Types of Unity in the Holy Qur’an and Fundamental Causes of Disunity

Indeed this ummah (community) of yours is one community, and I am your Lord. So worship Me.3
The great many followers of the Noble Messenger (S) throughout the world consider themselves not just as his followers but also as his devotees and lovers. It is hoped that the Muslim community can re-unite in light of the love they share for the Messenger of Allah. Just as the Messenger laid emphasis on unity before all things, we too must regard this matter with grave regard.
My discussion consists of an introduction and several points.
Two lessons can be derived from the noble verse [quoted above]:
Firstly, the unity of the ummah is consignificant with tawhid, or in other words, unity [like tawhid] is one of the pillars of Islam.

It is a matter of regret that the issue of unity is spoken of as something that is merely advisable—a noble matter that ought to exist among Muslims and that they must exhort one another to adopt. In reality, however, the Qur’an highlights unity with the same emphasis as it highlights tawhid. So great is the stipulation of a united ummah, that the call for unity precedes the command to worship the One God:
Indeed this ummah (community) of yours is one community, and I am your Lord. So worship Me.4
[In this verse,] worship of the One God is predicated on the unity of the ummah and the unity of the Lord. Together, these two form the pillars for the monotheistic (tawhidi) worship of God.
The second lesson learnt from this verse is regarding the unity of the ummah itself. The phrase (ummah wahidah) is the answer to the question, “What is unity?” It can be ascertained that the Islamic community in its path for unity must reach a stage where it is able to form one ummah. It is an obligatory duty, therefore, on Muslims to strive for a single ummah, in the same way that they are obligated on the basis of tawhid to worship one God.
The words ummah and imamah (leadership) stem from the same root. Consequently, an ummah is a group that follows the same leader (imam), objective, and book. The Qur’an even uses the word imam for the Torah5.
A united ummah can only be actualized when the whole group follows one political, social and ideological path, and falls under the umbrella of one law, one system of economics, etc. As long as this is not true, there can be no realization of a single ummah. The distinguished reformer, ‘Allamah Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-GhiÔa’ (may Allah be pleased with him) has captured well the afore-mentioned lesson we derived from the verse in one of his aphorisms:
Islam has been instituted on two expressions (or two pillars): the expression of tawhid and the tawhid (unity) of the expression [or a single, united voice].
Truly, if there is no unity of expression there cannot exist any expression of tawhid [i.e. no expression of the creed of Islam]. Tawhid is more than worship; tawhid is the principle that there is only one Lord and one leader in the Islamic community:
…that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah…6
Tawhid cannot prevail in an Islamic community where illegitimate rulers, kings, sultans, and tyrants have authority over the Muslims. Neither will “wa ana rabbukum” (I am your Lord) ring true for such a society nor will ummah wahidah (a single ummah) be realized. [Why not?] Because tyrants are always in battle with each other in order to take possession of more power. Each one desires to pull the community towards himself. As long as this is the status quo, a single ummah cannot be realized. Therefore, there is a necessary correlation between tawhid in its true meaning and a single ummah.
Typesof Unity in the Qur’an
In addition to tawhid which is the foundation of all types of unity, there are several forms of unity that appear in the Qur’an:
Unity of the ummah
Indeed this ummah (community) of yours is one community, and I am your Lord. So worship Me.7
Unity of all those who follow the heavenly books
Say,‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him…8
Unity of all religions
He has prescribed for you the religion which He had enjoined upon Noah and which We have [also] revealed to you, and which We had enjoined upon Abraham, Moses and Jesus, declaring, ‘Maintain the religion, and do not be divided in it.’…9
.…[The apostle and the faithful declare: ] ‘We make no distinction between any of His apostles.’…10
Unity of humanity
O mankind! Indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another.11
Perhaps it may be said that the sermon of the Messenger given in the early days after the Emigration encompasses all these forms: “O Mankind! Surely you have only one Lord and your father is one. Each one of you is from Adam, and Adam is made of clay. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you12. There is no preference for an Arab over a non-Arab except due to his taqwa (God wariness).”
Thus prior to examining the causes of discord, it is first necessary to believe that the unity of the ummah is a duty and an obligation on all of us. It is a duty whose burden is shared by all Muslims; only when each individual Muslim carries out his share can it be fulfilled. This obligation is not one of the wajibat-e-kifayi (collective obligations), so that if one individual carries it out, the burden is lifted from the rest.
Nor is it one of the wajibat-e-infiradi (one-time obligations) so that when it is carried out once then it need not be carried out again. Unity is a distinct reality that applies to all Muslims. The greater one’s intellectual, political, and financial abilities are, the heavier this burden is. Clearly the burden on a scholar, a marja’-e-taqlid (legal authority capable of practical emulation), and a leader is very great, because when he fulfills his obligation his adherents will also follow suit.
Sadly there are many who are not aware of such a duty. It is crucial that each must take care not to disrupt the unity of the Islamic ummah through his speech, writings or actions.
The parable of Islamic unity is like that of a building where each individual brick plays a role in the fortification and protection of the building as a whole. Any action or transgression that is carried out against this unity is equivalent to removing one brick from the building that is Islamic unity, resulting in the eventual destruction of the entire structure.

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