There are strange and even absurd demands from some quarters of our society demanding that the only way forward is by forging unity among Muslims.
How far are these slogans for unity justified?
While we agree that unity is important within Muslims, it is of greater significance that this unity must be based on truth. For, a unity forged on falsehood will be weak and collapse much like a spider’s web – ‘…and most surely the frailest of the houses is the spider’s house did they but know.’
Uniting on falsehood is against the wishes of Ahle Bait (a.s.)
There are many traditions where the Imams (a.s.) have indicated their views on unity.
We cite an instance over here where unity is not possible:
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates, “When the people assembled in the mosque after the demise of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) (who was present there) recited the verse loudly:
الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَصَدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَضَلَّ أَعْمَالَهُمْ
Those who reject Allah and hinder (men) from the Path of Allah,- their deeds will Allah render astray. (Surah Muhammad (47):1)
Ibn Abbas inquired, “O Abal Hasan, why have you recited thus?”
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) – I have recited a verse of the Quran.
Ibn Abbas, “Certainly you have recited it to command (the Muslims).”
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “Yes, surely Allah says in His Book
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا
..and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back..(Surah Hashr (59): 7)
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “Do you bear witness against the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he commanded you to take so-and-so as the caliph?”
Ibn Abbas, “I have not heard the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) recommend us anyone other than you (for caliphate).
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “Then why didn’t you pay me allegiance?
Ibn Abbas, “The people were united on him, so I was with them.”
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “Like the people of the calf were united on the calf (in the incident of Bani Israel). This is how they were examined. (Then Imam a.s. recited)
مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّا أَضَاءتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ
Their parable is like the parable of one who kindled a fire, but when it had illumined all around him, Allah took away their light, and left them in utter darkness– they do not see.(Surah Baqarah (2): 17
- Tafseer Noor al-Saqalain narrating from Tafseer Ali Ibn Ibrahim al-Qummi under tafseer of Surah Hashr (59): Verse 7)
This and other traditions clearly show that we cannot unite against the commands of the Majestic Quran and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If we want to unite we must go with what the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has commanded us and abandon what he (s.a.w.a.) has prohibited as indicated by Surah Hashr (59): Verse 7.
We cannot forge unity based on ad-hoc and whimsical demands of a particular section of Muslims, since no one’s word is dearer to us than that of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Only ‘Rope of Allah’ can guarantee Muslim Unity
Muslims have been commanded by the Noble Quran to hold fast by the rope of Allah all together and be not disunited in Surah Ale Imran (3): 103)
Traditions from both sects of the Muslims point out that the ‘strong rope of Allah’ in this verse is none other than Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and his infallible successors (a.s.).
Yet Muslims are trying to unite on factors like Quran and prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). These were already present among the Muslims when Allah commanded them ‘to hold fast by the rope of Allah’. This means that mere Quran and prophethood are insufficient for unity.
In today’s era as during earlier eras, if we must unite with the Muslims it must be over areas where there is consensus between the major sects. These would include areas like:
- The Shahadatain (dual testimony)
- The Quran in our midst since we have all been commanded to take it as it is
- Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) since there is consensus (ijmaa) over his status
- Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) since all agree that they are the Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise.
- The nine sons of Imam Husain (a.s.) since all agree that they are the sons of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
- Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) since she is the Lady of all Women of Paradise
- Companions like Salman-e-Muhammadi (r.a.), Abu Zarr (r.a.), Miqdad (r.a.) since there is consensus
- Wives like Ummul Momineen Khadijah (s.a.), Umme Salmah (r.a.) who obeyed Allah’s command regarding the wives.
- Distancing oneself from the infidels and the hypocrites as ordered in the Quran.
Unity will hasten reappearance
None other than the Imam of the time – Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has made evident his desire for unity among the lovers of Ahle Bait (a.s.). In fact, if unity had been practiced Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) might have reappeared sooner as he (a.t.f.s.) himself states:
وَ لَوْ أَنَّ أَشْيَاعَنَا وَفَّقَهُمُ اللَّهُ لِطَاعَتِهِ عَلَى اجْتِمَاعٍ مِنَ الْقُلُوبِ فِي الْوَفَاءِ بِالْعَهْدِ عَلَيْهِمْ لَمَا تَأَخَّرَ عَنْهُمُ الْيُمْنُ بِلِقَائِنَا وَ لَتَعَجَّلَتْ لَهُمُ السَّعَادَةُ بِمُشَاهَدَتِنَا عَلَى حَقِّ الْمَعْرِفَةِ وَ صِدْقِهَا مِنْهُمْ بِنَا
“And had our Shias – may Allah grant them the taufeeq for His obedience – been united with their hearts in the fulfilment of the covenant upon them, the blessing of our meeting with them would not have been delayed and the fortune of seeing us would have hastened upon the truthfulness of cognition and its veracity from them towards us.”
Behar al-Anwar, vol. 53, p. 176, H. 8 narrating from Al-Ehtejaaj of Shaikh Tabarsi (r.a.)