All Muslims know the value and importance of uniting the Muslims around the world. We have read and heard many times the famous verse from Surah Al-i-Imran, ” And hold fast all together by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love so that by His grace ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of fire and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make his signs clear to you: that ye may be guided”. (Verse 013, Al-i-Imran).
Delivering long and long speeches about the Unity of Muslim Ummah does not tire our leaders, Imams and scholars. Every Muslim talks about the unity. However, as days are passing by Muslims are getting more and more divided. The division is multidimensional. Muslims are divided based upon languages, ethnicity, regional preferences, nationalism and above all sectarian beliefs in the name of Islam. The reasons of these divisions could be many. But in this paper I would like to focus on two reasons.
- Division among Muslims because of local nationalism.
- Division among Muslims because of sectarian beliefs in the name of Islam.
In spite of so many movements of unity why Muslims are getting further divided? This paper identifies the “source” of disunity and provides some suggestions in this regard. This paper briefly discusses the unity issues during the early period of Islam and in spite of extremely serious conflicts how Muslims remained prosperous and united till the fall of Khilafat-i-Islamiyah during early 1900s.
Basis for Unity
On what principles Muslims should be united? You may say the obvious answer. We are all Muslims, we believe in one God i.e. Almighty Allah, we believe in one Prophet i.e. Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe wa Aal-e-hee Wasallam) and we all have the book of Allah i.e. Qur’an. With due respect to my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, this sentence is nothing more than a lip service. The conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Algeria, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Bangladesh, South Africa (within Muslims), UK (within Muslims), USA (within Muslims), Canada (within Muslims) and many other Muslim and non-Muslim countries were created in the name of Islam. The conflicting Muslim parties fight against each other in the name of Allah. The reason is clear. In all conflicts if we review the conditions of compromise/ unity, we will find that our leaders, Imams, scholars, governments and Islamic organizations want to unite Muslims based upon their “own” principles and beliefs. Although, there is no dispute in Qur’an but nowadays every sect / organization / government / Imam / leader has it’s own interpretation of Qur’an and Hadith. Every sect / organization / government / Imam / leader is struggling for control and power in order to implement their own sectarian beliefs and policies. We talk a lot about unity but we want unity based upon our own conditions. Religious groups and sects claim that they are killing or declaring Muslims as KAFIR, MUSHRIK, BID’ATEE, etc. in order to please Allah. How could we achieve this unity?
Difference of Opinions during the best of times
During Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) time whenever Muslims were divided on issues, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) used to bring them together. All the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) used to accept his final decision from their hearts. For example, after the battle of Hunain, the hypocrites among Muslims tried to divide the Muhajir and Ansaar on the issue of distribution of GHANEEMAH. Muslims were very close to fight among themselves. Allah’s Messenger was informed about the situation. He came and talked to them, and brought them together. The division disappeared. Similarly, once two companions of Prophet (peace be upon him) were engaged in a dispute. Both of them belonged to two different tribes of Madinah. The hypocrites saw a perfect opportunity to ignite tribal rivalry. They started singing tribal songs on both sides. Muslims got divided into two groups and were very close to start a fight. The news reached to Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), he came and presented himself to the both groups. Both groups realized that for few minutes they had completely forgotten that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was among them. As soon as they listened Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), they realized their mistake and repented immediately. The unity of Muslim remained intact.
After the death of Allah’s Messenger, Muslims were divided on the issue of who would succeed the Prophet (peace be upon him). But as soon as the issue was resolved peacefully, all the Muslims were united behind Hadhrat Abu Bakr Al Siddiq, the first Caliph of Islam (May Allah be pleased with him). This unity of Muslims continued till the Martyrdom of third Caliph of Islam, Hadhrat Uthman ibn Affaan (May Allah be pleased with him). The first major division of Muslims occurred over a political issue of whether the murderers of Hadhrat Uthman should be captured first OR the law and order situation in Madinah should be handled first. This difference in approaches on purely a political issue divided the Muslims permanently. However, there were no differences among Muslims regarding Islamic Jurisprudence and worshipping (Ibadaat). All the Companions (Sahabah), the Family (Aal-e-Nabi) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and later TAB-E-EEN (Muslims who followed the companions of the Prophet, Peace be upon him) used to pray together and only ONE way. If some differences occasionally appeared among them, they never considered it as a difference that could divide Muslims. Although, after the Martyrdom of Hadhrat Uthman, Muslims were divided in to two groups but neither history nor other Islamic literature tells us that they had differences in IBADAAT or Islamic Jurisprudence (FIQAH) OR they declared each other as Kafir, Mushrik, etc. like our Imams and scholars do nowadays.
If we read the Islamic history and the development of Islamic Jurisprudence (The science of Fiqah), we will realize that the four Ahle Sunnat Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’e and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (May Allah shower His mercy upon them) had very high respect and love for the family of Prophet (Peace be upon him). They learnt Islamic Jurisprudence from Imams of Ahle Bait (family of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him). Imam Abu Hanifa was not only a student of Imam Ja’ffar us Sadiq but he was also his stepson. It is very difficult to believe that Imam Abu Hanifa would have compiled the Fiqah that is very much different than Imam Ja’ffar us Sadiq’s Fiqah. It is hard to believe that Imam Abu Hanifa would have prayed (Salat) behind Imam Ja’ffar differently like Shi’a and Sunni pray (Salat) differently today. There is a possibility of minor differences but if we look today’s Fiqah Ja’fariyh and Fiqah Hanafiyah, there is a huge difference. Obviously, the people created these differences after these noble Imams. These noble Imams never created these differences.
