Sunnis , ahl as-sunnah wa-l-jama'a (from the Arabic. أهل السنة والجماعة - "people of the Sunnah and the consent of the community") are followers of the main and most numerous trend in Islam .
The name of the Sunnis comes from the self-designation “ahl al-sunnah val-jama'a”. The first part ( Ahl al-Sunnah ) implies following the path of the Prophet Muhammad and his associates , since one of the main meanings of the word Sunnah is “the path”. For Sunnis, the Qur'an and Sunnah are the primary sources of religion , they solve various problems on the basis of clear and unambiguous verses of the Qur'an and Hadith , and in their absence, on the basis of the arguments of their mind ( Ijtihad ). The second part of the name ( wa-l-jama'a ) implies recognition of the community and mission of all the Companions of the Prophet and following their method in solving various problems. The term “Jama'a" was first known after the transfer of power by Hassan ibn 'Ali to the Caliphate of Mu'awiy I. The year in which the civil war ended was entered into history as the “year of unity” ( sanat al-jama'a )  .
During the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the first three Righteous Caliphs, the Muslim community ( ummah ) was one. After the assassination of the caliph 'Usman ( 656 ), a split occurred in Muslim society, which deepened even further in the process of the confrontation between Ali and Muawiya. After the expansion of the Caliphate, some peoples [ what? ] , who converted to Islam, tried to bring to the Islamic doctrine their usual views from their past beliefs. This contributed to the development of sectarianism and extremes in the views that led to a split in society. Against sectarianism and extremes, many associates and their followers ( tabiins ), who adhered to the temperate path, spoke out. The founders of this path can be considered Ibn 'Umar , Ibrahim al-Nahai , Hassan al-Basri and Abu Hanifu and other Islamic theologians  .
Hassan al-Basri, who outlined his vision of political problems and sectarianism, played a large role in systematizing the "moderate" Sunni beliefs. He criticized the rule of the Umayyad dynasty and opposed their tyranny. Hassan al-Basri has declared a ban on maintaining power, whose command is contrary to the provisions of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He made this statement based on the hadith of the Prophet about the prohibition of obedience to the command of people who call for sin against Allah . He was a supporter of patience and passive resistance, hoping for the help of Allah, and not armed actions against the government. In this case, Muslims should act only in accordance with the instructions of the Fakihs , avoiding amateur action  .
Hassan al-Basri also took a tough stance, "isolating" the founder of mutazilism, Vasil ibn Ata , who tried to bring his views on the issue of people who committed great sins (kabair), and on the issue of predestination ( kadar ). He also rejected the views of the “extreme” Shiites and Kharijites , who considered people who committed sins, to leave the bosom of Islam. Hassan al-Basri used the terms “ ahl al-sunna ”, “ ahl al-haqq ”, “ ahl al-jama ” to denote the “moderate” path and the united and pure faith that existed before the troubles, sectarianism and civil confrontation in society. 'a "," ahl al-hadith . The term "Ahl al-Sunnah" was first coined by Ibn Sirin (d. 728), who began to call the representatives of the Orthodox majority of Muslims. The term “ ahl al-haqq wa-l-jama'a ” was also used in relation to the Sunnis, introduced by Abu al-Leis al-Samarkandi (d. 898). Since the 2nd century Hijri , the terms “ ahl al-haqq wa al-istikama ”, “ ahl al-sunnah wa-n-nakl ”, “ ashab al-hadith ” have also been used to designate the Sunnis. Even later, for the vast majority of Muslims who followed the path of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, the generalizing term “ ahl al-sunnah val-jama'a ” appeared, which also appears for the first time in Abu al-Leis al-Samarkandi in the work “al-Sharh al -fikh al-akbar "  .
The concept of “ahl al-sunnah” was an expression of opposition against the activities of various schismatic sects. The Sunnis maintained the unity of the Ummah, preventing members of various sects from introducing into the religion unlawful innovations and distorting Islamic faith . According to tradition, the prophet Muhammad predicted the division of the Islamic community into numerous sects , as well as the fact that among the Muslims there will be a “saved" group ( nadzhiya ), which will be representatives of "ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jama'a"  .
