Non-Denominational Muslims and the Five Pillars of Islam
by Dr. Aslam Abdullah
Do non-Denominational Muslims practice a different form of Islam? How do they pray or fast or perform Hajj? How do they give their zakat? Where do they draw inspiration from? Who is their spiritual and religious leader? Whose books they read? Do they participate in Muslim activities organized by various groups? What is their view on various Muslim organizations such as Jamat Islami, Tableeghi Jamat, Ikhwanul Mslimeen or Islamic Circle of North America or Islamic Society of North America or Muslim American Society etc? Do they have any syllabus to follow? Do they have any specific masjid they go to offer prayers?
These any many other similar were the questions many asked after reading the first article on Non-Denominational Muslims? Perhaps, some people think that like many existing sects or groups, Non-Denominational Muslims have their own group, faction, masjid or organization. Far from that, the idea behind the Non-Denominational movement is to break down the barriers that factionalism and sectarianism have created over the centuries. It is rooted in the idea that individuals can understand the divine message and act in a responsible manner towards their faith and fellow human beings without dividing themselves in any organization.
They do not believe in the false division of Shias and Sunnis. They view this division outdated and harmful. Their basis to evaluate history are those Quranic values that promote peace and justice. They do not want to live in the past to carry on the age old differences of their predecessors. They view them as unique individuals in the continuity of human history with the aim of progressing. They recognize the injustices done by Muslims to each other in the past, but they believe that the best way to deal with them is to move forward for peace and justice without any division.
They believe more in principles than historical precedence. They do not believe in the divine guidance is something static and stagnant but as something progressive. There are certain essential divine guidance that must always be the hallmark of those who believe in divine mercy. In their view, the most essential task for any human being is to have full commitment to peace and justice with total dedication to God.
In their views all juristic differences are created by human beings based on their own views of the divine message. One should live with those difference as long as they do not change or challenge the essence of the divine faith. They believe Islam as the manifestation of the divine will and guidance as revealed to human beings through human history through difference languages and cultural idioms.
They do not believe in the superiority of a nation or a group or individual.
When it comes to prayers, they do not insist that their individual way is the only way to seek perfection. They acknowledge and accept anything that is substantiated by the Quran and Sunnah as well as by human intellect within the context of their time. How should one fold or unfold their hands during the prayer is not a bone of contention among them. Whether Surah Fatiha was recited behind Imam or not is not an issue for them. They believe that Allah knows the intention and actions of individuals and human beings should not interfere in these affairs.
Fasting is from dawn to dusk in normal circumstances. However, when the days are almost 23 hour long or in situation where the sun does not set for six months they believe that individuals, collectively or individually can determine the length according to their social and personal circumstances.
For zakat, they leave it to individuals to donate from their savings to the state or to individuals or charitable organizations.
They believe that the Hajj or umra are to be performed based on one's financial and physical conditions to experience the unity of the ummh and the dedication to Allah.
They do not identify with any Muslim organization because in their view every individual in any work of the community upliftment must be appreciated. Each organization has its own strength and weakness. However, organization's work need to be viewed in the context of the divine message and prophetic guidelines. They view that the Quran's message was essential to bring about changes in human society for the betterment of all based on strictly non violence. They take the Quranic mandate of no compulsion in religion seriously. Those who work for Islam and believe in Islam must adhere to the principle of change through non violence. They also believe that religious loyalties cannot be the basis for social and cultural biases. Humanity is one and God has created a pluralistic society and God's will must be respected. They believe that dignity is the essence of human existence and any organization that discriminate people on the basis of their view of the divine or commitment to him or rejection of God is betraying the divine call for the unity of humanity.
In this world the struggle of human being is to maintain the equilibrium so that people may feel secure and safe regardless of the views they believe. People cannot be intimidated to believe in any idea or to reject any.
Non-Denominational Muslims believe in dialogue and resolving human differences or living with those differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation. They believe that human sufferings cannot be divided based on people's religious identity. Issues such poverty, malnutrition, helpless, diseases, injustices and violence impact every human being that experience them regardless of their religious or ethnic background. They believe that as Muslims it is their responsibility to work with the rest of the world to overcome these problems so that they could help create an environment conducive for peace and justice.
They believe in serving humanity without any barriers. A needy and poor or the victim of injustice must be treated with utmost care and concern regardless of the faith or no faith he or she belongs to.
They are concerned about protecting their environment as they believe that human beings in their attempts to master the nature must refrain from adopting policies that would harm the universe in any form or shape. They do not believe in fiscal policies that cause disparities and deprive people to earn legitimate frutis of their labor.
In their views, Non-Denominational Muslims do not believe in patriarchy or a male dominant society. They believe that only through positive contribution by both men and women and through interaction within a well defined moral and social framework they can build a humane and decent society.
Their frame of reference are the divine guidelines that in their scriptures remind them that their relevance to the world is based on their usefulness and contribution to the humanity and in their contribution to everything good regardless who is behind that goodness.