Mar 12, 2012, 12:40 PM
The main factor which causes the emergence of disagreements between humans is man’s lower desires, which are a part of his creation. Like the force of gravity that can be balanced with an opposing force, these lower desires can be willfully balanced with the forces of man’s intellect (‘aql) and innate disposition (fitrah). It becomes clear that the emergence of disagreements is absolutely natural when we take into consideration factors such as diversion from the way of guidance and reason, conflicts driven by individual interests, competition for positions of power, carnal desires, and ambitions. According of the teachings of Quran, this type of disagreement was the first instance of disunity which took place and which the angels had foreshadowed.
Such disagreements originated from lower desires and emerged in such a way that human life was transformed and complications became apparent. As a result, humans could no longer overcome complex and profound problems by simply relying on their ideas or abilities. This change was contemporary to the emergence of other changes such as the revelation of the divine books and the advent of the prophets. The purpose was to guide people towards the truth and justly solve the disagreements and conflicts between them. The Quran has cautioned every individual and community that in order to eliminate disagreements and return to the path of perfection, two things are necessary:
1. The practice of repentance and forgiveness (and there is always a way open for man to repent).
2. The practice of retribution in this world for individuals and groups who are engrossed in sin and deviation (so that it can be a deterrent for future generations).
Unity and Disunity among Divine Religions
As for the second subject-matter that pertains to unity and disunity between divine religions, according to the Quran perspective, this unity must exist on a foundation of clearly articulated principles, established ways, and determined process which will be mentioned later. In fact, achieving unity among divine religion and achieving unity among individual both share certain common aspects:
1. Faith in God, revelation, prophethood, and the Day of Resurrections.
2. Recognition of human dignity, mutual respect, and freedom of opinion, thought, and action.
On this basis, it is not possible to discuss the unity of believer with non-believers. Yea it is possible that sometimes, due to common needs, a single country becomes a host for the two groups and peace and stability is established. However, this harmonious coexistence cannot be described as true unity. Polytheism and denial of God is an internal-hindrance and social contradiction in the way of Unity.
PRINCIPLES OF UNITY AMONG RELIGIONS
The Quran has emphasized correcting the fundamental deviations which are present in the Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Scriptures) in verses such as 5:77-81, 3:81,3:187, 2:78-79, 2:85-86, and 2:174. At the same time, however, a framework for unity among religions has been defined so that psychological and emotional relationship between Muslims and followers of other religions is addressed. On the one hand, the Quran provides the required grounds for social and political coexistence of the divine religions, and on the other hand, all believers are united on the day of resurrection against idolaters, polytheists, and pagan communities. The grounds of this particular co-existence are as follows:
1. Faith in one God, divine revelation, the Day of Resurrection, divine books, and prophethood.
2. Emphasis on the unity of prophets and the oneness of their message. All the prophets and their messages have a single source. This source is God. The prophets also had the duty to communicate the divine message to human beings, to strive in reforming and guiding them, to lead them towards the goods, towards guidance and correction and to hold them back from corruption, evil, error, and deviation.
3. General invitation towards the execution of a common set of divine laws, found in the Torah and the Gospel, intended to clarify that basis of unity and convergence among religions, especially that idea that these religions were complementary to each other. Verses belonging to the obligation of fasting and how to avoid retribution are examples of such an invitation.
4. Invitation to refer to the Torah and the Gospel in resolving disputes in which the Ahl al-Kitab are involved and a concentration on the commonalities between the Quran, the Torah, and the Gospel.
5. Invitation to acknowledge the principles of Islam and its rituals, to revere Prophet Muhammad (s), to accept Islam as din Ibrahim (religion of Prophet Ibrahim), and to accentuate the privileged position of Prophet Ibrahim (a) as the father of all the prophets of the Israelites and the origin linking the three divine religions.
6. Emphasis on the point that the term ‘Islam’ is related to Ibrahim (a) for he is called a ‘Muslim’ in the Quranic parlance.
7. Finally, an invitation to the Ahl al-Kitab to review the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad(s) on the basis of predictions that were given by former prophets and the divine scriptures. The Quran has repeatedly emphasized this reality in chapters such as A’raf and Saff.
ESTABLISHMENT OF UNITY WITHIN THE UMMAH
This process can be explored from three aspects which are as follows:
1. The principles of unity within Islamic society which the Quran has laid out.
2. The methods which the Quran has introduced to the Prophet(s) and the people in order to guarantee the survival, realization, and stability of this divine foundation
3. The consequences of the realization of unity in Islamic society.
We shall limit our discussion to the first of there.
Principle I: Believing in one God
This principle has been portrayed in various forms:
A: The imagery of all people holding onto the “the cord of God” in a united fashion:
Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sect]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers with His blessing. And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, whereat He saved you from it. Thus does Allah clarify His signs for you so that you may be guided? (3:103)
B: the idea of intimacy and love in the hearts of the believers and sympathy for one another through divine help:
And (God) united their hearts. Had you spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their heart, but Allah united them together. Indeed He is all-mighty, all-wise. (8:63)
Principle II: Following in the Footsteps of the Prophet (s)
The importance of this topic arise form a set of factors, beliefs, moral principles, and political and social interests.
A: in his role as the messenger of God, his words are in line with God’s words, and hence to obey him is to obey God:
Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire: it is just a revelation that is revealed [to him] (53:3-4)
Whoever obeys the Apostle certainly obeys Allah; and as for those who turn their backs [on you] We have not sent you to keep watch over them. (4:80)…. To be continued.