Are there different types of Muslims? Who are these people and what does their religion teach? These days, many folks wonder about Islam and Muslim people. To answer the first question, Islam is not a single group of people. Actualy Islam has many groups and branches, much like Christianity.
The Main Branches
Although there are many variations among Muslim groups, the two main branches of Islam are Sunni and Shi’a. Sunni Islam accounts for approximately eighty-five percent of Muslims worldwide and Shi’a Islam makes up about fifteen percent, mainly in Iran, Yemen, and parts of Iraq. The people in the two groups are referred to as Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Why the Differences?
The two groups differ over which of its caliphs (early leaders) are considered to be rightly guided by Allah and, therefore, legitimate successors to Muhammad in leading all of Islam. Because of the differences in which caliphs the different groups follow, Sunni and Shi’a have somewhat different interpretations of portions of the Qur’an, which in turn, result in differing customs, traditions and practices. Each of these main branches has numerous sub-groups with their own unique interpretations as well.
A More Complete Explanation
I recently discussed this issue on the My ConVersation program on KAIL television. You can view the 1 minute 23 second video clip of the program at this link:
Dr. Michael Bogart