The split within Islam must end
By Abdullah Al Rahim
Rahim is a Yemeni political writer. He can be contacted at email@example.com
What is it that
makes people slaughter one another in the name of religion? Which among all
these warriors can claim the integrity to dictate the terms by which God is to
be venerated and who is to be slaughtered in God's name? They call these sects
Sunni and Shia. So I ask, which one of these post Prophet innovations called
sects did the holy Prophet Muhammad belong to? Which of these slaughters will he
approve of, should he come back today?
We hear in mosques every time the word Bida'a [innovation] which is used to
fight anything new we come up with, even if it is positive. So let me ask both,
Sunnis and Shias, what are these sects, are they not innovations [Bida'a]? The
most dangerous of all innovations which have never united but always divided the
house of Islam.
When will those who point fingers at one another, call each other all sorts of
names and deny the Islam of one another understand the meaning of these words
from the Quran "O you who believe, Let not some men among you ridicule others,
it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let some women
ridicule others, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor
defame nor call each other by offensive nicknames..." (Quran 49:11). We ask the
non-Muslim to respect Islam, and rightfully so. Do we ourselves respect Islam?
Where are the religious leaders of Islam? Why this silence? Where are the
Muslims who should protest against the sacrilege that is happening in Muslim
countries around the world. Standing before the Holy Ka'aba in Makkah, the
Prophet is reported to have told the Ka'abah, 'Oh you sacred Ka'abah, the blood
of a human being is more sacred than you'. Do we understand the meaning of these
This split must be done away with and it's time that we learn to co-exist
despite whatever dogmatic or historical differences of opinion we might have. We
agree on the roots of our faith; that there is a God above us, that Muhammad is
His last Prophet, that the Quran is His last testament. We have differences of
opinion over the branches. These differences of opinion need not be the cause
over which we fight but the diversity of knowledge whose wealth we gain from.
God in the Quran says, 'This nation of yours is one nation, and I am your God,
so worship Me'. (Quran 21:92)
And as if already addressing the split that will happened later because of the
historical difference in the succession of leadership, we are told in the Quran,
'That was a people that has passed, they shall reap the fruits of what they did,
and you shall reap the fruits of what you do and neither will you be questioned
about what they did'. (Quran 2:134)
Here we are, fourteen centuries later, fighting and killing each other over how
it all happened and who was who or who should have been the political leader
after the Prophet? Indeed, we will not be questioned "about what they did". But
we will certainly be questioned about what we do.
And what are we doing? Muslim lands are under occupation. Muslim children lack
proper schooling, most Muslim countries, despite Muslim wealth, do not even have
proper electric generation to light our homes or hospitals to treat our sick or
clean water supply to quench our thirst. When earth quakes hit Pakistan or Iran
or any other land, Muslims are the least to reach out to those areas with aid.
Count the aid that reached the far-east after the Tsunami from Muslim countries.
The enemy we must fight is within our midst. He is called poverty, mistrust,
inequity, illiteracy, injustice, malnutrition, backwardness and so on. This is
the real enemy, not Sunni or Shia who are both Muslims.
It's time we summon the courage to take an introspective view of ourselves, to
honestly and sincerely revisit ourselves, both, at the contemporary and
historical levels, and to discuss matters in the spirit of Islam. Its time we
discuss openly whether we should abolish innovated sects and replace them with
original Islam. It is not a shame for us to follow the example of the learned
scholars of our middle ages who had the courage to debate matters that we today,
in our backwardness consider taboo.
To serve Islam we must have the ability to discuss issues openly within the
spirit and respect that Islam has taught us. It is not Islam that is backward.
It is our understanding of Islam that is backward. Islam is the most
revolutionary religion and way of thinking. But Islam requires its adherents to
be able understand the spirit of its laws as well as the letter. Unless we are
able to do that, our benefit from this great religion will be lacking and our
ability to take advantage of its flexibility will be lost.
Islam started among Bedouins in the desert. Islam then integrated other races
and ideas and became a great nation and a world power. Islam is still capable of
doing that, perhaps more so now with the technology available. The question is,
can we measure up to the standard of Islam, or are we still busy reaching for
each other's throats in the name of innovated sects.