The major division among Muslims in Jurisprudence occurred when the Science of Fiqah (Islamic Jurisprudence) became a formal subject, the Sunni Muslims were divided into four Madhahib (ways), HANAFI, MALKI, SHAFI’E AND HANBALI. The Shi’a Muslims separated their Fiqah and called it JA’FARIAH (from Imam Ja’ffar us Sadiq, May Allah be pleased with him). However, beside the differences in Fiqah the Sunni Muslim scholars and Imams always respected each other and never ever condemned each other. The discussion on the differences in Fiqah was never made a topic of Friday Sermon (KHUTBAH). One never called the other Imam and his followers as wrong. They never asked the Muslims not to follow the other Imams. Their differences of opinions were purely intellectual and based upon the Hadith of Prophet (peace be upon him) which reached to them at different times. This was the difference of opinion, which Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) called “IKHTILAFO UMMATI RAHMAH”, “The intellectual difference of opinion in my Ummah is a blessing”.
The local nationalism was never preferred over the worldwide Islamic brotherhood. Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari, Imam Trmidhi and many other Imams and scholars of Islam were non Arabs but no one felt that they were from non Arab parts of the world. Every Muslim knew only one criteria of brotherhood, which was the love, and the following of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). With all the differences Muslims were united and very faithful to their religion. Muslims were the superpower of the world. Muslims were the leaders in setting up the standards for the rest of the world. Muslims were educators, scientists, doctors, engineers, commanders, etc. Intellectually, morally, economically, politically and spiritually Muslims were the leaders and model for other communities and nations. Muslims knew and practiced that ” AL MUSLIM-O-MAN SAL-I-MAL MUSL-E-MOON-A- MILLI SANIHI WA YADIH “, a Muslim is a person from whose hands and tongue the other Muslims are safe (Al Hadith).
Challenges to Muslim Unity
In the previous section we discussed that the tribal / geographical nationalism has always caused problems for the unity of this Ummah, even during the period of Prophet (peace be upon him). But the physical presence of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was the bounding force for all Muslims. The Muslims were united around Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The battle of UHAD, the battle of HUNAIN, the battle of KHAYBER, the agreement of HUDAIBIYAH and many other events have given us undisputed proof that the uniting force for Muslims was only the personality of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam).
After the death of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), the same tribalism got ignited in some of the tribes. Some of the tribes refused to pay ZAKAT and six people of various tribes claimed that if Muhammad of Bani Hashim (Peace be upon him) can be a Prophet why can’t they be Prophets of their tribes? The first Caliph of Islam, Sayyidna Abu Bakr us Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with him) saw this tribal rebellion against Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the religion he preached. He crushed this tribal rebellion with force and the unity of Muslim Ummah was kept intact. This also proves that the unity of Muslim Ummah has always been challenged by those who tried to bring themselves at the high levels of Muhammad (peace be upon him) by claiming Prophethood or by undermining the honour and the teachings of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Although, during the period of Hadhrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) the Muslims were divided on the political front. Hadhrat Ameer Mua’wiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) was the ruler in Syria and Ameer ul Mo’mineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) was the Caliph of Islamic state in Madinah but they never considered each other as bad Muslim or weak Muslim. All Muslims were together as far the teachings, love and respect for Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was concerned. However, during the rule of Yazeed ibn Muawiyah the unity of Muslim Ummah was destroyed by ignoring the respect and love for Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) and his family (Aal-e-Nabi). The Grand Son of our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him), Hadhrat Sayyidna Imam Hussain (May Allah be pleased with him) scarified not only his own life but also the lives of his family members and close friends to defend and protect the SHA’AER of Allah (Signs of Allah). Imam Hussain’s (May Allah be pleased with him) martyrdom gave new meanings to the unity of Muslim Ummah. Muslims realize that Imam Hussain’s martyrdom has very important message for the Muslim Ummah. The message is that the Muslims must be united and ready to scarify their own lives for the sake of Allah’s DEEN and to protect the Honour of Hadhrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his family when challenged by the forces of evil.
Throughout the Islamic history till the early 1900, the Islamic history is full with glory and turmoil but Muslims remained the superpower of the world and the leaders of the modern civilization. Beside many differences within Muslim community no outside power was able to undermine the strength of Muslim Ummah however these outside powers always have tried to destroy the unity of Muslim Ummah. During the period of Banu uma-i-yah and Banu Abbas, there had been many attempts to disintegrate and disunite Muslims. Many sects grew and died. For example, Khawarij and Rawafidh were born during that time. There were several other branches grew from these two sects but finally all of these sects died out because of the excellent and very sincere work of TRUE scholars of Islam such as Imam Hussain, Imam Ja’ffer us Sadiq, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’e, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi, Imam Baihaqi, Hadhrat Fuzail ibn Ayaz, Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi, Imam Asha’ry, Imam Jozi, Allama ibn Kathir, Allama Jalaluddin Suyyuti, Mulla Ali Qari, Imam Ghazali, Imam Asqalni, Sayyidna Abdul Qadir Jilani and hundreds of other Ulema-e-Haq and Auwlia Allah. Because of the noble work of the above and many others scholars of Islam the Ummah rejected the beliefs of Khawarij, Rawafidh and their sub-sects and Muslims remained united. The intellectual difference of opinion always remained among the scholars of Islam but that should not be considered as a division.
