In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
How to unite a fractured community: Guidance from the Qur’an: Part 2
In part one we looked at how the Qur’an gave guidance to the Ansar and Muhajiroon on staying united and not permitting disunity to enter into the community. Unity is essential to the community, family, friends and business circles, and so we often need guidance on re-establishing unity in a broken circle.
Surah al-Hashr (Chapter 59 of the Qur’an) verse 9 provided three principles: 1) Genuine love those who may be considered ‘other’ than you
2) Do not covet what the others are given and
3) Give preference to them over your own selves.
Part 2 addresses the attitudes toward being part of the system of unity and attitudes to fellow believers that you may profoundly disagree with, or even be fighting with. The purpose of this is to mould the mindset of a person so their engagement with an antagonist is in keeping with the Islamic sociological ethos.
The next verse in Surah al-Hashr (verse 10): ‘And those [the Muhajireen] who came after them [the Ansar] say, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.’
Unity in the Islamic social order means completion of one another
In his commentaries, leading scholar Ayatollah Syed Taqi al-Modarresi explains the difference between an Islamic worldview and social order and others, such as a Western understanding.
In the post-enlightenment and capitalist era, the individual is given priority over everything; God, religion, group rights, even the environment. A person is ‘free’ to live, dress, speak and act as they please; this has given rise to the idea that an individual or corporate profit is even priority over the environment or national resource.
From an Islamic perspective everything in creation works with everything else in partnership for the purpose of its evolution and perfection. Sarah an-Naba (Chapter 78:8-11) says, “And We created you in pairs; And made your sleep [a means for] rest; And made the night as clothing; And made the day for livelihood.” Everything partners to achieve more than its own creation as a singular entity.
Ayatollah al-Modarresi explains that if you read the verses of the Qur’an carefully, you will see Allah (swt) calls people toward working with each other in so many places and in so many ways that the human community is expected to work as complimentary to each other, despite its diversity and individuality, as every other part of creation, for its greater purpose and achievement. Observe these series of verses that he mentions:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ(3:64) Say: “O followers of earlier revelation! Come to a joint word between us and you.”
وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ(5:2) “Help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity.”
وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ(103:3) “Enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity.”
فَاسْتَبِقُواْ الْخَيْرَاتِ(2:148) “Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works.”
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ(3:159) “And take counsel with them in all matters of concern.”
Such a plethora of verses tell us two primary things: First, that mankind are expected to act like the rest of creation in cohesion and greater achievement and second, it is only man in his ego and desire, from amongst creation, that breaks this trend of unity.
A person truly submitted to the desire of Allah (swt) would not want to shame himself by being a means of disunity, standing out before creation in such indifference to the order of creation.
The attitude of the believers toward one another
Returning to Surah al-Hashr, Allah (swt) quotes the attitudes of the believers despite there being tensions amongst themselves. In it we notice a number of important points
وَالَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(59:10) And so, they who come after them pray, “O our Sustainer! Forgive us our sins, as well as those of our brethren who preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against [any of] those who have attained to faith. O our Sustainer! Verily, Thou art compassionate, a dispenser of grace!”
1) The believer sees his own faults FIRST and seeks forgiveness for them FIRST before looking the faults of those he opposes. This means he truly looks at his own role and shortcomings in the matter before at others.
2) The believer does not necessarily attach blame to others. It may be that he is right and the other is wrong, but the language he uses is not antagonistic but rather reconciliatory
3) The believer addresses his co-believer as ‘his brother’. Too often Muslims call each other names, hypocrites or even, God-forbid, disbelievers. Not so the early Muslims; even those they argued with they called ‘brothers’. This is the respect given to those who preceded them in faith and so have accumulated more goodness to their service.
4) The believer sincerely prays not to have any rancour in his heart for the believer.
The Qur’an also mentions how the believer prays not to be a fitnah – trial – for the oppressors (10:85) and disbelievers (60:5); how then could he allow himself to be a fitnah for the believers?!
The attitude of the believer
There are always two or more parties who are in conflict. With all of these conflicts it requires both sides of the believers to sincerely adopt these attitudes, otherwise one side will remain in darkness and devoid of the assistance of Allah (swt).
InshaAllah this the third and final part we will look at specific remedies to conflict within a community.