Sunni vs Ismaili: Difference and Comparison

Islam is one of the religions with many followers. It is the religion with the greatest number of followers in various countries of the world. Islamic people follow their scripture Quran.

They believe that God is unique and powerful. God guides humans through various messengers, signs, and scriptures. South Asia is the place with the most number of Muslims.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam, while Ismaili is a smaller branch within Shia Islam.
  2. The main difference between Sunni and Ismaili is their interpretation of the rightful succession of leadership after the death of Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Ismailis follow the hereditary line of the Aga Khan as their spiritual leader, whereas Sunnis do not have a centralized religious authority.

Sunni vs Ismaili

Sunnis are Muslims who adhere to the Sunnah, or the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and traditions. They are the largest branch of Islam and adhere to the Quran and Hadith, which are the Prophet’s recorded sayings and actions. Ismailis are Shia Muslims who adhere to the teachings of a particular understanding of Islam and believe in a live, hereditary Imam.

Sunni vs Ismaili

Sunni is the largest and most famous branch of Islam. This name was derived from the word Sunnah which means the ways of Prophet Muhammad.

Sunni Muslims believe only in Allah and don’t trust that he has left successors to carry on the legacy. They follow the prophet’s preaching. It is considered orthodox Islam.

Ismaili Muslims believe that the prophet has appointed Imam as his spiritual heir and successor. They consider the descendants of Imam Ismail as their leaders and follow them.

Ismailis have different ways of worship and rituals. Ismaili also has various branches and sects.

Ismailis can be found in many countries like Central and South Asia, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, etc.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSunniIsmaili
Principle They believe and follow the traditional way Prophet Muhammad has condemned They follow Quran and also the changes and rules made by their leader
Community sizeThey constitute the largest population They are a small group of closely connected people
Holy placeMosque Jamaat Khana
Prayer Men and Women pray separately Men and Women pray together
Leadership Secular and everyone is allowed to become the leader Leadership is hereditary

What is Sunni?

Sunni is a branch of Islam that is considered Orthodox Islam. Many names like Ahul Sunnies, Sunnites, and Sunnies call the followers of Sunni Islam.

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Sunni Muslims follow the Quran and Hadith. Their traditions are based on the preachings, actions, and advice of Prophet Muhammad. They are the branch of Islam with a greater number of followers.

Sunni Muslims do not encourage or accept any introductions to the preachings of Allah. They are the majority, and they follow secular leadership.

They do not have a particular religious ruler. Sunni Islam has many branches. Some of them include Brailvi, Wahabi, Deobandi, etc. Mosques are religious places for Sunni Muslims.

Most Muslim women don’t visit the mosque. Sunni Muslim women also pray at their respective homes. In Sunni Islam, they follow the traditional way.

Some Sunni women go to mosques to attend the Friday prayers. This shows the adherence of Sunni Muslims to traditions and the words of Prophet Muhammad.

Sunni Muslims sacrifice animals to God during rituals and some special occasions. Sunnis consider the companions of the Prophet to be divine transmitters of Islamic ways.

They have come to believe it because the companions of the Prophet had compiled his words into a holy book. In Sunni Islam, everyone is given equal opportunity to become a leader.

Leadership and fame can be achieved only by becoming a great theologist of Islam.


What is Ismaili?

Ismaili Muslims are a branch of Shia Islam. They are a minor group of Muslims. They are found only in some parts of the world. They have a religious head.

Their present religious leader is Aga Khan. They believe that their leader has the power to interpret Quran. He was given the authority to relate Quran with the present time happenings.

Ismailis believe in the meaning behind numbers. They consider the number seven to have some mystical value. Unlike other Muslims, Ismaili Muslims do not observe the ritual of fasting for an entire month.

Women are given equal rights in the Ismaili of some countries. Their religious place is called the Jamaat Khana. They give their leader high power.

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He gives names to the newly born infants. His approval is crucial for a couple to get married.

Ismaili Muslims do not sacrifice animals. Ismaili is very supportive and social in their community. The rich and powerful people in their society help and bring up the poor people.

They help the needy and offer them whatever they need. Thus they keep their community strong.

Ismailis in Pakistan are considered very soft-hearted. They are known for their kindness. They do not indulge in quarrels.

In this group of Ismailis, the women are well-educated and lead the society. Some Ismailis avoid personal interactions and relationships with people from other branches of Islam and other religions.


Main Differences Between Sunni and Ismaili

  1. Sunni Muslims are larger in number and are living in many parts of the world. But Ismailis are comparably smaller. They are the minority.
  2. Sunni Muslims abide by the preachings and words of Prophet Muhammad, while Ismailis follow Quran along with the changes and interpretations made by their leader.
  3. Sunnis follow secularism and do not boast of a religious leader but, in Ismaili, the religious head has the leadership power
  4. In Sunni Muslim, everyone has equal rights to influence and become famous irrespective of their family history and background, but in Ismaili, the family members or their heir only can become famous, and a leader
  5. In Sunni Muslims, the women don’t pray along with the men. They say their prayers from home. While in Ismaili, men and women pray together.
Difference Between Sunni and Ismaili

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “Sunni vs Ismaili: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article provides an insightful comparison between Sunni and Ismaili beliefs and practices in a clear and effective manner.

  2. A good introduction to the complexities of the Islamic religion. This article provides clear insights into the differences between Sunni and Ismaili beliefs and practices.

    • Absolutely! The article efficiently breaks down the fundamental differences between Sunni and Ismaili, making it easy for readers to comprehend.

  3. I disagree with the comparison provided here. The beliefs and practices of both Sunni and Ismaili are oversimplified, and the article fails to capture the complexities involved.

    • I think the article is quite comprehensive. It is normal for differences to be oversimplified when conveying them to a wider audience.

    • The article aims to offer an introductory understanding, and it does so effectively. Further in-depth exploration can be pursued through other scholarly sources.

  4. An interesting article containing a lot of helpful information for those seeking to understand more about Islam and its various sects.

  5. The portrayal and comparison of Sunni and Ismaili are delivered with clarity and precision, making it an enlightening piece for readers seeking to expand their knowledge.


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