Allah (SWT) says:
“And hold fast to the rope of Allah, altogether, and do not become divided. And remember Allah’s blessings upon you; how you were enemies, and He reconciled your hearts, and by His grace you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Allah thus clarifies His revelations for you, so that you may be guided.” (Surah aal-Imraan : 103)
The Messenger of Allah (saww) is reported to have said:
Narrated to me by Abu Yusuf Ya’qub Bin Yusuf who said: We were informed by Yahya Zakariya Bin Yahya al-Sajiy who said: We were told by Musa Bin Ishaq al-Anwariy who said: We were told by Ahmad Bin Yunus who said: We were told by Abu Shihab from Hamza Bin Abi Hamza from ‘Amru Bin Dinar from Ibn Abbas (ra) who narrated that the Prophet (saww) said: “Verily, my companions are like stars, whichever of them you use as a guide, you will be rightly guided.” (Al-Mabsuut – By Muhammad Bin Ahmad Bin Abi Sahl Shams al-Ummah As-Sarkhasi)
This hadeeth is also found in Jaami’l Bayaan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlihi” from Abu ‘Umar Yusuf Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Muhammad Bin Abdul-Birr Bin ‘Assim an-Nimri al-Qurtubi. And this is his text:
Narrated to us by Ahmad Bin ‘Umar who said: I was told by ‘Abdu Bin Ahmad and Ali Bin ‘Umar and al-Qadi Ahmad Bin Kamil and Abdulla Bin Rauh and Salam Bin Sulaim and al-Harith Bin Ghusain from Al-A’mash from Abu Sufyan from Jabir al- Ansari (ra) who narrated that the Prophet (saww) said: “My companions are like stars, whichever of them you use as a guide, you will be rightly guided” And Abu ‘Umar said: “This is a chain of transmission (Isnad) that cannot be used as juridical evidence (hujjah), because Ibn Ghussain is unknown.”
Even though many jurist of hadeeth consider this hadeeth as weak, Nevertheless, some other scholars count it to be Hassan, which is good, because it is found in the books of the Fuqahaa and they used it to derive rulings in many instances. I have decided to use the hadeeth here because I share the evidences advanced by the scholars and jurist who consider this hadeeth to be Hassan base on the enormity of proofs for it.
All the sects in Islam seem to be adhering to this noble hadeeth yet we call each other kaafirs, Wahhabis, Raafidhis, Deobandis, Bid’iyyuun and so on and so forth. We are all guilty of this sin even though we don’t consider it as grievous. We just blab it in our mouths as if Guidance, Hell and Paradise belong to us.
“When you rumored it with your tongues, and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, and you considered it trivial; but according to Allah, it is serious.” (Surah an-Nuur : 15)
If this ahaadeeth and the Qur’anic verse is anything to go by then let’s reconsider our personal whims and caprices in referring to each other with names that suggest division. For instance, those who refer to themselves as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’a claim to be following the Qur’an, the Prophet (saww) and the forefront Sahaaba like Sayyidinaa Abu Bakr (ra), Sayyidina Umar (ra), Sayyidinaa Uthmaan (ra) and the like. Those who call themselves Shii’a also claim to be following the guide of the Qur’an, the Prophet (saww), Imaam Ali (as) and the Imaams (as) from the progeny of the Prophet of Allah (saww).
So in adhering to the hadeeth above, there should be no dispute of guidance since all of the sects are adhering to the true principles of Islam. Whichever of the sahaaba you follow will lead you to true guidance, so why the dispute? Why the name calling? If the adherents of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’a wish to follow the guides of Abu Bakr (ra), Umar (ra) and Uthman (ra) fair enough. Likewise, if the Shii’a have chosen to follow the guides of Imaam Ali (as) and the twelve holy Imams (as) what the hell is wrong with that putting into context the above hadeeth from the messenger of Allah (saww).
HALT THE NICK NAMING AND GIVE US ONE ISLAM, ONE BROTHERHOOD, AND ONE LOVE.
Discussing historical facts or jurisprudential differences should not in any way discourage Muslim unity, since the majority of Muslim historians from all schools of thought agree on similar historical facts. Differences between the philosophers, scholars and thinkers of the schools of thought can be either constructive or destructive. If they lead to the fragmentation of the Muslim nation, then they are unacceptable, as the Noble Qur’an says: “But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its belief.” (Surah al-Mu’minuun : 53)
Such groups of people support ideas which are not based on the truth and use them only to serve their own purposes, whereas the Noble Qur’an refers all arguments to one source. “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute with one another lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient; surely, Allah is with those who are patient.” (Surah al-Anfaal : 46)
Unfortunately, the weakness of the Muslim world today is because of this type of disunity. Nonetheless, constructive differences is a sign of a healthy society in which people compete for what is best, we can’t all think alike neither can we reason alike and in unism. There are always two sides to a coin even though the coin is just one.
