Question:What is the obligation upon the Muslim scholars with regard to the large number of groups that exist in many of the Islamic lands and elsewhere, and with regard to the differences that exist between them; to the point that each group declares the others to be misguided? Do you not hold that it is fitting to enter into explaining the like of this matter and to clarify the truth concerning their differences; for fear that these differences may escalate and lead to evil consequences for the Muslims?
Answer:Our Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa-sallam made clear to us a single way, which is obligatory upon the Muslims to follow and traverse; and that is Allâhs Straight Path and the methodology of His upright Religion. Allâh the Exalted said:
|And this is My Straight Path, so follow it and do not follow other paths that will separate you from His Path. This has He ordained for you, that you may become pious. [Sûrah al-Anâm 6:153]|
Likewise, the Lord of Might and Majesty warned the nation of Muhammad sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam against splitting and disunity, since that is one of the greatest causes of failure and of the enemy taking control. Allâh the Mighty and Majestic said:
|And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allâh and do not be divided. [Sûrah Âl-Imrân 3:101]|
|He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Noah and that which We revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses and Jesus, saying: That you should establish the Religion and make no divisions in it.[Sûrah ash-.Shûrâ 42:13]|
So this is a Divine call to unity and for hearts to be harmonized.
In any Islamic land if there are many groups for the purpose of righteousness and piety between being differences between the doing good and co-operating in the Muslims – without there desires of the followers – then this is good, is a blessing and produces a great benefit. However, if each of them declare the others to be misguided and attack their actions, then this harm is very great and its evil consequences very serious. What is obligatory upon the Muslims is to clarify the true state of affairs and to discuss with each group and to sincerely advise all of them that they should proceed upon the way laid down by Allâh for His servants and upon that which our Prophet Muhammad sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam called to  . Those who ignore this, or continue in their opposition, due to a personal benefit or goal known only to Allâh, then what is obligatory upon those who know the reality is to make this known about them and to warn against them, in order that people may avoid their path. So those who do not know the reality of their affair will not fall into it, nor be led astray, nor be turned away from the Straight Path which Allâh ordered that we follow .
|“And this is My Straight Path, so follow it and do not follow other paths that will separate you from His Path. This has He ordained for you, that you may become pious.[Sûrah al-Anâm 6:153]|
There is no doubt that the multitude of [differing] sects and groups in the Islamic society is, firstly, something desired by Shaytân and, secondly something desired by the enemies of Islâm from amongst mankind.
Since agreement and unification of the Muslims, and their being aware of the dangers which threaten them and their beliefs, will make them active in refuting and rebutting it, and acting in a unified manner for the benefit of the Muslims – thus repelling the danger from their religion, their lands as well as their brothers. This is something which the enemies, from amongst mankind and jinn, are not pleased with. Therefore they are very eager to split-up the Muslims, destroy their unity and to sow the seeds of enmity and discord between them.
We ask Allâh that He unites the Muslims upon the truth and that He removes from their society every type of misguidance and every cause of discord. Indeed He is the One Who is able to do that, and He is the One having full power over that.
10 Imâm as-Sadî, rahimahullâh, said in Siyâsatush-Shariyyah (p.8): Indeed this striving to unite the Muslims and this calling them to have reconciliation between themselves is from the best of actions. And it is, in this present time, better than being pre-occupied with [optional] Fasting and Praying, and it is from the greatest forms of jihâd in the path of Allâh.
Imâm as-Sadî also said (p.13): It is also upon the Muslims not to make the differences that they have with regards to opinions and views concerning leadership (mulk) and politics (siyâsah) to be a barrier between themselves and between [maintaining] the religious brotherhood and ties of faith. Rather, they should make all such differences, as well as [the attainment of] partial goals and objectives follow on from this great principle.
11 Shaykh Ibn Bâz, rahimahuullah, was asked in Majmû Fatâwâ wa Maqâlât Mutanawwiah (3/68-69) to comment upon the view: That this is the time to unify the various Islâmic groups in order to strive against the enemies of Islâm and that this is not the time to criticize the various groups, methodologies or ways, such as the sûfîs, or others. He responded by saying: There is no doubt that it is obligatory upon the Muslims to unify their ranks and to unite their word upon the truth and to co-operate in goodness and piety against the enemies of Islâm; as Allâh, the Most Perfect, ordered them with in His saying: And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allâh and do not become divided.[Sûrah Âl Imrân 3:102]
Likewise, Allâh has warned the Muslims against splitting-up, as occurs in His, the Most Perfects saying: And do not be like those who differed and split-up after the clear evidences came to them.[Sûrah ÂlImrân 3:105]
However, the order to unify the Muslims and unite their word upon the truth and to hold fast to the rope of Allâh, does not mean they should not censure wrong beliefs and practices – whether from the sûfîs or other than them. Rather, what the order to hold fast to the rope of Allâh necessitates is to order the good, forbid the evil, and to clarify the truth with the clear Sharîah proofs to whosoever is misguided or has a mistaken opinion; until they unite upon the truth and turn away from that which opposes it. All of this is included in His, the Most Perfect saying:
And help you one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression.[Sûrah al-Mâidah 5:2]
And His, the Most Perfects saying: Let there arise from amongst you agroup of people calling to all that is good, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, they are the ones who are successful.[Sûrah Âl Imrân 3:110]
So if the people of truth withhold from clarifying the mistakes of those who have erred or are mistaken, then they will not have achieved that which Allâh ordered them with, as regards calling to goodness, ordering the good and forbidding the evil. The person in error will remain upon his error, and the one acting in opposition to the truth will remain upon his mistake. And this is contrary to what Allâh, the Most Perfect, prescribed as regards sincere advice, co-operation upon goodness, ordering the good and forbidding the evil; and Allâh alone is the One who grants success.
The Shaykh, rahimahuullah, was also asked about the view: We should unite upon that which we agree and we should excuse each other in that which we differ. Shaykh Ibn Bâz replied by saying (3/58): Indeed, the answer to this is yes, it is obligatory that we co-operate with one another in that which we agree, as regards aiding the truth, calling to it and warning against what Allâh and His Messenger have prohibited. As for excusing each other in that which we differ, this is not to be applied unrestrictedly, rather it has certain details. As regards issues of Ijtihâd in which the evidences are subtle, then it is obligatory not to rebuke each other. As for what opposes a text of the Book or the Sunnah, then it is obligatory to correct the one opposing the text, but with wisdom, beautiful admonition and arguing in ways that are best; acting upon the saying of Allâh the Exalted:
And help you one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression.”[Sûrah al-Mâidah 5:2]
The Believers – men and women – are friends and protectors, one to another; ordering the good and forbidding the evil.[Sûrah at-Tawbah 9:71]
Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful admonition and argue with them in ways that are better.[Sûrah an-Nahl 16:125].
12 The following words were endorsed by Shaykh Abdul-Azîz bin Bâz, as occurs in al-Furqân magazine (no.77; p.14): We see that the various Islamic groups present today do not leave being in one of three categories:
Firstly: Those groups that are firmly established upon the creed (aqîdah) of the Pious Predecessors (Salafus-Sâlih) – in beliefs, methodology and action. Such groups should be aided, helped and supported. They should be thanked for the good that they do and be promoted; just as it is upon us to sincerely advise them when they err and commit mistakes.
Secondly: Those groups that do not have a clear aqîdah, nor a clear methodology that they adhere to, nor do they submit to the understanding of the Salafus-Sâlih and to the Sharîah texts. Our stance with regards to them is to sincerely advise them, along with the Sharîah proofs and evidences, with gentleness, wisdom and beautiful manners – in accordance with the saying of Allâh, the Most High: Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and with beautiful admonition and argue with them in ways that are better. [Sûrah an-Nahl 16:125]
Thirdly: Those groups that are established upon opposing and fighting Ahl us Sunnah wai-Jamâah. whether openly or secretly, spreading innovations and deviations. Our stance towards them is one of warning against their evil and exposing their falsehood with every means that the Sharîah permits.
The Shaykh, rahimahumullah, was asked (7/120-121): Teach us O noble Shaykh, how to unravel the discord that is happening in this time with regards to the groups; such as Jamâatut-Tablîgh, Jamâat lkhwân, Salafîs, and others.
