On November 25, 2011, we entered the 1433rd year of Hijri, the Islamic Calendar. It started out as one Muslim community with a foundational belief in one God, one universe, one creation and that we are accountable for our actions on a day yet to come.
Islam is referred to reflecting our nature known as fitra. Indeed, every human is designed to seek justice and to be just, however the temptations cause us to cross the line and suffer the consequences one way or the other, and if we miss it, we have to account for it one day. It is our responsibility to work for a just world where everyone is better off individually and collectively when we trust each other.
Prophet Muhammad understood human nature; he knew that as the number of adherents grew they are bound to have differences. He predicted his followers will split into 73 groups – a metaphoric number to denote a large division. Being the ultimate peace maker, he was always bent on mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill among people that surround him. By predicting the division and challenging each one to race in doing good, he saw that a lot of cumulative good coming out of it, when everyone strove to be his or her best.
When he said, one among you will be the best, it reminds me of the class room scenario where one or two may fail, but will have the opportunity to make it up. However, only one earns to be # 1 rank based on individual performance of good deeds and almost all others will pass at varying degrees. He did not condemn the 72 other participants to hell, he left that to God to judge on the Day of Judgment.
Indeed, the wise men in the first few centuries did have a different take on the issues and understanding of Quraan and Hadith. First we grew into two divisions and produced six schools of thought – accepting the otherness of other interpretation without denigrating any. Today we have over 7 or 8 major divisions and many mini-divisions with each group. Thanks to many a Imams today, including my respected Imams Kavakci and Zia Sheikh who will explain the issue from different points of view without judgment. I pray that their attitude is infectious and we get that bug.
Each one of us can decide for ourselves in our hearts and minds to become generous like the Rabbul Aalameen and Rahmatul Aalameen who will not differentiate or discriminate any one of us from the 73 tribes or 7000 tribes? All we have to do is to respect the otherness of other.
Let’s avoid as much as possible to pre-fix or suffix ourselves. Let our words and actions reflect our Aalameen ul inclusiveness. Do your best and I will do mine. I pledge that in my word and actions, I will keep myself as Muslim and nothing but Muslim.
Mike Ghouse is committed to put his energy in building cohesive societies where no human has to afraid of the other. www.IslamtogetherFoundation.com