Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Unity in Islam

What was it that made the Muslim nation so strong throughout history? What is it that has weakened the Muslim nation today so much? The answer to these questions is the same.

Unity, one word with so many implications. We have been forced apart through internal and external conflicts, and yet we still voluntarily separate ourselves by nationality, race, ethnicity, social and economic differences, even to the extent that we use Islam to separate us from one another. This is how we have fallen so far from the grace of Allah.

Islam has given us the answers we need. Islam is a unifying force throughout the universe, but it is most readily seen in the actions of Muslims. The Prophet taught to believe in Allah, and Allah taught to love one another as brothers.

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So take reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.” Noble Quran 49:1

What is the implication of this verse? A singular, clear, and unmistakable proof of how we are to interact with each other. The Muslim, no matter who, no matter where, is a brother unto each other. Allah provides us with many examples for this ideology

“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 one to another but 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.” Noble Quran 3:103

It is time that we the Muslims nation once again unite in the worship of Allah, and watch the family of Islam reclaim its pride and dignity once again. We must come together and recognize the method Allah laid before for success, including the treatment of each other. We can not afford to separate ourselves, we can no longer destroy the Muslim nation with the trivialities. Let us treat each other as Allah planned, look once again to the Quran for this guidance in the first sentence of Surah 48: Al Fath (The Victory), ayat 29

"strong against unbelievers but compassionate amongst each other" Noble Quran 48:29

We should also look into the best example of all mankind, the Prophet Muhammad to see what he said and how he acted, to perpetuate this feeling of brotherhood.

“Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily. Allah would say on the Day of Resurrection: Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory's sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shadow when there is no other shadow but the shadow of Mine.” Sahih Muslim Book 032, Number 6225:

Seek refuge in the shelter of Allah’s shadow simply by loving for the sake of Allah, caring for your fellow Muslims for no other reason then the pleasure of Allah. Let us look further into the Hadith for further examples

“Abu Musa reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A believer is like a brick for another believer, the one supporting the other.” Sahih Muslim Book 032, Number 6257:

“Nu'man b. Bashir reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” Sahih Muslim Book 032, Number 6258:

When giving commands regarding the Islamic brotherhood, the Qur’an uses a beautiful style with a profound message. Using a singularity of expression when referring to different words, the Quran imparts a sense of oneness with exceptional fluency. Instead of saying, "greet each other" it says, "greet yourself." Noble Quran 24:61. Instead of saying, "do not defame each other," it says, "do not defame yourself." Noble Quran 49:11. Instead of saying, "The message is clear: Whatever is happening to others in the brotherhood, is actually happening to yourself. It is this sense of self, this inclusive sense of family that will allow us to restore the honor and pride to our nation.

The Living Miracle

From the beginning of time Allah has sent his prophets and messengers, from Adam to Muhammad. Each prophet brought with him the laws of Allah and the highest standard of moral excellence, with their legacies preserved by each following prophet who reinforced the commandments of Allah. This chain eventually ended with the coming of Muhammad, the last and seal of all prophets. Sent as a Messenger for all of mankind, he was sent with a universal message which would be preserved for all times within the Holy Quran.

While the word of God is said to be preserved in the pages of the Tanakh (the Jewish Scriptures) or within the Bible (Christian scriptures), history has shown these efforts have been forced to travel a long and winding road. Without further discourse into why we do not follow these books, I would like to take the time to make mention of the number of books within them. The Tanakh contains 39 books, The Old Testament in Protestant Bibles contains 39 books as well, however Catholic Bibles contains seven more books than are found in the Protestant Bible or the Tanakh (46 compared to 39, respectively). These seven books are called Apocrypha and Catholics know them as the Deuterocanonical books. These seven books are: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (or, Sirach), and Baruch. Also, Catholic Bibles contain an additional six chapters (107 verses) in the book of Esther and another three in the book of Daniel (174 verses). These books and chapters were found in Bible manuscripts in Greek only, and were not part of the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament.

