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Islamic law contains rules and guidelines for all aspects of a Muslims life such as how to pray the proper way to conduct a business transaction how to bury the dead as well as crimes and punishments Traditionally these laws were based largely upon the Koran and the Sunnah which is the practice or custom of the Prophet Muhammad These clear principles were applied to new circumstances that later Muslims encountered Over the course of a few centuries the ways in which these principles or customs should be interpreted emerged in the form of the four major Sunni schools of law or jurisprudence or madhhab These were in addition to the Shii schools the most dominant of which is the Ithna Ashari 12 Imam or Jafari madhhab Islam has produced several interpretations of power and authority the crucial concepts in political theory In essence each Muslim believes in the Islamic ideal To a non-Muslim it would seem that there is one monolithic faith here However this is not the case in practice Differences within the Muslim community have been created through various political and historical factors The differences are fundamentally of a social and cultural nature There are numerous Muslim sects within these two divisions of Islam However regardless of how many sects each has Sunnis make up ninety per cent of the Muslim population while the Shias make up approximately the other ten per cent In many instances within the Muslim faith there is an obvious overlap between the two divisions The differences the two experience are in terms of custom and practice This essay will examine the main differences between the two divisions According to Ahmed 1999 it is the view of many scholars that the differences between the Sunnis and the Shias can be explained by the historical and cultural confrontation between the Arabs and Persians Both divisions believe in the five pillars of Islam but over time different rituals and
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