SECTARIANISM- THE BANE OF ISLAMIC LIFE
Submitted by Dr. Abdel Latif Aljibury
Sectarianism has been a thorn in the body of Muslim societies for over thirteen centuries. Recently, we are witnessing horrific acts as a consequence of sectarianism with calamitous consequences for the whole world.
It is a well- known fact that people are enemies of what they are ignorant of. To expose the ignorance that has led us to this state is a only first step towards clarifying that Islam is at odds with sectarianism. Sectarianism has no basis in Islamic Ideology. It has no basis, either in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah of the Prophet. Sectarianism was brought about by political schisms and the struggle to achieve power with complete disregard for the well-being of Muslim Society. The historical origins of these schisms have been thoroughly covered elsewhere in this encyclopedia.
The Quran has forewarned the Muslims against sectarianism. This was made clear in the following revelations: Allah says in the Holy Quran 3:103:
“And hold fast altogether onto the bond with Allah and do not draw apart from one another and remember the blessings which Allah has bestowed upon you….”
And the Holy Quran says in 6:159
“Verily, as for those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, you have nothing to do with them.”
Also in 6-153 the Holy Quran says:
“And know this is the straight path leading to me, follow it then, and follow not other ways lest they cause you to deviate from His path.”
The above verses are references to the state of the Muslims in the past as well as today. They are a clear condemnation of all sectarianism which arose out of people’s intolerance of others, and the exclusive claims to be the only genuine and true adherents of the Quranic teachings. They assume that they are the very ones and theirs is the only true sect that follows the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet!
It is tragic to realize that what has contributed to this schism is that many Muslims have committed a grave error in calling themselves names other than “Muslim.” This error precipitated the alienation between one Muslim individual and another, since the other happens to prefer the interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah by a different scholar. Instead of welcoming these differing opinions to arrive at a suitable solution to their particular needs, they blindly and rigidly adhere to these interpretations and, elect to look at these interpretations as if “cast in stone” of an otherwise one opinion versus another.
Our Prophet has made a declaration of a far reaching implication that Muslims should consider and adhere to in these trying days. The Prophet declared:
”The differing opinions of the scholars of my people are a blessing.”
The Prophet’s Tradition points to us the proper course of action, yet we adamantly veer away from the proper course. Here is an Islamic principle of a far reaching implication (that goes beyond the boundaries of the subject), that urge us to accommodate differing opinions. In the wider sense, this principle not only lets us accommodate but encourages differing opinions as a means of arriving at a correct judgment. Since Chapter 53 verse 3 declares that the Prophet speaks of the wish of Allah: