The Sects

The majority sect in Islam is the Sunni. The chief minority sect is the Shi‘a. The key difference between Sunni and Shi‘ī sects is that only the latter considers continuing divine revelation and prophecy possible. Therefore only the Shi‘a believe a living person can directly access God’s will and understand prior revelations in the light of that access. Therefore for the Shi‘a revealed sources (those which are of divine origin) is not limited to Qur’an and hadith; they may include the pronouncements of contemporary religious figures and charismatic authorities. Shi‘ī law adds several further legal schools, principally the Ja‘afarī (encompassing the Twelver and Ismā‘īlī sects) and the Zaydī[1].

UK Islamic Finance Law deals only with Sunni Islamic law as this majority sect and its law is the more relevant of the two to contemporary commercial and financial Islamic law.




[1] The distinctive figure of the Imām and the institution of the imamate ensures the formation of distinctive legal traditions of the Shi’a — for discussion: Nicholas J. Coulson, A History of Islamic Law (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1964; Transaction Publishers, 2011) at 103-116