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Islamic Unity in the Quran and the conduct of the Prophet (S)

The Holy Qur’an invites all human beings to unity—Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. — and this invitation is not exclusive for the time of the Prophet (S) or a certain group of the People of the Book {Ahl al-kitab}: [1]

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, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah’. [2]

The Glorious Qur’an speaks about the synagogue, temple, church and mosque in the same line because the Name of God is mentioned in all of them. As such, they must be held in high esteem and respect.

Although the blessed verse quoted invites all to unity, the greater emphasis is on the solidarity of Muslims. This is because, in addition to their unity and commonality in Tawhid {Unity of God}, prophethood {Nubuwwah} Qiblah {the direction where one faces in prayer and other acts of worship}, etc., Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger

The life conduct of the prophet (s) and Ahl-Albait (‘a)

The life conduct {Sirah} of the Holy Prophet (s) [3] serves as a proof, guideline and model for all of us. Through compassion, magnanimity, and endeavor, he (s) was able to unify the people of Hijaz,[4] most of whom had been idol-worshipers, under the banner of Islam.

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After their acceptance of Islam, some of them, known as the Munafiqun {hypocrites}, engaged in open confrontation with the Prophet (s) who had to deal with them. They were those who ostensibly embraced Islam, but in intention and practice they were not assisting him (s). In spite of this, the Prophet (s) peacefully associated with them and his objectives were the accomplishment of the mission as well as imparting the understanding and implementation of the Holy Qur’an. The very same conduct was adopted by the infallible Imams (‘a) and they never kindled the flame of discord among Muslims.

We can see that although ‘Ali (‘a) had reproached the early caliphs as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah, in other instances he would lead them. All this was primarily to foster the freedom of thought and the spread of Islamic beliefs. The conclusion is that in the present age, indulging in magnifying Sunni-Shi’ah differences, apart from not being useful, will result in an irreparable loss.

Proximity between Sunnis and Shi’ah advances the interests of both. It opens the ways for the spread of Shi’ah thought and culture in the Muslim world, and as a result, makes the further proximity of these two sects even more possible.

Wahhabis and unity

More than anyone else, the Wahhabis are apprehensive and endangered by this proximity. It is for this reason that during the Hajj season, they prohibit the entry into the country all religious books, including the Qur’an (in Persian translation), Tafsir, history and hadith books, and even Iranian magazines and newspapers. This is because they are afraid that these printed materials would present facts against their particular policy and doctrines. This is in spite of the fact that those matters are never repugnant to the truth of Islam.

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In terms of outlook, they oppose not only the Shi’a but also the four Sunni schools of thought. They write books against the proximity of Sunnis and Shi’a, campaigning against it, regarding it as an impossible venture.

One of the best means of replying to such a plot is that the ‘Ulama’ of both schools of thoughts should be the promoters of unity more than anyone else. They should teach their people the true teachings of Islam regarding unity so that we can live in tranquility and be united against our common enemies and avoid dispute which would result in losing courage and losing our power and strength,

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [5]

1. The People of the Book [Ahl al-Kitab]: the respectful title given to the Jews and Christians in the Qur’an. [Trans.] 2. ﴿قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ.﴾
Surat Al ‘Imran 3:64.
3. The abbreviation, “s”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [may God’s salutation and peace be upon him and his progeny], which is used after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). [Trans.] 4. Hijaz: the region in Western Arabia bordering the Red Sea that includes Ta’if, Mecca and Medina. Here, it alludes to the entire Arabian Peninsula. [Trans.] 5. وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَا تَنَازَعُوا فَتَفْشَلُوا وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ ۖ وَاصْبِرُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Holy Quran verse 46 of chapter 8. Al-Anfaal
6. A New Analysis of Wahhabi Doctrines, p. 5.

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