I attended a lecture the other day in which the presenter showed a diagram of a piece of sushi, and claimed that this is the “commonly known Su-Shi Muslim concept”. He went on to analyze the piece of sushi, saying that the inner core is (a specific sector of) Islam, the middle rice is the padded misinformation and lies about the “opposing” sect, and the outermost part holding it all together is the cover-all title of “Muslim”.
I was floored.
As a person who commonly refers to herself as a Su-Shi Muslim, and who knows dozens of other Su-Shi Muslims personally, the use of that analogy in a divisive and accusatory manner was shocking, and pretty darn close to offensive. Let me explain:
Urban Dictionary defines “Sushi Muslim” to be:
A Muslim with both Sunni and Shi’a parents, or for whom the Sunni-Shi’a divide means very little. A Hanafi who does matam for Ashura could be considered a Sushi Muslim.
This is a photo so well circulated on social media that I have been unable to find the original source:
Do you get the idea? Su-Shi Islam. It can mean so many things. It can be as the photo suggests – the child of one Sunni and one Shia parent. It can be as Urban Dictionary defines, a person for whom the Sunni-Shi’a divide means very little. It could even be someone who identifies in their heart as a Sunni (or a Shia), but just flat-out refuses to participate in the sectarianism that is so prevalent in this day and age. Don’t bother asking me what type of Muslim I am – the only answer you’ll get is “Muslim”.
This actually leads me to a very, very important topic. As a Westerner, born and raised, I am wary when I hear many Muslims blaming everything wrong in the Middle East on the West. At the same time, I can see many situations where a lot of that accusation comes from. One of these situations is the inflamed sectarianism present in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, Africa, and the Asian Subcontinent. Much of this inflammation can be attributed to the Western colonialism favoring one sect over another, the gaps in stable governments following the quick and near complete withdrawal of Western colonial governments, and an increased interest by the West in retaining power in the Middle East due to the discovery of oil.
Countries where Muslims of multiple sects have lived together, inter-married, and accepted each others’ differences have descended to a place where former neighbors are cursing neighbors due to an extra adjective placed before their religious title of “Muslim”. Extremists groups are thriving in places where education (both secular and religious) is not complete, leaving room for them to spread their divisive and destructive ideologies to the youth. It is integral for the general population of Muslims to become educated in their religion, straight down to the fundamental base – the Qur’an. This is a lesson that we can find easily…in the Qur’an.
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result. Al-Nisa 4:59
Additionally, if one must be so confident in their personal beliefs that they are positive another group who claims to be Muslim is in disbelief, I would suggest deferring to Surat Al-Kafiroon. I might be mistaken*, but I do not see permission to attack or degrade, but merely to admit that one believes the other group is wrong and agree to disagree.
Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” Al-Kafirun 1-6
So my plea to all of you is: return to the Qur’an. Learn the Qur’an. Ask a legitimate scholar questions about the Qur’an. Teach your friends and children the Qur’an. Everything we need is in the most complete revelation from Allah, even if it is simply to find the ability to be strong enough in our beliefs that we can show why we are correct through our actions and manners, instead of feeling the necessity to constantly attack the beliefs of others.
*This is a prime place to reiterate that I am not a scholar. All views, unless otherwise stated, are my own from my own perspective.