In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

The Causes of Division and Disputes among the Muslims

(Friday speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N.C., on March 4, 1988)

Through many Qur’anic verses Allah (S.W.T.) laid down the most important basis for the Muslim ummah, in which Muslims should understand and implement in their lives. Especially for those vital issues related to the Muslim ummah like: The causes of division and disputes.

Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Imran, (Verses 102 & 103), what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Obtain taqwah of Allah as His taqwah should be obtained, and do not die except in a state of Islam. And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren and you were on the brink of a Pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat clear to you, that you may be guided."

And in the same surah, (Verses 105-107), Allah (S.W.T.) also says, what can be translated as, "And do no be as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment. On the Day (Day of Judgment) when some faces will become bright and some faces will become dark; as for those whose faces will become dark (to them will be said): "Did you reject faith after accepting it? Then taste the torment for rejecting faith. And for those whose faces will become Bright, they will be in Allah’s Mercy, therein they shall dwell forever."

In these verses, Allah (S.W.T.) indicates that the desired Muslim ummah is founded on two important bases. This foundation enables the Muslim ummah to perform the great task, which Allah (S.W.T.) ordains, in leading other nations to their goodness and happiness. Also, Allah (S.W.T.) indicates that if one or both of these bases are absent, the whole society will collapse, and it will not be able to perform the task that Allah (S.W.T.) assigned.

The first of these basis is taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.) or piety, because when Muslims have taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.), they will avoid doing anything which is not pleasing to Allah (S.W.T.). And also they will fulfill their duty towards Allah (S.W.T.) and towards other people.

The second base is unity among themselves, because the disunity and division are characteristics of the disbelievers. Before the prevalence of Islam, the Muslim ummah was scattered fighting tribes, but Allah (S.W.T.) connected their hearts by Islam and they became loving brothers, all worshiping the same Elah, and all fearing the same Elah. He is Allah (S.W.T.) who joined their hearts and molded their differences into one united ummah, and he is Allah who warns Muslims from breaking down this unity that He created. And in the Day of Judgment, Allah (S.W.T.) addresses those who fall into divisions and disputes saying, "Did you reject faith after accepting it?"

For this the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said in his last sermon to the Muslims, reported by Imam Muslim, "After my death, don’t turn into kuffar infidels fighting and killing each other."

Indeed, disunity and division are the greatest problems, which the Muslim ummah face today. This is the main problem, which divided the Islamic world into small weak fragments and divided us here into different groups. And it is our duty to purify our society from this disease. However, for knowing the cure, we should know the cause of the illness. But it is not hard for Muslims who read Qur’an to know the reasons, because the Qur’an mention them explicitly in many verses.

1. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-An’am, (Verse 153), what can be translated as, "And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."

This verse reveals one reason, which is the deviation from the right path, which Allah (S.W.T.) prescribed for us. This verse also tells us that there are many other scattered paths, but they belong to Satan. Whatever their names and banners are (like nationalism, regionalism, patriotism, tribalism, etc.) And whenever the Muslims follow the path of Satan, they will scatter and fall into disputes and division. This is what we see in the present situation nowadays of our Islamic ummah. Muslims have ignored the unique and right way that used to hold them united. They followed the path of Satan, which made their ummah disintegrate into small parts and groups. Each of them thinking of themselves as the one carrying the truth and following the right path.

2. Allah (S.W.T.) reveals a second reason, in another verse in Surat Al-Ma’idah, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "They have abandoned a good part of the message that was sent to them. So we planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection."

This verse tells us that abandoning or dismantling a part of the Islamic shari’ah the message that Allah conveyed to us will create animosity and hatred between us. This verse also tells us that we should implement the rules of Allah (S.W.T.) as a whole-integrated system. We should not break it into pieces to choose some rules and leave others. We can see this situation happening in many Islamic countries. This includes those who claim to implement the rules of Islam, but still, there is no Khalifa. They are not establishing jihad, not adopting the Islamic economic system, and do not implement the laws of Islam as it should be implemented.

3. Allah (S.W.T.) reveals a third reason, in surat Ash-Shura, (Verse 14), what can be translated as, "And they did not divide till the knowledge had come to them, through selfish transgression between themselves."

Selfish transgression is one of the causes of disunity and division among the people. In an authentic hadith reported by Imams Ahmad and At-Tirmithi that the prophet (S.A.W.) emphasized that envy and hatred are the main reasons for division of this ummah as well as to the previous one. He (S.A.W.) said, "Among you spread the disease of previous nations, it is the envy and hatred. It is what I call the shaver which whips out your dean the same way the shaver shaves hair."

Envy, one of the harmful diseases spreads between Muslims differentiating their hearts, making them hate one another, This is the selfish transgression between themselves. And in this kind of sick and effected society, unity and love never prevail.

4. Allah (S.W.T.) reveals a fourth reason, in surat Huod, (Verse 118), what can be translated as, "But they (people) will not cease to disagree. Except him on whom your Lord Has bestowed His Mercy."

This verse implies that people’s disputes are a sign of missing the mercy of Allah (S.W.T.). Because Allah might shield His mercy from people when they don’t deserve it. In another verse in surat At-Tawbah, (Verse 71), Allah (S.W.T) says what can be translated as, "The believers, men and women, are "Awliya" of one another, they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil; they offer their prayers perfectly: and give the zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Might, All-Wise." These are the characteristics of the people who deserve the mercy of Allah, Who will join their hearts in love. But they will not deserve His mercy; those people who do not protect one another, who do not enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. Also, they do not deserve the mercy of Allah those who do not establish regular prayers and give charity. And it is not allowed to neglect any of the characteristics because this will lead to disputations and the loss of Allah’s mercy.

The prophet has explained and emphasized this concept to us in a hadith reported by Imams Abu-Dawud and At-Tirmithi that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "The first sign of corruption of the people of the children of Israel was when a man met another and found him doing wrong, he just told him fear Allah and stop your wrong doing, then the same man met him the next day and saw him in the same situation, but this did not prevent him from being his companion with whom he ate, drank, and lived. For this reason Allah divided their hearts". Then he recited (verses 78 & 79) in surat Al-Ma’idah, what can be translated as, "Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and were transgressing beyond bound. They used to not forbid one another from the wrong, which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do." And then the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "I swear by Allah you have to forbid what is wrong and enjoin what is good and to stop the aggressor from his aggression and to force him to follow the truth or Allah will divide your heart then He, Allah will curse you as he did to the children of Israel before you."

Finally, we should realize that working toward unity of the Muslim ummah is our duty which should be collective work that needs all our efforts. Yes, it needs all our effort without any exception starting from purifying our selves and our communities from all those problems that cause division and disunity. We should realize the dangers of disunity in our communities, because division and disunity will weaken the ummah and open the door to our enemies, which lead to the total destruction.


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Last Updated December 18, 2000 at 2:00 A.M. / ema