Difference Between Sunni and Wahabi (With Table)

During the time of Mohammad Prophets death, there were many divisions in belief and rituals that began to be followed by the Muslim population around the world. Some that followed the same belief formed groups whereas the others went away to form separate sects. Two such are the Sunnis and Wahabis.

Due to their many differences in prayers, rituals and beliefs, Sunni Muslims and Wahabi Muslims got separated into different sects. They parted ways and continued to believe in their way of praying to the Almighty.

Sunni vs Wahabi

The difference between Sunni and Wahabi is that Sunni Muslims follow Mohammad Prophet and treat him as the messenger of God whereas Wahabi Muslims do not believe that he is a messenger and believe that he should be only treated as a human.

Sunni Muslims were the first group that formed after the death of Mohammad Prophet and are the followers of the Sunnah. They form new rules for Islam and name these activities as Islamic. They believe in the powers of rituals and celebration of annual Sufi festivals.

Wahabi Muslims are the followers of Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab and got their name from him. This sheikh was present in the 18th century. They are only 5% of the Muslims population of the world and all of them are located in Saudi Arabia. They only follow the words of their sheikh.

Comparison Table Between Sunni and Wahabi

Parameters of ComparisonSunniWahabi
Followers ofMohammad Prophet and his followersMohammad ibne Abdul Wahab of the 18th century.
EtymologyDerived from SunnahFrom the name of the sheikh that they follow, Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab.
PopulationThey are 90 % of the world Muslim populationThey are only found in Saudi Arabia (5%)
Beliefsthey believe in healing powersThey believe in visiting tombs and shrines of saints
Belief in Mohammad ProphetThey believe that he is the connection between them and Allah and give him special treatmentThey believe that he should be treated as just a mortal human and nothing beyond.

What is Sunni?

Sunni Muslims are the group of people who follow Mohammad Prophet and his followers. They are the ones who get new Islamic manners and label them as Islam. Sunni Muslims follow the four school of thoughts, also called School of Fiqh: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali.

They are 85-90% of the world’s Muslim population. Sunni Muslims usually reside in the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, etc. They are moderate and are not orthodox Muslims. They also treat their women as their equal.

Sunni Muslims believe that Mohammad is the only reliable transmitters or messengers to God as they have agreed on the integration of Mohammad and God. They do not have any hierarchical ruler or Calif. The rulers are formed informally when they gain large followers through their preaches.

Sunni Muslims celebrate the birth of Muhammad Prophet in the form of Urs and also have Sufi festivals. They wear charms and place their belief in healing powers as well as intercession and mysticism

What is Wahabi?

Wahabi Muslims are the group of revolutionary Sunni Muslims who left from the actual group following Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab. The word ‘Wahabi’ was given to his followers.

These groups do not believe in equality for women. The women of this country are not allowed to work beside a man and are also not allowed to drive cars. They are required to wear long garments to cover their face, leaving only their eyes exposed.

According to Wahabi Muslims, praying and performing rituals in the shrine is a sin and they are against it. They also do not believe in intercession and mysticism. They are known to be a group of fundamentalists.

Wahabi Muslims are only 5% in the Muslim population of the world as they are found only in Saudi Arabia. They do not migrate and reside in any other country around the world. Their only belief is visiting the shrines and tombs of the saints and follow the words of their sheikh.

Main Differences Between Sunni and Wahabi

  1. Sunni Muslims are the followers of Mohammad Prophet and his followers. They were the first group that formed at the death of the Prophet. Wahabi Muslims are the followers of Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab of the 18th century.
  2. The word Sunni came from ‘Sunnah’ as they were the followers of the Sunnah of Mohammad Prophet. Whereas, the word ‘Wahabi’ came from the one they follow, Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab.
  3. Sunni Muslims have a majority of 85-90% of the Muslim population around the world. They are found in the Middle-east. While Wahabi Muslims are only found in Saudi Arabia and therefore make only 5% of the world’s Muslim population.
  4. Sunni Muslims wear charms and place their belief in healing power. On the other hand, Wahabi Muslims do not believe in these but rather on visiting tombs and shrines of saints.
  5. Since Sunni Muslims are followers of Mohammad Prophet, they treat him with special care and also celebrate his birthday in the form of Urs. Wahabi Muslims do not follow Mohammad prophet and believe that they need to treat as only a mortal human.

Conclusion

In religions or within a community, it is not necessary to follow only one type of rules or one person. When differences occur the existing group is divided into further sects. This is what happened between the Sunnis and the Wahabis.

The Sunnis are the true followers of Mohammad Prophet and his Sunnahs. Therefore they got the name Sunnis. They are moderates and believe in wearing charms and performing rituals. They believe in equal rights for the women as well.

The Wahabis are called fundamentalists and follow orthodox Islam. They do not believe in intercession and mysticism like the Sunnis. Initially, they were also a part of the Sunnis but under the guidance of Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab, they separated.

The main difference, as one can see, is their difference in belief, rituals and celebration. The birth of the Prophet calls for an annual celebration in the case of the Sunnis. Since the Wahabis do not believe in him and only treat him as a human, they do not celebrate his birth.

References

  1. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/174004/summary
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09584939408719732
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