I just happened to click on one of the matrimonial sites and was completely taken back with the classifications.
Whether it is a Indian Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist site, the idea is the same; extensive descriptions of the denominations, classes and the castes. When I hit the Indian Muslim site, I was not expecting more than Shia, Sunni, Ismaili and Bohra classifications, to my chagrin, the classifications were too many.
Sunni Hanafi, Sunni Maliki, Sunni Hanbali..... I was going to write down at least a few, but they were too many. Here I am, expressing my gratitude to my parents; Neither my brothers nor my sister knows what the heck these classifications are; we were raised simply as Muslims, the Shia Sunni classification entered our minds later on, but not as conflicting schools, but simply as different rituals. I am so blessed we were not raised in those pigeon holes.
Here is an old joke to address this;
Florence, a 65 year lady gets killed in an accident and at the pearly gates argues with God that why her? She pleads with God that she has so much more good to do in his world besides worshipping him. God was in a good mood and gave her 20 more years of life and sends her back to the earth.
Florence was all excited and the moment she hits the ground, she goes to the plastic surgeon.... upon successful surgery, she was delighted to be a 45 year old beautiful maiden, she was dreaming of 20 more years of good life as an young woman.
As she walks out of the building a car hits and kills her. She was outraged and runs over to God in the Gates to heaven, and screams at him... You promised me 20 more years of life and did not keep your word, why?
God replies; Lady, I did not recognize you.
The other thing that beats me is some one claiming to be from a Syed family, and that they were descendents of the Prophet Muhammad as though it will magically make them better human beings. One of the beauties of Islam is precisely to knock out distinctions of any kind, in God's eyes no one is superior to the other, and the only ones that earn his grace are the ones who are pious. These claims to privilege or special heritage simply goes against the grain of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad said to his own daughter that she will not get a free pass to the paradise because she is the daughter of the prophet; she has to earn it through her Karma. We have to stop claiming and hiding under such pretexts, you are good to God because you are good, not because of your links.
The prophet (pbuh) further said; bury me in an unmarked grave. That is piety and that is humility. That is the model we need to follow. I hope, at least the Muslims who read this, will encourage their friends to drop all the prefixes and suffixes to their faith. Fight the temptation to claim any superiority over the other, that is arrogance and not Islam, as no one is superior in the eyes of God, except the ones who do good to his creation.
Well, when those of us who are Muslims die, God and Muhammad (pbuh) will not recognize any one of those classifications. God will probably ask what is a Sunni Maliki? I thought you were a Muslim? And the Prophet would perhaps say What Shia? What Sunni? What is that? Of course, God and his prophet know everything we do.