It’s okay to be Non-Sectarian: The Muslim’s guide to stay Sect-free


Author’s note:
This particular article is exclusively based upon a discussion which I had with one of my Facebook followers. They had asked me a very fair & valid question, in regards to my religious-identity. They had asked me, “Why are you a Non-Sectarian Muslim?”. This term, that I very often refer to myself as, I’m sure, is something which was unfamiliar to this particular individual, as it is just as unfamiliar to many, if not most Muslims, globally, even though, in practicality, the vast majority of Muslims, regardless of their upbringing, are in fact Non-Sectarian, relative to their everyday-lives, as Muslims, without even realizing it. I decided to answer their question as honestly as Humanly possible, without concealing my general disdain for Sectarianism overall, and the following below is what my response to them was.

I consciously choose to be a Non-Sectarian Muslim, because of the Hadith/Prophetic-Statement of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), when he had drawn a line in the sand, among his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them), and said to them that this line is the as-Sirat-ul-Mustaqim/the Straight-Path. He then drew branched-off lines, like branches springing from a tree. He then stated that each branch has a Shaytan/Devil upon each of these diverted paths, springing off of the initial-line which Muhammad had drawn in the sand, calling people to misguidance.(ibn-Majah, Ahmad, al-Bazzar)

Primarily, anyone whom is calling you to individuals & ideologies, as opposed to calling you to Allah, His Messenger and knowledge+action, then this person/these people are to stay away from, as much as Humanly possible. Ironically, all Firaq/Sectarian-Groups have the (universal) pathological habit of giving themselves away, to those whom they are calling to, to join them, by doing exactly what I’ve already said, which is calling people to ideologies, as opposed to Allah, His Messenger, and knowledge+action.

I’ll give some examples of Muslim-Sects:

1. The Salafis-
Being a former Salafi, I have a pretty well-grounded, in-depth knowledge about how these people actually work, and my criticism about them is very fair & honest: The Salafis often attempt to monopolize the fellowship of as-Salaf (the 3-generations of Muslims after Muhammad [Peace be upon him]: as-Sahabah/the Companions [May Allah be pleased with them all-together], and generations 1 & 2 of at-Tabi`in/the Followers [of as-Sahabah]). Meaning, they basically claim that they are the only true religious-inheritors of as-Salaf, in both word & deed. Also, they specifically claim to be those included within al-Firqat-in-Najiyah/the Saved-Group (those whom are referred to as the only group of Muslims whom will be safe to never have to engage the Fire at all in the Hereafter). These claims of theirs are not only inaccurate & unfounded, but also very religiously-pompous & religiously-dangerous. These claims have caused many, if not most Salafis, to adopt a very negative, arrogant, entitled, religious-posture towards other Muslims, as though the Salafis are the most-elite among the Muslims, as though the Salafis some type of religious special-forces.

2. The Sufis-
I’ve had, historically & contemporaneously, significant contact & discourse with Sufis, from various persuasions & backgrounds. Their angle is basically this: Sufis very often attempt to monopolize upon Tassawuf (Spirituality/Spiritualism). Meaning, they largely claim that they possess the keys to “Spiritual-Islam”, where ironically, there’s really no such thing as “Spiritual-Islam”, because, Spirituality is an automatic/default element of Islam, that’s always existed within Islam. And, their call, I think is very unique & evasive, as opposed to the Salafis, or Shi`is (I’ll get to the Shi`is, don’t worry): they largely, almost exclusively, use tell-tale terms, to people, which won’t necessarily seem red-flagish. These terms are: “Teacher” as well as “Shaykh” (“Teacher” & “Shaykh” are always used interchangeably among Sufis). Very often, people whom are of a Sufi persuasion/orientation attempt to convince people that they need a “Teacher” for this or a “Shaykh” for that. And, this often sounds really good, to have a constant instructor to help you find your religious-way. The problem is that this is just one of many steps towards delving deeper into a sect, like any other sect out there.(For more info. about Spirituality, look here:

