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My family is incredibly mixed. Most of my ancestors were atheists or pagans and it was quite recently that my mother’s family converted to Islam. My grandmother and grandfather raised my mother in quite a scientific household, they were both academics and valued facts over anything else. But my grandmother was incredibly pious, which you would not believe at first glance. Despite not having or believing in the head scarf she has never missed a daily prayer throughout her life. Whatever she may do during the day or night, partying or studying, she would return back home and pray.

They never really categorised themselves into either Sunni or Shia but my grandfather declared himself Qurani for the first few years when he started practicing (which was like.. 20 years ago). Now he leans more heavily towards the Shia side but would never admit so to anyone. My aunts married Sunnis but retained their “non-denomination” religious views that they had grown up with. My uncles married Sunnis but became more Shia for some incredibly odd reason. My mother married my dad that came from a Shia background and “became” Shia, which she shared with her brothers. Although I was raised mainly Shia, I have come to realise that some traditions we carry out in our family are largely Sunni or paganistic (lol, isn’t that funny).

Coming to iftar (breaking your fast during Ramadan) at our place is the most exquisite look into most muslim families. We line up to pray side by side but in different ways. We all have our own traditions and understandings of Islam but celebrate Ramadan together. When we eat we argue, loudly and proudly, over different religious ideas. My mother and uncles are always the first to tap out and my lawyer aunt and psychologist grandfather go head to head over issues they actually agree on. Then we deflate over tea and laugh over biscuits, and whilst the adults discuss us children get to listen and learn.

It is important to remember that this is how most muslims live; side by side with people of different belief, if not within the family then with their neighbours or friends. To my Muslim readers I encourage you to try to understand your fellow Muslims of different schools of thoughts. To my non-Muslim readers I employ you to learn about the importance of such diversity within Islam and other religions?

Community is a corner stone in religion and accepting different views is a fundamental rule in Islam:

There is no compulsion in religion. Certainly, right has become clearly distinct from wrong. Whoever rejects the devil and believes in God has firmly taken hold of a strong handle that never breaks. God is All-hearing and knowing.

Excerpt from Quran 2:256 (translation by Muhammad Sarwar)

On this potential day of Qadr it is important not only to pray for yourself and your year but to reflect on your actions. Have you chosen right when the distinction become clear? Have you forced someone to adhere to your belief? Is your hand indeed clasped around the unbreakable handle of God’s mercy?

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