Orthodox and Heterodox Muslims: Definitions

YOU'VE HEARD the terms "radicalized Muslims" and "fundamentalist Muslims." We use those terms to make sure everyone knows we're not talking about "normal" or "moderate" Muslims. There is a good reason to try to make this distinction.

The main reason is because if you say "Muslim," you might mean
all Muslims, and clearly all Muslims are not behaving the same.

The only piece of information missing from most peoples' understanding is that the "radicalized" Muslims are not really radical. They are
orthodox. They are simply doing what it says in their scriptures they are supposed to do. They're not "hijacking" their religion or misinterpreting it. Most non-Muslims are unaware of this.

The first definition for "orthodox" in Answers.com is:
Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion. That's perfect. And it is easily understood by most Westerners. It's a term we're already familiar with.

And in Answers.com, heterodox means:
Not in agreement with accepted beliefs, especially in church doctrine or dogma. You can delete the word "church" and that's a great definition for what has been termed "moderate" Muslims. It's accurate and makes the distinction very clear.

So I'll be using the term "orthodox" to describe someone who strictly follows the teachings in the Quran and the Hadith, and who tries — as a good Muslim is supposed to do according to the doctrines — to follow Mohammad's example.

To learn more about some of these basic teachings and what kind of example Mohammad set, refer to the article, What Makes Islam So Successful?


  1. Congratulations on using the correct term "orthodox" to describe those Muslims who follow the actual demands of Allah and Mohammad. The radicals are those like Irshad Manji, who are trying to modernize a barbaric ideology. I wish there were more Muslim "radicals".

  2. All praise be to Allah, I am so thankful that someone had sense enough to properly define what we are as Muslims, and what our true mission is. My the blessings of Allah fall fresh on you!

  3. isn't it a bit 'christian wannabe' that we use words such as orthodox and heterodox?are ortodox mslims sunni or shia?

  4. No, these are not exclusively Christian terms. It is common to refer to "orthodox Jews" also, and the term could apply to any religion.

    Orthodox Muslims can be either Shia or Sunni.

  5. Just catching up thanks for posting this information for those of us who want to protect freedom, and sanity.

  6. thank you for defining orthodoxy so clearly now i an answer to all who considers me an orthodox just because i dress according to islamic norms in hindu university.

  7. Allahu akbar. May 12, 2012..... before year's ending, a new phrasing will be on everyone's tongue. the Reform Orthodox Islam. Wahhabism isn't correct orthodoxy. Correct interpretation, of Qu'ran, has beeen ongoing,in these N.E. united states of shaytaan. 2012

  8. Abdullah, will the intolerance against non-Muslims be removed from the Koran in this reformed Islam?

    1. Well as u said that that there is intolerance and hatred against non muslims in Islam, well that's also a BIG misconception. There is no hatred against non Muslims and specially there is no hatred in Qur'an against Jews and Christians. In Quran it's mentioned to never ever make fun of any religion and its practices. Islam teaches to respect others' religions. How can u even say that Quran doesn't tolerate non Muslims without a proof. My brother first check it out then come to a conclusion!
      Anix Bilal

    2. You need no further proof than the Koran. Here are 527 passages from the Koran that are intolerant and hateful against non-Muslims:

      Intolerance in the Koran

      My brother, first check it out before coming to a conclusion.

    3. no need to go quran. just checking the world whats going on? where are muslims there are problems.

  9. Heterodox - I haven't heard that terms before. Good term.

    Also I like the term orthodox Muslim versus the commonly used radical or fundamentalist. The latter sound somehow like a fringe element - but orthodox, very clear and understandable term that does not define someone as outside what is accepted in a religion.

  10. Elsa, terminology matters a lot. And we've spent some considerable time trying to name the legitimate and important difference between two kinds of Muslims, but we wanted a word that did not carry a value judgment but was also accurate. We once had an online discussion where our readers helped us work out the terminology and when a woman suggested "orthodox," we knew that was it.

    Here's more on terminology:

    “Radical” is a Misleading Term

    Are All Fundamentalists Dangerous?

  11. Heres some more terminology :

    "Islam in its entirety, with its evils and injustices, hatred of non muslims,paedophillia, murdering and stink, should be completely irradicated from our shores".... Alahu Akbar, upya jumpa. fk u too

  12. Radical Orthodoxy Islamists!

  13. Citizen Warrior, you have lost all semblance of credibility by posting this deceptive piece of dawah and ought to be ashamed of yourself. The reality is that the only difference between what you refer to as "orthodox" and "moderate" Muslims is in degree of their adherence to Islam. There is no guarantee that an alleged "moderate" nominal Muslim will always remain in that mode. As you surely know, he/she can become attracted to the fire of zealotry and manifest into a terrorist overnight. All it takes for so-called "moderate" Muslims to become terrorists, is that they face a crisis and, if they are young, there's a chance that they become "orthodox" extremists and even terrorists. As long as Muslims look at Islam as the ultimate source of guidance, there is a high risk that every one of them becomes a terrorist in a heartbeat.

  14. This is merely a distinction between two kinds of people who call themselves Muslim. I agree with what you're saying. You're referring to Islam's "rule of numbers," which means when Muslims are a small minority, they keep their heads down and work to increase their numbers, and when the numbers get high enough, they become more aggressive, just as Muhammad did. Here's more about that:

    Islam's Rule of Numbers

  15. Muslims are not the problem, ISLAM is the problem. There is NO such thing as a MODERATE Muslim. Only INFIDELS and Confused wanna be Christian Muslims.


