Tawhid as the foundation for Muslim unity and cooperation

Now, as perhaps never before, Muslims throughout the world are called to unite, and to strengthen the brother and sisterhood between Muslims, and to form alliances with non-Muslims in the pursuit of the common, and universal good, in contrast to mounting initiatives aimed purely at advancing what we believe are the religious truths unique to monotheism and Islam. As part of a greater society that is suffering under the oppression of an aggressive, violent and brutal evil, that seeks to expand intellectually, materially and spiritually into every seen and unseen pathway to the domination of the human heart, mind, and soul, we must dedicate ourselves to the spiritual movement, which is a movement of conscientious people of various faiths, races, ethnicities, cultures, and languages, who will unite to oppose, and challenge the wrongs and evils of our time, and who will work cooperatively to establish the primacy of truth, and justice as the origins of peace, and international cooperation in pursuit of the common good, and the survival and progress of the human race.

“And fear tumult and oppression which affects not in particular only those of you who do wrong” — (Holy Qur’an 8:26).

Just as there are no acceptable excuses for those Muslims who divide the Muslim ummah, and who continue to stain our collective Abrahamic soul and societies with the blood of fellow Muslims, and innocents, killing unjustly and betraying Muslims at the behest of foreign powers who manipulate us into committing crimes against ourselves, crimes that like boomerangs, come back to punish us in the forms of poverty and illiteracy and even worse, as cowardice, defeat and domination by our enemies and the enemies of Islam, there is also no longer any excuse for the violent proselytizing that is carried out by some Muslims in the name of God, that has much more to do with an infectious evil pride and exclusivity that has contaminated Islam as a result of its exposure to the evangelicalism of the Western fundamentalists religions. Never in the history of Islam have we witnessed such campaigns to convert people to Islam under the false pretense that Islam is empowered by numbers, “How often, by God’s will, has a small force vanquished a big one? God is with those who persevere” (Holy Qur’an 2:249). This wrong belief, that Islam is empowered by people, rather than God, has resulted at times in very aggressive conversion, or purging campaigns that seek to pit Islam against other religions, and even Muslim sects in a fit of what can only be called Muslim evangelicalism. This is an evangelicalism that is misrepresenting the cause of God, and distracting people from the essence of the Islamic struggle, which is to restore justice and balance to the world, “the word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice…” (Holy Qur’an 6:115). In other verses of the Qur’an, God has warned us that too much disputation leads to powerlessness. Instead of useless disputation, God has called those who love righteousness to action, saying:

“Let those struggle in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who struggles in the cause of God, whether he is slain, or gets victory, soon shall We give him a reward of great value. And why should you not struggle in the cause of God, and of those who, being weak, are ill treated (and oppressed)? Men, women and children whose cry is: “Our Lord, rescue us from this place whose people are oppressors, and raise us from Thee one who will protect; and raise us from Thee one who will help!” Those who believe struggle in the cause of God, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil; So struggle you against the friends of Satan, feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan” — (Holy Qur’an 4: 74-76).

Never will God grant victory, not even in the personal struggle between the individual soul and Satan, to those who take life unjustly, falsely claiming superiority, one over another based upon cultures and cultural traditions, race and skin color, when God has said that the best of mankind are those who are most righteous, and obedient to His laws, “Mankind was a single nation, and God sent messengers with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed, but the people of the Book after the clear signs came to them, did not differ among themselves except through selfish contumacy” (Holy Qur’an 2:213). How can anyone who claims a sect in monotheism be considered righteous, when God has condemned the sects, and warned the prophet Muhammad to avoid those who create, and perpetuate sects and who have divided God’s creation along sectarian lines? God said in the Qur’an, “When it is said to them, “believe what God has sent down” they say, “We believe in what was sent down to us” yet they reject all besides, even if it be the truth confirming what is with them” (2:91). This suggests that no one group of people have the complete and perfect truth if they deny the revelations that came before them, or after them, and it also implies that even those who possess knowledge of the complete and perfect faith, cannot understand, or utilize what has been given them without knowing and understanding the previous revelations, “Say: “Whoever is an enemy of Gabriel, for he brings down the revelation to they heart by God’s will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings to those who believe. Whoever is an enemy to God and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel, and Michael, Lo! God is an enemy to those who reject faith” (2:97-98). "Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that they deny what God has sent down, in insolent envy that God of His Grace should send it to any of His servants He pleases” (2:90).

Even the internal sectarian divisions within Islam are condemned by God, who said: “God sent down the Book in truth, but those who seek causes of dispute in the Book are in a schism far from the purpose” (2:176), and “The prophet believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one of them believes in God, His angels, His Books, and His prophets. “We make no distinctions between one and another of His prophets, and they say, “We hear and obey; we seek thy forgiveness our Lord, and to thee is the end of all journeys” (2:286).

The greatest threat to Muslim unity today, and also to the very important universal reform work to which Muslims are called, is the historic divide between those Muslims who call themselves Shia, and those Muslims who call themselves Sunni. Amazing that the followers of a faith that has at its essence a single God that is in unity, and not divided in His manifestation, or by His names and attributes, have preserved such a division throughout centuries, while both sects profess Tauhid as the basis of their faith. In this respect, the religion of these religionists has become sectarianism, and they have lost the taste and true meaning of Islam, which is submission to One God, and not to oneself. God said in the Qur’an, “Your God is One God” (2:163).

There is no need for us to discuss the role that governments and other power brokers have played in perpetuating this divide for their own purposes and aggrandizement, “And there are those who put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity, to disunite the believers, and in preparation for one who warred against God and his prophet aforetime. They will swear that their intention is nothing but good, but God doth declare that they are certainly liars” (9:107).

It is for each individual, when confronted with the choice to either perpetuate, or to work to end this rupture in the Abrahamic ummah, to decide, based upon what God has said, to either join the sectarians, or to denounce sectarianism, and to accept Islam, which is peace through the submission to the One God of monotheism, “There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of thy standing forth therein. In it are men who love to be purified, and God loves those who make themselves pure. Which is best…” (9:108-109). These ayat, or signs reminds us that the original religion of God, which is monotheism, is also the religion of Muhammad (sa), and it was in fact the religion of Abraham. Of course, these ayat also speak to the truth that Islam is monotheism, complete and perfect. The innovations in faith that arise over time are not to ever be allowed to change the nature of the original faith, a faith that is based upon belief in a single God, who created mankind as one nation, and who forbid and condemned sectarianism, and who said it is a result of selfishness and envy, and who told his prophet to avoid those who identify themselves by sects, having nothing to do with them, and saying in Qur’an that the penalty for a Muslim taking the life of another Muslim unjustly, is execution in this life, and hell upon death. “So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the faith. Establish God’s handiwork according to the pattern on which he (God) has created mankind. No change let there be in the work of God, that is the standard religion, but most of mankind understand not. Turn you back in repentance to Him (God), establish regular prayers, and be not among those who join gods with God. Those who split up their religion and become mere sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself” (30: 30-32). It is clear from this verse of the Qur’an, that sectarianism is akin to polytheism, since it is born of envy, and selfishness, which is the worship of ones own self as a god. It is as to say that we can create something new in faith that God did not create, and that this thing we have caused is more righteous, more real, and more loved by us, even though it is hated by God, who is the single creator of the original faith, and who established His own mosques, or institutions wherein worship the pure of heart, and deed.

The so-called Sunni say that they are the people of the right path because they follow the prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions, while the so-called Shia say, we are the people of God’s straight path, because we are the supporters of Ali (as), and we are the supporters of the Ahl Ul Bayt, the prophet’s family. The Abrahamic monotheist ummah is saying, “We are Muslims, because we believe in One God, and obey Him. We believe what God has enjoined upon us the belief in the Holy books, angels and all of the prophets, including Muhammad (sa), and we obey God, and them. We have established prayer, we give in charity, and we fast the month of Ramadan. From among us are those who enjoin right and forbid evil, and who struggle in the cause of God. We follow the teachings of God’s prophets, and the example of Muhammad (sa), and we love the righteous of the prophet’s household, and companions, which included Imam Ali, and the Ahl ul Bayt, and the righteous Caliphs Abu Bakr, and Umar and others, and we obey the righteous in authority over us. We denounce the wicked, and those who sought to undermine the message of Muhammad (sa), and who sought to put something evil in its place, and those who usurped the authority of the righteous and who oppressed, and divided the Abrahamic Ummah of Muhammad (sa), and who continue until today to create mischief, and to teach hate and spread violence. The Qur’an says that only those who, “deny God, His angels, Books, prophets and the day of Judgment hath gone far, far astray” (4:136), and neither of the people of these sects have gone this far. The points of contention are minor, and not worthy of the innocent blood that has been shed, or the time that has been wasted and lost, or the property destroyed, or the sin that we have incurred as a result of sectarianism. Our generation has the ability, to renounce the mistakes of the past generations, and to move forward. We have the duty to heal these divides through our individual choice not to be a part of any sect, but rather to be members of the Abrahamic ummah, known as Islam. The Qur’an saying, “And strive in His cause as you should strive, with sincerity and under discipline. He (God) has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties upon you in religion. It is the religion of Abraham, and it is He (God) who has named you Muslims, both before, and in this revelation…” (22:78). This chosen is not “chosen” as in superior to others, but rather it means that God has extended His mercy especially to those who choose to strive to live as righteous men and women, facilitating their desire and effort to live according to His guidance and laws.

For the Abrahamic ummah of Islam, whether or not there is Imamate or Caliphate should not be a fault line between people of Islam, since Imam Ali served as the 4th Caliph, and he is also Ahl ul Bayt, and Imamate. Prior to serving as Caliph, he advised the Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, and the hadith says that none of these men ever made a decision without consulting Imam Ali first. These pious men of the Abrahamic ummah did not let the issues of Caliphate and Imamate divide the ummah, and Imam Ali never raised his hand in violence against anyone, nor did he slander or curse anyone of the righteous Caliphs. These men worked together to advance the essential Islamic cause, which is the cause of justice, and they laid the foundation for the restoration of balance in God’s earth. After these pious men, there were many others who took the reigns of leadership in Islam. Some were good, and others were wicked. God will judge them. What is important today, is that they are gone, and we are here, the inheritors of a message that was revealed to heal and guide all of mankind to the fulfillment of our spiritual and material potential and to realize God’s promise to guide us to the establishment of just and prosperous societies, “God has promised to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance of power as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion, the one He has chosen for them, and that He will change their state, after the fear in which they lived, to one of security and peace; “They will worship me alone, and not associate aught with me (God)." (24:55)

Just as we believe that this promise is true for Muslims, we believe that it is equally true for all good people, those who shun evil, and who support righteousness, and who work for the betterment of mankind, since God said in the Qur’an that he would not allow the reward for the good acts of any single person, whose good deeds outweigh their wrong doing, to be lost. We are all subject to God’s mercy, and blessings. The Qur’an says, "He who brings the truth, and he who supports it, such are the men who do right. They shall have all that they wish for, in the presence of their Lord, such is the reward of those who do good. That God may turn away from them even the worst of their deeds, and give them their reward according to the best of what they have done.” (39:33-35)

God said in the Qur’an, “Pray; Our Lord, condemn us not if we forget, or fall into error; our Lord lay not upon us a burden like that which thou laid upon those before us. Our Lord, lay not upon us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy upon us. Thou art our protector; help us against those who stand against faith.” (2:286)

The challenge before us is clear, and these challenges call each of us to take action in our respective fields of service, or areas of struggle. Whether we are teachers, or soldiers, or preachers, or cooks. Whether we are writers or singers, or poets. Whether we are engineers, or scientists, or artists, statesmen and women and diplomats, the suffering in our world is a clarion call to those who know, and believe that one person can make a difference, to take action. We can no longer deny the cries of the hungry and poor and those who are victims of unjust aggression, and oppression in the earth. We cannot escape the threat that uncontrolled militarism, and that all forms of terrorism and violence pose to our societies. There is no way for us to ignore the suffering of people who are being mistreated, killed and persecuted simply because of their skin color, religion, or nationality, or because they don’t have weapons with which to fight back. It is time for the righteous, and those who love righteousness to hear the call of God, and to answer. If you are a teacher, teach the truth, if you are a journalist, report the truth, if you are a soldier, fight justly, and for peace, and not for revenge, blood lust, empire and supremacism. If you are an engineer, design buildings and cars, and machines that conserve our environment, and sources of energy, that are cost conscious, and that serve not only the rich and powerful, but also the poor, the average, the weak, the sick, and the elderly. If you are a doctor or nurse, heal us with your time, your smiles, and hope, as much as with medicine, and seek out the poor, and others who cannot afford good health care, and find ways to fulfill their needs. Statesmen and diplomats must reject war as a solution, and find incentives for international cooperation aimed at peace and prosperity, exploration, and discovery and, and most importantly, we must eradicate diseases, poverty, racism and supremacism, and immoral and unjust public policies of all kinds. The nutritionists and cooks must teach us how to prepare delicious and healthy foods using without waste and gluttony. We must find ways to encourage the exceptionally gifted and talented in our societies without diminishing those of us who are average, or below societal expectations. We must learn how to rehabilitate and redeem those who have fallen prey to drugs and crime, and make a space again in our societies for those who have paid their debts, and who are ready to retake their place in the world as free men and women. We must learn to love all, because God has loved us, we must unite in our purpose, and we must change the world.

“Nasr” or Help, Holy Qur’an, verses 1-3

In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful.

When comes the help of God and Victory,

And thou dost see the people enter God’s way in crowds,

Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His forgiveness, for He (God) is oft returning in Grace and Mercy.