Each group claims: We are the ones who are correctly following the Sunnah. So who from these groups is correct and who should we follow? We hope that you will mention their names. He replied by saying: The group which is obligatory to follow and whose methodology should be traversed, are the people of the Straight Path; the people who follow the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam; those who follow the Book and the Sunnah. They are those
who call to the Book of Allâh and to the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam, in both statement and action. As for other groups, no one should follow them, except in that which agrees to the truth; whether it is the group Ikhwânul-Muslimûn, Jamâat ut-Tablîgh, Ansârus-Sunnah, or those that call themselves Salafîs, or Jamâatul-Islâmiyyah, or Ahlul-Hadîth; as well as any other group that calls itself by any other name. So they are to be obeyed and followed in that which is the truth; and the truth is that which is established by a proof. Whatever opposes the proof is rejected and it is said to them: You are mistaken in this. Thus, it is obligatory to agree with them in that which agrees with a noble Verse, a noble Hadîth, or a consensus (Ijmâ) from the Pious Predecessors of the urnmah … These groups contain truth and falsehood, they are not infallible; rather each of them is fallible. However, the truth is what is established by a proof from the Book of Allâh, the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam or a consensus of the Pious Predecessors of the ummah, whatever group it is from.
The Shaykh also said in an interview, recorded on the 6th day of Dhul-Hijjah 1416H; corresponding to the 24 th of April 1996 CE:
We advise them all to unite upon a single way and that is the way of seeking knowledge and attaining understanding of the Book and the Sunnah, proceeding along the methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamâah. I advise them all that their goal should be to follow the Book and the Sunnah and to proceed upon the way of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamâah, and that they should all call themselves Ahlus-Sunnah or the followers of the Pious Predecessors. But as for bigoted allegiance for the Ikhwânul-Muslimîn, or Jamâatut-Tablîgh, or so on, then I do not advise this; it is a mistake. Instead, we advise them that they should be together upon a single way, a single group (jamâah), advising one another with the truth and having allegiance to Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamâah. This is the correct way to prevent differences.
13 Shaykh Sâlih al-Fawzân, hafidhahullâh, said in Marâjiât fî Fiqhil-Wâqi (p.45):
So splitting-up and there being many [differing] groups and parties is from the plots against this ummah, made by the shaytâns from amongst mankind and the jinn. Thus the unbelievers and the hypocrites have never ceased, since olden times, injecting their poison in order to split the ummah. The jews previously said:
|And a party of the People of the Book say: Believe in the morning in that which is revealed to the Muslims, but reject it at the end of the day, so they may turn back. [Sûrah Âl-Imrân 3:72]|
Meaning that the Muslims will leave their Religion, when they see you leaving it.
Likewise, the hypocrites said:
|Do not spend upon those who are with Allâhs Messenger, until they desert him.[Sûrah al-Munâfiqûn 63:7]|
|And as for those who erect a mosque by way of disbelief, seeking to harm and disunite the Believers.[Sûrah at-Tawbâ 9:107].|
14 Shaykh Sâlih al-Fawzân was asked in Muntaqâ min Fatâwâ (1/417; no.249):
As regards the dangers that the ummah of Islâm faces from every direction, then what are the greatest of these dangers and what is the path to be taken in order to prevent these dangers?
He replied: The greatest danger that faces the ummah of Islâm is their being far away from the Book of Allâh and the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam; and replacing them with man-made laws and deviated ideologies. Likewise, the greatest danger that faces the Ummah of Islâm is the misguidance and deviation concerning the creed (aqîdah) and the infiltration of concepts of unbelief (kufr), shirk and innovations into it from the grave-worshippers and the sûfîs. Similarly, from the greatest danger that faces the ummah of Islâm is their splitting-up and enmity between themselves. The cure for this is to return back to the Book and the Sunnah; learning them, teaching them, judging by them between people and adopting what they require of morals, manners and character.
Shaykh Sâlih al-Fawzân also said in Muntaqâ min Fatâwâ (1/416-417; no.248): The most prominent issues which require the Muslims to take a stance on in these times are:- the ignorance concerning the creed (aqîdah) of tawhîd which many of those who ascribe to Islâm have; adherence to those ideologies and ways that oppose Islâm; and the ideological attack (alghazwa al-fikrî) that comes from the lands of the unbelievers and is directed at the Islamic lands. Each of these issues requires a firm stance and a powerful refutation. This is done by explaining the correct Islâm; along with its creed and its wisely prescribed Laws, and by warning against all that opposes it – from defective teaching methods – as well as [utilizing] the media and by spreading beneficial books. (NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)