You are on page 1of 1

UnityandDivisionsinMuslimAmericanCommunities Ivealwaysfeltthatunityisnotaboutbeingidentical,butrathercooperatingwhile weunderstandourdifferences.Thedifferencesinmadhhabareusuallyeasytodiscuss becausethefourschoolsteachrespectfulacknowledgementofdifferencesinopinion, effectivelysayingThisopinionisright,butitmaybewrong,andthatopinioniswrongbut itmayberight. InmanyAmericanMuslimcommunities,evenSunni/Shiadifferencesare overlookedsocially.Eachknowstheirstanceandonepersonsbelief/practicedoesnt reallyaffectanother,withtheexceptionoftheoccasionalunfortunateparanoiaabout childrenseducationthatparentsofonegroupmayfeelaboutateacherbelongingtothe other. Themostdifficultdifferencetodiscuss,inmyexperience,istheSufi/Salafi relationship.Itseemsthatthediscomfortfeltabouttheissuestemslargelyfromeachside havingawellintentionedconcernabouttheother.Everyoneistryingtodothingsrightand hasheardterriblerumorsaboutthedangerousdeviationsoftheother.

Thisishardto resolvebecausethereisnoclearvoicerepresentingSufiorSalafi,andneitherofthese isactuallyacoherentgroupwithuniformfeaturesasitisimaginedtobe.Thismeansthat theevidenceeachtrendofferstotowarnagainsttheotherisbaseduponunrelated anecdotesthatprobablyrepresentindividualswithoutformaleducationineitherofthetwo trends.Iwouldliketoseethedevelopmentofaformalstatementaboutthebasicnatureof eachtrendthatwillbeviewedasacceptableandhonestbyeveryone.Thisstatement shouldrepresenttheintentions,purpose,structures,andmethodologyofeach,andcould thenbeusedasabasisforconversation.Evenifwecouldreachanagreementto disagree,thiswouldallowourcommunitiestofindunitydespitediversity,astheyoftendo withdifferencesinmadhhab.Eachcommunitycouldopenlydiscusswhattheywillteach andhow,orfindwaystofocusoncommonissuesthatdonotentaildisagreement. Differencesinopinionarisefromvariouswaysofinterpretingthesamedata.Thisis ahumanrealityandwillnotgoaway,sowemustfindwaystounderstandeachotherand worktogethertopromotegoodcausesdespiteourdifferences.Understandingwillcome first,andcooperationsecond,sowewillneedtobegindiscussingtheseissuesopenlyand directlyinawaythatwillbehonest,transparent,andrespectful.