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“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”- Mark Twain
Indeed. I can count the number of times I have followed the crowd with one finger (I’ll let you guess which finger). Regardless of topic I almost always disagree with all or a portion of what the crowd is saying or doing. My actions are often taken for contrariness, but they are a product of independent thought and decision making.
This confuses the mob. The person who thinks for themselves will always appear crazy and wrong- at first. In defense of the mob, it is not their fault. Groupthink dictates that in order to function as a unit, each member must give up something in the way of thinking and individuality. Too many opinions and personalities and the group would never get anywhere.
This is not necessarily bad, but inevitably those with the stronger personalities (and often the agenda) make the rules or present the scenarios and the others follow blindly until crisis causes them to rethink their initial premise. In religion this is dangerous.
I am currently a card-carrying member of very large mob. I am a Sunni Muslim. When I reverted to Islam, I was under the tutelage of Sunni Muslims. Since I was convinced of the truth of Islam through them, Sunni Islam became THE truth to me. So it is with most converts.
After a time, I began to hearing wild, often slanderous stories about Shias, a term I had only heard on FOX news and hadn’t the slightest idea what it meant. The sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias is legendary and shameful. Shameful because the reason is less dignified than the protestant-catholic split which was at least based on difference in doctrine (at least on the surface). Our differences in doctrine grew out of the split, not the other way around.
After the death of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAS), a power struggle arose over who would be the next Khalifa (Caliph). Brothers began recounting the words of the Prophet (SAS) to support their choice. Two clear candidates emerged, Abu Bakr (RA) and Imam Ali (RA) and the ensuing battle pitted brother against brother with an enmity not seen again until the War of the Roses.
The schism within the fold of Islam violates its very spirit. Allah (SWT) is One -so His people should be. We Sunnis are the descendants of those who chose Abu Bakr. The Shias descend from those who believe Imam Ali (RA) was the rightful Khalifa (Allahu Alim-Allah knows best). Each side holds to its choice and that choice becomes the criterion for faith. Where a person stands on the Khalifa question is the deciding factor in what form of Islam they follow. As with most infighting we have lost track of what is truly important.
So what happens when a revert begins to think outside the sect? I’ll tell you what happened to me.
I felt robbed. I only had to read the history of the Sunni-Shia split and it became clear to me that the Shia have a point. Even Sunni scholars have to admit that Imam Ali (RA) was treated with anything but brotherly love. The events surrounding Abu Bakr’s ascension to Khalifa were shady and political. I had not expected to side with the Shia. I had always rolled my eyes at the whole affair, wondering why we insist on living in the past when it has already been decided. When I read how my brother Ali (RA) was patient as he was slandered, bullied and marginalized, I cried. May Allah be pleased with him! He was an exceptional model of proper Muslim conduct. The Shia were not “wrong”. They were Muslims who found themselves in a minority and would rather face death than help in an evil cause-people after my own heart.
Having had my reason for being divided from my brothers and sisters in Islam completely annihilated, I kept reading and discovered treasure. Imam Ali (RA) left behind beautiful wisdom that the majority of Muslims (Sunnis being a majority) will never know. To me this is the real tragedy. On the day that politics took precedence over unity we all lost. We lost a portion of our religion, we lost ourselves and each other and we lost our power. As long as our house remains divided, we will never reach full potential as a people.
So what now? There is a movement within Islam to reunite the family. We know we will never again be fully united-there will always be those with a vested interest in keeping others divided. But the willing audience for the rogue muftis and prophets of doom is shrinking.
For now we educate ourselves and submit to Allah (SWT) always leaning toward practices that will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people and unite rather than divide.
As for me, I am a Muslim. I follow the Sunnah (way of life of the Prophet (SAS)) as do the Shia. While I have not incorporated any Shia practices into my worship of Allah (SWT), I take knowledge from them daily. I have grown in patience, understanding, love and tolerance at far greater pace than when all I knew of Islam was Sunni.

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One thought on “Majority Fool

  1. It always pleases me when I see a post that looks at Islam from a non-sectarian mentality. Peace! May the journey continue to guide towards understanding, patience, love and tolerance for us all iA.

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