WSW: Some Basic Agreement, And Great Diversity Among Muslims

Jun 29, 2017

Mosque in Abuja
Credit Kipp Jones / Wikimedia Commons

A Michigan State University professor who studies Islamic thought says while there is agreement among Muslisms there is one God, prayer is good, and you should give to the poor, he says there is wide diversity in interpretations.


Religious Studies Professor Mohammad Khalil, who is Director of the Islamic Studies Program says there are many misconceptions about the religion. For instance he says only about 20% of Muslims are Arab. Khalil says the nations with the most Muslims are Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all non-Arab countries. We turned to Khalil to answer one of the questions submitted by our audience about differences in Islam around the world. 

"What Muslims agree on would be a pamphlet, and what they disagree on, there would be enough books to fill Spartan Stadium"

Khalil says with 1.5-billion Muslims it’s the second largest, and one of the fastest growing if not the fastest growing religion in the World. Islamic law also has a lot diversity. He says Muslim scholars disagree on more than they agree on. “What Muslims agree on would be a pamphlet, and what they disagree on, there would be enough books to fill Spartan Stadium”

The question submitted to us begins “There are as many Islams as there are cultures throughout the world. There is not one Islam and all are as valid as the others.”

Mohammad Khalil
Credit Michigan State University

Khalil says there would be debate among Muslim scholars about validity. But he says there are many interpretations of Islam, and many different ways to practice the religion, right down to how to position hands during prayer.

Asked about the misconceptions of Islam, Khalil says there is a belief that racial Islamic groups are the ones who take scripture seriously. He says groups like Isis and Al Qaeda have a religious base to their doctrine. But Khalil says it’s an interpretation that many devout Muslims would not recognize.

Image from Wikimedia Commons