Theological Positions Evolve

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

When it comes to the different sects in Islam, we often forget that theological positions evolve.  So, saying such and such group believes a certain thing may be correct then, but incorrect now.

For example, what we know as the ‘Alawiyyah Shi’ah sect was outright heretical 700 or so years ago.  It was documented that they believed in reincarnation, which is absolutely unacceptable to Islam.  Now, due to rapprochement by the Itsna’ ‘Ashari, they are indistinguishable in their belief in Imamiyyah, and are a separate sect in name only.

A classic early example would be the splinter group of the Khwarij which went mainstream and eventually evolved into the Ibadhi sect.  This sect predates both Sunni and Shi'ah Islam.

When it comes to the Qadiani sect, we reject their belief in the prophethood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.  And then they split into two branches, with the Qadiani Ahmadi adhering to the original position, and the Lahore Ahmadi claiming him a mujaddid and mujtahid.

With regards the latter, our differences are no longer pertaining to a foundational principle of theology.  Would it not make sense then, that we have dialogue with them, and look to bring them back to the fold of mainstream Islam?  There are major differences in issues of fiqh al-‘ibadah, for example, but they are no longer insurmountable barriers.

The general Muslim community, Sunni Islam itself, is guilty of throwing people out of the ummah for every deviation, no matter real or perceived, small or large, and when closely questioned, many Muslims do not even know the points of contention.  We even have asatidzah, people who supposedly studied, saying the Shi’ah are not Muslims.  When asked to explain why, we get misconceptions and outright lies, not actual theological differences.  What more when discussing myriad other groups?

We have to stop looking at every difference as an existential challenge or personal insult, and engage the positions on their merits.  We have to be prepared to be challenged on our beliefs and consider the arguments, and then refute them, as necessary, based on cogent arguments.  Instead, we have idiots claiming to be offended.  If they do not even know how to articulate your beliefs, why are they offended?  They are only offended because their ignorance has been laid bare.


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