10 Things You Can Do To Develop A Culture Of Muslim Unity
by Abdul Malik Mujahid
The sight is always amazing.
Pilgrims standing shoulder to shoulder, of all shades and races, dressed in
simple white, stripped of all kinds of worldly barriers, be they of wealth,
profession, geography, class, education or other.
This enduring image of Hajj has become a hallmark of this Ummah's unity in
But as we head towards the journey of a lifetime or watch loved ones leave
for it in these next few days, the challenge remains: how do we retain this
culture of unity that marks Hajj?
How do we keep the bonds of Islamic brother/sisterhood intact to fulfill our
goals as an Ummah, especially in North America, where our diversity is even
more marked than in other parts of the world?
Here are ten practical ways you and your community can build unity:
1. Understand that Muslim unity is not an option
It's become cliché to say that Muslims have reduced Islam to rituals
and forgotten other important tenets. While it is crucial to practice the five
pillars of Islam, for instance, we cannot ignore other basic aspects of the
faith that emphasize brother and sisterhood.
Muslim unity is a Fard (obligatory duty) according to the Quran and Traditions
of the Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him). Consider the following
From the Quran (49:10): The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make
peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear God,
that ye may receive Mercy.
Also from the Quran (3:103): And hold fast, all together, by the rope which
God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember
with gratitude God's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts
in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink
of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear
to you: That ye may be guided.
From the Hadith:
In their love, kindness and compassion for each other, the believers are like
a human body: when one part of it is hurt, the rests sympathizes with it in
wakefulness and fever (Bukhari, Muslim).
2. Reflect on Hajj as a time for Muslim unity
Use this time on a personal basis, as well as within your family and community
to remind Muslims of how the Hajj is a unifying factor for Muslims. Hold a family
meeting about this topic. Organize a seminar at your mosque about how Hajj is
a beautiful symbol of Muslim unity. Make sure your speakers are those who have
performed Hajj and can attest to this fact. Also brainstorm practical ways the
lessons of unity from Hajj can be implemented in your community throughout the
year and come up with an action plan in your community.
While you're planning, make Dua for unity throughout this period (the first
10 days of Zul Hijjah, which is a blessed time).
Say the Masnoon Takbirat and add Talbiyah to it which is "Labbayk Allahumma
Labbayk, Labbayk la sharika laka Labbayk, Innal hamda wanni'mata laka walmulk
La sharika lak". The translation of the Talbiyah is: O my Lord, Here I am at
Your service, Here I am. There is no partner with You. Here I am. Truly, the
praise and the provisions are Yours, and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with you."
Say it with your children and family and think about its meaning, remembering
that you are at Allah's service and we cannot serve unless we are united.
3. Learn tolerance towards other points of view
Isn't it interesting that we can attend classes at college or speak with colleagues
from work and discuss issues while being willing to disagree with them? But
the minute some of us step into a mosque or Muslim community function, all that
tolerance seems to go out the window.
Islam is very broad and wide, contrary to popular belief, and you can find
a range of scholarly views on issues as diverse as how to place our hands during
prayer to whether or not Muslims should participate in the American political
process. If our scholars from the past and present have shown such tolerance
towards differing views on various issues, who are we, the average Muslim, who
do not have that level of knowledge, to express intolerance for another point
To understand this point thoroughly read the book Islamic
Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
4. Learn to criticize without hurting
The way some Muslims criticize each other, you'd think they were talking to
an Islam-basher instead of a fellow brother or sister. This type of ignorant
behavior is a sure way to create anger, hurt and dissension. It is no route
We must learn the Adab (etiquette) of criticism, whether it is towards individual
Muslims or our leaders. Knowing and implementing this will not only help solve
problems in a practical manner, but it will also lead to a greater sense of
brother and sisterhood in the community.
If you feel that your criticism of someone in the past was rude or hurtful,
please go back and apologize to them. Before you do that, pray for that brother
or sister, since the Prophet has said that Dua increases love between people.
5. Avoid taking a strong position on smaller points
There is what's called a "Fiqh of priorities" and this essentially means that
there are some aspects of Islam that are more important than others. For instance,
it's more important to emphasize that Muslims establish prayer than whether
or not there should be a curtain between men and women in mosques.
Knowing what our priorities are will help us avoid making secondary issues
of the faith factors of division in our communities. Muslim leaders, especially,
must not only understand this, but implement it in their communities across
North America so that small differences do not kill Muslim unity.
6. Do not call anyone a Kafir
This horrible phenomena of calling fellow believers Kafirs must end if we want
to create a climate that is conducive to unity. Kafir-calling is a sure way
to isolate individuals from the Muslim community. We must remember that Muslims
in North America come from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, whether
they were born and raised in the faith or reverted to it. If a person is expressing
ideas that are not in line with Islamic values, s/he must be gently corrected.
Kafir-calling will only fuel their ignorance, anger and stubborness, not to
mention humiliate and embarrass them.
The Prophet warned that if one person calls another Kafir and the person called
that is not one, the individual who made the accusation is a Kafir, Given this
warning, isn't it sad that there is an organization in Egypt which calls itself
the Party of Declaring Others Kafirs (Jamat Takfeer wa Hijra)?
7. Reaching out across ethnic boundaries
The ignorant practice of maintaining "ethnic mosques" is, Alhamdu lillah, slowly
but surely disappearing in North America. But there is still a long way to go.
All of our institutions, functions and communities in general must become more
ethnically diverse and open to the needs and concerns of Muslims of all backgrounds.
Muslim leaders and individuals have a duty to ensure that no Muslim, regardless
of their ethno-cultural background, feels shut out of the community, ignored
This can only be done by Muslim leaders and individuals taking the first step
and reaching out to Muslims who may have been traditionally isolated because
of ethnicity in mosques and other institutions. It is not enough to just open
the door to all. A direct effort has to be made to solicit feedback, advice
and support from all Muslims so that they feel a part of the community.
Another, more personal way of reaching out is to invite Muslims of diverse
backgrounds to your home for food. Extend this invitation to non-Muslims as
well to break barriers and share Islam.
8. Heed the advice found in Surah Hujurat
This 49th chapter of the Quran provides excellent guidance on the
kind of behavior that Muslims should avoid to establish Muslim unity. For instance,
Allah, advises us to avoid mockery, defamation and suspicion. These are all
things which serve to divide us and create hatred, hurt and dissension.
Discuss the themes of Surah Hujurat relating to Muslim behavior in family meetings,
study circles and classes for young and old Muslims, Khutbas, talks, etc. in
your community to share this Divine wisdom with all.
Whenever you recall that you have done Gheebah (backbitten someone) against
a Muslim or non-Muslim, you should remember that you need to seek that person's
forgiveness. Doing this is a prerequisite to washing off that sin.
9. Share these tips with a wider audience
Share the above-mentioned tips with fellow Muslims in your community. This
can be by suggesting the Khateeb during Friday and Eid prayers use this article
as a topic for his sermon. Or you can print this out and hand it out to worshippers
or publish it in your local or mosque newsletter. It's also important to discuss
it in various Muslim settings to start the thinking and reflecting process amongst
10. Make Dua for unity
Ask your Imam to emphasize unity as an Islamic duty in his Khutbahs and suggest
practical ways it can be achieved in your country or Islamic organizations.
Also, suggest to Muslims going for Hajj to make special Dua for Muslim unity.
When the Hajis return from the pilgrimage, the Prophet has encouraged us to
go forward to receive them and when we receive them, to request them for Dua
as well.This is another opportunity to seek Duas for Muslim unity.
Finally, make sure that you as an individual are not only working for unity
but making Dua for it as well, since results are all in Allah's Hands.