From Division Back to Unity September 15, 2007Posted by Navid in Articles.
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Peace be upon you
Note: I have kept some words in their true form as a common name, not a proper name. Thus, one will notice that certain important words that are known to be capitalized, are not. For example, the deen is referred to as “islam,” as per the quran. However, “Islam” with a capital “I” is the cultural religion the sectarians have created.
Just as any other religion consists of sects and denominations, so-called Islam does as well. Before we can reach a logical conclusion, there are two questions we must ask: Why do sects exist within Islam? And what is the quran’s view on sects in the deen?
From unity to division
Original islam is islam in its only, truest form: united. The prophet Muhammad and his followers were united as one nation. As Muhammad brought down revelations, his followers would absorb it, gain wisdom and thus become purified (3:164). These were the steps taken to advance as a muslim. All was well, so what went wrong?
As commonly known, Muhammad’s death led to a dilemma in the muslim community, a dilemma that would lead to division in the deen and ultimately “Muslims” taking man’s word as divine guidance. The muslims no longer had access to Muhammad, and therefore thought a new leader was required. What they failed to realize is that they did have access to the prophet, through the quran. So why the need to follow man, when the quran has been sent down to judge? Put simply: human nature. A component of human nature is the necessity of some kind of physical object or being for mental security.
Thus, the united community split into separate parties, sects. One group followed Abu Bakr and the other followed Ali. The former would go on to be called Sunni for following the supposed Sunna of Muhammad. The latter would go on to be called Shia for following Shiat Ali (Party of Ali); Muhammad’s family or Ahl ul Bayt (People of the House). When we learn the root cause of sects within Islam, one cannot help but realize nowhere in this differentiation is God mentioned. Obviously, all muslims believe in the validity of the quran. The division begins when humans are added into the equation. The division in Islam is solely based on which humans to take as authorities and which manmade works to follow. This is simply a continuation and a reiteration of human nature previously mentioned.
With this division, muslims are leaping backward instead of stepping forward; they are going against the very nature of the quran and the deen.
What does the quran have to say?
One cannot help but be curious about the quran’s position in the midst of this sectarian mess. Indeed, the quran openly discourages, nay, disallows sects within the deen and perhaps even predicts the events after Muhammad’s death:
And they became sects for no reason but through rivalry among themselves, after the knowledge had come to them. Had it not been for a Word that has already gone forth from your Lord for an appointed term, all matters would have been decided among them. Indeed, the later generations who inherited the Scripture of the old still keep harboring doubts about it. (42:14)
Without a doubt, it is interesting how well this lines up with the situation that took place in the past and the situation that is taking place right now. This is a clear sign against upholding sects, which is tantamount to shirk (idolatry), as the quran makes clear:
Turn unto Him alone then, and be mindful of Him, and establish the Divine System and be not of the Mushrikeen (idolaters) who ascribe ‘partners’ to Him. Those who split up their religion becoming sects, each sect delighting in whatever beliefs they have. (30:31-32)
Notice how the second statement expands on the first statement regarding the idolaters. The implications are clear: those who become sects are idolaters; indeed God knows that the cause of division lies invariably within people following human authorities and man-made works as divine guidance. Let’s look at another verse:
And yet, when God alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the life to come, shrink with aversion. But, when others are mentioned besides Him, behold, they rejoice. (39:45)
We see how the above verse lines up with 30:31-32, this is no accident. A simple arranging of verses makes things very clear because each verse expands on the other. Here we see that those who split up into sects – the idolaters – rejoice/become delighted with their separate beliefs, regarding which human authorities to obey. (30:32) Similarly, those who reject their retribution in the afterlife also rejoice/become delighted when others are mentioned beside God (e.g. “…and Muhammad is His messenger” being required at the end of the shahada). From these verses alone, we learn that people who split up into sects (1) are idolaters at some point, (2) rejoice in their different beliefs regarding human authorities, (3) also rejoice when others are mentioned beside God and (4) do not believe in their coming retribution.
And one final verse in which the quran puts it bluntly:
Those who break the unity of their deen and become sects, you have nothing to do with them whatsoever. Indeed, their case will go to God and He will then tell them what they had been doing. (6:159)
Conclusion: From Division Back to Unity
Now that we have learned the components of sectarians and that the idea of sects is contradictory with the quran, how does one go about stopping this madness within himself/herself? As mentioned, splitting up into sects is essentially based on following humans and taking man’s word as divine. Thus, to stop this, we must cease to follow humans and everything that entails. We do this by following only God’s message; the same message all of the prophets and their followers received. One must do this by studying it, following it in actions, and as a result purifying the nafs (Soul/Self), advancing as a muslim, just as Muhammad and his followers did. With all this in mind, we can return to the original islam, united as one community. This is the essence of the deen, the original islam.
Disclaimer: This article is based on my understanding of reality and the quran as of september 15, 2007. All information should be verified by oneself before accepting.