One of my friends doesn't perform salah behind anyone other than those he defines as Muslim. He is following a group of people who say that you can not make sects, and the people who call themselves Debandi, Sunni, Ahle-hadith, and others have divided Islam, and are not Muslims. So he concludes that he can not perform salah behind them.

I, on the other hand, think that calling them non-Muslim is not right, and I am confused on this. How do I convince him?

  • 7
    I'm confused by that purely at a logistical level: complaining about people dividing Islam, and then proposing (as a solution): dividing Islam. That is, at least to the outsider, paradoxical. Aug 13, 2012 at 9:04
  • 4
    This question made me remember this
    – user44
    Aug 13, 2012 at 9:31

3 Answers 3


(This is my personal view)

First of all, calling someone a non-muslim is very dangerous. Prophet (pbuh) said;

When a man calls his brother an unbeliever, it returns (at least) to one of them.


So, one shouldn't call anyone disbeliever until there is strong evidence. To be able to call someone as disbeliever, that person needs to have a (dis)belief contradicting with Islam. Also,

Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufiyan stood among us and said: Beware! The Apostle of ALLA H (SAWS) stood among us and said: Beware! The people of the Book before were split up into seventy-two sects, and this community will be split into seventy three: seventy-two of them will go to Hell and one of them will go to Paradise, and it is the majority group. Ibn Yahya and ‘Amr added in their version : “ There will appear among my community people who will be dominated by desires like rabies which penetrates its patient”, ‘Amr’s version has: “penetrates its patient. There remains no vein and no joint but it penetrates it.”


and this,

One who found in his Amir something which he disliked should hold his patience, for one who separated from the main body of the Muslims even to the extent of a handspan and then he died would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya.


So, one should stick to main body of Muslims, instead of separating themselves.


Also related is Can a Muslim not belong to any sect?. Your friend is right but probably needs some guidance. I will try to answer it in two different form.

1. Islam in its pure form does not exist today.

This is true. Islam in its true form does not exist. By this I mean Islam as preached and practiced at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). There are huge number of reforms done by the first four caliphs. Strictly speaking they had no right to change anything in Islam but they did and for the most part, for the good of Islam (we can discuss this later).

  1. Hazrat Abu Bakar compiled the Quran. It did not exist in the book form. Without the Quran we would be totally lost. Which version of Quran would you read now if Hazrat Abu Bakar did not compile it?
  2. Hazrat Umar was a poltician genious. He established econmoic and political system in Islam. Before Umar, there was no salary system among Muslim. People worked free. They though of it as insult that they be paid. Umar changed that and started salaries which were reluctantly accepted. Umer establish the political system of Islam. There are numerous stories of Hazrat Umer when he the caliph himself would petrol the street to keep his people safe. He established strict rules goverment official and made them accountable. He made government official require not to ride a Trukic horse, wear fine clothes, not eat sifted flour, that he would not keep a porter at his door, and that he will always keep his door open to the public.

    Hazrat Umar also made some changes to islam. At that time women were allowed to go to Mosque and even go to outside to relieve themselves (like men did). Hazrat banned this citing that the world is not that nice anymore and that could lead to problems. He also introduce a phrase in the morning Azan which has the meaning of "Prayer is better than sleep". With out these reforms, I am not sure if we would be where we are today.

  3. Hazrat Usman discarded all other version/translations of Quran and kept only one version. Without this we surely would have different version of Quran. Knowing that even at that time it was an issue.

  4. Hazrat Ali - the forth caliph, worked mostly behind the scene in many of these reforms and was genius himself. Hazrat Abu Bakar and Umar both seeked his guidance numerous number of times to solve difficult issues.

These were not the only reforms that were done to Islam. Then there are four imams of Islam who further reformed Islam (by reform it really means clarified things not changed things) as new issues arised by the day. These four imams did have different opinions about the subject.

2. Sunni Islam is the mainstream (sect less) Islam

In software development there is a term called traditional architecture which is also called free fall architecture. Sunni Islam is the free fall Islam to the best that I know. All events that happened in the life and after life of the prophet are accepted as it without any confusion. This is natural or free fall version. But it is not completely free fall. There are things that are mentioned in holy Quran and in hadith but Sunni Islam does not consider it any more (Muta marriage for example). Sunni Islam actually makes the religion tougher in some sense esp in prayers. Our prophet did not stricly adhere to same nawafil after each fard. When he would be in the mosque he would usually pray 4 rackets for exampe and when in home, he would pray 2 rakkat. Sunni Islam combined the two and made it 6, thus making it more difficult. Shia Islam made it easy by combining 5 prayers into 3. So basically these reforms were introduced because there was room for reforms. There were no defined standards, without standards we would certainly be lost and our belief weakened.

So far your question, your friend should pray after any sect if he truly believes in no sect at all. Calling them non muslim is not appropriate. If he thinks these sects are bad, they aren't because Islam was not strictly defined as such (remember even the Quran was not written). The fact that they are here is for the good not for the bad. Obviously I am not in favour of all these minor sects even among Sunni Islam. What is important is what you believe in, it is not crutial who are you praying against if you look at from one angle. So it is difficult question but I hope if scratched the surface a little.

Why Shia Islam is not considered mainstream? Because of their Shahada

أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله
و أشهد أنَّ محمد رسول الله
و أشهد أنَّ علي ولي الله

Notice the third line says "And Ali was saint/gaurdian of Allah". To the best of what I know, this was not the the shahada at the time of prophet Muhammad otherwise it would have changed the whole scenario.

Some references

Umar Reforms Wikipedia

Usman Era Wikipeida

I may need to clean up this answer.


He is following a group of people who say that you can not make sects,

That group is saying the truth. You can not make sects.

the people who call themselves debandi, sunni, ahleHadith, and others have divided Islam, and are not Muslims.

We can't make sure of this.

A Muslim is someone who obeys no one other than Allah and his rasul. A person may accept that his religion is nothing but the orders of Allah, and he lives according to the orders of Rasulullah, but he may also define himself as Sunni, Shiite, etc, even though he mustn't. This is the case of "assigning a wrong label to the right religion", and happens because of wrong education.

On the other hand, when the rules in Quran are contradicting with his fiqh, if he chooses the rules in his fiqh, he is not a Muslim even if he defines himself as a mere Muslim and does not add any different extra label to his religion (like: Sunni, Siite, etc).

I, on the other hand, think that calling them non-muslim is not right, and I am confused on this.

When you meet people who add labels like Shiite, Sunni, etc next to the name of their religion, ask them this question:

What do you do if the rules you heard from your ancestors (scholars, imams, madhabs, etc) contradict with Quran?

If he says he chooses Quran, then he is a Muslim. You can pray with him.
If he says something like "My ancestors are always right. They never contradict with Quran. You are misunderstanding the ayats in Quran. You are not capable of understanding the ayats correctly, or criticizing my ancestor because you don't know as much knowledge as they know.", then I suggest you don't pray with him, because he is probably a musrik.

How do I convince him?

When you come across with a different idea, you shouldn't ask the question "How do I make him think like me?". Rather than that, first try to understand what he is saying. You might be the wrong one. Or maybe he is indeed wrong, but you may realize a flaw in your opinions on that matter and improve yourself.

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