The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam

Taha Jabir al `Alwani
Prepared from the original Arabic by
Abdul Wahid Hamid
The International Institute of Islamic Thought
Herndon, Virginia USA
In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful,
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Universe, and Peace and
Prayers be upon His Final Prophet and Messenger

The contemporary Muslim world is afflicted by numerous diseases which have spread to almost every aspect of its being. Moral torpor and intellectual paralysis, subversion from within, subjugation from without, the absence of justice and fair dealing, exploitation and corruption, extremes of ignorance and disease, poverty and waste, dependence and insecurity, discord and internecine strife – the list is long and painful. The number and gravity of these afflictions are capable of wiping whole nations and peoples off the face of the earth, even though some may be well-endowed with wealth and resources.
Beset by such catastrophic afflictions, one wonders in fact how the universal community of believers – the Muslim Ummah – has survived. That this Ummah has been spared and continues to exist to this day must be due to the fact that it still holds the legacy of the Qur’an intact as well as the example of God’s final messenger to mankind, may the peace and blessings of God be on him. It may also be due to the fact that there still exist some elements of righteousness in this community who continue to depend on God and genuinely seek His guidance and forgiveness. This we may infer from a Qur’anic verse which says that God did not choose to punish even a disbelieving people because the Prophet himself was among them and there remained the possibility that they might yet repent. [ The Qur’an, 8: 33.]
Arguably, the most dangerous disease which now afflicts the Muslim Ummah is the disease of disagreement and discord. This disease has become all-pervasive and affects every area, town and society. Its appalling influence has penetrated into ideas and beliefs, morality and behavior, and ways of speaking and interacting. It has affected both short- and long-term goals and objectives. Like a dark specter, it finally envelops people’s souls. It poisons the atmosphere and leaves hearts sterile and desolate. Multitudes of people are left contending with one another, and the impression is given that all the Islamic teachings, commands, and prohibitions at the disposal of the Ummah are there only to spur people on to discord and make them revel in internecine strife.
This is a trend which is in total contrast to the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. [ Sunnah literally means “path.” It refers to the example of Prophet Muhammad which consists of all that he said, did, approved of, or condemned.] After stressing the paramount duty of affirming the oneness of God (tawheed), both the Qur’an and the Sunnah stress one thing above all: the unity of the Muslim Ummah. Their object is to treat and rid the Ummah of any disagreements which disturb the peace and harmony in Muslim relationships and ruin the brotherhood of believers. It may also be true to say that after the abomination of associating others in worship with God there is nothing more repugnant to the teachings of Islam than discord in the Muslim community. The commands of God and His Prophet are abundantly clear in calling for the unity and solidarity of Muslims, reconciling their hearts, and marshaling their efforts in a single cause.

Read the entire book here Ethics-of-Disagreement-in-Islam

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