Unity of the Ummah & State - A Vital Issue

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Unity of the Ummah & State - A Vital Issue

Ever since its early dawn and throughout its history, Islam has been facing tremendous challenges, and its followers have been subjected to various types of oppression, maltreatment and defamation which even their noble Prophet ﷺ was not spared. However, they faced those challenges with the resoluteness of believing men who were true to their pledge to Allah as they realised that their Deen together with their political and societal unity was a vital issue that determined their fate and the fate of their message towards which they were neither oblivious nor slack. The bloody struggle, which has been accompanying the intellectual struggle ever since the Islamic Ummah and the Islamic State came into being in Madinah and up until today, has been in defence of the vital issues that Islam and its worldwide message has determined. Hence, treating those issues as a matter of life and death was evident and inevitable.

Due to the magnitude of the issue of Jihad and its role in safeguarding the Aqeedah, Ummah and State, and in conveying the message, it has been decreed as one of the weightiest obligations. Allah says: “Say, “If your parents, your children, your siblings, your spouses, your relatives, the wealth you have acquired, business you worry about, and homes you love, are dearer to you than Allah, and His Messenger, and making Jihad in His way, then wait until Allah brings about His judgment.” Allah does not guide the rebellious people.” [at-Tawbah-24] And the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said about Jihad: “The head of the matter is Islam, its support is prayer, and its peak is Jihad.” And due to its gravity, Jihad will be ongoing until the Day of Judgement, and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Jihad is to be carried on whether the Muslim ruler is good or bad.” Hence, the Muslims never slackened for a moment in defending their vital issues and never hesitated in carrying out a life and death action in every vital issue they faced. When their fate as an Ummah and a State was threatened by the crusades, they tackled the threat with a life and death measure and fought a ferocious war against the crusader Kuffar lasting over 100 years, by the end of which the Islamic Ummah had succeeded in shielding herself against the fatal blow. The Muslims reacted in the same way when the Mongols invaded the lands of Islam. The Ummah deemed the Mongol invasion a threat to her fate and thus took a measure of life and death; the Muslims waged a ferocious war against the invaders and sacrificed their lives until they achieved a decisive victory.

The unambiguous perception of the threat to the Ummah’s vital issues was prominently on display among Muslims; it was inconceivable for any occurrence threatening their fate to crop up with them failing to respond with what Islam obliged, namely a life and death response. The Islamic Ummah and the Islamic State had always been aware of the vital issues and the measures that were needed for them. However, when the understanding of Islam weakened to the point of deviation, and piety in the hearts weakened to the point where people kept silent over flagrant Kufr, these vital issues were no longer deemed as such, and no life and death measures were taken towards them. Then the threat to their fate arose and Muslims failed to sacrifice their lives at any cost to repel it. Consequently, the Khilafah was destroyed, the system of Islam was removed, and the entire Islamic Ummah faced the threat of extinction.

The unity of the Ummah and the unity of the State are the most vital issues in Islam. This is reflected in two issues, namely the multiplicity of the Khulafa’, and the on issue of aggressors. It is reported on the authority of Abu Saeed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “When an oath of allegiance has been taken for two Khalifas, kill the one for whom the oath was taken later.” Hence, Islam made the unity of the State a vital issue by prohibiting the multiplicity of Khulafa’ and ordered the killing of those who attempted to generate such a situation unless they retracted. As for the transgressors, Allah says: “And if two groups of believers fight each other, reconcile between them. But if one group aggresses against the other, fight the aggressing group until it complies with Allah’s rule.” [al-Hujurat-9]. Therefore, once the Imamah for the Muslims is established, i.e., whoever is confirmed as the Khalifa of the Muslims, it would be prohibited to rebel against him as this would lead to dividing the Muslims, shedding their blood, and squandering their wealth; the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said “so strike with the sword the one who tries to cause separation in the matter of Muslims when they are united, whoever he be.” Hence, those who rebel against the legitimate Imam are transgressors; they would be given a chance to repent and have their conjectures clarified, but if they persist, they should be fought.

