Personal Development Society Ummah

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 ‘Islamists.’  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 at Infocus News.

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.

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  • Excellent point. We are already divided enough, so whatever unity exists now, we most hold on to it and in the long-run, we must heal thost divisions that still persist within the Ummah, insha’allah.

    • insha allah we will be united soon under one banner of islams, and we need to re-establish the khilafah on the path way of prophet-hood and take care of all brothers and sister in islam no matter which corner of the world they are………….our message is……One God, one path, one book, one message, one soul, one state, one leader(khalifah), one world and one religion(submission and surrender to God)………

  • I think immigrant and indigenous aren’t really labels. My parents are immigrant Muslims but I was born here. That doesn’t mean we’re different, it just means they don’t like burgers and fries. They like roti and curry.

    😀 hah

    • yeah thats true and when ever i talk to my friends I try to educate them about it and its very important to talk about, but I have seen one other disease which exist in the west is some Muslims have label themselves as a moderate Muslim or Modern Muslim, while there is no such a thing called Modern Islam or modern Muslim as if they are trying to make new interpretation of Islam and Muslim.

  • The labels are getting a bit old, however i feel some “labels” are necessary. As a father there are certain influences I wouldn’t want my child to be overly exposed to, such as disrespect for sahaba, or what i believe to be the improper understanding of tawheed, to name a few. However certain labels just don’t make any sense like the above brother mentioned, my parents immigrants, yet they enjoy Sh. Suhaib probably more than any other Imam in America. The divide and conquer tactics whether implemented by the government or not is definitely negatively impacting the Muslim community in America.

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    When it comes to labels we need to respect the foundational principles of or faith. While differences in secondary issue are to be tolerated, differences in fundamentals are not. I’m not saying we go and start bashing folks because these designations, unless clearly explicit, are left to the scholars. But, we have to cautious that we don’t wash away the fundamentals of faith as well.

    al-Khaitib, who related the controversial narration “Differences amongst my community are a mercy” with a connected chain, wrote:

    Differences in religion fall under three categories:

    1. Differing about God’s existence. This is kufur.
    2. Differing about His names and attributes. This is an innovation.
    3. Differing in the secondary issues. This last category is the “mercy” mentioned in “Differences amongst my community are a mercy.”

    Allah knows best

    • Salamu alejkom brother Suhaib!

      Subhanallah, I recognized your name but i couldn’t remember where I have heard it. But now i remembered! I heard some of your lectures when you were in Sweden 🙂 I have learned so much from this page (al hamdullilah) Keep up the good work and Jazakum Allahu khair!

  • As-Salamu alaikum,

    This is a beautiful article. I have a booklet which helped alot with some brothers I met who were bent on the need for being called Salafi. This book is a record of Q&A with Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen it’s called the sialmic revival. His emminence (ra) was asked by some students in his mosque, “What should we follow and what is the best way to identify ourselves among Muslims?” The shaikh said, “You should NOT be Sufi, Ikhwani, Tableeghi, or Salafi. You should simply be called yourselves Muslims as Allah called us in the last Ayah of soorah al-Hajj “and surely He has named you Muslims before (as you are now)”. I once asked a Shaikh in Kuwait about this statement of one (al-Uthaymeen) he considers his shaikh and why the Kuwaiti shaikh refers to himself as Salafi. He told me that this is not a title but that he feels comfortable in matter of Aqeedah and Ibadah of only following opinions based in the early generations as opposed to later scholars ijtihadat.

    Think about the meaning of teh last verse of Hajj in relation to these verse of the bible and what Jesus (as) was telling his companions (ra), Matt. 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.”
    Matt. 12:50
    “Whoever does the will of my father in heaven he is my brother, sister and mother.”
    I’ve found these great for interfaith sessions

    • As salaamu aliakum
      Dear Bro. Abu Majeed,
      Shk. Ibn Utahymeen has explained the concept of salafiya or calling one’s self salafi on several occasions. Below is an excerpt from one of his books which is on the offcial website of his khairiya and also I’ve added links where he discusses the permissiblity of calling oneself salafi and it what situation it may become impermissible. It is a bit more thorough and explanatory than the answer you quoted which may lead the reader to think that the sheik didn’t see the permissiblility of calling oneself salafi. This doesn’t quite offer the reader, who is not familiar with the sheik or his opinions , the shk’s actual position.

      مكتبة الفتاوى : فتاوى نور على الدرب (نصية) : التوحيد والعقيدة
      السؤال: هذه مستمعة من الرياض لها مجموعة من الأسئلة تقول في السؤال الأول أسمع عن السلف من هم السلف يا فضيلة الشيخ

      الشيخ: السلف معناه المتقدمون فكل متقدم على غيره فهو سلف له ولكن إذا أطلق لفظ السلف فالمراد به القرون الثلاثة المفضلة الصحابة والتابعون وتابعوهم هؤلاء هم السلف الصالح ومن كان بعدهم وسار على منهاجهم فإنه مثلهم على طريقة السلف وإن كان متأخراً عنهم في الزمن لأن السلفية تطلق على المنهاج الذي سلكه السلف الصالح رضي الله عنهم كما قال النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام (إني أمتي ستفترق على ثلاثة وسبعين فرقة كلها في النار إلا واحدة وهي الجماعة) وفي لفظ (من كان على مثل ما أنا عليه وأصحابي) وبناء على ذلك تكون السلفية هنا مقيدة بالمعنى فكل من كان على منهاج الصحابة والتابعين وتابعيهم بإحسان فهو سلفي وإن كان في عصرنا هذا وهو القرن الرابع عشر بعد الهجرة نعم

      The sound links are: 1. and the answer with regards to salafiya is close to the 27th minute.

      2. close to minute 17

      3. the second minute

  • Salam,

    If you can please shed some more light on what is meant by the following statement please. Jazakum Allahu khairan

    “Islam is by definition moderate, so the more strictly we adhere to its fundamentals—the more moderate we’ll be”

    • Yusuf,I believe the author Yasmeen was saying how Islam in essence is the middle path “moderate” not demanding extremism any form. So by learning the fundamentals one’s awareness of this fact becomes apparent and a perosn won’t fall into extremism.

      It is well known most extremism comes from people with gaps in their knowledge.Whether it’s terrorists killing somebody or the asceticism displayed by Christian Monks it all involves people focusing on certain aspects and ignoring other aspects. People who see the parts but not the whole or even how the parts form the whole.

      Insha Allah that cleared it up for you.

      Ma as Salamah

  • Asaalaamu Alaikum Br Suhaib

    Great blog I am actually in the middle of when very related about how we discourage and attack one another (especially online) It is very depressing to me that this Religion I ♥ so much appears to be thriving on judging, condescending and hurting one another. It’s so sad. I was on a blog I love to read and someone posted an emotional blog and others are just bickering and carrying on. Then the title thing today I saw it. Than the racism that exists in some, it’s all so sad InshaAllah we can all go back to the love Allah teaches us to have. Adam was created from clay/dirt from all over, we are all descendants of him. While it is awesome to have our own Nationalities and bonds that tie, it is not cool to be racist. Allah loves Beauty and we all are in our own ways.

  • Well this topic raises some issues. However I would like to make just one point; Muslims are one who do the shadaah i.e. There is only one God ie. Allah. Mohammed(SAW) is His last prophet.
    Everything else we can debate and interpet via Quran and Hadis. If you don’t agree with above statement you are not a Muslim.

  • A very well written article by Yasmin. I want to repost it at my blog site Pro-Pakistan and i will give the proper reference and link back. In case the author has still any objection to the re publishing of the article, please drop me an e mail and we will remove it instantly.
    The reason i want to re post it is that such thought and mindset is really required here in Pakistan, which is at the fore front of this attack on the Islam to create divisions among our ranks.

  • AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    Such a great article and title. I remember when I first started interacting with muslims who were not of my family when I went to college. I started to get asked all of these questions about sunni,shia,salafi,sufi. Confused I would just smile and say ana min al muslimeen.

      • Not just adab but also knowledge. For the past decade or so he’s been prowling different internet forums, having established a larger than life ‘existence’. There was a time he used to call himself a ‘salafi’, then he became a ‘dhahiri’, then he turned ‘hanbali’, and finally apparently a ‘Shafi’i’ and a self proclaimed defender of faith. Going by his track record he’s either a super human who has managed to study all these madhahib or an erratic pretender. I’ll go with the latter option.

        May Allah save us from fitnah mongers, ameen.

    • My reply to the post:

      Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

      I am the author of the original article, and I’d like to say, subhannAllah. Look how much the use of ‘labels’ is dividing us just on this comment board.

      Perhaps there was something that was overlooked about the article. It was referring to labels *within* ahl us sunnah that divide us. That is why I repeatedly use qualifiers like ‘within the fold of Islam’. That means we are *not* talking about differences in creed. We are *not* talking about differences outside of ahl us sunnah. (Please note which labels I used as examples at the end…all fall within ahl us sunnah.)

      Similarly, labels such as Mu’min, muslim, etc. are labels assigned by Allah to point to different levels of iman. I don’t think you’d agree that we can label ourselves based on our iman. That seems to be something only Allah can do.

      I appreciate you taking the time to clarify that differences in aqeeda (creed) are not to be overlooked. Of course not. Please note that none of the examples of labels I used have differences in creed by definition.

      Wal Allahu alam,

  • Very interesting!! It is difficult though to deal with Muslims who look at you like you are not even Muslim just because you follow different fatwa opinions!

  • As salaamu alaykum

    Indeed, at times like these, when the enemies of Islaam are in full force to divide and rule us, what we should not forget is that Islaam teaches us to stay united and have compassion with fellow Muslims as well as fellow Non-Muslimsm, so as to educate them about the true meaning of Islaam, which is PEACE.

    May Allah unite the Ummah and the brothers with different Faith, under the pretext of Peace and obedience to One God (?The One worthy of Worship, who cherishes and sustains all the human beings on the face of the earth).

    Jazaak Allaahu Khairan

  • God tells us: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided” (Qur’an, 3:103).
    Great article, masha’Allah. Much needed. Hope it gets a lot of ‘air-play’.

  • Assalam-u-`alaykum,

    I understand the frustration with ‘labels’, but let’s look beyond labels to what the labels actually describe. If labels are meant to identify Muslims who follow an unauthentic understanding of `aqeedah, then this is a matter of concern. In this case, having such a label is more useful than not, because it enables well-meaning Muslims to at least consider and ponder over the controversial nature of a Muslim group’s `aqeedah when it
    is being described as such.

    A case in point is the “Wahhabi” label. If this label didn’t exist, I know some who would not have questioned this group’s understanding of `aqeedah. They would have just embraced it and not been as inquisitive about it: Why is their understanding different? What `aqeedah do non-Wahhabi Muslims have? etc. This enables a valuable comparison to be done and lead them to the understanding that they agree with most: Do I agree with the anti-Ash’ari `aqeedah as espoused by certain groups, or do I embrace the Ash’ari-Maturidi explanation of `aqeedah that the vast majority of Muslims in our history accepted?

    The point here is that labels are not always bad. This is especially true when our beloved Prophet (pbuh) himself said the Ummah will split into many sects. Sects and their interpretations are usually described by labels. By having labels, we have an opportunity to analyze, compare, and eventually choose what ‘sect’ we wish to follow. This is good for our salvation – not bad – even though it may be inconvenient to delve into the myriad intricacies of the interpretations, authenticities, etc.

    Having said that, while we have different sects within our Ummah, we should strive to unite as much as possible. This doesn’t mean forgetting or overlooking serious blunders in `aqeedah and `ibadat. It means holding on to what’s authentic while finding commonalities with other groups that unite us. This is a constant struggle Muslims have to face amongst themselves whether they like it or not.

    Things aren’t as simplistic as “let’s just all get along and throw away our labels.” This will never happen and we shouldn’t expect it to. The Ummah is inherently more complicated than that. While we can indeed stay silent on ‘secondary’ issues to strengthen our unity, we cannot do the same for unauthentic `aqeedah — especially anthropomorphic understandings we so often hear.


    • Jazakllah khair, brother, you put into words what I could not!

      We are of course Muslim first and foremost. But as you pointed out, labels become necessary in some instances.
      I might also add that our Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions did use labels.
      The way some people talk, you’d think that people were bored one day and decided to compartmentalize Islam and give everyone they didn’t absolutely agree with, a label! Subhanallah, as you said it’s much more complicated than that. Reading and studying Islamic history, and the evolution of Fiqh, really sheds light on this.

      Jazakumullah khair

  • Wa alaikum as-Salam dear Muhammad,

    Have you read any of Muhammad ibn abdul-Wahhaabs books? He is simply a literalist when it comes to Aqeedah and he simply revived a simple way of looking at Aqeedah? Are you upset because it denounces the shirk ascribed to by SOME sufi paths? The reason the wahhabi label exists is part of the same old cycle of ignorance. I advise you to stay away from the labels and just be a Muslim who has his own mind and can think for himself. Don’t become group affiliated bro. There’s good and bad in the salafi’s, sufi’s, ikhwanis, deobandi’s, ashari’s and so on. Take the good and leave the bad from each and never align your self against any Msulim. The correct way is to follow what makes sense to you and what you are willing to meet Allah with as your deen. Blind Taqleed is a major problem in the world today. There should be no taqleed in Aqeedah because its simple. Whatever it says in authentic texts we believe in it without question or interpretation. There should be taqleed in Fiqh to facilitate one who doesn’t have the tools to decipher between how to nderstand and apply rules.

