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Sunni Muslims

There are two main branches of Islam that are basically distinguished by how they view the successor of the prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that his successors were elected religious leaders. Shi’a Muslims believe that Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, was the legitimate successor. New differences between these two groups have arisen over time and there are also separate groups and movements within each branch. Most Muslims worldwide and in the US are Sunni. Most Muslims in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iran are Shi’a (Detroit Free Press 2001).

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