Muslim Unity is NOT an Option – It’s FARD!

A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)

By Imam Zijad Delic

Day 231

Al Nu’man ibn Bashir (r) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”

عَنْ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَوَادِّهِمْ وَتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ مَثَلُ الْجَسَدِ إِذَا اشْتَكَى مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ تَدَاعَى لَهُ سَائِرُ الْجَسَدِ بِالسَّهَرِ وَالْحُمَّى

Source: Bukhari, Muslim

Transliteration: “Mathalul Mu’minina Fi Tawaddihim Wa Tarahumihim Wa Ta’atufihim, Mathalul Jasadi. Idhashtaka Minhu ‘Udwun Tada’a Lahu Sa’iru Jasadi Bis Sahari Wal Humma.”

As we look at the conditions of the worldwide Muslims at the early stages of 21st century, we now can better realize that Muhammad (S) did almost impossible task back in 7th century by bringing together divided, fragmented and often in-conflict tribes of the region.

Only then, when the Muslim community is united, with the grace of Allah, it will make a positive impact on their own lives and the lives of others around them.

What Canadian Muslims of the 21st century need to do is to realize that without unity, it would be almost impossible to remain an important factor in the Canadian society!

If we understand this fact, it will lead us to establish unity of purpose among Canadian Muslims’ superbly diverse groups?

Let me share today, in this post, these several practical ways and principles (remedies) on which our community can build this needed unity of purpose and thus benefit itself and other Muslims from across the globe, including sisters and brothers in Palestine, Kashmir and Rohingya sisters and brothers (as well as other people of our Canadian Ummah):

  1. Understand that Muslim Unity is not an Option: It is Fard (an Obligation)

It’s become cliché to say that Muslims have reduced Islam to rituals and forgotten other important tenets.

While it is crucial to practice the five pillars of Islam, for instance, we cannot ignore other basic aspects of the faith that emphasize brotherhood and sisterhood, ethics, justice, etc.

According to the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet Mohamed (S), Muslim unity is our religious obligation — Fard.

It is a MUST!

In Islam, unity and faith are interrelated.

People of faith are united people.

The simple logic could be applied here: the more faith Muslims have, the more united they should be, because they are brothers and sisters to each other as God Almighty informed us:

“The Believers are but a single Brotherhood/Sisterhood: So, make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers/sisters; and be aware of God, that you may receive Mercy.” (Qur’an 49:10)

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

Almighty Allah commands in the Qur’an: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.” (Ali ‘Imran 103)

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

Unfortunately, many Muslims only read the second part of the verse without looking or understanding the essence of unity or divisions that are present among Muslims.

The correct understanding then would be that every Muslim should hold fast to the Rope of God (Muslim formative principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah) and as a consequence of such choice, the Muslims will find ways to unite themselves.

God’s Messenger Muhammad (S) said: “In their love, kindness and compassion for each other, the believers are like a human body: when one part of it is hurt, the rests sympathize with it in wakefulness and fever.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

  1. Learn open-mindedness towards other points of view

It is interesting that Muslims at educational institutions or places of work speak with their friends and colleagues and discuss challenges issues while being willing to disagree with them in a respectful manner.

But the minute some of us step into a mosque or Muslim community meeting or a function, all that open-mindedness seems to go out the window.

  1. Learn to criticize without hurting

The way some Muslims criticize each other, you’d think they were talking to the worst persons in the world instead of to fellow brothers or sisters.

This type of ignorant and arrogant behavior is a sure way to fuel more anger, create further hurt and dissension.

It is not that path towards unity!

Muslims must learn the Adab (etiquette) of disagreement, whether it is disagreement with individual Muslims or our leaders, the People of the Book or other brothers and sisters in humanity.

Knowing and implementing this will not only help solve problems in a practical manner, but it will also lead to a greater sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, solidarity and cooperation in the community, society and the world.

  1. Avoid taking a strong position on smaller points

There is what’s called a “Fiqh of priorities” and this essentially means that there are some aspects of Islam that we should be more concerned than others.

For instance, it’s more important to emphasize that Muslims establish prayer than whether or not there should be a curtain between men and women in mosques.

Knowing what our priorities are, will help us avoid making secondary issues of the faith factors of division in our communities.

  1. Do not embarrass rather encourage

These horrible phenomena of calling fellow brothers and sisters Kafirs or Fasiq must end if we want to create a climate that is conducive to unity.

Kafir/Fasiq-calling is a sure way to isolate individuals from the community.

We must remember that Muslims in Canada come from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.

If people express ideas that are not in line with Islam as we see it, we cannot interfere into the field of God and start measuring the volumes of their faith.

Such an attitude will only fuel their ignorance, anger and stubbornness, not to mention humiliation and embarrassment they will go through.

  1. Reaching out across ethnic and cultural boundaries
    The ignorant practice of maintaining “ethnic mosques” is still a reality in Canada.

For a success of a Muslim community in Canada, all of our institutions, functions and communities must become more ethnically diverse and open to the needs and concerns of Muslims of all backgrounds.

Muslim leaders and individuals have a duty to ensure that no Muslim, regardless of their ethno-cultural background, feels shut out of the community, ignored or neglected.

Muslim leaders especially have to walk the talk!

They need to make the first step and reach out to Muslims who may have been traditionally isolated because of ethnicity or culture in mosques and other institutions.

It is not enough to just open the door to all.

A direct effort has to be made to solicit feedback, advice and support from all Muslims so that they feel a part of the community.

  1. Realize and apply the advice found in Surah Hujurat

This 49th chapter of the Quran provides excellent guidance on the kind of behavior that Muslims need to avoid so they would be able to establish Muslim unity – the unity of purpose.

It should be a regular reading for every month, at least once a month.

For instance, Allah, advises us to avoid mockery, defamation and suspicion.

These are all things which serve to divide us and create hatred, hurt and dissension.

Whenever we recall that we have done Ghibah (backbitten someone) against a Muslim or non-Muslim, we should remember that we need to seek that person’s forgiveness.

Doing this is a prerequisite to washing off that sin of Ghibah.

  1. Talk about the issue and encourage others to read and talk about it

Share resources with other members of the community on the topic.

If we find thought-provoking articles about the topic, let us share them with our Imams and the community members.

It’s also important to discuss it in various Muslim settings to start the thinking and reflecting process amongst Muslims for indeed those of us who are not aware of Islam’s demands for unity will never be able to comprehend its urgency.

  1. Make Dua for unity

Finally, make sure that you as an individual are not only working for unity but making Du’a for it as well, since results are all in God’s Hands.

Once when we “tie our camels” we can relax and put our trust in God.

Let me conclude by stating that we must build Muslim unity of purpose on the basis of the following general principles: a) develop an understanding that our unity is Fard, b) being open-minded towards diverse views is the way to coexist, c) being constructive critic and not criticize for the sake of criticism or putting others down, d) avoid taking strong positions on minor issues, e) encourage and not embrace each other, f) reach out across ethnic, cultural and linguistical boundaries, g) adhere to the principles of cooperation from the Surah al Hujurat, h) encourage the discussion on the Muslims’ unity and lastly i) never to forget to ask the Almighty and the Generous Creator to bless us with the unity of purpose!

In short, unity built on such sound principles is strong, enduring and resistant to any sort of weakness and collapse.

Ya Rabb! Bestow on us wisdom and understanding that the unity of Muslims in 21st century is their greatest asset!

Help us, Ya Rabb, to care about each other, be merciful and compassionate with each other!

Allahumma Amin!