From Shi’a to Sunni

What follows is an extended version of a conversation I had with Nomadic Soul on MSN, when we were getting to know each other properly. Prior tofootprints this, we had met at Shaz TV in 2004, then we bumped into each other at the GPU 2005 and then we bumped into each other at uni earlier this year.

Me: Tell us a bit about yourself?

NomadicSoul: I am almost 20, live with both my parents and two younger sisters. Alhumdulillah, I am a student studying International Relations and Arabic

Me: Tell us something about the background of your parents and family.

NomadicSoul: My mother is originally from Yemen but her mother has Turkish ancestry. My father is an East African Indian. Both my parents, myself and my middle sister were born and bred in East Africa. Youngest sister was born and bred here[London]. My mother has ancestry that links her family back to the family of the Prophet (saw) and in her family, everyone is Sunni with a few following the Zaydi school of thought.

She converted to Shi’aism a year after her marriage with my father. My father’s lineage goes back to his ancestors [wayyyyy back!] being Hindu but converted to Shi’ite Muslims.

Me: Did anyone in your mother’s family oppose her conversion/marriage?

NomadicSoul: My mother wasn’t from a practising background and her first proper encounter with religion was when she married my father. Then during a period of their married life, they encountered a life/death situation and my mother made a pact that if they got out alive; she would become a Shi’a and that’s what happened; she also witness miracles during the holy Shi’a pilgrimage to Karbala and syria; no one in her family has opposed this as such.

Me: Were your family strict Shi’as? What was thier attitude towards Sunnis?

Nomadic Soul: My family were strict to a certain extent; strict being a very relative term and it has evolved over the years. In Kenya where we spent our early years, everything was “Shi’a-fied” from the private school we went to to our extra curricular activities. There was a close knit “Khoja Itnasheri” community[Khoja being East African and Indians and Itnasheri being the 12-ers]. Practices included celebrating all the 12 Imams’ birthdays, commemorating the story of Karbala during Muharaamwith ritual such as ma’tam [the beating of the chest] and so forth.

Me: were you aware of the traditional Sunni Islamic perspective and opinions on Shi’as and Shi’aism?

NomadicSoul: No, I was only to learn of my mother’s background when we came to London. I knew of Sunnis int he madressa we went to; we got taught about thier aqeedah etc in a derogatory way which almost ensured we never considered it.

Me: What sparked the interest in Sunni Islam? What made you want to learn more about it?

NomadicSoul: Coming into contact with more Sunnis and my mother’s side of the family; having more access to material such as books and so forth. A major factor was my friends; I remember them taking me to a Sunni mosque and this lady, who despite not knowing me said Salaam to me and that struck me, coming from a background where it would be quite weird to do that-more so because of cultural reasons, although one must note things are changing in the Shi’ite community. I think in a few words, it was the purity of Sunni Islam, for example, the concept of not needing to go through “Imams” to make du’a to Allah amongst other things.

Me: what similarities/differences did you find between Shi’as and Sunnis?

NomadicSoul: The first two lines of the Shahadah are the same- they add “aliyun waliyun, wasiyun rasulallah, wa khalifatulillafasl” which means “Ali is the wali of Allah and that he is the successor of the Rasul of Allah and he is the first Khalifah”.

A few hadiths and understanding of certain concepts are similar but the difference is almost everything else

Me: Describe your transition from Shi’aism to Sunnism? Was it gradual/spontaneous?

NomadicSoul: It was a bit of both if that makes sense. My understanding of Sunni Islam was gradual but my move towards it was more spontaneous.

Me: Would you say you “converted/reverted” to Sunni Islam?

NomadicSoul: Yes, alot of the times it feels like I have. It meant re-learnig how to pray; re-defining alot of things in my understanding; in fact I’d say it was much harder than a normal revert because they’d have a blank canvas. I t was almost like I had to sit there and erase my already painted one.

Me: How did you feel when you were contemplating converting/reverting? What thoughts were going through your head?

NomadicSoul: Fear of my family and their reaction to it. I didn’t tell them for a long while and they found out accidentally too! My extended family still doesn’t know.

Me: How did you convert? anything formal?

NomadicSoul: Not really…no

Me: Did you tell anyone? How did they take it, in particular your family?

NomadicSoul: I made it pub;lic to those around me like friends, that was pretty much it.Most of my friends were happy with the exception of two of my Shi’a mates. My family didn’t take it too well and still don’t!

Me: What are people’s reactions (i.e Sunni Muslims and Shi’as) when you tell them you used to be Shi’a?

NomadicSoul: Most are fascinated and intrigued as to why I did it.

Me: Has anyone else in your family converted to Sunni Islam?

Not that I know of..

Me: What problems, if any, did you face in becoming a Sunni Muslim?

