Muslims are a very divided people:
Unity among Muslims

محمد صادق Ýí 2011-07-27

Unity among Muslims

As we all know, Muslims are a very divided people. The existence of 57 Muslim nations instead of one bears witness to this unfortunate fact. We find all the excuses in the world to create division amongst ourselves. We divide ourselves on according to race, sect, our pre-Islamic cultures, political opinions, ancestry and even on the imams we follow! Brothers and sisters, none of these excuses for separation are considered valid by Allah, and therefore we should not consider them valid either.

The Qur’anic Reality, Our Illusion

The Quran reminds us that, originally, humankind was one Ummah, but this unity was broken by various differences which the human beings created among themselves

10:19 “ The people were but one nation, then they differed. And had it not been for a previous command from your Lord, the matter would have been immediately judged between them for what they differed.”  

It emphasizes the fact that the main purpose of sending Allah Almighty message through various Messengers is to restore back the balance and unity (of humankind) which once existed in the earliest period of human history:

2:213 “ The people used to be one nation, then God sent the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He sent down with them the Scripture with the facts so that they may judge between the people in what they were disputing. But after receiving the clarity, the people disputed in it due to animosity between them. And God guided those who believed with His permission regarding what they disputed in of the truth. And God guides whoever He wishes to a straight path.”

57:25 “ We have sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Scripture and the balance, that the people may uphold justice. And We sent down the iron, wherein there is great strength, and many benefits for the people. So that God would distinguish those who would support Him and His messengers on faith. God is Powerful, Noble.”

The Quran warns us not to differentiate among Prophets because all of them came from the same source, Allah Almighty .

2:285 “ The messenger believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord. And the believers, all who believe in God, and His angels, and His Scriptures, and His messengers: “We do not differentiate between any of His messengers;” and they said: “We hear and obey, forgive us O Lord, and to you is our destiny.”

But the followers of the Prophets (Peace upon all of them) not only created differences among the Prophets but they also created divisions among themselves within the following of a single Prophet. As other people, we, the followers of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) have also created divisions among ourselves. We have done this in spite of the very clear order of Allah Almighty to hold on to His rope together in unity and not be divided among ourselves , we read in the Qur’an:

3:103 “ And hold firmly to the rope of God, all of you, and do not be separated….”

As a matter of fact, we mostly follow the illusions built by our emotions, read what Allah (SWT) says: 25:43 “ Have you seen the one who has taken his ego as his god? Will you be a caretaker over him?”   and the ways of our ancestors:  2:170 “And if they are told: “Follow what God has sent down,” they Say: “No, we will follow what we found our fathers doing!” What if their fathers did not understand anything and were not guided?” rather than the Qur’anic reality.

This is because whenever we are confronted with the Qur’anic verses which clearly forbid differences and divisions among Muslims, we find a reply that we are not divided but we only have several schools of thought. In reality though, these are not "schools of thought" but are "schools of action." Only a few examples will suffice to support this argument: differences in what is forbidden and what is allowed by various schools as far as food is concerned; differences in forms of prayer; differences related to marriage and divorce etc.

Everyone will agree that these differences whether major or minor are not just in thought but very much in action also. Majority of Muslims, though, likes to believe in ignoring these religious differences and divisions and carry on with their lives. However, our religious scholars are more interested in maintaining these differences by creating a sense of virtual unity that hides their sectarian differences. They prefer not to work for real unity because it exposes their differences. In fact, they are more interested in practicing virtual Islam rather than the real Islam our Prophet (PBUH) practiced. This makes everyone feel satisfied…, more or less.

Many Muslims (especially of influence in society) think that the idea of unity of humankind is an unrealistic goal and therefore, should be abandoned. According to them, this may be a romantic or an exotic idea but it is an unattainable goal. They think that Muslims waste their time in talking about the unity of humankind when they themselves are badly divided. They catalog a long list of such divisions from (Muslim) history. Wars fought (and continue to be fought) amongst themselves and (millions of) Muslims killed by Muslims are given as proofs from past and present history to support their claim that Muslim unity is not possible, let alone the unity of humankind. How can then one talk about Muslim unity when their past history has been so divisive, they are quick to remind everyone?

These are mostly the feelings of the secular (liberal or progressive) minded Muslims. This feeling gives them intellectual satisfaction and a sense of psychological security.

A good Muslim is one who is without denomination, faction, or any other special loyalty. The prophet, in his final speech to the whole Ummah, said that between Muslims, there are no races or tribes. We have divided the Ummah which our Nabi tried so hard to keep together. Allah warns us, in the following verse:  

3:105 "And be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful punishment ".

Islam, being a flexible religion, allows for a variety of opinions and customs, as long as they do not contradict the religion. As mentioned, religious disagreements between the so-called sects of Islam can be resolved by turning to the Qur’an, not by segregation. The Qur’an is the book of guidance for ALL OF mankind. How can we convince anyone of this if we cannot even be united amongst ourselves! We are making a mockery of ourselves to non-Muslims by refusing to follow the simple instructions of our own holy book! Allah's disapproval of disunity among Muslims is evident in verse 3:103.  

“ …… And remember God’s blessing upon you when you were enemies and He united your hearts, then you became with His blessing as brothers; and you were on the verge of a pit of fire and He saved you from it; it is thus that God clarifies for you His signs that you may be guided.”

