Category Archives: General

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

There are all kinds of IGOs, or inter-governmental organizations, around the world, all created with common goals and interests. Whether it’s the United Nations, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, OPEC, the European Union, or any other such group, they often have member states which are committed to the same interests and goals for which the organization was established. We are talking major international players not some local community government in Kansas CIty, Missouri.

You can add another such group to the list, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which currently has 57 member states, making it the second-largest IGO in the world (behind only the U.N.). The organization is the United Nations for predominantly Muslim countries on four continents (mostly Asia and Africa; Europe and South America are represented by single countries, Albania for the former and Guyana for the latter), and it has delegations to the United Nations and the European Union in order to promote and cooperate on common issues. The OIC calls itself the “voice of the Muslim world,” and seems to take a “moderate” approach to Islam in that it has made several public statements recently condemning terror bombings in Manchester, Kabul, Baghdad, and the series of attacks in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the OIC has been supportive of a boycott of Israel.

According to the charter of OIC, the mission of the group is to promote common interests of the Muslim world as a whole, using influence of 1.5 billion people in those countries to promote culture, education, science and technology and economic progress in the Muslim world, working with the UN and EU (among others) to ensure stability and peace and find opportunities for growth and progress within the fundamental principles of Islam.

The organization was established in 1969 after an arson attempt by Denis Rohan, an Australian Christian, on the famous Al-Asqa mosque on the Temple Mount outside Jerusalem. Rohan was tried, found insane and was committed to a psychiatric institution until he died in the mid-1990s. That event mobilized the Muslim world, and 30 countries sent delegates to form a new group that would unify the Muslim world and promotes cooperation not only among the member states but also work toward peaceful co-existence with other faiths as well, including Jews and Christians.

The United States began sending a special envoy to the OIC under President George W. Bush in 2007, in order to understand the needs and values of Muslims and find ways for the U.S. to work with the Muslim community toward common goals. However, recent information showed that during a two-year period earlier this decade, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC (a version of the U.N. Security Council) voted against the United States nearly 90 percent of the time.

In September of this year, the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology will be held, with about 120 scientists from around the world expected to attend and inform the member states about policy positions in these fields.

The Islamic State in Iran

There is a lot of talk and debate about whether the Islamic Republic of Iran is an ally or an enemy of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), which had been part of the Syrian civil war against the Syrian government – which is an ally of Iran.

Iran is a Shia Muslim republic, while ISIS claims to be Sunni. The Shia and the Sunni supposedly do not like each other, and in fact will kill each other in the name of promoting “pure” Islam. However, it has been well-documented that Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism all over the Middle East, without regard to Shia or Sunni loyalty. Iran has financed Hezbollah and Hamas, ISIS predecessor al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups.

While it might look like ISIS is fighting alongside Syrian rebels in an attempt to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, there is evidence to suggest that ISIS is only putting on airs and is actually looking to weaken the Syrian rebellion from the inside and is working to keep Assad in place in Syria because of Iran’s growing influence in the region.

Assad, you see, is an ally of the Iranians, and with Iran looking to further increase its power and influence in the region – with the goal of eventually destroying Israel and America –  it is helpful for Iran to not only keep Assad in power, but also to keep ISIS around and relevant to forward its terrorist aims.

It is a fragile balancing act with ISIS, as Iran is looking to manage the terror group and keep it away from Iranian bborders, but using it to increase influence throughout the greater Middle East. And having ISIS in Syria to eventually take out the Syrian rebels entrenches Assad in Syria and keeps Iran’s influence in the country, spreading its power iinto other countries where it can eventually take on its real enemy, Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic State is known as the terror group ISIS or ISIL (Iraq and the Levant), but Iran is an Islamic state of its own, a republic that is governed by sharia law. It could be argued that while ISIS is looking to establish a caliphate in the area of Iraq and Syria (in which it has claimed a good portion of land in both countries), Iran’s territory could be used as part of the caliphate with the blessing and full support of the Iranian government. ISIS would not be the one in control of the land, as it is a proxy of Iran, but gaining the territory in Iraq and Syria increases the Islamic republic’s reach, leverage and influence in the region – which has always been its ultimate goal, at least since the revolution of 1979.

