Please note: The answers on Hawramani.com constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

Making sense of all the different versions of Islam as a convert

Is it ok if I don't worry about the shariah issue. All I want to focus on is my rituals and improving my character. All this confusion of difference in opinion , that people who are for or against khalifah, which madahib, etc is just tiring and I find myself more confused. Many people say "salaf" is the truth or this is the truth. Some say we should reject ahadith while others say that it's equal to Qur'an etc. For someone who has just turned to the Deen I feel drained from all this turmoil

Imam al-Ghazali, who defined mainstream Islam for most Muslims, said that our focus should be on developing our relationship with God, everything else is merely a tool toward accomplishing that. Most born Muslims grow up with this view. They do not feel overwhelmed by all the disputes and arguments because they grow up in a balanced culture that tells them what is important and what is not, and when it comes to the majority of disputes, they leave it to the scholars to argue about and go on with their own lives, following the scholars they like and respect.

But it is different for converts since they are overwhelmed with raw information coming from all directions and do not know who to trust and what to prioritize. Your lifeline in this turmoil is to hold onto the Quran and read it constantly. Never let anyone define Islam or God for you when you have the Quran to tell you about these things.

You can then listen to the opinions of respected mainstream scholars who do not creep you out by their extreme or immature views, people like Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, Hamza Yusuf, Suhaib Webb and Umar Faruq Abd-Allah. You can rely on their opinions on most issues, except when you are not satisfied with their opinion in which case you research the matter for yourself.

As time passes, you will develop an intuitive sense of the shape of the Islamic intellectual landscape so that it will become easy for you to know which things are important and which things are just splitting hairs, and which opinions are respectable and which ones are not.

And God knows best.

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