WHY AN ISLAMIC UNION?
Many contemporary philosophers think that the future of the Islamic world has a direct bearing on world peace and security, for it is potentially a serious power. Approximately one-fourth of humanity follows Islam, their lands contain rich natural resources, and the entire region has a great strategic importance. Until the Second World War, most Muslim countries were European colonies. Some of them had to undertake wars of liberation to gain their independence. This situation changed the look of Islamic geography. However, the real change took place after the cold war ended. Until then, the Islamic world was considered in terms of Africa, the Middle East and Asia; now, it has become more of a Eurasian affair with Albania and Bosnia to the west and Chechnya and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to the east. In the 1980s, Turkey was the only Muslim country represented in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Now there are nine Muslim countries:Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.8
Such changes in the Islamic world's demographic distribution have had an impact on the term "Islamic geography." Until the beginning of the twentieth century, except for short-term invasions, Muslims for the most part lived on Muslim soil under Islamic rule. From the beginning of the twentieth century onward, Muslims have migrated by choice to Europe and America, where they gradually became significant minorities. Currently, Islam is the fastest growing religion in those lands. This increase has enabled these Muslims to play a more active role in Western society and politics.
Therefore, Islamic geography does not only refer to Muslim-majority or Muslim-ruled lands, but comprises a much greater area. From the Caucasus to Tanzania, and Morocco to Fiji, the Islamic world now stretches over a huge area and covers the lands that gave rise to the greatest civilizations in history. The region's geopolitical, cultural, and geo-economic qualities place this geography on the agenda of international relations and world politics even today.
The crossroads and transit routes of world trade are located within this area. Considering that the canals and straights joining the Black and Mediterranean seas, the Mediterranean Sea with the Persian Gulf, and the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean are under Muslim control, the Islamic world's importance in terms of global balance becomes better understood. Additionally, the world's richest lands, in terms of such strategically important natural resources as oil and natural gas, are located in Muslim countries. The effective use of these resources represents a strategic opportunity for the Islamic world to increase its impact on world politics.
The current situation clearly suggests that Muslims will influence the developments of the twenty-first century in one way or another. However, what really matters here is that this influence must benefit the Islamic world in particular and humanity in general. The first thing that comes to mind at this stage is whether the Islamic world can play such a role, given its present condition. No doubt, Muslims have the necessary ability and awareness to shoulder this responsibility. However, looking at Muslim nations today reveals many problems, among them the lack of established democracy, the inability to keep up with technological progress, and an underdeveloped economy. An Islamic world preparing to play an active role in world politics must solve these and similar problems first.
The Islamic world's disunity and fragmentation is an even more urgent and vital problem that must be resolved. The fact that the Muslims have not been able to create a powerful and active Islamic Union is a major contributor to many of today's ills. When a strong Islamic Union is formed, such problems will either not arise or will be resolved far quicker than anticipated.
It must be stated here that the diversity found in the Islamic world, as well as the existence of various schools of Islamic thought, is not an issue in this regard. Likewise, unity does not equal the same practice or system. Rather, this diversity must be united under the umbrella of faith and on the basis of mutual tolerance and solidarity. Differences of thought, practice, or point of view are normal and common in all societies. Islamic morality requires that Muslims never forget that they are all brothers and sisters, irrespective of their differences. Whatever the race, language, nation, or branch of Islam one might follow, all Muslims are brothers and sisters. Therefore, such differences must be appreciated as a source of richness instead of as a source of potential conflict and fragmentation. Such a mistaken view only diverts one's attention from the real issues and delays urgently needed and important preventive action.
Subsequent chapters will deal with the need for an Islamic Union and what it will mean for world peace from economic, sociological, and political perspectives. However, first we must investigate the process that led to the Islamic world's disintegration and how this development can be reversed.
The Causes of Fragmentation
The Islamic world began to disintegrate during the early years of the twentieth century. Until then, Muslims of different sectarian persuasions, races, and languages lived together in harmony and safety under the rule of Islam, and they were strong.
