Tag Archives: Bid`ah

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

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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:https://garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/mythoughtsonspiritualityvsreligiosity)

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: https://garethbryant.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/theperfectsolutiontothewholeahlulbaytissue)

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


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Christmas is just like al-Mawlid: A Bid`ah!!!

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Author’s-Note:
The following article is based primarily, but, not exclusively, upon two previous articles that I’ve already written, one about Non-Islamic holidays, generally (http://www.garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/thereasonsmuslimsdonotcelebratenonislamicholidays), and the other specifically about the celebration of the Psuedo-Islamic holiday, known as al-Mawlid (http://www.garethbryant.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/mythoughtsonthemawlid).

It’s so very ironic, how Muslims condemn Christians for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him), when many Muslims, themselves, celebrate the birth of a Prophet as well: Muhammad ibn-`Abdillah, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). So, in light of this, I intend to highlight some of the very ironic similarities, between both Christmas & al-Mawlid, respectively.

Brief history of Christmas-

Christmas pic

Christmas, literally meaning, “Christ’s Mass”(Dictionary.com), has been designated to be on December 25th. It is on this day that basically all Christians believe that Jesus was born, even tough there is absolutely no religious nor historical records proving  that Jesus was born on the 25th of December, or even during the Winter, for that matter. Anyway, this particular holiday emerged as the power of Christiandom began to spread & grow within Europe, Africa & the Middle-East. This holiday, “Christmas” was originally a Pagan-Roman holiday, called the Saturnalia, literally, meaning the festival of Saturn.(Encyclopedia Britannica) The Catholic-Church, at the time, was trying to strengthen it’s congregant-base, and realized that the masses of the people, especially in Europe were deeply invested into celebrating the ancient holiday, Saturnalia. So, what began to happen was, in order to keep these newly-converted Christians from turning away from Christiandom, they allowed the common-people to keep their former pagan-holidays, even though, ironically, these holidays represented everything contrary to classic Christian-Doctrine. And, this is how the Saturnalia evolved from celebrating Saturn, to celebrating Jesus, during the 4th-century, which is the closest known time-period when Christmas was officially celebrated.

Brief history of al-Mawlid-

Mawlid pic

The Mawlid, literally, meaning “birthday”, in the Arabic-Language(Lisan-ul-`Arab/The Arabic-Language: Lexicon of the Arabic-Language, Muhammad ibn-Manzhur), was something that Muslims began to celebrate about 3-centuries after the death of Muhammad, commemorating the month & day of his birth, even though: one, he, himself, personally, neither told, nor encouraged, anyone to celebrate his birthday, during his own lifetime; two, none of his Companions (May Allah be please with them all-together) ever celebrated al-Mawlid, neither during nor after the lifetime of Muhammad; three, none of the members of either generation of the Tabi`in (the followers of the Companions of Muhammad [May Allah mercify them all-together]) ever celebrated al-Mawlid; also, ironically, there’s even scholarly debate as to when the actual date of the birth of Muhammad was. Since the Pagan-Arabs were mostly an illiterate people & relied mostly on memory, it’s not definitive to say exactly when the birth of Muhammad truly was, without any credible, historical, tangible record. Moving right along: the formation & origin of the Mawlid, based upon surviving record, begins during the reign of the Khilafah (Islamic-Rulership) of Harun ar-Rashid, the 5th & most well-known of all the Khulafa’ (Islamic-Rulers), from the `Abbasi-period.(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Now…let’s see what’s ironically-similar between these two holidays-

1. They are both celebrations, which are not sanctioned by any revelation from Allah, via textual-scriptures, nor examples of any Prophets/Recipients-of-Revelation.

2. These holidays were never celebrated in the presence of either Jesus or Muhammad; so, there’s no basis of justification to celebrate the births of any of these two Prophets, when even they, themselves, had never celebrated their own birthdays, during their own respective times.

3. Both of these holidays emerged at least 3-centuries after the times of these two respective Prophets (after the ascension of Jesus [Islamically, Muslims don’t believe that Jesus even died in the 1st-place, which is one of the reasons why he has to return] & death of Muhammad).

4. Both of these holidays involve commencement of specific acts of worship, almost exclusively during the celebratory times of the year for these holidays.

5. Both of these holidays have resulted in full-fledged personality-worship of these respective Prophets, like calling upon them for salvation, when salvation is only from Allah, directly, and when worship, in it’s intrinsic/inherent totality, is solely for Allah, and not for anything or anyone created.

