Monday, February 6, 2012

What are the demographics of where this sect can be found? How many people practice this? (either the overall # and/or the percentage within the religion)

Although the exact demographics of the branches of Islam are argued, most people believe that Sunni Muslims makes up 87-90% of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.

There are 940 million Sunni Muslims.

Some estimates say that Muslims make up 20% of the world's population.

In Iraq, only 35% of the population is Sunni, although over 80 percent of the global Muslim population is of the Sunni branch. Sunni Islam is found among both Arabs and Kurds. Sunni Arabs are approximately 15 percent of Iraq's population; Sunni Kurds are approximately 20 percent.

[Chart of ethnic groups, languages, and religions in Pakistan-notice the main religion]


How and where did this particular branch develop?

Muhammed founded the Islam religion in the 17th century. He founded the first Islamic state in Medina, a city in western Saudi Arabia. When Muhammed died in 632, he left no clear message as to how leadership should continue. Therefore, there were divisions among Muslims prompted by disputes over succession to the leadership. The majority of the leadership roles were help by Sunni. They decided to proceed in selecting leaders according to ancient Arab tribal custom. Traditionally, trical leaders were selected from a small group of respected senior figures within the tribe. A tribal council would decide on a new leader, and then the leader would be confirmed by the public offering of an oath of allegiance. Early accounts suggest many were confused whether or not Muhammed intended the Muslims to remain unified under a single leader, or whether each tribe was to select their own leader. Sunnis recognize four legitimate successors to Muhammed: Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. They are collectively referred to as the "Rightly Guided Caliphs".

[at left: Islam symbol]

[at left: survey about Muslim knowledge]

Sunni History

How does your sect differ from the other branches within the major religion?

There are only 2 main branches- Sunni and Shi'i (Shias, Shi'ites). The smaller branches include: Sufism, Kharijite, Ahmadiyya, Quarnism, and more. The differences between Sunni and Shi'i are:

1. Sunni has 940 million followers, Shi'i has 120 million followers.

2. 90% of Muslims are Sunni, only 10% are Shi'i.

3. Sunni rulers must be of the tribe of the Prophet (Quraysh), Shi'i rulers must be of the family of the Prophet.

4. Sunni current leaders are called- imams, Shi'i current leaders are called- mujtahids.

5. Sunni- Al Mahdi will come in the future. Shi'i- Al Mahdi was already on earth.

6. Temporary marriage is rejected in Sunni, but still practiced in Shi'i.

7. Sunni holy cities are- Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Shi'i holy cities are- Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Najaf, Karbala.

8. Sunni major holidays are- Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr, Shi'i major holidays are- Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr, Ashura.

[Map of Muslims in the Middle East]

Sunni-Shi'i comparison

How does this monotheistic religion differ from the other two major monotheistic religions?

Islam is different from Christianity and Judaism in several ways:

1. They believe that Muhammed was the last prophet.

2. They depict God as undifferentiated, eternal, unequal, and unbegotten.

3. They have different holidays- Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, and Eid-al-Adha.

4. Their holy day is Friday.

5. Their holy texts are the Koran and Hadith.

6. There are 2 sections- Sunni and Shi'i (Shias or Shi'ites).

7. They believe that God made Mecca the center of Islam and it's holy city.

8. They believe in five pillars- shahadah (public declaration of faith), salat (prayer five times a day), zakat (donating to charity), Ramadan (fasting during Ramadan), and Mecca (make pilgrimage to Mecca once in lifetime).

9. They believe their creator is omnipotent and merciful.

10. They believe in Satan, hell, and paradise.

[at left: Muhammed teaching]

What traditions or rituals do they follow? List and describe at least 3.

1. Pilgrimage:
[at left: Kabaa in Mecca]

The Koran says Muslims must make a hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically and financially able to. The hajj takes place over the first several day of Dhul-Hijja, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The hajj commemorates the trials and sacrifices of Abraham, his wife, and son. Muslims believe that Abraham and his son Ishmael built the Kaaba as the first house of worship to God. The Kabaa is in the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca. It is an empty cube-shaped building.
2. Fasting:

For one month, Muslims are required to fast from dawn until dusk. Fasting for Muslims requires not eating, drinking, smoking, or engaging in sexual relations during daylight hours. When it becomes night however, they are allowed to continue on as normal. Fasting can be physically demanding, so the sick, elderly, injured, and pregnant or nursing women may all be excused. Typically, they are to give food, or try and fast at a later time.

3. Salat:

Muslims are required to say the salat (a prayer) five times a day. When saying this prayer, they are to face towards the direction of the Kabaa in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Salat is a ritual prayer, meaning that it has prescribed conditions, procedure, and times. To perform a valid salat, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity. Salat consists of repetition of prescribed actions and words. The five times when Sunnis are required to pray are near dawn, midday/noon, afternoon, just after sunset, and around nightfall.

Islam information, Salat information

What holy book do they use and what holy days do they observe? List and describe at least 2.

The Koran is the holy book of Muslims. They believe that it contains God's actual words.

Muslims observe Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, and Eid-al-Adha.

1. Ramadan:

Every Muslim must fast during the month of Ramadan. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The Koran instructs Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. When fasting, they do not eat any food, drink any beverages, smoke, or engage in sexual relations during daylight hours. During night, they may eat, drink, and resume normal activities. They fast to practice spiritual refection, self-restraint, concern for others, and obediance to God. Some people are excused because fasting can be physically demanding. People excused include the sick, injured, elderly, and pregnant or nursing women. Instead, they are to provide food for the poor or fast later.

2. Eid-al-Fitr:

Eid-al-Fitr is sometimes abbreviated Eid. Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan. Eid is Arabic for "festivity", while Fitr means "breaking the fast".

Typically, Muslims do the following on Eid-al-Fitr: wake up very early, clean one's teeth, have a bath, wear the best of clothing one possesses, apply perfume, eat a sweet food before the Eid prayer, pay an obligatory charity, show happiness, give as much to charity as is possible, read Fajr in the local Masjid, go early for Eid salaat, read the Eid salaat in an open field, go to the Eid prayer on foot, recite Takbir while going to the Eid prayer, and are recommended to use separate routs to and from the prayer grounds.

[at left: Koran]

What is the place of worship? What are the major features of this place?

Muslims worship in a mosque.

Earlier Arab-plan mosques have square or rectangular plans with an enclosed courtyard and covered prayer hall. The courtyard, in warm Middle Easter and Mediterranean climate, served to accommodate the large number of worshipers during Friday prayers. Most had flat roofs on the prayer halls, which required the use of numerous columns and supports. The simplicity limited the opportunities for further development and they lost popularity.

Persians started incorporating elements from earlier palace designs into their mosques. Islamic architecture began to witness the introduction of dome and huge large, arched entrances. Many had towering gateways at every side. They typically were square shaped with a central courtyard.

Mosques in Southeast Asia usually are different than the ones found throughout the Greater Middle East. Mosques in Europe and North American are even different yet. They have various styles, usually with Western architectural designs. In Africa, most mosques are old, but new ones are built as well.

Mosques are usually decorated with patterns, photos, paintings, and Scripture from the Koran. Sometimes there is decorative carpet as well. However, there are never any portraits of anyone or paintings of animals. They believe that this may cause them to worship the paintings instead of God. For the same reason, no statues or idols are present.

Mosque information

[at left: Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem ]

[at left: map of Sultan Hasan Mosque in Cario]