By prohibiting multiplicity of the State and rebellion against it, and by prohibiting the dividing of the Ummah, the unity of the State and the Ummah have therefore become part of the vital and decisive issues, as the Legislator has decreed the measure towards them as one of life and death. Those who perpetrate such an act should either retract or get killed. The Muslims did execute such a command in their early eras: the era of the rightly-guided Khulafa’, the Umayyad Khilafah and the Abbasid Khilafah - except Andalusia, and they used to consider it one of the most important and critical issues; they never slackened in taking action against any Muslim irrespective of who he was. The established and confirmed reports on this are innumerable. However, when the Khulafa became weak, and when the understanding of Islam declined, they kept silent over secessions of parts of the Muslims’ lands from the body of the Khilafah; thus, the unity of the Muslims was cleaved and some statelets arose, despite the fact that secession from the body of the State is a vital issue necessitating either a retraction and a return to the body of the State or war, irrespective of the toll and material losses. Evidence from the Book and the Sunnah on the unity of the Ummah being obligatory is abundant. Allah says: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah, all together, and be not divided.” [al-Imran-103]; and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily Allah likes three things for you, and He disapproves three things for you. He is pleased with you that you worship Him and associate none nor anything with Him, that you hold fast to the rope of Allah, and be not divided...”.

Hence, this is a command for the Ummah to hold firmly to the rope of Allah . Moreover, Allah and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ prohibited division and rifts since this was the cause of failure, loss of power and the demise of the State. Allah says: “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute, lest you falter and lose your courage.” [al-Anfal-46]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Don't differ, for the nations before you differed and perished." As for the Sahaba, they had a general consensus on what Abu Bakr said about the unity of the Muslims being an obligation and about prohibition of having more than one Emir. None of the Sahaba challenged or disagreed with Abu Bakr when he said: “It is forbidden for the Muslims to have two Emirs. If this were to occur, they would differ in their affairs and their rules; their community would be divided, and they would dispute amongst themselves. Then the Sunnah would be forsaken, Bida’ah would arise and Fitnah would intensify; and no one would benefit from this.”

Islamic history is teeming with events reflecting the value of Muslims’ unity. Here is the Khalifah of the Muslims, Haroun al-Rashid addressing a cloud passing over Baghdad with “Go wherever you wish; you Kharaj will eventually come to me.” When the Muslims were one single majestic Ummah, when one of the limbs suffered, the whole body responded to it with wakefulness and fever, the Abbasid Khalifah al-Mu’tasim mobilised an army to fight the Romans in response to the celebrated cry for help by one Muslim woman “oh my Mu’tasim”. Suffice to also mention the revered position of the Muslims in the international community, even when their Islamic State was at its weakest stage under the rule of the Ottomans and dubbed the “sick man of Europe” by the West. Hence, even during this miserable phase of Muslim history, the Muslims were a force to be reckoned with in the international community due to the unity that encompassed most of the Muslims at that time. One of the missionaries once said that “Europe used to dread the sick man because he had 300 million men ready for Jihad with a snap of his finger.”

The enemies of Islam realised this at the beginning of the modern era. Hence they plotted and adopted various styles to shatter the unity of the Muslims and dismantle their State. One of the pickaxes of destruction used by the enemy for this purpose was spreading the thoughts of patriotism and nationalism among the peoples of the Islamic Ummah. This led to the collapse of the Islamic Khilafah and enabled the colonialists to seize most of the Islamic lands, fragment them into meagre statelets, and then hand them over to the local watchdogs they had groomed to maintain the fragmentation in service of the colonialists’ interests and according to the policy of divide and rule. Hence, they divided the Islamic Ummah into Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian and Amazigh nationalities. In fact the nationalist notion was the tool the Kuffar used to destroy the Islamic State. Then the Arabic-speaking lands were divided into nation States and homelands, such as Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, among other statelets, on the basis of homelands and nationalities. Then the locals of each statelets became the guardians of this fragmentation by eagerly defending those names and what is dubbed homeland and nationality. The criminal process of deception ended with what we are witnessing nowadays in terms of frail statelets that have weakened the Muslims, torn them into shreds and sowed the seeds of animosity among them. The chauvinism of a Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, or Iraqi is no less dangerous than the chauvinism of an Arab, Kurd, Turk, Persian, or Amazigh. The success of this process of deception was unparalleled, and this fragmentation was one of the main causes of weakness and frailty, the continued direct and indirect colonialization of the lands, the loss of lives, resources and riches, and the humiliation and submissiveness we are now enduring.

What ought to be perceived today is that unity on the basis of Islam is the only solution to the weakness, fragmentation and frailty the Ummah is suffering. Unity is the only way towards glory and might, and to rein in the ghoulish powers. Islam is the only path towards freedom and liberation. Hence, it is imperative to unify the ranks, shun our differences, eradicate all forms of fragmentation which colonialism has imposed upon us and dry up its sources, and rise above narrow individualism that descended on Muslims from another culture. It is imperative to make tremendous sacrifices in order to return as we were, one single Ummah and one single State, so that we may regain our grandeur and be witness over humankind, as Allah has wanted her to be: “And so We made you a central nation, that you may be witnesses over humanity, and that the Messenger may be a witness over you” [al-Baqarah-143]; and so that we may regain our status as the best nation sent to humankind: “You are indeed the best nation that has ever been brought forth for mankind: you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and you believe in Allah.” [Aal-Imran-110].

