– Is there such thing as diversity in Islam and among Muslims?
– Most non Muslims see Islam and its believers, the Muslims, as one homegenous group. Their generalization about Muslims are very much associated of their notion of an arab. But the majority of the population of Muslims are not coming from the Middle East. By far, it is in South East Asia that we have a large population of Muslims.
– As I try to understand the diversity of humankind, I also reflect on the diversity in Islam. The concept of diversity in Islam comes in to two major points.
– The first one is discussed in this ayat:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Holy Quran, 49:13)
“Ya ayyuha alnnasu inna khalaqnakum min thakarin waontha wajaAAalnakum shuAAooban waqabaila litaAAarafoo inna akramakum AAinda Allahi atqakum inna Allaha AAaleemun khabeerun”
– Take note of the last two sentences.
– The second point refers to the way Muslims interprets the Holy Quran, Hadith, and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).
“Similar to many other religious traditions, one can find great diversity within Islam. The two groups of Muslims with the largest number of adherents are the Sunni and the Shi’a. Though their core beliefs are the same, there are important differences involving religious leadership and certain applications of Islamic law.” (Fact Sheet, Tanenbaum)
– We must not be afraid of our diversities. We must seek ways where we can understand one another and embrace our diversities as creations of Allah.