Any Islamic State in Iran is solely about the Iranian government, which has infiltrated some areas of the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria, so that if those governments were to be toppled, then Iran would be in position to fill the vacuum ad more directly increase eit s influence and further guide ISIS into its terrorist activities in America and the West.

If Iran really was an enemy of ISIS, then it would be wiped out by now, as the estimated numbers of the militants was less than 40,000. And the fact that ISIS is still taking responsibility for various bombings in the West – such as the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last month – should tell you that Iran is not the enemy of ISIS that Iran wants the rest of us to believe.

The Islamic Revival

According to Islamic tradition, the last 40 years have just been a revival of the faith.

This terrorism and threat of caliphate? It really is the Muslim world once again getting in touch with its roots in an increasingly modern and secular world.

At least, that is the justification for what has been happening with Islam across the world. This is all part of a new religious revival within Islam, something that comes around during every century on the Islamic calendar (about every 97 years on the western Gregorian calendar).

What is the Revival?

According to Islamic tradition, there is a recognition that the world modernizes and innovates every century or so, and at around the turn of a new Islamic century, a new mujaddid, or reviver,  comes to the front of the Islamic religion nd will look to guide Muslims away from “secularism” and “religious ignorance” by re-establishing the basic tenets and principles of Islamic life. The mujadidd takes the role of fundamentalist leader of Islam and directs followers back to traditional values in the Qu’ran and taught by Mohammed and several of his disciples in the years after his death. There have been mujadidds in every century starting with Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz in the first century all the way to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the fourteenth century. A fifteenth-century mujadidd has not been chosen (sorry Blair Chan).

Coping with Modernity

Fundamentalist Muslims consider modern innovations like computers and technology as “false innovations,” especially if created by non-Muslims. The most demonstrable example of the most recent revival came with the latest “mujaddid” became the Ayatollah Khomeini and took over the Iranian government after deposing the Shah of Iran in 1979.

The revival there coincided with the new Islamic century (the 15th century, for those keeping scores), and the Islamic Revolution that changed the government of Iran was seen as a sign that the previous Iranian government was not compatible with sharia law and Islamic teachings, and that the revolution would bring Muslims back from their “secular” ways and guide them back to the original principles of Islam – those that would not have allowed such a “westernized” government as what the Shah oversaw.

It has been admitted that Islam looks to “cope” with modern life and “secular society” in this way – by going back to the fundamentals of Islam, rather than moving forward progressively and incorporating modernity into the religion without the secular accouterments that Islam suggests exist.

Back to the Future

With some revival movements in other religions – Christianity being the most noteworthy – there is usually not so much a return to basic principles as much as better emotional and spiritual involvement with God and the church; revivals there may be more about getting Christians back in the pews every Sunday and more involved in Bible study and regular prayer.

But in the Muslim faith, revival is truly about getting back as close to original Islam as possible, eschewing much of the modern amenities and focusing more on the spiritual foundations and lifestyle that is considered moral and righteous within the Islamic faith.  Both revivals are about getting closer to God. Christian revivals are about making God more of a priority in our secularized modern lives; Islam is about removing the clouds of secularism and modernity altogether to have a clear line of communication with God.

Update: New Deals In Saudi Arabia Might Be Responsible For Regional Chaos

In yet another interesting twist in the ongoing saga of U.S. President Donald Trump’s fight against immigrants from several Middle Eastern countries (but conveniently not those with which he has business ties), the U.S. State Department just approved an enormous sale of military arms to Saudi Arabia–a deal brokered by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. One of Trump’s hotels was also the recipient of about $270,000 tied to Saudi Arabia. Unrelated or not, it must be good to be the king.

If the deal doesn’t fall apart, Saudi Arabia will be provided a number of military weapons and equipment over the next decade, while a U.S.-guided training program will help bolster security along the country’s borders. Although the Trump administration is quick to prop itself up over the deal, other officials acknowledge that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a long history spanning seven decades, and it has always centered on security. This is nothing particularly new.

In fact, others go one step further, saying that the deal is just a copycat rehashing of a number of deals previously made by the Obama administration. Many of the arms that appear as a part of the new Trump deal were already approved before Obama left office. One former member of the CIA, Bruce Riedel, joked that the new deal is “fake news.”

