| Historically, Sunni Islam has often been defined only in contrast with other denominations or schools of thought, considering itself to be the orthodox form of Islam. The word Sunni comes from the word Sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Therefore, the term Sunni refers to those who follow or maintain the Sunnah of Muhammad.
Sunni Islam was under the authority of the Caliph from Muhammad's death in 632 until the abolition of the caliphate. The method of choosing or electing leaders (Shura) endorsed by the Qur'an is the consensus of the Ummah, (the Muslim community), contrary to the Shia Islam. Unlike Sunni, Shia believe special spiritual qualities have been granted not only to the Prophet Muhammad but also to Ali and the other Imams.