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What Is Orthodox Islam?

01 May, 2017
Q What is Orthodox Islam and who follows it?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Aisha Khaja: So, Dr. Shabir, the question that we have is what is Orthodox Islam. And what do they believe, generally?

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Dr. Shabir Ally: The term nowadays, Orthodox Islam, refers to the main body of Islamic following which is referred to within that body as the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa: the people of the sunnah and community.

And what this refers to is the idea that, so we not only follow the Quran as the revealed message from God, but we also adhere to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad on whom be peace, as the first exemplar of what it means to be a Muslim and the primary interpreter of the Quran itself.

And we also adhere to the community and that we keep the community together. We do not split up or segment ourselves into smaller groups. And now, of course, outside of this main body of following, there will be other groups as well, who consider themselves to be Orthodox. And we do not deny them that right to use that term.

But without being dogmatic, the Ahlus Sunnah, the Sunnis then, which make up about eighty-five percent or eighty percent of the world following of Muslims, and this then is the main body that I want to describe now.

In terms of what we believe, we usually subscribe to 6 items of belief. And some count these are 7 items and but by splitting one item into two to be more detailed. And the 7 items are encapsulated in a formula of faith which is often taught to children and memorized by many Muslims from childhood.

Those who know the Arabic will recognize it when I say {Quoting in Arabic} and so on. That that’s the formula to which I refer.

In English, it basically expresses faith and these things, it says I believe in God and His angels, His books—meaning the scriptures—and His messengers, in the last day—meaning the day of judgment—and in the predestination of all things with a good and evil, and in the life after death.

Aisha Khaja: So, do these come from directly from the Quran or are they complementary in terms of from the Quran and from the life of the Prophet or the teachings of the Prophet?

Dr. Shabir Ally: All of these items are actually mentioned in the Quran in one way or another. The Quran very often speaks about believing in God and in the Last Day. Those are two of the items mentioned. The Quran speaks about believing in the angels of God.

There are many, many passages that speak to that and so on. So, the beliefs are there in the Quran. And they’re also found in statements attributed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Now there are also, you know, what are called practices of Islam.

If one takes a course on world religions in grade 11, one will come across in the text book on world religions that there are five practices of Islam which are referred to as the pillars of Islam, meaning that they’re so important as practices that they’re almost like the posts that hold up a house.

And the five are referred to as the Shahada: bearing witness that there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Second, offering prayers which Muslims are required to do at various intervals during the day.

Giving charity and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime. And fasting during the month of Ramadan.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

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