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Sacred Narratives

In addition to a belief in the biblical and creation narratives in the Quran, common to all Muslim sects, biography and "religious merits" literature played a large role in the formation of Sunni identity.

Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

The most common creed of Sunnism, the Ashari creed, includes two essential beliefs: in the Ultimate Reality and Unknowability of God, and in the existence of angels, who perform various roles as emissaries and agents on God's behalf.

Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

Devotion to the example of Muhammad as the guide for how to define and shape one's existence is a primary element of Sunni identity. Sunni Islam places great emphasis on the model of the Prophet for how to live a pious life and how to conduct all affairs, from the most ceremonial to the most mundane.

Suffering and the Problem of Evil

Controversies over the notions of God's justice, his omnipotence and predestination, and the responsibility each human bears in relation to good and evil were central in early theological circles in the Islamic world. Sunni theologians contended with several early controversies, including one called the Qadariyya.

Afterlife and Salvation

Sunni beliefs about the afterlife and salvation rest on an individual's relationship with God. Resurrection, reckoning, and an eternal afterlife in paradise or hell are some elements of mainstream Sunni eschatology.