Muslim unity in the 21st Century
In this 21st century, Muslims are so looked down upon, and they are treated with disrespect and they are suspect for terrorism. Muslims are also the most oppressed people anywhere in the world. Everywhere Muslims are bullied, detained, bombed and massacred with impunity. The Muslim countries are weak and are unable to do anything to defend themselves, their people and their fellow Muslims anywhere in the world.
Common sense dictates a Muslim country needs guns and rockets, warships and warplanes, armored cars, etc to defend its sovereignty. A Muslim country cannot depend on imported military equipment, particularly from countries that are opposed to us. Muslims should invent, design, produce and test their own weapons of defense.
This goal cannot be achieved unless one has scientific and technological knowledge and skills. Acquiring knowledge and skills is mandatory in Islam. Those who learn science, mathematics and acquire technological skills are therefore obeying and fulfilling the injunctions of Islam.
There was time when Europeans had to learn from Muslims new knowledge as well as those of the Greeks and others, which the Muslims had studied, translated into Arabic and enhanced. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) brought only one Deen from Allah (SWT) that is al- Islam. But today there are many Islamic sects. They are the results of differing interpretations about Islam by different scholars through the centuries.(1)
Some of these interpretations and teachings are so different from each other that their followers actually accuse each other of not being Muslims. Indeed, they regard many who profess to be Muslims as infidels.
Because of the thousands of different interpretations of Islam and very many different sects, each claiming to be the true followers of Islam, the Muslims are thoroughly confused and disunited. Disunited, confused about Islam, fighting each other for power, lacking in essential knowledge and skills, misapplying their God-given wealth, the Muslims of today have reached the lowest point in their development.
Islam has been misinterpreted and deliberately ignoring the teachings of Islam. It is because of this that Muslims of today are backward, lacking in knowledge, unable to defend themselves and their religion, and some Muslims are forced to resort to terror in order to seek revenge.
The Qur’an clearly states that Allah (SWT) will not change our fate unless we strive to change it ourselves. And so we will come to be oppressed, to be attacked, bombed and killed, while our religion, Islam, is condemned as false by the Christian elite in the West (1).
Muslims are required to work together towards a common goal set by the Noble Qur’an and shown by the Prophet (PBUH) through his Sunnah. They are brothers and sisters because they are bonded by the common ideology of the unity of God and the unity of mankind.
These are the foundational principles of Islam. The Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) require Muslims to work for the unity of the Ummah. Muslims are required to be merciful towards each other (The Qur’an (48:29)) and be like the body where if any part hurts the whole body should feel the pain (Hadith). But, are Muslims practicing this injunction of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)? Instead of feeling the pain and misery of other Muslims (Chechens, Palestinians, Kashmiris, for example), most of us are happily enjoying our material comforts of life.
Is Muslim unity only a dream that cannot be fulfilled? Some may argue that all this talk of Muslim unity is out of date.
Probably, there are no people in the world today who have been as divided as Muslims. They are divided along religious, political, ethnic, cultural, racial, linguistic, and sectarian lines. These divisions extend further into subdivisions. Status, wealth, fame, and fortune have also created social differences among Muslims. Dr. Mansoor Alam says: “Muslims are divided at the root into Sunnis and Shias. Sunnis are further divided into Hanafi, Maliki, Sha’fi, and Hanbali. Shi’as too are divided into Kesania, Zaidia, Imamia or Ithna ‘Ashari, Ismailia, etc. Sunnis are also divided into Ahle-hadith and Ahle-fiqha.
Similar differences exist in other places as well. Are all these divisions and differences schools of thought as many Muslims claim? Whether or not we admit it, these differences and divisions do create physical, emotional, and psychological barriers amongst us. Iqbal says that these differences create prejudice in human beings.”
Although there has been gross political deviation within Islam, this can be rectified easily - because, Alhamdulillah, the Islamic framework is still alive and Al-Qur’an, the eternal constitution of the world, is ever present in the Muslim hearts. Repentance for the past negligence and pledge for the present, these two things being acceptable to Allah (SWT), are the pre-requisites for any success.