Searching for Sustainable Unity Among Muslims, By Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, [alone and without any partner] and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran 3:102]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).” [al-Nisa’ 4:1]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]
As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire. As to what proceeds:
My Dear Brothers and Sisters! My Khutbah (Sermon) today is about the search for Unity amongst Muslims.
Servants of Allah! Today, the Muslim world is going through a period of upheaval. Wherever Muslims gather, in majority countries and in minority communities, we all keep asking: Why can’t we Muslims be united to face our challenges? Why is there so much disunity, so much hostility between some groups towards others?
The Ummah today numbers about 2 billion followers. Islam is considered to be the world’s fastest growing religion. Muslims are the majority in a swathe of countries from Morocco to Indonesia, and from Turkey to Sudan. Our Muslim lands cover a strategic area of the world’s oil and mineral resources, as well as its major trade routes. There are significant Muslim minorities in most countries, and there is hardly a place on this planet where Islam does not have a presence. We have no shortage of numbers. But for a variety of reasons we appear to be fragmented and disconnected from each other. The Noble Quran urges Muslims to be open-hearted and to respect minor differences of opinion. It also warns us of the grave dangers of disunity, and mutual hatred.
In Surah Al-Maidah. [03:] verse 103 we read:
“And hold fast all together by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love so that by His grace you became brethren; and you were on the brink of the pit of fire and He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes his signs clear to you: that you may be guided.”
My people! We Muslims are reasonably well aware of our history. But how much have we learnt from it? This surah reminds us how our beloved Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] united the tribes of Arabia, whom the Romans and Persians considered so wild, warlike and backward, that they were unworthy of conquest. He moulded them into a nation of supermen. When we Muslims served Allah, when we tamed our egos and subdued our vanity, we became masters of the world. We swept over North Africa, across Spain and southern France, and eastwards to China. Then we became greedy and selfish. We began to love our wealth and power. When we forgot Allah, Allah abandoned us and we lost our power and authority. This happened over many centuries. Although our numbers increased, our influence on world affairs declined.
Servants of Allah! Today we are divided into dozens into nation-states, and within those divisions, we have further divisions of mutually hostile and exclusive groups. There are Sufis and Salafis, Deobandis and Barelwis, Sunni and Shi’a. We have a rather fragmented and disunited Ummah, an Ummah that often seems to be at odds with itself. How can we start to put things right?
In Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13, Allah reminds us:
“O 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 each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
My beloved people! This verse doesn’t say, O Muslims! It doesn’t say, O you who believe! It says, O Mankind! This verse addresses every human being. This verse emphasises the essential unity of the human species. Islam is inclusive, not exclusive. Every human soul is has Allah’s sacred light within it. When we show respect to others, we also show courtesy to Allah, (SWT).
The principle of Tauhid, Islam’s essential doctrine of Unity, underpins the great diversity of all created things. Within every species, there is tremendous variety. In nature, differences are not a sign of weakness, but a celebration of Allah’s creativity. This is something for us to admire and enjoy, with a sense of wonder and excitement. The variety and diversity we find in the ocean, on land and in the air, are also apparent in our human behaviour. We must not see our human differences as a curse. Rather, it is a blessing. Each and every one of us, has gathered a wealth of experience from different geographical, social and cultural influences. When we all share our experience freely, there is a collective enrichment for everyone.
We must therefore not be impatient with one another. We often hear the complaint that Muslims are not united. But what do we mean by unity? Do we mean that there should be no differences of opinion? Of course not.
Unity does not mean uniformity. We do not have to look the same, speak the same, dress the same, and share each and every opinion unanimously. This is not only unnatural, it’s humanly impossible. Can you imagine it? Life would be so boring!
There are two kinds of unity, which we must try to understand and distinguish clearly:
There is a unity of purpose , and unity of opinion. As Muslims we should always be united in our purpose. That means, seeking to please Allah, and serving the advancement of Islam. But we must not be distressed by minor differences of opinion. It is humanly impossible to always have unity of opinion. As long as we keep our purpose clearly in view, there can be many opinions as to the best ways of achieving our goal.
By mutual consultation, dialogue, sharing our knowledge and experience, we can move forward. If we must disagree on some matter, let us remember the right way to disagree. In a debate, a Muslim’s attitude should always be like this: “I think I’m right, but I might be wrong; and I think you’re wrong but you may be right!”
If we kept this attitude of humility in all our dealings with one another, no one risks humiliation or hurt feelings in any disagreement. We can debate and disagree in a most agreeable manner, where we always maintain mutual respect and dignity. These are the building blocks of real, lasting Unity.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! There is a saying that, “The longest journey is from the head to the heart.”
We know, of course that physically, only a few inches separate the head from the heart, but emotionally and psychologically, it could be many miles, or measured in time, trying to connect head and heart could take months, years, or even forever.
The journey from the head to the heart, is a long and difficult journey. It’s a journey from what we think and say, to what we really believe and do; from the world of thought and speech, to the world of action and commitment. We must shorten that journey, if we want to develop the healthy, well-rounded personality of the ideal Muslim. There is a clear and unmistakable link between our inner world and the world outside. Look at any family or community, and you can read the contents of the head, heart and soul of its members.
Servants of Allah! Muslim Unity is not some miracle that, one-day will suddenly fall from the sky. Muslim Unity, the unity of the whole Ummah, will be the reward for much effort, and the culmination of a long process that begins with individual Muslims, and I mean you, and me. We must start that process. We must seek to unite our own mind, body and spirit. We must not say one thing, and do the opposite. Our goal must be, a unity of thought and feeling, word and action, inwardly and outwardly. In short, we must cultivate integrity of character.
Allah the Most Gracious reminds us in Surah Ar-Ra’ad : verse 11:
“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.”
In other words, what is within their hearts and souls. Our illustrious and beloved Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] was the most perfect of examples. Even his enemies acknowledged that he was always honest, truthful and sincere. There was no contradiction between his head and his heart. His thoughts, feelings, words and actions were of the same substance. There was never even the slightest trace of arrogance, hypocrisy, vanity, conceit or double face in his personality. This was the role model of personal character, on which the unity of the first Muslim Ummah was based. Wallahi, wallahi, wallahi, we need it today as well.
Surah Al-Anbiyah :verse 92, and Surah al Mu’minun, :verse 52, say:
“Verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore serve Me (and no other).”
My respected people! This brotherhood of Muslims will only be as strong as we individual Muslims are strong. We are taught that the best Jihad…is the Jihad against one’s ego, Jihad al Nafs. We need to tame this beast within our breast, our pride. We must learn to submit our will, our ego, our vanity, to the will of our creator, just like Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] taught us. When, and only when, we have made a start on this greatest of journeys, will we earn the pleasure of Allah. And when we earn Allah’s pleasure, we find that we can easily tolerate differences of opinion without getting angry or abusive.
We will then, begin to see the unity of purpose that underpins the wide diversity of Allah’s creation. We will see the good things that bind us together, without being distracted by the petty things that divide us. By keeping our ego under control, by cleansing our hearts of all vanity and false pride, we actually make room for Allah’s divine wisdom, which must follow if we are sincere in our quest for knowledge and understanding.
In Hadith Qudsi, Allah tells us directly:
“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly even better than that. And if he takes one step towards me, I take ten steps towards him. And if he comes walking to Me , I go running towards him.”
Yaa Salaam! What a beautiful and graphic description of Allah’s love and affection towards us! And all He wants, is for us to take that crucial first step! I’m sure that each and every one of us here, would like to be amongst those, towards whom Allah comes running at speed!
My dear Brothers and Sisters! Let us pray to Allah, Subhanahu wa ta’ala, to help us foster Muslim Unity and brotherhood.
O Allah, help us to acknowledge our own shortcomings with honesty and humility, insha-Allah, O Allah, please help us to improve ourselves our behaviour. Help us to increase love and respect for one another. O Allah, help us to see our differences as a blessing from You, not as a reason for mutual hatred. O Allah, please strengthen our resolve, our Iman, give us courage and patience to endure the hardship that Muslims face these days… O Allah, help us to become exemplary Muslims. Let us become an inspiration to other people, just as Your last Prophet Muhammad and his noble Companions are an inspiration for us today.
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah, on becoming the true Ahlus Sunnah who are on the footsteps of our pious predecessors, and who are struggling to unite the Ummah not to divide it. I pray that He lets us recognize the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, ameen.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumadal Ula 5, 1438 A.H. (February 3, 2017), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached through: +2348038289761.