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While the dynasties avowed either Shia or Sunni, and institutions and individuals claimed either Sunni or Shia affiliations, Shia – Sunni relations were part of Islam in Iran and continue today when Ayatollah Khomeini also called for unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims.The Shia groups have distinctions between Fiver, Sevener and Twelver, derived from their belief in how many divinely ordained leaders there were who are descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law Ali.Then the Alavids dynasty (864 – 928AD) became established in Mazandaran (Tabaristan), in northern Iran.The Alavids were of the Zaidiyyah Shia (sometimes called "Fiver".) These dynasties were local.Additionally the most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or lived in Iran including most notable and reliable Hadith collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh Saduq, Shaikh Kulainy, Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj and Hakim al-Nishaburi, the greatest theologians of Shia and Sunni like Shaykh Tusi, Al-Ghazali, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Al-Zamakhshari, the greatest Islamic physicians, astronomers, logicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, philosophers and scientists like Al-Farabi and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, the Shaykhs of Sufism like Rumi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani – all these were in Iran or from Iran.Readers of the Persian and Turkish language in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan see him as one of their most significant classical poets and an influence on many poets through history.The Iranian government does not officially recognise the existence of non-religious Iranians.
Iran participated with its own scientists and scholars.
of Iranians associate themselves with the Shia branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 5–10% with the Sunni and Sufi branches of Islam.
The remaining 0.6% associate themselves with non-Islamic religious minorities, including Bahá'ís, Mandeans, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians.
Specifically, Sunni Islam came to rule in Iran after the period Sunni were distinguished from Shi'a through the Ghaznavids from 975 AD, followed by the Great Seljuq Empire and the Khwarazm-Shah dynasty until the Mongol invasion of Iran.
Sunni Islam returned to rule when Ghazan converted.