The ayah refers to how the Meccans and Medinians were united by the grace of Allah. This example illustrates how Islam was, and should still be, a uniting force between Muslims despite any superficial differences which may exist between us. The ayah also tells us that the Qur’an contains very clear guidance. Given that, there is no reason why any two Muslims should not practice Islam the same way, the way Allah has instructed.

The most shameful division among Muslims is that of denomination; the major ones being sunni, sheea, and ismaeli. These are all artificial divisions which have absolutely nothing to do with Allah’s revealed Deen. Who are we to cut up Allah’s Deen into little pieces, especially when Allah has forbidden us to do so? This is a crime committed by nearly 1 billion Muslims. A study of the history of these sects reveals that they were created PURELY by political disagreements. Later, innovations in religion lead to religious differences. An honest study of the Qur’an easily reveals these innovations.

Nowhere in the Qur’an is there any mention of sunni, sheea, or ismaeli, and so we must make these terms alien to our vocabulary!

The Qur’an is very clear in this matter. Allah has declared that sectarianism is Haram. As Muslims, we are prohibited even from involvement with people who restrict themselves to a so-called subdivision of Islam. This point is mentioned in the following verse:  

6:159 “ As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you are NO PART IN THEM IN THE LEAST, their affair is with Allah, He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.”

It is interesting to note that when Qur’an refers to those who will inhabit the Hellfire , Allah often mentions that they will see the truth of all that they did or that they will receive just treatment for all that they used to do. These endings are never mentioned for those people who will enter Paradise. They are reserved especially for the sinners; those sinners who will be punished. So you be the judge: What do you think is in store for those people just described? The Qur’an make this comparison too, but they also stress that on the Day of Judgment, followers of all sects will be in the same category. We read in the following verses.

45:27,28 “ Control of everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to God. When the Hour comes, those who follow falsehood will be the losers on that Day.  * You will see every community kneeling. Every community will be summoned to its record: ‘Today you will be repaid for what you did.”

It is obvious that sinners are being described. Bowing the knee is a phrase used to describe the position of the wrongdoers on the Day of Judgment. In the example given, the sinners are those people who claim loyalty to ANY so-called sect of Islam.

A Muslim is defined as one who follows the religion of Allah, Al-Islam. Divisions exist to separate differences. If we divide ourselves, it is due either to some worldly difference between us or a difference in faith (as mentioned, neither is justifiable). A deliberate alteration of faith does not create a sect of Islam, it creates a distinct faith which the followers may claim to be a sect of Islam.

Thus, there is a great danger involved in attributing oneself to one of the many so-called sects of Islam. Loyalty is allowed only for Allah, His messenger, and to those people who claim loyalty to Allah and his Messenger (i.e. the Muslims). Those of us who declare loyalty to a specific sect had better beware; sect of Islam is a contradiction of terms. You can have one or the other, not both! In accord with this, read the following verse:

30:32 “ And be not like those who join gods with Allah, those who split up their religion and become (mere) sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself!”

The words, "that which is with itself" refer to those differences which people use to justify their separation from Islam. Notice that polytheism, the greatest sin, is prohibited along side with division of religion. This pairing, like everything else in the Qur’an, is deliberate. It is meant to demonstrate the magnitude of this crime.

All of us must refuse to attribute ourselves to any of the man made divisions of Islam. If anyone asks you if you are Sunni, or Sheea, tell them that you are a Muslim. Tell them that you strive to live according to the way Allah has instructed in the Qur’an.

Take a moment to reflect upon these questions: To what sect did Mohammed (PBUH) belong to? Whose example was the best example of how a Muslim should live his/her life? If the prophet were alive today, what would his opinion be on this subject? Should we, being followers of Islam, not try to keep our opinion consistent with the prophets?

How can a non-Muslim be attracted to Islam knowing that there are so many versions of it, and if a non-Muslim decides to embrace Islam, wouldn't his/her joining of a sect ruin such a beautiful decision? During the time of our beloved prophet, Muslims called themselves just that, Muslims. Nobody was a Sheea, or an Ahmedi, or a Sunni, or an Ismaeli, or a Qadiani or a Duruz, or a Bahai, or an Ansarullah, or anything.  All Muslims were equal. Everyone proudly proclaimed the Shahada:

“ I bare witness that no deity except Allah.”

I now call upon all of you to immediately renounce any special religious loyalty which you may posses. For the love of Allah, the one who created you and blessed you with His Deen, forget that you belong to any group and be proud that you are Muslim. And renouncing the sect is not enough if we continue to practice Islam with our differences. We must investigate what caused the formation of the sect and what characteristics of the sect are incompatible with Islam. We must seek knowledge of our religion in order to practice it as perfectly as we are capable. It is obvious that anyone who belongs to a sect and claims to be Muslim believes that their sect represents true Islam. I have two things to say to that.

First of all, merely labeling oneself as one kind of Muslim or another is Haram as it is division in the most direct sense. Secondly, look up the date the Islam was revealed and then look up the date that your sect of the religion was born. After finding that they are not equal, dont even dare to claim that your sect is true Islam. That would be an insult to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH).

As a final reminder, I will introduce another quote from the Holy Qur’an that again points to the fact that unity among Muslims is an indispensable, fundamental part of Islam:

21: 92 "Verily, you are one Ummah. I am your Lord, worship me."

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