3. The Shi`is-
The Shi`is are perhaps the most outgoing, among these other groups whom I’ve mentioned, especially in light of what they mainly call to…yes…you’ve guessed it…they claim to monopolize the respect & love that all Muslims must, by default, have for Ahl-il-Bayt/the People of the House (the Muslim family-members & of Muhammad [Peace be upon him]). That sounds just-great, except with one major problem (among many other problems with Shi`is, but we’ll just focus upon this particular problem): Shi`is, largely, only consider the maternal-descendants of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to be of Ahl-il-Bayt, which is very problematic, and has (both historically & contemporaneously) caused immense strife between the greater Sunni & Shi`i factions of our Ummah/Community.(For more info. concerning Ahl-il-Bayt, look here:

4. The Kharijis-
Better known as al-Khawarij/the Departers, these people have been held responsible for the deaths of `Uthman, `Ali, several other Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all-together), as well as other righteous Muslims, innocents generally, several political/military usurpations, upheavals, revolutions, terrorism, and the list goes on & on. At present, very few, if anyone would overtly refer to themselves as the Khawarij, simply out of fear of ostracization. However, there are several splinter-groups, which have adopted, either from their inceptions or later on in their evolutions as groups, the ideology of the Kharijis, which is “Restoration of the Khilafah”: this is their battle-cry, even though as a group/entity, ironically, they are the ones, among the Muslims, anyway, whom have largely contributed to the destruction of geo-political stability even when the Khilafah was established, and even in modern times (particularly post-WWII) have completely contributed to the Muslims’ disdain for even attempting to establish the Khialafah anywhere, because the vast majority of Muslims, especially now would much rather live under the conditions which they now face, then to have people like the Kharijis in any type of real governmental power/authority.

Unlike most typical Salafis, Sufis or Shi`is, most, if not all Kharijis will not be forthright and just say “Salam…hey, I’m a Khariji!!!”. However, there are some significant, modern, groups whom have amassed a particularly significant following within the past 2-decades, namely al-Muhaajiroon (originally starting in the U.K. & spreading to the U.S. during the 1990’s & fell apart shortly before/after 9/11), Revolution-Muslims, and Islamic-Thinkers’ Society. Now, with RM & ITS, they’re basically the exact same organizations, except with a different hierarchy of leadership & fellowship; but, in practicality, they’re both under one. With the exception of the Salafi-Movement, which in all-fairness has really only been in existence for less than a century, and other historical sectarian-groups (with their own separate roots, whom have died out and/or have had their ideologies absorbed into other sectarian-groups), basically, any/most other sectarian-groups, historically/contemporarily, would largely have either Sufi, Shi`i, or Khariji roots.

One of the other reasons as to why I so choose to not follow any sectarian-groups is the simple fact that none of these groups or individuals calling to these groups will have any say as to who goes to either the Paradise or the Fire. And, even on Yawm-il-Qiyamah/the Day of Standing, Allah describes it as a day when a person will abandon his own siblings, parents, spouses & children.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.80, V.34-36) Now, just based upon Human-Nature, these 4-types of persons: siblings, parents, spouses, children…literally, in this order, are generally, universally, recognized as the closest people to any Human being, under normal, harmonious, circumstances.

So, if someone, regardless to what knowledge that they have, or what sect that they’re calling to, will abandon me on the day that matters most, then , I, as an individual, deem it, within my best-interest, necessary to abandon them/these sectarian-groups here in the Mundane, so that I won’t be heart-broken, as to when they won’t be in my corner in the Hereafter. And, by virtue of all that I’ve mentioned, regarding not adhering to any sectarian-groups, I choose to not risk treading upon the path that can/will lead me astray.

Gareth Bryant/2013

21 responses »

  1. I was uncertain where this article was going to head at the beginning. But quite quickly understood your logic – when you mentioned the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh). I like your account of the respective broad groupings – especially the concept of each ‘monopolising’ a particular strain of its constituents – like a possible side-step down a path leading the wrong way, the more they hold onto their exclusive self-definitions.

