Friday, March 12, 2010
Unity of the Ummah (Translated and adapted from an extract of Perspektif Qur’ani – Siri Wacana Tematik by Dato'Dr Siddiq Fadhil, President of Kolej Dar al Hikmah.)
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A. Mankind: Unity and Discord
Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book, after the clear Signs came to them, did not differ among themselves, except through selfish contumacy. Allah by His Grace Guided the believers to the Truth, concerning that wherein they differed. For Allah guided whom He will to a path that is straight.
Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of Allah?" Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!
The history of mankind began with unity. The family of Prophet Adam a.s. was founded on the basis of tawhid and obedience to Allah s.w.t. It lasted until the incident of the conflict between Qabil and Habil which was caused by envy and jealousy resulting in malice in the pursuit of worldly interests. Thus began disunity and the spilling of blood among mankind caused by hubb al dunya – the love of this world in the widest meaning. That is its essence throughout history. So the overwhelming influence of material interests cause mankind to fail in controlling themselves, being dominated by selfish desires, envy and thereby rejecting truth.
The Messengers and the Mission to Unify the Ummah
The Messengers were sent bringing with them the kitab, the books of revelation. The mission they were sent forth contained in the books referred to resolving conflict among mankind – faslun bayna al-nas fi al-khalifat. The general resolutions offered by the prophets were summed up by the following:
Unity of faith -‘aqidah
Unity of shari’ah (laws)
Unity of set personal values (akhlaq and amal salih)
The message was basically delivered in two methods: al tabshir and al tandhir. The first approach in an inviting style, encouragement, motivation and fulfilling hopes. The second approach is firm, with warnings and threats to instil serious concern.
Insincerity the Cause of Disunity
The books revealed by Allah s.w.t. clearly contained all the ingredients needed for achieving unity. None of it brought any message for disunity. But because of envy and self interests, mankind (as in the case of the ahl al-kitab) stooped to corrupting the holy books to become the source of disunity.
Reaching Out and Tribulations: Part and Parcel of the same Package
Accepting the truth of Allah s.w.t. and be willing to spread the message of Islam is not enough just by pronouncements of the lips. It ought to be proven meaningfully by willingness to sacrifice in upholding and defending it in the face of tribulations. Those who reject truth do not only reject but they try to drag others along with them. When they are unable to reject truth by the strength of arguments and rationality, they tend to use force which becomes vicious and brutal.
Hardships and tests are an integral part of upholding the truth. Sincerity is measured according to the will to withstand the challenges. Thus, Allah s.w.t. determines (sunatu’Llah) to all communities throughout history.
Allah’s Help: A Sure Promise
The tests are meant to show proof and are not merely torment. Allah’s help will surely arrive in the end. But the exact moment and timing is only determined by Allah s.w.t. and man has no part in scheduling it. Mankind will always be in a hurry wanting things to happen instantly without realising the consequences. Man has to submit to Allah s.w.t., put their trust in Him alone and let Allah s.w.t. determine the appointed time to answer the prayers of His servants.
B. The Ummah: The Source of Discord and the Basis of Unity
From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them, with enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the day of judgment. And soon will God show them what it is they have done.
The tragic revelation of the discord and conflict among the Christians is meant as a lesson for us to learn from the past. History is part of Sunnatu’Llah which is permanent. Disunity is a calamity from Allah caused by mankind’s own deviation and departure from the truth.
The biggest deviation is by betraying the oath to hold on to Allah’s teachings which man has pledged primordially. They forget that the core teaching is tawhid. This is the primary cause of being deviated and affects the subsequent deviations.
Forgetting and neglecting Allah’s reminder brings about the calamity of never ending discord until Doomsday. This is seen from the discords, conflicts and wars among the Christians which engulfed all aspects of life: religion, politics and social order, from then until now. That is only the calamity of this world because there will be worst waiting for them in the Hereafter when Allah s.w.t. shall reveal and expose all that they have done in this world.
Unity: The Basis and the Aims
Ali ‘Imran 102-104:-
O ye who believe! Fear God as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.
Brotherhood and unity meant in the verses is not merely unity but unity in belief in Allah the One and Only, brotherhood in the system and laws (manhaj and shari’ah) of Allah, unity in the cause of upholding Allah’s teachings. Unity according to the Qur’an is unity based on the feeling of brotherhood nurtured by taqwa (God consciousness) and Islam.
Brotherhood formed by habli’Llah (religion of Allah) is priceless grace and bounty, conferred by Allah s.w.t. only to those He loves. This was truly felt by those who experienced the transformation from being enemies to becoming brothers like what happened to the Aus and the Khazraj. Both were Arabs, of the same race, culture and locality (Yathrib) with hereditary conflict, feuds and unending enmity in the midst of a Jewish presence which instigated the continuing conflict to savour the opportunities and reap the profits from the discord. There was never a formula whether political, economic or tribal which could unify them. That formula for unification was only found in Islam. Only Islam ended this grave conflict and hereditary vindictiveness.
Unity cannot be based merely on calculating political gains or losses. It comes from the heart of a conscious Muslim and has embraced Islam fully (in obedience and subservience to Allah). The verse does not say fa’allafa baynakum (peace between you) but says fa’allafa bayna qulubikum (peace between your hearts). It is obvious that the success of any effort towards unity depends on the heart and more importantly the blessing and granting of Allah’s grace (the bounty of brotherhood).
Unity by itself is meaningless if it does not have value. Its value is determined by its foundation and its aims. The foundation should be a commitment towards the shari’ah and its aim is to uphold and establish Allah’s teachings as illustrated by al-da’wah ila al-khayr wa al-amr bi al-ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar (inviting towards the best, enjoining good and forbidding evil). Unity towards mobilising strength to deliver Islam is its completeness.
It is Allah’s will that determines discord and conflict, and it is also Allah’s will to grant the bounties of brotherhood and unity. There is no other way to bring about unity except by truly returning to Allah s.w.t..
*Translated and adapted from an extract of Perspektif Qur’ani – Siri Wacana Tematik by Dr Siddiq Fadil, President of Kolej Dar al Hikmah.