Movements of Disunity
The struggle between HAQ (right) and BAATIL (wrong) has always been part of human history. Started from Hadhrat Adam (May Allah’s peace be upon him) this struggle is still going on. The forces of evil have never accepted the truth of Islam and they have always used their wicked ways to destroy this TRUTH (HAQ). The only way these forces could undermine this Truth (Islam) was to disunite its followers. The disunity among Muslims could only be achieved if some of the Muslims disconnect themselves from the following and obeying of Hadhrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Druze, Bahais and Ahmedies
The anti Islam forces have always supported the ideologies of those Muslims who tried to give “new” meanings to the Qur’anic verses or tried to undermine the honour of Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Al-Hakim bi-amr Allah in 1022 broke away from Shi’at Muslims and created his own religion which was later recognized as Daruzism. Al-Hakim bi-amr Allah had full support from the Jews and the Christians. They helped him in organizing and establishing his dynasty.
During early 1900 in Iran when Bahá’u’lláh claimed that the God has manifested in him and founded the religion of Bahaism. The western governments supported him. Many of his followers broke away from Islam and followed him. However, both of the above breaks from the Muslim community were not considered as major disunity among Muslims because both the followers of Druzism and Bahaism did not claim themselves as Muslims any more. They were considered as the followers of different religions. The entire Muslim Ummah remained united except few hundreds who converted to Druzism and Bahaism.
One of the most recent attempts by the anti Islam forces to disunite Muslims was the establishment of another religion within the Muslim community called Ahmedism or Qadyanism. During 19 century in India a Muslim scholar, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani claimed that he is the Prophet of Allah as well. Mirza Ghulam Ahmed and his patrons from the British Empire had learnt the lessons from Bahai religion. They saw that Bahá’u’lláh made a mistake by disassociating from Islam. The disassociation from Islam created a roadblock to convert Muslims from Islam to Bahaism. Bahá’u’lláh was able to attract only few hundred Muslims and most of his following came from the Christians, Parsees and Hindus. Therefore, anti Islam forces were not very successful in achieving their goal. They were expecting that Bahá’u’lláh will attract thousands upon thousands Iranians to follow him. Instead of this Bahá’u’lláh converted thousands of Christians, Parsees and Hindus towards Bahaism.
In the case of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed the anti Islam forces were very cautious. Therefore, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed claimed himself as a Prophet but under the Prophethood of Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Peace be upon him). This way he tried to keep himself and his followers associated with Islam and at the same time establish a new religion within Islam. This tactics worked very well and thousands of Muslims of Punjab (India) were deceived. They thought that they could get the worldly benefits by following Mirza Ghulam Ahmed and still remain Muslim. The British were the rulers of India and these poor Muslims wanted to get some benefits from these patrons of Ahmedism. The British were relatively successful this time and created disunity among Muslims of India. But this new religion, Ahmedism remained in India and Pakistan. Slowly Muslims of India and Pakistan were getting aware of the motives and beliefs of this new religion and the following of this religion started declining. In 1970s after a long struggle, the Ahmedism and Qadyanism were declared as non-Muslim faiths. At that time, the Ahmedees and Qadyanees started mass migration towards the western world where they received full protection. Although, the Muslim Ummah do not considers Ahmedees and Qadyanees as Muslims but Ahmedees and Qadyanees themselves still claim that they are Muslims. After the declaration of Ahmedism as a separate religion, the Muslims are united and they did not see Ahmedism as a part of Islam.
The Start of Real Disunity
After almost 13 centuries of Muslim rule, the focus of Muslim Ummah changed. What Qur’an describes the attributes of Muslims as, “They (Muslims) are very kind among themselves but very hard on Kuffaar”. Muslims slowly adopted the opposite attributes. They became very kind to KUFFAAR and very hard and cruel to Muslims. Our religious leadership started focusing on minor issues. Instead of healthy intellectual discussions, our religious leadership started emphasizing on resolving the differences through force. Some Muslim scholars intentionally used Qur’anic verses and misinterpreted their meanings. Those verses which Allah had revealed in Qur’an to inspire Muslims to fight against Kuffaar, these scholars used those verses to create animosity among Muslim brothers. They made a Muslim an enemy of another Muslim by using Qur’an and Hadith.
The Colonial Era and Unity of Muslim Ummah
For the last 13 centuries Muslims were the superpower of the world. Khilafat-e-Uthmania (Ottoman Empire) was a thorn in the eyes of anti Islam forces. They wanted to destroy this Islamic Empire at any cost. They were trying for the last 13 centuries to destroy it but did not succeed. These forces saw the shift in focus of Muslim scholars and took full advantage of it. They planted a very dangerous seed of nationalism among Muslims. Muslims started fighting against their own Muslim brothers because either they were not from the same region or they were speaking a different language. When the Muslim superpower, Ottoman empire (Khilafat-e-Uthmania) was fighting against the European colonial powers, the English, the Dutch, the French, the Italians, etc.. at the same time they had to defend themselves from their own Muslim brothers because Ottoman forces were TURKS and were not local. To create HATE for TURKS the local so called scholars of Islam used religion in order to get support from all local Muslims. The tactics they used to get support from local Muslims in order to destroy Ottoman Empire was simple. Keep Muslims busy in fighting on minor issues. Make small issues as big issues and fight against those Muslims who do not accept the ideology of these local nationalist scholars. Since these nationalist scholars of Islam were fighting against Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire the Western Christian governments loved them and supported them in their struggle. Now, these Muslims were very friendly with Kuffaar and very hard on other Muslims. After a long series of events during 1800 and early 1900 most of the Muslims countries became colonies of European governments. These so-called nationalist scholars received big rewards from their Lords in the West and they were successful in destroying the unity of Muslim Ummah while still claiming the title of “Islamic Scholars”.
