“(We have) made you tribes and families that you may know each other. 49/13”
When Islam dawned, peoples were so disunited that they ignored each other. Furthermore, they were involved in conflicting and wrangling against each other. With the spread of Islam among these peoples, ignorance of each other turned into mutual acquaintance, rivalry into cooperation, and dissociation into reciprocal relations. This change is one of the blessings of the monotheistic precepts of Islam, which was the prime motive of the emergence of a great, united nation that introduced to the world a magnificent culture and protected its individuals from the evils of oppressors and tyrants and succeeded to win the world’s respect and become object of veneration in the eyes of all despots and arrogant rulers.
What happened is attributed to the unity and intimate relationship of this nation which discarded ethnic differences and differences in opinions, cultures, and customs or traditions. Reaching consensus on principles, fundaments, obligatory acts, and duties contributed to achieving the unity. Unquestionably, unity is power while separation is weakness.
The new situation prevailed for a period of time. Then, the unity and acquaintance turned into disunity so that people began to ignore one another, the understanding turned into enmity so that some groups began to accuse each other of atheism, and sects began to wage campaigns against some other sects. As a result, the nation lost its might, its strength petered out, and tyrants belittled this nation, which once enjoyed a pioneering and leading status. This condition paved the way for foxes and wolves to move freely across the lands of this nation; and the strangers who are accursed by Almighty Allah and rejected by humanity gained control over its various parts. So, the fortunes of this nation were plundered, its sanctity was violated, and its honor became at the mercy of the immoral ones. The consequence was incessant collapses and defeats and relapses that afflicted Andalusia, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, and Baghdad in the past, and Palestine and Afghanistan in the present time.
Consequently, the calls of the nation are no longer responded to, and its appeals for aid are no longer answered. The reason is because the malady is something else. So is the remedy. Almighty Allah has decreed that nothing can go into effect without natural causes; and “the last affair of this nation can be set aright by setting right its first affair.”
Now that the Muslim nation is facing the most hideous and vehement campaigns which target its entity, doctrines and unity as well as the devices intended to harm its sectarian and intellectual coexistence; is it not appropriate in this stage that Muslims in the world unite and strengthen their relations? The various Muslim sects share principles and consider the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Sunnah1 as the source of law and believe that Almighty Allah is the One and Only Lord, Muhammad (s)2 is their Prophet, and that the Hereafter is the final return. Besides, all Muslims perform the same religious duties; i.e. prayer, fasting, pilgrimage to the Holy House of God at Mecca, defraying the poor-rate, struggling against the enemies of Islam, and abiding by that which is deemed lawful and abandoning that which is deemed unlawful by Islam and they all love the Holy Prophet and his Household—peace be upon them all—and all acquit themselves from their enemies, though the intensity of their feelings may differ in this concern.
Thus, Muslim sects are just like fingers of one hand all of which come together, though they slightly vary in length, width and shape or perhaps they are like a body, which has many parts of different shapes and forms and these parts all cooperate to stimulate a person’s physical activity.
The comparison between the Islamic nation and the hand or the body can be an indication of the aforementioned fact.3
In the past, the scholars of the various Muslim sects and trends used to live side by side without any dispute. On many occasions, they used to cooperate with each other; they would explain theological or jurisprudential books of each other; attend the lessons of each other; applaud each other; support each other; license each other to narrate their reports; ask permission from each other to quote narrations from their books; follow each other in prayers; lead each other in prayers; declare the piety of each other; and approve of each others’ sects. Moreover, the followers of the various sects used to live together amicably as if there were no disagreement and variance in opinions between them and when scholars from one sect criticized one from the other sect, they would often behave with utter decorum and observe the rules of scientific and objective discussion.
There are numerous irrefutable historical proofs of such profound cooperation through which the Muslim scholars were able to enrich Islamic culture, cite excellent example of sectarian freedom and attract the attention of the whole world and win their respect.
As a matter of fact, it is not impossible for the scholars of the Muslim nation to hold meetings and exchange views calmly with objectivity, sincerity, and good intention and discuss the disagreements between Muslim sects and have good acquaintance with the proofs and evidences of each sect in this respect.
It is also good and reasonable that each sect or group will present its beliefs and ideas and thoughts freely and openly so that the spurious accusations and arguments aroused against any sect may be known to all and everyone realizes the areas of similarity and difference and then apprehend that they have a lot in common and that the points of disagreement cannot affect their unity or prevent them from getting closer and closer.
The current work is a step on this way. It is hoped that it will be a good manifestation of the truth in its real sense so that everybody may know the truth as it is.
Almighty Allah is the patron of all success.
1. “The Holy Sunnah” refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s words, deeds, and confirmations.
2. The acronym (s) stands for ‘salla allahu ‘alayhi wa alihi.’ It is used throughout this book next to the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and it translates as ‘May Almighty Allah bless him and his Household.’
3. This is an indication of the Holy Prophet’s famous saying, “Muslims are just like a single body; when one of its organs feels pain, the other organs share it with sleeplessness and fever.” (Riyadh al-Salihin, pp. 167)
He—peace be upon him and his Household—is also reported to have said, “Verily the Muslims are one hand against their enemies.” (Bihar al-Anwar, 28:104)