  17. Quran (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." "People of the Book" refers to Christians and Jews. Islam is nothing but animals that believe that anybody who is not muslim should be killed and anybody who kills an infidel shall be given paradise

    1. The thing that bothers me the most is that we have no way of knowing which Muslims that migrate to the US and US converts are the ones who want to kill all non-muslims until they strike out to do just that.

      Our government will stupidly allow them into government jobs and then they use that opportunity against us. Then everyone is all upset because they stabbed us in the back. If I had my way, no Muslim would be allowed to have a government job and they would not be allowed in the US in the first place. Any Muslim that is already here would be sent to their beloved Islamic country. I realize that not all Muslims are murderers, but because we can't read minds and have no way of knowing which ones would kill us given the opportunity, then we need to be safe rather than sorry.

      It's unfortunate that the world has had to experience those Muslim groups that get off on murdering and torturing people including their own people. They have gained this murderous reputation all over the world and the innocents end up suffering because of it. It’s kind of like gangrene or cancer of a body part. You have to amputate or remove more than just the affected area to ensure that the danger is removed. They are like the cancer of the world, spreading and infecting the world. I believe that if they ever did accomplish an entirely Islamic world, they would then turn on each other because it’s their nature to kill people.

  18. Muslims are human beings who believe Islamic doctrine is filled with sacred teachings. It is not good news for us non-Muslims, and we definitely need to resist the Islamization of the world, but calling all Muslims animals is going too far. But for those Muslims who commit heinous acts of violence and torture, "animals" is appropriate.

    1. I agree totally, it is an insult to all animals of the planet to be placed in the same category as a Muslim. Every animal serves a purpose.

  19. A simple read of the Quran reveals that Allah can't give revelations to Muhammad as clearly a stone statue to the moon god can't do anything except take up space.
    Here are the reasons that Muhammad was just a power hungry murdering necrophile and knew nothing about the world that aledgedly Allah created, if Allah was the creator either it was extremely forgetful of what it created or Muhammad made the whole lot up, I think the latter applies!

    Blinding errors in the Quran!

    Quran 86:5
    So let man observe from what he was created.
    Quran 86:6
    He was created from a fluid, ejected,
    Quran 86:7
    Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs.

    Clearly Allah knew nothing about the human anatomy that he aledgedly created and forgot about testicles. (Missed by that much)
    Clearly Muhammad the power hungry murdering necrophile was making up the revelations as he knew nothing about semen production either.

    Quran 13:3
    And He it is Who spread out the earth and placed therein firm hills and flowing streams, and of all fruits He placed therein two spouses (male and female). He covereth the night with the day. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who take thought.

    Here we go again Muhammad the power hungry murdering necrophile knew nothing about fruit trees but only about date palms which are male and female, but forgetful Allah didn't tell about the Orange, Apple, Avacardo trees etc. that he aledgedly made!

    That is just 2 instances in the Quran of Muhammad the power hungry murdering necrophile pulling the wool over peoples eyes but that was the 7th Century when knowledge was very limited but the Muslims still believe that is correct.

  20. May Allah have mercy on the ones who don't believe

  21. Excellent. I've been searching for an objective word to connote mainstream Islam, one that will quash the idea that these Muslim terrorists are practicing an aberrant form of their religion. Au contraire! They are the ones living according to the precepts of traditional, "true" Islam. The word "orthodox" nails this form of Islam perfectly. Let's get it into common use!

  22. YOU ARE TOTALLY RIGHT! And even non-radical Muslims are unaware of this. This is why radical Muslims say non-radical Muslims are not Muslims. They say: Not following 100% of the Quran is not Muslim.

    The Muslims don't even get along with each other, how do any law-makers expect non-Muslims to agree with whatever each sector of Muslims say about their religion?

  23. Islam, so called 'Religion' is obviously a Political Movement in Stealth by force and deception--- wake up.

  24. Surely an adherence to Arabic text for the Quran is orthodox. Apart from obvious similarities to the Catholic theocracies leveraging the arcanity of Latin to rule the illiterate masses of Europe (Arabic is language of law and rule for the orthodox). Again, the power of words. God is a word.

    I believe a concerted effort could be made to include permissible local language translations to serve as Quranic text. In the middle ages the Latin Church was transformed by the King James Bible. Think of the impact of a "Globally Certified Moderate Quran Standard."

    An open-source Urdu, English, Bahasa, French or Uighur language Quran would reach more minds, and serve to delineate Orthodoxy from the modern moderates who patiently waited for their own Gutenburgian advances -- this time over the internet.

    This move, and other key shifts away from Orthodoxy would sum up a more peaceful and harmonious faith. It would create a schism, yes, but as many have pointed out, Islam is heavily schismatic and fragmented already. This would be a laterally unifying schism and would clearly separate "orthodoxy" from "moderacy" regardless of the language, region, business or politics of the faithful:
    - No rigid adherence to Arabic language text
    - No instance on Sharia law -- local jurisdictions govern politically to agreed bodies of law
    - agreeing theocracy is not required for folks to practice islam in a deep and meaningful way
    - continue the community practices of the five pillars within a democratic and harmonious framework that recognizes it is only freedom of all religions which permits the practice of any one.