Islām is not a monolithic religion


Hi, I hope you are all well.

As a Muslim, I would just like to clarify in this thread that Islām is not the monolithic religion many non Muslims may believe it to be, or many Muslims make it out to be.

Even within Sunnī Islām today, you have distinct groups or movements who in some form claim to be the true Sunnīs, here are two such examples:

Asharī- An incredibly influential theological school founded in the 10th century, and became the mainstream school for Sunnī Muslims from the 12th century until the 20th century. The Asharī scholars are generally from Greater Syria, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa. Their scholars hold the strange view that God may reward or punish whomever He pleases, and they have a nominal view of free will.

Salafī- Perhaps the face of mainstream Islām today. There are two types of Salafīs: one type does not follow any school of Jurisprudence and the other type follows the Hanbalī school. Their scholars are ultraconservative, and are also accused by their opponents of holding anthropomorphic views about God.

It’s worth noting that even these groups aren’t monolithic, and so it’s very difficult to generalise things about them.

Let me know your thoughts, or ask me questions related to this topic.



I think you mean monotheistic, not monolithic, correct?

Monotheistic: the belief that there is only one God
Monolithic: being formed of one large block of stone

Are you saying Muslims do not believe in only one God? That they believe in more than one God? I am confused by your post.


He meant monolithic. To put it in Chistian terms, there isn’t just one Islam denomination. And it’s more complex than just Sunni and Shia. Even within Sunni Islam there are multiple denominations.

Now, I used the word denomination. It’s not precisely the same thing as the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians, but I used the word as it might be the easiest introduction to what he’s meaning. There are multiple schools of thought/theologies among adherents of Islam. Not all Sunni Muslims are Salafis, though the Salafi school of thought may be what many non-Muslim Americans think of when they think of Islam.

But I should let SalamKhan answer his own questions…


I meant monolithic. Orthodoxy in Islām isn’t so clear cut, rigid, uniform, and narrow.


Ok, thanks for the clarification. I don’t remember hearing that word used in that way before. I was aware that there were differences among the different sects in Islam.


It’s a shame that the Christians on this site most in need of your post will likely dismiss what you have to say out of hand as taqiyya and will continue to believe in the caricature of Islam that the likes of Robert Spencer (Christian) and Sam Harris (Atheist) have created.


Whoa! It’s Calvinism before Calvin! :stuck_out_tongue:

Could you expound this a bit, please? Do they incidentally not follow any school of jurisprudence, or do they actively eschew all schools as some form of Islamic novelty? Are they sort of like a practitioner of Sola Scriptura in that they see jurisprudence as a “tradition of man”?


The latter. They believe that all one needs to do is follow the ‘authentic’ Hadīths, rather than blindly follow the opinions of men.


How do they determine which Hadiths are authentic?


Sadly true Albert.


Like the majority of scholars do nowadays, they use the principles of Ibn Hajar al Asqalānī (d. 15th century). However, in the 20th century, an influential Salafī scholar, Nasir al Din al Albani,
used these same principles to re-evaluate the authenticity of many Hadīth throughout the entire corpus. Most Salafī laymen just follow what’s written in Sahīh Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim.


Thanks for the detailed information. This is good to know. Would you say the division is comparable to that between Catholics and Protestants, or is it more divided or differently divided in Islam? Hard to answer probably. I think the division within Judaism’s streams is less divided since ultimately all Jews think of other Jews as Jewish no matter the differences in Jewish philosophy, ritual, services. Or is it similar in Islam such that all Muslims think of other Muslims as their brothers and sisters when push comes to shove?


How are these not “opinions of men”? What I’m really asking here is how this particular subdivision of Salafis get around what looks like the same circular argument that the Christian Sola Scripturists have to contend with?


I believe it should be that way, but in most cases it isn’t, unfortunately.


I’m not sure how they attempt to get around it. I don’t recall myself ever being much in favor of this form of Salafī Islām.



As I understand it Islam has a bona fide “Sola Scriptura” movement known as Quranism which denies all the Hadiths. I’ve never actually met a Quranist, and all of the Muslims I’ve met whom I’ve asked their opinion have had universally negative views of the group. How prevalent are they? Where are they prevalent (if at all)? Do they exhibit the same level of anti-intellectualism as their Christian Fundamentalist analogues? Are they organized at all?


Not very prevalent.

Oh yes, they appear to be oblivious to the fact that the infallible Qur’ān has been preserved by fallible men.

No. Although what’s interesting is that in the past there were scholars who placed primacy on the Qur’ān (and reason) whilst everything else was secondary/supplementary to the Qur’ān. Very different to the modern so called ‘Qur’ānists’. Such an example of this in the past was Imām Abū Hanīfa (d. 8th century), the founder of the Hanafī school of Jurisprudence, and today one scholar is attempting to follow in his footsteps and revive the classical principles of the Hanafī school; his name is Atabek Shukurov.


Bump. Are there anymore questions?


Which kind of Islam do you ascribe to, and why?


As with Judaism and Christianity, Islam has been subject to deviation from its core and that deviation has been caused by men.

In Judaism the core message is in Genesis 2:8-9
8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

In Christianity it is in Matthew 6:31-33
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

In Islam it is in Quran 18:107
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds - they will have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging,

Life, righteousness (the knowledge of good and evil) and paradise are joined in all three traditions as a common foundation. That foundation is now so deeply buried that few, if any, see it. The garden of paradise has become overrun with weeds.

Jesus attempted to remove and burn the weeds. The prophet Muhammad (blessings upon him) tried also.

The knot-weed flourished, binding millions over the centuries.

Getting rid of the knot-weed across all three traditions is nigh impossible. It is possible, but it requires drastic action.

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