    Moreover, what I must say is to congratulate you on how you refrained to kaafir-brand (make takfir) any of them. Well done. For surely, judgement is the sole preserve of the Creator. But I guess we must judge ourselves first and decide what is best from the intelligible roads ‘out there’. It raises the dire need for us to ensure we are humbled at heart, to seek the ‘straight’ path, and keep striving to gain knowledge in our life-times to help discern (clear) truth from (clear) error.

  2. Everyone has an opinion concerning “Sects” in Islam. “Opinions” come from everyone in this world, no one is right, and no one is wrong. We all pray to Allah swt for blessings, forgiveness, justice, peace, Love, and Mercy. We are all trying to get close to Allah and try to do the best we can, without getting mixed in believing in what others say concerning who is right and who is wrong. Or how is this interpreted.

  3. I think it is disrespect, and even disobedience, toward Allāh to call ourselves with a name other than the one He chose for us: simply Muslims – no modifications.

    Muslims should never be judged by what they consider themselves to be, but by their actions instead. So, for example, a Muslim claiming to be a Sunni but committing the Shirk of grave worship is not even a Muslim (if he knows it) let alone following the Sunnah. Similarly, a Muslim claiming to be a Shiite but never committing any Ghuluww (excessiveness) in loving Ahl al-Bayt is a true Muslim who is more entitled to be a follower of the Sunnah.

    Wa-jazāka Allāhu kulla khayr.

    • Ibn Qayyim, in his masterpiece Kitab ar-Ruh, mentioned in the first section of that book that the dead can hear the greeting of those who greet them, which he corroborated with many authentic hadiths. Then he wrote: “Greeting someone who does not have the ability to sense or comprehend that when they visit graves they shoul gret their inhabiltants and say, “Peace be upon you, O people of this place among the b elieving Muslims, and we will God-willing follow after you” ( Recorded by Muslim #367, 1618-20). It is known that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) himself used to visit the graves of his companions who had passed away at that time. He used to regularly visit the graveyard of Baqi in Madina and make supplications there. (Muslim, #1622) He would also visit the Jannat al-Ma’la graveyard in Makka, where his first wife Khadija is buried and say:”This is a blessed graveyard” (Recorded from Ibn ‘Abbas by Imam Ahmad (1:367 #3293 —Sahih), Bukari in his Tarikh–1:284)
      Recorded by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih (Kitab al-Jana’iz #1305 also 3424)
      To conclude, it is not only permissible but recommended to recite Quran at the graves of deceased Muslims, and donate the rewards of the recitation to the deceased, and also the rewards of other acts of worship, such as charity, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.

      • Sallaamu Alaikum Brother:
        In your post earlier: ” A Muslim claiming to be Sunni but committing Shirk of grave worshipping is not even a Muslim (if he knows it) let alone following the Sunnah”. In response to your posting, I wanted to prove that is is permissible and recommended to recite Qur’an at the graves of deceased Muslims. Brother where do you come up with it is “Shirk” to worship at graves. Bukhari is a solid hadith, so this is where I get my information from, I can post more hadiths from Bukhari.

      • Oh, I didn’t mean worshipping Allāh normally at graves; I meant praying to the dead instead of Allāh. That’s the Shirk I meant; not even the Prophet are we allowed to pray to or ask for so etching from.

        That’s where mosques are built around graves of dead righteous people.

