" It's become cliché to say that Muslims have reduced Islam to rituals and forgotten other important tenets. While it is crucial to practice the five
pillars of Islam, for instance, we cannot ignore other basic aspects of the
faith that emphasize brother and sisterhood. Muslim unity is a Fard (obligatory
duty) according to the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet Mohamed (peace and
blessings be upon him). "
Things You Can Do To Develop A Culture Of Muslim Unity
by A. M. Mujahid
The sight is always amazing.
Pilgrims standing shoulder to shoulder-- all shades and races-- dressed in
simple white covering, stripped of all worldly barriers-- wealth, profession,
geography, class, education or other.
This enduring image of Hajj has become a hallmark of Ummah's unity in its
But as we head towards the journey of a lifetime or watch loved ones leave
the challenge remains: how do we retain this culture of unity that marks Hajj?
How do we keep the bonds of Islamic brother/sisterhood intact to fulfill our
goals as one united Ummah, especially in North America, because of a remarkable diversity compared to other parts of the world?
Here are ten practical steps for you and your community to help build unity:
1. Understand that Muslim unity is not an option
It's become cliché to say that Muslims have reduced Islam to rituals and
forgotten other important tenets. While it is crucial to practice the five
pillars of Islam, for instance, we cannot afford to overlook the other essential
part of faith which emphasize brotherhood and sisterhood.
Muslim unity is a Fard (obligatory duty) according to the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).
Consider the following references below:
>From the Quran (49:10): " The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear
God, that ye may receive Mercy. "
Also from the Quran (3:103): " 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 favor 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. "
From the Hadith:
" In their love, kindness and compassion for each other, the believers are
like a human body: when one part of it is hurt, the rests sympathizes with it
in wakefulness and fever. "
2. Reflect on Hajj as a time for Muslim unity
Use this time on a personal basis, as well as within your family and community to remind Muslims of how the Hajj is a unifying factor for Muslims. Hold a
family meeting about this topic. Organize a seminar at your mosque about how
Hajj is a beautiful symbol of Muslim unity. Make sure your speakers are those who have performed Hajj and can attest to this fact. Also brainstorm
practical ways the lessons of unity from Hajj can be implemented in your community
throughout the year and come up with an action plan in your community.
While you're planning, make Dua for unity throughout this period (the first
10 days of Zul Hijjah, which is a blessed time). Say the Masnoon Takbirat and add Talbiyah to it which is "Labbayk Allahumma
Labbayk, Labbayk la sharika laka Labbayk, Innal hamda wanni'mata laka walmulk
La sharika lak". The translation of the Talbiyah is: O my Lord, Here I am at
Your service, Here I am. There is no partner with You. Here I am. Truly, the
praise and the provisions are Yours, and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with you."
Say it with your children and family and think about its meaning, remembering that you are at Allah's service and we cannot serve unless we are united.
3. Learn tolerance towards other points of view
Isn't it interesting that we can attend classes at college or speak with the
colleagues at work and discuss issues calmy while they may disagree with us ?
Then why in a mosque or a Committee Meeting or in another Muslim community setting, all that tolerance goes out of the window ? Have we ever thought about
Islam is very broad and wide, contrary to popular belief, and you can find a
range of scholarly views on issues as diverse as how to place our hands during prayer, or whether or not Muslims should participate in the American
political process. If our scholars from the past and present have shown such
tolerance towards differing views on various issues, why can't we, the average
Muslims, not on their level of knowledge, show tolerate another point of view ?
4. Learn to criticize without hurting
The way some Muslims criticize each other, you would think they were talking
to an Islam-basher instead of a fellow brother or sister. This type of ignorant behavior is a sure way to create anger, hurt and dissension. This is no way
to help create unity.
We must learn the Adaab (etiquettes) of criticism, whether it is towards an
individual Muslim, leader or organization. Knowing and implementing it will not
only help solve many problems facing us, but it will also lead to a greater
sense of brotherhood and sisterhood in the community.
If you feel that your criticism of someone in the past was rude or hurtful,
please go back and apologize to them. Before you do that, pray for that
brother or sister, since the Prophet (s) has said that Dua increases love between
5. Avoid taking a strong position on smaller points
There is what's called a "Fiqh of priorities" and this essentially means that there are some aspects of Islam that are more important than others. For
instance, it's more important to emphasize that Muslims establish prayer than
whether or not there should be a curtain between men and women in mosques.
Knowing what our priorities are will help us avoid making secondary issues of
the faith factors of division in our communities. Muslim leaders, especially,
must not only understand this, but implement it in their communities across
North America so that small differences do not diminish Muslim unity.
6. Do not call anyone a Kafir
The horrible phenomenon of ' takfeer ' (calling fellow believers Kafirs
)must end if we want to create a climate that is conducive to unity.
Kafir-calling is a sure way to isolate individuals from the Muslim community. We must
remember that Muslims in North America come from all cultures and socio-economic
backgrounds, whether they were born and raised in the faith or reverted to
it. If a person is expressing ideas that are not in line with what you as an
Islamic value, you must exercise tolerance. Kafir-calling will only fuel
ignorance, anger and stubborness. You cannot humiliate or embarrass them.
The Prophet warned that if one person calls another Kafir and the person
called is not one, the individual who made the accusation is a Kafir, Given this
warning, isn't it sad that there is an organization in Egypt which calls
itself the Party of Declaring Others Kafirs (Jamat Takfeer wa Hijra)? What a pity ?
7. Reaching out across ethnic boundaries
The ignorant practice of maintaining ethnic mosques and centers is, Alhamdu
lillah, slowly but surely disappearing in North America. But there is still a
long way to go. All of our institutions, functions and communities in general
must become more ethnically diverse and open to the needs and concerns of
Muslims of all backgrounds. Muslim leaders and individuals have a duty to ensure
that no Muslim, regardless of their ethno-cultural background, feels shut
out of the community, ignored or neglected.
This can only be done by Muslim leaders and individuals taking the first step and reaching out to Muslims who may have been traditionally isolated because of ethnicity in mosques and other institutions. It is not enough to just
open the door to all. A direct effort has to be made to solicit feedback, advice and support from all Muslims so that they feel a part of the community.
Another, more personal way of reaching out is to invite Muslims of diverse
backgrounds to your home to share maels with them. Extend this invitation to
non-Muslims as well, to break barriers and share Islam.
8. Heed the advice found in Surah Hujurat
This 49th chapter of the Quran provides excellent guidance on the kind of
behavior that Muslims should avoid to establish Muslim unity. For instance,
Allah, advises us to avoid mockery, defamation and suspicion. These are things
that divide us by creating hatred, hurt and dissension.
Discuss the themes of Surah Hujurat relating to Muslim behavior in family
meetings, study circles and classes for young and old Muslims, Khutbas, talks,
etc. in your community to share this Divine wisdom with all.
Whenever you recall that you have done Gheebah (backbiting) against a Muslim
or non-Muslim, you should remember that you need to seek that person's forgiveness. Doing this is a prerequisite for washing off that sin.
9. Share these tips with a wider audience
Share the above-mentioned tips with fellow Muslims in your community. This
can be by asking the Khateeb during Friday and Eid prayers to use this article
as a topic for his sermon. Or you can print this out and hand it out to the
participants or publish it in your local or mosque newsletter. It's also
important to discuss it in various Muslim settings to start the thinking and
reflecting process among the Muslims.
10. Make Dua for unity
Ask your Imam Masjid to emphasize unity on Islamic duty in his Khutbahs and
suggest practical ways by which unity can be achieved in your country or
Also, ask Muslims going for Hajj to make special Dua for Muslim unity.
When the Hajis return from pilgrimage, the Prophet has encouraged us to go
forward to receive them and when we receive them, to request them for Dua as
well.This is another opportunity to seek Duas for Muslim unity.
Finally, make sure that you as an individual are not only working for unity
but making Dua for it as well, since results are all in Allah's Hands.
This article has been slightly edited for Al-Huda.