    • Assalam-u-`alaykum dear brother Abu-Majeed,

      I have a very simple approach to these matters. Instead of getting caught up in the ‘nitty-gritty’ of things, I follow what the majority of scholars have taught and agreed on. I suggest that whoever is confused about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, to follow this approach. This is really the main reason why I espouse Ash’ari/Maturidi/Athari `aqeedah, the four Schools of Sunni jurisprudence, and the various turooq of tasawwuf. (I agree that `aqeedah should be learned and not accepted by taqleed.)

      If the majority of scholars have declared Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s understanding of `aqeedah and interpretations of Qur’anic verses as antithetical to what Sunnis before him taught and believed, then I accept what they are saying. If they say: he mixed the right with the wrong by declaring tawassul and tabarruk shirk – two legitimate Sunni practices that most Muslims have followed, including Imam Nawawi, then there is no good reason for me to disagree with them. If I do disagree with them, I need a practical reason why. I don’t have it and neither does anyone else.

      Having said that, I would still tolerate while disagreeing with Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s views — but only if he didn’t accuse Muslims of shirk ul-akbar who differed with him. This is where the problem is, and it has serious implications on the unity of our Ummah. This is the main reason why most Sunnis opposed him and his followers.

      If Ibn Abdal-Wahhab said: “you are entitled to your opinion, even if we disagree with it”, then that’s okay. But making tawassul and tabarruk an issue of being a good Muslim vs. being a mushrik is not okay. It effectively condemns and accuses the vast majority of Muslims of being polytheists. This cannot logically or scripturally be true, and, as mentioned, it tears our Ummah apart.

      Regarding sects, having a sect in Islam is by definition necessary, otherwise we would never be able to identify the group known as Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah. You can call this group whatever you like: al-sawaad al-`azam, al-firqa al-najiyya, etc. If such a ‘correct’ group never existed through the generations, we would never really know which interpretations were correct and incorrect. Stick with what the scholarly majority has followed, and you will be safe. Those who differ from the majority do it at their own risk and peril. It is not a wise move at all to accept what one or a few Muslims said over hundreds and thousands of eminent scholars.

      To conclude, tawassul/tabarruk are ‘secondary’ issues that should not determine whether one is a Muslim or not. One can choose to do these practices or leave them. But to accuse one’s fellow Muslims of shirk is unacceptable. Unfortunately too often we read and hear this nonsense today.

      May Allah Guide all of on the Right Path and keep us united on what is right. Aaameen.


  • Muhammad:

    Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    10000 thanks for stopping by and commenting. In his Majm’u al-Fatwa Sh. Abdul Wahab writes:

    “Some said there is no problem making tawassul with the Salihin and Ahmed’s statement, with the Prophet (sa) only, and yet others said there is no tawassul with creation. The difference here is explicit and does not fit the context of our discussion [This was written under the chapter on Istisqa]. There are some who allowed it with the righteous and others who restricted it to the Prophet (sa). Most of the scholars prohibited it or held it as a disliked act. This issue is from the issues of fiqh and not aqidah. And even though the correct position is held by us, the position of the majority that it is disliked, we do not censure those who act on the other position.”

    Majm’u al-Fatwa al-Sheikh ‘Abdul Wahab pg (s) 68-69

    Thus, as Sh. Abu Majeed noted, it is all about trying to learn and enage others. All groups tend to take the worst examples of other groups and present them as the norm. May Allah grant us insaf.


    • Suhaib


      BarakAllahu-fik for the quote. How should we reconcile that quote of his, if he did indeed say what you quoted, to the contradictory positions below?

      Ibn Abdal-Wahhab authored the well-known ‘Kitab al-Tawheed’ in which he describes intercession as a form of greater ‘shirk’, thus accusing those who perform it as being mushrikeen. Contrary to ‘not censuring the other position’ of allowing Muslims to do tawassul, he heaped the biggest accusation of polytheism against them. In addition, in his treatise, “Kitab Kashf al-Shubhat”, he said that calling `awliya intercessors constitutes idolatry. This did not escape notice by his own brother and Hanbali scholar, Sulayman Ibn Abdal-Wahhab, who wrote an entire book against him. This includes a refutation of his understanding of intercession/shirk and a rebuttal of Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s claim that Muslims who didn’t adhere to his understanding of these matters were infidels. There are more examples, such as his desire or making permissible to destroy tombs, etc. that, to him, were measures to prevent polytheism — polytheism to him, but halaal tawassul/tabarruk to Sunni Muslims.

