Saturday, July 2, 2016

Four Distinct Varieties of Islam

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Colonel Qaddafi and King Faisal.
Although, nominally there are countless sects in Islam, but for the purpose of social analysis I can identify four distinct varieties of Islam in terms of culture:

Firstly: The Western secular Islam which is practiced by the Muslim Diaspora in the Western countries and also by the Westernized liberal elite in the Islamic countries; secular Muslims generally prefer a personalized interpretation of religion over a social one.

Secondly: The urban moderate Islam which is practiced by the urban middle class in the Islamic countries; it is the most abundant variety of Islam which is practiced by the majority of Muslims all over the Islamic world (it can also be titled as mainstream orthodox Islam.)

Thirdly: The rural Barelvi Islam which is professed by the rural masses in the Islamic countries; it’s a mystical variety of Islam but the number of its adherents are declining fast due to urbanization and the missionary activities of the mainstream orthodox Islam.

Fourthly: The most virulent strain of Islam which is the direct precursor of the militant jihadism; I’d like to call it the tribal radical Islam. Its adherents are mostly found among the tribesmen in the Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and as far away as Egypt, Libya and Algeria.

Since the Af-Pak border region is also inhabited by the Pashtun tribes, therefore due to the influence of the Wahhabi madrassahs and the compatibility of the tribal values and cultures all over the Third World Islamic countries, the tribesmen in the Af-Pak border region readily adopted the tribal radical Islam.

The usual caveats apply: it’s only a heuristic classification which is not exhaustive; and there is some overlapping and similarities between the categories one and three, and two and four.