A scientific approach to the unity issue
A question that always arises in the minds of sincere Muslims is: shouldn't all Muslims unite in the face of the existing dangers? This is even more relevant due to the tragic events taking place all over the world: militarily, economically and socially.
Of course, this is an important and legitimate question. It deserves a straightforward answer from Muslim leaders the world-over. As a matter of fact, we hear numerous outcries by many "Imams" calling for the unity of Muslims. Many issue statements to this effect and try to rally Muslims for this cause in conferences and other venues. However, a simple "yes" for an answer would be an oversimplification of the problem, and a naïve reply to such a question.
We will Insha Allah give the answer to this question from the pure perspective of Ahlul Sunnah wal-Jama'a, as we always do on the pages of this website. We must emphasize that Muslims need to be more scientific when it comes to issuing Fatwas or adopting others' Fatwas.
There is no doubt in the minds of all Muslims that unity is an action that was highly praised and called for by Allah SWT. Allah SWT said:
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ
"And hold fast, by the Rope which Allah (stretches out for you), all together" (Aal-Imran 3:103)
There is a primary reason for Muslims to unite and other secondary/complementary reasons that are important as a consequence of the main one. The primary aim of Shariah for calling for unity is to:
Uphold the Shariah of Allah and establish it as the strongest and highest authority between Mankind.
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
"Thus have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves" (Al-Baqara 2:143)
فَلَا تَهِنُوا وَتَدْعُوا إِلَى السَّلْمِ وَأَنتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ
"Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds". (Mohammad 47:35)
So the witnessing of this Ummah over all other nations, and the call to be the Highest and uppermost is what Muslims should always consider when calling for unity or any other call in the same regard.
The secondary/complementary reasons that stem out of this are:
To face the enemies of Islam and be victorious.
To bring about strength and prosperity into the lives of Muslims, both economically and socially.
To decrease the differences and divisions between Muslims that would otherwise contribute to the demise the above two reasons.
It is evident that we need to unite and be one front to face our enemies and to build a prosper worldly life in seeking our hereafter. This, however, would be better accomplished by observing the third reason and minimizing our differences.
However, to uphold Shariah and put this Ummah at the top where it belongs, we must follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (pubh). There is no other way to do it. Numerous ayas and hadiths established this fact beyond any shadow of doubt. Obedience of the Prophet (pbuh) , following his guidance, sticking to the sunnah of the righteously guided Khalifas, and the first three generations is a given in establishing our Aqida and practicing our Deen. Here are some examples to prove this point:
وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَاحْذَرُواْ فَإِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّمَا عَلَى رَسُولِنَا الْبَلاَغُ الْمُبِينُ
"Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger's duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest manner". (Al-Maieda 5:92)
وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
"Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe." (Al-Anfal 8:1)
The prophet said:
"..فعليكم بسنتى وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين من بعدي، عضوا عليها بالنواجذ وإياكم والأمور المحدثات فإن كل محدثة ضلالة" البخاري وبن ماجة وأحمد والدارمي واللفظ لإبن ماجة
"..So, follow my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifas who come after me, hold on tight to it, and beware of the newly introduced matters, as every newly introduced matter is Bida'a". Al-Boukhari, Ibn Maja, Ahmad and Al-Darmie.
And he said:
"خير أمتي قرني ثم الذين يلونهم ثم الذين يلونهم" البخاري ومسلم والترمذي والنسائي واللفظ للبخاري
"The best of my Ummah is my generation, then the one that follows then the one that follows them." Al-Boukhari, Muslim, Al-Termizie and Al-Nisaey.
These are just examples of this fact in Islam. There is no point of stating the obvious more than what we just did.
We have to emphasize two points at this point:
The guidance of the Prophet regarding misguided sects.
The general aims of Shariah (مقاصد الشريعة العامة)
1. The guidance of the Prophet regarding misguided sects:
It would be a great mistake to ignore the fact that the Prophet (pubh) prophesied the division of this Ummah into 73 sects. The oversight of the implications of this fact is detrimental. The Prophet said:
"....وإن هذه الملة ستفترق على ثلاث وسبعين ثنتان وسبعون في النار وواحدة في الجنة وهي الجماعة" رواه أبو داود والترمذي واللفظ لأبي داوود.
"…and this Religion will split into seventy three sects, seventy two in hellfire and one is saved, which is the Jama'a". Abu Dawoud and Al-Termizie.
He warned us from going down the road of the people of the book in introducing new Bida'as into our Deen:
" لتتبعن سنن من كان قبلكم شبرا بشبر وذراعا بذراع حتى لو سلكوا جحر ضب لسلكتموه ، قلنا يا رسول الله اليهود والنصارى ؟ قال: فمن؟ " رواه البخارى ومسلم وبن ماجة وأحمد واللفظ للبخاري، وروى الحاكم في المستدرك بزيادة " ما أنا عليه وأصحابي ".
