Islamic unity is undoubtedly one of the most pressing issues confronting the contemporary Islam world. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that the most critical issue for which people have dedicated effort throughout their lives-both in principle and application-was unity and the integration of the Ummah based on the Quran and the Sunnah. It was the goal of these honorable personalities to protect the grandeur and glory of his entity against both the apparent opponents of Islam and those in disguise. It was their thought that preserving the Ummah would be in the best interests of Islam and would enable the community to achieve exemplary prosperity through rapid and enlightened movement towards God. Undoubtedly, such prosperity is unachievable unless and until an environment is established which fosters harmonious thought, amiable speech, and constructive dialogue. Such an environment should be devoid of malicious intent, blind fanaticism, destructive polemics between sects and ignorant phenomena caused by lower carnal desires, misguided principles, and unworthy rulers that have usurped the leadership of the people. According to the Quranic perspective these elements increase the scope of injustice and lead to destruction. Motivation towards unity and a common ground are the most important necessities for survival and perseverance in the encounters with other cultures and civilizations.
INCENTIVIES FOR ISLAMIC UNITY
Islamic unity is a channel which provides access to real power-i.e, with the help of God it can be a firm anchor for Muslims in their encounters wit cultures and civilizations. Granted that Muslims have been gifted with tremendous human force, abundant material resources, important strategic positions, high spirits, and superior perspectives on life. If the Muslims do not coordinate their scattered efforts they will remain prey to the claws of their opponents.
Islamic unity can create extensive grounds for research, discussion, inquiries and extrapolation of law (ijtihad) from Islamic sources. This can help solve the intellectual and cultural problems in society which arise from an emphasis on materialistic pursuits and socio-scientific developments. It is clear and obvious that this extensive opportunity for research and exploration can take place only in an environment of peace filled with values such as harmony, freedom of opinion, respect, and friendly brotherly interaction. In general, Islam unity can facilitate growth and progress in all material and spiritual matters.
MANDATE FOR ISLAMIC UNITY
1.To obtaining a common understanding regarding the scope of religion. Is religion restricted to an individual relationship, worship, and prescribed ritual practice? Or does it encompass all social, economic, organizational, political, and communal aspects of life?
2.To take a stance that preserves the rights of others. This includes recognizing that ideology, actions and ritual practice are not acceptable reasons for determining the social rights of followers of a particular school of thought-i.e.; it is not permissible to deprive the basic needs of an individual due to their affiliation to a particular school or perspective. Affinity to a particular school of thought is neither a cause of distinction nor diminution.
3.To develop a common viewpoint against the true enemies of Islam. This is with regard to issues of belief such as heresy, political matters, and blasphemy.
4.To stress that intra-faith disagreement should be approached with a universal perspective so that they can be confronted correctly. Of course, unity defined in terms of the amalgamation of all schools of thought under a single school is not correct in this context. Instead, the views, rituals and personal actions of the followers of different faiths should be respected which can then allow for an exploration, review, and discussion to take place. This will ensure that these efforts are devoid of favoritism, doubt, and presumptions.
5.To establish a common viewpoint regarding the basic structure and scope of Islamic government in political and social realms. This is so that issues like democracy in the contemporary world do not cause obstructions for the government.
ISLAMIC UNITY IN THE QURANIC PERSPECTIVE
The holy Quran has discussed and investigated the subject of unity and disunity in detail. On the one hand, the Quran has acknowledged the existence of disagreement in human history providing causes, factors of origin, and the solution for its elimination. On the other hand it has propounded the existence of unity and oneness as principles and ways to faster togetherness.
This topic can be divided into two distinct subject-matters:
1.Unity and disunity as a human phenomenon
2.Unity and disunity among divine religions
Unity and Disunity as a Human Phenomenon
With regards to the former, the Quran has explained the creation of human beings as a society built on the principles of homogeneous behavior, inter-relatedness, and similarity:
Mankind were a single community then Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good news and as warders, and He send down with them the Book with the truth, that it may judge between the people concerning that about which they differed, and none differed in it except those who had been given it, after the manifest proofs had come to then, out of envy among themselves. Then Allah guided those who had faith to the truth of what they differed in, by His will, and Allah guides whomever He wishes to a straight path. (2:213)
Mankind was but a single [religious] community; then they differed. And were it not for a prior decree of your Lord, decision would have been made between them concerning that about which they differ. (10:19)
It is worth mentioning that the specific conditions governing the life and environment of a human being (in terms of needs and desires) must conform to his origination. Any phenomenon, contrary to his original nature, that is added to the equation through social interactions makes it all the more difficult to obtain unity. The complexity of culture, knowledge of the ways of others and new desires and goals all effectively increase this difficulty. In the early stages of human life, innate human nature guides a human being forward. It is possible for the occurrence of some individual violations, emerging from carnal desires, but soon after the flames of carnal attributes have died down, man returns to his pure nature. The Quran, in reference to this, relates the story of the progeny of Adam. As society was being shaped into a more complex form and as it was increasing in population, in needs and in desires the age of disputes began. It can be inferred from this that disputes have existed throughout human history.
Had your Lord wished, He would have made mankind one community; but they continue to differ. (11:118)…. To be continued.