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SYRIA. The Muslim population of Syria is composed of a Sunni majority and four minority Shi'i sects. Exact figures are unavailable, but informed estimates place the Sunni population, found throughout the country, at roughly 70 percent. The largest Shi`i sect, the `Alawis, is concentrated in the northwestern province of Latakia and comprises around 12 percent of the population. The Druzes are only 3 percent of the population but form a dominant majority in the southwestern province of Suwayda. Is ...more


SYNDICATES. Professional syndicates-like labor unions (which are not treated here)-have arisen in the Islamic world in the past century in new or significantly altered occupations which emerged in response to farreaching socioeconomic change. Although loosely influenced by earlier guild practices (such as calling their leader "nagib"), the syndicates took their main models from the West. Often subsumed in the "bourgeoisie" or "new middle class," professionals have received scant study, and compa ...more


SYNCRETISM. Syncretism is the phenomenon by which the practices and beliefs of one religion fuse with those of another to create a new and distinctive tradition. By the terms of this definition, all religions, and most certainly all those that have come to be known as world religions, can be regarded as syncretic in their origins, since each was shaped in dialogue with other faiths. In modern scholarship, however, the concept of syncretism is usually restricted to th ...more


SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD. Surrogate motherhood is a contractual agreement whereby a woman agrees to be impregnated by a man, or implanted with a prefertilized embryo, and then surrenders the resulting baby to the man and his wife after its birth. Gestational surrogacy is the term used when the fertilized egg of a legally married couple is implanted in another woman's uterus. She also bears the child and surrenders it to its biological parents. The surrogate mother may or may not be financially compe ...more


Suriname officially known as the Republic of Suriname (Dutch: Republiek Suriname [ˌreːpyˈblik ˌsyːriˈnaːmə]), is a sovereign state on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. At just under 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles), it is the smallest country in South America Suriname has a population of approximately 566,000, most of whom live on the country's north coast, in and aroun ...more


SUNNI ISLAM. Historical Overview Practiced by the majority of Muslims, Sunni Islam refers primarily to the customary practice of the prophet Muhammad. The term Sunni (sometimes rendered "Sunnite") derives from sunnah and has the general meaning of "customary practice." This practice, this sunnah, is preserved in the hadiths, the Tradition, which consists of the accounts of what the Prophet said or did and sometimes of his tacit approval of an action. The Tradition, in addition to the Qur'an ...more


SUNNAH. The Arabic term sunnah since pre-Islamic times has signified established custom, precedent, the conduct of life, and cumulative tradition. In a general sense, such tradition encompasses knowledge and practices believed to have been passed down from previous generations and representing an authoritative, valued, and continuing corpus of beliefs and customs. In the context of early Muslim juridical and theological development, the word sunnah came to connote a more specific notion: that th ...more


SULTAN. The Arabic word sultan is used to denote power, might, and authority, or the possessor of such power, a ruler. In the Qur'an it refers to divinely vouchsafed authority or a divine mandate, usually in the context of prophecy (7.71, 23.45). In later hadith literature, it is often used to denote worldly power or the possessor of governmental authority (Ibn Hanbal 6.128-129, 452; 3.404; and Ibn Majah, 2766-2768). The term first appears as the official title of a ruler under the Seljuks of ...more


SUICIDE. Qatl al-nafs, literally "self-murder," is the term used to denote suicide in classical Islamic texts. Intihar, originally meaning "cutting of the throat," is the common word in modern Arabic speech. There is only one phrase in the Qur'an relevant to the subject of suicide: "O you who believei Do not consume your wealth in the wrong way-rather only through trade mutually agreed to, and do not kill yourselves. Surely God is Merciful toward you" (4.29). The connection with suicide of ev ...more


SUFISM AND POLITICS. Traditional Sufism is an interiorization of Sunni quietism, articulating the pre-Islamic Pahlavi vision of monarchic government by religious principles, as echoed by al-Ghazali (d. 1111) in his Nasihat al-muluk. A more systematic order found expression in the thirteenth century in the form of the "inner government" (hukumah batiniyah), which envisaged the temporal authorities as being subordinate to the spiritual khalffah, who carried out the real tasks of government, aided ...more

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