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The Tenets of Islam

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The two largest subgroups of the Muslims are the Sunni and the Shi'a. Sunni Muslims make up a large percentage of the Muslim world although one can find large majorities of Shi'a Muslims making up the Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Iraq. However, in Saudi Arabia, Sunni Muslim are the majority. Sunni Islam's most fundamental tenets are referred to as the Five Pillars of Islam2, while Shia Islam has a slightly different terminology, encompassing five core beliefs, the Roots of Religion and ten core practices, the Branches of Religion. All Muslims agree on the following statements, which Sunnis term the Five Pillars of Islam, and Shia would consider two of the Roots of Religion and four of the Branches of Religion.

The Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Kaaba,  Masjid al Haram, Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam
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The Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Kaaba, Masjid al Haram, Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam
  • Shahadah: The Testimony that there is none worthy of worship except God (Tawheed) and that Muhammad is his messenger (Nubuwwah).
  • Salah: Establishing of the five daily Prayers (salah).
  • Zakat: The Giving of Zakaah (charity), which is one fortieth (2.5%) of the net worth of savings kept for more than a year, with few exemptions, for every Muslim whose wealth exceeds the nisab, and 10% or 20% of the produce from agriculture. This money or produce is distributed among the poor and indigents.
  • Sawm: Fasting from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan.
  • Hajj: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca during the month of Dhul Hijjah, which is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to do it.

The Shia include the following, though some of these beliefs are also considered accurate in Sunni Islam as well:

  • Adl: The justice of God.
  • Qiyamah: The Day of Resurrection.

and four of what the Shia call the Branches of Religion:

while two "branches", and one "root", are specifically Shia:

  • Imamah: Leadership. The belief in the divinely appointed and guided imamah of Ali and some of his descendants.
  • Tawalla: To love the Ahl al-Bayt and their followers.
  • Tabarra: To disassociate from the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt

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