Tag Archives: Sufi

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: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


The Reality of the Nature of Allah:


Author’s note:
What I have to present is a very simple, concise, treatise on the nature of Allah’s existence, the splendor of His exclusivity, and the magnitude of His dominance over all things. I have taken upon myself to write something such as this, as a result of sitting in a class on `Aqidah/Islamic-Theology, in which the instructor, teaching this class, mentioned some things about Allah that didn’t sit right with me at all, in spite of this person mentioning evidence from various sources. The premise of this class was centered upon literal & allegorical/figurative aspects of revealed texts (the Qur’an in particular), which highlight some qualities & characteristics of Allah, in which persons, both classically, as well as contemporarily, have expressed various opinions about. But, with me being me, the position & justification that he gave for his stances weren’t good enough for me. So, of course, I had decided to take pen-to-paper, and here we are, with this treatise, concerning the nature of Allah.

My objective, however, is not to call people out, or declare heresy/blasphemy upon any Muslim. Rather, it is only an honest, unbiased, simple, attempt to clarify some aspects of Allah’s nature, especially for those Muslims who may be reverts/Non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and/or persons (both Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) who may legitimately be oblivious & ignorant to this millenium old issue, concerning Allah’s nature-To make it plain: everyone has opinions, about who Allah is, how does He manifest His divine qualities, what is the extent, if any, of His qualities , etc. This treatise is not about this. It’s simply a platform, to display specific things which Allah establishes for Himself, in both the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition, about Himself & His divine nature.

It is my sincere hope that anyone & everyone may be able to benefit, in some way, from whatever I’ve written in this treatise. I’m hopeful that this could inspire/empower others to, in fact, seriously study this subject matter, more extensively, for their own selves, in order to theologically empower & liberate one’s self, from the theological dominance of others, who may or may not have your best interests at heart. As Muslims, we owe it to Allah,then, to ourselves, to be theologically safe & free from theological flaws, mistakes, personal opinions of others & just stick to authentic stances, based upon authentic texts, from both the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition.

By the way, just for enforced personal clarification: I am a Non-Sectarian Muslim, which means that I am not partial, nor biased, towards or against any particular theological group, school, or scholarly standing, in regards to this issue, and various other Islamic, religious issues, which have been the source of many a debate, between Muslims, for the last 1,000 years.

The Nature of Allah:

His Existence-
Allah is uncreated, Eternal, Divine, Perfect, and completely unlike anything which has ever been, or ever will be, created. When describing Allah, firstly, it is of the utmost importance to stay within the authentic parameters of the Qur’an & Sunnah/Prophetic-Tradition, in regards to what Allah attributes to Himself, as well as to what extent Allah goes to elaborate on certain, and/or specific, attributions about Himself. When it comes to how He exist, He in fact exist in an eternal context. Meaning, He exists without having a beginning or an end-This is the absolute basis of His dominance over all else which exists, aside from Himself.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.2; 42, V.11)

His Oneness/Uniqueness-
Allah is one & absolute, completely & exclusively unique, as one who exists. This highlights His divinity, His exclusive right to be worshipped, at all times & in all places. This is important, because, when people take on acts of worship, they must be sure that it is Allah who is the object of their worship, and no one else who exists. The best example of this is the Shahadah, itself. The Shahadah is the religious testimony of faith for Muslims; it confirms two things: One, our recognition & acceptance that there is no one who is worshipworthy, except Allah. Two, that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah, to be followed in all things, regarding the proper way to be obedient to Allah.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.47, V.19; Chpt.33, V.21)

His Names & Characteristics-
Any & all of Allah’s names & characteristics serve as direct indicators of His qualities, which are: uncreated, eternal, divine, absolute, unlimited, complete, perfect & positive, just like He is.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.7, V.180)

Allah’s Divine-Impossibilities:
There are very detailed things which are impossible for Allah, and before people get crazy, let me explain them-

a. It’s impossible for Allah to be created, age, or die-
Allah explains in detail, how this is an impossibility.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.2)

b. It’s impossible for Allah to be more than one-
Allah is one, without being divided. He is perfectly individual.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.1; Chpt.2, V.163)

c. It’s impossible for to Allah to have parents or children-
Allah makes it crystal-clear that it is not from His divine-integrity to have parents or children.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.3)

d. It is impossible for Allah to be dependant upon anyone or anything-
Allah needs nothing from anyone or anything, and, everyone & everything needs Allah.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.255; Chpt.31, V.26)

e. It is impossible for Allah to be a Tyrant-
This is based upon what Allah says about himself.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.18, V.49; an-Nawawi)

f. It is impossible for Allah to be selfish or cheap-
Allah gives of what he wills, how He wills, to whom He wills.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.5, V.64)

g. It is impossible for Allah to be defeated/subdued-
Allah can never be defeated or conquered by anyone or anything.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.6, V.28; Chpt.38, V.65)

h. It is impossible for Allah to have any negative names, characteristics, or qualities-
Allah is in eternal possession of the best names, characteristics, and qualities-His names, characteristics, and qualities are eternal, positive, and perfect, just as He is.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.286; Chpt.20, V.8; Chpt.7, V.180)

