1. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) stated in a hadith that there will be 73 sects of his Ummah. How many sects of the Ummah have been in existence thus far? Please mention their names.

2. i) Is Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah considered to be a sect? ii) Are the four madhabs considered 4 sects? iii) Also, is Ahle Hadith considered a different sect? iv) Are Salafis and Ahle Hadith the same?


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

  1. At the outset, the Hadith referred to in your query is as follows:


أخبرنا أبو العباس قاسم بن القاسم السياري بمرو ثنا أبو

الموجه حدثنا أبو عمار : ثنا الفضل بن موسى عن محمد بن عمرو عن أبي سلمة عن أبي هريرة : أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال : افترقت اليهود على إحدى و سبعين فرقة أو اثنتين و سبعين فرقة و النصارى مثل ذلك و تفترق أمتي على ثلاث و سبعين فرقة



Abu Hurayrah (RadiyAllahu Anhu) relates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘The Jews were divided into 71or 72sects as were the Christians. My Ummah will be divided into 73 sects.”(Al-Mustadrak)


After Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) left this world, many ikhtilafaat (differences) began to arise amongst the Ummah. Within a period of time, the Aqeedah (religious creed, belief) of some who were misled changed from the haq (truth) and in turn they misguided others.



As a result, different groups were formed. Those which had differences amongst themselves branched out into several other groups. The prediction of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) became true.



Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) clearly mentioned that 72 of these sects will go to the fire of jahannam whilst 1 will be admitted to paradise.


The successful group will be the one who follows the Jama’ah. This group is the followers of Ahle-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, which will be explained further below.

Hereunder are some of the known main groups and their branches (in no particular order), most of which do not exist anymore. The following is taken from the kitab


Al-Farq baynal Firaq” (The Difference Between the Differences) by ‘Abd-al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (Rahimahullah) (d. 429 AH


This book should be referred to for a further, detailed explanation on the abovementioned Hadith and the various groups with their sub-groups, including their founders and differences in beliefs.


Firstly, the Rawaafid after the time of Ali (RadiyAllahu Anhu) were divided into 4 groups:




and Ghulah.

These 4 groups had sub-groups:


1) Imaamiyyah-Divided into 15 sects:

a) Muhammadiyyah

b) Baqiriyyah

c) Nawusiyyah

d) Shamaytiyyah

e) Ammariyyah

f) Ismailiyyah

g) Mubarakiyyah

h) Musawiyyah

i) Qatiyyah

j) Hishamiyyah

k) Zarariyyah

l) Yunusiyyah

m) Shaytaniyyah

n) Kamiliyyah

o) Athnaa Ashriyyah


2) Zaydiyyah-Divided into 3 sects:

a) Jarudiyyah

b) Sulaymaniyyah (also known as Jaririyyah)

c) Butriyyah


3) Kaysaniyyah-Divided into 2 sects

4) Ghulah-Divided into 6 groups:

a) Bayaniyyah

b) Mughiriyyah

c) Janahiyyah

d) Mansuriyyah

e) Khattabiyyah

f) Haluliyyah


The Khawaarij were divided into 20 sects:

a) Al-Muhkamatul Ula

b) Azaraqah

c) Najadaat

d) Safriyyah

e) Ajaradah

f) Khazimiyyah

g) Shu’aybiyyah

h) Khalfiyyah

i) Ma’lumiyyah and Majhuliyyah

j) Sultiyyah

k) Hamziyyah

l) Thaalabah

m) Akhnasiyyah

n) Shaybaniyyah

o) Rashidiyyah

p) Mukarramiyyah

q) Ibadiyyah

r) Hafsiyyah

s) Harithiyyah

t) Shabibiyyah


The Qadariyyah-Mu’tazilah ‘anil Haq were divided into 18 sects:

a) Waasiliyyah

b) Umrawiyyah

c) Hadhliyyah

d) Nizamiyyah

e) Aswariyyah

f) Muammariyyah

g) Bishriyyah

h) Hishamiyyah

i) Murdariyyah

j) Jafaerriyyah

k) Iskafiyyah

l) Thamamiyyah

m) Jahidhiyyah

n) Shahamiyyah

o) Khayyatiyyah

p) Ka’biyyah

q) Jabaiyyah

r) Bahshamiyyah


The Murjiah were divided into 5 sects:

a) Yunusiyyah

b) Ghassaniyyah

c) Tawmaniyyah

d) Thawbaniyyah

e) Marisiyyah


The Najariyyah were divided into 3 sects:

a) Barghuthiyyah

b) Za’fraaniyyah

c) Mustadrakah


Finally, the 73rd group is the Ahle-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, which is the group on haq. Towards the end of the kitab, Abd-al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (Rahimahullah) defines the Ahle-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah as follows:


Those who have completely mastered the principles of belief (Ash’aris and Maturidis), the mujtahid Imams of fiqh and their followers, the scholars of Hadith that steered clear of deviation, the scholars of Arabic grammar that steered away from deviation, the scholars of Tafsir that steered away from deviation, the Sufis, and the general masses of Muslims.


Most define Ahle-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah as those who follow the Ash’ari and Maturidi schools of Aqeedah, which includes the followers of the 4 Imams of fiqh.


Since every sect claims to be on the true path, the criterion to determine the true sect is as follows:

a) Adherence to the Quran and Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)


b) To believe in Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as the final Messenger


c) To have love for every companion of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)


d) To follow the Shari’ah through the guidance of any of the four Imams of fiqh-Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi’ee, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (Rahimahumullah)


(Al-Farq baynal-Firaq, Maktabah Darul-Turath)

2) The second part of the query has been answered above.


And Allah knows best

Wassalam u Alaikum

Ml. Asif Umar,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by K on January 4, 2015 at 16:54

    Assalamu Alaikum. Very nicely answered. My question is why do we need to follow the 4 schools? Why do we need to define ourselves as “Hanafi” or “Shafi” or “Hanbali”? Why not just Muslim. The intent of the 4 Imams was absolutely not to separate the religion but the people after the 4 Imams infact caused the divide and started branching off. Prophet Muhammad (sallallu alayhi wasallam) never said to follow the 4 schools/madhab as those weren’t even in existence in his time. So the answer to 1D should be revised or removed as our Prophet (SAW) never stated this critera.

    Jazak Allah Khairun
    Assalamu Alaikum


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