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General Information >
Are all Muslims the same?

Since we are more familiar with Christianity, we know without thinking that there is great diversity in Christianity. Christianity expresses itself in many forms and contexts. There are different Christian churches or sects (from Baptists to Unitarians, Roman Catholics to Greek and Russian Orthodox), existing in different cultures (North American, Middle Eastern, European, Asian, and African). The result is a diversity of beliefs and practices within what we call Christianity. So too in Islam, although Muslims maintain that there is one divinely revealed and mandated Islam, there are many Muslim interpretations of Islam. There are two major branches, Sunni (85 percent of the world's Muslims) and Shii (15 percent). Within them are diverse schools of theology and law. In addition, Islam has a rich mystical tradition that includes many Sufi orders or brotherhoods. Islam represents a basic unity of belief within a rich cultural diversity. Islamic practice expresses itself in different ways within a vast array of cultures that extend from North Africa to Southeast Asia as well as Europe and America. (See pages 42–61 for more specific questions on this topic.)

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