As a result of fierce polemics with Shiites, Kharijits, mutazilites and various philosophical schools in Islam, the theoretical foundations of Sunni beliefs were developed and systematized. All this is reflected in the Sunni schools of worldview maturidites , asharites and asarites (Salafists), which to this day represent the doctrine of the Sunnis. These three areas of Orthodox Islamic thought have some differences among themselves that are not of a fundamental nature. Prominent scholars who developed the position of orthodox Islam were Abu Mansur al-Maturidi , Abu al-Hassan al-'Ashari , Abu Hamid al-Ghazali , Ibn Taymiyyah and others. Along with ideological schools, Sunni legal schools ( madhhabs ) also developed, among which Hanafi , Malikite , Shafiite and Hanbali madhhabs were widely spread. Most representatives of the Hanafi madhhab are Maturidites, the majority of Malikites and Shafiites are Asharites, and Hanbalites are Salafis  .
By the number of Sunnis, more than 1 billion 550 million people  - about 90% of all professing Islam  .
Features of Sunnism
Sunnis place particular emphasis on following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with him) (his actions and statements), on fidelity to tradition, on the participation of the community in the selection of its head - the Caliph .
The main signs of belonging to Sunnism are:
- recognition of the reliability of the six largest vaults of hadith (compiled by Al-Bukhari , Muslim , al-Tirmidhi , Abu Dawood , al-Nasai and Ibn Maji );
- recognition of four law schools: Malikite , Shafiite , Hanafi and Hanbali madhhabs;
- recognition of Akida schools: Asaritic , Asharitic and Maturidite .
- recognition of the legality of the rule of the Righteous Caliphs - Abu Bakr , 'Umar , ' Usman and 'Ali (Ibadites recognize only Abu Bakr and Umar, and Shiites recognize only Ali).
It is not known exactly when the term “Sunnism” took shape, however, in comparison with Shiism  , Sunnism has a clearer content - it is following the life path of the Prophet Muhammad. Shiism only recognizes the right to succession of the descendants of Ali as the spiritual and secular head of the Muslim community.
In the first centuries of the spread of Islam, the vast majority of the hadiths that make up the Sunnah were distributed orally - from companions who retold the words of the Prophet Muhammad or narrated about his actions, to students who memorized all this and, in turn, passed this knowledge on to their students . However, when the associates, with the spread of the religion of Islam, began to disperse to different ends of the Caliphate and in connection with the general decrease in their number, much attention was paid to the recording of hadiths and their preservation in writing. The first collection of hadiths, in which the hadiths are classified according to various sections of fiqh , was the collection of Imam Malik al-Muwatt . The first who began to classify hadiths by the names of their transmitters was Abu Daud .
About 200 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, six major Sunni collections of hadith were compiled by Islamic theologians. They were called Kutub as-sitta (“Six Vaults [Hadith]”) or as-Sihah as-sitta (“Reliable Six”). Officially, they were first collected in the 11th century by the Islamic theologian Ibn al-Qaisarani   .
Qutub al-Sitta is universally recognized by the Sunnis. These include:
- Al-Jami al-Sahih by Imam al-Bukhari ;
- Al-Jami al-Sahih by Imam Muslim ;
- " Sunan " of Imam Abu Daud ;
- " Jamie " of Imam at-Tirmidhi ;
- Al-Sunan Al-Sugra of Imam An-Nasai ;
- " Sunan " of Imam Ibn Maj .
As for the authenticity of the Kadub al-Sitt hadiths, the Sunnis consider the hadiths given in the collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim to be authentic, and there are disagreements among the Sunni hadith scholars regarding the authenticity of some hadiths mentioned in other works.
The Sunnis recognize four theological schools of law, called " madhhabs ": Malikite , Shafiite , Hanafi and Hanbali . One Sunni madhhab - Zahiri - has now completely disappeared. All four schools recognize each other's legitimacy. A Muslim can choose any of these schools and follow one that has a reliable argument from the Qur'an and Sunna in the understanding of the Companions.
- Malikite madhhab
The founder of the Malikite madhhab is Malik Ibn Anas . To make legal orders and judgments, the Imam Malik relied on the following sources: the Qur'an , Sunna , “acts of the meditators”, the opinions of the Companions of the Prophet, judgment by analogy ( kiyas ) and “independent judgment for the sake of benefit” ( stories )
Malik's disciples continued his work and laid the foundation for the formation of a madhhab. The Malikite legal sense has spread to many countries. In Medina itself, as well as in Hijaz, this madhhab, however, did not gain popularity, but found numerous followers in the west of the Muslim world, in North Africa and Muslim Spain, as well as in Kuwait and Bahrain .
