Whither Muslim Solidarity

Category: Life & Society, Nature & Science Views: 5619

Schisms are as inevitable for belief systems as cracks are for tall edifices. Both can, however, be endured and repaired and integrity of the structure retained. But there have been times when it was seriously threatened.

It happened when one group of the faithful started calling another heretics and two factions of the same religion committed fratricide. Fanatics got hold of believers of their own faith, accused them of witchcraft, blasphemy and apostasy and deprived them of their lives and property by acting as judges, jury and executioners. Even kingdoms professing the same faith have attacked each other, or watched passively when one of them was destroyed by an alien power. That period is known as the Dark Ages of Europe, which came after Christianity had suffered the fatigue of a millennium. 

The conditions sound familiar. Could the Muslim society be currently passing through a similar age after its first millennium? Jury is still out on Spengler, when it comes to the doctrine of history repeating itself, but no one can afford to ignore the warnings of history. There may not be a timetable of the rise and fall of great societies but an observable pattern is suggestive. It was about five centuries after Christ that the Christian Roman Empire lost its vitality and fell to the barbarians, thus starting the process that was later to become the Dark Ages. Ironically the emergence of Muslims on the scene, with the vigor of a young faith and strength of knowledge changed that tide. They came practicing compassionate values and displayed chivalry in war, which proved to be a challenge that generated a positive response. Western historians of repute do not hesitate in giving Muslims the credit of contributing to European Renaissance.

Coincidentally or not, about six centuries after Hijra, Baghdad, the pinnacle of the Muslim excellence met the same fate at the hands of another hoard of barbarians, which possibly signaled the beginning of decline of the Muslim power that has possibly sunken to its lowest by now. 

Now we see Muslim states bloodletting each other in Iraq - Iran and Iraq - Kuwait conflicts in a loose-loose situation. We watch helplessly as the Palestinians are deprived of their hearths and homes, robbed of their dignity and killed at will. We witness free-for-all blitzkrieg on unarmed and disarmed Muslim countries and cannot do a thing about it. We see hapless Muslim pockets on the outer periphery of the erstwhile empire being annihilated and cannot reach out to them to offer help. We allow the Arab-Iran regional rivalry, stoked by the oil- consuming powers, to corrupt into Shia-Sunni poison that spills over into Iraqi politics and into Pakistan, where Muslims kill Muslims while in state of prayers in mosques. 

Outraged at our helplessness, we seem to compensate for our loss of face by being fanatically zealous in our faith. Finding no other targets we use concocted heresy charges as an excuse to fall on each other's throats. We feel pride in taking law in our hands as defenders of faith, accusing some of blasphemy and others of apostasy before executing them in the manner of Spanish inquisitions that was perpetrated against Muslims. We are ready to kill and get killed in foreign lands, ostensibly on our way to paradise, the way the Christian crusaders did in Muslim countries during their Dark Ages.

We may not own it, but our future generations are going to look back at our times and call them the Dark Ages of the Muslim history, the same way as the Europeans look at theirs. Taking advantages of the hindsight they can now see how the clergy transformed the simple message of love and peace given by Jesus Christ into hundreds of conflicting interpretations to suit the rulers they served. They also analyze how the commandments for the right action were neglected and rituals promoted to tie people down to the Church.

It should not be difficult for the Muslim intelligentsia to introspect, communicate with each other using modern technology, and correct their ways. For one thing Islam enjoins a direct Man - God relationship without the need of an intermediary. Therefore it is easier for a Muslim individual to fall back on the undisputed purity of the message of Holy Quran and use his own intellect to interpret it. It would come to be the original pre-sectarian faith that Mohammad preached. Muslim can then make his way straight to the challenges of the modern times, without depending on any anachronistic school of thought.

As for adopting the qualities of enlightenment and modernity, if Muslims could bestow these to a backward Europe, they are certainly capable of embracing them on their own. They must acquire knowledge from the developed world without foregoing their own ethos. After all, the West borrowed the seeds from the East and nurtured them, and borrowing them back is no robbery. Beside, knowledge is the most favored acquisition in Islam.

What befell Baghdad again and again is symptomatic of the state of Muslims. When it capitulated in 1258 a religious autocracy was ruling with their minds closed. When it invited destruction in 2003 a secular despot was in charge with his eyes closed. Is it not sufficient to open the minds and the eyes of Ummah?

The author is an independent commentator based in Karachi, Pakistan

  Category: Life & Society, Nature & Science
Views: 5619
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Older Comments:
What is muslim solidarity? Personally I think history changes and times change. This century has been the by product of last century. All is not lost. Secondly, Islam is a universal religion for humanity. The spirit of Islam is forever alive but somehow we are not appreciating because of negative media coverage.

Since when was humanity hijacked to this level. Islam is a universal religion that belongs to every human person on this planet that is the true spirit. The minute you hijack it from humanity it becomes a different issue. Islam flourished because muslims worked side by side with their follow non mulsims. Since when did knowledge ever belong to one nation. It is like saying the beauty of art belongs to one nation.

Islam is a religion of beauty, progress, peace and also a religion of logic. If one reflects deeply and thinks from the heart s/he will connect to this deep connectedness. Allah/God tells time and time again that wherever you turn you His Face. If one reflects on this you will find God everywhere. Hence our connected in solving world problems

I guess it is time we start thinking in terms of how can we work side by side to advance humanity for mankind. Remember, our differences will be resloved before this earth is wrapped up. The main barrier of us advancing forward is we spend too much time on our self(ego) which as God told us blocks us from seeing beyond.

It is time we become partners with those who are advancing humanity e.g anti-war,poverty and human rights campaigners to make this world a better place for all. The true spirit of Islam also belongs to universities places of knowledge where most of us draw our practical knowledge from. Applying that knowledge for humanity is that harderst challenge.

Our mosques need some changes and should reflect 21st century development. Combining spiritual knowledge with academic knowledge is the greatest asset one can offer humanity i.e(muslimheritage.com)


I disagree with the article....

The basic foundation of all Islamic beliefs must rest on the understanding that Allah SWT's Judgment of us will be as individuals. All of our actions and potential accountability will be as individuals. From this could come about a unity and a solidarity in the Ummah, inshallah. In other words, Muslims need to understand that solidarity and unity must come from the grassroots, so to speak, and not something that will trickle down from the top down. Assuming that unity comes by any other means has been our greatest mistake in religious practices for hundreds of years.

The attitude pervasive in almost every nook and corner of masjids, associations, groups and individual Muslims is that if an individual does not agree with a "traditional" point of view then they are an enemy who must be silenced forthwith as enemy of Islam. What it has done is create an undemocratic and despotic climate which leaves no room for honest and productive discussion or change.
Muslims by and large are indulging in racist and biased behavior and attitudes globally. We need to make a distinction between critical intellectual discussion from personal attacks. To claim that any mention by name of a group is an attack is one obvious example of this diabolical, undemocratic, and self-destructive attitude. It has created a situation where we claim we want unity and solidarity when the end result of our actions is divisiveness and disunity in the Ummah.

Ironically, Islam is the only truly democratic entity in the world today and was so from its earliest days. It is in our interpretation of it that we have ended up with despotic rulers and scandalous behavior amongst us as Muslims. We need to take a good, honest look at ourselves and accept the fact that our accountability as Muslims before Allah SWT will be as individuals not as Sunni, Shia, Wahabbi or Salafi.

g.l, assalaamualaikum alaikum warahamatuallahi wa barakatahu.Turn the pages of history and u'll see the reality.Inshallah.

The most important statement in this article, and the reason I agree with the underlying premise of this article is the statement that Muslms need to go back to the Qur'an and interpret it for themselves and not turn to "religious scholars" and "religious authorities" to decide how to live their Deen.

However, to compare the Dark Ages of Europe with what is currently happening in Muslim countries iss misleading. The world was a totally different arena in the Middle Ages in terms of knowledge and how it could be used by the people, life-style, etc. And, it was the fact that the Catholic Church and priests had taken control over the lives of people, even claiming that only they could read and interpret the Bible. Whereas we do see similar attempts among some Muslim groups, such as the Tabliqi Jamaat who claim that only some "awliyas" may read and interpret the Qur'an, the Qur'an is not quite like the Bible and it is not that easy to forbid Muslims from reading the Qur'an for themselves if they choose to do so. All they need to do is to learn the Arabic language, and read translated meanings of the Qur'an and use their own intellect to understand what the Message of the Almighty. For the Islamic world does not have a single religious hierachy or organized church.

It is the political despots, the self-proclaimed kings, rulers, and "religious leaders" in Muslim lands who have destroyed the ummah with their control of natural resources, wealth, who, to maintain their political powers, turn to Western countries for military hardware, secret police, Israeli agents to show them how to torture and control, and how to destroy budding leaders who may be threat to those in power.

The western world today, at least some nations and goverments, have chosen to take over Muslim wealth and natural resources by creating social conditions that breed discontent, instability, loss of young Muslim lives and leaders. These are strong methods to gain total control of Mus

This article has a very good advice about educating ourselves or bringing ourselves to the level of current science and technology, of course after fully understanding Islam- Quraan and the teachings of our prophet SAWS. For brothers who say, forget about this Dunya [the World]. If they mean being selfish and only caring about the worldly life forgetting about the next life (Akhira), then I agree. Else, we are sent to this world for one reason, and that is to be tested who does good or bad deeds! A Muslim ummah should excel in every aspect of their life as they did during the lifetime of prophet (SAWS) and four caliphs of Islam. We should be the most knowledgeable in science, with the best economy- such as in the time of Caliph Umar Ibn AbdulAziz, and follow other good examples of the Muslim history. Nobody is going to do it for us but us. It should start with an individual level, then the family, community, city, country, and then the Ummah as one soul.

Let me answer your question, Brother.


And if I may add, time is not on our side so lets get moving. I equally appreciate your suggestion of using the media of communication we have now to begin exchanges b/w intellectuals and all good muslims of conscience..


I am sure we are in frustrating times: the disunity, tribalism, sectarian violence is though not new to Muslims of the past; now seen as vivid because of the media. I get disgusted when I see the killing of Muslims in Pakistan for being a Shia and vise versa. When it comes to education, every Muslim who has a chance to acquire knowledge is doing just that. I mean, what is the author really trying to say? We are not opposing to any knowledge that is helpful, nor did we opposed and fight against it. In fact some knowledge's are off guarded from being learned. Sure the future generation would look back to these days and would appreciate what sacrifice Muslims paying to preserve Deen-Al-Haq. Some of us think this the beginning of the of the persecution of Muslims; our religion is hijacked by extremists and trashed by non-Muslims, but at the end Allah's will come to pass.

The author has made the mistake of dating the Dark Ages from the Protestant Revolution, which was the *end* of the Dark ages. The Dark Ages began when the Barbarian tribes invaded and settled in the roman empire. They took over management of life there, and (because they were nomadic barbarians) the result was the stopping of all aspects of civilized life. State Power was taken over by the Church, and so all life became local and a small elite dominated the mass of people who lived off the land, never travelled, and had no institutions of any kind for civilized things.

The parallel situation in the Muslim world was the conquest of the empire by the Mongols and Turks. They totally conquered it, but then civilized after some time. But their main "passion" was always warfare, and their main interest was in the military-political complex which they headed. The Dark Ages of Islam were the past 5 centuries I think, during which *nothing* was done in any sphere of life--except the military. This is purely the result of the elites of the Muslim world--who were usually Turkish, and their values --which were as unscientific, one-sided and militarily oriented as the German barbarians who conquered Rome.

Note that Pakistan is an example par excellence of this sort of thing, with the military dominating it (70% of the budget) and the mass of peasants living as feudal serfs in the villages. The elites have nothing to do with Islam except in name, and they have never promoted science or education or knowledge or arts or anything the people actually *want.* Just as Germany was the last European country to escape the bonds of medieval dark age feudalism, so too is Pakistan the last to escape the military industrial domination of its Turkish rulers (so many of them have Turkish names, like "Mirza" and "Beg", you wonder if this is really just the old Mogul ruling class dominating the country--for one more season.)

