#Article (Archive)

The voice of unity- (Part iii) 3rd continuation

Jul 29, 2011, 11:36 AM

The brotherhood between the believers and between the pious-which in the world is established for Allah and in Allah-will remain in the Hereafter as well. The reason for this is that the compassion between the disbelievers in this world is out of mutual interest and therefore temporary; it is not real nor is it due to faith. This is the opposite of believers whose compassion for each other is real and based on faith in Allah. The Quran says the following about believers and dwellers of heaven:

We will remove whatever rancour there is in their breasts; [intimate like] brothers, [they will be reclining] on couches, facing one another. (15:47)

In haven, there is no form of enmity between the hearts of the believers. All of them are brothers to one another; all of them love one another. The same is true in the world as they do in the Hereafter; or, to put it in a better way, it wants Muslims to invest in their heaven and to live like the dwellers of heaven while still on earth.

This type of religious brotherhood that believers have is very valuable. Brotherhood is the biggest blessing that Allah gave to the Muslims. This brotherhood must be firm. There should not be any reason or inclination which would overshadow this brotherhood


We live in a time where tribalism has developed in the form of nationalism and has become rampant. It first started in Europe. In the past there were tribal differences, a tribe was an enemy of another; a race was an enemy to another. Now, there are differences amongst nations. It can be said that the present nations are the past tribes. The last century was the century of the growth of racism. If this form of tribalism grows and other forms of compassion are overshadowed, the people of the world will be harmed. Look at the leftovers of the former Soviet Union which are now trouble with a growing sense of nationalism. The groundwork has been laid for them to fight against each other. This is very harmful. Just recently, I read the following verse and explained it:

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 Godwary among you…. (49:13)

The issue of nations and tribes has been mentioned by Allah in this verse. Allah made the different tribes but He did not cause them to stand up to each or to negate one another. He did not cause them to overlook each other’s merits. No. instead, He created them so that they can know one another; so that they could be compassionate with one another. If tribalism grows, especially in the sphere of Islam, it would become the greatest danger for Islam. About forty or fifty years ago we saw works that were published in Arab countries which discuss the issue of tribalism. Many Arab political parties were formed based on tribal affiliation. They did not speak about Islam; they speak about their Arab tribe. This thought has grown in other Islamic countries as well. If you go to many countries you will find that their nationalism has entered people’s hearts extensively. The people are Muslims, but their nationalism might be more important to them than Islam.

If nations grow to such an extent to where Muslim nations are pitted against each other (which has unfortunately happened) there would be no hope for Islamic unity.

Yes, tribes and nations are legitimate in order for people to recognize one another: to recognize where somebody is from and what characteristics he has; recognize what one’s identity is. However, in an Islamic environment and in an Islamic society, these forms tribalism and nationalism must not undermine Islamic unity and Islamic brotherhood which Islam has brought as a divine blessing. If Muslims wake up considering their nationality first-meaning that they wake up and consider themselves our country before Islam for instance-it would be a tragedy.

The philosopher I have ever read on this matter is what Imam Khomeini® said, his message could be summarized as follows: Muslims are one Ummah-a single nation-which is called the Islamic Ummah. Their other nationalities must be overshadowed by this Ummah. It is not the case that they should be destroyed altogether; no, they should simply be overshadowed. A Muslim should first take into consideration the interests of Islam, then the interests of his nation, and then his personal interests. If Islam is in danger, all Muslims must volunteer and repel this danger. This volunteering might not be in the interests of an individual, of a tribe, of a city, or of a nation. But, it is in the interests of Islam. Islam calls for such a unity amongst various nationalities.

If a person travels from the borders of China to Indonesia nobody should ask him what nationality he is or what passport he carries. Islam made all of these nations-which comprise more than one hundred and where more than one hundred languages may be spoken-into one Ummah. All are Muslim and all share a destiny.

Of course, this does not mean that geographical borders must be removed. That would not be practical and I do not propose such a thing. Nobody else is after such a thing either, and they should not be. But what I am saying is that these borders must be protected in Islamic countries and the members of each of these areas must consider themselves Muslim before anything else-they must think about the Islamic world. If a corner of the Islamic world was attacked by foreigners then everyone should come together and repel the attack. Nobody should say that Palestinians were attacked and that does not have anything to do with us. Gambians should not say, "We are Gambians." Nigerians should not say, "We are Nigerians." Pakistanis should not say, "We are Pakistani." This is against the clear commands of Islam and goes against the tradition of the Prophet I read earlier: "Whoever wake up and does not think about Muslim affairs is not a Muslim." What more can be said on top of this?

Therefore, one should never think that a particular Muslim nation was attacked and that their nationality is different than ours or that their school of though is different than ours and hence has nothing to do with us.


This is the last issue I wish to discuss on this topic. Islam is different than madhhab (school of jurisprudence of thought). Islam is the principle of religion that all Muslims believe in. A madhhab, however, is a path to religion. In fact, this was a matter of great ingenuity on the part of Islamic scholars who named their schools as madhahib and not religions so that these different schools would not be in opposition to the principle religion. Therefore, Islamic madhahib are paths towards Islam. The source of most of them lies in the ijtihad and differences of opinions regarding the Quran and Sunnah, which stem form the understanding of an individual or a group of people.

Of course, at the advent of some madhahib politics did, in fact, have a role to play. There is no doubt about that and, God-willing, I will discuss the originations of some madhahib in detail in the future. Nonetheless, madhahib were formed. We are followers of Maliki madhhab while others are followers of the Hanafi madhhab-which, ostensibly, the majority of Muslims follow. Another may follow the Shafi’I madhhab while yet another will follow the Hanbali madhhab. Again, another person may follow the Ibadi madhhab, or Tijani or Muridi Tarikha and so on and so forth. Can the differences of these schools or Tarikhas be so great that they would overshadow Islamic unity?
To be continued