Strategies of Europe’s anti Islam Forces
In late 1700s and early 1800s century the European powers realized that there is no way that the Christian forces can break the strength of Muslim Ummah. The West had seen more than 13 centuries of Muslim rule. The only way the anti Islam forces could weaken the unity of Muslim Ummah was to use and nourish some of the Muslims within the Muslim community who could divide the Muslims. Europeans especially the British were studying the Muslim society for many years. They were working hard to develop a wicked strategy which could not only divide Muslims but also help them in controlling the Muslim land and resources. The strategy of European anti Islam forces was based upon the following principles.
- Muslims believe in one God and they worship only one God. This believe in one God was not considered as a threat towards European Society and governments. The Christian and Jews also believed in one God, therefore, this would be common point of discussion and communication.
- Muslims do love their Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) from their hearts. It is possible that a Muslim may not completely practice his / her religion but it is impossible to find a Muslim who does not love Muhammad (peace be upon him). As long as Muslims remain in love with their Prophet (peace be upon him) it is very difficult to penetrate in their lines and change their thinking. Therefore, develop and support few Muslims who are willing to challenge the honour and authority of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Once, Muslims get into dispute about their own beloved Prophet, it will be very easy to disintegrate them.
- Muslims believe in their Holy Book, Qur’an. They also believe that Qur’an is the word of God and can not be changed. Muslims rely on Qur’an for guidance and religious beliefs. However, Qur’an is the major threat for non-Muslim society. No Muslim would accept to modify or change the Qur’anic verses. All major interpretations (TAFSEER) and Translations of Qur’an are similar. Therefore, develop and support those Muslims scholars who will be able to provide “new” meanings to the Qur’anic verses and interpret them “differently”. These kinds of scholars are those who are;
- Nationalist and against Ottoman Empire because of its Turkish heritage.
- Leaders in their local communities and want to be recognized as big leaders
- Looking for better living but can not afford it.
During late 18th century the European governments were desperately working to disintegrate Muslim Unity. On one side British were breaking the unity of Muslims of non-Arab world by supporting Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani and on the other side they were creating Arab nationalism among Muslims of the Arab World. They found several Muslims who were willing to fight against the Turkish Ottoman Empire. They found two local Muslim leaders in Najd area of Arabian Peninsula who were willing to fight against Khilafat-e-Islamiyah provided that the British give them power to rule the land. One of them claimed to be a reformer of Islam and the other was a tribal leader and wanted to be the King of Arabia. The British saw a perfect opportunity to destroy KHILAFAT-E-ISLAMI (Ottoman Empire) and used these two leaders of Najd to destroy the unity of Muslim Ummah. These two leaders made an agreement among themselves that the reformer whose name was Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab would use Islam as his slogan and the tribal leader would provide men and weapons to fight against Muslims who support KHILAFAT-E-ISLAMI (Ottoman Empire). Since, the self claimed reformer knew that the Turks and the Muslims of Hijaz love Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) more than any thing else he decided to undermine the high levels and honour of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). He used the beliefs of Khwarij to undermine the authority of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). He did not openly preach hate against Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) but presented Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as an ordinary person who “was” Allah’s Messenger but died 1300 years ago.
He used little different approach from other self-claimed reformers. Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani, Bahaullah and Muhammad Daruze all claimed that they were Prophets hence proclaiming that they were at the same level as Muhammad (Peace be upon him). But Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab instead of claiming high levels for himself as the other did he brought down the levels of Muhammad (peace be upon him ) so low that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab both looked at the same level (I seek Allah’s refuge). He presented Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a dead person who does not have any more links with his Ummah and Ummah does not need him anymore (I seek Allah’s refuge). He destroyed all the historical sites and objects which had any connections with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) or with the companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon them). He killed thousands of Muslims in Arabian Peninsula in order to establish the government of his partner who promised him to give him a fair share in his kingdom. Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab did not follow the consensus (Ijma’) of Islamic scholars and considered himself as the final authority in giving the interpretation of Qur’an and Hadith. Since, he claimed himself as a Muslim reformer he used force with full backing of British government and his partner to occupy the entire Arabia. Finally, he was able to capture the control over Makkah and Madinah, the two holy cities of Islamic faith.
The Europeans were very happy with the disintegration of Ottoman Empire. These so-called scholars of Islam did what the entire anti Islam forces couldn’t do in 13 centuries. After the disintegration of Ottoman Empire most of the Muslim countries became European colonies. Muslims were oppressed all over the world. All the glory of Islamic superpower vanished and Muslims were completely disunited.
Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab founded a new sect in Islam called Wahabism. The ideology of Wahabism was based upon the beliefs of Khwarij. In other words, the Wahabism was a revival of Khwarjism. Two very important factors played very important role in the success of Wahabism. First, the Makkah and Madinah both cities were in the control of Wahabi Imams who used the two holy mosques to spread their ideology on worldwide basis. They preached to the pilgrims and the visitors of these two holy cities. Muslims who did not know that the Wahabism is a product of the destruction of Ottoman Empire consider the Imams of these two holy mosques as sacred persons and followed whatever they preached. On the other hand the wealth of oil in the Arabian Peninsula brought job opportunities for worldwide Muslims and non-Muslims. When Muslims went to work in the region they thought that all of the residents of the Holy Land are true followers of Islam. They did not know that the present religious authorities of Makkah and Madinah follow a school of thought, which is against the consensus of Islamic scholars. This kind of so-called Islamic thinking in the Arabian Peninsula is different than the thinking of the Islamic scholars throughout the history of Islam. Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab organized and established this school of thought in the name of Islam that contradicts with the consensus of Islamic scholars such as; Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’e, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi, Imam Baihaqi, Hadhrat Fuzail ibn Ayaz, Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi, Imam Asha’ry, Imam Jozi, Allama ibn Kathir, Allama Jalaluddin Suyyuti, Mulla Ali Qari, , Imam Ghazali, Imam Asqalni, Sayyidna Abdul Qadir Jilani and hundreds of other Ulema-e-Haq and Auwlia Allah.
How the Unity of Muslim Ummah can be achieved?
There is only ONE way to achieve the unity of Muslim Ummah and that way is the way of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam). This way was used by the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (May Allah be pleased with them) and the Muslim scholars during the 13 centuries of Muslim rule of this world. One may say that everyone follows Qur’an but we are still disunited. That’s true. The dispute is not in the Qur’an. The dispute lies with those scholars and their followers who interpret Qur’an based upon their own sectarian beliefs and ignore consensus of Islamic scholars (IJMA’). Muslims must return to the consensus of Islamic scholars which did exist from the period of SAHABAH (Companions of Allah’s Messenger) till the fall of Khilafat-e-Islamiyah just one century ago. Muslims must think as one nation and must overcome the linguistic, geographical, regional and ethnic differences. The agents of colonial empires have seeded the linguistic and regional nationalism among Muslims. Muslims must leave linguistic and regional nationalism behind and become one body. If any part of the body feels pain the entire body should feel it and find the cure for it.
The intellectual differences of opinions should be not be considered as a dispute but it should not be discussed on streets or during Friday sermons. It should be discussed in the universities, and Dar-ul-Ulooms. A disputed matter or issue is that matter / issue in which the Muslim scholars are divided. Therefore, instead of condemning each other, calling names and killing Muslims we must follow whichever Muslim school of thought we want to follow but respect others.
Following are some DOs and DON’Ts to help in building the unity of Muslim Ummah.
- Whenever we discuss a disputed matter we must be civilized, open minded and kind to other Muslims.
- Whenever we discuss a disputed matter we should acquire in-depth knowledge of both side’s point of view.
- We should be positive and respectful towards other Muslims regardless of difference in opinions.
- We must be preaching and spreading Islam not our own sectarian beliefs.
- If a dispute arises on the interpretation of a verse in Qur’an OR Hadith OR about a certain action we must follow the consensus of the scholars of Islam. If we find that the scholars are split on the issue then one can follow who ever he / she likes to follow but must not consider the others as wrong.
- Friday’s Sermons of our Imams should be on the common issues and teachings. The Imams must try to bring Muslims together. They must stay away from the disputed topics.
- Muslims must love, respect and follow Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did.
- Muslims must adopt all those ways which increase the love of Allah, His Prophet (peace be upon him) and His book, Qur’an.
- Muslims must be very careful in listening, reading and following of those scholars of Islam who were responsible for the destruction of KHILATFAT-E-ISLAMI during 1800 and later.
- Muslims must focus on the major issues of Muslim Ummah such as Palestine, Al Quds, Chechnya, Kashmir, Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, Macedonian, Albania, etc.. rather than wasting time on minor issues.
- Muslims must focus on education, technology and science, moral and spiritual vales, economical and political stability in Muslim countries.
- Imams in mosques and scholars of Islam must not interpret verses of Qur’an from their own opinions and preferences. They must follow the consensus of Islamic scholars about an issue.
- Imams and scholars should not be condemning Muslims of other sects in their speeches and Friday sermons.
- Muslims should not be spreading hate for other Muslims who disagree with them as long as both groups follow the interpretation of Qur’an and Hadith from an authentic scholar of Islam.
- Muslims should not follow those Imams and scholars who undermine the honour of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and consider themselves as the final authority on Islam.
- Muslims should not follow those Imams and scholars who are disrespectful towards the consensus of scholars of Islam.
- Muslims should not follow those Imams and scholars who ignore their own innovations in Islam but keep Muslims busy in small disputes.
- Muslims should not follow those scholars who are very eager to issue Fatwa against Muslims and declare them KAFIR, MUSHRIK, JAHANNAMI, BID’ATEE, etc.
- Muslims should not follow those self claimed Imams and scholars who spread nothing but hate against those Muslims who do not belong to their sect.
- Muslims should not follow those Imams and scholars who intentionally dual on minor differences among Muslims.
- Muslims should not follow those Imams and scholars who divide Muslims rather than uniting them.
Druze, Bahais and Ahmedies separated their faith from the mainstream Islam therefore, they are considered as an out side communities. However, the followers of Wahabism always claimed that they are the true followers of Islam and their claim got strength from the fact that they have occupied the two holy cities of Islam, Makkah and Madinah. Some of the followers of Wahabism are the richest people and they are using the power of petro dollars to convert innocent Muslims towards Wahabism. What Wahabis have done is un-parallel in Islamic history. They used the verses of Qur’an and the text of Hadith to create animosity among brothers. All those verses of Qur’an which Allah has revealed to inspire Muslims against KUFFAR, these Wahabis used those verses to inspire Muslims against Muslims. Just like Ahmedies, Wahabis consider all those Muslims who do not follow them as “MUSHRIK” and “KAFIR”. Therefore, in Wahabism it is allowed not to obey Muslim parents and fight against your own Muslim brothers and sisters if they do not follow the Wahabi sect. They use Allah’s order of Amr bil Ma’roof wa Nahi A’nil Munkar (order good and stop evil) to spread their own ideology and sectarian beliefs. THIS IS THE MAIN SOURCE OF DISUNITY AMONG MUSLIMS OF THE PRESENT TIME.
