American Bedu

How do you Accurately Define a Muslim?

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An earlier post I wrote about the perceptions of Muslims in America continues to generate a dialogue of conflicting and emotional discussion.  What the comments from that post have highlighted is that there is not only fear, confusion and disagreement about Muslims in America but there is a lack of consensus or agreement on the definition of a Muslim!  The definition of a Muslim is not to be confused with a definition of Islam.

From Wikipedia a Muslim is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Qur’an, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. “Muslim” is the Arabic term for “one who submits to God”.

According to TurntoIslam a Muslim is someone who submits to Allah’s will. A person upon true monotheism, who worships God alone without associating any partners with him. A Muslim is someone who Bears witness that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. A Muslim can be of any background, race, country and gender. identifies a Muslim as a person who believes in and consciously follows Islam is called a Muslim, also from the same root word. So, the religion is called “Islam,” and a person who believes in and follows it is a “Muslim.”

So in the most “generic” of terms a Muslim is a follower of Islam and submits to Allah (God).  Most Muslims will likely agree that a Muslim believes Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah (God).  The disagreements begin when sects and/or categories are applied to Muslims.

The majority of Muslims are either Sunni or Shiia.  Sunni Muslims are further broken down and categorized by which school of law is followed. The four most popular schools are:

Hanafi:  followed by Muslims of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Muslim areas of Southern Russia, the Caucasus, most of the Muslim areas of the Balkans and Turkey and parts of Iraq, all follow this school of jurisprudence. It is also the dominant school of Muslims in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Maliki: adopted by most North African and West African countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and others except Egypt, Horn of Africa and Sudan. Also, the Maliki madhab is the official state madhhab of Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Shafi’i: Muslims in Indonesia, Lower Egypt, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Coastal Maharashtra/Konkan and Kerala in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Palestine, Yemen and Kurds in the Kurdish regions follow the Shafi’i school.

Hanbali: This school of jurisprudence is followed predominantly in the Arabian Peninsula.

Shia majority countries are Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain.[64] They also constitute 36.3% of entire local population and 38.6% of local Muslim population of Middle East.[65]

There are other minority Muslim groups known as Sufi, Ahmadi, Salafi or Submitters. A Sufi, Ahmadi, Salafi or Submitter considers himself/herself a Muslim the same as a Sunni or Shiia.

The purpose of this post is to identify the definition of Muslim and some of the ancillary names/groups associated in conjunction with a Muslim.  Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam’s two holiest sites and each year issues millions of visas for Muslims to perform the rites of Umrah and Hajj.  Are any Muslims turned away or prohibited from performing these pillars?

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