Either way, Trump is successfully fulfilling his promise to better relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia–even though he has in the past contested the nation’s dependence on U.S. deals which he views as unfavorable to the U.S. That’s because Trump still

believes that Saudi Arabia is a nation filled to the brim with riches, when in fact it’s economy is crumbling more and more with each passing year due to collapsing oil prices and other factors outside of its control.

Not everything else is going according to plan, though. While Trump and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cozy up with one another, the latter was involved in a freshly invigorated feud between several other Middle Eastern countries and Qatar over its alleged support of terrorist organizations.

What’s more interesting is what Chief Alaeddin Boroujerdi of Iran’s National Security Commission thinks caused the rift in the first place: Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, when the arms deal was still being negotiated. According to Boroujerdi, the arms deal gave Saudi Arabian leadership the leverage it needed to try to influence Qatar. After all, better relations with the U.S. means the U.S. must have Saudi Arabia’s back, right? Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations have long since tried to influence Iran, Qatar and several other Middle Eastern nations they’re at odds with, so this new rift is technically nothing new–it’s just an unprecedented escalation of tensions that already existed.

Diplomatic realities get increasingly murky when you factor in Qatar’s support of Hamas. While the U.S. is allied with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, it is closely involved with the international fight against radial terrorism and views the Hamas faction as a terrorist group.

The U.S. government continues to push these parties toward the negotiating table, hoping that officials from the countries involved will sit down in order to find actionable solutions rather than enabling new escalations that could further destabilize the region and push it into chaos. What will actually happen is still anyone’s guess.

How Many Times A Day Do Muslims Pray, And What Are The Rituals Involved?

Tradition is one of the most important parts of Islamic religion, and Muslims derive a lot of fulfillment by enacting specific routines taught to them by the writings of the Qur’an or the words of the Prophet Muhammad, passed down over the centuries. One of those routines is the tradition of Salah, a reference to the five daily prayers at five specific times of the day.

The devout and faithful of Islam are disciplined. Take for instance the idea of requiring any of us to perform a routine action once a day based on any kind of obligation at all–most of us would find the task difficult. Many of us have significant trouble cooking once a day much less wording a prayer five times a day. But Muslims do just that, and each prayer may not be done before its Salah time. If that sounds hard, imagine having to set an alarm, not for work or school, but to perform Fajr, your opening Salah prayer that must be performed at first light and by sunrise.

There are four more prayers to come after Fajr, and each is determined by where the sun is at in the sky as the Prophet Muhammad was taught by God (Allah). Because the position of the sun in the sky is based on your own location, Salah times will change based on the region you inhabit. If you live in the U.S., then you’ll pray at completely different times than other members of the Islamic community who live in the Middle East or elsewhere abroad.

The second prayer is called Dhuhr, and begins in the middle of the day, lasting for only twenty minutes. The third is called Asr, and takes place in the afternoon, specifically when your shadow is the same length as you. The fourth prayer is known as Maghrib and occurs at sunset. The fifth and final prayer is called Isha’a and should be said before midnight has passed.

Those are the easy rules. Each prayer is done at very specific times though, and getting those times correct requires a lot more technical schooling in the ritual than you might imagine. If you don’t even know what the word “zenith” means, then you have a long way to go before you can perform Salah on your own. And you thought lawyers had it hard when they were going through law school. 

Complicating matters even more, certain Islamic sects differ in their opinion as to exactly when some Salah times occur. Although these differences are usually mild, believers really do have to know their stuff.

In addition to the five daily Salah times, there is also a Friday prayer. This special prayer takes the place of Dhuhr, what is usually the second Salah time of the day.

The prayer itself requires participants and the location where the prayer is done to be clean. Women usually have their hair covered. Before beginning the prayer, you must face the direction of Mecca. Although there are many aspects to the prayer, one of the most interesting occurs at the very end. Participants will look over their right shoulder, hoping to acknowledge an angel who has recorded all their good deeds and then over their right shoulder, acknowledging the angel who has recorded all the wrongful deeds.

Learning the prayer itself takes time and practice, and a lot of memorization. Knowing when to stand, kneel and bow is just as important as the reciting of the prayer itself or getting Salah times correct. Even so, with determination, it can be done!

Update: What Is Egypt’s Part In Current Chaos Of Middle East Politics?

