Saturday, November 21, 2009

REFLECTIONS: Unity of The Muslim Ummah

As millions of Muslims travel to Makkah this month to perform Hajj, we congratulate them on their journey, and ask Allah سبحانه وتعالى to bless them with the completion of their obligation. May Allah سبحانه وتعالى shower His سبحانه وتعالى rewards and blessings upon them and return them home safely.


The Ibadat of Hajj is an amazing event where millions of Muslims gather from around the world: wearing the same clothes and exerting their effort to fulfill this pillar of Islam. Contemplating upon the Hajj, our attention is drawn to one of the vital issues of this Ummah. Muslims with different backgrounds, from distant places, speaking different languages and of different colours and cultures; all come together to the same place and at the same time to perform an act of worship out of total obedience and submission to the one and only ilah: Allah سبحانه وتعالى. As all the differences disappear, Hajj illustrates the unity that Islam naturally brings about to Muslims. Islam makes it an obligation upon all Muslims to unite not just in Ibadat, like Hajj and Fasting, but rather it seeks a true and complete unity of the Ummah in all aspects of life. We will, inshAllah in this issue, shed some light on the type of unity that Islam calls for.

Vital Issues in Islam

A study of the Quran and Sunnah reveals that Islam has identified some issues and made them vital to all Muslims. These issues require the sacrifice of wealth and resources, including the lives of the Muslims themselves. In other words, vital issues in Islam are literally "life and death" issues. Furthermore, the Shariah provides details as to how the Muslims must deal with these issues. One example is the implementation of the rules of Islam. In the following hadeeth narrated by Aisha (ra) Usama Bin Zayd (ra) approached the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in order to intercede on behalf of a woman (from the elite tribe of Bani Makhzoom) who had committed theft. After Usama (ra) made his request to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the colour of the face of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم changed, and he said:

"Do you intercede in one of the prescribed punishments of Allah?" He (Usama) said: 'Messenger of Allah, seek forgiveness for me.' When it was dusk, RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم stood up and gave an address. He (first) glorified Allah as He deserves, and then said: "Now to our topic. This (injustice) destroyed those before you that when any one of (high) rank committed theft among them, they spared him, and when any weak one among them committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, even if Fatima daughter of Muhammad were to commit theft, I would have cut off her hand." [Muslim]

RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم made a clear and strong connection between being lenient in implementing the laws of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and the destruction of previous nations. He صلى الله عليه وسلم would make no compromise even if his own daughter, Fatima (ra), were to transgress the rules of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.

In the story of the apostates during the Khilafah of Abu Bakr (ra) when they refused to pay Zakat, Abu Bakr (ra) said to Umar (ra), "Oh by Allah, if they do not pay even a camel rope (used to tie camels) they used to pay to RasulAllah, I will fight them for it.". This is despite the fact that most of Arabia apostatized and rebelled against the Muslims who were largely outnumbered by them. Yet, Abu Bakr (ra), with the support of all the Sahabah of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم, did not accept anything less than the full implementation of the rules of Islam and, as a result, went to war against the rebels. The fact that Abu Bakr (ra) would resort to fighting demonstrates that he understood this issue as a matter of life and death - meaning he saw it necessary to put the Sahabah and the Ummah in harm's way to end the rebellion.

The stance that RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم took with Usama Bin Zayd (ra) and the stance that Abu Bakr (ra) took with those that refused to pay Zakat, illustrates that Islam has made the implementation of Shariah a vital issue. The Ummah must make it its highest priority to implement Islam comprehensively, as it is a matter of life and death.

Unity of the Muslim Ummah - A Vital Issue

Islam has also made the unity of the Muslim Ummah and the unity of the Islamic State one of the vital issues; an issue of life and death. This includes the prohibition of having more than one khalifah, the prohibition of dividing the Ummah into more than one political entity, and the prohibition of rebelling against an imam that implements Islam.

First, Islam prohibited the existence of more than one khalifah for the Muslims. That is, the Muslims must only have one state. It has been narrated by Abdullah Bin Amr Bin Ul-Aas (ra) that RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

"He who pledged his Bay'a to an Imam giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart shall obey him as long as he can, and if another comes to dispute with him, you must strike the neck of that man." [Muslim]

Abu Said Al-Khudri narrated that RasoulaAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

"If a Bay'a has been taken for two Khalifahs, kill the latter of them." [Muslim]

Hence, he صلى الله عليه وسلم made the unity of the state a vital issue when he prohibited the existence of more than one khalifah for the Muslims and ordered the killing of anyone who attempts to establish a separate rule, unless he retracts.

Second, Islam prohibited the division and fragmentation of the Muslim Ummah. It has been narrated on the authority of Ajrafa (ra) who said: I heard RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم say:

"He who comes to you while your affair has been united under one man, intending to drive a wedge between you or fragment your group, kill him." [Bukhari & Muslim]

Furthermore, Ziyad Ibn Alaaqah (ra) narrated that RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

"There will be bad and evil things happening, and who wants to fragment this Ummah when it is all united, strike him by sword whoever he is." [Muslim]

So, he صلى الله عليه وسلم made the unity of the Ummah and the unity of the Muslim state a vital issue when he prohibited the fragmentation of the Ummah and ordered the killing of anyone who attempts to divide it, unless he retracts.

Third, a rebellion against the Imam of the Muslims, namely the Khalifah, is forbidden, due to the fact that rebellions lead to the disunity of the Muslims, the shedding of their blood and the squandering of their wealth. Allah سبحانه وتعالى revealed:

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ

"If two factions from among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them; and if one of them transgresses against the other, then fight the one that transgresses until it complies with the Command of Allah." [Al-Hujraat, 49:9]

Al-Qurtubi in his tafseer states that this is an evidence for the obligation of fighting those who transgress and rebel against the Shariah and a just imam (ruler) while refusing to repent. RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

"He who rebels against my Ummah while they are united, strike his neck with the sword whoever he may be." [Muslim]

Consequently, Allah سبحانه وتعالى prohibited the Muslims from having more than one state or one Khalifah (ruler). Allah سبحانه وتعالى also prohibited the Ummah from rebelling against the khalifah and causing division within the Ummah. Allah سبحانه وتعالى made this unity an obligation and a vital issue when He made it an issue of life and death.

Throughout the history of this Ummah, the Muslims viewed the issue of unity to be the most important and most critical of matters. They never used to be lenient on this issue towards any Muslim whoever he might have been. Ali (ra) was never lenient with Muawiyyah, nor were the Ummayyads or the Abbasids lenient with the Khawarij. Before liberating Al-Aqsa and defeating the Crusaders, Salah-ul-Deen and and his uncle Imad-ul-Deen Zinki worked tirelessly to unite the Ummah.

However, when the Khilafah became weak and the understanding of Islam declined, Muslims kept silent over the breakaway of Islamic lands from the body of the Khilafah. Thus, a wedge was driven between the Muslims and the Khilafah state fragmented into many insignificant countries. This occurred despite the fact that the breakaway of any country from the body of the Muslim state is a vital issue, which stipulates either the repentance of the rebels or the waging of war against them - regardless of the cost in lives or wealth.

Unity According to Islam

Therefore, it should be clear that the unity Islam calls for is a matter of life and death. However, this unity is not the unity of separate Muslim countries where each is ruled by an independent ruler with some form of a union. It is also not a unity based on economics or currency. It is not a unity based on agreements or treaties between separate Muslim countries. All of these are non-Shari'e forms of unity that only serve to distract Muslims from the correct form of Islamic unity. The unity that Islam obliges upon all Muslims is the unity of all Muslim lands under one state ruled by a single Khalifah (ruler). That is "One Aqeedah, One Ummah, One State". This is the true meaning of Muslim unity that we must adhere to and advocate amongst the global Muslim community. We must elevate the issue of uniting the Ummah from where it is today to where it was during the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the generations that followed. As RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions did, we must not accept anything less than the comprehensive implementation of this obligation.

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