The Purpose of a Good Life: An Islamic Perspective

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Lesson 23: The 29 Characteristics of Ahl al Sunna wal Jammah


What characterises Ahl al Sunna wal Jammah from other groups? Especially in matters of aqeedah?

The unique position with the aqeedah of Ahl as Sunna wal Jamaah is that noone can deny it because it is all evidence-based and goes right back to the formative period of Islam.

For instance, if we glance at the deviant sects, we notice they have a specific focus, which though their topic of interest itself is good – these groups make these topics an unbalanced priority. For instance:

  • The Khawarij focus only on jihad or the outward signs of worship
  • The Shia focus only on the ahl al bayt (i.e. the family of Ali, may Allah be pleased with him)
  • The Sufis focus only on dhikr
  • Hizbut Tahrir (HT) focus only on khilafa
  • Ikhwan al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) focus only on the unity of the Muslims

But the reality is that the mission of the prophets was only ever about Towhid (the one-ness of Allah, monotheism). And this is the priority of the Ahl al Sunnah wal Jamaah or the Muwahidun (monotheists):

  • “Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4
  • La ilaha illallah: There is no ilah except Allah (The Only One, Unique, True Ilah [i.e. deity, god, one to worship])

So what exactly are the characteristics of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jamaah?

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The Story of Bus No. 35

Bowed Balcony

Have you heard the Story of the Bus number 35?

This story was told to me by Sheikh Fakhriy al Qaisi:


Sheikh Fakhriy al Qaisi’s Tale

He said:

Once, he heard about a man in Iraq, who was in hospital and who had broken both his arms and legs. Rumour spread about this man. And the Islamic culture favours visiting the sick. And so the Sheikh found himself visiting the man with the broken arms and legs. The Sheikh saw many people, paying their respects to him, and they made dua’at for him. When eventually the Sheikh made his way to him, the man said, jokingly, that the Sheikh was probably jealous because of the attention (and dua’at) he was gaining from the people rather than the sheikh. Or perhaps this was a sarcastic remark at his own condition. Regardless, the Sheikh asked the man what happened to him – how did he get himself into such a condition?


The Hospitalised Man’s Tale

The man said:

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Good and bad is from Allah, Most High. So, where’s the test?


1. Is the Test based on our choice between good and bad?

Yes. Some trials are in order to distinguish the believers from the disbelievers:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.

And We indeed tested those who were before them. And ALLAH will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although ALLAH knows all that before putting them to test)” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3]

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