Misconception: All Muslims are the same and hold the same views

Background: Some think that every person called a Muslim has the same view of every other Muslim, so if they find a certain practice in one Muslim country, this means all Muslims hold the same view or the practice must automatically be a part of Islam and/or The Quran.

Saying the above is like saying all 1.7 billion Christians in the world have the same view on everything. Of course, we can all see the absurdity of this way of thinking. Islam, like any other faith with a large number of followers, has differing views amongst its followers. The most obvious case of this is that no two countries ruled by Muslims have the same system of law. Within Islam there are different sects who have different beliefs, some of them are minor differences, some of them major. The two main groups of Muslims (in terms of numbers worldwide) are Sunni and Shi'a. Sunni Muslims are the majority group, accounting for perhaps 80 to 85 percent of Muslims worldwide; Shi'as are the minority (however Shi'as form a majority in some countries, e.g. Iraq and Iran). There are also other sects, such as: Wahhabi, Suffi, Ahmadiyya, others etc (see link below). However, even in each sect, views can differ, so not everyone has the same view on everything.
All Muslims however accept The Quran (sometimes called Koran) as the final divine revelation to humanity. It should be noted that within The Quran itself, dividing one's faith into sects is strongly condemned and emphasis is placed on unity and what we have in common rather than division:

The people used to be one nation (but then differed), so God sent the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He sent down with them the Scripture with the facts so that they may judge between the people in what they were disputing. But after receiving the clarity, the people disputed in it due to animosity between them. And God guided those who believed with His permission regarding what they disputed in of the truth. And God guides whoever He wishes to a straight path. [2:213]

...and do not be of those who set up partners, or like those who split-up their system, and they became sects, each group happy in what they have. [30:31-32]

Say, “O People of the Book! (people of previous revelations) Let us come to a mutual agreement, that we shall serve and obey none but God. That neither shall we ascribe divinity to anyone beside Him, nor shall we take human beings from among ourselves as our lords beside God.” And if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves unto Him.” [3:64]

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Nazarene, but he was a monotheist who submitted; he was not of those who set up partners. [3:67]

And do not argue with the people of the Scripture except in the best manner; except for those who are wicked amongst them, and say: “We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you, and our god and your god is the same; to Him we submit.” [29:46]

O mankind, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Expert. [49:13]

Nor does he order you that you take the angels and the prophets as patrons. Would he order you to rejection after you have submitted to God? [3:80]

They took their Priests and Monks to be patrons besides God, and the Messiah son of Mary, while they were only commanded to serve One god, there is no god but He, be He glorified for what they set up. [9:31]

“And this is your nation, one nation, and I am your Lord so be aware.” But they tore themselves into disputing factions, every group happy with what they possess. [23:52-53]

In matters of the faith, He has ordained for you that which He had enjoined upon Noah - and into which We gave thee [O Muhammad] through revelation as well as that which We had enjoined upon Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus: Steadfastly uphold the faith, and do not break up your unity therein. Intolerable for those who have set up partners is what you invite them towards. God chooses for Himself whomever He wills; He guides to Himself those who repent. [42:13]

A good example of differences in view, is when a "fatwa" (religious opinion concerning Islamic law) is issued by an institution or scholar, it is not actually binding on anyone.


READ - click to look up verse references