Achieving Islamic Unity
"And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you, for you were enemies and He united your hearts, so that by His grace you became brothers"(3:103)
When the Muslim Ummah discusses the issue of Islamic unity, it is discussing one of the important objectives in establishing and spreading the Deen of Allah (SWT). It is without doubt that an Islamic Ummah cannot live in peace and harmony without a state of unity, in addition to this there exist obstacles and many hurdles facing a disunited society in calling non-Muslims to Islam.
In order to justify unity, we do not need to look any further than the realm of Islam, through the holy Quran and hadith. It is clear from the above ayeh that Allah (SWT) has made unity an obligation for all Muslims, irrespective of their opinions.
This therefore leads to the understanding that those who call for disunity or who do not recognise the need for unity amongst Muslims are disobeying the clear orders of the Almighty (SWT) and His messenger (SAWW).
Furthermore, in other verses Allah (SWT) clearly indicates He will severely punish the instigators of disunity:
"Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful penalty.."(3:105)
The Prophet (SAW) also says in a hadith "Unity is mercy, while disunity is punishment."
Another reason for immediate Islamic unity is the present situation of the Ummah.
Islam has and continues to be a target of attack for the enemy in raising up old disputes and creating new ones amongst Muslims. It is evident that many catastrophes, crises, turmoil and disturbances are occurring in the Muslim world. From the massacres in Kosovo to the genocide in Iraq, the Ummah seems to be in a complete state of uncertainty and grief. Most Islamic intellectuals agree that all this is a direct consequence of disunity amongst Muslims, and a punishment from Allah (SWT):
"And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, (and) if you (Muslims in the world) do not do so (become united) there will be fitnah (wars, battles) and oppression on earth, and a great mischief and corruption".(8: 73)
In addition, a consequence of disunity is that the Ummah becomes weak, suffers from low morale and wastes energy addressing minor problems. This of course leads to personality conflicts and hatred or tension, and whilst all this is happening the enemies of slam rejoice and continue to implement their 'wicked' plans against the Ummah.
Having established the importance of Islamic unity, one might ask why is it not being achieved or is slow in progression. The answer to this question is very deep and complex, diverging into many different roots but which all meet somewhere on the same line. This line is that of ignorance.
One of the causes of disunity is that many Muslims are ignorant about their obligation to strive for unity and to maintain it. This, of course, stems back to education and learning the important Islamic principles and ideology.
Others cause disputes and distension, practice hypocrisy or show greed and selfishness. The love of this life, the tendency to dominate over each other and propagation of racism and nationalisation are other causes of disunity.
It is important to understand that disagreements between Muslims are unavoidable. We must be able to clearly distinguish between expressing differences of opinion and creating hatred and distension in the community. This is evident in the holy Quran, where we understand that a beautiful sign of the Almighty's infinite creativity is the variation and diversity that we find everywhere in the universe. As people differ in intelligence levels, aptitudes and levels of understanding, we can expect differences of opinion.
From this we can safely say that regarding understanding the deep and rich meanings of the holy Quran and the Sunnah, Muslim scholars will inevitably differ with each other.
However this process must not lead to disregard and rivalry, rather only be a point of minor judicial and theological disagreements or understanding of a particular verse or hadith.
This brings us to the point of the practical approaches to Islamic unity. In establishment of unity between Muslims, we cannot have the objective of eliminating the diversity of various Islamic sects, rather we consider the convergence of Muslim thoughts and discuss topics of interest in which there is common agreement.
"Say, O, people of the book! Come to a word common between us and you."
Thus irrespective of the divergent view and practices of the Muslims, as long as all sects agree to worship the Almighty Allah (SWT) and obey Prophet Mohammad (SAW) we will all remain inside the extensive circle of the Muslim Ummah.
We can all agree that unity can be achieved if we build it on the original sources of guidance, the holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). This is the basic requirement. As Muslims we need to start our arguments and dialogues from the point of harmony.
Many agree that all Muslims have several things in common which consequently can lead to strong alliance. Apart from the fact that we all worship Allah (SWT) and believe in the Prophet (SAW), as well as perform many other obligations such as fasting and Hajj in the same manner, we all have a common world view and are part of the great Islamic culture and civilisation. These common features are a great source of power for the struggle against the enemy.
In addition to this, we all must have a strong sense of brotherhood, whereby Muslims love and understand one another better, as well as leaving any hostility behind and respecting each other.
However, religious prejudice can result from the long history of differences as well as psychological, social and historical pressures, and this must be kept in mind.
Hence it is important to familiarise and educate Muslims about holding refined dialogues, based on the glorious Quran, in order to move forward and build a strong and cohesive Islamic society.
"Call them to your Lord with wisdom and kind advice and debate with them in the most appropriate way."
One major obstacle in achieving Islamic unity is the existence of those so-called 'Muslims' who use every possible means of attacking other Muslim sects publicly either verbally or by means of force. This is manifested either by speeches or writings in books and journals, or through instigating series of killings and violence. These people are not only severely damaging the slow process of unity, but are greatly aiding the enemies of Islam in achieving their vicious goals of total Islamic destruction.
Our pure objective in achieving unity in this life is the establishment of the Deen of Allah (SWT), rather than the domination of one sect by another. Unless this present dominant mood is removed, and until total adherence to pure Islam through appropriate methods of Islamic debate is achieved, it will be difficult to envisage a united and cohesive Ummah.
We should not lose faith or hope if unity is not established today, but must work and be determined towards the future. Moreover, we must not be drawn into the trap of the opponents of Islamic unity, who constantly hide the true nature of Islamic alliance and falsely claim that a unified Islamic Ummah is impractical and is bound to fail.
We cannot over-emphasise the importance of achieving a complete state of cohesion and unity in the Muslim Ummah. We must bear this in mind in every dialogue or argument that we enter, and in every action we perform. Only by achieving this united Islamic Ummah that we can stop the oppression and the domination by the enemies of Islam. At that time justice, security and peace will not be a mere aim but a true reality.
"O Allah, we earnestly desire from You, an honored state, through which You strengthen Islam and its people, and degrade hypocrisy and its followers. And make us in it, amongst the inviters towards Your obedience, and leaders to your path, And give us through it, honour of the world and the hereafter."