Non-denominational Muslims are Muslims who adhere to a form of Muslimness that is not restricted to any specific denomination. In surveys asking for individuals to specify their religious denomination, such Muslims commonly self-identify as "just a Muslim".
In Arabic, they may be referred to as ghayr muqallids or ghair muqalideen (غير مقلّدين) while they have also been called nonconformists and its doctrine has been termed ghayr muqallidism. Such Muslims may defend this stance by pointing to the Quran such as Al Imran verse 103, which asks the Muslims to stay united and not to become divided. The term ghair muqallid literally refers to those who do not use taqlid and by extension do not have a madhab.
At least one in five Muslims in at least 22 countries identify as non-denominational Muslims. According to the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project the country with the highest proportion of nondenominational Muslims is Kazakhstan at 74%. It also reports that non-denominational Muslims make up a majority of the Muslims in seven countries (and a plurality in three others): Albania (65%), Kyrgyzstan (64%), Kosovo (58%), Indonesia (56%), Mali (55%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (54%), Uzbekistan (54%), Azerbaijan (45%), Russia (45%), and Nigeria (42%). Other countries with significant percentages are: Cameroon (40%), Tunisia (40%), Guinea Bissau (36%), Uganda (33%), Morocco (30%), Senegal (27%), Chad (23%), Ethiopia (23%), Liberia (22%), Niger (20%), and Tanzania (20%).
It has been described as a phenomenon that gained momentum in the 20th century which can overlap with orthodox Sunni tenets despite adherents not adhering to any specific madhab. In an alluding commentary on surah Al-Mu'minoon, verse 53 Abdullah Yusuf Ali states:
The people who began to trade on the names of the prophets cut off that unity and made sects; and each sect rejoices in its own narrow doctrine, instead of taking the universal teaching of unity from Allah. But this sectarian confusion is of man's making. It will last for a time, but the rays of truth and unity will finally dissipate it. Worldly wealth, power and influence may be but trials. Let not their possessors think that they are in themselves things that will necessarily bring them happiness.
Notable Ghair Muqallids
- 1959, Pakistan Historical Society, Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, Volume 7, page 192
- Contemporary Religious Thought in Islam - Page 342, Dr. Shaukat Ali - 1986
- Intra-Societal Tension and National Integration, p 119, A. Jamil Qadri - 1988
- Encyclopedeia of Eminent Thinkers - Page 38, K. S. Bharathi - 1998
- "Chapter 1: Religious Affiliation". The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity. Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. August 9, 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Islam in South Asia: A Short History - Page 491, Jamal Malik - 2008
- Defence Journal - Volume 10, Issues 9-11 - Page 35, Ikram ul-Majeed Sehgal - 2007
- The Meaning of the Holy Quran, New Edition with Revised Translation and Commentary, Published by Amana Corporation, page 853