Khuda Hafiz

I have to disagree with brother Ibn Salim, I
think majority of the Muslim community lack
awarenes of unity. Today like the past,
Muslims in various parts of the world are not
unified regardless whether they profess
amonotheistic faith. The basis of this
assertion is based on the dividing classes of

We say "we shouldn't make parallels with
Christianity and European history because it's
not the ame" well guess what? It is in a
sense. Like many other religions of the past
there has been a unifying doctrine that has
bonded many people under one belief.

It is proven in history that mankind's
communities tend to divide over time. Some
are based on the developement of political
motivation, some based on personal reasons
and some are based on interpretations
through subjective innovation.

We as Muslims cannot say that the past is
irrelevant to the future and cannot look at
future generations to guide us out of our own
"Dark Ages." I believe now, its possible to
change at least a fraction of our own

I agree with one person who made the remark
" it is Muslims who have caused this and it is
Muslims who must fix it." In that I say Ameen..

The writer makes an important point about not needing an intermediary to meet God, and falling back on one's interpretation of the Quran. However, the problem with this point is that the Protestant model, which is a similar concept, has led to one schism after another. In my humble opinion, Islam would be greatly assisted at this particular moment in history by the emergence of a religious leader who can unify Muslims and who could serve as a voice for Islam, the kind of role that the Pope plays in Christianity, and especially Catholicism. As a non-Muslim, I wonder who speaks for moderate Islam? Who has authority to condemn the fanatics from a religious perspective? There appears to be no one who fills that essential role today.

This article is hardly ground-breaking. These are testing times for mankind. Many generations have passed to "facilitate" the current state of the Muslims. It will take the work of many future generations to get us out of this. So instead of only looking back at "better times" and then criticising the current, we need to look at what we will do today! Will we educate our children, open our eyes and remove this love for dunya from our hearts. Our problem is not as an Ummah, it is on an individual basis where we are not cleaning our intentions and hearts. Once we sort ourselveas out, we will unite under Allah's mercy.


I believe Unity and lack of knowledge are the most important issues with the Muslim Ummah. I am sure Islam in any way does not support sectism. I believe there is only Islam as a whole and not Sunni or Shia Islam as one of the comment' mentions . We Muslims have to be learn from our mistakes rather then continuing them...

well, muslims r divided, thanks to the west. muslims r responsible for their own fall. we should get up and work towards Allah (swt). Inshaallah, victory is with the REAL muslims and NOT with the nominal or modern/moderate aka so-called muslims.

Although the article depicts the state of muslim Ummah accurately to certain extent, the author has penned this article on faulty presumptions. There are no Historical parallels between Islam and Christianity. There are no similarities between Christianity and Islam as far as Certain beliefs and Doctrines. The Trinity purported by Christianity is false and so is the celibacy of the piresthood. Prophet ISA(Jesus) pbuh, never asked his followers to practice trinity or Celibacy. Most of the problems encountered by Christianity were due to these two doctrines.
the author has not given any thought about how the Christianity came out of dark ages. What did they do? Most Christians totally abandoned religion.
So what is the Conclusion???

Great Article! Unfortunately disunity is a fact widely known by the Ummah, but is quietly played down by simply signing it off has our preordained fate or the critics of the responsiblity of the MUslim Ummah are harshly crushed by it "islamic" dictatorial governments... May this article and many other similar efforts help brothers and sisters awaken from their islamic coma and help unite them for non except ALLAH! AMEEN

Please note I believe the writer was refering to

a Lose-Lose situation (not "a loose-loose situation")
We may not know it, but our future generations... (instead of "We may not own it",)

The author doesn't mention a good basis for his likening of the current state of Muslims to that of the so-called Dark Ages of Europe. And he sounds unaware of the historical fact that Muslims killed each other in the first centuries of the Islamic history in greater intensity that they do now. If he wants to learn about the history of that internecine Muslim bloodletting, I recommend him the book 'Les
schismes dans l'islam' by the French orientalist Henri Laoust.

