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Sunni Islam (// or //) is the largest denomination of Islam. Its name comes from the word Sunnah, referring to the exemplary behavior of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims arose from a disagreement over the choice of Muhammad's successor and subsequently acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions.
According to Sunni tradition, Muhammad did not clearly designate a successor and the Muslim community acted according to his sunnah in electing his father-in-law Abu Bakr as the first caliph. This contrasts with the Shi'a view, which holds that Muhammad intended his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib to succeed him. Political tensions between Sunnis and Shias continued with varying intensity throughout Islamic history and they have been exacerbated in recent times by ethnic conflicts and the rise of Wahhabism.
As of 2009[update], Sunni Muslims constituted 87–90% of the world's Muslim population. Sunni Islam is the world's largest religious denomination, followed by Catholicism. Its adherents are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah ("the people of the sunnah and the community") or ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its doctrines and practices are sometimes called Sunnism, while adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, Sunnites and Ahlus Sunnah. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as "orthodox Islam".
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