Some individuals might think that talking of Islamic unity in this current era is implausible and a figment of our imagination due to the palpable reality of the Muslims which is fraught with divisions and differences. The truth is, what made the affairs of this Ummah righteous at the beginning is valid today and at all times to make her affairs righteous again if we were to return and adhere to it, especially as the unity of the Muslims today has become a demand and a necessity imposed by the political challenges, in addition to being a Shari'ah necessity and a vital issue. Hence, it is imperative on every sincere Muslim to perceive that the unity of the Islamic Ummah is a vital issue, and an objective he should strive to achieve. Unifying the Ummah in her thoughts, emotions and systems, unifying her countries within one single entity and smelting them in one single State and under one single authority and one single ruler, such unity according to this concept, is one of the Islamic obligations, just like Salat, Fasting and Jihad. The Muslims would be sinful should they fail to strive assiduously towards fulfilling this obligation, in the same way they would be sinful should they neglect any other Islamic obligation since it is part of the vital issues for the sake of which we ought to sacrifice our lives, wealth, and even our children.

The Qur’an and the Sunnah are the foundation upon which unity between the Muslims should be built. They must be implemented by Muslims individually and collectively in the State and society. This does not mean that if Muslims failed to implement the Qur’an and the Sunnah of their Messenger ﷺ in their life’s affairs, they would not have to establish unity between them. No. Rather the unity between Muslims is an obligation, and establishing the unity on the basis of the Qur’an and the Sunnah is also an obligation, and neither of the two obligations is a condition for the other. The duty is to work towards establishing this unity and towards implementing the Shari'ah of Allah within this unity. Hence, if the unity is established before implementing Shari'ah, the Ummah would have fulfilled one of the obligations and she would be commanded to fulfil the other obligation.

The path towards achieving unity is to strive for it by adhering to the pertinent Shari'ah rules and turning them into an overwhelming public opinion among Muslims, capable of exerting pressure on those who are an obstacle to the endeavour to achieve this obligation, and destroying any notion contradicting it. Hence, fraternity between Muslims on the basis of Islam should be the bond between them irrespective of their colour, race and tongue. Allah says: “Indeed the believers are but brethren.” [al-Hujurat-10]; this was revealed in the context of infighting which could take place between the believers: “Hence, if two groups of believers fall to fighting, make peace between them; but then, if one of the two goes on acting wrongfully towards the other, fight against the one that acts wrongfully until it reverts to Allah’s commandment; and if they revert, make peace between them with justice, and deal equitably: for verily, Allah loves those who act equitably. Indeed all believers are but brethren. Hence, make peace between your two brethren, and remain conscious of Allah, so that you might be graced with His mercy.” [al-Hujurat-9,10]. Hence, the fraternity of Iman should constantly be observed, and its merits should also be always fulfilled, even as the blood is shed. Islam has forbidden the instigation of strife, disputes and haughtiness, and deemed such acts from Jahiliya, i.e., the days of ignorance. It was reported that Abu Tharr al-Ghifari was angered by his servant so he said to him “o son of the black woman”. This reached the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and upon this he said to him: “Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names? You are a person who still has in him the remnants of the days of Jahiliya”.

Islam has called for the abolition of all types of regional and patriotic chauvinism since they are the seeds of division among Muslims. Our Messenger ﷺ said: “And whoever calls with the call of Jahiliya then he is from the coals of Hell." A man said: "O Messenger of Allah! Even if he performs Salat and fasts?" So he ﷺ said: "Even if he performs Salat and fasts. So call with the call that Allah named you with: Muslims, believers, worshippers of Allah.” Although the attribute of Muhajireen and Ansar (emigrants and helpers) quarrelling and bragging on its basis was deemed as call of the days of the repugnant Jahiliya. It was reported on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah  who said: “We were in an expedition and a man from the emigrants kicked an Ansari (on the buttocks). The Ansari man said, "O Ansari! (ie Help!)" The emigrant said, "O the emigrants! (Help!)." When Allah's Messenger ﷺ heard that, he said, "What is that?" They said, "A man from the emigrants kicked a man from the Ansar (on the buttocks). On that, the Ansar said, 'O the Ansar!' and the emigrant said, 'O the emigrants!" The Prophet ﷺ said' "Leave it (that call) for it Is a detestable thing." Hence, precedence would only be on the grounds of piety. Allah says: “The best among you before Allah is the most righteous.” [al-Hujurat-13] ; and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

The Islamic Ummah shares several unifying factors. She shares the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger ﷺ. She shares her certain, conclusive, and deeply rooted Iman in Allah, His angels, books, and messengers, and the Day of Judgement. She shares the fraternity of Iman despite the presence of all the attempts at destroying this fraternity. She also shares her one and only viewpoint towards life, namely that it is finite and a pathway rather than a permanent dwelling. The Islamic Ummah shares the concept of Halal and Haram being her criterion of actions in life and that her happiness would be achieved by striving to gain the pleasure of Allah.

She has all the necessary components of unity. She is a youthful nation, vivacious in her thought, blazing with emotions and has her life ahead of her. She is rich in all kinds of faculties, which are huge, formidable and fit for being the benchmark of revival. The Muslims’ lands’ with their prominent geographical location and diverse climates, number of inhabitants and natural resources in terms of waters, arable lands, oil and minerals, are sufficient, together with the magnificent idea that the Ummah embraces, to take them out of poverty and decline and into revival, affluence, and superiority over all other nations and peoples.

Finally, under the Ummah’s current condition of division into States, parties and groups, the major question facing every Muslim is: how can the Ummah be united and how can she bring herself back from oblivion and the State of division to a State of unity, a united voice, and the revival that everyone is craving?

First, it is common knowledge that difference and disputes cannot be abolished or removed. Difference is part of the law of the universe, and those who seek to end it are attempting an unattainable objective, which is not even required in the first instance. The difference we are talking about in this context is the one within the sphere of Islam in terms of understanding its texts according to the rules of comprehension approved by the Muslims, i.e., according to what the indications of its texts may contain based on the linguistic and Shari'ah denotations.

Disparity between people, including scholars, in terms of comprehension is one of the laws of Allah , and difference is an inevitable occurrence because understanding the details of Islam is conjectural with more than one probability and sometimes applying these rules to the pertinent realities after they have been specified could also be subject to difference. This is why the rules of Shurah, leadership, obedience, and the judicial system have been legislated to organise and regulate these differences and to conduct the community as one single unit.

It is also worth noting that this difference – according to the aforementioned precepts – is a healthy and positive matter rather than negative. Difference and diversity of opinions generates thought, ponderation, research, and innovation. It also generates several options for solving human problems, and enriches the legislative wealth within the Ummah. Difference in understanding generates intellectual activity, which is an essential matter for the Ummah and the guarantor of her revival and progress towards perfection.

Hence, it is imperative to perceive that achieving the revival of the Islamic Ummah could only be through adhering to the revelation as the single reference point, implementing Islam in the State and society, conducting her collective willpower according to it, organising her life on its basis, and thus bringing her own independent entity into being, namely the Islamic State, to administer her interests and conduct her affairs according to what she believes in. Consequently, the natural domestic stimulus for progress in all aspects of life will be generated.

This issue is what all the movements, parties and tendencies should be aware of. The point at issue is the Ummah’s awareness of her Islam as an Aqeedah that portrays life in a specific manner, different to Western civilisation that separates religion from life, which is not a point of contention among the Muslims, an Aqeedah that acts as a bond uniting the Muslims and organising their relationship with other nations, which is also not a point of contention, and an Aqeedah linked to all aspects of life, be it in respect of individuals, groups, society or State. And this is also agreed upon among those who believe in the Book and the Sunnah. The criterion of our actions must be Halal and Haram, even if the understandings were varied and multiple. Evidently, Islam can only be implemented through a State, and Jihad is the method to protect the entity of the Ummah and carry the Da’awah to the world. This is how the Ummah will be united.

The awareness of the movements and parties about this issue is what unites them and unifies their viewpoint towards life, the State and society, and makes their presence a positive asset. Such awareness generates the required intellectual activity, places the Ummah, individuals and groups alike, on the track of unity, liberation and revival, making her progress fruitful. Hence, the unity of the Ummah and State will be the construct of an ideology that has come into being within the Ummah, and thus she surges forward to implement it. The Ummah reserves the right to select the most competent and most righteous to serve her, and to proceed behind him to implement Islam; thus, she will exercise her willpower and establish her political entity and protect it, so that it may represent the entire Ummah and her orientations.

23 Ramadhan 1442h
5 May 2021

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