Sonnites are the orthodox Mohammedans who rigidly adhere to the traditions, and are famous for their opposition to the several heretical sects, especially the Shiites (q.v.), who reject the traditions. The Turks belong to the former, the Persians to the latter sect. They regard the Sonna (q.v.), or traditions, as of equal authority with the Koran, but still do not undervalue the latter. They are accounted orthodox Mohammedans, and recognize the Ottoman emperor as the caliph and spiritual head of Islam. There are four orthodox sects of Sonnites, who agree in points of dogmatic and speculative theology, but differ on ceremonial points and questions of civil and political administration. These sects all unite in hostility to the house of Ali, and to the Shiites, who support his cause.

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