One of the most destructive movements of the nineteenth century, radical nationalism, had a powerful impact on the Islamic world, for some Muslims fell under the influence of the Western ideologies imposed upon them. With the weakening and then collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the vast majority of Muslim lands were colonized by Europe and the Soviet Union. Before the colonialists withdrew decades later, they drew up artificial borders and thereby created many new countries. When combined with the radical nationalism disseminated among Muslims, the region turned into a quagmire. Ethnic differences became sources of conflict, and the different Muslim ethnic groups, who had lived in the same land until recently, suddenly found themselves living on different sides of these artificial borders. Soon, these artificial nations began disputing with each other over borders and other matters, and feelings of hostility arose. Some of these disputes even escalated into full-scale brutal wars, as in the Iran-Iraq war. A 100-year long period of instability had begun.
One's love of nation, people, and independence is a proper and honorable feeling. However, nationalism becomes intolerable when love turns into fanaticism. If someone feels hostile toward other nations without due cause, he will, in the interest of his own country, disregard the rights of other nations or people. As a result, one country will seek to acquire or plunder another country's land, and thereby become intolerable. Likewise, if people turn their love for their own nation into racism, claiming to be genetically superior, they will have developed an insupportable idea. It is also an error to turn nationalism into a racist ideology, for this damages the Islamic principle that "all Muslims brotherhood and sisters," or to let animosity do away with it for good.
God points out this wrong attitude, known as "fanatical rage," and reveals that it is an aspect of ignorance. In the Islamic context, ignorance means people and societies that are far removed from the true religion, as the Qur'an makes clear:
Those who do not believe filled their hearts with fanatical rage—the fanatical rage of the Time of Ignorance—and God sent down serenity to His Messenger and to the believers, and bound them to the expression of heedfulness, which they had most right to and were most entitled to. God has knowledge of all things. (Qur'an, 48:26)
The verse speaks of fanatical rage on the one hand and, on the other, that God gave believers serenity. The frame of mind of people who become angry and aggressive out of love for their own nation is against Islamic morality. The nationalism that developed in nineteenth-century materialist Europe was aggressive and radical. Unfortunately, this was the type of nationalism exported to the Islamic world and to many other lands, where it has caused nothing but conflict and political instability.
It is against Islamic morality to distinguish between people according to race or to allow ethnic differences to engender strife. Our Lord says in one verse:
O Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's sight is the one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 49:13)
God also reveals that racial and national differences are among His signs. These differences are not to be sources of conflict and hostility, but rather of richness and diversity:
Among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and Earth, and the variety of your languages and colors. There are certainly Signs in that for every being. (Qur'an, 30:22)
History is full of examples of Islam's ability to resolve ethnic differences. Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) warned his Companions to avoid tribal or racial separatism; dividing people according to race, sex, language, or clan; and distinguishing between people according to financial means. In his Farewell Sermon, he proclaimed: "O people! Verily your Lord is one and your father is one. All of you belong to one ancestry of Adam, and Adam was created out of clay. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for the white over the black nor for the black over the white, except in [terms of] piety. Verily, the noblest among you is he who is the most pious."9
The continuing conquests under our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and the four rightly guided caliphs greatly expanded the borders of the Islamic world, and many different nations united under the flag of Islam. The Middle East, until then full of tribal wars and unrelenting blood feuds, found peace, and the inter-Arab tribal wars ceased both at home and abroad. Ongoing warfare between Christian sects was resolved peacefully, and tribes that had been mortal enemies learned to respect each other's rights and lived under the Islamic flag.
Muslims of today must acquire the same outlook. In their mutual relations, faith and good character are important, not race, ethnic origin, language, financial means, status, or office. Love between sincere believers develops through their fear and awareness of and true love for God, and good deeds and a good character. If people dedicate themselves to the path of God, follow it in all their actions and behavior, and do good in the hope of acquiring God's good pleasure and mercy, other believers will love and respect them. As a result, their skin color, race, or financial status will be irrelevant and have no bearing on the love others feel for them. The same criteria must be true for relations between Muslim nations, which must be based on the Qur'anic insight that Muslims are one another's helpers and guardians.
