Sunni and Shia Islam
The historical divide of Islam into Sunni, or so-called orthodox Islam, andShia, was caused more by political dispute over successors than doctrinaldifferences, although differences gradually assumed theological and metaphysicalovertones. Despite the split, within centuries Islam reached far into Africa,eastward to the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia, as well as northwardinto Central Asia. This expansion was accomplished by traders and missionariesas much as by conquest.
Sunni constitute 85 percent of the world's Muslims; Shia about 15 percent.Each division has four major Shariah or schools of theological law. The Sunni:Hanafi, dominant in the Arab Middle East, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan;Maleki, in north, central and west Africa and Egypt; Shafii, in east Africa,Indonesia and southeast Asia; Hanbali, in Saudi Arabia. The Shia: Ithna Ashariyaor Imami, the state religion in Iran, dominant in Iraq and also found inAfghanistan; Nizari Ismaili, present throughout the Muslim world, includingAfghanistan, led by the Aga Khan; Zaidiya, in Yemen; Mutazila, in Syria andLebanon.
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