A very important commonality between Ahmedies and Wahabis is the hidden jealousy for the high levels of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam). Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani by claiming Prophethood tried to bring himself at the level of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam). While, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab tried to bring the high levels of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) so down at his own level that he looked like at the same level as Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam). (I seek Allah’s refuge from Satan). But Allah, the Creator of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) has given Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam so high levels that if all the human beings and all the force of this world try to undermine the honour of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) they will never succeed. WA RA FA’NA LA KA ZIK RAK.
The Noble Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) foretold about the coming of such people in the Hadith narrated by “Abu-Yaa’li” on the authority of “Huzaifah” who said:
The Noble Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “What I fear most for you, is a man who reads the Qur’an until such time when the blessing of Qur’an is reflected on him and he takes Islam as his Cloak … he then turns around and strips himself off from Islam and then tosses it away behind his back, then he heads quickly towards his neighbour with his sword unsheathed and he calls him a ‘MUSHRIK'” I said: “O, Prophet of Allah! Who is more worthy of being called a MUSHRIK the one being attacked or the attacker”. He replied, “It is indeed the attacker.”
May Allah keep us on the right path, the path of SALEHEEN and keep us with the SALEHEEN. Ameen
Remember; the true knowledge is with Allah and His Prophet ((sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
Even sophisticated people speak of Islam as if it is one thing. The devout, the haters and the indifferent often share this belief in Muslim unity. And for them all there is no greater display of Muslim unity than the Hajj.
The Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is a grand and dramatic display of Islamic brotherhood without racial or national bounds. Or so it appears from the outside. But this way of seeing the pilgrimage is relatively new. It seems to have originated in accounts by 19th-century European travellers. The most active and best proponents of the myth of the Hajj have always been notable Western converts, such as the Galician Jew Leopold Weiss, who became the Islamic thinker and Pakistani politician Muhammad Asad, or Malcolm X, the activist for equality in the United States, who wrote about the Hajj in rapturous terms. Given that Saudi Arabia had abolished slavery only a few years before Malcolm X’s pilgrimage, his view of the Hajj as the embodiment of a longstanding and more just alternative society might have been a bit naïve.
Muslims themselves have also taken up the claim that the Hajj represents a kind of ideal society, free of the prejudices and divisions that dominate the profane world.
Proponents of the Hajj as a social ideal speak of the brotherhood it enacts. Brotherhood is a common and powerful metaphor of closeness. As all brothers know, however, brotherhood is rarely if ever about equality.
Muslim teaching has much to say about brotherhood, and about equality. Clearly, they are not the same thing, and can even contradict one another. Families, after all, tend to be hierarchical and harbour various kinds of violence. They often sacrifice some members for others. The newly fashionable term ‘Abrahamic religions’ tries to mask such unhappiness. In the past generation, this term has grown in popularity as an alternative to ‘Christian’ or ‘Judeo-Christian’.
By emphasising the patriarch Abraham – the common ancestor – ‘Abrahamic religions’ is meant to express the familial relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The patriarch Abraham’s sacrifice, according to the metaphor, makes him foundational for all three religions. Proponents of the ‘Abrahamic religions’ want to emphasise closeness and de-emphasise conflict.
But Abraham was ready to sacrifice one son and abandon another. This is not a simple and happy family. Nor is it necessarily a close one.
The historical experience of Abraham’s metaphorical descendants is simply very different. Only a minority of Muslims, those living around the Mediterranean basin or the Caucasus, have grown up with Christians and Jews as interlocutors and neighbours. Historically, Islam’s primary siblings have been not Jews or Christians but Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. Unlike their Jewish and Christian ‘brothers’, Muslims are part of a polytheistic and non-Semitic world. The poor ‘Abrahamic religions’ metaphor tears away the historical experience of the majority of the world’s Muslims.
Like the idea of the three monotheistic brothers, the idea of Muslim unity is recent, well-meaning and highly misleading. At a deep level, both ideals – Muslim unity and Abrahamic religions – are based on violence. But what does it really mean to describe as violent such a seemingly benign ideal as Muslim unity?
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Last August, I was in Riyadh for a conference. It’s not so easy to get into Saudi Arabia and, while there, I thought I might visit the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. The Hajj was about to begin, so the opportunity was a rare one. Thanks to the Indian consulate in Jeddah, I managed to secure the services of guides in both cities. And so I found myself travelling to Mecca with an Indian driver and companion. He turned out to be a Muslim divine from the city of Deoband, one of the great seminaries of the subcontinent.
In its magnificently craggy desert setting, Mecca is a redeveloped place, devoid of any historical or aesthetic character. The black-draped Kaaba, standing at Islam’s ritual centre, lay within a corset-like framework of stairs and floors that allow pilgrims to circumambulate it on three levels. Many circled the Kaaba while filming themselves with mobile phones, adding a new gesture to the ceremonies of pilgrimage. Two disasters marred last year’s Hajj: a crane collapsed in the Great Mosque, and a stampede occurred at Mina. Both involved hundreds of fatalities. But the only discomfort I suffered was when a pilgrim in a wheelchair ran over my foot as I trudged my seven circles around the Kaaba.