It is now time not to delve further into why we do not follow the Tanakh or Bible, but instead, why we do follow the Holy Quran. It has been said that the whole of the Quran has a perfect fluency, a superb clarity and soundness, a firm coherence, and a well-established harmony and proportion, and a strong mutual support and interrelation amongst its sentences and their parts, and an elevated correspondence amongst its verses and their purposes. The text of the Holy Quran has remained unchanged over the past 1400 years. The millions of copies of the Quran circulating in the world today are all identical down to a single letter. And this is not strange since God says in the Holy Quran that He Himself will guard this book:

“Verily: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” Noble Quran 15:9

This is the honor bestowed upon mankind, a perfect revelation, preserved for all times. The Quran is divided into 114 Surahs or Chapters and each Chapter consists of individual Ayaat or verses. There are in total 6,348 verses in the Holy Quran. These numbers remain unchanged regardless of time or place. Allah even challenges those who disbelieve to disprove the Quran, while assuring them they will never be able to.

“And if you are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down to Our slave (Muhammad Peace be upon him), then produce a Sûrah of the like thereof and call your witnesses besides Allâh, if you are truthful. But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” Noble Quran 2:23-24

"If the mankind and the jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur'ân, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another." Noble Quran 17:88

The glory of the Quran could fill an infinite number of pages, so I will conclude with this reminder, the reason behind this article. All of mankind should appreciate the beauty of it, but it is we the Muslim Ummah that should be grateful to Allah, for all of his mercy, his greatest mercy was the Holy Quran, miracle of miracles, the living miracle, a mercy that lives through time, and offers hope, inspiration and the path to eternal salvation to all. Embrace it, make it part of us, for we can not have a better part of us, then that which worships, and obeys Allah.

Let him lead our way

What made the Islamic Ummah so great throughout history was the example set by its leaders. We can look at the beautiful simplistic structure that Allah laid down for us, complete in form and flow, and see how he who exhibited the best qualities of mankind became the example and measure of what the Muslim leaders should aspire to be.

Knowing what the Muslims believe of Muhammad I think it is important for the Muslim Ummah to recognize that his character was flawless, and his greatness universal. He is not only an example for us but an example for all mankind. I have selected several examples of what non- Muslims have said of the Prophet Muhammad to help us understand his true greatness of person and example.

"...a mass of detail in the early sources shows that he was an honest and upright man who had gained the respect and loyalty of others who were likewise honest and upright men." Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 12

"He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness." The Genuine Islam, George Bernard Shaw Singapore, Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936

"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislation, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls... his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was two-fold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words. Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images, the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all the standards by which Human Greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater then he?” Alphonse de Lamartine, Historire de la Turquie, Paris, 1854, Vol. II pp. 276-277

“I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind.... I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet's biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life.” Mahatma Gandhi, 'Young India,' 1924

"one man single handedly, could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades." Thomas Calyle, 'Heroes and Heroworship'

"Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him" Diwan Chand Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta, 1935, pp. 12

"The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honor of the Prophet has never transgressed the measure of human virtues; and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion." Edward Gibbon and Simon Ockley, History of the Saracen Empires, London, 1870, p. 54

"It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: 'God Alone is Great'... I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother." Sarojini Naidu, Ideals of Islam, vide Speeches & Writings, Madras, 1918, p. 169

"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels." Michael H. Hart, "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History", New York, 1978, p. 33

"The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes. There is Muhammad the Prophet. There is Muhammad the Warrior; Muhammad the Businessman; Muhammad the Statesman; Muhammad the Orator; Muhammad the Reformer; Muhammad the Refuge of Orphans; Muhammad the Protector of Slaves; Muhammad the Emancipator of Women; Muhammad the Judge; Muhammad the Saint. All in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero." K.S. Ramakrishna Rao, "Muhammad the Prophet of Islam"

If the rest of the world can see what a perfect example our beloved Prophet was is it not time for us, his Ummah to recognize and follow his example?

Muhammad was the best of all men, the most complete example of what mankind could be, spiritual and moral guide, social and political reformer, faithful friend and companion, devoted husband and loving father. All of his striving was for the sole purpose of uniting mankind for the worship of one God on the basis of moral excellence. Muhammad or his followers never at any time claimed that he was a son of God or the God-incarnate instead maintaining that he always was and is a Messenger chosen by God.

Fourteen centuries have past and his standards of excellence still stand as an example to all mankind. A guiding light, his message from Allah is preserved in Al-Quran, his traditions and saying preserved in his sunnah. Let us unite together, putting aside as he did, race and nationality, social or economic status, and become once again the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad following the way Allah has set before us.