Drop the Prefix, I’m Just Muslim

What kind of Muslim are you?  The question seems odd, but for those who seek to divide and conquer Islam, the answer has become increasingly important.  Even more disturbing are the labels we assign ourselves.

In our families few of us can say we’ve never disagreed with our siblings.  But when a family member makes a mistake—even a big one—or has a view we don’t agree with, even fewer of us decide to divorce that family and change our name.  Today, the same is not true of our Muslim family. Photo N¼: 00z35886 (1Mb)Today, we’re no longer just ‘Muslim.’  We’re ‘progressives,’ ‘Islamists,’ ‘traditionalists,’ ‘salafis,’ ‘indigenous,’ and ‘immigrant.’ And each group has become so alienated from the other, that we’ve almost forgotten that we share a common creed.

While real differences do exist within our ummah, something very serious has gone wrong. Within the fold of Islam, differences are not only tolerated—they’re encouraged as a mercy from God.  But as soon as we label and marginalize any who disagree with us, our downfall begins.  Once we accept and internalize these labels as our main source of identity, the result is disastrous.  As a result, we create our own camps, attend only our own gatherings and conferences; soon enough, we’re talking only to those who agree with us.  Dialogue within the ummah disappears, our differences become only more polarized and our views become more extreme.  Before long, we stop caring about what happens to the ‘other’ group of Muslims around the world, as we amputate limbs from the unified body our prophet taught us we were.  The ‘other’ (who happen to still be our brothers) become so foreign—even despised—that we no longer wish to be referred by the same family name, and even join our enemies against them.

Suddenly those differences, that were once a mercy, become a curse–and a weapon to defeat Islam.  Our enemies “summon one another to attack [us] as people, while eating, invite others to share their food.” (Abu Dawud)

On March 18, 2004 RAND, the influential U.S. think tank, released a report to help ‘civilize’ Islam by effacing it and remaking it in the image of Western secularism. In the report, Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, Strategies, Cheryl Benard writes, “Modernism, not traditionalism, is what worked for the West. This included the necessity to depart from, modify, and selectively ignore elements of the original religious doctrine.”

In order to “depart from, modify, and selectively ignore” elements of Islam, Benard suggests a simple strategy: label, divide, control.  After labeling each group of Muslims, she suggests pitting one group against each other.  Among other strategies, Benard suggests “encourag[ing] disagreements between traditionalists and fundamentalists,” and “discourag[ing] alliances between traditionalists and fundamentalists.”

By succeeding at this division and supporting the ‘Modernist’/ ‘Progressive’ Muslims, Bernard hopes to invent a ‘civil democratic’ Islam that is less backwards and problematic.  More specifically, she hopes to create an Islam that will surrender itself to the hegemony of the Neo Conservative Agenda.

So if the first step to deforming Islam is to exploit the labels that exist, let’s say: “Thanks, but no thanks.” God tells us: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided” (Qur’an,3:103).  So although we really appreciate this effort to ‘civilize’ us and our religion—we’ll have to pass. You only reform something that’s corrupt or outdated. And you only fix something that’s broken.

And while it’s nice of you to want to call us ‘modern’ or ‘moderate,’ we’ll do without the redundancy. Islam is by definition moderate, so the more strictly we adhere to its fundamentals—the more moderate we’ll be. And Islam is by nature timeless and universal, so if we’re truly Islamic—we’ll always be modern.

We’re not ‘Progressives’; we’re not ‘Conservatives.’  We’re not ‘neo-Salafi’; we’re not ‘Sufi’; We’re not ‘Islamists’; we’re not ‘Modernists’. We’re not ‘Traditionalists’; we’re not ‘Wahabis.’  We’re not ‘Immigrants’ and we’re not ‘Indigenous.’ Thanks, but we’ll do without your prefix.

We’re just Muslim.

Also published atInfocus News.

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  • Diana

    mashAllah thank you for this article!
    We fall into this trap so often, and don’t even realize what we’re doing.

    May God give you the ability to write and help our ummah, and may God protect you from all of the diseases of the heart! Ameen!

  • Mikeghouse


    Great piece

    Thanks for writing this, for years, I have denied any label on me, due to the Ahmadiyya and other label debates, I reluctantly agreed with the label sunni. I should not have and stick with Muslim. Labels are a source of conflict, unless we learn to respect the otherness of other acccep the given uniqueness of each one of us.

