This column is dedicated to Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci. The following two pictures were from the Unityday USA event, which was an inter-faith and intra-faith event.
There is only one Islam, but each one of us sees it differently. While there is hardly a disagreement on "many" a key issues, we certainly disagree on some. I dedicate this to our Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, who has encouraged me to do my individual share of work in bringing the ummah together, those words have constantly motivated me and I continue to strive towards that goal.
We have to learn to accept that God has created us as unique beings; each one of us has his own different thumb print, his own DNA and his own ID. He did not punch us out like the Farishtas (angels) on his mass production machine, each one of us was made unique; one at a time.
Among Muslims of all hues we will get 100% consensus on the subject of Tauheed (Oneness of creation), Muhammad (pbuh) the last Prophet, and several other items that most will agree. However there are areas we differ and perhaps partially agree, such as the format of Hijab, Prayers, women leading the prayers, Public Sharia (deals when more than one person is in the equation), divorce, conversions and a few other issues, we have the God given right to have a different perspective. No one should even dream of compelling anyone to conformity, it simply goes against the human Fitra (nature). God loves his creation and shares his wisdom with us in Qur’aan that there is no compulsion in matters of faith.
Over the centuries we have learned to accept different perceptions of the same "fact" as to what prophet said in his last sermon. While the Shia believe that the prophet assigned the role of leadership to his family members, the Sunnis believe that no one was assigned to lead them and their version is “I am leaving the book to you to read and understand” whereas the Shia version adds the progeny to the book. How does that matter, when both agree that on the day of judgmeent ( or reflection in solitutude) it is what we do to others, how we treat others that matters.
Among Shia’s we differ and hence we have the Shia, Bohra, Ismaili and a few more classifications. Among the Sunnis we have the progressives, moderate, Barelavis, the Deobandis, the Nahadtul ulamas, the Wahhabis, Salafis etc, and within each we have several others like Ahle Sunnat, Sufis, Kurds, and a few more. Then we also have the Ahmadiyya and Warith Deen Muhammad Branches. Each group is claiming to be rightly guided by the Quraan.
Please note that I am using the language of "we" , a few comments rolled in and said that they thought I was Shia, and few that I was a Sunni, which is Ok, but do you think Prophet Muhammad would recognize these labels? He will not, however, he knew that there will be differences and made it easy for us - by acknowledging with a metaphoreic number of 72, meaning there will be a large number of divisions. Quraan is bold about it when it says, we have created you into different nations, tribes and communities, then adds, so that you may learn to know each other to figure out creating a conflictless world,which is usually referred to as Kingdom of Heaven, a Christian term which translates into Tauheed (oneness) in one sense.
Who is really right then? Should the large numbers among Sunnis give them the right to be right? Didn’t prophet have only two people supporting his mission for a while? Did their numbers make them wrong? Does Shia’s claim to the family of Prophet make them right? Guess what, all of us are right, we have to have the humility in us to respect other point of view. No one has to be wrong for us to be right; it is a difficult thought for those binary people who see things in black and white, it is like pulling the earth from beneath them, they feel threatened to even consider the idea that all of us could be right, some how they are conditioned to believe some one has to be wrong for them to be right. We have to get out of the mode of seeing others from our limited point of view without giving them the same right.
The differences are legitimate and we must accept them instead of fighting who is right, only Allah will decide that, not now, but on that elusive Day of Judgment. Indeed, we differ on some issued but not all, and we must be cognizant of this. We need to fight the temptation that acknowledging other Muslims's tradition as good as ours, will somehow diminish our own tradition, it does not.
When God calls on us on the Day of Judgment, it is our deeds that matter. In Islam, the idea of Munkir- Nakir, the angels (your own conscience) who register your bad and good karma exists; signifying the freedom one has to pile up either side and live with its consequences in terms of anguish (Hell fire) and serenity (Jannah). A good deed is your clear responsibility to the creation; life and matter.