NomadicSoul: Well, lack of support and as a result of being left on my own to understand the deen. I guess, most of the talks nowadays, require a certain level of knowledge and understanding of the terminology etc to fully take benefit of the message being propagated.

Me: How long have you been a Sunni Muslim now?

NomadicSoul: About a year.

Me: What are you plans for the near future? What do you want to do after studying?

NomadicSoul: Insha’Allah, after learning Arabic, I want to continue furthering my knowledge of the language;particularly in etymology of words as well as my understanding of the deen through traditional methods abroad.

Me:How do you feel about the situation in Iraq? the sectarian violence?

NomadicSoul: Sad at the state of the Ummah; sad that we have to fight each other.

Me: Do you have a message for the Shia’s out there or Muslims in general?

NomadicSoul: I think Shi’as need to draw the line between culture and religion. More of a focus needs to be on the religion. I mean, I never even knew of the concept of Khush’oo’ in salat until I became a Sunni Muslim. Focus needs to be diverted to those things that are important in the deen; things that will help us gain the pleasure of Allah.

Oh, and if there is anyone else out there who has converted from Shi’aism to Sunni Islam, get in touch, I’ve yet to meet one!

Me: How do you feel about Shi’aism, and what is your attitude towards Shi’as now that you are a Sunni Muslim?

NomadicSoul: No comment

Me: and finally, would you like a strawberry shake?

NomadicSoul: Yes pleaaaase!

Jazakallah khair for sharing your experiences with us. May Allah keep you strong and continue to guide you in all that you do. Ameen

***Nomadic Soul requested that I add the following from her:

The differences between sunnis and shias are not as clear-cut and as simple as people make out to be. Even now, I’m still not so clued up on every single difference; its a very detailed subject and I feel like I’ve only just touched the surface but with du’a and istikhara, insha’Allah, Allah will guide me. No doubt, there are overlapping concepts and so forth. Infact, some ideas are totally opposite in both sects and misconceptions of both sects exist. I was talking to a friend who has had loads of sunni friends become shia and they put it down to the fact that sunnis have now become devoid of spirituality and emphasise on “outer aspects” and sunnis find shias are more spiritual; that was an interesting thought.

When I became sunni, everyone confused me on this madhab/salafi/hizbi/everything else issue and people were too busy telling me that a jilbaab was fardh and a niqaab was fardh and no-one told me about the aqeeda or whether i was praying right. I think there came a point where I had even questioned this move. But alhamdullilah, that questioning only strengthened me. It’s a complicated and very long story but i guess, I learnt one important thing and i think this is an implicit message in Malcolm x’s autobiography; you should never shut any doors because you might infact be closing a door of opportunity to guidance and truth. I would have never imagined myself becoming a sunni a few years ago but life is strange subhana’Allah. And people when you see reverts, go easy and focus on important things. cater the naseeha/dawah to the individual. ”

More ‘interviews’ to come Insha’Allah.

God Bless and du’as.


~ by usma on 18, January, 2007.

18 Responses to “From Shi’a to Sunni”

  1. SubhanAllah, mashAllah. May Allah bless you with more knowledge, depth and right attitude of a muslim. Contact me if you like please, i really NEED to know more.

  2. salam….i really dunt now what to say,i am a sunni and going to get married to a shia guy,i really want him to convert(and ALLHUMDULILLAH)he has avery open mind,n is ready to convert to a sunni but the only obsticle is that he wants sumone to make him believe that sunnism is right,and shia ism is not,,i really love this guy and want him to convert since my side of the family has a bit of problem with the fact that he is a shia..i was hoping to get in contact with “NomadicSoul”,only if i knw jhis e mail id or ne other way that i cud contact him…i will be really glad,ALLAH HAFIZ

  3. Salam… I would also like to get in contact with ‘nomadicsoul” to get an idea of what exactly changed his mind. jazak’Allah khair

  4. Salaamz, Hi, How are you? Well it seems like i also have a similar problem. This guy that i want to marry is a Shia and im a Sunni so my parents would NEVER accept. He believes that Shia is the right one but he said he’s willing to change IF someone can make him believe that Sunni is indeed the right one. Right now i dont know much at all about Sunni/Shia differences but im trying to learn as much as possible so that i can convince him to change. Also, i have a few other cousins that are Shias and in the process i would also like to make them see resoning from the Sunni perspective. I hope thats its possible for me to get in touch with “Nomadic Soul” (like maybe if i can have the email address that would be very helpful and much appreciated). I really need ALOT of help with this, HELP ME PLEASE!!!
    Thank you very much; Jazzaka Allah

    Fi Amanillah!