Contrary to the author's claim, the current schisms among Muslims are of much less importance than it was in the past centuries. Despite the annoyance of the current sects, I see Muslims all over the world today more conscious in terms of their attitude towards Muslim unity.

Be optimistic and a bit patient and remember that Allah's ultimate scheme is keeping on functioning.

I, wholeheartedly endorse the thoughts expressed by the author. Muslims are backward in every aspect of human endeavor and we need to turn inward and look for answers for our failures.
First of all we need absolutely and totally turn to Holy Quran for answers because that is our one incorruptible fountain of knowledge. Second, we need to recognise that Islamic knowledge, philosophy and jurisprudence did not end with the passing away of scholars of a by-gone era. We must not assume that Bukhari, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafai and the rest had a corner on human intellect and all Muslims born after them are somehow mentally retarded and incapable of rational religious thought. Past scholars were all humans and not prophets and were therefore open to human failings. They cannot be presented as all sacrosanct and beyond question. We cannot afford to have our feet permanently chained in the past. World is constantly changing and evolving and we need to be religiously dynamic with it. We will be on absolute solid ground if we keep Quran and only Quran as our only Divine guide and consider the possibility of everything else open to human failure and shortcomings.

It is true that darkness is among Muslims such as Shia-Sunni and other sects. But what the author misses that unlike Europe, Muslim nation is being exploited by its enemies for centuries and the reaction , good or bad, what you see is in response to it. Who encouraged chemical weapons to be used and to whom? Answser is Chuchil to Arabs. What about nuclear weapons? What about Muslim nation enslaved in differnt continents? I think Europe is still in darkness of the wish of keeping others enslaved to them and enforcing what they think right on others and Islam is still fighting it. The world wide exploitation and deceit is confronted only by Islam. But ofcourse there are some sickening darkness of executions an beheading. But Muslims didn't ask for it, and if mass murder by missiles are justified this so called darkenss also need to be justified. Along with lots of light that is set by Islam a small darkness will be wiped out. Also, when a generation will be there, where they can keep their dignity and life, the current light will have a tremendous impact in achieving that generation.

I think the author is absolutely right when he suggests we should try to get back to the pre-sectarian Islam, throught the use of our intellectual and technologycal capacities, and going back to the primary sources.

This doesn't mean the destruction of the schools of thought, but instead to understand that they are the product of human work, and should not be considered almost divine, free of errors. I'm sure the main classic scholars would be ashamed by the way muslims today repeat previous opinions, giving to interpretation the same weigh as the primary texts.

To fear change, wishing to maintain the same anachronistic interpretations of the middle ages, and therefore the status quo, is the main threat to islam. We need to be brave enough to realize how injust the muslim world has become, and refute religious justifications for such abuses.

InshaAllah we will open our eyes, get inspired by the beautiful exemple of Prophet Muhammad (saws), and help build a muslim community based on the respect for individual freedom.

Beautifully written.Inshallah very soon dark clouds are going to vanish and Islam will shine in its original glory.
103:1 By (the Token of) time (through the Ages)
2 Verily Man is in loss
3 Except such as have Faith and do righteous deeds and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth and of Patience and Constancy.

3:200 O ye who believe! persevere in patience and constancy: vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper.

93:5 And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased.

Very true,it perfectly depicts the miserable state of muslims worldwide,its our dark age.
But he falls short of what could be done to mend it?
Is there more suffering to come before we are going to open our minds and eyes? before we disown the fanaticism and extremism and adopt the middle path.
As writer said muslims are queing to die in foreign lands ostensiblily but where are muslims ready to give education to their kids,to enrope true values and modesty of Islam in them?

I always felt and can see that Islam is going through what Christianity did in the Dark ages, this report kinda proves it.

JM said:
We Muslims should certainly unify, but the author is also adding his own agenda into the article: the 'anachronistic' schools of thought are what bound Sunni Islam together, getting rid of them means destroying Islam.