Qatar was accused of supporting terrorist organizations by three other Middle Eastern powers early on Monday. Along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt was a strong voice of dissent. The move was made over Qatar’s open support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the others view as a terrorist haven. Qatar acknowledges the Muslim Brotherhood as the world’s oldest Islamic movement, an obvious traditionalist view in a rapidly changing world.

This news comes with immediate consequences for the Middle Eastern world (and everywhere else). Transport between the three dissenting countries and Qatar will be immediately shut down, providing those Qatari citizens already present in their countries no more than two weeks to get out before the authorities come knocking on their doors. In a slightly more drastic move, the Saudi faction fighting inside of Yemen will be now be exempted of any Qatari involvement.

Economic impacts will likely radiate across the region, but their immediate impact won’t be known until the days pass. For now, some air travel between these countries is unavailable and flights have been canceled or delayed.

This is not the first time such chaos erupted between these once strong allies. In 2014, similar allegations erupted against Doha, but travel was not shut down nor were Qatari citizens forced to leave the countries involved.

In addition to the impending economic consequences of this cataclysm, diplomatic relations between other countries will be greatly affected. These same countries are accustomed to swinging their fist of financial and political might to hold sway over countries like Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This will be a lot more difficult when they cannot stand as one.

More importantly, Qatar is a big player on the world stage. It is scheduled as the home of the World Cup in 2022 and always houses a noteworthy U.S. base.

The move to split with Qatar might be exacerbated by Egypt’s own attempts to curb terrorism in the Middle East. The new leader of Hamas made a trip to Cairo on June 4 in order to discuss relations with security officials in Egypt. These kind of talks are rare for both sides, and this meeting represents the first in several months time. Among the topics under discussion are humanitarian considerations along the Gaza Strip, including the opening of travel for Palestinians who are currently cut off by a joint Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

The reason these actions are so significant is this: Hamas recently ended its relationship with the same Muslim Brotherhood which Qatar supports in a move to better its relationships with Egypt. Additionally, it announced its efforts only to end the Israeli occupation as a Palestinian movement.

According to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the feud between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Qatar should not change the U.S. stance on the conflict with Islamist militants. In a familiar and time-honored tradition, Washington maintains that the Gulf allies (and all Middle Eastern countries currently fighting to maintain stability and end the disarray) should come together as one and fight the good fight. What will actually come to pass remains to be seen?

Why Are There 3 Holy Sites In Islam Anyway?

Perhaps this could be called the Islamic Holy Trinity.

Over the 14 centuries of Islam’s existence as a religious movement, of which an estimated 1.5 billion people in the world are adherents, much of the focus of the religion is about land – location, location, location, as it is said in real estate. And these are not places that you can just view online.

Whether there is some talk of developing a caliphate based on the conquest and acquisition of and or considering several Middle Eastern cities as holy places for Muslims, land is considered highly valued property for Muslims.

The Islamic faith boasts of three Middle Eastern cities as the three holiest places in the faith – two of which are considered off-limits to non-Muslims. Let’s take a quick look at the religious significance of these three Islamic holy sites, which contain what are considered the three holiest mosques in the faith (one which is traditionally said to be so holy that one prayer inside it is equivalent to 100,000 prayers anywhere else).


Mecca is considered the most holy city in Islam because it is the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed, and is said to be the location of the Kabaa, which is a black stone building believed to be built by the prophet Abraham and his son, Ishmael.  The building is inside the largest aand holiest mosque in the Islamic faith, and it is the destination of the Islamic hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are required to make at least once in their lifetime.

Mecca is the city that Mohammed first conquered with his army of Muslim followers after he left Medina to spread his Islamic doctrine, as he was guided by Allah through the angel Gabriel. Islamic prayers are executed by followers facing toward Mecca.


As Mohammad was a bit of a nomad, Medina in Saudi Arabia holds a special place of significance for Muslims. After Mohammad received a series of revelations from Gabriel in caves outside of Mecca, he retreated to Medina for safe haven because his hometown had treated him and his spiritual revelations with violent hostility. Medina is where Mohammad called home and could be seen as the place where Islam took root.

Mohammed’s tomb is located in Medina, along with tombs of several other leaders, or caliphs. Mecca and Medina are the two holy cities or Islam where non-Muslims are prohibited from entering.