Our Unity should be based on the Shahada (Pledge) to bring justness and peace to the world at large, also referred as Aalameen. We are Muslims, the peace makers, and when we band together, it is to do “good” and not to be against some one, such unions are false and won’t last.
What you do with your Deen is your responsibility as what I do is mine. Neither of us is answerable to any one but God. Islam is large enough to accommodate all our differences.
The Neocons of all faiths (http://hatesermons.blogspot.com/2008/03/neocons.html ) have successfully created hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between Hamas and Fatah, between Shia’s and Sunnis and between us. Do we need to blame them? Absolutely not, we need to understand our own dumbness in allowing others to place wedges between us. It is time for us to wake up and join in with our differences to repair the world. God has given us this opportunity to be the peace makers of the world, first let’s have peace between us and extend that to the world.
Would you pledge to yourselves, that when some one highlights the differences within us, you would say;
- The differences are God given” so is the “free will” and as an individual I am committed to peace within and peace for all, that is what Islam means.
- God guides me to know each other, so together we can create a kingdom of peace for all the seven billion of us.
- I understand that my safety hinges on safety of others that surround me and I cannot have peace when others around me aren't.”
I further pledge that;
I would resist all temptations to mis-represent the otherness of other traditions. No matter what any one tries to get me to say negatively about Sunni or Shia, Ismaili or Bohra, Ahmadi or Wahhabi or any faith for that matter. I will refrain from talking ill about others (applies to all faiths and traditions) and present them not to make them look bad or make mine look better, but for people to know what is that they believe without classing them.
No matter where I go, I want people to see me as a peace maker, some one who is bent on mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.
I don’t want people to be afraid of a Muslim or his beard or her Hijab, instead they should say OMG, here comes a Muslim, a peace maker, the truthful, the trustworthy and the Amin.” Amen!
It will take ten years to change the world around us. Would you do your share?
We can take this message to the world, each one of us have to do our part.
Dedicated to Dr. Imam Yusuf Kavakci. The following two pictures were from the Unityday USA event, which was an inter-faith and intra-faith event. Written and sent to Dr. Kavakci on 2/4/2010 1:20:58 A.M. Central Daylight Time and he responded back, that efforts will take time.
Original at: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-only-one-islam.html
All divisions are motivated by "me, me and my way". usually differences are political in the sense "my understandiang is the right one". they find safety in a environmnet that subscribes to their ideas.
Adam was the first man who conquered the element of fear and accepted the diverse enviroment around hiim and figured out co-existence over the illusory environs of the paradize, where no conflict or thereat existed for his survial. Other species were bent on destroying the others for survival. Adam turned this around and learned to co-exist and manage the diversity without destroying it. Adam perhaps may be the first man from an evolution and creation perspective. He could fit in both places, we have to learn not to resrtict God's words to creation.... See More
On the other hand, God has intentionally created us to be diverse, look at each aspect of our biology, it is unique, so should our emotions be and our beliefs be. The different traditions are in place and we have to learn to respect them, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. ...
There is no need for any one attempt to make all Muslims think, act, talk and look alike - that is not human nature and Quraan addresses that very well. Like there is no compulsion in belief, I have created different people so that you learn to know each other
The easiest thing for me was not to write about this topic at all; some responses are belligerent and some are naïve; the first thing that came to my mind was the Fox News and the Christian Neocons, who incessantly itch to hate someone with vengeance, Muslims at this time conveniently fill that vacuum for them. It was interesting to observe that Muslim Neocons also have the same need to fill that hate vacuum and the Ahmadiyya Muslims fill right in for them.
Some wise man said, no one will criticize you, if you are dead. It is politically expedient to go along, that is precisely the problem in the world today. I’d rather speak up and speak out and take some crap instead of letting things go. The need for us, intra-faith and interfaith is to step up the work for creating a better world to live; an inclusive world is the right formula at the end of the day.
Jazak Allah Khair.
Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/