Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi or Salafi: Who is a real Muslim?

sunni shia family

Sunni, Shi’a, Salafi or Sufi: Who is a Real Muslim?

Arshad Gamiet

Royal Holloway University of London 29th January 2016

“A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem

Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa. May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh

All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, peace and blessings on him, is His servant, and His messenger.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem! Ya Ay-yuhal-latheena ‘aamanut taqul-laaha, haqqa tuqaatihee wala tamu tun-na, il-la wa antum Muslimoon.”

O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, with correct awareness, an awe-inspired awareness, and die not except as Muslims.

Ya Ay-yuhal-latheena ‘aamanut taqul-laaha, wa qooloo qawlan sadeedaa. Yuslih-lakum a’maalakum wa yaghfir lakum thunoobakum, wamay yu-til-laaha warasoolah, faqad faaza fawzan atheemaa.”

O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, and speak a straightforward word. He will forgive your sins and repair your deeds. And whoever takes Allah and His Prophet as a guide, has already achieved a mighty victory.

In the opening verse of Sura An-Nisaa’, Allah says:

“O mankind! Show reverence towards your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate and from the two of them scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;― Be conscious of Allah, through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (show reverence towards) the wombs (that bore you): for surely, Allah ever watches over you.”

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,

In Sura Al-‘Imran, verse 103, Allah declares:

Wa “atasimu bi hablil-Laahi jamee-aah, wa la tafarraqoo…”

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and do not be divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His Signs clear to you: That you may be guided.”

The scholars tell us that Allah’s Rope is a metaphor for the Holy Quran, and the Prophetic Sunnah, the life example of Muhammad sws. If we hold fast to this Rope of divine guidance, we will be able to navigate our way through all the trials and tribulations that life can throw at us.

Trials and tribulations are descending on Muslims everywhere. I don’t have to remind you of the terrible situation in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and many other Muslim countries today. The situation gets worse almost by the hour as Muslims are targeting and killing fellow Muslims. Each side believes that they are serving Allah. Surely, Allah cannot be on both sides of murderous factions! In Sura Nisa verse 93, we are warned:

Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his reward is the Hellfire…

My dear brothers and sisters, you’ll hear people arguing about who is and who is not a believer. Some people have joined totally misguided factions that declare they are the only true believers, and that everyone else is kafir. This dangerous attitude has also entered the Sunni-Shia debate. I’ve heard some people say that because the Shia do not accept the first three Caliphs, Sayyidna Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman, they are therefore out of the fold of true Islam. I would not be surprised if some misguided Shias considered all Sunnis to be misguided and possibly kufr as well. This kind of bigotry is dangerous, and doesn’t help Muslims anywhere. Internet discussion boards are full of self-appointed experts who pass judgement on anyone outside their narrow circle of opinions. There is so much confusion out there. And this confusion has been worsened by the political rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Despite their differences, Sunnis and Shias, Salafis and Sufis believe in the same book [Al Quran] and the same Prophet Muhammad sws. They believe in the same core principles of Islam [Gabriel’s Hadith]. Sunnis and Shias have lived in relative peace and harmony for over 1400 years. The trouble in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is not about religion. It’s about power. The Sunni-Shia differences have been used as a rallying point for political rivals. Let’s not be confused about who is and who is not a genuine Muslim. In 2004, King Abdullah II of Jordan sent 3 questions to 25 leading Islamic scholars around the world:

  1. Who is a Muslim?
  2. Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate [takfir]?
  3. Who has the right to issue fatwas [legal rulings]?

Three simple questions, but they are crucially important. [repeat them] The result was an International Islamic Conference in 2005, attended by 200 of the leading Shaykhs [ulema] from 50 countries. They adopted what became known as the Amman Message, with these 3 main points:

  1. They specifically recognized the validity of all Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi‘a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash‘arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who exactly is a Muslim.
  2. Based upon this definition they have forbidden takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims.
  3. Based upon the Mathahib they set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas, thereby exposing ignorant and illegitimate rulings in the name of Islam.