Allah (SWT) says: “If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation (religion) but that He may test you in what He has given you. So strive (as in a race) in good deeds.” (Surah al-Maa’idah : 48)
Differences in aqeedah, scientific and jurisprudential opinions can lead to progress and prosperity, and on a philosophical level, they are beneficial if they lead to certainty (yaqeen), since all people by Allah’s design must doubt, question, and differ from a matter before arriving at the truth. Therefore, Islam does not reject reasoning in the field of jurisprudence (ijtihad), as long as it is not contaminated with politics or personal aims and conceit. Thus all Muslim scholars agree that a Mujtahid (juristic scholar) receives two rewards for every correct decision, and at least one for every incorrect one because he is endeavoring with all of his effort to reach the correct decision.
Nevertheless, Muslim unity is one of the goals of Muslim society and is an obligation upon all Muslims, both individually and collectively. Allah says in the Noble Qur’an: “Truly, this Ummah of yours is a one united nation, and I am your Lord, so worship me” (Surah al-Anbiyaa’ : 92) and again it says: “Verily this (your nation) is one nation, and I am your Lord, so uphold your duty to Me.” (Surah al-Mu’minuun : 52)
Throughout the twenty-three years of his propagation, the Messenger of Allah (saww) emphasized the unity of his nation and called them “My Nation (Ummatee).” The Noble Qur’an gives six meanings for the word Ummah:
- A group of people
- An example
- Adherence to a religion
- A religion itself
- The time, and
- A group that follows one tradition and one way
However, it is not used for a group that does not follow one tradition and one way. Here the common tradition of all Muslims of various inclinations and sects is (1) The Qur’an (2) The sayings and traditions of the Prophet (saww) and (3) The guides and ways of the Sahaaba. This is the equilibrium point where all Muslims meet and this is enough to guarantee them the mercy of Allah.
The concept of unity itself is discussed in the Noble Qur’an on three levels. Foremost, it is the unity of humanity: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who has piety. Allah is well Knowing, well informed.” (Surah al-Hujuraat : 13)
The aim of this unity is to direct all the racial, tribal, and religious differences into a constructive direction. Thus the emphasis on “knowing one another” (li-ta‘aarafuu) is that people should find mutual understanding rather than conflict, so that no one is denied the rights for life and prosperity simply because he does not think and acts like us.
The second form is within the unity of the People of the Book (or the monotheistic religions), for which the Qur’an says: “Say, O People of the Book! Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us will take others as lords besides Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Surah Aal Imraan : 64)
The Noble Qur’an reiterates that the People of the Book were asked to worship only Allah, “And they were commanded not; except that they should worship Allah and worship none but Him alone.That is the upright way of life.” (Surah al-Bayyinah : 5)
The essential monotheistic unity of the People of the Book exists, but it should not be taken to mean that there are no differences between their rules and laws and that of Islam. While the original way (deen / religion / way of life) is seen throughout all monotheistic religions, the practical implementation – i.e. the law – is different according to the Qur’an. “To each among you We have prescribed a law, and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation but (His purposes require) that He test you in respect to what He has given you.” (Surah al-Maa’idah : 48)
Of course, the third unity that the Noble Qur’an speaks of is the unity of the Muslim nation. “And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves. And remember Allah’s blessings upon you; how you were enemies, and He reconciled your hearts, and by His grace you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Allah thus clarifies His revelations for you, so that you may be guided.” (Surah Aal Imraan : 103)
Muslim unity has two fundamental purposes – one is to uphold the Noble Qur’an as the constitution of life, and second, is to accept our mutual responsibility towards each other as Muslims, for the Messenger of Allah (saww) has said: “That Muslims are like one body of a person; if the eye is sore, the whole body aches, and if the head aches, the whole body aches.” (Saheeh Muslim Hadeeth No.2586; In-book reference : Book 45, Hadeeth No.87; USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 32, Hadeeth No.6261)
Narrated An-Nu`man bin Bashir: Allah’s Messenger (saww) said, “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.” (Saheeh al-Bukhari Hadeeth No.6011; In-book reference : Book 78, Hadeeth No.42; USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadeeth No.40)
In another hadeeth, the Prophet (saww) is reported to have said: “Whoever does not care about the affairs of the Muslims is not one of them,” and “Whoever hears a man calling ‘O Muslims!’ and does not respond is not a Muslim.” (This was narrated by Imam at-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat vol.7 page 270)
The above two ahaadeeth is reported by many companions even though its Isnaads are considered weak due the presence of an unknown narrator but suffice to use it here because of the fact that its chains leads to so many different companions.