  5. a.a. I have a sunni friend who is contemplating shi’ism. If I’ve been trying to get in contact with anyone who left shi’a for sunni so he can talk to them, since I don’t really know enough to talk to him about it.

  6. Salams to all, anybody who wants to debate on shiaism is most welcome. I have been studying shiaism from past 7 years. I havent found anything in it except lies, corruption, biasedness and polytheism. Those who want to debate can email me on Alhamdulillah more and more alvi shias in my city are converting to Islam. I can wound up the debate by just quoting InshaALLAH a single ayat of the holy quran. A single ayat is enough to convince those who are looking for truth and not mischief.

  7. salams
    contact me on

    those shias who want to know the truth or debate with a fair maind.

  8. Salams,

    I have been studying Shiaism from past 7 years. I have found nothing in it except lies, corruption, hypocracy, deception and hell. Alhamdulillah more and more Alvi shias in my cite are converting to Islam. Those who want to debate can contact me on Only those who want to debate honestly and not create mischief. I will insha ALLAH woundup the debate by quoting only a single ayat of the holy quran. Those who want to the truth a single ayat is enough for them.
    was salam

  9. as a sunni convert to Islam who BECAME SHI’A. I also have always been part of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. I am happy for Nomadic soul, do what is right for you, in the end all there is left is you and God. In the end, nothing but save for wajh Allah is left.
    Now NO ONE, regarless of sunni to shia or shia to sunni should disrespect what they used to be. I still have many sunni friends. I do not bash sunni Islam, and likewise Nomadic Soul needs to not disrespect Shi’i Islam. there is a big difference between culture and religion, and she needs to recognize that. so nomadic soul, salaams to you, I am glad you find your happiness, just don’t disrespect the Shi’i path to God.
    as for parvez, your just a closeminded fool, salaams to you, i hope one day you can let go of your hatred for your brothers and sisters who follow the ahl al-bayt.

  10. Asalamoalaikum,
    I was born in a ‘shia’ household and I have been contemplating sunnism for almost 7 years now. I would also like to get into contact with nomadic soul, to ask a few questions. JazakumAllahu Khairan

  11. i am a shia and i wanna convert to being a sunni… how would this be possible, what would i have to do in order to be a sunni..

  12. i understand that sunni beleive that prophet muhammad cumz b4 all of the imama, i am not sure as to wat i beleive in quite yet, i want to get married to a sunni guy but in order to do so i will have to convert into a sunni. i do not mind however, n so ad lyk to know wat i am supposd ta do, n how am i supposd ta convert… if nyone knws hw o convert den plz can uu let me know asap x

  13. am a convert from Christianity to shiasm. alhamdulilah she found something her heart feels right with. as for the 90% of muslims comment made before me though, all i have to say is that the majority is never to be taken as an example. the majority of the world is christian. the majority when our Holy Prophet, Peace and Blessings Upon Him, first revealed the Holy Quran, opposed it. just a thought 🙂

    • dear MJ, Might is not necessarily Right, but the point being made earlier was altogether different. in the context of the holy quran as being an effective and clear guide for the ummah, the majority of it’s followers can’t simply be misled. if such a fundamental aspect of the shia belief, usool e deen, is not to be found in the quran by 90% of all muslims, then we have to ask ourselves how could this be if the Quran says repeatedly that it’s a clear book and that “nothing has been left out of this book”.

      and then if you take in to consideration, the hadiths of the prophet looking down at the creation of sects, or hazrat ali talking down about the creation of sects in his sermon, then one has to wonder if the shia’s are just another sect that has been led astray as have been the qadianis and nation of islam.

      all these sects are very exclusive and only marry with in their community, and like to consider themselves as the chosen people. reaaly??! and everyone else is wronggg??

  14. I am neither a Sunni nor am I a Shia. I am just a Muslim. However there are truths in both. IT is wrong to think one needs any intermediaries between our duas to Allah. The Prophet or the 12 Imams should not be intermediateries. If we make anyone an intermediatery we may be doing shirk! However, research shows Imam Ali was chosen by the Prophet the Muslims in the mutawattir hadeeth of ghadir khumm. It is the most mutawattir of all sunni hadeeths but unfrotuantely sunnis do not follow the logical interpretation of this hadeeth but instead go the illogical versions. I urge all Sunnis to read Imam Ali’s Nahj al-balagha. And please see We must get the deviations our of the evolution that Shia thought and practices has went into over time but we must learn from Imam Ali and the 12 Imams whose sermons and sayings are the ultimate fountains fo knowledge. That is why we say Allahumma Sali Ala Muhammad WA ALA AALI Muhammad.

  15. To mj – the christian who converted to shiaism: I would think you knew better than to go to the sect that says it’s followers need to ask forgiveness or direct their prayers through middle-men (like Hussain.)

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