Sunni, Shi’i, or Sushi?

Yesterday, the Muslim Students Association had who guest speakers, one of whom was Abdullah Antepli. The topic was Sunni versus Shia. Now when this can of worms is opened, chaos usually ensues – especially if there is already an air of intolerance. The panel was extremely enlightening, and I am very glad we are having such open discussions as Muslim youth.

It reminded me of two similar instances that happened to me on two different occasions. Both senarios happened when I was studying at Islamic schools in Atlanta, which shall refrain from being named. But the first instance happened when I was in 6th grade. My teacher paused as asked the class a question. Are you sunni or shia? We preceded to go around the room and answer (to the entire class and teacher) if we were either sunni or shia. Granted, I had no idea what their one was, I did what any other kid would do in that situation – follow the majority. I was closer toward the end of the procession, and all previous answers had been “sunni” so I went along with that one. This was a bizarre situation. But better believe this same scenario played out at a different Islamic school I went to for 8th grade. It was the same deal – go around the room and tell the world of your religious affiliation. Again – all children answered as sunni…

About four or five years after these occurrences. I was talking with my mother, and I prefaced a statement by “since our family is sunni…” and she stopped me right there. And she said that our family wasn’t sunni, we were simply mulims. That is when I realized how those past situations affected me.  I grew up knowing that I was Muslim, and just Muslim. Because we practiced similar to how “sunni’s” practiced, I began to assume that was name we were called  by default. But I question why we break ourselves up so: Sunni (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi3i, Malaki), Shia (Twelvers), Ahmadis, Ismailis, Druze (?), Alawaites, the list continues…

We are all Muslims, right…

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