Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

Serious issues & ideas. Trusted Sources.

There seem many different “Islams”, some I have heard of like Shia, Alawites, Ismaeli, Sunni, Wahhabi and many others. Which one is the right one?

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Virtues of the first generations of Muslims:

Collectively, the first generations of Muslims are known as the “Pious Predecessors” (as-Salaf as-Saleh), and include the “Companions” (Sahabah), the “Followers” (Tabi‘un) and the “Followers of the Followers” (Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in).

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr relates that Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said: “Verily, the Children of Israel split-up into seventy-two sects; and my ummah will split-up into seventy-three sects, all of them are in the Fire save one”. They asked: Who are they, O Allah’s Messenger? He said: “That which I and my Companions are upon” (Al-Tirmidhi, no.2641; al-Hakim, no.444).

ʿImrān Bin Ḥusayn reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “The best of the people are my generation, then those after them, then those after them…” This is reported by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhee, al-Nasa’ee, and others.

God says, “And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajireen and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment” (Qur’an, 9:100)

In a hadith reported by Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿaree, Prophet (pbuh) said, “The stars provide security for the heavens; when the stars are gone, the heavens will receive what it has been promised (of destruction). I provide security for my companions; when I am gone, my companions will receive what they have been promised (of tribulations). And my companions provide security for my Ummah; when my companions are gone, my Ummah will receive what it has been promised (of disunity and fights). Recorded by Muslim (2531), Aḥmad, and others

Also, please see

The short answer:

From the above, it is clear that the earliest generations were the best Muslims, and may i say the “Certified” people. So, the right group is that which understands & follows Islam as understood by the Companions of the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh).

The Detailed answer:

There are two broad categories – Sunni & Shia/Shiite. In the beginning, Muslims had just one leader for politics & religion. It was Prophet Muhammad & then the Caliphs. (Please read the brief inaugural speech of the first caliph at It touches upon several critical elements, including Governance, Justice, relationships between the ruler and citizens, external & domestic affairs) The differences that arose during the period of fourth caliph Ali were originally political, but later they assumed religious overtones. Broadly, Sunnis revere all the family members & companions of the Prophet, while the Shiites have different opinions about them. The implications of reverence is enormous. For example, if you don’t believe (Contrary to the proofs) that they were honest, then everything (Qur’an and Hadeeths) that came from them is suspicious.


Sources of Islam:

The fundamental sources of Islamic knowledge are Qur’an and Hadeeths (Sayings, actions and approvals of the Prophet). The dreams of people, or hallucinations / illusions experienced aren’t sources of Islamic law. The Qur’an and Hadeeths have been well protected (Recorded, Verified, Narrators examined, Memorized by Millions, Students’ notes were certified, etc.). BUT, the Muslims – both individuals and groups – mayn’t be following the sources. So, anytime someone says anything about Islam, ask him/her, “Show me the proof from Qur’an or Hadeeths“. If people refuse to provide proofs, know that they are at the least ignorant.


Interpretation of the Sources:

People may interpret the same quranic verses or hadeeths differently. Different opinions don’t matter in some cases (for example, in some laws of prayer, fasting, etc.), but in some areas, like Creed (Aqeedah), only one answer is right. For example, is God everywhere?. The answer is NO. Now, i need to provide proof, for this answer, from Qur’an and Hadeeths. Here it is:

Whose interpretation is correct? I’d say the people who know Islam best. (We seek the best doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc. for our needs & clarifications). Logically, the most qualified people to interpret Qur’an and Hadeeths are the people who lived during the revelation of Qur’an and who learned from the Prophet himself. Who knows Islam more (I say Islam, not astronomy or medicine)? The students (companions) of the Prophet.

It is not only logical, but there are also evidences from the Qur’an and Hadeeths themselves about the virtues and importance of companions of the Prophet. (Read the Virtues of the first generations of Muslims)

Though it may seem many of the contradicting interpretations are correct, it is not tough to find the truth. For example, you may find Shiites (Shias) and a few others like Barelvis, claim that there are proofs from the sources for using intermediaries to reach God (Tawassul or Waseela), decorating graves, etc. The quickest way to challenge them is to ask, “Did the Companions of the Prophet do these?”. The answer is NO. So, it is not tough to find (even without an in-depth knowledge of Islam) that these people are twisting the truth.

BTW, just like the speech of the first caliph, the letters, edicts (fatwas), speeches of many companions of the Prophet have been recorded.

Who are the Muslims who consciously seek to understand Islam as understood by the earliest & “Certified” generations? Salafis. This doesn’t mean anyone who is not calling him/herself as a Salafi is a deviant. Conversely, not everyone who calls himself a Salafi can be right.

