Roughly 85 percent of the world's Muslims are Sunnis. The sect includes various schools, from liberal to fundamentalist, which all agree that authority is based on the Quran and the traditions of Mohammed.
Sunni and Shia Populations
An overwhelming majority of Muslims are Sunnis, while an estimated 10-13% are Shias. This report estimates that there are between 154 million and 200 million Shia Muslims in the world today.
Although there are many Shīʿa subsects, modern Shīʿa Islam has been divided into two main groupings: Twelvers and Ismāʿīlīs, with Twelver Shīʿas being the largest and most influential group among Shīʿa Muslims. Shīʿa Islam is the second largest branch of Islam, followed by 10–15% of all Muslims.
Shia Muslims are a numerical majority in Iraq and Bahrain. Approximately 35% of the population in Yemen and half of the Muslims in Lebanon are Shia Muslims. There is also a very large population of Shia Muslims living in the Persian Gulf countries especially in Saudi Arabia.
Islam is practiced by 90% of Egyptians. Most Egyptian Muslims are Sunni and follow the Maliki school of jurisprudence, though all legal schools are represented. Shi'a Muslims make up a small minority.
Islam in Lebanon has a long and continuous history. According to an estimate by the CIA, it is followed by 67.8% of the country's total population. Sunnis make up 31.9%, Shias make up 31.2%, with smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis.
Most Muslims in Turkey are Sunni Muslims forming about 90%, and Shia-Aleviler (Alevis, Ja'faris and Alawites) denominations in total form up to 10% of the Muslim population. Precise numbers are unavailable since Turkey doesn't conduct censuses about religious denominations.
The Saudi government does not conduct a census on religion or ethnicity, but some sources estimate the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia to make up around 10-15% of the approximately 23 million natives of Saudi Arabia.
Today's Afghanistan can be considered 99% Muslim. There is a rough 3/4 to 1/4 split in favor of Sunni Muslims to Shia. Though recent history has been defined by growing religious intolerance and sectarian conflict, Afghanistan does have marginal adherents of other religions.
Approximately 11 percent of the population are citizens, of whom more than 85 percent are Sunni Muslims, according to media reports. The vast majority of the remainder are Shia Muslims, who are concentrated in the Emirates of Dubai and Sharjah.
Muslim societies allow for up to four wives, but not without specific rules and regulations.
Sunni and Shia Muslims share many central beliefs, including a belief in the Oneness of Allah (tawhid), and that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) was the final Messenger of Allah, who received Divine revelations recorded in the Holy Qur'an.
The divide originated with a dispute over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Islamic faith he introduced. Today, about 85 percent of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are Sunni, while 15 percent are Shia, according to an estimate by the Council on Foreign Relations.
The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a country home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.1%), India (10.9%) and Bangladesh (9.2%). About 20% of Muslims live in the Arab world.
Bangladesh has the fifth largest Muslim population in the world. Most Muslims in Bangladesh identify with the Sunni sect , but there is also a small Shi'a community that lives mainly in the larger cities and there is a small Ahmadiyya community.
The Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam was a process of forced conversion that took place roughly over the 16th through 18th centuries and turned Iran (Persia), which previously had a Sunni majority population, into the spiritual bastion of Shia Islam.
China has the world's largest Buddhist population, with an estimated 185–250 million practitioners, according to Freedom House. Though Buddhism originated in India, it has a long history and tradition in China and today is the country's largest institutionalized religion.
The Taliban follow an ultraconservative Sunni interpretation of Islam. Yet approximately 10 to 15 percent of Afghans are Shia, and there are a significant number of Sufi, small numbers of Ahmadis, and some Hindus and Sikhs in urban areas.
In the projected scenario, as of 2020 about 15% of Indians are Muslim (vs. 14.2% in the 2011 census), 79% are Hindu (vs. 79.8% in 2011), and 2% are Christian (in line with 2011). In 2050, Hindus are projected to represent about 77% of Indians, Muslims 18% and Christians still 2%.
Grand Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi ruled: "Tattoos are considered makruh (reprehensible but not forbidden). However, it is not permissible to have Quranic verses, names of Ahlulbayt (a.s), drawings of Imams (a.s), Hadiths, unislamic and inappropriate images or the likes tattooed onto the body.
Many Shia, when performing prayers during the hajj, will follow Sunni practices rather than their own, which include a different call to prayer, a different form of ablution, and combining prayers, worshipping three times a day instead of five.
Mecca is the only pilgrimage site officially accepted by all Muslims, but Iran and Iraq are home to a number of sites considered holy to the Shia faithful: Hussein was buried at Karbala, for example, and the tomb of Ali is in nearby Najaf.
Although Syria has no official religion, 85 percent of the population is Muslim, and of these, 85 percent are members of the Sunni sect (i.e. 72 percent of the total population).
These schools, referred to respectively as the Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafei, are followed by different Muslim states either entirely or in part. Egypt is traditionally Maliki.
Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam. As proof of the prohibition, Islamic scholars and Muslim religious authorities typically point to a verse in the Quran, the Muslim holy book, that calls intoxicants “the work of Satan” and tells believers to avoid them.