Hyphenated Islam

What is it with this new politically correct characterization of Islam? I mean, we can’t just be Muslims anymore; we are now grouped in nice, little categories, to make others feel comfortable about whom or what we are.

We are not just Muslims; we are “moderate”, “liberal”, “fascist”, “radical”, “extremist”, “terrorist”, “progressive” etc. Who decides what box do any particular individual Muslim belongs in? Are we even grouped as individuals in the first place?

Personally, I don’t believe in such labels. I believe you are either Muslim or not. You either believe in Allah (swt) and the Prophet (saw) or you do not. Once that is defined, you either submit to Allah (swt) or follow the Sunnah, or not.

Think about this for a minute: What exactly is a moderate, liberal, progressive, radical, or extremist Muslim? If you’re “moderate” does that mean that you are neither conservative nor liberal? What is conservative or liberal Islam? What’s a fundamentalist? Aren’t all Muslims supposed to be practicing the fundamentals of Islam? Does liberal imply that you casually practice Islam? If you’re “progressive” what does that make other Muslims? Does that mean we are “regressive”? What does that imply?

We have to be very careful in this day and age to not be so quick to fall into the traps of definitions. We have to ensure that there is no atmosphere to allow others to define us according to their comfort levels.

What is this whole “radical” or “extremist” title? Is it not a subjective accusation? I mean one who opposes someone else, might believe they are a liberator or a revolutionary, a patriot; the other party may call them a radical, extremist, or terrorist. So when this accusation is levied, we should examine not only the accuser, but also the subject from whence they reason…or not, their position.

Case in point: In America’s fight for Independence from Britain, who was who? How did the Colonists (Revolutionaries) view themselves, as opposed to how Britain or the King of England viewed them?

Now I’m not going to be a hypocrite and act as if I’m not guilty of using these titles as well in my discourses, nor am I stating that sometimes, they “may” serve a purpose. However, if we analyze these titles, we can find many an error. My overall point is we should be very careful in our choosing of these titles and or associations.

This doesn’t just apply to the PC groupings but also the divisive ones we impose on ourselves. Where in the Quran did Allah (swt) say that we are to be Sunni, Shia, Sufi, etc.? I thought we are to be Muslims, nothing more or less.

What I’m calling for is a rethinking, some may say itjihad, either way, we have to take control of ourselves and our religion. We have to speak as one Ummah with one voice, otherwise, we allow those among us and those outside of us, to define who we are and should be.

5:3 Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلاَّ مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَن تَسْتَقْسِمُواْ بِالأَزْلاَمِ ذَلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ


  1. I agree that we should call ourselves Muslims if we are Muslims. However, it’s not so easy for groups to call another group Muslim without a prefix or alternate label, just so we know how “astray” they are. An individual may feel more comfortable calling himself “progressive” in the US, because he knows that “Muslim” in most American’s minds has been defined by extremists.

    For instance, I call myself a Muslim, I believe in God and I follow Quran but I do not follow hadeeth. To some, that makes me a non-Muslim. In that case, they would call me a Qurani or kafir or whatever they prefer, but they would not accept “Muslim”.

    You say:

    you either submit to Allah (swt) or follow the Sunnah, or not.

    What about Shias who have other books of hadeeth and think that the Sunnah is something different from what you think it is? Does that put them in the “or not” category and therefore, non-Muslim? What about Muslims who do things that you don’t consider to be submitting to Allah? It’s a very delicate situation.

    We could say that a Muslim is only a “true” Muslim to those who agree with him, to others, he is a kafir and misguided. 😛

    Unity among Muslims, I fear, will never happen. How can we speak with one voice about what Islam is and what God/Quran says when we do not even agree on many of the fundamentals? Even single phrases and words in the Quran are interpreted in dozens of ways by different groups.


  2. Fair assessment, however, there are fundamentals that all Muslims regardless of “title” agree on. Belief in The One God of Abraham (saw) Allah (swt), Belief in the Last Day, and the belief that we are to be righteous in our deeds.

    Furthermore, we believe that Muhammad (saw) was not only the messenger of Allah (swt) and the seal of the Prophethood, but also that he was a mercy to the world.

    Then you have the pillars of our Deen. Shahaddah, Salah, Zakat, Zawm, and Hajj. These things are consistent whether one is Sunni, Shia, etc.

    How we interpret Shahaddah, Salah, or any of the other pillars still doesnt change the fact that we all agree they must be done.

    Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

    2:177 True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west – but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance – however much he himself may cherish – it – upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and truly pious are they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God.

    لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

    I think this pretty much sums it up unless people want to rewrite the Quran.

    As Salaam Alaikum

    P.S. I believe you are a Muslim, regardless of how you or I may feel about Hadith. That’s the problem with us as Muslims today, instead of respectfully disagreeing on matters of our Deen, we want to outcast one another. We lack the heart and mind of understanding.

    3:7 He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.


  3. But how much do progressive and conservative Muslims have in common with regards to most issues? Not very much, I think. So we won’t be able to avoid these hyphenated labels as we are actually talking about two very different kinds of groups.


  4. As Salaam Alaikum all,

    First and foremost, Thank you Leena.

    Zeeshanhasan, I believe that “progressive” and “conservative” Muslims actually have a lot in common, but we perceive it not.

    Both of us believe in Allah (swt) and His Apostle (saw), we believe in the Quran and the Last Day, and many other undisputable things.

    My point is, as an Ummah, we have allowed our zeal in either direction, override our reasoning abilities to help us understand Islam in the broader sense and our duty to one another.

    Granted, our differences lay mainly in interpretation, but through diaglogue we can make huge steps in the right direction. We have to remember that Islam not only means submission, but also peace, and Allah (swt) decreed that peace is better than warfare.

    One thing is for certain, if all parties let go of their fascination with the West and non-Muslims, then maybe we could focus on us as an Ummah.

    Notice I said all parties. The “conservatives” allege that “we” are too Westernized, well I allege that they love they love the West more than us, because their every “excuse”, accusation, etc. in one form or another points toward the West and non-Muslims, I have yet to hear one of these “radical” clerics address the issues concerning the Ummah without taking responsiblity for our actions. Its always the West this, the West that, etc.

    My overall point without going into another blog entry….for a later date of course, is that as my coffee cup says: “O Muslims Unite! Unite!” I stand by that decree and will do whatever is necessary to not only unite the Ummah, but help heal that which afflicts us most, unfortunately its source tends to originate within the Ummah, despite contrary ideas that they originate outside the Ummah.

    As I have said in many posts before, if your house was clean, you wouldnt have to worry about getting angry when an outsider says it isnt.


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