This declaration, known as the Amman Message (, was adopted unanimously by all 200 delegates from 50 Muslim countries. “For the first time in 1400 years, scholars from Sunni and Shia, true Sufi and and true Salafi traditions came together to clarify these 3 vital issues: (1) Who is a Muslim? (2) Real Muslims do not commit takfir, declaring other Muslim to be apostates. This is completely forbidden in Islam! And thirdly, (3) they set out the proper qualifications for issuing a fatwa, or religious ruling. Please, my dear brothers and sisters, take care! Don’t accept fatwas from unqualified people!”

On the table in front of you, I’ve left some information about the Amman Message, which you can read online and download as a PDF document if you wish.


You will also find a link to the website that publishes an Open Letter to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh, the so-called Islamic State. This Open Letter was written in 2014 on behalf of 126 leading Islamic scholars from around the world. It’s important that you read this letter so that you can understand the difference between True Islam and False Islam. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by anyone. Arm yourself with correct knowledge.

I hope insha Allah we can thus be better informed, and we can avoid the foolish and dangerous game of judging fellow Muslims and unbelievers.

May Allah increase us all in knowledge and wisdom. Ameen.

“Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.                               Ammaa ba’ad:

“Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”

(Second Khutbah):

“Soob’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem”

Glory to Allah!  Praise to Allah! There is no power and no strength except from Allah!

My dear sisters and brothers,

I hope you will all take the time to read the Amman Message, which is now 10 years old. It’s an important declaration that helps us to understand who is and who is not a Muslm, who does and who does not speak for Islam. Let’s not waste our time playing divisive political games that only benefit the enemies of Islam.

It’s a worrying trend that hundreds of young Muslims have left this country to join the fighting in Syria. They are under the misguided impression that they are serving Allah and fighting some sort of ‘Jihad’ in the name of Islam. They are not.

If we really want to serve Islam, we should do what many wiser Muslims are already doing: Join the army of humanitarian workers, who are providing food, shelter, warm clothing, medicines, tents, blankets and emergency supplies to thousands of refugees that have fled to Europe. Apart from Muslim refuges, there are other refugees from natural disasters. Large areas up north that have suffered severely from the recent floods. Many Muslim and Sikh charities have come forward. The media has shown how these acts of kindness can help to remove prejudice and Islamophobia. This is how one newspaper reported it:

One man said: “I used to hate Muslims, but now I’ve seen how these brothers have come forward to help us with warm food and blankets, I’m really ashamed about how I used to treat them. I’m going to visit every shopkeeper whose windows I’ve broken in the past, and I’m going to apologise for my bad behaviour….”

Allah works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, all it takes is for us to come forward to help the cold, wet and shivering flood victims, to show them the true spirit of Islam. A blanket and a cup of hot soup can do more for da’wah than a hundred speeches and newspaper articles.

My dear brothers and sisters, do not ever belittle the smallest act of kindness. Allah puts the barakah iinto the smallst good deed. Allah can magnify the results beyond your wildest imaginings.

Brothers and sisters, to conclude our khutbah:

InnaAllaha, Yamuru bil adel, wal ihsaan, wa eetaa-i zil qurba; wa yanha anil fuhshaa-i, wal munkari walbaghi; ya-idzukhum lallakum tathak-karoon. (Sura 16:90), Fadth kuroonee adth kurkum, wash kuroolee walaa tak furoon [2:152]. wala thikrul-Laahi akbar, Wal-Laahu ya’lamu maa tasna’oon.” [29:45].

“Surely Allah commands justice, good deeds and generosity to others and to relatives; and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, so that you may be reminded.” “and remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject faith.” “and without doubt, Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest Thing in life, and Allah knows the deeds that you do.”        

Ameen.    Aqeemus salaah

(If you found this khutbah useful, please leave your comments here: feedback is important to us. We use it to improve future khutbahs. Also, tell us about your Jumuah congregation, its size and location, your Muslim community, city and country. Jazak Allah khair. – Editors)

For full details of The Amman Message, see: