you're reading...
International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

Understanding the branches of Islam

Written by Sebastian Kusserow and Patryk Pawlak with Clare Ferguson
Understanding the branches of Islam

© Kaputtknie / Fotolia

On 24 September 2015, all Muslims celebrate the feast of sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha. Whilst the Islamic faith is based on a number of shared fundamental beliefs and practices, over time, leadership disputes within the Muslim community have resulted in the formation of different branches, leading to the development of distinct religious identities within Islam.

A better understanding of commonalities and differences between these communities is particularly relevant today, when a large number of conflicts in the Muslim world are depicted in sectarian terms, either by reference to the ‘Sunni-Shia divide’ or the potential development of a ‘Shiite crescent’.

Regardless of the accuracy of such observations, it is clear that, since its inception, Islam has seen the emergence of a large number of different communities which are now spread around the globe. Despite the many religious and cultural connections they share, they differ from each other in their interpretations of aspects of the faith, views on Islamic history, or conceptions of leadership.

In our short briefing on the many branches of Islam, we devote some space to explaining some of the lesser-known communities, as well as the larger groups, their connections and differences.

Read this Briefing on ‘Understanding the branches of Islam‘ in PDF.

Related publications


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Download the EPRS App

EPRS App on Google Play
EPRS App on App Store
What Europe Does For You
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,990 other followers

RSS Link to Members’ Research Service

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

For a comprehensive description of our cookie and data protection policies, please visit Terms and Conditions page.

Copyright © European Union, 2014-2019. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: