May 8, 2008, 6:34 AM
This part of the verse was about unity. As was mention, the Quran usually discusses the issue of fragmentation while discussing the issue of unity. Therefore, without delay it states: “But they fragmented their region among themselves.” The Arabic phrase used is taqatta’u which means to tear something apart with force and persistence, implying that there was a clear division between them-that they broke up to such an extent that unity was not possible thereafter. Then it states: “each party exulting in what it had.”
Here, the “difference” in question pertains to the break-up of a society or the followers of a region in such a way that specific parties are formed. The formation of parties signifies that members of all sides are willing to lay their lives down to defend their particular groups’ goals and intentions. One can say, therefore, that the form of division that is condemned by the Quran is the division that causes separation and the tearing of the Ummah into parties where each party is happy with its intent and with whatever it consider respectable. Each group considers itself to be correct and each group rejects the other groups’ ideologies-in essence, “each party exulting in what it had.
Therefore, the type of differences that is condemned is the separation of the Ummah and the formation of parties-that which is in opposition to unity. These divisions have been prohibited in the Quran; they are strictly forbidden. In reality, this form of differences is a sickness which has infected the Muslims. Such a sickness must cured before Muslims can be saves from separation and the formation of parties.
Indeed this community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord. So worship Me. They have fragmented their religion among themselves. Every one of them return to Us. (21:92-93)
Allah ordered Muslims to hold fast to the cord of unity, to become one Ummah, and to worship only one God-Allah. But, they destroyed the unity that they had amongst themselves. Allah then warns: “Every one of them will return to Us.” In these verses pertaining to division, the Quran warn people that everyone will return to Allah and He will judge between them; he will inform them as to who was correct. When the divisions stem from formation of parties, the establishment of sects, and general fragmentation, Allah states: “Every one of them will return to Us.” This expression will be explained more clearly later.
II verses which prohibit division after unity and which command holding fast to the divine cord and piety:
O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah (i.e., have piety wariness due to Him and do not die except as Muslims. Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sects]. 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 a pit of Fire, whereat He saved you from it. Thus does Allah clarify His signs for you so that you may be guided? There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous. Do not be like those who became divided [into sects] and differed after manifest signs had come to them. For such there will be a great punishment, on the day when [some] faces will turn white and [some] facer will turn black. As for those whose faces turn black [it will be said to them], ‘Did you disbelieve after your faith? So taste the punishment because of what you used to disbelieve.’ But as for those whose faces become while, they shall dwell in Allah’s mercy, and they will remain in it [forever]. These are the signs of Allah which We recite to you in truth, and Allah does not desire any wrong for the creatures. To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and to Allah all matters are returns. You are the best nation [ever] brought forth for mankind: you bid what is right and forbid what is wrong, and have faith in Allah. And if the People of the Book had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them [some] are faithful, but most of them are transgressors. They will never do you any harm, except for some hurt; and if they fight you, they will turn their backs [to flee], then they will to be helped. Abasement has been stamped upon them wherever they are confronted, except for an asylum from Allah and an asylum from the people; and they earned the wrath of Allah, and poverty was stamped upon them. That, because they would defy the signs of Allah and kill the prophets unjustly. That, because they would disobey and used to commit transgression. (3:102-112)
Through the examination of the verses, the forms of divisions and differences that the Quran prohibits will be recognized as well as the methods of curing them. The series of verse begins with the following: “O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah (i.e., have piety) with the wariness due to Him.” Undoubtedly this is a difficult obligation. Nevertheless, before the Quran commands unity, it cites piety-a piety that is due to Allah. This means that as long as the hearts are not purified and the insubordinate soul is not controlled, unity will not be reached. It is like a so-called “scholar” who wants to establish his superiority over others and insists on the validity of his speech, through it be incorrect; this will only cause division. Piety must be obtained firs. Then, the Quran stats: and do not die except as Muslims [i.e., those who submit].” In other words, one must submit to Allah till the end of his life. The person who surrenders to his carnal desires does not have piety and has not submitted to Allah. Rather, he has surrendered to his own soul, his wealth, his position-such a person will not achieve unity nor will he taste the oneness of Allah (tawhid). Therefore, the prerequisite for achieving unity, articulated in this verse and the previous verse, in piety.
Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sects]. And remember Allah’ blessing upon 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)
The above verse speaks of tafarruq, which in Arabic means “dividing in to sects.” The term taqqattu’ [in previously mentioned verses such as 21:93 and 23:53 for example] means “being torn apart,” while the term tahazzub means “dividing into parties.” All three terms share the same verb form and usually indicated emphasis or severity.
The series of verses continues with, “And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers with His blessing.” Brotherhood between the believers and their hearts being brought together is one of the biggest blessings from God. The next verse sates: And you were to the brink of a pit of Fire…” this is because of divisions and differences that they had in the Age of Ignorance. The Quran continues, “Whereat He saved you from it. Allah saved the Muslims from the sea of the fire through unity. The Arabic term inqadh al-ghariq means to save someone from drowning. Then, Allah states: “Thus does Allah clarify His signs for you so that you ma be guided.”
Consider the following concepts: piety, surrendering to Allah, holding fast to Allah’s cord, bringing together of hearts, brotherhood, divine blessing, and guidance. These divine terms are corollaries of one another (lazim and malzum). On the other, enmity in the hearts is similar to fire i.e, it is a punishment, not a mercy; it is misguidance, not guidance; it is surrendering to one’s carnal desires, not submitting to Allah.
Now that we have examined the content of he firs set of verse, we must inspect and understand the next set. Allah immediately states:
There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous (3:104).
To be continued.