"You (this Ummah) will follow the lead of those who came before you, step by step and an arm for an arm, to the extent that if they enter a hole of a lizard, you will enter behind them. We said: O'Prophet of Allah, [do you mean] the Jews and Christians? He said: who else?". Al-Boukhari, Muslim, Ibn Maja and Ahmad. Al-Hakem in Al-Mustadrak added: "we asked who are [the saved] O'Prophet of Allah? He said: those who do whatever I do, and my companions do".
Allah SWT said in Quran:
وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ ، إِلاَّ مَن رَّحِمَ رَبُّكَ وَلِذَلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ
"And they will still be divided amongst each other, except which the Lord has bestowed His Mercy upon, and for this did He create them". (Hud 11:119)
Ibn Khather said: "Those which the Lord has bestowed His Mercy upon, are the followers of the saved sect as in the Hadith of the seventy three sects, Al-Jamaa". Qatadah said the same.
The division between Mulims, although it is a prophetic fact as witnessed in Quran and Sunnah, has to be challenged and minimized. Ibn Taymiyah explained that although this fact is inevitable, Muslims are instructed to challenge the division to achieve three outcomes:
To minimize the number of Ahlul Bida'a
To maximize the people of Sunnah
To establish the proof of our own individual duty before Allah SWT that we tried to make people rally around Sunnah.
2. The General Objectives of Shariah:
It is well known, in the science of Principles of Jurisprudence on the subject of the Aims of Shariah, that the Rules of Shariah are made to preserve, sustain, and protect five main pillars of human life; these are:
Property (in this exact order).
All messages of Islam prior to the final message of our Prophet's were designed to preserve these pillars. All rulings of Quran and Sunnah serve this purpose. Each of these objectives has three levels of importance attached to it:
and improvement (استحسان)
Each of these main rulings has complementary rulings that cover all situations and aspects of one's life.
As mentioned, preservation of Deen is the highest objective of Shariah. Preservation of the Aqida is the essence of the preservation of Deen. That is why Allah SWT decreed the rulings of Prayers and fasting to establish and preserve the Deen. He SWT also decreed the rulings of Jihad or killing apostates in order to preserve the Deen. The Way Muslims deal with Ahlul Bida'a as the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah described, is another example of a complementary ruling for the purpose of the preservation of Deen (avoiding Bida'a being the main ruling).
Now it is important to state that each of these objectives take priority over the one that succeeds it. For instance, necessity to preserve the Deen is paramount over everything else in Shariah. However, the necessity to preserve life takes precedence over the need to preserve the Deen (need being a lesser degree than necessity).
We have to state another rule that is relevant to this analysis. It is stated in Usoul Al-fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence) that the main objective cannot be demeaned by its subsidiary objective (
الفرع لا يعود على أصله بالإبطال).
An example of this is in the case where a person has only time to pray four Raka'as before he misses the time. He is not allowed to pray the Sunnah (voluntary) prayer, so he does not lose the Fard (obligatory) prayer. If he did pray the Sunnah and missed the time for Fard, then he has committed a sin, as Sunnah prayer is complementary to Fard, and not supposed to diminish it.
Now that the reader understands the background by which scholars classify rulings in Islam. In this context, we will provide classification for the relevant rulings (i.e. unity vs. Bida'a):
Upholding the correct Aqida of Islam without compromising its integrity is, at the least, a main need to preserve the Deen.
Standing united against enemies of Islam depends on the level of threat as it plays a major role in determining the ruling on unity. There are two distinctive cases to consider:
When Muslims reside in a society/community where there is no immediate or physical threat imposed, the unity of Muslims then stands at its original level in the hierarchy of objectives of Shariah as either complementary to need for the preservation of Deen or improvement for the preservation of Deen. It actually goes down in the hierarchy, if it is related to the subject of unity itself. If unity is about economic gains, unity goes down to the fifth level (Preservation of Property). If it is about a cultural/social ruling, it becomes under the level 4 object (Lineage), and so on.
When there’s a clear, present and immediate physical danger by an enemy, such as in the situation of a town being besieged by an enemy, then unity of Muslims is categorized as basically a need to preserve the Deen. It can be elevated to a necessity if the inhalation of Muslims in that area is imminent.
There is no way for any person to reverse the objectives of Shariah unless he adopts his Hawa or he's totally ignorant to the rules of Shariah (which is often the case in our time and land). It is this scientific approach that is based on in-depth knowledge of Shariah that we have to understand and adopt. It is enough that we have suffered due to lack of Elm (knowledge) and arbitrary Fatwas that make many go astray.
It is wrong to compromise the authenticity of this Aqida in its pure form which we are asked to preserve as a necessity or need of this Deen, for the sake of an emotional call that has no Shariah bases whatsoever. These calls are simply grabbing the attention of the common Muslim for personal gains of fame or finance.
