There is a popular modern saying:United we stand, divided we fall. This small phrase conveys a big message; the message of unity. Unity is very important in any society, any group and any organization in order to achieve the goals of that particular entity. And Islam stands atop when it comes to unity. Islam commands unity among its followers. Praying in congregation (and Friday prayers, Eid prayers etc.) is an example of advocacy of unity. Gathering of millions of Muslims every year in Makkah for performing Hajj in the lunar month of Dhul Hijjah is one of the greatest examples of unity being commanded by Islam.
This unity of Muslims is something which worries the enemies of Islam. I was asked by a Non-Muslim colleague of mine about why we Muslims have to pray at one time at one place, obviously referring to congregational prayers offered in Masjids andHajjetc. And I could figure out a sense of worry in his question.
However, these worries are no more in the camps of enemies of Islam now.
Instead, it is time for Muslims to worry about this. The reason is simple; there is no more unity among the Muslims and it is known to everyone. This lack of unity prompts the enemies of Islam to devise their strategies accordingly against Islam. But the irony is that Muslims remain unaware of their lack of unity. Either we are unaware of our lack of unity or we do not care about it. In either case, we stand on the losing end.
Lack of unity among Muslims is one of the biggest issues that needs to be resolved by Muslim society. If a Muslim society is considered to be a body, then its unity is its health. And the reasons which do not let the unity stay firm are like the different diseases which attack the body and affect its health. There are lot of such diseases spreading at a rapid pace and if not treated at an appropriate stage, may prove to be fatal for the body (i.e. Muslim society).
A clinical way to cure a body from a disease is to diagnose the disease and the causes which lead to it. So let us take a look at some of the diseases which are attacking the health (i.e. unity) of Muslim society.
1. Some acts / practices / ideologies of the ‘Period of Jahilliyah’ still remain among Muslims.
Islam came and wiped off all the wrongs that existed during the ‘Period ofJahilliyah‘. Islam showed the light of truth to the masses and removed the blindfold of ignorance from the eyes of the people. After the revelation of Qur’an, theHaqis clear to all. However, even then (even now) there are lot of such prohibited practices prevailing among Muslims.One of the worst among such practices that prevails in minds of some is ‘discriminating based on region, tribes, languages etc’; a horrible practice; a horrible disease for the health (unity) of Muslim society.
Islam does not give precedence to any Muslim over another based on caste, creed, tribe, colour etc. The Prophet (PBUH) said very clearly, in the farewell speech given during Hajj, that all Muslims are equal; an Arab has no superiority over a Non-Arab, nor does a white over a black, etc. But what a shame; Muslims still dare to fight among themselves based on these things. How can an Arab Muslim feel he is better than a Non-Arab Muslim, just because he has been blessed with knowledge of Arabic language, more wealth and proximity to the area where our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and most of the other prophets were born? Instead he is supposed to use his knowledge of language and his wealth to support other Muslims by means of imparting them the knowledge as well as helping the poor Muslims. Similarly, there is nothing for an Indian Muslim to boast of about they being more intelligent and more educated than the rest, and if they really are, then it is their responsibility to use their virtues for helping Islam and fellow Muslims in different fields of life. There is no need to criticize Muslims of other places. And not to forget mentioning about our brothers of Pakistan who often fall prey to self-proclaimed superiority in physical might and/or being better-off (in all aspects) as compared to other Muslims (specially against Muslims of India); if they are really so, they should use their might and superior social status for uplifting the inferior Muslims, instead of singing laurels about themselves.
What is all this? Who allows us to do this?
The cure:The only cure is to abandon all such ideologies. Stay away from these, for the sake of health of Muslim society and for your own sake too. Refer to following hadith in this context:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever rebels against obedience and splits away from theJama’atand dies (in that state) has died a death ofJahilliyah. Whoever fights for no real cause, getting angry for the sake of tribalism, calling for tribalism, or supporting tribalism, and is killed, dies in a state ofJahilliyah. Whoever rebels against myUmmah, striking righteous and wicked alike, and does not spare the believers, and does not pay attention to anyone who has covenant of protection with the Muslims, he is not of me and I am not of him.”
