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Hanafi is one of the largest schools of religious thought within Sunni Islam. Founded by Nu'man Abu Hanifa (699-765) in Kufa, Iraq. It is followed by approximately 30% of Muslim population the world over in predominant areas such as Pakistan, Northern Egypt, where the influence of Ottoman Turks was strongest, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, India, The Balkans, Central Asia, and China.

The other three schools are Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali, it should be noted, however, that the infamous Wahabi school is predominant in Saudi Arabia and only represents less than 1% of the total Muslim population.

Hanafi school is considered as one of the most liberal; under its jurisprudence, blasphemy is not punishable by death. Different religious schools within Sunni Islam is not considered as a schism; quite the opposite, there is little or no animosity between the different schools.

There is a healthy logical cross debate of ideas between the different schools that serves to sharpen each school's understanding of Islam. It is not disallowed for one person to follow the teaching of one school on certain issues and the teaching of another school for other issues.


Sources:
http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/islam/sunni/hana.html
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/intro/islam-hanafi.htm
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hanafi/

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