      Ibn Abdal-Wahhab is also incorrect in his quote that “the majority” position considers tawassul as ‘disliked’. Had this been the case, scholars from the 4 schools of jurisprudence throughout the generations would have said so. Rather, they said the opposite. This includes Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal himself, Imam Nawawi, Ibn Hajar, and other eminent `ulema who Wahhabis/Salafis frequently (though selectively) quote in their books.

      I can also give you a long list of reputable scholars who wrote against the Wahhabi understanding of intercession (and tabarruk), and for Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s misinterpretation of Qur’anic verses he used to justify his conclusions.

      Had it been as simple as the quote you stated, I doubt the eminent scholars who devoted their lives to these kind of matters would have failed to notice. Refutations would have been unnecessary but they did them for reasons they clearly identified, including his incorrect understanding of shirk/intercession.

      But I still count Wahhabi-Salafis as my brothers and sisters in Islam even if they count me as a mushrik. This is what makes a difference between a uniter and divider.

      And Allah Knows Best…

      May Allah Unite us in obedience to Truth and Forgive us of our sins. Please remember me in your du’as, my brother.


      • As-Salam Alaykum, brother Muhammad.

        Unfortunately you are mixing things up, and so is the person you quoted.

        It would be a good idea to actually read Kitab al-Tawhid and Kashf al-Shubuhat yourself before drawing such sweeping conclusions. Both books are available in English with commentary. I strongly recommend Yasir Qadhi’s translation/commentary of Kashf al-Shubuhat, which is entitled “A Critical Discussion about Shirk.”

        “How should we reconcile that quote of his, if he did indeed say what you quoted, to the contradictory positions below?”

        Nothing is contradictory, brother. You have unfortunately mixed up the issues of tawassul and istighata. This is not really your fault since the scholars you follow purposefully mix these two things up as well.

        Please read this here to understand the different types of tawassul:

        You said:

        “Contrary to ‘not censuring the other position’ of allowing Muslims to do tawassul, he heaped the biggest accusation of polytheism against them.”

        Ibn Abdul Wahhab said that calling on other than Allah for help [istighata] is Major Shirk. There is consensus (ijma) on this point. This particular type of “tawassul”–where one calls on the Prophet such as “O Prophet, help me”–is haram, with no questions asked. Not only is it haram but it is shirk/kufr.

        The words “not censuring the other position” are taken with regard to calling on Allah [swt] alone but saying the words “O Allah, I ask you by the right of the Prophet…” In this scenario, the person is calling on Allah [swt] *directly*, but using the words “by the right of….” And the majority position about this is that it is disliked and that there is no sound proof for it. But *this* is the position about which there is “no censuring the other position” for.

        So there are two types of “tawassul”:

        (1) Calling on other than Allah [swt] for help: “O Prophet, help me!”

        (2) Calling on Allah [swt] alone but invoking the right of the Prophet: “O Allah, I call on you alone for help by the right of the Prophet.”

        Notice the difference? The first type is haram/shirk/kufr. The second one is a difference of opinion but the correct opinion is that one should not do it.

        *This* is what Ibn Abdul Wahhab was saying. Unfortunately, the scholars you follow use the words of scholars who say that the second type is OK in order to justify the first type of “tawassul”, and this is the trick they play.

        “This did not escape notice by his own brother and Hanbali scholar, Sulayman Ibn Abdal-Wahhab, who wrote an entire book against him.”

        Why do you think that his brother is an authority figure? Just because he refuted Ibn Abdul Wahhab, suddenly he is the “Hanbali” authority figure? In fact, Sulayman was not a good man.

        “such as his desire or making permissible to destroy tombs”

        This is in accordance to the Sunna of the Prophet [s] who ordered Ali [ra] to destroy tombs and level the graves.

        “Had it been as simple as the quote you stated, I doubt the eminent scholars who devoted their lives”

        There are Shia scholars who dedicate their entire lives to Islam. Would you then follow their opinions based on this? Why not follow the truth instead of scholars?

        In any case, the vast majority of scholars–not just Salafis–have said that calling on other than Allah [swt] is haram/shirk. Islam-online, Dr. Yusuf Qaradawi’s site, declares that “no Muslim could ever call on other than Allah.”

        Brother, first read this here:

        And then you may insha-Allah understand the situation better.