Let’s examine the word that I used to describe both Christmas & al-Mawlid: Bid`ah-

There is a purposeful reason why I’ve chosen this word, “Bid`ah”, to describe both Christmas, as well as al-Mawlid, respectively. This term Bid`ah, literally, meaning “Innovation”, is from the Arabic-verb, “Bada`a”, to change/evolve-Both of these holidays, just like any other holidays which had evolved out of the celebrations of dead-persons, or presumed to be dead-persons (as in the case of Jesus, whom, according to Islamic-texts, has not died as of yet[Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.157], making it one of the reasons why he must return to Earth: to live out the remainder of his life and to die), are not based upon any credible revealed-texts, from Allah. And, the actual religious, Islamic, definition of the term Bid`ah is the following: any action of worship, adopted by Muslims, which is in opposition to the Shari`ah/Islamic-Law.

One of the signature-proofs of this is simple: the story of the 5-righteous individuals who lived before the birth of Noah (Peace be upon him), the names of these persons were: Yaghuth, Ya`uq, Suwa`, Wadd, and Nasir.(Qasas-ul-Anbiya’/Stories of the Prophets, Abul-Fida’ Isma`il ibn-Kathir ad-Dimashqi) His people allowed themselves to be deceived by ash-Shaytan/the Devil, building monuments on their graves; but when the initial generation of people, who did this, died-off, their descendants weren’t informed as to why this was done. Therefore, ash-Shaytan had then encouraged them to take the commemoration of their reverence further, by celebrating firstly, the days of the births of these people, then, the deaths of these people, then, it went further & further, until these people were fully worship, aside from Allah, all together.(Qasas-ul-Anbiya’) And, this is why, Islamically, any & all acts of worship (particularly, in lieu of our discussion, to/for a dead-person) are automatically classified as Mahrum/Prohibited, unless there exists non-abrogated, textual, evidence, from either the Qur’an or the Sunnah/Prophetic-Tradition, which warrants the lawfulness of any & all acts.

Why do Muslims condemn Christmas but not al-Mawlid?

Considering the fact that both Christmas & al-Mawlid are meant to celebrate & commemorate the religious status of two Prophets, both dearly regarded, by both Muslims & Christians, this would actually mean that, if anything, the Muslims would have more of a right to celebrate Christmas than any other Christian…why? I’ll sure tell you why: one day, Muhammad had encountered Jews in al-Madinah (the 1st Islamic-State/Capitol of the Islamic-State, during the lifetime of Muhammad) & he was informed that they were fasting on the 10th-day of Muharram (the 1st-month of the Islamic-Calendar), popularly known as Yawmu-`Ashura’, or simply `Ashura’, literally meaning tenth, in Arabic.(Lisan-ul-`Arab) So, when he learned of this, naturally, Muhammad wanted to know why the Jews were doing this. And, they had explained to him that this fasting, on this day, is meant to commemorate the day that Allah had rescued the Children of Israel from the tyranny in Egypt, by the Reigning-Pharaoh of that time, and Moses (Peace be upon him) had fasted, to show gratitude to Allah. Upon being told this, Muhammad had mentioned that he has more of a right to fast on this day, than any of them.(al-Bukhari)

The reason why he said this is because of the fact that although the Jews religiously claim Moses, it is the Muslims whom are truly more adherent to the revelation that Allah had given Moses than any Jew. Likewise, if the Christians want to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, then, by nature, by default, the Muslims would be more justified, religiously, to celebrate Christmas, by virtue of the fact that Muslims are more in-line to the true teachings of Jesus than any Christian. However, most Muslims will not accept this, because, they’ll be quick to say, “Well Jesus is not our Prophet, Muhammad is.”. Yet, this is not the point: it doesn’t even matter whether or not Jesus was sent to us, as a Prophet or not. I mean, let’s go back to the `Ashura’-Issue: The Muslims were actually commanded to fast during `Ashura’, until Allah had revealed that the obligatory fasting-period for Muslims is during the month of Ramadhan.(Muslim)

So, in conclusion, I know that a lot of people (both Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) will have an opinion/opinions about this particular article. But, that’s okay…it’s just what I expect & this comes with the territory…it’s all in a day’s work. So, please, share your thoughts, concerns, criticisms (as I’m pretty sure that there will be many), and let’s get a discussion going about this entire issue.

Gareth Bryant/2012

What the Hell is a “Muslim-Name”?!!!/There is no such thing as a “Muslim-Name”!!!