(Hadith No. 4786 (1848), Book of Leadership, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 5).
Dear brothers and sisters,it is strictly prohibited in Islam to indulge in such acts. These are one of the biggest contributors towards the disharmony among Muslims. So beware!
2. Emergence of different sects
Another disease, andprobably the most prominent one of all, that does not let the Muslims unify isemergence of different sects in Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) had warned about this:
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “The Jews split into seventy-one sects, or seventy-two sects, and the Christians similarly, and myUmmahwill split into seventy-three sects.”
(Hadith No. 2640, Chapters on Faith, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 5).
The most unfortunate splitting among Muslims is that of creation of two sects: Shia and Sunni. The differences might have started on smaller notes, but as of now, the rift is too big to be abridged easily. The number of sects is increasing day-by-day (I am not sure how many sects are in being at present, but the number seems to be close to what has been mentioned in the hadith above). We can call these different sects as School of thoughts, Ideologies etc. The great four school of thoughts based on following four great Imams are known to all of us: Imam Abu Hanifa (the Hanafis), Imam Shafi’ (the Shafi’s), Imam Malik (the Malikis) and Imam Ahmed Humbal (the Humbalis). All these great Imams are respected by us and we pray for Allah’s mercy for their blessed souls. Our discussion ahead in no way tends to bias with any particular Imam. Further in no way does the discussion tend to find out a fault with teachings of any of these great Imams. I am too small to dare to do so. So, I request the readers not to misquote anything from here, and instead read it with an unbiased state of mind.
Now let us see some examples regarding how we enter into disaccord based on our division into different sects.
Example 1: This is about an event that took place with me. While on my trip last year to my home place in India, I explained the importance ofTahayyat-al-Masjidand persuaded my friends to offer them regularly. Alhumdolillah they started offering these prayers. When I was again with them last time (a year after the previous trip), one gentleman posed a question about offeringTahayyat-al-MasjidwhileKhutbaof Friday prayer is in progress. He said that may be it is allowed to do so in Maliki or Shafi’ or Humbali school of thoughts, but according to Hanafi school of thoughts, it is not allowed to pray any voluntary prayer while FridayKhutbais in progress. Disaccord is obvious. But who is correct? Or are both correct at the same time? Answer to this is very simple; refer to following hadith:
It was narrated that Jabir bin Abdallah (RA) said: Sulaik Al Ghatfani came on a Friday when Prophet (PBUH) was preaching (i.e deliveringKhutba) and he sat down. He said to him, “O Sulaik, get up and pray 2 raka’at and make them brief.” Then he said, “If one of you comes on a Friday and the Imam is preaching, let him pray 2 raka’at (Tahayyat-al-Masjid) and make them brief.”
(Hadith No. 2024 (875), Book of Friday Prayer, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2).
This is the saying of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) which is above the views of any of the scholars of this world. And according to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), we have to offerTahayyat-al-Masjidupon entering a Masjid, even when FridayKhutbais in progress. Therefore, in this case Hanafi view does not gives the best solution, whereas the other views are in accordance with the Prophet’s Sunnah. Thus, we have to agree upon it unanimously; no disaccords whatsoever.
Example 2:According to Hanafi school of thoughts, if a man is touched by a woman, hisWududoes not break. While as per Shafi’ view, if a man is touched by a woman, hisWudubreaks and he has to performWuduagain. Same question: Who is correct? Or are both correct at the same time? Let us go through following hadith on this issue to get a clear picture:
It was reported from Al-A’mash, from Habib, from Urwah, from Aishah (RA): ‘The Prophet (PBUH) kissed one of his wives, then went out to pray and did not performWudu.’ Urwah said to her: ‘And who else can it be except you?’ At which she laughed.
(Hadith No. 179, Book of Purification, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).
