O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you. And if you dispute concerning anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle, if you have faith in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more favoutable in outcome. (4:59)
The range of obeying the prophet is vast and extensive. One of the most important effects of obeying God and his Prophet is the elimination of conflicts and differences and the realization of unity among Muslims.
And obey Allah and His Apostle, and do not dispute, or you wil lose heart and your power will be gone. And be patient; indeed Allah is with the patient. (8: 46)
Principle III: Preserving the Relationship between the Ruler and the Ruled.
One of the important foundation of Islamic unity is to preserve the privileged position of religious leasership in society. Islamic Unity will flourish with this at the forefront. It is the responsibility of the religious leadership to change the dry and dull approaches of interaction into enjoyable psychological and emotional links of friendship, love and pure human emotion. Thus the role of leadership in the preservation and continuation of survival of unity is immense.
It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; and had you been harsh and hardhearted, surely they would have scattered from around you. So excuse them, and plead for forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs, and once you are resolved, put your trust in Allah. Indeed Allah loves those who trust in Him. (3:59)
There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress he has deep concern for you, and is most kind and merciful to the faithful. (9:128)
Principle IV: Maintaining the Spirit of Religious Brotherhood
A strong sense of religious brotherhood allows for the prosperity of Islamic unity and provides society with proper social and human characteristics according to the Quran perspective. On issues of blood, race, language, nationality, geography, land, soil, materials, interests, and human values, the Quran lays stress that humanity is but a single unit.
O mankind! Indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all aware. (49:13)
The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers and be wary of Allah, so that you may receive [His] mercy. (49:10)
Principle V: Abiding by Ethical Standards
A common theme within Islam is the upholding of ethical values. This can also be understood from the reference of Prophet Muhammad (s) as the best example to be emulated. Ethics consist of principles such as faithfulness in fulfilling promises, execution of justice, promotion of excellence, etc.
All these principles have a considerable share and importance in the realization of unity. the method to achieve this include inviting others with wisdom and mercy; attempts reconciling individuals; forgiveness; resisting aggression; and being wise in any decision that is taken.
THE VOICE OF UNITY
The Beneficial and Harmful Impact of Politics on the Islamic Schools of Thought
As the sixth of a series talks regarding the subject of unity, the present article continues with the theme of Islamic political history and focuses on some of the positive outcomes of the regional antagonisms-particular as it relates to the advancement of the Islamic sciences. The author then surveys the establishment of the jurisprudential schools- such as the school of Madinah and those in Iraq- as well as the theological schools of Mu’tazilites and the Ash’arites along with the development of the Ahl al-Bayt school of jurisprudence and theology. As the author points out, the scholastic confrontations that each school had with the other- through debates and discussions-furthered developed and advanced their particular perspectives. Moreover, the Ahl al-Bayt did not dismiss the leaders of the other schools; rather, they interacted with them in an amiable way such that the channels of interaction always remained open.
Our discussion has been about Islamic unity. The issue of differences amongst the Islamic schools of thought was broached during the first two lectures. Three lectures pertained to the roots of these differences. In the last discussion, it was said that the roots of such differences can be divided into two: the first is influenced by politics while the second from the ijtihad of the scholars.
It was then started that while discussing Islamic unity and the necessity of bringing the schools of thought closer to each other one must separate the negative influences of the policies governing Islamic countries in the general consciousness of the Muslims related to their opinions of members of other Islamic schools of thought. However, in my talk, I was quite insistent that once these negative effects [of politics] are lifted, we will then only being to find those differences that are rooted in ijtihad and intellectuality and which are dependent on proofs and arguments. It is only then that we can examine these sorts of differences in a pure environment free from the negative effects of politics. I was not of the opinion that the differences should be completely eradicated. This false thought must be erased from the minds of the people. Differences, even in one sect, cannot be eradicated, let alone in a number of sects.
The reason for this is because such differences stem from the ijtihad of the jurists. They stem through an opinion. Islam has accepted differences of opinion. It has even considered them positive and beneficial. When religious issues are separated from negative political overtones, differences can be controlled. Once this takes place, one can then say: setting aside the fights and enmities of the past, these are the current differences of the Muslims from a theological, jurisprudential, and intellectual point of view. Each side of the dispute has their supportive reasoning. At this junction, we try not to let the sensitivities-those that stem from political or tribal disputes-affect our reasoning.
THE POSITIVE EFFECT OF POLITICS ON RELIGION AND CULTURE
Today, I want to raise an issue which is a sort of exception in relation to the previous discussion. I want to state that it is true that the politics, which have been governing the Muslims for the past 1400 years, has had negative effects; however (like they say, ‘if you’re going to critique something, mention its merits too”) one can ask the following question: isn’t it true that these antagonistic forms of politics have also played a positive role in intellectual, cultural, theological, and jurisprudential development? Stated differently, we know that a large segment of theological discussion is intended to refute false beliefs and schools of thought; hence, if such beliefs did not exist, would such detailed scholarly discussions come about?
It has been said the most precise and researched book written about the issue of imamate is al-Shafi written Sayyid Murtada ‘Alam al-Huda (d. 436 AH). This book was written to refute ‘Uthmaniyah Jahiz. Jahiz defended ‘Uthman, the third caliph, while Sayyid Murtada supported ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) and brought up the issue of his imamate. It is a scholarly and highly precise book and until today we do not have any other book more definitive on the issue of imamate than this one.