Safeguarding the Solidarity of Ummah

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Ummah (Community) Values: Equality Views: 6870
6870

In the atmosphere generated post-September 11, some in the West have openly suggested that wars be instigated "not with Islam but within Islam." While the mainstream Islamists and general Muslim public do not have any intentions of an overt or covert war with the West, this suggestion indicates a sinister motive of entangling Muslims with each other, and inciting factionalism within the Islamic Ummah. It is critical that the responsible Islamic leaders put all their efforts together, and diligently work on ways and means to fortify the Islamic Ummah in order that it meets the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Lord Almighty.

The concept of Ummah, a community of believers, is uniquely Islamic. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, initiated it in the Madinan society - integrating individuals of different colors, races, ethnicities and social classes with equality into one united brotherhood. And as the Islamic dominions expanded, this Ummah assumed even a greater diversity and included a variety of people knitted together into common bonds - the likes of which the world has never witnessed. It generated an open society for all to excel, and where the only criterion worth consideration was human righteousness. History stands testimony as to how a certain oppressed people, even those who were once slaves, scaled great heights, and even became rulers, such as Mumluks of Egypt and Slave dynasty in India.

Its conceptual foundations are laid down by the Qur'an. It tells us, "This Ummah of yours is one Ummah" that is God-conscious and in the service of the Lord (Al Anbiya 21:92; Al Muminun 23:52) and that "believers are but one brotherhood" (49:10). This Ummah was given the title of "Khayr Ummah", the best community "evolved for humankind" because of their mission of "enjoining what is good and checking what is wrong and evil" for humankind, along with demonstrating "their faith in God" (3:110). Its other characteristic is "Ummatan Wastan", a median or balanced community and given the responsibility of exemplifying as "witnesses (to the truth) before humankind" (2:143).

This Ummah was asked to "hold fast all together, unto bond with God" (3:103). And that they are to "help each other in righteousness and piety but not in sin and rancor" and be "God-conscious" all the time (5:2). Moreover, they are "to stand firmly for justice, as witnesses for God, even if it is against themselves, their parents or relatives", and to "follow not the lusts of heart" lest they "swerve, distort or decline to do justice" (4:135).

It is thus obvious that the greatness of this Ummah is contingent upon carrying out the great role for humankind that is assigned to it; and this could only be performed when it is united. Thus it is warned against discord, dissension and factionalism within itself. The Qur'an warns, "And do not enter into dispute with one another, lest you fail and your moral strength deserts you" (8:46). Furthermore, history of the followers of earlier prophets is repeatedly provided, pointing out grave lessons with dire warnings: that civilizations rise and fall, flourish and decay as a consequence of faith or disbelief and unity or disunity among its people. "And be not among those who ascribe divinity to any but God (or) among those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, each group delighting in what they themselves believe and follow" (30:31-32). The Prophet is told with regard to "those who divide the unity of their faith and break up into sects" that "you have nothing to do with them" (6:159). Based on such Qur'anic injunctions, the Prophet variously emphasized the importance of unity, and sanctioned severe reprimands and punishments for those who deliberately attack the unity of Ummah.

Islam by its very egalitarian nature is opposed to the existence of a church oligarchy or religious autocracy. And the authority to determine the Islamicity or otherwise of a subject is vested in the Ummah and it is the consensus of Ummah that determines its validity. Therefore, the health and integrity of Ummah is of great significance for the vitality of Islam and the very existence of Muslims.

The Ummah, regardless of which school of thought its members belong, has traditionally upheld, following the Prophetic guidance, the inviolability of the two essential fundamentals of faith: The Qur'an as the word of God, and Sunnah or conduct of the Prophet. The Qur'an as the infallible source of transcendence lays down the principles, which are illustrated in the conduct of the Prophet, who was constantly guided by the One infallible, to serve as model for humankind. These two sources have been, and are used to derive Islamic injunctions and, therefore, it is essential that they be resorted to- and not to any other authority - to bring about the solidarity of Ummah; no other means will accomplish it.

Now, the problem arises only when undue emphasis is placed on a particular fiqhi (juristic) understanding of Islam. The schools of thoughts (madhahib) came into being to meet the requirements of times by Islamic jurists- a result of freedom of expression that is cornerstone of Islamic thought process. However, the reasoned judgement (ijtihad) of these respected scholars or their proteges was neither meant for all times and places nor they claimed so. Rather they encouraged free discussion of the issues that were presented to them, changed their opinion when convinced of a contrary idea and asked others to follow a better opinion regardless of where it came from. Contrary to their advice, it is ironical that they have been followed in blind imitation (taqlid) resulting in furthering the differences. This, for example in Pakistan, has been exacerbated as a source of friction not only between Sunnites (the mainstream Sunnah group) and Shiites (followers of Ali, the cousin of the Prophet) but also between subgroups of Sunnites such as Deobandi, Brailwi and Ahl Hadith. Needless to say, the politicians have utilized this sectarian internecine friction to serve their own selfish ends.