If kissing cannot invalidateWudu, how can a mere touch do that? So, it is clear that in this case, the Hanafi view is in accordance with the Sunnah and therefore it is to be followed. Simple; no disagreements whatsoever!
Example 3:Another real event involving my presence; yet another gathering and yet another question! The question this time is about whether we should sayAmeenin a loud voice or in a low voice, after Imam completes recitingSurah Al-Fatiha (Surah No. 1, Holy Qur’an)in congregational prayer (during raka’ats in which recitation is done aloud)? One gentleman following Imam Abu Hanifa’s views says thatAmeenshould be said in a low voice. Whereas, Shafi’ school of thoughts are of the view that we should sayAmeenaloud. Again I ask: Who is correct? Or are both correct at the same time? Let us go through some narrations to understand this:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said, “SayAmeenwhen the Imam says it and if theAmeenof any one of you coincides with that of the angels then all his past sins will be forgiven.” Ibn Shihab said, “Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to sayAmeen.”
(Hadith No. 780, Book of Adhan, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1).
The hadith is self-explanatory. But just for the sake of clarification of all doubts, let us consider a case where followers of Hanafi school of thoughts do not agree fully with the inference drawn from this hadith. They may say that this hadith tells us about sayingAmeen, but it doesn’t tell us clearly whether sayingAmeenshould be done in a loud or a low voice; although if read carefully, the above mentioned hadith really points towards sayingAmeenaloud. However, to eliminate all such doubts, let us go through another hadith:
Wa’il bin Hujr (RA) narrated that he prayed behind Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). He (the Prophet, PBUH) would raise his voice with ‘Ameen‘, and he would say the Salam to his right and left until I could see the whiteness of his cheek.”
(Hadith No. 933, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).
This should be enough for us to settle the dispute. Clearly, here, Shafi’ view is in accordance with Sunnah and therefore we have to follow that.
Thus, we see that in some cases Hanafi views are better while in other cases, Shafi’ views are more in line with Sunnah. I do not mean to say that any of these great Imams were wrong while explaining any issue in Islam. There might be several reasons for them to differ in their opinions: may be they interpreted some rulings in a different manner, both in honest state of mind; may be some of the ahadith did not reach them at the time of their teachings because compilation of ahadith was an enormous task and was completed much after these four great Imams died. But now all ahadith are easily available to us, explained very clearly and categorized beautifully for our ease, we cannot dare to ignore them.
The cure:Followers of a particular school of thought stick to their views. Moreover, they strictly advocate that one has to be in either of the schools only; to them it is not acceptable that a Muslim may follow some of Hanafi views and some of Shafi’ views etc. One has to be either a Hanafi or a Shafi’ or a Maliki or a Humbali, as per their ideology.This is a mistake.The only source for a Muslim to follow is Qur’an and after that is the Sunnah (i.e. authentic ahadith). Any view which contradicts these two cannot be followed. Allah says:
Every Muslim is supposed to doita’atof Allah and His Messenger (PBUH). Dear brothers and sisters, follow Qur’an and Sunnah; stop labelling yourselves as Hanafis or Malikis or Deobandis or Wahabis or Bareilwis or Ahl-e-hadiths etc.Use only one word of identity: Muslim.This will enable all of us to stay united. The only labels for the followers of Islam found in Qur’an areMuslimsorMu’mins. Neither Qur’an nor any hadith says that we should call ourselves followers of so and so Imam (i.e. a Hanafi, or a Maliki etc). Just ask yourselves: If a Non-Muslim accepts Islam and in his early days asks one of us about whether he shall sayAmeenaloud or in a low voice duringSalat, will we ask him whether he has entered into Hanafi sect or a Shafi’ sect, so that we may answer him accordingly? Just ask yourselves.
Allah says about people who divide themselves into different sects:
“Verily, those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you (O Muhammad, PBUH) have no concern in them in the least. Their affair is only with Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do.”
