People are generally aware of two main variations of Islam which are Sunni Islam and Shi’ite which between them comprise of more than 90% of all Muslims. However, few realize that there are a lot more variations of the Islamic religion and this article seeks to highlight some of these.
Please note, that there are different schools of thought within each variation. These go beyond the scope of this article.
Sunni Muslims are the largest Islamic sect forming up to 90% of the Islamic population. The term means teachings and actions of Prophet Muhamad. Beliefs exclusive to Sunnis are that the prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) did not select a successor to lead the Islamic caliphate after his death and believed that leadership should not be based on the lineage or bloodline of the prophet but rather through democratic selection. This changed after the fall of the Ottoman empire and a system of hereditary ruled followed.
Forming between 10%-13% of the total Islamic population, the Shi’ites are the second largest denomination in Islam. Like the Sunnis they believe in the authority of the Qur;an; however, their split with the Sunnis arose largely as a result of a dispute regarding the succession of the prophet Muhammad and believe that those in his lineage also known as the Ahl al-Bayt (The people of the House) are the rightful successors to the prophet.
These are a sect that initially was in line with the Shi’ite movement, but later defected and eventually fought against them. They are known to be uncompromising with any group with whom they do not agree.
This is the mystical branch of Islam and debate continues as to whether they are part of Orthodox Islam or exist as a separate denomination. Sufi’s emphasize personal knowledge and relationship of God through meditation and renouncing of worldly pursuits. They believe the Qur’an contains deeper esoteric interpretations and herein lies their main difference with Orthodox Islam who believe in the literal interpretation of the Qur’an.
The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was founded in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. His followers believe that he is Christ returned also known as the Mahdi, and his purpose the 2nd time around was to restore the Islamic faith which began to deviate from the Sharia.
#6. African American denominations
Founded in 1913 by American Timothy Drew, also known as Prophet Noble Drew Ali, it claims to be a primarily Islamic sect drawing from other religious movements such as Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Taoism but is based mainly on African-American perspectives.
#7. Nation of Islam
Founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in Detroit USA, its followers believe Fard Muhammad was God reincarnated on earth similar to Jesus. It only has people of the black race as its members who it believes are the original race on earth.
#8. Five Percenters
An offshoot of the nation of Islam, the five percenters believe on 10% of the world’s population know the truth about existence and within this 10% there are the elites and controllers of the world who seek to keep real spiritual knowledge a secret and use it to control the rest and the other five percent make it their goal to emancipate the rest.