Thus the actual problem is lack of education and tolerance for differences in interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Differences arise naturally because God has created each of us as a unique individual. They stimulate human intellectual development and enrich thought processes by offering different alternatives, thus serving as engine of progress. This ability to differ is a manifestation of the creative power of God that He bestowed on humankind. This must be reason that the Prophet of Islam stated, "Differences (ikhtilaf) of my Ummah is a mercy and blessing." Only when such healthy differences (ikhtilaf) - expressed amiably and sincerely according to Islamic adab (mannerism), disintegrate into discord and dissension (khilaf) that they must be avoided and abhorred. Such an understanding is pivotal for providing any remedy to the current problems.

Writing in the monthly Tarjuman ul Qur'an (Urdu), February 2002, Dr. Anis Ahmed of the International Islamic University at Islamabad has suggested a number of steps to address the current deleterious situation in Pakistan - which could be applied equally well to any other location. An important suggestion is that the representative scholars of different schools should institute a permanent forum where they would often come together and address, in all sincerity, their followers on radio and TV to eradicate any sectarian tendencies among them, and to promote unity, peace and cordiality within the common Islamic brotherhood of the Ummah. These scholars should not be merely content with pronouncements, but actually take positive steps to bring about tangible changes among their followers. Also, they should be on the lookout for any and all disruptive elements, and stand up against anyone who misuses their particular school to openly denounce the offenders. The public media must also play their due role in the process by holding leaders responsible, without any hesitation, and rancor or favor. Of course, the burden of this responsibility must be borne by the Islamic movements - which routinely stay away from the fray of sectarianism - and are, therefore, well suited for the job. All of their members and supporters must get involved, and do all they can to inculcate patience, forbearance and tolerance and extend this jihad (all-out struggle) from their dwellings and streets to all the levels of Muslim societies, everywhere.

The author is a freelance writer on Muslim affairs and a former professor of University of Arizona.


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Ummah (Community)  Values: Equality
Views: 6870

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Older Comments:
IKEBAL PATEL FROM AUSTRALIA said:
I agree whole heartedly with your excellent comments and suggestion to move forward. It is about time that the various differences amongst the various muslims be openly and freely talked about. If not, there is a real danger that the future generations will be totally lost in tems of the true teachings and requirements of Islam. The strength of the Muslim Ummah is in our diversity. Sure we all come from different cutural back grounds. Be it Arabs, African, European, Indian sub continent, recent Western converst etc.

But this is the beauty of Islam, we all have one identity, and that is the belief in the oneness of Allah, and the Sunnah of prophet Mohammed. But on the other hand, it can not be denied that we all also have our cutural backgrounds. And this cultural and past family influences some times does not merge with what the basic requirements and teachings of Islam is.

It is here that I agree with your thoughts that open and free discussions should be held between leaders and Imams of each of the many different groups, idealogies and people within each country and internationally to see what our common beliefs are, and to work on these to strengthen our bonds. On some recent visit to India, Uk and places, it seems that very well meaning and pious Muslim Brothers are getting embroilled in such issues as Jamat work against the so called Sunni thoughts, etc etc. THis is becoming very divisive, to the extent that members of each of the group would not pray in the other mosque etc.

Unfortunately the children are the ones who have Muslim friends in the other group do not know how to react, to the extent that they are questioning which is Islamic etc.

These similar differences can be found in many Muslim countries. Whilst the fundamental differences are minor and irrelevant, you are correct, the politicians are having a great time exploiting it. This has to be stopped before it is too late.

How does one progree fromhere onwards?
Wassalam
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MD. NASIREDDIN GHANI FROM BANGLADESH said:
It is necessary that non-Muslims should know better Mohammad Al-Amin [=the trusty], the friend of the poor, the down-trodden and the orphaned; Mohammad who spurned the life of ease and comfort, toiled with his own hands to mend his garments and shoes and to build the house of worship. who lived on a fare of dates and water which in his travels he shared with his servant, who forgave his enemies, showed kindness to slaves, who was brave and intrepid yet gentle and affable. We must recognize that he spread the (World Order of) Islam not through victories won by the sword, but by the magic of his personality and the wonderful persuasiveness of his eloquence.

Islam lays stress upon the virtues of justice, wisdom, courage and moderation....

