TOPIC: The Virtue of Unity and Danger of Disunity
All praise and adoration belong to Allah the perfect being. May His peace continue to shower upon the prophet Muhammad, his companions, household, and the entire Muslims.
As we move nearer to the election days in Nigeria, it is pertinent for us to remember that we can only enjoy a stable polity if we take the issue of unity more seriously.
Generally speaking, unity is an unavoidable measure for the development and for the attainment of one’s needs. It is on the basis of unity the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ECOMOG, G8 and lots of others were established.
The Muslim Ummah is supposed to lead for others to follow and in this issue of unity if Muslims can be united it will go a long way in creating the much expected unity in the larger society, Nigeria. Then why should the Muslims divide? No doubt, all persecutions, humiliations, disgrace and extreme poverty befalling the Ummah are nothing but resultant effects of its division.
Unity is the central focus and one of the wisdom in legislating Ramadan fasting with greater emphasis on the need for all Muslims to be united and shun all trivial issues that tend to divide them. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“Surely, this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher, therefore serve me and no other. But they broke their religion into sects among them; yet they will all return to Us.” [Q21:92-93]
And He the Most High said:
“And surely this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher, therefore fear Me and no other. But people have broken their religion into sects, each group rejoicing in that which is with them. But leave them in their confused ignorance for a time.” [Qur’an, 23:52-54]
The evil consequences of division may include: 1. Shielding Allah’s mercy and support, 2. Loss of power and strength, 3. Failure to achieve our goals.
4. Division substitutes love with hatred, trust with suspicion, and peace with conflict, 5. Division dissipates our energy in empty arguments instead of benefiting ourselves and others, 6. Division distracts people away from Da’awah, 7. Division leads to disgrace here and in the Hereafter.
Hold Fast Together and Let Nothing Divide You
The first step in handling this serious problem is to be aware of its dangers, because division and disunity weaken our communities and open the doors to our enemies. Qur’an warned against division and disputes:
And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart from you; and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient. (Al-Anfal 8:46)
We should realize that working toward unity of the Muslim groups is a collective duty upon all of us. We need to focus our efforts to purify ourselves and eliminate from our communities all those problems that cause division and disunity.
Muslim groups must work together to correct their faith, follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), cooperate on good purposes in all fields. Then as a result of this, Allah (Exalted be He) will unit their hearts. Qur’an says:
If you had spent all that is in the earth you could not have attuned their hearts, but Allah has attuned them. (Al-Anfal 8:63)
Here are some pieces of advice for those who working in da`wah to keep in the back of their minds:
- Stick firm to the way of Allah and let nothing divide you, no matter how little it might seem.
- Unity is one of the great blessings of Allah.
- Your unity must be your first priority.
- Seek protection in your unity and work together under the spirit of one team.
- Beware of those who want to divide you; do not give them a chance.
- Your unity must be based on Islamic principles: faith, brotherhood, justice, and equality.
- The purpose of your unity must be serving the interests of all people regardless of their color, race and it must not be achieving some casual benefits for only a group of people.
Efforts of da`wah groups would not be fruitful unless they forget their differences, make da`wah the center of their interests, cooperate with each other, and coordinate their work. They should not forget that they are working for the same aim and under the same banner. They must all hold fast together to the way of Allah, not for gaining followers of this group or that, or achieving worldly interests. Qur’an says,
And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah and let nothing divide you. (Aal `Imran 3:103)
However, working under the spirit of one team does not mean not to have any kind of disagreements at all. The Companions of the Prophet were in complete harmony with each other and were sincere brothers, but in spite of this, they had disagreements concerning different matters of the branches of faith.
The famous Muslim thinker of modern times, Rashid Rida, laid a golden principle:
“We must cooperate in matters wherein we agree and excuse one another in those wherein we disagree.”
However, disagreements must be avoided, under all circumstances, if they are related to the fundamentals of the religion, work against the interests of Muslims, or may lead to disputes, conflict, and disunity among Muslims.