        Fi Aman Allah,

    • Suhaib,

      Sorry for this second post. You may know this, but I just wanted to point out that Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani stated the same proof as you did in his “Notions That Must be Corrected” regarding Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s fatwa of permissibility of tawassul (though as a disliked deed).

      I am most curious to know how this reconciles with Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s contradictory statements on the matter, as stated in my previous post. This would be an interesting question to ask a Shaykh who has studied his manuscripts.


      P.S. I am also curious to know whose interpretations were used when Yasir Qadhi accused the late Shaykh `Alawi of blatant shirk. Such statements do not unite, but obviously divide. If he didn’t get this from Ibn Abdal-Wahhab, then from who else?

  • Wa alaykum as-salam,

    Sh. Ibn Abdul Wahhab was an amazing man. I think that it is sad that he has become (at least in the internet world in which I constantly exist lol) somewhat of an exclusively Salafi scholar. The reality is that he is well-respected by many non-Salafi scholars. Furthermore, I would say that many of the modern day Salafis are not doing justice to him.

    I just read in couple books that Sh. Rashid Rida admired Sh. Ibn Abdul Wahhab.

    Fi Aman Allah

  • OK my views on the original article:

    I actually disagree with it. I actually think that whether or not you use an epithet is irrelevant. It’s your ideas that set you apart from other groups of Muslims. The labels and epithets are just an observation of what already exists; they do not in themselves create the situation.

    In other words, the groups exist first, and then the labels are used to identify them. It’s *not* the other way around: people don’t first think up labels, and then drift apart. You might argue that labels would widen the divide, but I think that’s already going to happen inevitably.

    On another note, I think one of the most misused of labels is the “traditionalist” one. Most of those who call themselves “traditionalists” are not really so. And I’m not saying that as an insult, because I myself don’t wish to be a traditionalist. I don’t think the traditional opinions as espoused by the classical scholars are binding upon us, and I think on some issues they have intolerant and offensive views. The way they abrogated dozens of verses in order to arrive at intolerant conclusions was what really turned me off to rigid adherence to them.

    I actually think there is nothing wrong with the term “modernist” or “reformist” as maligned as these terms have become. Sh. Rashid Rida was a modernist scholar, and he was great.

    Fi Aman Allah,

    • I can see why you might use the word modernist because there is a need of extracting rulings from the deen in degrade to modern issues but reformist not so much because that inmplies making a change in the religion, I think a more appropriate word for what you are talking about is ‘revivalist’ nothing new, bringing back the classical understanding but applying it appropriately.

  • Asalam Aleykum to all the brothers and sisters and to Sh. Webb for providing this platform to make comments and have a discussion.

    I am a convert and have a deep connection and strong feelings towards the principles of Islam and have a few good friends but wish I could understand the whole ummah. I started my journey a few years ago trying to discern what was true and what was false in the western media about Islam. Years of reading Quran and other books brought me to convert. I still go through bouts of low Iman and to be honest the last few weeks have been very difficult for me. I follow the posts here and I listen to Imam Al-Awalki’s clips on Youtube and they are disturbing to me. I am not a pacifist and understand the need for Jihad – but is the west really deserving of this?

    I follow Al-Awlaki’s narrow, authoritarian, dogmatic views and I wonder if he is the scholar the young people need (I am 54) It seems to me like a Wahabi doctrine, seemingly very low on the scholarship scale compared to the great luminaries. I am more attracted to Ibn Arabi and Al Ghazali than to Al-Wahabb – because I have always been drawn to ‘sirat al-mustaqeen’ as it comes from within us and not as external precept pushed upon us. So much honesty and integrity about relationships between people, lack of greed and condemning usury – a just society. But then I see these Imams in the UK preaching for Shariah and the destruction of England, do they think it will happen – that the west will fall over dead to please the Muslims. I believe there is currently no war with Islam, but I think there may be if people realize that many Muslims actually want to disassemble the societies they live in. The west will not accept it and people are better migrating away before bloodshed because no Amercican or British or French or Dutch will give away their countries to Muslims.

    We like to tell the Kafir that all’s okay, it;s just a few loonies but watch the Alwaki clips on Youtube, some quite vicious and the stupid, ignorant Muslim kids who leave him jihadi responses, Maybe the west is allowing this so as to radicalize the youth, so they really can arrest them or shoot them or ban them from the country. Who do these jihadi nutcases serve, not most of us who want to worship in freedom and live our life as Muslims without government interventions.

