But it seems like a fantasy to call for unity within the Muslim world now. With various sects around the world all claiming to be the saved group or the only guided ones. Sects who all believe in one Lord and one Prophet, fighting each other and creating strife and turmoil all over. They are in fact breaking a major Qur’anic injunction. The Qur’an says: “…and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you, if ye have Faith.”
So what’s happening in the ummah today, whether it is the Shia-Sunni conflict or the Sufi-Wahabi endless arguments, have never been from the spirit of the prophetic call. The companions of the Prophet Muhammad have never in their era – which was the best and most authentic period in Islam- disputed or fragmented into sects. Yes, they did differ and went to battle but that quickly subsided, as both parties knew what was to be done. They enacted the teachings of the Qur’an and sunnah to its highest levels. They united under the banner of the Prophet and this led them to build an empire of faith that lasted centuries.
It’s a fact that we had and still have differences of opinion between our scholars, but these differences are what the prophet referred to as “the differences of mercy” in a famous tradition. The creative spirit of the legal luminaries have always resulted in varying opinions regarding the same subject, which gave birth to the different schools of law and theology. Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the famous West African scholar of mysticism, law and theology sums it up beautifully:
“The differences of scholarly opinion are a [divine] mercy. What is discouraged and disliked is sectarianism, not differences of opinion. A human being is bound to have an understanding of something which another person does not, but this is not what is discouraged and blameworthy. What is discouraged and blameworthy is the feeling in ones heart [which says one is ‘right’ & one is ‘wrong’].
There existed differences of opinion among the companions as well as the caliphs, but if you investigate these differences, you will find them to be minor. But when satan and the ego involve themselves, they turn these minor disagreements into major ones and cause sectarianism among people. Likewise, the enemies of Islam find these minor disagreements among the Muslims and they also cause (or exploit) sectarianism. ”
So the differences of opinion within the rank and files of the scholars should never be used as a pretext to create sects into a faith that was once known for accepting diverse opinions and differing positions without going to loggerheads. The sects that existed from the earliest times and still exist need to come to terms with the clear cut teachings of the revealed texts, and strive to work on healing the fractures of an Ummah that’s falling apart. The scholars also have to step up and quell the ranks of their followers. Teach them the proper manner to deal with those they differ with.
The responsibility lies on each and every one who declares faith in the religion that was sent down upon Prophet Muhammad 1,400 years ago. Because all of these extremism and fanaticism which have reared its ugly head before us now, can only be confronted with the unification of the orthodox and traditional Muslim community. We owe it to our world and generations yet unborn to unite and stop the madness and show the world, what it means to follow a religious tradition steeped in unity, harmony, balance and moderation.
“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.” —The Qur’an.]]>