One of the foremost reasons for the Islamic world's current fragmentation is its lack of this consciousness, the disregard for Islamic morality, and the effect of irreligious ideologies and movements. Some intellectuals were misled by various European philosophies and ideologies, which were full of errors, and believed that introducing them into the Islamic world would aid its progress. The damage caused by this historic mistake are still visible today. Instead of the justice, devotion, compassion, tolerance, open-mindedness, and progressive thinking brought by the Qur'an's values, the attempted imposition of false philosophies and ideologies have replaced the order and solidarity of the Islamic world with chaos and disunity. In some countries, models opposing the Qur'an's values were developed in order to end the chaos. However, this only brought about despotic regimes that oppressed the people.
It is important to learn from these past mistakes when choosing a new strategy and to be aware of misleading manipulations and suggestions. History clearly shows that the Islamic world can rise again only if it returns to its own central tenets and values, the most important of which is Muslim unity and solidarity.
Example from History: The Islamic Union of Salah ud-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin)
The Islamic world's stance against the Crusaders is an important example in this regard. When the armies of the First Crusade reached the Middle East, the Muslims were divided into fractions stemming from various disputes and arguments. This disunity prevented them from putting up an effective resistance, and so the barbaric European invaders were able to create an empire centered on Jerusalem after slaughtering the native population. However, decades later, the Muslim commander Saladin united the different Muslim groups under his command and defeated the invaders.
Nevertheless, defeating the Crusaders was not going to happen overnight. Saladin not only united the Muslims under one flag, but also started a scientific and moral awareness. The Encyclopedia Britannica says:
It was an essential part of his [Saladin's] policy to encourage the growth and spread of Muslim religious institutions. He courted its scholars and preachers, founded colleges and mosques for their use, and commissioned them to write edifying works . . . Through moral regeneration, which was a genuine part of his own way of life, he tried to re-create in his own realm some of the same zeal and enthusiasm that had proved so valuable to the first generations of Muslims when, five centuries before, they had conquered half the known world.10
When this moral, scientific, and religious regeneration combined with political unity, Islamic civilization rose once more. Saladin, commanding a united Islamic army, defeated the disbanded and demoralized Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin in 1187 and freed almost all of the occupied Palestinian land, including Jerusalem.
One of the most prominent aspects of Saladin's Islamic Union was that it represented the Qur'anic ideals of justice, moderation, and peacefulness. While best known for this military victory, Saladin was also very forgiving and just toward the Crusaders as well as all other Christians. Even though the Crusaders had inflicted unspeakable cruelty on the Muslims, Saladin exacted no revenge upon them, and no civilian was harmed when he freed Jerusalem. In addition, he maintained his authority over the radicals within his own ranks. Following the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Muslim civilians at Castle Acre, ordered by King Richard the Lion-Hearted, commander of the Third Crusade, some Muslims demanded revenge: They wanted to massacre Jaffa's (today's Tel Aviv) Christians. Saladin successfully calmed his soldiers down and extinguished their bloodlust, and so guaranteed the safety of Jaffa's Christians.
In the end, Saladin brought peace to the Holy Land by granting the Crusaders some privileges and concessions. On 28 August 1192, the two parties agreed upon and signed a peace treaty. Saladin made a great gesture: He invited the Crusader's commanders, who had killed thousands of Muslims in their quest to conquer Jerusalem, to stay there as his guests. Those Crusaders visiting Jerusalem were astonished by the Muslims' great forgiveness, tolerance, and justice. On one occasion, upon learning that his former enemy King Richard was sick, Saladin sent his own physician to treat him, along with some ice to reduce his temperature. Saladin became a legend throughout Europe for his righteous character, which was based on the Qur'an's values.
In short, Saladin's Islamic Union gave the Muslims power and victory, as well as the opportunity to realize the justice, tolerance, and peacefulness central to Islamic morality. Muslims were moved to serve Islam, prevent some radical movements from spreading among Muslims, and live according to the Qur'an.