Problems with the Salafi label:

1. Islam is the religion of God. It was not founded by Mohamed. Muslim is the term used by generations of worshipers of God. The followers of teachings of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus are Muslims. The followers of Prophet Mohamed believe Adam, Noah, Jacob, and so on are Prophets (or, Messengers) of God.  With this background, one can understand why some or many Muslims refuse to be identified by any label other than “Muslim”

2. Another issue is false associations. Osama claimed to be a Salafi, while the middle-eastern scholars who condemn terrorism and extremism are also called Salafis. The first generations of Muslims (i.e. Salaf) were not violent extremists.

3. The ideologies (Matters of faith, fiqh – matters of worship, Methodology) of most groups overlap with one another

4. Salafiyyah is a methodology. It has no central administrative figures like Pope or Archbishops. So, irrespective of whether a person calls himself a Muslim, a Wahhabi, a Salafi, a Sunni, or any other label, what matters is how s/he approaches Islamic Sources.

5. The term Salafi as a noun originated in modern times. No one called himself a salafi up until the early 20th century


Dr. Yasir Qadhi wrote, “In as much as the term refers to a methodology, it would be fair to say that it does not specify any one particular or distinct community or group of believers. The generic nature of this term is further illustrated by the fact that more than a dozen distinct groups either identify themselves as Salafī, in that they believe themselves to be on the Salafī manhaj (methodology), or they do not object to the term being ascribed to them even if they themselves do not use it. Whilst saying this however, it is worth noting that every one of these groups considers the correct application of the term exclusive to itself, alleging that all other claimants are not representative of ‘true Salafism'” (


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Note: This post was completely rewritten based on the below comments / requests. So, you may want to skip the comments.


Written by S Ibrahim

2014-01-05 at 6:49 PM

5 Responses

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  1. Don, read the current news from the Central African Republic. I believe you will find some info about “irate Christians”


    Jon Smythe

    2014-02-09 at 6:48 PM

    • Thanks Jon, I have. The AFP writes; The CAR descended into chaos last March after the mainly Muslim rebellion overthrew the government, sparking deadly violence. So there you have it. The Muslims started a revolution and are suffering the results as the Christians suffered at their hands. But a revolution is a far cry from an “insult.” which sparks Muslim hordes to pillage and burn Christian homes and businesses. Nice try!


      Donald Whiting

      2014-02-13 at 12:03 PM

  2. You seem to have taken a vacation from your site, leaving your adherents waiting with bad breath…er baited breath. It is not polite to do so without telling us, Seyed. I certainly am sincere in wanting to know about Islam but your conduct leaves me doubting the worth of my effort Please don’t reject my post as you did the last one which had a follow up question: Why don’t we read “A mob of irate Christians went on a rampage burning Muslim homes, shops, and mosques after an insult to Jesus?


    Donald Whiting

    2014-02-04 at 1:24 PM

    • Don,

      I had re-written the post, and hope you have read that. This blog is one of the many tasks that i do, and on many days it is not at the highest priority.

      I have no idea about the relevance of your comment on Mob burning places of worship. What exactly do you expect from me? If you have any questions, i can answer them. You’ll not find heated discussions or irrelevant comments in this blog. While i am for freedom of expression, i don’t bend over backwards to accommodate questions / comments that aren’t related.


      Seyed Ibrahim

      2014-02-04 at 9:58 PM

  3. Dear Seyed,

    I am asking for a group name because your OP proposed the question asked by a classmate which group is the right Islam and you led me to believe that you would supply me with a name and your reason why this was the correct group. He/she wrote:
    There seem many different “Islams”, some I have heard of like Shia, Alawites, Ismaeli, Sunni, Wahhabi and many others. Which one is the right one?

    Seyed, your discourse did not supply an answer as to which group, so am I to assume that no group/sect is
    the true/right Islam? You state that: The right people are those who

    1. quote from Quran and Hadeeths (Prophetic Traditions)

    2. take their understanding of Quran and Hadeeths from the earliest generations of Muslims.
    Is there not a sect which does this? As a non-believer in any “religion” I am not interested in making
    an exhaustive study of all the rules and teachings of any sect of Islam to find which is correct. Have you done it? I assume not or you would have said 1) that none of the sects of “Islam” are correct or 2) that
    this sect, supply name, is correct.

    Christianity has the same problem: many different sects with all claiming to be the “true” religion, e.g.
    Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. Which is true? I can propose a solution similar to yours. Compare the
    rules/pronouncements of a particular sect to the “Bible” (New and Old Testaments)-God’s revelations/words to Christians. Those which don’t conform are not true….But that requires interpretation and interpretations can differ. So where does that leave us?

    I have a question. The Bible proposes “the Ten Commandments of God. Did Allah give similar commandments to Muhammad?


    Donald Whiting

    2014-01-28 at 10:34 AM

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