    By my problem is much deeper. I have thousands of dollars worth of books I try to read, seerah, history, politics and current affairs, I go on Youtube and Al-Awaki stills sound like a Wahabi – not inclusionist, calling takfir on who he wants as though he himself was blessed with prophethood. And I do duah for Allah;s kindness and compassion to guide me and I do Shdahili dikr, but the Shaykh from Al-Quds taught about spiritual matters and not about hate but love.

    I Know I read Al-Arabi and Al-Ghazali and not Al-Wahab – but I did read him, sort of like Catholic Islam – if we don;t like we’ll excommunicate you.

    I took baya from a Shadhili Shaykh from Al-Quds. He teaches at Al-Quds and stays there most of the time, Inshaalal I will go and stay in the zawiyah even for a few days.I listen to Al-Awlaki and I wonder if it is the Islam I joined a religion that has become more narrow and rigid since the conection with Wahab and the Saudi royal family.

    Right now I need some help. I don;t know if Imam Webb can run a few classes for the confused and perpelxed, possibly old timers possibly new Muslims.

    I would like a brief introduction into Isalmic thought and theology – eveything from Ibn Arabi, Al-Ghazzali, Ibn Taymiyah, khawarij and salafi developments as well as the rolu of Sufism in the Mslim world.

    I understood Muslim theology used to be so rich and complex and now we have al-Awlaki saying who is and isn;t a Muslim. If I take Alllah into my heart with all heart and convictions and follow the Quran and sunah – how does he know Allah is happier with him than with me who left Judaisn because Allah called and guided me.

    Brothers I need help with a couple of classes about the theologies, madhabs and shcools of though like Ashaeri, Maturidi etc, If someone can volunteer to sit with me of perhaps the Shaykh can hold a few lectures for people who are interested and lacking knwolegde.

    These are tough times for me – I came from Judaism – it is not easy. I put my faith and guidance in Allah and his meesnger – La Ilahah Illalah – Muhammad Rasul Allah
    La Ilaha Illa Hu Al-Hayyu-l-Qayyum Wa Atubu Ilayh
    Allahumma Salli’Ala Sayidina Muhammadin Wa Aalihi Wa Sahbihi Wa Salam


    • As-Salam Alaykum, brother Ibrahim.

      First of all, congratulations on entering into Islam. May Allah [swt] reward you.

      Second: be assured that the extremists like Anwar al-Awlaki and those who support him are rare indeed. In fact, I would say that they control *no* mosques in America, and instead are forced to preach on the internet. So *that* is how much of a minority they are. The perfect example is how CNN covered the RevolutionMuslim fitnah mongers: it was four of them compared to the hundreds or thousands who attend the peace loving mosque in front of them. They are truly a minority! “Just four morons on a street corner” as Anderson Cooper dubbed them. The problem is that the internet amplifies their voices.

      Third: it is unfair to generalize all of the Salafis / “Wahhabis” or to claim that they are the source of the problem. There are extremist Sufis, such as the Taliban, who believe it or not were not “Wahhabis” but Sufi Deobandis who follow tariqas. It wouldn’t then be fair to dub all of Sufis, or all of Deobandis, as being extremists.

      Fourth: Dear brother, please do not listen to the propaganda against Sh. Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. He was a great scholar, respected by not only Salafis but non-Salafis!

      I hope Imam Suhaib Webb replies to you himself, and I apologize for responding to you but I just did it because sometimes Imam Suhaib gets busy due to having to reply to so many people…But my advice to you is not to worry about all these different sects and groups…Just be a Muslim and follow peace loving scholars. No reason to jump into these tariqas and other groups…Follow non-aligned scholars like Imam Suhaib Webb, insha-Allah. Another idea is to get involved with ISNA, and their scholars are usually almost always non-aligned, moderate, and peace-loving.

      Fi Aman Allah,

  • I apologize if I offended anyone and by the mistakes in my post. It was written very late at night.

    The best way for me is to seek Allah’s guidance and keep to myself.

    • Bro, you have nothing to apologize for. Don’t say that the best way is to keep to yourself. Please feel free to contribute, ask for input, and give feedback yourself. Our religion is not one where you should keep to yourself, but rather it is a communal religion, where you are encouraged to interact with Muslims, ask the tough questions, etc.

      The apology is mine to give; perhaps my comment was not soft enough and I apologize for that. Imam Suhaib routinely scolds me for being too harsh so I apologize for that flaw of mine.

      Fi aman Allah,

      • Brother J, your comment was actually very soft and informative – no need to apologize. I am like a new born child – I am ignorant and am better off not talking (and writing) but listening (and reading).