    I have been writing quite a lot on the topics. All my Islam blogs are listed at http://www.islamtogetherfoundation.com.

    Insha Allah, I will post this at http://www.WorldMuslimCongress.org and perhaps augment your efforts with a note… in a few days.

    Mike Ghouse
    Committed to a cohesive America

  • Hisham

    Unbelievably Brilliant MashaAllah!
    It’s what alot of the youth feel, but finally the sentiments have been materialised!
    BarakAllah Fiki

  • Linatrad

    Here here, great article and could not agree more, I’ve noticed over the years this clear plan to divide us and wondered why Muslims have fallen for it…….and I think many have.

  • Luhif

    How you found it relevant in the light of Mawlid discussion?

  • Alise23

    I disagree! We should always say “I’m Sunni muslim” as all the other sects are false!

    • Guest

      Careful, Alise23, only Allah is the Judge.

    • Sfaysal

      The beloved Prophet (saw), his companions …. They all called themselves ‘ Muslims’.

      • The point to notice is that we call our self Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamat,
        Ahle Sunnah means those who follows the way of Sayyadi Rasulallah (may salawat be on him) and Jamat means 1. Jamat of Sahaba (may Allah be please with all of them) 2. Jamat of majority of the Muslims.
        As Sayyadi Rasulallah said, two are better then one, three are better then two, four are better then three, where Jamat is better because Allah’s hand is on Jamat.
        The same thing has been narrated by the Imam of WAYABIYYA Ibn Tahmiyya as well.

    • Haajar

      @e104927e6aea78e73f98fd6b51d485b7:disqus Allah knows which is false. You and I have no right to judge, for we ourselves are in need of Allah’s mercy.

  • Ashwaqfemco

    Yes – We are just Muslims –

  • Shoaib Dar

    “she suggests pitting one group against each other. Among other strategies, Benard suggests “encouraging disagreements between…”

    There you go: Satan’s plan right here.

  • Anon

    Scholars affirm that it is allowed to call yourself ‘salafi’ as it distinguishes you from the sects that claim to be ‘Muslims’ (sects such as the Maturidis, Mu’tazilites, Kharijites, Jahmite Asharis, etc). You don’t have to call yourself ‘salafi’, but it is incumbant on every Muslim (as scholars i.e. Shaykh Uthaymeen said) to ascribe oneself to the Salaf as-Salih, in meaning. A talib ul-‘ilm explains more:


    • anon123

      exactly. calling yourself a “Muslim” ….those who curse the Sahabah and curse Aisha radiallahu anha, call themselves “Muslim” … those who sit around in circles and call upon saints to intercede for them and worship graves…also call themselves Muslim… so we really need to check ourselves with the term “Muslim” … Perhaps, Muslim who follows the proper teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah would make more sense in today’s society.

  • Abdulla

    Amazing article Yasmin!! MashAllah, keep it up!

  • The point to notice is that we call our self Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamat,
    Ahle Sunnah means those who follows the way of Sayyadi Rasulallah (may salawat be on him) and Jamat means 1. Jamat of Sahaba (may Allah be please with all of them) 2. Jamat of majority of the Muslims.
    As Sayyadi Rasulallah said, two are better then one, three are better then two, four are better then three, where Jamat is better because Allah’s hand is on Jamat.

    Why Wayabiyya feel fear from saying then Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamat, It is reality that they have daviated from the believes that majority of the Muslims had in last 1300 years ago and they consider them-self only true. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an

    And when it is said to them, “Believe as the people have believed,” they say, “Should we believe as the foolish have believed?” Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know [it] not. [2:12]

    All the commentators of the Holy Qur’an including Ibn Kathir agrees that the people means the companions. Although some of the commentators including Imam Fakhrudin Razi says that this mean majority of the Muslims. Still on the companions all agree. Hence I can say anyone who will deviate from the way of the companions no netter how much he will read the Qur’an he is deviated because Qur’an says.

    if any one have any other commentary of the above Ayah also let me know as well.

  • AR

    Exactly, Muslim in actual means anyone who obeys ALLAH! And thats enough a call.. What more do we need then that? When the Quran has described us as Muslim why do we need other names? We should be proud of calling ourself as a muslim since that is what ALLAH called us!

  • zz

    Lol. somethings wrong here.Some ‘Muslims’ have big flaws in there aqida! There is nothing wrong in not uniting with them for this reason. As unfortunate as it is , we are defined by such labels! Its important to know who you are

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