Unity720

Unity: A requirement for the Islamic community

The issue of Islamic unity has always been one of the concerns of Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution. This is evident both in his statements and his actions to the extent that he almost always mentions unity when addressing the Islamic community. The present Op-Ed attempts to explain his position and viewpoint in this regard by examining his statements about Islamic unity.

 

A prescription to heal the Islamic nation

From Imam Khamenei’s perspective, unity is not just a tactical or strategic issue. Rather, it is an Islamic principle. He has stated in this regard, “Unity should not be viewed from a tactical perspective; it is an Islamic principle.” (1) In addition to explaining the reality of unity and its religious origin, this statement provides an answer to the views that consider unity to be simply a tactical or strategic issue. In this way, he introduces unity as an obligation and requirement in the holy religion of Islam. “We believe closeness (between Muslims) to be necessary, obligatory, and essential and in line with the goals of the Islamic system (2).” In another statement, he declared, “Unity between the Muslims is an obligation for a hundred reasons and possible for a hundred reasons (3).” He also said, “It is the only prescription that can heal the sufferings of the Islamic world (4).”

Due to the importance of this issue, his comprehensive knowledge of the issues affecting the Islamic world and with his full commitment to closeness between Islamic denominations, he has stated, “I wish to lay down my life for the unity of Muslims. I wish my death may be on the path for the unity of Muslims (5).” Considering the importance of the issue of unity, it must be interpreted correctly and according to the Islamic teachings without just discussing it with a superficial outlook. Therefore, a correct understanding of the term ‘unity’ and ‘closeness’ can be particularly helpful in facilitating the closeness of Islamic religions.

 

The nature of Islamic unity

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has attributed different meanings to unity. Among them are the following: unity means confronting the enemies and empathizing with one another (6), emphasizing commonalities (7), cooperation between the different sects of Islam and a lack of opposition and antagonism between them (8), a feeling of brotherhood (9), an avoidance of conflicts but not an avoidance of proving one’s belief (10), and an emotional and political solidarity in facing enemies (11). With regard to unity in his system of thought, the need for unity between the Islamic religions has been emphasized, and sectarianism and division have been said to be a deadly poison to the Islamic nation. Some of his statements about unity and its necessity include: unity is an Islamic and Quranic principle (12), unity is the main precondition for the word of Islam (13), unity is a religious, rational, holy duty (14), unity is the underlying condition for all good deeds (15), unity is the secret to victory and the power of the Islamic nation (16), and unity is the greatest political message of Islam (17).

The goal of all prophets and divine leaders has been to lead people to salvation by establishing a religious government. Islam is a religion in which believers can achieve the goal of establishing an Islamic nation under the flag of unity if they are united and avoid the false animosities and confrontations that are typically aroused by the divisive institutions of the Arrogant Powers and colonialism. Imam Khamenei has repeatedly mentioned the goals and functions of unity. Among these functions are: building the foundation for a new Islamic civilization (18), coming out from under the political and economic dominance of the enemies (19), saving the Islamic nation from the domination of the Arrogant Powers (20), using unity in the service and in the direction of the dominance of Islam (21), preventing the intimidation of Muslim governments and nations by the Arrogant Powers (22), establishing a single nation (23), globalization of Islamic values (24), the Muslims’ active role in global fields (25), advancing the Islamic nation toward victory (26), being prepared to confront the front that opposes Islam and the Islamic nation (27), and many other goals that have been mentioned in his various statements.

 

Internal factors that disrupt unity

The factors and causes of division between the Islamic religions, some of which are internal and some external, have led to breaks between the Islamic religions. We can prevent division and adding fuel to the fire of sedition in the Islamic world by raising the nations’ awareness and promoting self-confidence in the Islamic governments. From Imam Khamenei’s perspective, ‘following the devil (taghut)’ is the most important internal factor causing division (28). The Islamic world follows one God and one prophet, and it has one holy book, but Satan creates divisions using these same unifying elements by tempting the Muslims’ in their thoughts and hearts.  

Ignorance and misperceptions are other internal factors destroying the unity between Islamic religions, which have been frequently referred to by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution. He has stated, “I don’t want to say the Shi’a-Sunni differences have always been related to colonialism. No, their own feelings have also been involved. Feelings due to ignorance, prejudice, some sentiments and some misperceptions have also been involved. However, when the colonialists entered the area, they made the best use of these weapons (internal factors) (29).” Ignorance of the realities of religious teachings leads to different and even conflicting interpretations of a teaching. Under the shadow of these different interpretations, some simple-minded people ostracize opposing groups and consider themselves to be the righteous ones. This is where they begin to ostracize others and build the foundation for divisions between Muslims.

 In addition, arrogance and a sense of superiority along with ethnic, sectarian, and religious prejudices have led to many wars throughout the Islamic world. In other words, insulting religious beliefs and ethnic customs is a major cause of division in Islamic communities. Therefore, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution introduces this as a red line not to be crossed in the Islamic system. He emphasizes, “The red line in the Islamic system and in our view includes insulting one another’s sanctities. Those who insult others’ sanctities out of ignorance and blind prejudices do not understand what they are doing. They (and their actions) are the best means for the enemy and the best instrument in the hands of the enemies (30).” This is the red line.

 

External factors that disrupt unity

Concerning external factors that disrupt unity, Imam Khamenei has stated, “There are many external factors that disrupt unity. The Arrogant Powers and colonialists play a major role in creating and maintaining divisions (31).” Some dependent Islamic rulers and governments contribute to the injection of the deadly poison of division, whether consciously or unconsciously, and these must also be considered to be external factors. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has stated the following in this regard, “A part of the Islamic lands are contaminated by the presence of and occupation by the accomplices of the powers of polytheism, disbelief and arrogance. New and unprecedented differences and the killing of brothers have emerged due to mismanagement and the maliciousness of some of the rulers of the Islamic lands. This is what hurts the heart of every zealous Muslim who believes in the dignity of Islam, and it hurts the unity of the Muslims (32).”

The Leader has also stated, “The Takfiri groups created by Global Arrogance, which are increasingly growing in some Islamic communities, serve as the infantry soldiers for the enemies and help them to pursue their goals (33).” Among the false religions in the Islamic world is Wahhabism, which has emerged in the recent century in the world of Islam and it has won over some simple-minded people in the world of Islam.


 The effects and consequences of division

Some of the Leaders statements concerning the effects and consequences of division are the following, “Undoubtedly, division has damaging effects and consequences on Islamic communities. A Shi’a-Sunni war is very valuable to the enemies. Differences and division within the Islamic nation causes spirituality, exuberance, power, glory, and the greatness of your alliance to break down. As pointed out in the Qur’an, ‘…and your power will be gone’ (34, 35).” And, he has stated, “Division causes the power of the Islamic world to diminish. The domination of the enemies over Islamic countries is also another consequence of division between Muslim countries (36).” In other words, differences and division enable the enemies to penetrate into Islamic communities, through which they are able to strike numerous blows to the world of Islam. Therefore, the Leader warned, “Today, we must care more about the unity of Muslims because differences open a permanent path to the enemies’ penetration into Islamic communities (37).”

On another occasion the Leader stated, “Using religious differences with regards to territorial boundaries, the Domineering Powers try to keep communities busy with conflicts so that they can easily dominate over them. The colonialists have long used the principle of ‘divide and rule.’ Therefore, when they see division between Muslim nations, they will be definitely tempted to inflict a blow to the Muslims (38).” Furthermore, he has said, “Putting pressure and sanctioning some Islamic countries is the result of division in the Islamic community (39).”

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be stated that from the perspective of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, unity is the most necessary, important and even the most essential goal for the Islamic community. Being aware of the present situation and conditions in the Islamic world, Imam Khamenei attempts to direct the Islamic community toward conscious unity. Therefore, it is essential for the Islamic nation, particularly its scholars and rulers, to increase their level of awareness about this healing, vital prescription for the Muslim nations. They must accept it as a definite principle for promoting the principles of pure Islam. They should do their best to implement and spread it with a belief that the realization of a new Islamic civilization is dependent on the solidarity and unity of the Islamic nation.

