New Age Islam
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Islam and Sectarianism ( 3 Apr 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Sunni Muslim, Is That Who I Am?

By Dr. Mike Ghouse

04 April 2016

Farrukh wrote, “This is a warning to all Muslims in this forum that Mike Ghouse’s religion is not Islam, he is Ismaili, and he is misguided person. If anyone needs more info about his religion, please let me know.” 


There are a few out there who do not even have the inclination to verify any information but pass it on as their authoritative information.   I wish he had written, “Mike Ghouse is a Muslim, and I am not sure which denomination he belongs to as I have not verified it,  but it appears that he fits in with everyone from Shia, Sunni, Bohra, Ahmadiyya, Ismaili, Alawaite or what not.” And, “If anyone wants/need more information about his religion, visit the following sites.

First of all, Prophet Muhammad knew only one group of people; Muslims! Prefixes like Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, WD Muhammad, Alawaite, Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl-e-Hadith, Ahl-e-bait etc., were not in his vocabulary nor can anyone ascribe these words to him – he did not use them. 


All the Mazhabs or denominations are natural outcomes of the society. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood human nature and rightfully predicted the singular faith he taught will split, re-split and will continue to split and he chose the metaphorical number 72 do denote an infinite number.

He planted that seed, so we can learn to live with each other with our differences, we have to race in doing good things but not claim to be self righteousness and denigrate others, as that amounts to arrogance and God does not like those who are arrogant.  Only God knows who would be rank #1, #2, and #3, and who would score A, B, C or D grades. Even if you are a sinner, God may forgive you if you do one simple act of kindness towards other living beings like giving water to a thirsty cat, but most certainly fellow humans. Only God knows the full impact of our actions to his creation to bestow his grace.

My understanding is, you have to be a good human being who cares for his fellow beings and environment (that God has created). Wont’ you be happy and sing songs of your guests in your home if they meticulously take care of your property?  Or your employees who make sure your business is intact and taken care of?  Do you worry if the employee is Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or whoever, as long as he or she cares for your business? God does not worry how you worship him or what your religion is,  he appreciates it if you contribute towards preserving his creation,  and it comes through justness, fairness and kindness.

God does not discriminate one from the other, his criteria or question to us is, “Are you good to your fellow beings (humans and animals) and environment?”

[2:136] Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”

[4:152] As for those who believe in GOD and His messengers, and make no distinction among them, He will grant them their recompense. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

God loves us all, after all we are his creation, and because he cares about us, he offers guidance, and he sends a peace maker (call a messenger, prophet or any other word) to each community and each group to show them how to live in peace and harmony. Bhagvad Gita phrases it in another fashion, every time there is chaos in the society, someone from among you will emerge to restore righteousness. It could be a Shaman in the remote jungles of Amazon or a Prophet like Abraham, make no distinction, they serve God by preserving harmony, peace and justice in the community they live in.

Islam has always emphasized on serving fellow beings, God assures every one, yes everyone, not to worry about the future, as long as you take care of his creation comprising life and matter, he will take care of you.

[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

[22:17] Those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, and the idol worshipers, GOD is the One who will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD witnesses all things.

[43:17] He also said, he made us into many tribes, races, and nations and by extension religions and communities and the best ones among us are those who learn about each other, and when we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

The Division

Quran remains the word of God; however, what God meant has been understood differently by different people. No one, including the great Imams of the time can ever claim that his understanding is the right one.  Remember, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not assign any one to be the sole interpreter of Quran, he said, I am leaving this book to you, for you to understand. Please note, the Shia tradition differs on this issue, and we have to respect their understanding. If God is kind, just, merciful and fair, and Prophet is a mercy to mankind, then everything we will see in Quran would be nothing but common sense for common goodness, it is non-stop universalism. You are welcome to differ, Islam is too big of a religion (Alameen) to exclude any one of us. 

In the beginning, there was one singular interpretation for Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and other faiths for many years.

In the 16th century, Christianity split into Protestant and its many variations, each faith has followed the same natural path of amoeba, divide itself and keep multiplying.

In case of Islam, Prophet Muhammad knew only one thing; what he preached; One Islam. He did not even know that there was a Sunni Islam. I would say the same about all other prophets.

Then we reluctantly accepted the split of Shia and Sunni traditions, then came the 6 six schools of thoughts, we accepted that diversity as well, and now Islam has many traditions within, and we have accepted them with humility. Pluralism is an attitude of respecting the otherness of others.

Allahu Akbar! (Check out Huffington Post – it means humility, we are small, hence all of us small ones are on par.  A few among us are arrogant about our traditions and denigrate others.  What a shame, they assign themselves to play the role of a deputy of God or decider for him and pass judgments about others. That is shirk (diluting the dominion of God)  and it creates problem hence declared as the ugliest of all sins. That is we cannot judge other’s faith.

I have chosen to remain denomination less, but if you want to know what I pray like and sound like, it is reflective of Sunni tradition, only because I was raised with those values and it don’t mean superior or inferior, it is just my tuning.  If my parents had programmed me to be a Shia or an Ahmadiyya, I would have followed that path. We need to learn to respect each path, each one means dearly to the believer, as they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder; faith is in the heart of the believer.  My mother is dear to me as your mother is dear to you and Quran says, to you is your faith and to me is my faith (109.6 – that is not a radio station, but the Verse from the Quran) .

Heavens, I am comfortable with every which tradition a Muslim prays and I have been to every Mosque of almost all denominations including the three most revered ones in Mecca, Madinah and Jerusalem. (Check out  Ironically, it would have been a Bida, an invention if someone had called himself or herself a Shia or a Sunni during the life of the Prophet.  So, why should I call myself a Sunni?  I fully respect other people’s choices to belong to sub-groups and all are welcome. I am a Muslim, period! I have no walls between me and another Muslim, and no wall between me and another human.

Indeed, the World Muslim congress was formed with that express purpose to create space for every Muslim, and the was created for all humanity.  In the search box, you can plug in the name of any denomination, and you will find the articles, you can plug in the name of any commemoration or festival, you will find the information. It took me a lot of time and effort to make that happen, and that is my commitment to create a world where all humanity can get along by knowing each other.

The role of Muslims is to contribute towards the well being of humanity, and to be the conflict mitigaters and goodwill nurturers. Our goal is to build a secure world for every human; our Jewish friends can understand that, as they believe in Tikkun Olam. Please read the mission statement –

This group is about Muslims and their civic responsibilities in creating a dignified religious, social and civic space for themselves in the community of faiths. We do not distinguish between a Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya, WD Muhammad, Ismaili, Bohra or the subsets of each group, all believe in God, the Prophet and the accountability of their actions and whoever calls himself or herself a Muslim is a Muslim to us. Currently we are blessed to have our Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Baha’i, Sikh and Buddhist friends among us to learn and share their perspective. This is our world and our God collectively.

The with 1700 members from around the world, and it is denomination-less, it is for all Muslims with full and equal respect to all denominations.

Our focus is not the tiny differences, but the larger commonality.

World Muslim Congress is a think tank, all are welcome to participate in the discussions, and our scope is limited and defined in our mission statement. Currently, we have 1700 Members worldwide with no membership fee.

To join the group that has been around since 2004, and prior to that it was called the Muslim Agenda from 2002 onwards, send an email to:

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) for his exclusive writings.