Dr. Tara Chand M.A., Ph.D. (Oxon)
Professor, Allahabad University
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MD. NASIREDDIN GHANI FROM BANGLADESH said:
*** The Mission of Islam ****

[Islam is the divine World-Order of Allah. Islam is founded
upon the 'Tauhid' i.e Oneness of God. Its formula is: La ilaha
illa Allah - there is no Sovereign except Allah. And its two
corollaries are - One Humanity and One World Kingdom under
sole sovereignty of Allah.The Noble Qur'an declares:

"Those who do not run Government (and all channel of services)
according to revelations [= the Qur'an] are all atheists (al-Ma'idah
/5:44). Those who do not run Government (and all channel of
services) according to revelations [= the Qur'an] are tyrants
(al-Ma'idah/5:45). Those who do not run Government (and all
channel of services) according to revelations [= the Qur'an] are
open rebels against the order of Allah (al-Ma'idah/5:47).

The World Government of Allah is run by the Muttaqin, the
heroes of Islam, to serve the World Humanity and not to rule.
This is to be noted that Islam is not "theocracy" dominated by
the priests, as there is not priesthood in Islam.]

Rabi' ibn 'Amr, the envoy of Islam to Rustam, the
commander-in-chief of the army of Iran at the battle
of Qadisiyah, presented the mission of Islam as follows:

To emancipate mankind:

[1] from the SLAVERY OF MAN TO MAN, and make them
equal by MAKING THEM ALL SERVANTS OF ALLAH ALONE;

[2] from the TYRANNY OF RELIGIONS, and make them all
equally subject to the JUSTICE OF ISLAM;

[3] from the narrow TERRITORIAL DIVISIONS OF THE EARTH, and
KEEP IT WIDE OPEN (for free movements of mankind
throughout the world to make it One World Kingdom
of Allah).


Al-Badayah Wan-Nihayah by Ibn Athir.
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ABDUL HAMEED FROM UK said:
Sincerity, not hatred is a basis for unity. There is sectarian hatred that is based on a lack of understanding. Some of the Islamic movements promote hatred towards "the kuffar" as a means of promoting unity among Muslims. We should abandon false dichtomies and stand for the truth.
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MOHAMMED FROM USA said:
The Islamic movements avoid sectarianism, and petty bickering over inane things.

Some of them seem to be neo-imperialist outfits, so I suppose some circumspection is called for even with them.
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TZAWRAW COOPER FROM USA said:
I agree with Muslim Ali comment, The reverts only know the Quran and Sunnah, and don't for the most part know Arabic, so they have a difficult time with breaking off into these different sects that are all through the muslim world. Allah (swt) will not just destroy us, but the world as we know it, the evil that lives in mankind is destructive and all is for greed and worldly things. There is no unity in the muslim world as in the EU. This is no ones fault but that of the muslim world. The killing of black Sudanese muslims, christians and pagans by Arab muslims is never mentioned or condemend. The Arab world and muslims for the east have a strong white supremacy mentality and are very racist towards blacks this is known before, during, after the prophet and still to this day. Eventhough, the religion teaches everything that is opposite to this belief. The Saudi kingdom enjoys the riches of the oil they sell, but do they ever think to share that with the underdeveloped countries or the other muslim nations who are poor. People of the west are reverting to islam inspite of mulims. For, islam is perfect muslim are not.Allah (swt) has warned what every nation he has risen, he will not hesitate to take out of power.
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SAJID ALI BANGASH FROM PAKISTAN said:
this is very important issue that how all muslim come to gether but i know this is all doing by americans and his lobby supporters. but we should not all blame on them we too responsible our mullah's responsibility that they should bring us together and should leave all muslim on thier faith and teach them that muslim r those who believ on good, prophet(PBH&HF) and quran why we r fighting each other on sahabah all belive on friends of prophet and don't ignore them but eavery body have reason behind... so leave them to do their faith and teach them ur ideas very firmly and do first u r self how our holly prophet(PBUH&HF) did. we r muslim and we should combine today it is very impotant time on us that we should stand together. As we know in kashmir in palestine,checnia, and whole muslim countries suffering why due to lack of our strenght.
why we fighting for no shia no sunni and others we r all muslim who believe on god(ALLAH) prophet(PBUH&HF) and if we have some difference we should neglect these difference and stand together.
if we not do so then may be in the future the worst feature with muslim as we seen in palastine kashmire and other part of the world how muslim r loosing thier respect as well as their taritory. so this is Molve's responsibility to do thier role to bring all muslim together please this is requirement......
i request from the whole world muslim plz come and stand together against the lobby of americans and other supporters......................
Sajid Ali Bangash......................
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TAHIR HAMID FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS said:
Dear Sir;

Assalamo Alaikum

I have read your article with great interest and an open mind. I do agree that we have to come together in these times for the cause of Islam.