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Ramadhan 26th, 1432, A.H./August 26th, 2011, C.E., I had given the weekly Khutbah (Islamic-Sermon), for Yaym-il-Jumu`ah (The Day of Gathering/Friday), at Stony Brook University. After the Khutbah had ended, a Muslim man came up to me, probably in his early 50’s, telling me how great my speech was, then asked me what my name was. Naturally, I told him that my name was Gareth. But, for some reason, that wasn’t good enough for him. So, he asked me what my last name was, so I said my last name was Bryant. That still wasn’t good enough for him-Out of the blue, he asked me, “What’s your ‘Muslim-Name’?” And, I initially said to myself, “Oh, no!!! Not this again!!!” He then began asking me about how long I’ve been a Muslim & what not. So, we started having a discussion, that I have pretty often with other Muslims, that I really find annoying…..it’s called the “The ‘Muslim-Name’ discussion”.

I’ve been a Muslim for 15 years; but, in spite of the fact that I’ve been a Muslim for this long, it’s still a pain-in-the-neck, to constantly explain why I don’t don an Arabic/Arabized name, to someone who’s born a Muslim or comes from a Muslim family and/or country; and, for some strange reason, they always find it so damn baffling that reverts to Islam, such as myself, do not change our names, when we become Muslims. It’s almost like people look at people like me as though we’ve done something wrong. Lately, I’ve been very stern about having people refer to me as Gareth Bryant, my actual name, as opposed to a pseudonym that many of my fellow reverts don as names, to fit-in as Muslims, as a result of some huge religious misconception. It’s basically like this: for the most part, people view you as not being really down, until/unless you have an Arabic name or Arabized name, which to be very honest is rather insulting.

I get really tired of people giving me those “You’re not Muslim-Enough” faces, when I tell them that my name is Gareth Bryant, as opposed to “Abu Uwais”, “Hatim”, “`Abbas,”, or the typical default name “`Abdullah”. It’s like people are saying that in order to have your Islam validated, you have to choose one of these pseudonyms, or you’re not doing something right. It’s also an indicator of cultural inferiority, sending the completely wrong message that only names of Arab origin are Islamically suitable names for Muslims. The person that I was referring to earlier, when we were talking actually asked me why I haven’t chosen a “Muslim-Name”.

It’s like a  typical “dog-chasing-its-tail” paradigm, having to explain over & over & over & over again, that a name doesn’t make a person a Muslim, rather their beliefs, statements & actions make them a Muslim. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough for most Muslims or people generally. In all honesty, this whole precedent of having a person change their name when they become a Muslim is actually a Bid`ah (a Religious-Innovation), unless the following conditions apply:

1. A person is only Islamically allowed to change their name, if their name has an Islamically unacceptable meaning (relating to polytheism, or blasphemy, for example), or a negative meaning generally.

2. A person is only Islamically allowed to change their first name, not their last, because of the issue of holding on to your family name, as a link to your own personal lineage, which is very important Islamically.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.1 & Chpt.33, V.5)

Unfortunately, people get so caught up in this fallacy of wanting a “Muslim-Name”, as well as just wanting to fit-in, that they end up violating both of these conditions that I’ve just previously mentioned, to the extent of having all of their official documentation changed from their real names, to these unnecessary pseudonyms. This phenomenon is so extreme, that when people become Muslims, it is stressed that people choose these Arabic/Arabized pseudonyms, either right before or right after they becomes Muslims, insinuating that changing one’s name is in fact part of being a Muslim, when in fact a name has absolutely nothing to do with being a Muslim. This sends a very negative message:

1. It gives people the assumption that changing one’s identity as an individual, via changing one’s name, is the only way to become a Muslim.

2. It gives people the assumption that only Arabic/Arabized names are acceptable names for a Muslim to have, which goes back to something that I’ve already mentioned, about cultural inferiority, that Arab culture is the only valid culture for a Muslim.

The name-change is the stepping stone to all other unnecessary cultural changes that a Muslim partakes in, from what they wear to how they think, to how they generally behave. They begin to get programmed into accepting all-things Arab, fueling the fire of biased ethnic & cultural superiority, where in fact, Islamically, there’s no ethnicity/culture that is superior to another, or that takes precedence religiously over another. As a matter of fact, I know people personally, who have not become Muslims, just because they did not want to change their names, because they assumed, based upon the statements & actions of the Muslims, that conforming to Arab culture, via a name-change, was part of being a Muslim.

My argument is very simple: being a Muslim is predicated upon defining & improving one’s status as a Human being, via worshipping Allah, the Creator of the Universe, not about conforming to a foreign culture & thus donning a foreign identity, via a pseudonym, which has no fundamental religious basis Islamically.

Gareth Bryant/2011