 

Endnotes

1) Leaders statements made in his visit with the interim Afghan president and Afghan, Mujahid leaders. [Oct. 3, 1989]

2) Leaders statements in a question and answer session with the students of Shahid Beheshti University. [May 12, 2003]

3) Leaders statements in his visit with Haj officials. [Mar. 4, 1998]

4) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and Ambassadors of Islamic countries. [July 18, 2015]

5) Leaders statements in his visit with Sunni scholars from Pakistan. [Jan. 17, 1994]

6) Leaders statements in his visit with guests participating in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Oct. 16, 1989]

7) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and guests participating in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Jan. 19, 2014]

8) Leaders statements in his visit with guests participating in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Sept. 26, 1994]

9) Leaders statements in his visit with the clergymen of the Sunni Islamic Seminary. [Dec. 26, 1989]

10) Leaders statements in his visit with different groups of people, government officials and Shi’a from Sarhad, Pakistan. [Oct. 11, 1989]

11) Leaders statements in his visit with Haj officials. [Mar. 6, 1997]

12) Leaders statements in his visit with the interim president of Afghanistan and Afghan, Mujahid leaders. [Oct. 3, 1989]

13) Leaders statements in his visit with different groups of people. [Sept. 27, 1989]

14) Leaders statements in his visit with guests participating in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Sept. 26, 1994]

15) Leaders statements in his visit with the authorities of the Sistan and Baluchestan Province. [Nov. 6, 2000]

16) Leaders statements in his visit with the pilgrims to Imam Reza’s (pbuh) shrine. [Mar. 25, 2000]

17) Leaders statements in his visit with Haj officials. [Feb. 17, 1999]

18) Leaders statements in his visit with a number of school and university students. [Nov. 2, 1994]

19) Leaders statements in his visit with participants in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Aug. 21, 2006]

20) The Leader’s message to the Conference for Paying Tribute to Ayatollah Borujerdi and Allahmeh Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltout. [Jan. 7, 2001]

21) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and guests participating in the Islamic Unity Conference. [Oct. 8, 1990]

22) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and Ambassadors of Islamic countries. [Dec. 6, 2001]

23 Leaders statements in his visit with government officials. [July 1, 1999]

24) Leaders statements in his visit with clergymen attending a ceremony for pledging allegiance. [June 25, 1989]

25) Leaders statements in his visit with Friday Prayer Leaders from Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Lesotho. [Feb. 22, 1990]

26) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials. [Apr. 6, 2007]

27) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and Ambassadors from Islamic countries. [Sept. 10, 2010]

28) Leaders statements in his visit with the people of Khorramabad. [Aug. 21, 1991]

29) Leaders statements in his visit with participants in the Seminar for Shi’a-Sunni Scholars. [Jan. 15, 2007]

30) Leaders statements in his visit with the people of Saqez. [May 19, 2009]

31) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and Ambassadors from Islamic countries. [May 27, 2014]

32) Leaders statements in the ceremony for appointing Haj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini as supervisor of Iranian Haj pilgrims. [Apr. 6, 1991]

33) Leaders statements in his visit with clergymen of the Sunni Islamic Seminary. [Dec. 26, 1989]

34) Holy Qur’an, 8:46.

35) Leaders statements in his visit with the people of Zahedan. [Feb. 21, 2003]

36) Leaders statements in his visit with different groups of people on the anniversary of the birth of Imam Ali (pbuh). [Aug. 8, 2006]

37) Leaders statements in his visit with different groups of people. [Sept. 27, 1989]

38) Leaders statements in his visit with participants in the Islamic World Conference. [Dec. 23, 2003]

39) Leaders statements in his visit with government officials and Ambassadors of Islamic countries. [Dec. 27, 2000]

 

 

Tags

  • Islam
  • Islamic Ummah
  • Islamic Unity
  • Muslim Unity
  • Shia
  • Sunni
  • Unity
  • Unity Week

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