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The Shia Imams and Muslim Unity (Part 2)

Jun 10, 2011, 2:33 PM | Article By: 'Ali Aqa-Nuri' - Translated by Hamis Waqar

Fourth: In the Islamic unity that is sought after, the beliefs of a group should not cause one to consider that spurious, undesirable, or unacceptable. Taking this important matter into account, those who believe that they will be able to see Allah on the Day of Judgment do not necessarily belong to the Mujassamah (corporealist) or Mushabbah (anthropomorphist) sects. Those who believe in the quiddity of the divine essence and divine attributes do not necessarily belong to the Mu'attilah sect (those who reject belief in the Names and Attributes of God). Those who deny the essential nature of good and evil do not consider Allah to be an oppressor. Similarly, it is unjust to state that one who answers his internal love for the Prophet's(s) family by kissing and showing respect towards their holy shrines or makes harsh statements about their enemies  and stays away form them is a polytheist and permissible to murder.

Fifth: True seekers of unity (and not just the superficial ones) have not stopped their efforts due to the harms and difficulties that have and are happening in Islamic society. They do not come to a standstill due to the multiplicity of theological and jurisprudential opinions. Rather, they focus on the types of opinions, confrontations, misunderstandings, and recently, the incitement of religious sensitivities. According to the words of Shahid Mutahhari, the threat to Muslims that stems from unreasonable misunderstandings on both sides is more than what stems from actual religious differences. The religious differences amongst the Muslims are not ones that prevent unity; they are not ones that prevent brotherhood from forming under the Quranic spirit of "the faithful are indeed brothers." (49:10). The God that all of them worship is one and they all attest to it: "There is no God save Allah." They all believe in the prophethood of Muhammad(s) and that prophethood ended with him. They all believe that his region is the final religion. They take the Quran to be their heavenly scripture, recite it, and consider it to be their constitution. They pray in one direction and stand up to the call to pray (adhan). They all fast in one specific month of the year, the month of Ramadan. They celebrate the days of Fitr and Adha. They perform the rituals of the hajj in similar ways and gather together in Allah's sanctuary. They love and respect the family of the Prophet. This is enough for a connection between their hearts to be made and for the feelings of Islamic brotherhood to stir within them.

So take precaution against misunderstandings. Take precaution against the incorrect perceptions that the various schools have with regard to each other. Take precaution against all factors that only blacken the relationship between Muslims.

Therefore, one must refrain from bringing up the bier pas while, at the same time, prevent the spread of hose moments of decline. Instead, one must focus on the points of strength and the energetic areas of Islamic culture. Imam Khumayni clearly sates:

Muslims are obliged to treat each other with courtesy and friendship; they must have love for one another as true siblings. It is clear that love and desires increases these sentiments. That which breaks the bonds of brotherhood and causes division within the congregation is hated by the Legislator and is in opposition to His lofty goals. It is well-understood that if this greater sin becomes prevalent in a congregation, it will cause hatred, envy, spite, and enmity; it will be the root of corruption in the community. "The tree of hypocrisy will be created and the unity of the society will tear apart; the religious foundations will give way leading to the increase in corruption and evil."



A detailed analysis of what the Quran states about Islamic unity-mentioning the factors, sources, and methods of unity and the importance of refraining from fostering differences-is outside the scope of this work and beyond the ability of this author. It is clear that recognizing and presenting such an important issue would entail a complete understanding of the concepts mentioned in each verse that pertain to this subject matter and the context that the verse were revealed in. more importantly, one would require the privilege of obtaining the educational spirit of the Quran.

At the same time, however, the doors of research should not the closed due to this limitation especially since the Imams considered the Quran to be the most important axis of unity, the principles of which are taken from this sacred text. therefore, effort has been made, to the extent that was possible, to present the principles of the Quranic viewpoint in this regard. They have been divided into two categories:

A. Emphasizing Unity and Prohibiting Division 

Through a general comparison it can be claimed that no school of through or religion has emphasized unity, cooperation, and the paths of obtaining it, nor emphasized refraining from differences, division, and the negative outcomes of them more so than Islam. This is so important that it has been said: "Islam has been founded on two bases:  worshiping the One and unity. "The station of unity in Islamic culture is so high that some state its necessity is supported by the Quran, the general divine will and its consequences. The Quran praises the Islamic Ummah as being a single Ummah and which is established by exceptional men and role-models who have gathered together under the banner of faith in Allah. Furthermore, all humans, with all of their differences accounted for, are considered to have a single, common principle. The Quran, in addition to commanding people to brotherhood, unity, and cooperation in righteousness and piety, considers these concepts to be blessings which were give to the Islamic Ummah during the time of the Prophet(s) due to their acceptance of Islam and of his prophethood. The Quranic insistence and emphasis towards religious unity and he Islamic society can be noted in the following expressions: "hold fast", "correct the essence between you", "cooperate", "peace", "reform", "reform of the essence between you", "the divine colour", "love", and "brotherhood".

Likewise, the Quran put at the forefront of its teachings the prevention of enmity, malice, and hatred between individuals and groups as well as the negation of intellectual hypocrisy, controversy, and enmity. Aside from the Quran, this important issue has also been taken seriously in Islamic traditions which will be mentioned in later chapters. The Quran, as the most authoritative source of Islam, considers divisions and disputes in the society to be the "tunes of Satan" and the main factors behind destruction. The separation of Muslims into group is placed in the company of divine punishment; its results are the bitter taste of war and difficulties.

The Quran considers enmity and hatred to be the forgotten retribution of Allah; it counts them as sins and acts of rebellion. It states that they are the actions of Satan and therefore, severely prohibits rebellious struggle and enmity. The removal of this enmity has been listed as one of the important tasks of prophethood. In the opinion of this heavenly scripture, one of the main factors behind the destruction of previous nations was the division and separation of their society. The most important factor of the separation of a society is its differences in regards to religion. Rebellious struggle and division only achieve stagnation separation, and the weakening of social foundations. The Quran taught us-through the verse which emphasize thinking and pondering deeply about religion, and through the verses which command us to weigh opinions, choosing the best them-that we must refrain from unfruitful arguments and from arguments that lead to enmity. It is interesting that, while the Quran is emphasizing social compassion and the decrease of social separation and argumentation, it order Muslims to refrain from hearted intellectual debate with the People of the Scripture, it states to leave the discovery of truth of Allah and the Day of Judgment. In addressing the People of the Scripture, an invitation is given to common principles and to adopt a single front against the polytheist and the disbelievers. While giving attention to the importance of unity and brotherhood and the grave emphasis of the Quran prohibiting Muslims from heated debates, division, dividing into parties, and following different paths, the bases of differences and division can be traced back to certain ethical-moral vices such as: distrust, backbiting, seeking faults, spying on believers, accusation, defamation, abusive language, ridicule, egocentrism, arrogance, hatred, and the severance of family ties.


To be continued…