On the road back to Jeddah, the driver got into an argument with the Deobandi divine. Our driver was a fan of the Mumbai-based television preacher Zakir Naik. Naik’s satellite TV show has made him a global Muslim celebrity. He is a conservative televangelist whose sermons are in the model of American media figures such as the Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell, as were the orations of his predecessor, the South African Muslim preacher Ahmed Deedat. Like Deedat, Naik preaches in English, and his popular show espouses highly conservative views. He wears a Western suit and a skullcap. The driver also wore Western clothes, and clearly saw himself, like Naik, as a modern man, yet one who prized social and religious harmony above all else. The driver said he disapproved of the sectarian disputes among Muslims and religious conflict in India, too. He praised the peaceable nature of the Hajj.
The Deobandi cleric pointed out that the order and harmony of the Hajj derived from Saudi Arabia’s monarchical form of government. The Saudis, he observed, support one form of Islam and prohibit the public manifestation of all others. The nature of Saudi government ensured many different kinds of believers could mingle without open dispute. Indian democracy, the Deobandi divine noted, entailed the absence of a state religion. Sectarian disagreement and disputes, he observed, resulted naturally from the freedoms of a republican form of government. Republics, he insisted, maintain their democratic character through disagreement. They would lose it by favouring any one religion – by which of course he meant Hinduism – even if it was to promote social harmony. Consensus, he was saying, was not a mark of freedom but its opposite.
Liberal Muslims commonly make this argument about the good of religious difference. When they do, they often cite scriptural passages about the virtue of difference and the competition in goodness it makes possible. The Deobandi divine, however, drew his justification not from theology, but politics construed as a realm autonomous of it. He was not interested in tolerance or pluralism as inherently good things. Instead, the divine made a case that conflict and contestation must be part of political life. Democracy, he was saying, was not afraid of disagreement. On the contrary, democracy and freedom depended not on some false consensus, but on institutional mechanisms that helped prevent dispute from turning into violence or oppression. In other words, democracy made living with disagreement possible.
The channels and institutions of disagreement in India and other democracies might not always prevent violence. During elections they can even foment it. Nevertheless, their ideal is meant to stand as a guarantor of freedom for all citizens, not just members of one religion or sect. By focusing on disagreement in the political life of a democracy, my Deobandi guide was criticising the driver’s liberal pleas for harmony and unity as anti-political and illusory in nature. The cleric left scripture to the side. He focused on the state, and its essential role as the guarantor of this freedom. Indeed, there is no group in India – Muslims chief among them – that does not advocate for a secular state. What exactly secularism means, however, constitutes one of the great subjects of disagreement in India.
Importantly, there is nothing peculiarly Indian about the cleric’s turn to the state and its politics. The nation-state is inescapable when it comes to matters of establishing and governing matters within and between religious communities. People often see the Hajj as an example of Islam’s global, transnational community. However, even the possibility and experience of the Hajj is shaped entirely by nationality. It is not a melting away of national distinctions in transcendental unity. Rather, the Hajj is a carefully managed, entirely conventional instance of internationalism. First, quotas for pilgrims are set by their national citizenship: one per cent of a country’s Muslim population is given visas. Throughout the Hajj, pilgrims are marked by national identity. They are provided name tags, backpacks, sun visors and other paraphernalia by tour companies. All are embossed with national flags or printed in their colours. Guides have national flags attached to their clothing.
National languages play a crucial role in the Hajj. Housing and services provided to Indian pilgrims are identified in Hindi, whose script is also that of Hinduism’s sacred language. Because of the large numbers of Keralans settled in Gulf countries, one also saw housing and other services identified in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, in southern India. Sometimes, a dormitory in Mecca becomes full, and a pilgrim from one part of the country must be housed with pilgrims from another region. I am told that loud complaints about inedible food and strange tongues always follow – as they would among the pilgrims’ Hindu compatriots similarly housed in the holy city of Benares.
because we were marked as Indian, we exchanged no words of greeting at this most sacred site of Muslim brotherhood and unity
In Mecca, pilgrims’ native tongues vary at least as much as their nationality. As a result, very few pilgrims can communicate with those from other countries in any language but English or French: which it is depends on their particular history of colonisation. Thus even the experience of Muslim global unity supposedly exemplified by the Hajj is facilitated by the languages of the Western European coloniser.
Arabic, English, and Urdu are the languages most conspicuous at the Hajj, visible on signs and notices all over Mecca and Medina. Arabic is there largely for symbolic reasons, given that there are relatively few Arab pilgrims. My guide and I conversed in Urdu, which is both a north Indian language and the national language of Pakistan. We often came across Pakistani pilgrims speaking the same language. But because my guide and I were marked as Indian, never once did they acknowledge us, nor us them. We exchanged no words of greeting at this most sacred site of Muslim brotherhood and unity. We remained identified by our nation-states, which defined our experiences.
The multilingual signs of Mecca proliferate at important sites and monuments. Illustrated with citations from Muhammad’s sayings, these notices warn pilgrims against touching or kissing structures that the Saudis haven’t torn down, and warn against taking back sand from the holy places as a souvenir. The Saudi government fears that such souvenirs could engender idolatrous, un-Islamic attachment. As a result, authorities have fenced off the areas that once held the tombs belonging to the Prophet’s relatives and Islam’s early martyrs. Such monuments would surely become objects of idolatry. The historic battlefield of Uhud outside Medina, for instance, had been walled with opaque glass, but pilgrims broke holes to peer at the wilderness within.