While examining the calls for unity, we have to see where they are made, for what purpose, under what circumstances and how and on what are we being asked to unite.
Allah SWT said:
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ
"And hold fast, by the Rope which Allah (stretches out for you), all together"
It is obvious in this ayah that Allah SWT emphasizes "holding fast to the Rope of Allah" before "together". This is an indication of the priority of staying on the course of Sunnah before and ahead of simply uniting, especially when we really don't know why, who and how do we unite. Notice how in the ayah, Allah SWT did not use the word "unite" (اتحدوا); rather, He used the word "اعتصموا" or "hold fast". Holding fast is an act that you do to an object, all together, which is our Aqida. It is contrary to the purpose of the ayah to get together, holding fast to another Aqida or a corrupt Aqida.
Ahlul Sunnah call for unity between Muslims, on the bases that are acceptable to Allah SWT and His messenger . That is the Aqida of Ahlul Sunnah as conveyed to us through the companions and the people who followed in the three admired generations. Hundreds of names can be named of those who hold fast to this Aqida. Amongst those of the followers after the generation of the companions: Saed Ibn Al-Musaieb, Al-Qasem Ibn Muhamed, Salem Ibn Abdullah Ibn Umar, Ali Ibn Al-Husain, Abu Salamah Ibn Abdurahman Ibn Awf, Ubaid Allah Ibn Abdullah Ibn Utbah, Kharijah Ibn Zaid Ibn Thabet, Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair, Abu Bakr Ibn Abdurahman Ibn Al-Hareth, Sulaiman Ibn Yasar, and in the third generation, Imam Malik Ibn Anas, Sufian Ibn Uyaynah, Sufian Al-Thawry, Shuba Ibn Alhajaj, Hamad Ibn Zaid, Ataa Ibn Rabah, Al-Awzaie, Wakie Ibn Al-Jarah, Ibn Numair, AbdulrahmanIbn Adie, Abu Ishaq Al-zafarie, Abu Misher, Al-A'amash, Abdullah Ibn Almubarak Al-Laith Ibn Saad, Mohamed Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaibani, Abi Yusuf, Amer Al-Shabie Yahia Ibn Said Alqatan, Imam Ahlul Sunnah of all time Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Imam Al-shafie, Imam Abu Hanifah, Al-Khalal, Alnesaie, Alboukhari, Muslim Ibn Al-Hajaj, Altermizie, Ibn Maja, Al-darqutnie, Tawous. Of the followers of those all over history, thousands of names of scholars are preserved such as: Al-Hafiz Al-lalikaie, Al- Imam Albustie, Al-Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, Imam Ibn Alqayem, Imam Ibn Khather, Al-Hafiz Al-thahabi, Al-Hafiz Al-Mizie, Imam Ibn Albdul Hadi, Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Imam Al-Shawkani, Imam Mohamed Ibn Abdulwahab, Imam AlMawdudi, Imam Al-shanqitie, Imam Ahmad Shaker and Mahmoud Shaker, Imam Mohamed Ibn Ibrahim, Imam Al-Dousary. The list goes on and on with thousands of Ahlul Snnah who stood fast against Bida'a and spread the real knowledge of Islam.
We wonder, under much less than extreme circumstances, which we described earlier, how and for what purpose do we unite with Sufis who claim that Allah is part of the world and He unites with everything in universe! A Aqida of pure Kufr. How and for what purpose do we unite with the Mu’tazilah that alters Allah's attributes and make Him less than knowledgeable to serve their sick ideas about human freedom, just to attract a few Christians to embrace Islam?
We ask those who adopt such practices, those who mislead and misguide common Muslims, to come back and hold fast to the rope of Allah, and unite with Ahlul Sunnah. We ask those who, although do not accept such Aqidas, side up with people of Bida'a to come back and hold fast to the Rope of Ahall and unite with Ahlul Sunnah. Leave those who have very little knowledge in Shariah and those who seek political, financial, or other worldly gains. They will never attain their goals, as Allah SWT will never take their hands for support to achieve their false goals since He SWT knows the good willing person and the bad willing one. Allah SWT said:
وَاللّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْمُفْسِدَ مِنَ الْمُصْلِحِ
"but Allah knows the man who means mischief from the man who means good". (Al-baqarah 2:220).
This is a call for unity. A call from Ahlul Sunnah to those who are misguided for whatever reason, come back to the rope of Allah, so unity can be achieved on the basis of Shariah. Then we will attain our goals as Allah SWT is on our side: the side of Sunnah.
وَاللّهُ غَالِبٌ عَلَى أَمْرِهِ وَلَـكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
"And Allah hath full power and control over His affairs; but most among mankind know it not." (Yusuf 12:21)
وآخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العالمين