Eight centuries have passed since the time of that Islamic Union. Today's Muslims need an Islamic Union for the same reasons as they did back then. Although the Islamic world is not under attack by a coalition army, as it was at the time of the Crusades, it is facing many threats. Furthermore, the Islamic world has fallen behind other civilizations in terms of science, technology, culture, art, and thought. Ever since the nineteenth century, the Islamic world has been seriously harmed by the many false ideologies and philosophies produced elsewhere, imported into its midst by misguided people, and spread among those who were not familiar with the Qur'an's values. On the other hand, some radicals who claimed to represent Islam while doing their best to subvert its morality, often unknowingly helped those who were consciously sewing the seeds for later conflict.
For all of this to end, Muslims must rebuild their civilization so that it can once again guide the world, light the path, and deliver peace and justice. But if this vision is to become a reality, they must follow Saladin's method: working for the rebirth of Islamic morality, knowledge, and faith, and achieving the Islamic world's political union.
Uniting with Respect for Differences
The necessity for such a union is based not only on the need for a political solution to end the current situation; rather, and more importantly, unity is a requirement of being a Muslim. As in all areas of their lives, Muslims have to abide by the Qur'an's values in their national and international policies. As this morality requires the Islamic world's reunification as a priority, taking Islamic morality as the guiding principle will make this alliance possible, as well as long-lived and active.
Islamic morality requires Muslims to be conciliatory at all times and to be brothers and sisters in faith, as well as in solidarity and union. God commands the believers to: "not quarrel among yourselves" (Qur'an, 8:46), for doing so will only weaken them. Another verse commands the following:
Do not be like those who split up and differed after the Clear Signs came to them. They will have a terrible punishment. (Qur'an, 3:105)
It is impossible for Muslims who have common sense and conscience not to unite with other believers or to be engaged in an ongoing dispute with them. This is true on an individual basis, as well as on the level of communities and nations. God points out this fact in the Qur'an and forbids Muslim nations to be unfair or hostile to one another. The Qur'an states that those who engage in such harmful activity must be stopped, and instructs other Muslim nations to "make peace between them":
If two parties of the believers fight, make peace between them. But if one of them attacks the other unjustly, fight the attackers until they revert to God's command. If they revert, make peace between them with justice and be even-handed. God loves those who are even-handed. (Qur'an, 49:9)
Of course, there can be cultural, traditional, and local differences of attitude and practice between Muslim nations due to different views, interpretations, and schools of thought. Such things are natural. However, these differences should not lead Muslim nations to antagonize one another, end their mutual dialogue, and consider the other nation as foreign and hostile, instead of agreeing on their common values. Doing so only leads to intolerable situations.
God warns Muslims away from such mistakes and reveals the People of the Book's (the Jews and Christians) errors in this respect as an example of what can happen. The Qur'an states in 98:4 that they were divided among themselves and went their own ways, even though they received Clear Signs to the contrary. Other verses state that the causes for this split were such evil character traits as envy, injustice, and rebellion against truth. The following are some of these verses:
They only split up after knowledge came to them, tyrannizing one another … (Qur'an, 42:14)
The religion with God is Islam. Those given the Book only differed after knowledge had come to them, envying one another. As for those who reject God's Signs, God is swift at reckoning. (Qur'an, 3:19)
Jewish and Christian history is full of conflict because of this continuing disunity. Christianity's first 16 centuries also can be described as the history of warring Christian sects. Even small differences in interpretation led to mutual accusations of heresy. Over time, the Catholic Church gained the upper hand and began to persecute other religious schools of thought that it considered heretical, such as Docetism, Montanism, Adoptionism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Plagiarism, and Gnosticism. The Catholic Church's persecution of such religious denominations as the Cathars and the Bogomils from the eleventh century onward, as well as the century-long bloody war between the Protestants and the Catholics, coincide with the darkest era of European history. It is interesting to note that European civilization began to rise after this sectarian warfare ended. As political scientists acknowledge, modern Europe was only born after the various Christian sects agreed to mutual tolerance at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
People diverge in their religious practices and understandings because they do not practice morality, as commanded by God. This morality recognizes modesty. Those who distance themselves from this modesty perceive their own ideas as the ultimate truth, disregard those who think differently, and feel animosity toward them. Since they do not doubt the truth of their own views, they do not question themselves and so cannot improve themselves and find the truth. The Qur'an describes those who only value their own opinions in the following way:
They disagreed and split up, dividing into sects, each party exulting in what it had. (Qur'an, 23:53)
Muslims who fear and respect God, and who believe that they will have to account for their actions on the Day of Judgment, must be aware of this situation. Those who realize the importance of this matter must warn other Muslims about the dangers of disunity, fragmentation, and segregation, and work for Muslim unity under the Qur'an's values.
