So many sects claiming to be truthful
Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
There are so many types of Islam such as Sunni,Shia, Aghakhani, Bohari, Brotherhood etc practiced in this world. How can a non muslim find which one is practicing correctly when he thinks to change his own religion to Islam where everone mentioned above claim to be following the true Islam ?
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So many sects claiming to be truthful
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
There is only One God, one life, one death, one test, and there is only one Way of Life approved by that One True God; and that is Al-Islam!
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 3 Surah Ale-Imran verse 19:Indeed, Islam in the ONLY right Way of Life in the sight of Allah.
Thus it is incorrect to say that there are many types of Islam. Allah did not command the believers to break into sects and call themselves Sunnis, or Shias, or Aga Khanis, or Bohris, etc.! In fact, Allah Subhanah specifically commanded the believers to stay united in the deen of Islam.
Just look at the Anger and Wrath of Allah described on those who break up their religion into sects:
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 23 Surah Muminoon verse 52-53:And you all belong to one and the same Ummah, and I(Allah) am your Lord; so fear Me Alone! Yet afterwards the people divided themselves into different sects, and each sect rejoicing in what it has. Well, leave them deeply involved in their heedlessness up to an appointed time.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 171 Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr
Allah's Messenger (saws) said: There will befall my Ummah exactly (all those) evils which befell the people of Isra'il, so much so that if there was one amongst them who openly committed fornication with his mother, there will be among my Ummah one who will do that, and if the people of Isra'il were fragmented into seventy-two sects, my Ummah will be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in Hell Fire except one sect. They (the Companions) said: O Allah's Messenger, which is that? Whereupon he (saws) said: It is one to which I and my companions belong.
No believer in his right mind can claim that the Messenger of Allah (saws) and his noble companions (r.a.) were Sunnis, or Shias, or Ismailis, or Bohras, or whatever name they may have invented for themselves! The Messenger of Allah (saws) and the noble companions were more than content to be recognized by the name given to the believers by Allah Subhanah; and any believer who wishes to follow the true deen must be proud and honored to be recognized by that same name: Muslims.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 22 Surah Hajj verse 77-78:O you who have believed, do rukooh (bow down) and do sajdah (prostration), and worship your Lord Allah Alone, and do righteous deeds: it may be that you attain true success! Exert your utmost for the cause of Allah, as one should. He has chosen you for His service, and has not laid on you any hardship in your religion. Therefore, be steadfast in the religion of your father Abraham. Allah had named you muslims before this, and has named you (muslims) in this Quran also, so that the Messenger may be a witness in regard to you, and you may be witnesses in regard to the rest of mankind.
Now to answer the crux of your question:
How can a non muslim find which one is practicing correctly when he thinks to change his own religion to Islam where everone mentioned above claim to be following the true Islam ?
This is precisely the test Allah Subhanah has ordained for mankind: to search for and follow the Straight Path of Al-Islam. Allah Subhanah has bestowed on each person intelligence and the power of reasoning, and a free will to choose whatever path he wishes to take for his salvation.
Allah Subhanah made His Approved Path very clear, sent His Messengers, and Revealed His Books to guide mankind aright. And Allah Subhanah allowed Shaitaan to create his various paths of evil, and allowed him to mislead man from the Straight Path. And thus, Allah Subhanah put man to the test, to see who amongst mankind, with the given intelligence and power of reasoning, and of his own free will chooses the Straight Path approved by Allah Subhanah, and who amongst mankind denies and rejects it!
If Allah Subhanah had so Willed, He could have forcibly guided everyone to the Straight Path. But it is the Will and Wisdom of Allah Subhanah, that He allowed and gave permission for both, the Truth and the falsehood to co-exist side by side; so that He may test man: who among them strives to search for and follow the Truth, and who amongst them is satisfied to live with falsehood!
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 5 Surah Maidah verse 48 (part):If Allah had so Willed, He would have made you all One Ummah, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the Truth of the matters in which ye dispute.
Thus, it is illogical to state that just because every religion or sect is claiming to be the Truth; one cannot determine the Truth! In any matter of the world, man uses his intelligence and power of reasoning to determine what is good for him and what is harmful, and strives to do what is good for himself.
And the best way to determine what is the Truth and what is falsehood, is to refer to the Divine Guidance revealed by Allah Subhanah and use that as a Criterion between the Truth and falsehood. And once one reads and understands the clear guidance and teachings of the Holy Quran, the Truth will stand clear of the falsehood.
Allah says in Chapter 2, Surah Baqarah aayat 185:"Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down: this Book is a perfect guidance for mankind, and consists of CLEAR teachings which show the Right Way, and are a Criterion of the Truth and falsehood."
A great scholar who converted from Christianity to Islam once said a few words of profound wisdom, when he saw the state of the muslim Ummah after he became a muslim. He said that he had read the Quran and judged the muslims, rather than seeing the muslims and judging Islam! He went on to say that had he seen the muslims before, he would probably never have converted to Islam! But Allah Subhanah blessed him to read and understand the Criterion first, and he went on to become a true believer and has spent his life in the service of Islam. That brother is a great scholar and a humble servant of Allah, Brother Yusuf Islam (former rock star Cat Stevens!).
If one truly searches for the Truth, and strives to find that Truth and follow it, Allah Subhanah will guide him to the Straight Path. But if one never strives to search for the Truth, and expects that Allah Subhanah will forcibly guide him to Al Islam, he must realize that that is not the Way of Allah Subhanah. He guides only those who sincerely strive to follow the Straight Path.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your Brother in Islam,