- Shafi'i madhhab
The founder of the Shafi'i madhhab is Muhammad al-Shafi'i . This madhhab developed under the strong influence of the Hanafi and Malikite madhhabs and perceived their features  . To make a legal decision ( fatwa ), Shaafi jurists use the Qur'an, the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad, the unanimous opinion of authoritative jurists, the opinion of the associates of the prophet Muhammad, analogous judgments , and ishsab .
Since the III century hijri, the Shafi'i madhhab has gained great popularity in Egypt . For a long time, it prevailed in Iran and retained followers, despite the fact that Shiism is the official ideology of the state today. In Iraq and Maverannahr, the Shafi'i madhhab argued in popularity with the Hanafi. Today it is dominant in Syria , Lebanon , Palestine and Jordan , has numerous followers in Iraq , Pakistan , India , Malaysia and Indonesia , as well as in Dagestan , Chechnya and Ingushetia   . The provisions of the Shafi'i madhhab formed the basis of the legislation of Somalia , Comoros and other Islamic states  .
- Hanafi madhhab
The founder of the Hanafi madhhab is Abu Hanifa and his students Muhammad al-Shaibani , Abu Yusuf and Zufar ibn al-Khuzayl .
Hanafi madhhab is the most common among all law schools. Hanafites live in Central and Central Asia, South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India), Azerbaijan, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and other countries. In Russia, the Hanafites are Tatars , Bashkirs , Nogais  , Karachais , Adygs ( Adyghes , Kabardins , Circassians ), Abazins , some Kumyks in Dagestan  and other peoples.
The Hanafi method of issuing legal precepts is based on the following sources : Quran , Sunnah , unanimous opinion of the Companions , individual opinions of the Companions of the Prophet, judgment by analogy with what is already in the Qur'an, Istikhsan and local custom .
Almost the entire legacy of Abu Hanifa was passed orally to his students, who recorded and systematized the provisions of his madhhab. Two of his most famous pupils ( sahibain ), Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaibani, played an outstanding role in the preservation, systematization and distribution of the Abu Hanifa school.
One of the methods of making legal decisions in the Hanafi madhhab is a clear hierarchy of verdicts of school authorities (Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf, al-Shaibani, others). If for any problem it is possible to use both kiyas and istikhsan , then in most cases priority is given to istikhsan. If it is necessary to choose from different, existing prescriptions, priority is given to the most convincing or majority opinion. Weak and dubious hadiths are used as an argument only in exceptional cases. Mostly, Istihsan is preferred over them.
The Hanafi school was encouraged by the Abbasids who were interested in the legal basis of the state. Abu Yusuf was made by the caliph Harun ar-Rashid the supreme judge ( qadi ) of Baghdad and himself appointed judges in the province, giving preference to the representatives of his madhhab, and thereby contributing to its distribution. In the Ottoman and Mughal empire, the Hanafi madhhab received state status.
- Hanbalith madhhab
The founder of the Hanbalith madhhab is Ahmad ibn Hanbal . The Hanbalith madhhab is the smallest madhhab by the number of adherents. The dogmatic-legal school of hanbalism is official in Saudi Arabia and Qatar , a significant number of hanbalites live in the UAE , the Sultanate of Oman and other Persian Gulf states . Hanbalite communities are found in Iraq , Syria , Egypt , Palestine, and Afghanistan .
Hanbalism was formed during the acute socio-political crisis in the Abbasid caliphate in the 9th century , when recognition of the principle of mutazilites about the "creation of the Koran " was a test of loyalty to the ruling caliph al-Mamun . Ahmad ibn Hanbal refused to agree with this thesis and became a victim of the so-called. mikhny . Hanbalism expressed the views of the most conservative part of Muslim society, which saw a threat in the spread of rationalistic ideas of Kalam  .
Politically, the teachings of Ibn Khanbal, according to the orthodox norms of Islam, preach political tolerance for those in power, even if the ruler of Muslims is a clear wicked and sinner . He called for abstinence from public criticism of the caliphs and from rebellion against them, because the opposite could lead to an unacceptable split in Muslim society and anarchy in the state  .
The followers of the Hanbalith madhhab, distinguished by a categorical rejection of religious innovations and a literal interpretation of the sacred texts, were implacable opponents of asharites who tried to cross mutazilist rationalist philosophy with Islamic dogmas. Due to the rejection of the Mongol conquerors , the Hanbalis by the 13th century had largely lost influence in Muslim countries  .