As you have mentioned in your article that " An important suggestion is that the representative scholars of different schools should institute a permanent forum where they would often come together and address, in all sincerity, their followers on radio and TV to eradicate any sectarian tendencies among them, and to promote unity, peace and cordiality within the common Islamic brotherhood of the Ummah ".

Why do you exclude Ahmadiyya Movement In Islam. How can we be successful when we only LIP SING. Please for the sake of Islam involve Khilafat - e - Ahmadiyya. For Islam ...For our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the final law bearing prophet and the seal of the prophet.

Islam of prophet Muhammad (saw), as prophesied, Inshallah, will be the only religion for the mankind to follow.

Love for All - Hatered for None.
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NOON FROM USA said:
It has been an HONOUR 2 Understand & Also
It has been an HONOUR 2 Recei.e Wise, Wise Ad.ise.

4 the Wise 2 Ad.ise
1 Another: Each & the Other

Let's Work On IT : Thank All of U.
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POLIK FROM USA said:
AA,
As a Muslim, the concept of the Ummah runs strong in me; however, with all the different "sects" out there (Sunni, Shia, Ikhwani, Shafi, Malikee, Hannafi, Wahabee, etc.) how can this form. I believe in the Quran, the 3 major Hadith, and the culmination of the prophets and messengers with Mohammad (PBUH), but I do not claim to be from any of these sects. These "labels" promote dis-unity and prevent any Ummah from forming. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Outside forces have an easier time exploiting an un-unified community. The Brits used the "divide and conquer" rule to colonialize the world. Muslims are being divided throughout the world, but we are not wise enough to see it. Islam never imposed dictatorships, princes, kings, totalitarian govt, etc. It preaches against this. Islam's Shariah is a "democratic" system--a body of congress elected by the people (shura) elects a leader for a finite term. This leader (amir) shares power with the shura and must abide by the laws set forth by the Alamaat (the courts)--sound familiar? Brothers and Sisters, we must unite--not through terrorism or militancy as the media depicts Muslims today but through shedding "labels" given to us by our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. When we form a common "personality" and shed our little differences, only then can we become a force to wreckon with. Otherwise, Islam (may Allah never let it happen) may cease to exist except in name only as has happened to another one of the major religions of this world.
Wasalaam
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SAFIYA FROM TANZANIA said:
we keep praying namaaz,that is the big thing.
so and have faith in ALLAH.
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HAJI HANEEF FROM CHANGE? said:
Before we could change, we must first accept the bitter fact that what we have done so far failed. After that, we must find the best example having acceptable criteria in the eyes of Allah s.w.t. Then, we must all sacrifice our nafs and learn the traits of those whom Allah s.w.t have accepted. Who are they?
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ABDULLAH FROM CANADA said:
The solution article advocates is a postmodern recipe for chaos.
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YAKOOB FROM USA said:
Unity is important as long as that unity does not mean compromising on falsehood.
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MUSLIM ALI FROM USA said:
The sad part of this artlcle is that it is preaching to the converted. Who will be the readers of this artcle - the common folks who are concerned about the Sate of Islam, but who are powerless to do anything about it.
The people with power in the Muslim world cannot be bothered with principles of unity and brotherhood. How do you think the Taliban fell from power? The US accosted the help of the Northern Alliance, a band of muslim thugs, who were opposed to the Taliban . The northern Alliance's claim to notoriety is that they shipped surrendering Taliban soldiers, in sealed containers and killed them of asphiaxation in the process. Mind you, the US did not commit these atroticites. The US was just a consenting slient observer. Unfortunately, such thugs can be found in every country in the muslim world. These people are willing to sell their own kith and kin for a measley gain. This makes the task of the Americans easier. Indeed, it seems that the qualities of the Ummah are being emulated by the non-believers nowadays more so, than the believers. Take the EU, for example. The Europeans are working towards a unified Europe , whereas the muslim world works towards acquiring arms mainly to destory other muslim countries. Iraq's violence against Iran and Kuwait, Turkey against its Kurdish population, Saudi Arabias border dispute with Yemen, killlings of Islamits in Algeria, Tunis, and suppression of all Muslims by despotic leaders are just a few examples of the Muslim worlds use of weapons. With such notions of 'unity' the muslim world does not need enemies. You see, muslims have succumbed so low, that they are not worthy of the protection of Allah. My opinion is that we muslims will all perish because of our greed and evil, and better muslims will come and take our place - muslims worthy of Allahs protection.
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RAFEE SYED FROM USA said:
I request the author to write more to unite shia, and sunni brothers...so that ALL the sunni brothers see all shia as their brothers in Islam. Thanks.
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