Jerusalem is a holy city in all three of the major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, while Jerusalem is the holy city in the former two faiths, it is the third-holiest in the Islamic faith and is the only one in Islam that is open to all faiths. Jerusalem, not Mecca, was the city toward which the earliest Muslims were directed to pray.

Jerusalem is the site where, in Islamic tradition, Mohammed is said to have completed a “night journey and ascended into heaven from the spot where the Dome of the Rock is currently located (on the Temple Mount outside Jerusalem). The Night Journey is considered an Islamic miracle, where the angel Gabriel transported Mohamed from Mecca to Jerusalem in a span of a few hours (physically impossible at the time, as Mecca is about 770 air miles from Jerusalem) to conduct some final prayers and to ascend into heaven to be with God (Allah).

What Is Liberal Islam?

As with many religions, there isn’t just one religious philosophy. There are orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and there are some different “species” of each religion that have spawned off at various times in history.

It has been maintained in many cases, however, that there is only one Islam, the orthodox or fundamentalist Islam, and that any Islam that deviates from the teaching of the Quran are not considered “true” Islam and thus should not have the name affixed to them.

According to many adherents, there is no “liberal,” “modern” or “moderate” Islam.

However, some Islamic scholars have argued that where there are areas of life about which the Quran is silent (such as form of governance or basic human rights), there is room for Islam to “modernize” and become a more “moderate” or “liberal” Islamic faith that would be more consistent with current society – those that seem to have a mix of religious or spiritual foundation with some secularism.

There has been a bit of a “reform movement” within Islam in order to bring out democracy in predominantly Islamic countries (where theocratic dictatorships generally rule now), along with human rights for all, including women and those in the LGBTQ community.

“Liberal” or “moderate” Islam is said to be in existence all around the world, but when there are surveys of people in predominantly Islamic countries, the “moderate” or “liberal” Muslim is in a distinct minority. In many of these Islamic-predominant countries, an orthodox or fundamentalist principle of Islam, sharia law, is favored by more than 80 percent of Muslims, with that percentage closer to 90 percent in some areas.

“Liberal” or “moderate” Islam, in other words, is still very much just a movement, but it seems to be catching hold with a younger generation of Muslims, who want their culture and society to embrace more of the progressive modernity of the 21st century in order to keep the religion relevant and vibrant among a technologically savvy, more secular-humanistic generation.

The closest you have to a “moderate” or ”liberal” Islamic state currently is perhaps in Egypt, which has such a rich Jewish and Christian heritage and history. While the country is more than 70 percent Muslim, the government is very respectful of the Jews and Christians who live in the country and they have democratic elections and provide opportunities for all faiths to worship as they see fit. ISIS has successfully destroyed Christian churches and ancient artifacts in the region, which the Egyptian government has long treasured and protected the artifacts for their historical significance – and let’s face it, for the tourism they create as well.

In liberal Islam, gays can live, women can vote or drive, there are democratic elections and a humane justice system that does not insist on stoning adulterers or cutting off hands of thieves. Those who are in favor of a more “liberal” Islam are looking at it from a classical liberal perspective, where individual rights are respected and all are treated with the same basic human dignity. They are the ones reading between the lines of the Quran to find those areas where the Qu’ran’s silence means there is room for progress within the faith without compromising the basic principles and tenets of Islam.

It is an uphill climb for “liberal” Islam to take hold in many of these countries, but with radicals like ISIS killing even some of their own Muslim people for being “not Muslim enough,” the idea of a more moderate Islam to fight against radical elements is becoming more necessary to save the religion as a whole.

What Is Hadith, And What Is Its Impact On Islamic Practice?

Islam is a complicated and difficult religion to follow–in part because the guidelines which help members of the faith live life as morally as they can are varied and involved, and sometimes their accuracy or authenticity can be strongly debated. Much of the current strife in the Middle East (especially Lebanon) is based on the wildly different dissenting opinions of the ISIS faction. Most followers of Islam, however, are more peaceful and live life much more passively. Hadith is a part of this tradition that they strive to follow almost more than anything else, but also happens to be one of the most subject to debate.

Hadith is basically just a collection of all the known sayings that came from the Prophet Muhammad, someone whose words and actions in life are thought to be divine examples of how people should live their lives. As a messenger of God, it was an obvious choice for guidance. However, because the historical documents used to gather these words and actions were collected no earlier than two centuries after the Prophet’s death, their authenticity is sometimes a subject of dispute.