The Prophet (saww) also used the parable of the human body to describe the Muslim nation – if one part suffers, the entire body will suffer. One of the greatest achievements of the Messenger of Allah (saww) was to unite hundreds of fragmented tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula into a single strong nation.
When he united them, he did not eliminate differences of opinion between them, but rather, he enabled them to have dialogue with each other and to come to a sense of mutual understanding. Under this philosophy, the Muslim nation was a powerful nation in the past, and only with this understanding it would be able to return to this respected position among the nations of the world and have the same significant role that it did in the past.
A modern example that the Muslim countries should examine is the European Union in which several states of different languages, cultures, ethnicities, religions, and political agendas have unified under one monetary system, economic agenda, and political front. The Muslim communities, sects and governments could be similarly united if they so chose. But there are the selfish ones who think that Muslim unity is the beginning of their fall from power and riches and so they spend billions of dollars brainwashing us and hit our heads against each other for them to continue to rule.
The first step to Muslim unity is to increase the regular dialogues, debates, conferences and seminars which are held by Muslim intellectuals and scholars and aim to bridge the gap between the various schools of thought and sects.
The acts and pronouncing of Takfeerism must stop for it is only Allah Who knows those who have strayed from His path and those who are firmly guided. No one has the right to determine who is not loved by Allah or who goes to hell or paradise. As the Qur’an says, “Certainly, your Lord knows best who strays from His path, and He knows best the guided ones.” (Surah al-an-Aam : 117)
In short, differences of opinion, when properly channeled, are an asset to the intellectual growth of the Muslim nation and are a sign of the vitality of the Islamic culture. The competition arising between different scholars, from all schools of thought and sects, should encourage them to strive with their maximum effort to reach the best decisions, and ultimately, the truth will manifest.
Diversity should not lead to division and fragmentation; on the contrary, it is part of the unity, just as it was in the society created by the Messenger of Allah (saww) over 1,400 years ago. I would like to encourage all the scholars and intellectuals of Islam to continue the dialogues on the juristic and philosophical issues under the umbrella of: “Laa ilaaha il-lal Laah Muhammad Rasuulul Laah (saww),” which simply means “There is no entity worthy of worship except for Allah and Muhammad (saww) is the Messenger of Allah.” That is the meeting place of all believers and with the spirit of brotherhood and faith. Ultimately, we ask Allah, the Almighty for His guidance and wisdom.
Let me use these glorious words of Allah to appeal to the conscience of the scholars, the Islamic leaders, the various groups and sects and most especially the Muslim Youth to for Allah’s sake change their perceptions, views about each other and the tones of their preaching to the benefit of unity and respect.
This does not mean we cannot preach the truth even if it affects our own selves. So far as we support our preaching with facts, proofs and evidences.
O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (submission to Allah).
And hold fast – all of you together – to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s favor on you, for you were enemies, one unto another, but He joined your hearts together so that by His grace you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His signs clear to you, that you may be guided.
Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and it is they who are the successful.
And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them.
It is they for whom there is an awful torment on the Day when some faces will become bright, and some faces will become dark. As for those whose faces will become dark (to them it will be said), Did you reject faith after accepting it? Then taste the torment for rejecting faith
And as for those whose faces will become bright, they will be in Allah’s mercy. Therein they shall dwell forever.
These are the verses of Allah. We recite them to you in truth, and Allah wills no injustice to mankind…
(Surah aal-Imraan : 102-108)
May Allah hasten the unity of the Ummah, the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’, the Shii’a, and the Tijaaneeya fraternity.
Wal Laahu Yatawal Laakum. Ameen.
Wa sol-lal Laahu alaa Muhammad wa aali Muhammad wa sal-lam.
WA SALAAMUL LAAHI ALAA MANIT-TABA’AL HAQQU WAL HUDAA
By: Sheikh Ahmed Badawi