Do not differ

And hold on firmly unto the bond with Allah and do not draw apart from one another (Al Imran, 103).

In this verse Allah the most exalted urges Muslims not to segregate into small units for whatever reasons. In Surah Muminun, the Lord says, “And verily this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher; therefore fear Me (and no other).

The Ummah is so woven together that isolation can be afforded only at the cost of faith. The Muslims have absolutely no reason to fight each other over trifles. History is witness to the fact that the Muslims lost their glory when people in Baghdad used to hold uncalled for discussions. When the enemy attacked them they were busy discussing whether the crow was halaal or haraam.

Once again the Ummah is passing through very difficult times and yet again the enemy is out to create wedge in the Ummah. Last fortnight the police had to resort to cane charge to restore order when Muslims belonging to two different schools of thought clashed with each other.

Narrated Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA): I heard a man reciting a verse of the Holy Qur’an but I had heard the Prophet (SAW) reciting it differently. So I caught hold of the man by the hand and took him to Allah’s messenger (SAW) who said, “Both of you are right. Do not differ for the nations before you differed and perished (because of their differences) (Hadith no 1107, Al Bukhari)

This hadith must serve as an eye opener. Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA) had rightly caught hold of the man because he had heard the Holy Prophet reciting the verse differently. But how did the most revered prophet (SAW) react? He said, “Both of you are right.”

The beloved Prophet (SAW) further advised them not to differ because the previous Ummah had perished due differences. This hadith is as relevant, in fact more relevant today as it was in the blessed times of the Holy Prophet (SAW). Therefore, the Muslims must rise above petty considerations and take note.

Renowned scholar, Dr Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal in his Emeralds in the crown of Islamcomments on the life and teachings of the great Imams, Abu Hanifa (RA), Imam Malik bin Anas (RA), Imam Muhammad bin Idris Al-Shafi (RA) and Imam Ahmad bin Hambal (RA). According to him, the great Imams loved and respected each other and subsequently, if there was some kind of unhappiness in the relations of some `distant’ followers of the respective schools, it was, probably, because of the lack of knowledge and cooperation in an atmosphere of enlightenment.

Dr Iqbal quotes the observation of Dr Muhammad Hamidullah’s valued observation on page 92 of the book. It reads, “ Abu Hanifa (RA) and Al-Shafi (RA) are doubtless two of the leaders (Imams) of Muslim law, completely independent of each other in legal judgement. According to Al-Shafi (RA), the Qanut prayer at dawn (Fajr) is obligatory, where as Abu Hanifa (RA) suppresses it completely. The story goes that once Al-Shafi (RA) went to Baghdad (where Abu Hanifa lies buried), and during his stay there he renounced his own view on the Qanut prayer. When questioned, he replied, “I continue as firmly to cling to my opinion as before, yet in presence of the great Abu Hanifa (RA) I feel ashamed to follow my own opinion.” (SIC).

This is how the Imams respected each other. Have their followers any reason to fight each other?