Part of this dispute leads different sects of Islam to use different hadith to guide them in their lives. Some of these sects include Sunni, Shia, and Ibadi for example. Although they are few in number, some members of the Islamic faith choose to instead use only their holy book, the Qur’an, to guide them–in other words, they believe that the authenticity of hadith is too disputed to use it for any guidance at all.

Part of the controversy stems from the lack of written documentation available from during the time of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. There was a tradition of passing down information orally through story and narrative rather than writing it down. Muhammad himself, though, was thought to sway some of his followers to do the latter in order to record his thoughts, actions, and words, and at least a few other important Muslim historical figures during the time period urged the same.

When this documentation was eventually collected, there was an obvious lack of cohesion. The traditions that were recorded sometimes contradicted one another, and so there is scholarly debate as to which hadith is authentic and which is not. While hadith was in the process of being compiled, historians admit that the number of potential forgeries and suspicious additions seemed to skyrocket.

The controversy may not be important to those Muslims who live their everyday lives in an attempt to keep well, live life in high moral standing, and seek to do others no harm. That’s because hadith is only a single part (even if a large one) of a greater tradition and system of custom and tradition known as sunnah that most strive to follow. Although all Muslims know the importance of the Prophet Muhammad to their religion and its core values, the Qur’an is important as well. Many acknowledge the lack of complete authenticity of hadith, and seek only to acquire a greater understanding of their own religious history in order to live in greater equilibrium.

What Is Sunnah To The Islamic Community And How Is It Used?

The Islamic faith, and Muslim believers in general, follow a particular set of spiritual, religious, and ethical guidelines that are based on a number of different sources, one of which is known as “Sunnah” or sometimes “Sunna.” The term is used to refer to the social, legal, and ritual customs of those who practice this faith. It is used in part to determine Sharia law, a set of religiously motivated laws forming another strong part of Muslim tradition. Along with Sunnah, the Islamic faith looks to their holy book–the Quran–and the words of the Prophet Muhammad–Hadith–for guidance.

Before Islam, sunnah meant simply the manner in which someone acted. It had no further connotation attached. Now, it is based on living a life of high moral standing, and helps those who practice Islam denounce evil and those who take part in what they perceive to be immoral lifestyles.

A large part of sunnah involves adherence to Muhammad’s example, as he is firmly believed to be a messenger of God.

Interestingly, all sunnah revolving around the life of the Prophet was not recorded during the time in which he lived, but collected no less than two centuries after his death. Even Muslim historians account for the possibility that the authenticity of this facet of the sunnah tradition is flimsy at best. We only know so much about Muhammad, and we can only follow his example so much. But part of the Islamic faith is just that–faith. They live their lives the best they can according to the strongest code they could hope to make or follow.

The types of sunnah are broken down in three parts as follows:

Sunnah Qauliyah is the first, previously noted as hadith. Sunnah Fi’liyyah is the second, and more precisely denotes what Muhammad actually did (whereas hadith is what he said). Sunnah Fi’liyyah is not only based on his religious actions, but also on any others he appeared to have made during his travels. The third type is Sunnah Taqririyyah, which attempts to discern those actions for which the Prophet approved or simply did nothing to oppose (seen as a more passive type of approval to those of the faith), and those which were met with his disapproval.

Sunnah has benefits that perhaps anyone could (and should) approve of, including the custom of eating healthy and maintaining the delicate balance between eating what is good for you and eating too much of anything (which could be bad for you no matter what). Because of this, a list of Muhammad’s favorite foods was developed to help people find the right ones. The big twelve are: dates, figs, barley, honey, grapes, milk, melon, pomegranate seeds, mushrooms, olive oil, vinegar and, of course, water. All of these have obvious benefits to maintaining good health and a strong immune system, and most people can easily incorporate them into their diet no matter where they live.

As with all religions, there are certain Islamic sects that maintain more strict sunnah traditions, while some deviate slightly. Different canonical literature helps separate the various beliefs into different collections which can be helpful for learning the similarities and differences between them. In essence, sunnah is a way of life for Muslim people–but many parts of this way of life are appreciated and followed by millions of people who have no idea they’re doing it.