’s descendants, the "Chishtiyya" as they are also known, flourished as a regional mystical order.


The Naqshbandi order is one of the major Sufi orders of Islam. Formed in 1380, the order is considered by some to be a "sober" order known for its silent dhikr (remembrance of God) rather than the vocalized forms of dhikr common in other orders. The word "Naqshbandi" نقشبندی is Persian, taken from the name of the founder of the order, Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari. Some have said that the translation means "related to the image-maker," some also consider it to mean "Pattern Maker" rather than "image maker," and interpret "Naqshbandi" to mean "Reformer of Patterns", and others consider it to mean "Way of the Chain" or "Golden Chain."


The Oveyssi Order was founded 1,400 years ago by Uwais al-Qarni from Yemen. Uways received the teachings of Islam inwardly through his heart and lived by the principles taught by him, although he had never physically met Muhammad. At times Muhammad would say of him, "I feel the breath of the Merciful, coming to me from Yemen." Shortly before Muhammad passed away, he directed Umar (second Caliph) and Ali (the first Imam of the Shi'a) to take his cloak to Uwais. According to Ali Hujwiri, Farid ad-Din Attar of Nishapur and Sheikh Muhammad Ghader Bagheri, the first recipient of Muhammad’s Cloak was Oveys.

The Oveyssi order is still in existence today, with over 500,000 students and numerous centers worldwide. The present Pir, Salaheddin Ali Nader Shah Angha|Molana Salaheddin Ali Nader Shah Angha, was officially appointed as the forty-second Sufi master in the unbroken chain of transmission on September 4, 1970, when the cloak of Muhammad was bestowed upon him by his father Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha.


The Qadiri Order is one of the oldest Sufi Orders. It derives its name from Abdul-Qadir Gilani (1077-1166), a native of the Iranian province of Gīlān. The order is one of the most widespread of the Sufi orders in the Islamic world, and can be found in India, Pakistan, Turkey and the Balkans and much of East and West Africa. The Qadiriyyah have not developed any distinctive doctrines or teachings outside of mainstream Islam. They believe in the fundamental principles of Islam, but interpreted through mystical experience.


The Suhrawardiyya order ( _ar. سهروردية) is a Sufi order founded by Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi (1097 – 1168).

Movements in Islam


Salafis preach Islamic monotheism (tawhid), and gained significant teachings from Ibn Taymiyyah, a 14th century Syrian scholar. Salafism is in general opposed to Sufism and Shi'a Islam, which they regard as heresies. Salafi theology advocates a puritanical and legalistic stance in matters of faith and religious practice. They see their role as a movement to restore Islam from what they perceive to be innovations, superstitions, deviances, heresies and idolatries.


Wahhabism was revived by the 18th century teacher Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab in the Arabian peninsula, and was instrumental in the rise of the House of Saud to power. Wahhabism is a puritanical and legalistic Islamic movement under the Sunni umbrella, and is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The terms "Wahhabism" and "Salafism" are often used interchangeably. In addition to the Qur'an and hadith, Wahhabi followers also accept various commentaries including Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's "Kitab al-Tawhid" ("Book of Monotheism"), and the works of earlier scholars like Ibn Taymiyya for religious guidance. They are often associated with the Hanbali madh'hab.


One of the two major divisions of the Hanafi school of thought. Deobandi are Muslims of South Asia and Afghanistan, and have more recently spread to other countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom. Deobandis follow the fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifa and the Maturidi school of aqidah. It is a reformist movement within the Hanafi school of fiqh that advocates a return to the early days of Islam, quite like the Salafis and Ahle Hadith. The Taliban are reputed to follow the teachings of the Deoband school, although a strict and simplistic version of the school's teachings. Depite their differences with the Barelwis movement, they consider themselves the "Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaah" or people of Islamic traditions.


Islamism is a term that refers to a set of political ideologies derived from various fundamentalist views, which hold that Islam is not only a religion, but a political system governing the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state. Many Islamists do not refer to themselves as such and it is not a single particular movement. Religious views and ideologies of its adherents vary, and they may be Sunni Islamists or Shia Islamists depending upon their beliefs. Islamist groups include groups such as Al-Qaeda, the organizer of the September 11, 2001 attacks and perhaps the most prominent; the Muslim Brotherhood, perhaps the oldest, which also forms the largest opposition grouping in Egypt; etc. Although violence is often employed by some organizations, not all Islamist movements are violent.


Liberal and progressive movements have in common a religious outlook which depends mainly on ijtihad or re-interpretations of scriptures. Liberal Muslims believe in greater autonomy of the individual in interpretation of scripture, a critical examination of religious texts, gender equality, and a modern view of culture, tradition, and other ritualistic practices in Islam.


The Barelwi movement, which started in India, is one of the two major divisions of the Hanafi school of thought. They follow the fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifa and the Ash'ari or Maturidi schools of aqidah. They are influenced by and defend several religious acts such as visiting graves, strong veneration of Muhammad and walis, and Mawlid. The chief opponents of the Barelwis are conservative Sunni movements such as the Deobandis and Salafis.

Qur'an Alone

Qur'an-Aloners, or Qur'anists refer to those who follow the Quran alone without additional details or hadiths. There are multiple "Qur'an-Aloner" groups and movements based on the ideology.

pinoffs of Islam

"These religious traditions are not recognized as sects of Islam by mainstream Islamic fiqh, but claim themselves to be Muslim. They are considered heretical by mainstream Muslims."


