Causes & Cures of Division and Disputes among the Muslims
Causes of Division
Through many Qur’anic verses Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) laid down the most important basis for the Muslim ummah, in which Muslims should understand and implement in their lives. Especially for those vital issues related to the Muslim ummah like: The causes of division and disputes.
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in surat Al-Imran, (Verses 102 & 103), what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Obtain taqwah of Allah as His taqwah should be obtained, and do not die except in a state of Islam. And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren and you were on the brink of a Pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat clear to you, that you may be guided."
And in the same surah, (Verses 105-107), Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) also says, what can be translated as, "And do no be as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment. On the Day (Day of Judgment) when some faces will become bright and some faces will become dark; as for those whose faces will become dark (to them will be said): "Did you reject faith after accepting it? Then taste the torment for rejecting faith. And for those whose faces will become Bright, they will be in Allah’s Mercy, therein they shall dwell forever."
In these verses, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) indicates that the desired Muslim ummah is founded on two important bases. This foundation enables the Muslim ummah to perform the great task, which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) ordains, in leading other nations to their goodness and happiness. Also, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) indicates that if one or both of these bases are absent, the whole society will collapse, and it will not be able to perform the task that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) assigned.
The first of these basis is taqwa of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) or piety, because when Muslims have taqwa of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), they will avoid doing anything which is not pleasing to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). And also they will fulfill their duty towards Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and towards other people.
The second base is unity among themselves, because the disunity and division are characteristics of the disbelievers. Before the prevalence of Islam, the Muslim ummah was scattered fighting tribes, but Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) connected their hearts by Islam and they became loving brothers, all worshiping the same Elah, and all fearing the same Elah. He is Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) who joined their hearts and molded their differences into one unitedummah, and he is Allah who warns Muslims from breaking down this unity that He created. And in the Day of Judgment, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) addresses those who fall into divisions and disputes saying, "Did you reject faith after accepting it?"
For this the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said in his last sermon to the Muslims, reported by Imam Muslim, "After my death, don’t turn into kuffar infidels fighting and killing each other."
Indeed, disunity and division are the greatest problems, which the Muslim ummah face today. This is the main problem, which divided the Islamic world into small weak fragments and divided us here into different groups. And it is our duty to purify our society from this disease. However, for knowing the cure, we should know the cause of the illness. But it is not hard for Muslims who read Qur’an to know the reasons, because the Qur’an mention them explicitly in many verses.
1. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in surat Al-An’am, (Verse 153), what can be translated as, "And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."
This verse reveals one reason, which is the deviation from the right path, which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) prescribed for us. This verse also tells us that there are many other scattered paths, but they belong to Satan. Whatever their names and banners are (like nationalism, regionalism, patriotism, tribalism, etc.) And whenever the Muslims follow the path of Satan, they will scatter and fall into disputes and division. This is what we see in the present situation nowadays of our Islamic ummah. Muslims have ignored the unique and right way that used to hold them united. They followed the path of Satan, which made their ummah disintegrate into small parts and groups. Each of them thinking of themselves as the one carrying the truth and following the right path.
2. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) reveals a second reason, in another verse in Surat Al-Ma’idah, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "They have abandoned a good part of the message that was sent to them. So we planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection."
This verse tells us that abandoning or dismantling a part of the Islamic shari’ah the message that Allah conveyed to us will create animosity and hatred between us. This verse also tells us that we should implement the rules of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as a whole-integrated system. We should not break it into pieces to choose some rules and leave others. We can see this situation happening in many Islamic countries. This includes those who claim to implement the rules of Islam, but still, there is no Khalifa. They are not establishing jihad, not adopting the Islamic economic system, and do not implement the laws of Islam as it should be implemented.
3. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) reveals a third reason, in surat Ash-Shura, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "And they did not divide till the knowledge had come to them, through selfish transgression between themselves."