Exemplary Muslims approach other people with love, compassion, and mercy, for they view all people as manifesting some of our Lord's names and attributes. They consider all people who share the same belief, and who believe in the Qur'an, obey God's commandments, and abide by the Sunnah of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), as their brothers and sisters, and never forget that they are one another's guardians. They must refrain from factionalism rooted in cultural, traditional, or differences of opinion and, instead of making an issue of them at every opportunity, must support unity under the Qur'an's values. Muslims must support one another in this union and be tolerant and understanding when dealing with disputed matters. As we pointed out previously, sincere Muslims who are aware of this issue's importance, as well as the Islamic world's leading thinkers and intellectuals, are especially obligated to work resolutely for Muslim solidarity and unity. A solidarity based upon love, respect, compassion, and tolerance must be established in the Muslim world.
At its core, Islamic morality envisages religious unity and common values, rather than disputes and segregation. Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) showed the way for Muslims with the following hadith:
I have left among you the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Apostle. If you hold fast to them, you shall never go astray.11
We just have to abide by this advice. Our Lord commands all believers to follow the true religion and refrain from disunity. God says:
He has laid down the same religion for you as He enjoined on Noah: that which We have revealed to you and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: "Establish the religion and do not make divisions in it." What you call the idolaters to follow is very hard for them. God chooses for Himself anyone He wills, and guides to Himself those who turn to Him. (Qur'an, 42:13)
Fostering a Sense of Unity
Unity requires awareness, devotion, allegiance, and loyalty. God prescribes unity for Muslims and reveals that Satan will attempt to create conflict in order to prevent this unity. Muslims are obliged to refrain from hurtful words, anger, disrespectfulness, and all other behavior that could damage this sense of unity when dealing with fellow Muslims. Each Muslim is required to be devoted to others, patient, work for the good of others, and loyal and true. All Muslims must adopt these superior qualities.
A good example of this is the relationship between those Muslims who emigrated to Madinah with our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and those Muslims who were already settled there. The Muslims who pledged their allegiance to our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) in Madinah welcomed the Makkan migrants in the cause of God in the nicest possible way and took good care of them. These two different communities, which had no mutual tribal bonds, considered loyalty to Islam to be the only important yardstick. The Muslims of Madinah proved their loyalty by opening their homes, sharing their food, and considering the migrants' needs before their own. Our Lord reveals their good conduct in the Qur'an:
Those who were already settled in the abode, and in faith, before they came, love those who have emigrated to them; do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given; and prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Qur'an, 59:9)
The exemplary and superior character demonstrated in this verse reveals how the relationship between two Muslim communities should be. Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) describes solidarity in the following hadith:
Muslims are like one body. If the eye is sore, the whole body aches; if the head aches, the whole body aches.12
The love between Muslims and the absence of any ill-will are great gifts of God. The Qur'an says the following about this gift, which will be completely fulfilled in Paradise:
We will strip away any rancor in their hearts—brothers, resting on couches face-to-face. (Qur'an, 15:47)
Therefore, Muslims must act with the awareness that solidarity, fraternity, and a sense of belonging are gifts that must be protected by means of patience and strong will. The following verse also reveals the importance of this unity:
So heed God and put things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you believe. (Qur'an, 8:1)
Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) states the importance of unity in the following hadith:
Do not envy one another, do not hate one another, do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another. Rather, O servants of God, be brothers…13
Muslims are always obliged to be forgiving, but if the other party consists of Muslims, the first party must be even more patient. They must remember that the second party consists of fellow Muslims, and that both parties fear God, obey the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), and abide by the Qur'an's definitions of right and wrong. All Muslims know that they must have only goodwill toward their fellow Muslims; that they should be considerate; and that they should respond with patience, compassion, and love when disagreements arise. The Qur'an reveals the prayer of Muslims for their fellow Muslims:
Those who have come after them say: "Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not put any rancor in our hearts toward those who believe. Our Lord, You are All-Gentle, Most Merciful." (Qur'an, 59:10)
Just as Muslims are obliged to mediate in friendship between their each other, they are obliged to resolve any dispute between two Muslim communities. God says:
The believers are brothers, so make peace between your brothers and heed God, so that hopefully you will gain mercy. (Qur'an, 49:10)
Clearly, this mentality creates a very strong sense of belonging and unity, for our Lord states:
God loves those who strive in His Way in ranks like well-built walls. (Qur'an, 61:4)
This ideological struggle against irreligious philosophies and ideologies is a duty of all Muslims. No doubt, it is a historical mistake to develop a closed community struggling with internal affairs instead of shouldering the responsibility of this ideological struggle to bring light to an otherwise dark world. At present, humanity, especially the oppressed Muslims, is looking for a way out of this situation and is awaiting the arrival of a guidance that will bring peace, happiness, and justice to the world and remind all people of the true purpose of their existence. This guidance is the responsibility of the Islamic community, and all Muslims are obliged to act with awareness.
The fact that violence, terror, cruelty, fraud, dishonesty, immorality, conflict, and poverty are common proves that the world is full of "corruption." In the face of this reality, many issues that have become a problem among Muslims lose their importance. All of this cruelty and degeneration feeds off the false systems established by those who deny God's existence and unity and do not believe in the Hereafter. Therefore, people of conscience must unite in righteousness.
This unity will be one of the most important phases in the defeat of irreligious ideologies. Our Lord points out the nonbelievers' alliance and reveals the necessity of Muslim friendship and solidarity in order to rid the world of cruelty. The Qur'an says:
Those who do not believe are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way [protect each other], there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Qur'an, 8:73)
Given that the Muslims have such a large responsibility, they must unite. If situations prevent them from doing so, they should consider the following questions:
"Is this issue more important than the unity of Islam?"
"Is it beyond resolution?"
"Is it acceptable to dispute with another Muslim community instead of working against irreligious ideologies?"
Everybody who answers these questions conscientiously will know that the higher priority is to refrain from endless disputes and to establish a union based on the Qur'an's values.
Muslims must never forget that Satan is always working to cause enmity between Muslims in order to prevent their unity and solidarity. Our Lord warns believers of this danger:
Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them. Satan is an outright enemy to man. (Qur'an, 17:53)
This verse advises Muslims to avoid directing hurtful, mocking, harsh, and accusing words against other Muslims and points out the need for decent conduct in the pursuit of unity.