The Hajj is also replete with small acts of insubordination. Signs bearing images of forbidden practices, each crossed out by a red X, serve only to highlight these instances of minor rebellion. The pillar outside Mecca at the site of Muhammad’s last sermon, for example, has its top plastered with signs warning pilgrims against paying it any devotion. But the bottom of the pillar is covered with graffiti, which in the circumstances is not a defacement, but the only way to recognise the site’s sacredness. In effect, the signs speak of a city under occupation, apparent prescriptions for order imposed from above by a foreign ruler. The Saudi royal family and its Wahhabi form of Islam, after all, took the holy cities by force only in the 20th century, in the wake of the First World War.
The harmony of the Hajj is simply not based on any kind of Muslim unity of any significance. Its order and concord derive from, on the one hand, the dominance of Saudi monarchy and Wahhabi establishment and, on the other, mutual indifference among Muslims.
My Indian driver told me of a rumour about the Barelvis, great rivals of the Deobandis in India and Pakistan. He accused the Barelvis of praying privately in their hotel rooms. They feared, he alleged, that standing behind Wahhabi imams in the mosque would imperil their salvation. It is true that Saudi control confers on the Wahhabi denomination some exclusive prerogatives in the holy cities. But the shuffling, inelegant rows of pilgrims at prayer in Mecca, each with his or her own slightly divergent ritual tradition, are subtle demonstrations that Islam, even in the heart of Wahhabism, even during the Hajj, can never be brought completely under any sect’s control.
Today, calls for Muslim unity come from so-called militants and moderates alike. Such calls for Muslim unity do not date back much before the 20th century. To be sure, the ideal of universal agreement in Islam might have existed before. But it seldom constituted a political or even religious project beyond fairly circumscribed arenas of debate. On the contrary, the internal schisms and conflicts of Muslim societies demonstrated a sense of confidence and comfort with disagreement as a political necessity. This recognition of disunity is illustrated by an oft-cited saying attributed to Muhammad; in it, the Prophet pronounced that his community would be divided into 72 sects until the end of time, with only a single crucially unspecified one bound for salvation.
With the rise of European empires in the 18th and 19th centuries, Muslim unity emerged as a significant theme. In other words, this unity served as a defensive strategy to counter the loss of Muslims’ control over their own political life. Still, the desire remained largely theoretical, even during the heyday of Pan-Islamism in the early 20th century. It took the rise of new global movements and identities following the end of the Cold War for the current visions of Muslim unity to arise.
One of the earliest moments in the new, and now explicitly global rather than merely international, project of Muslim unity came with mobilisations that followed the outcry over Salman Rushdie’s allegedly blasphemous novel, The Satanic Verses (1989). The demonstrations were not and could not be confined to a particular country, movement, revolution or terrorist group. Made possible by television and the sense of simultaneity and collective identification that it offered, these reactions to a perceived affront catalysed new calls for a global form of Muslim unity that, unlike Pan-Islamism, didn’t take a coalition of states as its model.
This global mobilisation presented novel opportunities and challenges for Muslim leaders. Initially, this ‘Muslim unity’ appeared in the form of declarations signed by a motley crew of divines, politicians and ideologues for or against the Iranian fatwa calling for Rushdie’s murder. Some of these attempts at generating agreement sought to corral global forms of Muslim mobilisation in opposing ideological directions. The initial calls came in response to supposedly insulting depictions of the Prophet. More recently, such calls are made both in support and to counter the much less popular cause of recruiting Muslims to Al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Posturing about ‘Muslim unity’ tends only to alienate Muslims from the political world of nation-states that govern their societies
In some ways, these declarations resemble the long history of Christian ecumenical councils. But since Islam lacks an institutional basis comparable to the Vatican, the results are even less coherent. The calls for Muslim unity are no less, and no more, than the collective expression of a pious wish by a random assortment of dignitaries. If pressed or asked to take any actual measures signifying unity, even the signatories of these declarations would immediately find themselves in disagreement about ‘Muslim unity’.
At root, however, the problem is not the details of these calls for unity. It is the essence, the very ideal of consensus. As a matter of course, calls for Muslim unity customarily violate the spirit of their claims by anathematising their Muslim opponents. Calls for unity are not high-minded but, in a word, disingenuous, a seemingly noble pretext for anathematising or demonising opponents.
Even more deeply, however, the ideal of unity is inherently anti-political. The Deobandi cleric was right in identifying the political as the sphere offering the only real potential for peaceful accommodation of differences and disputes. Posturing about an illusory ‘Muslim unity’ tends only to alienate Muslims from the political world of nation-states that govern their societies. From this perspective, Muslim militancy, too, is actually a consequence of de-politicisation and not, as is commonly presumed, the reverse.
Whether by Western or Middle Eastern governments, condemnations of terrorism in religious language, in the name of Islam, are losing causes. Real problems will not be solved on theological terrain. When liberals and advocates of tolerance too celebrate or promote moderate Islam, it is another step away from the world of politics and institutions, the world of progress and solutions. The quest for harmony, for unity, is a siren song, and is to be resisted.
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is a university reader in modern south Asian history at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, where he is also the director of the Asian Studies Centre. His latest book is Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (2013).