Members of the Ahmadiyya movement are followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah ("Second Coming of Christ") and Mahdi, as well as the likeness of all the prophets. The followers are divided into two groups, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam, the former believing that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a non-law bearing prophet and the latter believing that he was only a religious reformer though a prophet in an allegorical sense. Followers of Ghulam Ahmad consider themselves Muslim and believe their form of Islam to be a re-establishment of the original teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They are, however considered non-Muslim by a majority of mainstream Muslims because of the issue of Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood.


Zikri is claimed to be based around the teachings of Muhammad Jaunpuri, a 15th century Mahdi claimant. In religious practice, the Zikris differ greatly from mainstream Muslims. Zikris perform prayers called dhikr five times a day, in which sacred verses are recited, as compared to the orthodox practice of salah. Most Zikris live in Balochistan, but a large number also live in Karachi, the Sindh interior, Oman and Iran.

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 with a declared aim of "resurrecting" the spiritual, mental, social and economic condition of the black man and woman of America and the world. The expressed teachings of the Nation of Islam have been subject to many changes, with at one point believing Fard to be God incarnate, being re-named the Muslim American Society, having a major division, and then a reconciliation. It is viewed by almost all Muslims as a heretical cult. Warith Deen Mohammed, a former leader of the Nation of Islam and now a Sunni Muslim, as well as many other former members and others have been calling the Nation of Islam to merge into mainstream Sunni Islam.

Moorish Science

This faith was founded by Timothy Drew in 1913 in the United States. Its main tenet is that African Americans were descended from the Moors and thus were originally Islamic. Its followers claim it to be a sect of Islam but it also has almost equal influences in Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism. They have their own book that they call "Circle Seven Koran".


The United Submitters International (USI) is a religious group, founded by Dr. Rashad Khalifa. Submitters considers themselves to be adhering to "true Islam", but prefer not to use the terms "Muslim" or "Islam," instead using the English equivalents: "Submitter" or "Submission." Submitters consider Khalifa to be a Messenger of God. Specific beliefs of the USI include: the dedication of all worship practices to God alone, upholding the Qur'an alone with the exception of two rejected Qur'an verses, [ [ 9:128-129] [ Two False Verses Removed from the Quran] ] and rejecting the Islamic traditions of hadith and sunnah attributed to Muhammad. The main group attends "Masjid Tucson" [ [ Masjid Tucson (Mosque of Tucson)— Official Website] ] in Arizona, US.

Related faiths


The Druze are a small distinct traditional religion that developed in the 11th century. It began as an offshoot of the Ismaili sect of Islam, but is unique in its incorporation of Gnostic, neo-Platonic and other philosophies. Druze are considered heretical and non-Muslims by most other Muslims because they are believed to address prayers to the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt, whom they regard as "a manifestation of God in His unity." The Druze believe that he had been hidden away by God and will return as the Mahdi on Judgement Day. Like Alawis, most Druze keep the tenets of their Faith secret, and very few details are known. They neither accept converts nor recognize conversion from their religion to another. They are located primarily in the Levant. Druze in different states can have radically different lifestyles. Some claim to be Muslim, some do not, though the Druze faith itself abides by Islamic principles.


In 1844 a young man from Shiraz, Iran proclaimed to be the Mahdi and took on the title of "The Báb". The religion he began officially broke away from Islam, and gained a significant following in Iran. His followers were called heretics by the state, and in 1850 the Báb was publicly executed. Most Babis accepted the claims of Bahá'u'lláh, henceforth considering themselves Bahá'ís. [ Religious Dissidence and Urban Leadership: Bahais in Qajar Shiraz and Tehran] , by Juan Cole, originally published in Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 37 (1999): 123-142]

Bahá'í Faith

Following the death of the Báb the majority of Bábís turned to Bahá'u'lláh, a respected leader of that community, eventually calling themselves Bahá'ís. Bahá'ís believe that the Bábí and Islamic prophecies of the end times and the return of the Mahdi and Jesus were fulfilled. As does the Shaykhi school of Islamic interpretation, to which this group is historically connected, Bahá'ís interpret Islamic (and other) eschatology symbolically and metaphorically. Bahá'ís believe Bahá'u'lláh to be a Manifestation of God, a messenger on par with Muhammad. Due to its background and history, it is sometimes categorized as a sect of Islam, which is denied by its adherents and the Muslim mainstream. Bahá'ís have been persecuted as apostates in some Islamic countries, especially Iran.


Sikhism has had strong influence from both Islam and Hinduism but more from the latter.

Five Percenters

An offshoot of the Nation of Islam, this group was formed in Harlem, New York City in the 1960s by Clarence 13X, who proclaimed himself to be Allah (God). The group believes God is black and focuses on bringing justice to African-American youth. They have little relation to mainstream Islam, except that they use the expression "Allahu Akbar".


At various times known as the Ansaaru Allah Community, Nubian Islamic Hebrews, and Nuwaubians, this group no longer claims to be Muslim. Its founder and leader, Malachi Z. York, was known as As Sayyid Al Imaam Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi and other similar names when he was claiming to be a Muslim and the successor to Elijah Muhammad. The Nuwaubian teachings are now based on ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts with extraterrestrial revelations from the alien spirit inhabiting York.


ee also

*Islamic studies
*Succession to Muhammad
*Sunni-Shia relations

External links

* [ Schisms and Heterodoxy Among Muslims]
* [ Statement issued by the International Islamic Conference held in Amman, Jordan, July 4-6, 2005]
* [ Sects in Islam]

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