There is no harm in creating organizations, and the organization is blessed by Allah when it is created with an intention of doing service to Islam. And we see that there are so many organizations committed to these goals. However, these very organizations, originally intended to serve Islam, tend to become a disease for the health (i.e. unity) of Muslim society when they try to blame other organizations and try to prove they are superior. The moment this happens, it is falsehood. I can cite an example: Recently a very old famous Islamic organization released afatwaagainst the head of another famous Muslim organization, and ruled him aKafir. Do the scholars of this organization (the one issuing such afatwa) know that calling a fellow Muslim aKafiris not allowed in Islam? If they do not know, let me quote this hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “If a man says to his (Muslim) brother, ‘OKafir!’, then surely, one of them is such.”
(Hadith No. 6103, Book of Al-Adab, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8).
Thus, if the accuser is telling the truth, then the accused is aKafir, otherwise the accuser is aKafir. How serious, and how scary? Whoever knows this hadith, will never dare to say any such words to his fellow Muslim.
If the scholars do not know this hadith, it is a big question mark on their ability and question should be raised about how they can take up such a responsible position of aMufti. But if they know this hadith and still they issue such afatwa, then it is not only a matter of shame but also a matter of serious concern, for them as well as the Muslim society.
The cure:This is a disease, and has to be terminated. No harm in developing an organization, but any such organization should base its teachings solely on Qur’an and Ahadith. There should be no personal vendetta, no personal campaigns; individual ideologies are to be kept at bay. Please abandon these acts. All organizations are supposed to work as complimentary organizations, supporting each other, solely on the basis of Qur’an and Ahadith.
4. Concept of Islam in our minds has turned limited and perverted.
This is probably the biggest disease of all and it is related to almost all problems associated with Muslims at present. Unless our vision and concept of Islam is not correct, the problems will remain; and we won’t be able to unite.
Islam is not merely following the four things (Salat,Zakat,SaumandHajj). Remember the biggest pillar of Islam, that isTauheed, asks for more.Tauheedasks for worshipping only Allah and complete submission to Allah. This is achieved by following each and every order of Allah and avoiding each and every thing that is prohibited by Allah, i.e. by following Qur’an completely. Unfortunately, proper attention has not been paid to other aspects of Islam. Even majority of our scholars have restricted the discussions and emphasis toSalat,Zakat,SaumandHajj. Of course these are the pillars of Islam, but what about the superstructure that rests on these pillars? What about neighbour’s rights, what about rights of parents, what about rights of kindred, what about practices to be adopted in our commercial transactions, what about the relationship between husband-wife, what about raising our kids, and the list goes on. Qur’an tells us about all these aspects of our daily lives, and even more. Do we emphasize on these? Do we try to follow what Allah says, about unity among Muslims, in Qur’an? We ignore it. And at times, we follow Qur’an as per our liking; wherever we need to follow it we follow, wherever we feel we will have to risk our prestige, we ignore what Qur’an says. Muslim males tend to use permission of four wives for wrong reasons. Muslim females abandonHijaband proudly defend their act.
This is our concept of Islam now: limited, narrow and perverted.
The cure:Each and every aspect of Qur’an has to be brought into our lives. We can’t choose what to follow from Qur’an and what to avoid. There is strict warning from Allah about this in Qur’an:
“Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”
We need to change the way we look at Islam; we need to understand what Islam stands for, what Allah wants us to do and follow His words (i.e. Qur’an) in each and every aspect of our life. There has to be complete submission to Allah. And when the concept of Islam in minds of each and every Muslim aligns to this, Insha’Allah there shall be no threat to unity among us.Qur’an shall unify us, Insha’Allah.So, dear brothers and sisters, hold on to Qur’an and Sunnah; remember what Allah says:
Thus, we see that the cure for all the diseases of Muslim society’s health is common:Our strict adherence to Qur’an and Sunnah.
What should a common man do, who depends on the scholars for understanding the religion?