Today, the Hanbalith madhhab is the official legal school of Saudi Arabia  and Qatar  . Hanbalites live in the UAE (in Sharjah , Ras al-Khaimah , Al Fujairah ), Kuwait , Bahrain and Oman (Jaalan, Al-Sharqiya region ). A small number of Hanbalis live in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Palestine and Afghanistan  .
The sources of Hanbalit law include: the Qur'an , the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad , legal decisions ( fatwas ) of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, the opinions of the Companions on various issues, Hadiths- Mursal and Hadiths-Daif, Kiyas , Istislah , Ijma and Istishab  .
- Zahiritsky madhhab
Основатель захиритского мазхаба — Давуд ибн 'Али аз-Захири . Согласно Ибн ан-Надиму, Давуд ибн 'Али был первым факихом , кто в правовой практике опирался исключительно на «внешнее», буквальное понимание Корана и сунны , отрицая всякую возможность видеть в текстах скрытый смысл ( батин ) и толковать их аллегорически или рационально. В вопросах методологии права ( усуль аль-фикх ) захиритские факихи были противниками использования логико-рационалистических приёмов ( ар-рай , истихсан , истисхаб и др.). Позже было допущено применение в очень ограниченных пределах киясаand Ijmah  .
This madhhab was widespread in the Muslim world in the X-XIII centuries. His representatives were present both in the east of the Caliphate (in particular, in Khorasan ) and in the west (the Zahirite theologian Ibn Hazm lived in Andalusia ). In the XII century, under the Almohad, the Zahiri madhhab was recognized as an official legal school. After the 15th century, the zahirites gradually disappeared  .
The founder of the Asharit school is the prominent Muslim thinker and philosopher Abul-Hassan al-Ashari (873 or 874–935). The ideas of asharites were spread mainly among the Shafiites and Malikites  .
After the 10th century, asharism became the main school of kalama. Asharism represented the solution of theological issues between the position of mutazilites and asarites , supporters of free will ( cadarites ) and supporters of predestination ( jabarites ), nominalism and realism in understanding the divine attributes aimed at mitigating the effects of the activities of the “absolute mind” of mutazilites. Asharites rejected taklid (blindly following religious authorities without prior doubt about the truth of their judgments) and denied the existence of natural causal relationships between phenomena.
Asharism, like Kalam as a whole, is distinguished by rationalism , anti-authoritarianism and emphasis on philosophical issues. Beginning with the activities of al-Shahrastani and ar-Razi, there is a rapprochement between Islam and eastern peripatetism , which ultimately ended in their merger.
The eponym of maturidism is Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 994), who used “reasoning arguments” and calamic evidence in disputes with mutazilites and jahmites  .
Maturidism was finally formed in the XIII century , and received the greatest distribution and influence during the Ottoman rule in the Muslim world . Maturidism is accepted by most Hanafites as the doctrinal basis of faith  .
The philosophy of al-Maturidi and his views are generally close to the beliefs of Abul-Hassan al-Ashari (eponym of asharites ), who was his contemporary. Both philosophers developed their doctrines in response to the heretical views of the mutazilites . The difference between these schools lies in the questions of the “being of God,” in which al-Maturidi permitted, in addition to revelation, to rely on the mind, but at the same time he acknowledged that it is impossible to comprehend God's commands by the mind  .
Sunni school of creed (akida), distinguished by its commitment to strict traditionalism and textualism in the interpretation of the Koran and Sunna. Adherents of asaria deny the allegorical interpretation of the Qur'an (ta'wil), leaving the meaning of obscure ayahs about divine attributes and not reflecting on them and at the same time not giving them a literal meaning. The name is derived from the word asar , meaning “trace”, “imprint”, “tradition”, “quote”. The main sources of belief in asarites are the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad. In explaining the meanings of obscure messages, they believe that only God has their correct understanding, and people should receive messages "without asking how" ( b-la buzz ), without trying to come up with a rational explanation for them. A prominent representative of this school is Ahmad ibn Khanbal.
The supreme power in the system of theocratic Islamic state ( caliphate ), according to the Sunnis, should belong to the rulers ( caliphs ), elected or appointed from among the Quraysh    . Although the subsequent tradition recognized the transfer of power within the framework of one family, the ruling dynasty, and for the appointment of the heir, it was necessary first of all to decide the ruling caliph himself, as was the case during the caliphates of the Umayyads and Abbasids . Shiites, however, recognize only the power of clerics ( imams ) who are descendants of Muhammad through his cousin Ali ibn Abu Talib.
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