Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Majority...

The major religion in Syria is Sunni, or Orthodox, Islam. Islam reached Syria a few years after the death of the Prophet, Muhammad, when the Arabs army conquered Syria completely in 640.The Sunni sect is also the major sect in Islam worldwide, except in a few countries like Iran and Iraq.

According to The CIA Factbook, Sunnis make 74% of the Syrian nation. Thinking that all the Sunnis have the same mindset is not completely precise.

Sunnis belong to four different schools of law. During the first 3 centuries after Islam, Muslim scholars were the ones to influence verdicts, especially the cases that weren't mentioned in the Quran or the Shari'a. In the eleventh century, link-minded scholars established legal institution:

- The Shafii School, was founded on the principles of Muhammad ash-shafii (d. 820), who held the Sunna to be the most important source of law.

- The Maliki School, which is primarily observed in West Africa, was founded by Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), who relied almost exclusively on the traditions of Medina in forming his opinions.

-The Hanbali School of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855), the most traditionalist of the legal schools. It tends to dominate ultraconservative countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

-The Hanafi School of Abu Hanifah (d. 767). It is the largest and most diverse legal tradition with regard to breadth of interpretation. It is also considered the most 'liberal' Sunni school of law.

The majority of Syrian Sunnis follow the Hanafi School. There are also considerable number of Sunnis who follow the The Shafii School.

Nowadays, all the school of laws seem to emerge and be influenced by political, economical, and international events. You can find people who identify themselves as followers of a certain School of Law, while not necessarily following its law, just because their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents belonged to that School.

Of course, there existed many movements through the centuries after the establishment of these four Schools. Wahabism, the movement to "purify" Islam from all "outside" and "strange" influences is the most concervative movement that ever existed. In addition to small groups who follow the teachings of some Sheikhs who were influencial at certain point in time.


Anonymous Marwan Al-Halabi said...

Nice insider view.
Here is a link to an outsider view from Wikipedia

6:13 PM  
Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

saudi arabia tend to be hanbalite but they don't feel that are bound to a school.

More detailed information about the schools here:

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4:22 PM  
Blogger Zilko said...

Hellow... . Nice to see ur blog :D

11:26 AM  
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4:34 PM  
Blogger Omar said...

I've always wondered about the divisions. Thanks for the info

6:57 AM  
Blogger no one said...

basiclly,these divisions were not made for commen ppl...they were made for those who want to study religion,,so each one would follow one of these sheekhs' point of view..

7:43 PM  

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