      • Sallaamu Alaikum brother
        To begin, it must be understood that the act of visiting graves is permissible in Islam, and therefore anyone who blames or censures one who visits graves is himself commintting wrong and should be corrected, Imam Muslim records in his Sahih from Burayda that the Prophet (saws) said: “Previously I had forbidden you to visit fraves, but now visit them” (Recorded by Muslim (1623, 3651).The scholars unanimously concur that visiting them is Sunna for men.
        Furthermorre, Nafi related that whenever Ibn U’mar would return from traveling, he would come to the grave of the Prophet (saws) and say, “Peace be upon you O Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon you O Abu Bakr! Peace be upon you O Father (Recorded by Bukhari–Kitab al Maghazi, ch #79)
        The Prophet (saws) taught A’isha the proper procedure for visiting graves and what to say in that occasion. He would not have taught us the procedure to visit graves if it were forbidden to visit graves. Allah says: ” And had (idh) they–when they oppressed their souls–come to you (jaa’uk) and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, surely they would have found that Allah is Accepting of repetence and Merciful–Quran 4:64
        The Sahih Hadith in which the Prophet (saws) says: “visit the graves” without any restriction or qualification to the generality in the wording. he did not say, “visit the graves except my grave, or “visit only those graves near you.” Therefore, this is one of the strongest proof-texts for ziyara.
        Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab related that the Prophet (saws) said: “Whoever visits “my grave” my intercession (shafa’a) will be guaranteed for him. (Recorded by Daraqutni in his Sunan ( 2:278) This Hadith is considered a true authentic Hadith by the scholars, and is furthermore the basis along with other Hadiths, of the strongly established practice of visiting the Prophet (saws). in his grave after the rites of Hajj,

      • Yā Ukhti, I swear by Allāh that we are on the same page. I was only talking about supplicating and praying to people instead of Allāh, like when I pray to my deceased grandfather.

        I agree with all what you say wallahi!

      • Sallaamu Alaikum Brother
        If your grandfather is Not a Muslim then, No you cannot go and worship and pray to him, But if he is a Muslim you can go and read Surah Ya SIIN, and recite the Ikhlas.

      • Wa-‘alaykum as-salāmu wa-rahmatu Allāhi wa-barakātuh, Ukhti.

        Yes, you’re right.

        You misunderstood my comment from the very beginning.

        Anyway, Jazāki Allāhu kulla khayr for your kind advice.

        Wa-s-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatu Allāhi wa-barakātuh.


      • WAIT…I agree with the general sentiment of this comment, but, one thing has to be made very-clear: the Nation of Islam are not Muslims, they are Non-Muslims. They are not Muslims by virtue of the fact that they commit what is known as Shirk, in one of it’s ugliest forms. They actually believe that Allah is a Human being. And, this is still one of their staple-beliefs. This belief, alone, takes someone outside of the fold of Islam. And, they’ve been teaching people that Allah is a created-thing, ever since their inception, in the 1930’s, C.E. So, yeah, they’re officially Kuffar. Also, ironically, their founder, Wali Farad (often mentioned as “Master Fard Muhammad”), was actually an Ahmadi (a follower of the False-Prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, from India).

      • Sallaamu Alaikum Brother
        To focus on oneself, because time is too short for honest criticisim who believes in what, how, where, and when. We are all Muslims, and I will let Allah swt be the judge of people believe in or what they don’t believe in. So brother did you read the poem that I left on your blog? I have more. Now, that we have been speaking online, you will be in my prayers forever. Lets focus on positive notes, knowledge, and what brings out the good in our hearts.
        Alaikum Sallaam Rahmatualah wa Barakatu

  4. Dear brother Gareth. This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. I think sectarianism is causing a lot of problems in the muslim world. Each sect harbours a certain arrogance and negative stance toward the other. As if they are so sure that they are correct. Only Allah (swt) knows the complete truth. It is our duty as muslims to strive to do our best to follow the path of Islam with the available resources, and not to go beyond certain boundaries. I, for one, do not categorise myself in a certain sect. I am muslim. I believe in the oneness of Allah swt, the finality of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), all of Allah (swt)’s Messengers and Angels. I sincerely revere Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s family and his companions (ra). I realise that a lot of muslims would frown upon my stance, and would insist that I MUST belong to a sect. I will let Allah (swt) be the judge. Jazak-Allah-Khair.

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