September 30, 2016

Unity and cohesion in Muslims

Dear Editor,
Guyana is a kind and tolerant mother to all the divisions in the society, keeping the differences aside while cohesively pasting the coexistence of all the different faiths and beliefs.
The Guyanese are divided racially, and then religiously, and then further down, sectarian division.
Editor, it is not a surprise that as the world becomes civilised, diversity of ideologies, thoughts and beliefs emerge. But such springing of tenets in the hands of ignorance can cause devastating consequences, like in the Middle East.
Islam, as I believe, and as every Muslim would claim, seeks to unite humanity. Even if someone is not a Muslim, the Holy Quran has given them rights on Islamic Basis.
However, the more taunting element to deal with here, is that Muslims themselves are divided into so many groups, which is a pity for the society.
Firstly, differences in beliefs has sparked the immergence of Sunnis, Shias and Ahmadiyyas. But this division, Editor, is in existence from the time of the demise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May peace be on him).
He truly was a mercy to mankind, as God states in the Holy Quran (21:107), “We did not send you (O Prophet) but as a mercy to all the nations.”
After his demise, truly, the Muslims felt the large chunk of mercy that god had stored amongst them. Of these Muslims, Shias make up about 0.35 billion (21%) whereas the Sunnis make up the majority.
History tells us that attempts were made between both the Sunni and Shia scholars, and to an extent, Ahmidiyya scholars, to debate and resolve the differences, and many were successful. In contrast, history also tells us that the majorities had oppressed minorities and vice versa on the basis of difference of beliefs.
I simply can imagine a world with Muslims studying different sects as much as they ignorantly fought. Indeed, knowledge would have been a better path to follow and resolve conflicts peacefully. Even further, Editor, when I was studying Islamic Jurisprudence, I was introduced to five schools of thoughts, namely, Hanafi, Hanbali, Ja’fari, Maliki and Shafi’i.
Though, this diversification of Islamic Laws is not a source of war in many cases. These were emerged a little after the Prophet’s demise. They have differences, in most cases, miniscule, in Islamic Law, due to the different categorisations and outreach of Ahadeeth (sayings and actions narrated from and about the Holy Prophet).
I was taught that no Muslim has the right to call another Muslim wrong if he follows a different school of thought. If we are hearing news from the Middle-East about the various wars emerged amongst various groups, it is not in relation to the schools of thought, but often, sectarian.
The mainstream Islamic Scholars have condemned and even encouraged the fighting against groups that spread such word of division to deepen the wounds in the Muslim world. Without a shadow of doubt, everyone is, by now, well aware that the violence in the Muslim world today, is a direct descendant of US backed Saudi Regime that propagates Takfeeri ideology. Takfeeri ideology, simply put, is one which accepts that their subject of belief is the correct one, and everyone out of their diaspora are ‘infidels’, regardless of them being a Shia or Sunni. Takfeeri is anyone who claims to be a Muslim and calls another Muslim who believes in the tenets of Islam, a Kaafir (disbeliever).
Therefore Editor, Guyanese nation, especially the Muslims, should be advised that if a Masjid or a centre of such propagates such belief, it is better to not participate in that field.
In Guyana, we are fortunately blessed to witness all the different variety of Muslims. It would have been more acceptable if we just had these differences and followed the school of thoughts accordingly and peacefully.
But, unfortunately, the love of power, sources of income, arrogance and ignorance has caused the Muslims to further divide into different groups, shamelessly, bringing into place, more gaps and differences. To fill these gaps of differences, firstly, Muslims must stop creating gaps and stretching them.
Editor, I think it is of utmost essential that we urge the Muslim scholars not to propagate divisions but to acknowledge the differences and respect them. Days are over, where one group spreads hatred of the other in order to maintain its followers.
Today, hatred is not keeping intellectual followers, it is pushing them away. Just by not scaremongering on other Muslims, a Muslim can very well make a great contribution in the reformation process. Secondly, the scholars of different schools of thoughts and sects should come together, make public gatherings together, acknowledge each other with praise-worthy qualities and spread the word of love and harmony.
Tolerating others’ beliefs and differences does not mean that one should leave his own belief. Scholars of the various schools of thought must come together, in a scholarly environment, with intellect, and debate on issues that can potentially be corrected or resolved.
Previously, most of the minority groups were either forgotten or purposely not invited to unity meetings at national level, ironically. However, we are seeing some light improvements in the present days and hope that this improvement will persist in the social cohesion of the Muslims and non-Muslims.
Editor, you can see how desperately sorrowful I am to express this plague in our society. I cannot tell you how much more desperate I am to erase the differences and come to one agreement. After all, we Muslims believe in one God, one Book, one final Prophet and pray in one direction. We have a lot more similarities to promote than differences, which by the way, are technical. Is it not possible we come to form one strong cohesion, respecting each other?
Nay, it is!

Abdus-Saalih

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