Developing the Culture of Muslim Unity: The Unity of Purpose

A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)

By Imam Zijad Delic

Day 229

Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir (r) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) said upon the pulpit (minbar): “Unity is a mercy and division is a punishment!”

عَنِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى هَذِهِ الْأَعْوَادِ أَوْ عَلَى هَذَا الْمِنْبَرِ وَالْجَمَاعَةُ رَحْمَةٌ وَالْفُرْقَةُ عَذَابٌ

Source: Ahmed

Transliteration: “Wal Jama’atu Rahmatun; Wal Firqati ‘Adhab.”

The Muslim Ummah, worldwide, today numbers about 1.9 billion followers!

Muslims are the majority in many countries from Morocco to Indonesia and from Turkey to Sudan!

Their lands cover a strategic area of the world’s oil and mineral resources, as well as the major trade routes!

Muslim minorities are significant in number in many countries including Canada!

The statistic goes on and on and on!

As we can see, Muslims do not have shortage in numbers and resources.

Only in Canada we number more than 1.7 million.

We are well educated and well employed in every sector of Canadian enterprise – public or private.

We are the second largest religious group in Canada after Christianity.

Our shortage is not in numbers and resources but somewhere else.

Our shortage is in “the unity of purpose.”

Yes, we are great in number, well off financially, yet, when considering our influence on world affairs today; everyone would agree with me that it is almost insignificant!

Never mind the world affairs; our influence in the Canadian affairs – our own home – is negligible, almost at the lowest level (except in voting where we have proven the strength in the last two federal elections due to the unified goal).

The concept of unity itself is discussed in the Holy Qur’an on three levels: The unity of Humanity, the unity of the People of the Book and the unity of Muslims.

Foremost is the unity of humanity!

The aim of this unity is to direct all the racial, tribal, and religious differences into a constructive dialogue and the common good goals.

Thus, the emphasis on “knowing one another” (li ta’arafu) stressing that people find mutual understanding rather than conflict so that no one denies another’s rights for life, property, land and prosperity.

God Almighty explains: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with God is the one who has piety.” (Qur’an 49:13)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Within the unity of humanity, the unity of the People of the Book (or the monotheistic religions) is referred to in the Qur’an: “Say (O Muhammad): O People of the Book! Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us will take others as lords besides God. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Qur’an 3:64)

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ

The essential monotheistic unity of the People of the Book exists, but it should not, however, be taken to mean that there are no differences between their different rules and laws (shari’ah).

While the original way (din) is one throughout all monotheistic religions, the practical implementation – i.e. the law – is different:

“To each among you We have prescribed a law, and a clear way. If God willed, He would have made you one nation but that He may test you in what He has given you.” (5:48)

لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَآ آتَاكُم

In all three aspects, the essential meaning of unity is preservation of the welfare of the people’s faith and their worldly life.

Of course, the third unity that the Qur’an speaks of is the unity of the Muslim community: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of God, and be not divided among yourselves.” (3:103)

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

What does this term Ummah mean?

In general terms the meaning of Ummah would be a group of people following the same path, way of life or have the same worldview.

In more specific contexts, the word Ummah, in the Qur’an, is used to describe the community of the Last Messenger, Muhammad (S), i.e. those who believed in his (S) message in the past; those who believe in it now; and those who will believe in it in the future.

It is not country, race, ethnic, language or party affiliation!

Almighty God says in the Qur’an: “You are the best community ever raised up for humanity’ facilitating what is right and preventing what is wrong, and believing in God.” (Ali ‘Imran 110)

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ

The Muslim community bears the elements/ingredients needed for a strong cohesive community, the most prominent of which is the unity in belief, which generates the unity in structure, system and methodology.

The individuals in such a community adhere to the same belief, submit to the same One God, follow the same Book – the Qur’an, face the same Qiblah, and have the same goal, even if they speak different languages, come from different cultural backgrounds, or are from the different social levels.

The bond that unites this community is its common Muslim faith, which cannot be compared to any other bond – racial, tribal or otherwise.

Muslim unity is not a slogan; it is the mission!

It is not in a theory but in an action (it is not a theory but an action)!

Wherever we live, we must try to see how we can achieve this unity among ourselves.

Unity is not a miracle that will happen among those who do not believe in unity.

Unity will only come if we strive for it and work hard to achieve it.

It is a reward of faith, sincere efforts, lot of patience, good will, tolerance, and sincere commitment to the objectives and aims.

Unity requires continuous efforts and commitment!

As it could be seen, Iman and Islam are essential foundations of Muslim unity.

The Muslims’ past is the proof that when we follow the ethical barometers of our faith we tend to unite.

Thus, the impact of unity becomes great in all aspects of life!

However, when we divide; we are looked down upon and lose very much needed energy and resources as well as our image!

Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one.

He is to you an open enemy” (2:208)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ ادْخُلُواْ فِي السِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

Therefore, the unity of the Muslim community is only possible if Muslims, individually and collectively, return back to the spirit of Islam (not just the form) with sincerity and decisive effort.

Indeed, the foundation of Muslim unity is in Islam itself.

There is no need to look for any justification outside the realm of Islam, in order to unite Canadian Muslims (Muslim Ummah in Canada).

Ya Rabb! Help us realize that being united does not mean thinking alike, dressing alike or belonging to the same cultural group. It is about the unity of purpose!

Ya Allah! Guide us to this goal so that we could benefit ourselves and others!

Allahumma Amin!