Rebecca Masterton, Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been... Answered 11 months ago

People have always sought to arrange people into groups and to declare which are correct or not correct, or orthodox or not orthodox. First of all, what do you mean by 'orthodox'? Secondly, the Usuli and Akhbari both accuse each other of heterodoxy. Both are Twelver Shi'a. The Shaykhis are Twelver Shi'a and the Ni'matullahis are Sufis and are also Twelver Shi'a, except that one branch of the Ni'matullahis praises 'Umar ibn al-Khattab. Much Sufism that developed among the Shi'a during the medieval period incorporated elements of the Sunni Sufi silsilas, yet practitioners of that Sufism would consider themselves to be Twelver Shi'a. There are different 'Alawi groups - so which ones are you referring to? In the early period, the name 'Alawi was just another name for the Shi 'a of 'Ali [as]; the term 'Alawi also came to be use for the descendents of Abu Talib's [ra] household; there are also Sunni 'Alawis descended from Imam al-Hasan [as]. You say which ones are correct and by what criteria: correct from what perspective? A Sunni perspective? A Shi'i perspective? A secular perspective? Please clarify.

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