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M.A. Al Habach: Promoting Unity and Community

"Hold fast, all of you together, to the cable of Allah, and do not separate. And remember Allah’s favor unto you: how you were enemies, and He made friendship between your hearts, so that you became as brothers by His mercy."

The Islamic nation is now being asked more than at any other time to acquire the means of unity and community. These meanings are found in the Holy Qur’an in clear guidance: “Lo! Verily, this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.”

Let me tell you what Islam did for the Arabs through the Holy Qur’an, to show how the Qur’an changed Arabic society radically. It was narrated that Abu Bakr made Omar a judge in Medina. After two years, Omar came back to the caliph Abu Bakr and asked to be excused from that position. Abu Bakr asked him: “Why do you want to resign?” Omar said, “Because there is no need for a judge, and during these two years I received no case.” This shows us how the Holy Qur’an influenced Arabs and changed them in a very short period into a civilized nation. Since the Qur’an in the past was able to build the foundation of the Islamic nation by His logic, then what makes us nowadays live this loss and division while the Holy Qur’an is still the same as God revealed?

We live the golden age of printing and reciting of the Qur’an. We hear the voices of reciters in every broadcast and on every TV channel. Qur’an schools are in every mosque, there are hundreds of thousands of memorizers, and scriptures number in the millions. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), there were only a few pages of only one copy of the Qur’an in the house of Abu Bakr. Othman made seven copies, in order to put one in every country, such as Syria and Iraq. It was very difficult to read directly from the Holy Qur’an, but at the same time we find this to be the best age in Islamic history. The Holy Qur’an illuminated their minds and hearts, but without many copies.

If modern presses have printed more than one hundred million copies of the Holy Qur’an, why didn’t we implement the Qur’an for our unity and community? And, why didn’t the Islamic Nation attain the honor it deserves? In my opinion, it is because we used this holy text as a motive for stirring up quarrels, divisions, and controversies when we disagreed in its interpretation, and we didn’t excuse each other.

Each verse of the Qur’an has several different scholars’ views of interpretation, and these ideas used to be respected by all Muslims who would excuse each other these differences. They honored the Prophet’s tradition, “Read the Qur’an as long as your hearts are in accordance with it; if you come to differ, dismiss.” Dear brothers, let’s find unity within the framework of variety and enumerate, through supporting the common good and cooperating, what we have agreed to and excuse each other in what we disagree about.

The Holy Qur’an repeats 14 times: “Confirming what had come before.” It confirms the civilized integration between Islam and others in spite of their ideological differences. It didn’t say, “I came to cancel nations and to abolish or destroy what came before me.” So if this is the status of Islam concerning the relationship with non-Muslims, then how should it be between Muslims themselves?

[Source: Islamic Perspectives on Peace. Tarrytown, NY: Universal Peace Federation, 2006.]