#Article (Archive)

Nurturing a Culture of Unity (Continued from last issue)

Aug 26, 2011, 12:41 PM

4. Learn to criticize without injuring
The way some Muslims criticize each other, one would think they were talking to an enemy of Islam instead of a fellow brother or sister. This type of ignorant behavior is a sure way to create anger, hurt, and dissension. It is no route towards unity.

We must learn the proper adab (etiquette) of criticism, whether it is towards individual Muslims or our leaders. Knowing and implementing this will not only help solve problems in a practical manner but will also lead to a greater sense of brother and sisterhood in the community.

If you for that brother or sister-since the Prophet has said that du’a increases love between people-and return to them apologetically.

5. Avoid adopting harsh positions in trivial matters
There is what is called a “fiqh of priorities” and this essentially means that there are some aspects of Islam that are more important than others. For instance, it is more important to emphasize that Muslims establish prayer than whether or not there should be a curtain between men and women in mosques.

Knowing what our priorities are will help us avoid turning secondary issues of faith into factors of division in our communities. Muslim leaders, in particular, must not only understand this but implement it in their communities across so that small differences do not destroy the idea of Muslim unity.

6. Do not call anyone a Kafir
This horrible phenomenon of calling fellow believes kafirs must end if we wan to create a climate that is conducive to unity. Kafir-calling is a sure way to isolate individuals from the Muslim community. We must remember that some Muslims come from cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, whether they were born and raised in the faith or reverted to it. If a person is expressing ideas that are not in line with Islamic values, he or she must be gently corrected. Kafir-calling will only flue their ignorance, anger and stubbornness, not to mention humiliate and embarrass them. The Prophet warned that if one person calls another a kafir and the person who is labelled as such is not a kafir, the individual who made the accusation is considered a kafir.     

7. Reaching out across ethnic boundaries
The ignorant practice of maintaining “ethno-centric mosques” is, Alhamdulillah, slowly but surely disappearing in some part of the world. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. All of our institutions, foundations and communities in general must become ethnically diverse and open to the needs and concerns of Muslims of all backgrounds. Muslim leaders and individuals have a duty to ensure that no Muslim, regardless of their ethno-cultural background, feels shut out of the community, ignored, or neglected.

This can only be done by Muslim leaders and individuals taking the first step and reaching out to Muslims who may have been traditionally isolated because of ethnocentricity in mosques and other institutions. It is not enough to just open the door to all. A direct effort has to be made to solicit feedback, advice, and support from all Muslims so that they feel a part of the community.          

Another, more personal way of reaching out is to invite Muslims of different backgrounds to your home for food. Extend this invitation to non Muslims as well to break barriers and share Islam.

8. Heed the advice found in Surah Hujurat
Chapter forty-nine of the Quran provides excellent guidance on the kind of behaviour that Muslims should avoid in order to establish Muslim unity. For instance, Allah advises us to avoid mockery, defamation, and suspicion. These are all things which serve to divide communities and create hatred, hurt and dissension.

Discuss the themes of Surah Hujurat relating to Muslim behaviour in family meetings, khutbas (sermons), talks, study circles, and classes for young and old Muslims in your community to share his divine wisdom with all.

Whenever you recall that you have done ghibad (backbiting) against a Muslim or non-Muslim, you should remember that you need to seek that person’s forgiveness. Doing this is a prerequisite to washing off that sin.

9. Share these tips with a wider audience
Share the above-mentioned tips with fellow Muslims in your community. This can be by suggesting to the khaib (preacher) of Friday and Eid prayers to use the topic of this article for his sermon. Or you can print it out and hand it to worshippers, or publish it in your local mosque newsletter. It is also important to discuss it in various Muslim setting to start the thinking and reflection process amongst Muslims.

10. Make du’a for unity
Ask your Imam to emphasize unity as an Islamic duty in his khutbabs and suggest practical ways it can be achieved in your country or Islamic organization. Also, encourage Muslims to go for hajj and to make special du’a for Muslim unity. When the hajis (pilgrims) return from the pilgrimage, the Prophet has encouraged us to receive them and to request them to make du’a. This is another opportunity to seek du’as for Muslim unity.

Finally, make sure that you as an individual are not only working for unity but making du’a for it as well, since the end result of all actions are in Allah’s Hands.
The End.