  • […] Arabian region of Najd. … Al-Wahhab's political partner was Muhammad ibn Saud, a rebel leader …Drop the Prefix, I'm Just Muslim Suhaib Webb – audio …If the majority of scholars have declared Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab's understanding of `aqeedah and […]

  • As Salamu alaykum

    I believe the source of the problem is everybody!!! Everyone wants to glory in their own group at the expense of other Muslims, and there is just so much injustice among us we only want to recognize the truth we have or our shayhk has and we do not want to recognize that the “other” may have some truth as well, and that we may be wrong about somethings.

    Anyone who wants to split off form the jamaa’ah and be there own identity is the problem, i don’t care how grandiose their prefix sounds.. Nafs Nafs Nafs!!!!!.. I have been involved with the tablighi group and the Salafis and they both have some good and some bad but anyone who thinks their group is THE group THE saved sect is delusional…yes there is a saved sect a victorious group they are the people of truth ..but who is to testify that any one individual is from them? only Allah knows and you and I do not know, did Jibrail alayhi salam come down and inform you that you where from the saved sect? if not then humble yourself and know you may be right but vary well maybe wrong about some things.. it is only the usool of the deen that we are required to agree about many many matters are subject to ijtihad… remember that

    Yes and Shaykh Uthaymeen did not just say do not call yourself salafi one time there are 4 other fataawah tfrom him saying the same thing be Muslim the ummah is one. …. there is fataawah just like this from Shaykh Fowzan and Shaykh Ghudayan may Allah have mercy upon him …so pls do not hide knowledge ..there is no ijmah about calling yourself salafi among the ulamah ..its a matter of ijtihad

  • I hope every muslim would think like you..but unfortunatly that aint gonna happen.and the reason being is that muslims of today have lost connection with the holy Quran and losing connection with the Quran means losing connection with Allah.

  • Some say we are muslims because they were born muslims..i say i am a muslim because i choose to be a muslim i choose to accept the the path of islam..Allah swt is my only muslims dont follow so called people follow Allah swt who is our ultimate the Quran dont keep it n the highst shelf keep it in your heart.its our only guidence for redemption

  • I like the way Imam Suhaib is talking about, that even if you try 1 million times we can not finish the differences but…….. 3. Differing in the secondary issues. This last category is the “mercy” mentioned in “Differences amongst my community are a mercy.” (see the above comment of Imam for detail)

    I would leave the differences and come to common term of
    “لا إله إلا الله محمدا رسول الله”

    it doesnt mean that we shouldnt try to learn the deen and follow it without the authenticity But we love our differences cuz our Lord is one.


  • I use labels. I use it to so that others may have an idea of where I stand, to get to know me better, to explain why I pray slightly differently from them. I don’t think labels don’t necessarily disunite. I’m a Hoosier, but that doesn’t make me any less American than say, someone from California or New York. We still have the basic values that makes us all American, though on secondary things we differ (you say soda, I say pop). It’s not the labels that disunites us; it’s the perceptions of others may have of those labels. So should I stop using it because someone else may have a problem of who I am?

    • Thank you! This is awesome. It really drives home the point I was trying to make.

      The United States is comprised of 50 states, yet we are UNITED states, one country.

      Thanks again.

  • Speak for yourself Yasmin. You must be under the illusion that “we” means this Ummah! Well your Ummah apparently loves the revilers of our Mother A’ishah, and our Nabi’s beloved companions! Your Ummah must think it is okay to befriend those who believe Muslim blood is licit!

    I am a traditionalist which is nothing more than a translation of SUNNI. If you don’t like the label too bad. It has been used before the time of the noble Ottomans to differentiate us from “them”.

    I am also not naive enough to believe that by stripping me of my “label” the world is going to be all rosy and lovey dovey! The shi’aa will still curse Abu Bakr and Umar, the pseudo-salafi Jihadists – who are defined as “fundamentalists” in the Rand report – will continue massacring Muslims and slaughtering innocent women and children. The Kharijites will continue making my blood halaal.

    No, Yasmin, I will not warm up the heretics! Such was not the sunnic prescription! Such was not the way of righteous forefathers either. Such is not sane either …

    As our Nabi ‘alayhis salam said: “A man is upon the religion of his friend” – so I will not be befriending the heretics and criminals you call us to embrace!

  • A poor analysis!
    The problem is not labels – typologies and such like simply categorise the conceptual issues that we differ on – and these exist, whether they be legal differences, historic differences, geographic differences etc
    The issue is one of political manipulation of these to achieve secular goals. That is the problem! We should not allow the kuffar to manipulate and differences between us, whether that difference is legitimate or not!

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