Selfish transgression is one of the causes of disunity and division among the people. In an authentic hadith reported by Imams Ahmad and At-Tirmithi that the prophet (ﷺ) emphasized that envy and hatred are the main reasons for division of this ummah as well as to the previous one. He (ﷺ) said, "Among you spread the disease of previous nations, it is the envy and hatred. It is what I call the shaver which whips out your dean the same way the shaver shaves hair."
Envy, one of the harmful diseases spreads between Muslims differentiating their hearts, making them hate one another, This is the selfish transgression between themselves. And in this kind of sick and effected society, unity and love never prevail.
4. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) reveals a fourth reason, in surat Huod, (Verse 118), what can be translated as, "But they (people) will not cease to disagree. Except him on whom your Lord Has bestowed His Mercy."
This verse implies that people’s disputes are a sign of missing the mercy of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Because Allah might shield His mercy from people when they don’t deserve it. In another verse in surat At-Tawbah, (Verse 71), Allah (S.W.T) says what can be translated as, "The believers, men and women, are "Awliya" of one another, they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil; they offer their prayers perfectly: and give the zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Might, All-Wise." These are the characteristics of the people who deserve the mercy of Allah, Who will join their hearts in love. But they will not deserve His mercy; those people who do not protect one another, who do not enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. Also, they do not deserve the mercy of Allah those who do not establish regular prayers and give charity. And it is not allowed to neglect any of the characteristics because this will lead to disputations and the loss of Allah’s mercy.
The prophet has explained and emphasized this concept to us in a hadith reported by Imams Abu-Dawud and At-Tirmithi that the prophet (ﷺ) said, "The first sign of corruption of the people of the children of Israel was when a man met another and found him doing wrong, he just told him fear Allah and stop your wrong doing, then the same man met him the next day and saw him in the same situation, but this did not prevent him from being his companion with whom he ate, drank, and lived. For this reason Allah divided their hearts". Then he recited (verses 78 & 79) in surat Al-Ma’idah, what can be translated as, "Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and were transgressing beyond bound. They used to not forbid one another from the wrong, which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do." And then the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, "I swear by Allah you have to forbid what is wrong and enjoin what is good and to stop the aggressor from his aggression and to force him to follow the truth or Allah will divide your heart then He, Allah will curse you as he did to the children of Israel before you."
Finally, we should realize that working toward unity of the Muslim ummah is our duty which should be collective work that needs all our efforts. Yes, it needs all our effort without any exception starting from purifying our selves and our communities from all those problems that cause division and disunity. We should realize the dangers of disunity in our communities, because division and disunity will weaken the ummah and open the door to our enemies, which lead to the total destruction.
Cures of Division
The Imam mentioned last Friday about not being united and about the divisions and disputes that our Muslim ummah (nation) is facing nowadays. He pointed out four causes why this is happening as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) mentioned in the Qur’an. Briefly they are:
First by ignoring the righteous and straight path that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has command us to follow. There will be other paths, but we must not go to these paths, because these will be the paths of Satan and will cause us to do bad things and follow Satan’s way. As mentioned in the Qur’an, in surat Al-An’am, (Verse 153), what can be translated as, "And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."
Second by abandoning or dismantling a part of the Islamic sharia’h message that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) conveyed to us. As mentioned in the Qur’an, in surat Al-Ma’idah, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "They have abandoned a good part of the message that was sent to them. So We planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection."
Third the people becoming envious and rebellious towards each other as mentioned in the Qur’an, in surat Ash-Shura, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "And they did not divide till the knowledge had come to them, through selfish transgression between themselves."
Fourth missing out on the mercy of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) among the people because they are rejecting the truth or righteousness of Allah’s commands and practicing what Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger forbade for them. As mentioned in the Qur’an, in surat Huod, (Verse 118), what can be translated as, "But they (people) will not cease to disagree. Except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy."
By knowing these facts we will realize what are the real and main causes behind the division and disputes among the people that resulted in disunity among our Muslim ummah.
Some people blame this situation of disunity among our Muslim ummah on Political, Economical, and Sociological reasons. But they are wrong in their speculations. Even though we realize and admit that all these problems and others exist, but they forget and ignored that we are a Muslim ummah. The deen of Islam is the foundation that this ummah has been united on for many centuries, from the far east to the west, even though we are different people, who come from different nations, languages, and races. This reality has been proven by history.
Every Nation that wants to be united should have a common factor to unit them. For us Muslims it is only the deen of Islam. Yes, it is only the deen of Islam.
It is not enough for us to search and trying to find the reasons that cause disunity and division among our Muslim ummah, but we have to realize the responsibilities that are upon us, to achieve our goal, which is to unite our ummah. It is not right to ignore our duties and neglect our responsibilities or to even pass them on to someone else, like the corrupted regimes, governments, and authorities that exist today in the Muslimummah. Also we should not always blame our enemies and what they do against us. We should carry our share of responsibility because everyone, without exception needs to help solve this problem.
The solution for the first cause of disunity would be to grab a hold of the righteous path and live by it. That path the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) described to us in his hadith, "I left you a white clear path to stay on and to follow. Whoever fails to stay on this path will parish." He (ﷺ) explained more clearly to us in another hadith, "I left among of you two things, the book of Allah and my sunnah, as long as you go by them you will not be mislead."
We have to be cautions from following Satan’s calls and ways. Every way that is different from the righteous way is Satan’s way, which rises up every time in a new idea, shape, or style. It is enough for us to follow others, the eastern and the western in what they do. We have to stop misleading ourselves by following different methods and having prejudice between each other. Lets erase the differences between each other and be one Muslim ummah and one body. As the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) stated in his hadith, "Muslims in their caring, mercy, and support for each others, is like one body, when a part of it suffers from pain, the rest of it would suffer by a fever and sleeplessness."
And our responsibility to resolve the second cause of disunity is to believe entirely in our deen that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) sent to us. And to implement it completely in our daily life, and beware of those who are misusing Islam by believing only in parts of it and rejecting other parts. As Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) mentions in surat Al-Baqarah, (Verse 85), what can be translated as, "Do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in this worldly life, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do."
To resolve the third cause of disunity we should avoid selfish transgression between ourselves. We should protect other people’s rights and fulfill all of our duties towards others like care, love, stand by, and advise each other instead of being envious and rebellious towards each other.
To resolve the fourth cause of disunity we should stay in the situation that deserves the mercy of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), which is righteousness by practicing in ourselves. That Allah (S.W.T) mentioned in surat At-Tawbah, (Verse 71), what can be translated as, "The believers, men and women are "awliay" of one another, they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil; they offer their prayers perfectly: and give the zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Might, All-Wise."
Finally, I want to make it clear that division and disunity that we have talked about which Islam warned us against is different from what we know of the differences and disagreements among the Muslim scholars. Like Imam Abu-Hanifah, Malik, Shafie, and Ibn-Hanbal, (May Allah Be Pleased With All of Them) in their different opinions in the minor matters related to sharia’h. This kind of disagreement or difference of opinion is natural and is allowed. This happened in many incidents during the life of prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that He (ﷺ) said on the day of the battle of Al-Ahzab, to his companions,"No one among of you should pray Aser except at Bani-Quradah village." Aser time came while the companions were in their way. Some of them said we should not pray Aser until we reach the village. Others said no, we should pray Aser before its time is over, because the prophet (ﷺ) wants from us to hurry, but not to delay Aser from its time. One group stopped and prayed Aser on their way. The other group continued until they reached the village after sunset and prayed Aser their. Later when they met the prophet (ﷺ), they told him about their different understandings. The prophet (ﷺ) did not blame any of them." This is a very clear evidence of the approval of the prophet for both opinions and understandings.
Today, as followers of those great Imams, we should respect their understandings, because they are qualified scalars. Also we should not use our affiliation to any of them as a reason to divide ourselves. We have a right to follow what we believe is correct, in the same time we should not prevent other Muslims from following what they believe is right.
I pray to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to join our hearts and unite our community and Muslim ummah on the right path. Ameen