BASIS OF UNITY IN ISLAM

Unity is primal to Islam and so it should be to the Muslim - both in his spiritual and mundane existence, .Unity colours the hue of the belief system constituting the

onset and the outpost of his faith. The ummah Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) toiled for and established was one single. fortified family with one leader (himself) and one. goal (Allah). This remained the character of the ummah until inordinate desire for power. tribalism, corruption and jaundiced understanding and interpretation of Islam crept in. Thus, the rope of Allah that had hitherto binded the ummah together in love and compassion became severed-and dissent, division and disunity became

manifest in the body of the ummah. In reality. disunity and dissension have no basis in Islam. Only unity is the basis provided by Islam. Islam is the gift from Allah that is perfectly moulded to ensure peace and unity. Islam means "a state of peace through submission to Allah's Will" and a Muslim is one "who earns that peace through submission to Allah's Will". Therefore, when there is no peace then the Muslim's submission is either weak or it lacks quality)' A Muslim would not take pride in disunity, rather he would strive to unite the ummah bearing in mind

Allah's warning:

"...fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves: obey Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe". (Q8:1)

UNITY OF MANKIND

With One God (Allah), in One religion (Islam), recitin one scripture (Al-Quran), facing a single qiblah (direction, the ka 'abah). with same mode of worship (Assalaat). and with a common enemy, Allah desires the unity of mankind through Islam. Disunity breeds weakness  and loss of love;

"And obey Allah and His Messenger, and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart, and be patient and persevering ... " (Q8:46)

Allah points to the sameness of our origin as a basis for the unity of man:

"0 Mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another, indeed, the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is more deeply conscious of Allah." (Q49:13) .

UNITY OF WORSHIP

The reason for the existence of Mankind is also the same:

"I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me." (Q51:56),

so commanded Allah. He also pointed out the singular way of life (Deen) which will be acceptable to Him so that mankind can follow it in unison:

"... This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have choosen for you Islam as your religion. " (Q5:3)

The unity of this worship is further explained by Allah's last and noble Messenger -Muhammad (PBUH):

"Verily, I have left among you something clear which if you hold fast, you will never go astray after that: the book of Allah (AI-Qur'an) and the example (Sunnah) of His Messenger ... Do listen to me. Worship your Lord and Sustainer; perform your five daily salaat, fast in the month (of Ramadan); make pilgrimage to the House (the Kaa 'bah); pay the zakaat on your property willingly and obey  whatever J command you ."

As salaat is an everyday reminder of the unity of worship, the annual Ramadan is a yearly reminder that Muslims are one fabric, woven together with iman (faith) and shining colourfully for the rest of mankind   to emulate. It is the steadfastness of being unified in worship that we are the best of nations:

" You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind; enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah." (Q3:110).

The institution of Hajj is also one other institution that serves as basis for unity. Hajj was the practical touch that changed Malcom X from a racist to a humanist

and from a mushrik to a Muslim. After Malcom X performed Hajj, he wrote his experience thus: "there were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of different colours, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experience in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white."

Allah even rewards those who encourages unity in worship and punishes those who fan the embers of assabiyya. Those who exert their efforts at cultivating sweetness and cordiality in the ummah of Rasulullah and those who cause and profit from its disunity, have their rewards:

"whoever intercedes in a good cause becomes a partner therein: and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause, shares in its burden: and Allah has power over an things". (Q4:85)

SOCIAL HARMONY:

The social system expected of the community of believers is one binded in love and brotherhood -each believer being the keeper of his/her brother Muslim. The duties of brotherhood go a long way to enhance unity, the Prophet (PBUlI) said:

"The believers are like a single body. If its eye complains its whole (body) complains and ifits head complains, its whole (body) complains". Allah crowns it all, "the believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what isjust and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, pay zakaat and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise." (Q9:71)

Social institutions such as marriageand naming ceremonies allow for inter-family relationship which further enhances unity and brotherhood among Muslims. Also

worthy of mention are the two feasts of ld-al-Adha (the feast of the sacrifice) and 'eed-al-fitr (the feast ofbreaking fast) which ensures that the poor are invited to share of the joy of the occasion through partaking from the meat and food of the rich and the visits to each other that the occasion generates.

Within the living area, Allah enjoins good neighbour lines:

"Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (you meet), and the slaves in your possession: for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious." (Q4:36)

The Prophet corroborated withregards to one's duty to his neighbours:

"He who is best to his neighbours will enjoy the neighbourhood of Allah on the Day of Resurrection"

and

"a Muslim who mixes with people and put up with their inconveniences is better than one who does not mix with them and bear not with patience. "

Justice is one of the basis of unity in the Muslim community. The universality of the shariah in its application and interpretation among Muslims also serves to strengthen Islamic unity. Any digressions or violation of the principles of the shariah leads to chaos and anarchy. The flexibility of the shariah especially. though the ijmah (consensus of opinion) and qiyas (logical deductions) serves to strenghten the foundation  of Islamic unity.

Further, the language of the Qur'an, Arabic, is the veritable lingua franca among Muslims, especially in worship. Hence, it is possible for a Muslim to travel to any part of the world and fed. instantly at home among  local Muslims despite differences in dress, languages, social and economics conditions. What is required of him is "As-salaamu alaykum " (May peace boon you) and the natural bond is sealed.

Finally, Jihad serves as a means of ensuring that there is no digression from the set Islamic goal, hence the Qur'an charges that some of the Muslims should rise to invite to good, enjoining the right and forbidding the evil for these shall attain felicity (Q3:104).

CONFLICT RFSOLUTION:

Given the above basis for unity, dissension, division and disunity should not occur within the best ummah that Allah has created for mankind. This is why Allah's command is:

"And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah (stretched out for you) and be not divided among yourselves ... " (Q3:103).

However when disagreement occurs, as they would from time to time, the recommended mode of resolving conflict also strengthens unity:

"0 you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination". (Q4:59)

In resolving conflicts, think of the unity of the ummah and remember the admonition of the Prophet:

"Surely the devil is a wolf to man just as a wolf is to sheep attacking those sheep which stray far from the flock, those which wander and those which take to a comer (from the flock). So avoid the branching paths and stick to the united body and the majority".

When you are aggrieved and convinced, be patient and stay within the fold to resolve the conflict. Don't break away intosects, orders and other groups. Remember,

"0 you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah,· that you may prosper. " (Q3:200)

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