And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you, for you were enemies and He united your hearts, so that by His grace you became brothers"(3:103)
There is no doubt that we cannot live in peace and harmony without a state of unity. It is clear from the above that Almighty Allah has made unity an obligation for all Muslims, irrespective of their opinions.
Unity among Muslims is a pre-requisite. It is this bond that will protect Islam. The cohesive relationship that we maintain among ourselves will add more strength to the Muslim world to withstand any form of aggression. If we are to divide then we are creating opportunities for defeat. The most profound obstacle to unity lies within the mind and soul of the Muslims.
In other verses the Almighty Allah clearly indicates that He will severely punish the instigators of disunity:
"Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful penalty.."(3:105)
It is evident that many catastrophes, crises, and disturbances are occurring in the Muslim world. Look at the massacres in Kosovo; the genocide in Iraq; the killings in Pakistan; the US bombings in Afghanistan; the civil war in Sudan; the riots in Somalia, the factional fighting in Sri Lanka etc. Muslims seem to be in a complete state of uncertainty and grief. Most Islamic intellectuals agree that all this is a direct consequence of disunity amongst Muslims:
"And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, (and) if you (Muslims in the world) do not do so (become united) there will be fitnah (wars, battles) and oppression on earth, and a great mischief and corruption".(8: 73)
About fifty years ago Muslims were considered not so educated and not so rich but this has changed. Many of the Muslim countries are well to do now and their populations better educated. But yet we have failed to realize the importance and significance of unity. We are being exploited exactly the same way as before. The fundamental reason is that our leadership in almost all Muslim countries has become dependent on the western world and thus remain puppet regimes.
Muslims in general feel awkward to identify their own philosophy and way of life. Our values and beliefs are subordinated to materialistic values of the West. What a pity! As a result the Brotherhood of Islam is at the crossroads!
It is important to appreciate that disagreements between Muslims are unavoidable. We must be able to clearly distinguish between expressing differences of opinion and creating hatred and dissension in the community. This is evident in the holy Quran, where we understand that a beautiful sign of the Almighty's infinite creativity is the variation and diversity that we find everywhere in the universe. As people differ in intelligence levels, aptitudes and levels of understanding, we can expect differences of opinion.
Regarding understanding the deep and rich meanings of the holy Quran and the Sunnah, Muslim scholars will inevitably differ with each other. It is important to make clear that unity in the Islamic context does not mean uniformity.
However this process must not lead to disregard and rivalry.
In establishment of unity between Muslims, we cannot have the objective of eliminating the diversity of various Islamic sects, rather we consider the convergence of Muslim thoughts and discuss topics of interest in which there is common agreement.
"Say, O, people of the book! Come to a word common between us and you."
Thus irrespective of the divergent view and practices of the Muslims, as long as all sects agree to worship the Almighty Allah (SWT) and obey Prophet Mohammad (SAW) we will all remain inside the extensive circle of the Muslim Ummah.
We can all agree that unity can be achieved if we build it on the original sources of guidance, the holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). This is the basic requirement. As Muslims we need to start our arguments and dialogues from the point of harmony.
One major obstacle in achieving Islamic unity is that there are some Muslims who use every possible means of attacking other Muslim sects publicly either verbally or by means of force. This is manifested either by speeches or writings in books and journals, or through instigating series of killings and violence. These people are not only severely damaging the slow process of unity, but are greatly aiding the enemies of Islam in achieving their vicious goals of total Islamic destruction. This is particularly noted in the South Asian region and has spread to Sri Lanka as well of recent times.
Muslims are badly divided; the irony is that they all claim to be following the Prophet (SAW) and his Sunnah. The prayer, which was once a symbol of real unity and strength, has now degenerated into a symbol of disunity and weakness. Mosques, which should be exclusively for Allah Almighty (72:18) and thus a sign of unity, instead have now become a symbol of our group identities. We guard these identities very jealously and zealously.
“And do not be like the Mushrikun. Those who split up their religion,
and become sects, - each sect rejoicing in that which is with itself.” (30:31,32)
“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you (Muhammad) have no part in them in the least.” (6:159)
The above verses clearly indicate that dividing the Ummah is a serious offence against Allah and the Prophet (SAW).
The overriding goal of all the groups in Islam ought to be unity. Unity in its true form is all powerful. The Muslim world must establish a powerful ‘watchdog’ that will undertake to preserve unity among all Muslim nations/groups.