This Ummah, Arguments and Semantic Games

Sometimes I feel as if one of the biggest problems of the ummah is when we play semantic games. I think a solution would be to always define exactly what we are talking about. The worst comes out with the names salafi, sufi, wahhabi, etc. These terms no longer mean anything to me unless they are defined in a specific context. I’ve met and interacted with many kinds of Muslim wal7amdulilah, and if they’ve taken on one of these labels, they’ve all defined it differently. There are people who call themselves  salafi who reject the madhab system. There are people who call themselves salafi that madhab system. There are wahhabis say that they follow the Hanbali madhab and they don’t like to be called as such.

I know some people that consider themselves salasufi because they are caught between traditionalism and salafism and don’t seem to gravitate towards one more than the other but oops they got traditionalism mixed up with Sufism.

Now even though I think that we can’t rid ourselves of labels, whenever people introduce a “controversial” term without properly defining it that’s when a heated discussion starts. Then people start arguing without even knowing exactly why. They might agree with each other but just be arguing because they are using a different definition of a term!

Non-Muslims seem to make it even worse as a lot of them have it in their head that salafis and wahhabis are to blame for terrorism which is not true. We all know that wahhabi ulema have denounced terrorism: Look at MR’s post.

But if Muslims can’t even agree on what these terms mean, how do we expect them to know?

Another problematic term is “moderate.”

Non-muslims say they want to hear “moderate Muslims.” Well good luck on that, everyone thinks they are moderate. 🙂

Naturally, every Muslim will think their path is the true moderate path, no matter what their level of practice is.

That’s why I don’t even like to use the term anymore.

In a facebook group, there was a group called Moderate Muslims and in the group photos I saw a picture of Haifa Wahbe. Haifa is a popular Sunni Lebanese singer that wears very racy clothes and makes very racy music videos and makes songs like leik el wawa (look at my boo-boo). That’s great. I know that a lot of Muslims wouldn’t even want to be associated with the term moderate if it was defined by people like Haifa.

For everybody, the moderates are going to be different. For me, it’s the likes of Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Dr. Jackson, Shaykh Hamza, Hadia Mubarak etc.

So basically, if terms are going to continue being used, we should define what we’re talking about.



  1. Yaser Said:

    Nice post.

  2. tradicionalista Said:

    jazakAllahu khair

  3. MR Said:

    The reason why non-Muslims think the salafi/wahhabi ideology is the reason for terrorism is becuase the majority of people who commit atrocities in the name of Islam have the same theological interpretation, although technically it is different.

  4. This is a good post , as It reflects the state I am in , I take knowledge from many different sheikhs , but what made me start questioning is when I used to hear that ‘its haram for a woman to go to the market , its not a place for a woman’ , this is what was happening in afghanistan , it made question my rights as a woman ? it made question were is all coming from ? what type of muslim do I want to be .
    sister I don’t think their is ONE right path . but what is quite clear we should all be purifying ourselves which sadly many muslims don’t do ….

  5. Helen madden Said:

    I am an elderly (well, 63) convert – female – and have been a Muslim for nearly four years. It has been distressing to me to discover that, while Islam is beautiful, Muslims are not.

    At the local mosque, Shia’s are not welcome and I have never even met the Imam, who has a reputation for disliking women, children and converts. I only got to see his photo in the paper when some of the men started punching each other one Friday.

    Instead, for two years I attended a Muslim community centre where everyone is supposed to be made welcome, whether they are Shi’a, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, agnostic, Hindu and so on. They are welcome in that they are not turned away and in fact, no one ever asks what religion you are unless it is obvious, such as the Jewish skullcap or Hindu bindi. Men and women are not segregated for meals and community activities, though we pray behind the men as usual. Women who insist on going into another room to pray are thought to be a bit strange, though they are not stopped, of course. All this is excellent, and rare, I think.

    However, having said all those good things, I have recently been saddened by having been one of five who have been slandered by the ruling clique, who thus achieved their aim of getting onto the executive committee. They see no reason why they should not have publicly screamed out lies (which were easy to prove as being lies) and in general yelled abuse, trashed reputations and shamelessly rigged the election.

    All this was simply to gain control of a membership of 1200, most of whom never attend apart from Eid. I have found it very distressing as I am now a pariah in my own country (Australia). All the Aussies have been pushed out and the south Asians have become the ruling group. We see nothing of the Indonesians, Malaysians, Bosnians, Arabs or Iranians, even though we have large groups in our city.

    A lot of people, including me, don’t go there any more. I also don’t go to the mosque. I have grown to mistrust Muslims, apart from just a few, and this Eid didn’t join in any activities at all. It isn’t a problem to practise my faith by myself, but it would be wonderful if I could trust my fellow Muslims to behave Islamically and I really miss mixing with Muslims.

    When I think about it, only Muslims kill and oppress Muslims, apart from when Israel attacks or retaliates. It’s no wonder that non-Muslims are afraid of us. What is it about Islam that so many people use it as a reason for anger and destruction when the Islam I learned about in the journey to shahada is so peaceful and beautiful?

  6. Jad Said:

    haifa is shiite not suni

  7. sacrosanct Said:

    her dad is shiite her mom is sunni
    so i dont know her level of religious practice but im pretty sure she herself is at leat nominally Sunni…
    correct me if I’m wrong

  8. Jad Said:

    No you’re wrong, she followed the shiit religion , she’s not a patrician but she’s shiit

  9. haifafans Said:

    thx for sharing
    yup u r right

  10. haifafans Said:

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