This is the plight of a common man, who has no other option but to adhere toTaqleed. But having seen the differences between different sects and different organizations/scholars, where should a common Muslim go? Who should the common Muslim approach to understand his queries about the religion?
The answer is in Qur’an: Follow Allah and His Messenger (PBUH). Let me quote a verse from Qur’an:
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (PBUH), and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (PBUH), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.”
Therefore, there is no harm in following any scholar, or any organization or any sect, as far as all of them teach, preach and act as per Qur’an and Sunnah. It is our responsibility to check each and every fatwa given by our scholars in light of Qur’an and Ahadith. The moment we come across any of their rulings which contradict each other, then they should be judged against Qur’an and Sunnah and the one in line with Qur’an and Sunnah are to be accepted, rest are to be rejected. Similarly, if any of thefatwasof any of the scholars of your liking contradicts Qur’an and/or Sunnah, then it has to be rejected without any second thought. Don’t even give a thought about how great the scholar or how famous the organization is.Taqleedis on Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) only; no one else is worthy of a common man’sTaqleed.
Based on this, a common Muslim should choose an organization or a scholar, whose views he finds according to Qur’an and Sunnah. And his search for such an organization and/or such a scholar should continue till he finds one or he meets his death. Here is a beautiful hadith on this:
“Narrated Hudhaifa bin Al-Yamin (RA): The people used to ask Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) about good, but I used to ask him about evil for fear that it might overtake me. Once, I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! We were in ignorance and in evil, and Allah has bestowed upon us the present good; will there be any evil after this good?” he said, “Yes.” I asked, “Will there be good after that evil?” He said, “Yes, but it would be tainted withDakhan(i.e. the little evil).” I asked, “What will itsDakhanbe?” He said, “There will be some people who will lead according to principles other than my Sunnah. You will see their actions and disapprove of them.” I said, “Will there be any evil after that good?” He said, Yes, there will be some people who will invite others to the gates of Hell, and whoever accepts their invitation to it, will be thrown in it.” I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! Describe those people to me.” He said, “They will belong to us and speak our language.” I asked, “(O Allah’s Messenger, PBUH)! What do you order me to do if such a thing should take place in my life?” He said, “Adhere to the group of Muslims and their chief.” I asked, “If there is neither a group nor a chief?” He said, “Keep away from all those different sects, even if you had to bite (i.e. eat) the root of a tree, till you meet Allah while you are still in that state.”
(Hadith No. 3606, Book of Virtues, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4).
Dear brothers and sisters, Islam calls for unity. All the unacceptable acts / practices (i.e. the diseases) harming the unity of Muslim society (i.e. the health of society) should be abandoned. All Muslims are brothers in Islam, as Allah says in following verse:
Think… think again… and again… Are we fulfilling these requirements? Are we treating each others as brothers? It is sad as well as ironical to say that the relationship between real brothers are not being fulfilled justly, what to talk about fulfilling the responsibilities towards brothers in Islam.
Islam not only tells us to keep unity among ourselves but also to safeguard the unity. Every Muslim has to be an ambassador of unity and peace. Whenever any of us come across a situation where two Muslims (people or groups) have a dispute over a certain matter, it is responsibility of all Muslims to get together to solve it by all means and to make the two disputed parties (or people) united. Refer to following verse from Qur’an:
“And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both. But if one of them outrages against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which outrages till it complies with Command of Allah. Then if it complies, make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily, Allah loves those who are equitable.”
I shall end my discussion with a request to all of us that we should make sure that all the diseases (as discussed in this article as well as any thing else or any individual or any group etc.) that are dangerous for the health of Muslim society (i.e. its unity), need to be eradicated. Whoever tries to harm the unity of Muslims should be dealt with severely:
It was narrated that Ziyad bin Ilaqah said: I heard Arfajah say: I heard Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) say, “There will beFitnahand innovations. Whoever wants to divide thisUmmahwhen it is united, strike him with sword, no matter who he is.”
(Hadith No. 4796 (1852), Book of Leadership, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 5).
And Allah knows best.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.