|alt. shariah, sharee'ah|
|alt. Shi'ite, Shi'a, Shee'ah|
"Split" and also "followers." A general designation covering various Islamic sects not following the conformist or orthodox Sunni faith. The schism, whose origin goes back to the early years of Islam, had its beginnings in the rivalry for the caliphate between the Umayyad and 'Alid clans after Khaleef 'Ali's death and Mu'awiyah's (the first Umayyad) accession to the caliphate. The 'Alid party maintained that this highest office of Islam was a prerogative of the Prophet Muhammad's household. They also maintained that 'Ali was the first legitimate Imam or successor to the Prophet and therefore rejected the first three successors of the Prophet . The belief in this regard later developed into a faith that the Prophet's God-given spiritual and secular guidance had passed from him to 'Ali who, himself an incarnation of the Divine Spirit, had bequethed his mission to a sequence of hereditary Imams of his progeny. On this soil was set up a theological framework which left ample room for the most varied opinions, some of them hard on the borderline of Islam.
|sun-nah | su-nan|
"Way," "saying," or "custom." The sunnah represents an authentic saying, act or tacit approval of the Prophet Muhammad . As opposed to the Qur'an which is a direct revelation from Allah, the Prophet Muhammad also received what is regarded as wahi ghayr matluw, or an "unread revelation", which enabled him to give authoritative declarations on reilgious questions. The Arabic words used for these traditions are hadith and sunnah (a saying and a custom). The Prophet gave very special instructions regarding the faithful transmission of his sayings. Gradually, however, spurious traditions also gained currency for which an elaborate canon of subjective and historical criticism was evolved for the reception or rejection of the traditions.
The Sunnah represents an authentic interpretation of the Qur'an, a valuable source of law and an infallible guide for the overwhelming majority of Muslims in every situation of their spiritual and secular life, as opposed to bid'ah (innovation).
|Related links:||The Authority of Sunnah|
"One of the path." A term generally applied to the overwhelming majority of the Muslims who consider the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad , manifested by his sayings, acts, or tacit approval and transmitted by the companions, as the infallible guide of the faithful and an authentic interpretation of the Qur'an.
|soo-rah | su-war|
A term used exclusively for the chapters of the Qur'an, of which there are 114 in number.