Allah’s features:

a. Allah has a Nafs/Persona-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having an actual Nafs/persona, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the Nafs/persona of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.5, V.116; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

b. Allah has a Face-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having an actual face, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the face of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.55, V.26 & 27; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

c. Allah has Speech, as well as a Voice-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual speech, along with an actual voice, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the speech or voice of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.164; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

d. Allah has Hands-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual hands, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the hands of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.38, V.75; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn; Bukhari)

e. Allah has Shins-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual shins, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the shins of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.68, V.42; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

f. Allah has Feet-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual feet, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the feet of any created thing.(Bukhari & Muslim)

Now, at this point, I will have to explain why some Muslims would have a serious problem with what I’ve just mentioned:

There have been, classically & contemporaneously, (various persons, groups, schools, etc.) those whom have taken a theological position that the features which Allah has described Himself with are only allegorical, and not literal. This is based solely upon interpretations of linguistic nuances of the Arabic-Language, as opposed to what Allah has actually mentioned about Himself, what Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has mentioned about Him, what his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all-together), and what the general consensus of Muslim scholars of the Salaf (the first three generations of Muslims, relative to the revelation of the Qur’an) have commented on concerning the features of Allah. In fact, classically, the vast majority of the Salaf have always taken a neutral stance, regarding the features of Allah, that they are what they are, as mentioned, in both the Qur’an & Sunnah, without attempting to explain them, nor denying the reality that these features actually exists.(Kitab Sharh-is-Sunnah [Explanation of the Creed], by Muhammad al-Barbahari) However, persons have deemed it necessary to do one of two things: One, two either negate the reality that Allah has described Himself with these features, giving them a figurative definition. Two, attempting to give the features of Allah form & structure. In all reality, both are equally, theologically, dangerous.

This particular debate, over the extent of the reality, or lack-there-of, of the features of Allah, has been a recurring, theological/scholarly, debate, for the past 1,000+ years, among Muslims. But, that’s not my concern, to get caught-up with the differing opinions of others. My point here is very simple at this point-There are so many things about Allah’s nature, which we, as created things will probably never know, and, it doesn’t even matter, for the following reasons: One, if it were really that important for us, as created things, to know in detail, regarding the features of Allah, then, Allah would’ve most definitely extended the definition of what His features are, or are not, either in the Qur’an, personally, or impersonally, via the Prophetic-Tradition of His Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Two, debating over whether Allah has these features or not will not get you any further in one’s development as a Muslim-Personally, I view this as a waste of time, for people to go back-and-forth, debating, arguing, attacking one another, verbally, sometimes, even physically, over this issue.

There should be no doubt, to any Muslim, that when Allah mentions something in the Qur’an, or through the Prophetic-Tradition of His Messenger (Peace be upon him), that He is not at all attempting to be deceptive. I mean, really…do you really think that Allah would just mention that He possesses all of these previously mentioned features, for Himself, just to throw us off & confuse us, to have us at one another’s throats (figuratively & literally), while we still at the end of the day don’t have a clue whether these features are real or not?!!!

What type of god do you think you’re worshipping?!!! Allah never plays practical-jokes upon people, nor does He deceive people, nor does He insult anyone’s intelligence. He makes things crystal-clear, all of the time, even when we deem things unclear, and, that’s solely the result of the fact that Allah has chosen to not disclose understanding to some of us, regarding things which may seem unclear.

So, never assume that Allah uses the “boogie-man” approach, in regards to defining Himself, either in His Book, or in the Prophetic-Tradition of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). He doesn’t want any of His creation, whom have been honored with being recipients of guidance, to ever fall into doubt or disbelief, about Him, via confusion about what is established in both the Qur’an & Sunnah. However, because we may possess some deficiencies of our own, due to diseases within our own hearts, lack of intellectual foresight, and just plain ignorance of the knowledge of sacred-texts, we have a tendency to overcompensate for the fact that we don’t comprehend something about Allah, by attempting to define it by ourselves, which in turns leads us astray.

Gareth Bryant/2012