The Qur'an also points out that such disputes and other damaging behavior impair one's sense of belonging and weaken the Muslims' power. Our Lord says:
Obey God and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves, lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast. God is with the steadfast. (Qur'an, 8:46)
As stated earlier, this is true for Muslim individuals as well as Muslim nations. If the Islamic world wants to erect a powerful, stable, and prosperous civilization that guides and illuminates the world in every aspect, it must act in union. The lack of such a union is responsible for the Islamic world's discord and separation, the absence of a common voice, and the defenselessness of innocent Muslims. Countless poor women, children, and elderly people are desperately in need of rescue from oppression in Palestine, Kashmir, East Turkistan (home of the Chinese-ruled Muslim Uighur people), the southern Philippines (home of the Muslim Moro people) and many other regions. The responsibility for these people belongs to the Islamic world before anyone else. Muslims must never forget the Prophet's (may God bless him and grant him peace) following words:
A Muslim is a Muslim's brother. He does not wrong him or abandon him. 14
The Islamic world must put its various disputes aside and remember that all Muslims are "brothers" and "sisters" so that it can provide role models who reflect the true character of Islam and its ideals. This unity of the believers is a gift and grace of God. Sincere Muslims must thank our Lord for these benefits and obey His command "not to separate":
Hold fast to the rope of God all together, and do not separate. Remember God's blessing to you when you were enemies, and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire, and He rescued you from it. In this way God makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided. (Qur'an, 3:103)
Unity Will Make the Muslims Strong
As mentioned earlier, quarrels and disputes cause internal disintegration, which weakens Muslims' spiritually. This is one of the many secrets that the Qur'an reveals to believers, and it points to another important reality: Just as disputes and quarrels weaken them spiritually, unity and solidarity strengthen them. God tells Muslims to unite and resist when they are wronged (Qur'an, 42:39). This divine order contains great wisdom. For instance, destroying irreligious ideologies will be possible only when the Muslims unite.
However, what truly makes the believers' union so strong is their faith and loyalty. Since only genuine faith can engender true friendship and alliance, Muslims must love one another with a pure heart and for the good pleasure of God, without the slightest selfish interest. A union built on the strongest foundation known to humanity—the fear and love of God—will never shatter, unless God wills otherwise. Such a strong alliance will naturally give the Muslims rarely achieved power. With the following verse, God points out that success does not depend upon a group's size:
How many a small force has triumphed over a much greater one by God's permission! God is with the steadfast. (Qur'an, 2:249)
An Islamic union based on faith and devotion will provide Muslims with the necessary enthusiasm and willpower for great success.
In another verse, God reveals that although the deniers appear to be united, they have not achieved true unity:
Their hostility toward each other is intense. They are full of bravado in each other's company. You consider them united, but their hearts are scattered wide. That is because they are people who do not use their intellect. (Qur'an, 59:14)
Irrespective of how solid a union appears to be, it is in fact very unstable if it is not built on sincerity and genuine intentions, for this means that it is based only on various interests. And, when any of these interests is threatened, the union will fall apart quickly. Since God has revealed this secret in the Qur'an, the Muslims' union is not shaken by worldly losses; rather, it is strengthened. This awareness makes the union very solid. The great Islamic scholar Said Nursi uses the following example to explain why a union formed by sincere Muslims will be strong:
So we are surely in need of solidarity and true union, obtained through gaining sincerity—for the mystery of sincerity secures through four individuals the moral strength of one thousand one hundred and eleven—indeed, we are compelled to obtain it.
Yes, if three alifs [the letter "A" in Arabic which takes the shape of a single vertical stroke, like the letter "I" or the number 1] do not unite, they have the value of three. But if they do unite, through the mystery of numbers, they acquire the value of one hundred and eleven. If four times four remain apart, they have a value of sixteen. But if, through the mystery of brotherhood and having a common goal and joint duty, they unite, coming together shoulder to shoulder on a line, they have the strength and value of four thousand four hundred and forty-four. Just as numerous historical events testify that the moral strength and value of sixteen self-sacrificing brothers have been greater than that of four thousand.
The underlying reason for this mystery is this: Each member of a true and sincere union may see also with the eyes of the other brothers and hear with their ears. As if each person of a true union of ten has the value and strength of seeing with twenty eyes, thinking with ten minds, hearing with twenty ears, and working with twenty hands.15
The subjects we have explored so far show the need for Islamic unity and the nature of such a union. The rest of the book will deal with the features of this union.
8. Ahmet Davutoglu, Stratejik Derinlik-Turkiye’nin Uluslarasý Konumu (Strategical Depth: Turkey’s International Status) (Istanbul: Kure Publications, 2001), 250.
9. Sahih Bukhari.
10. "Saladin," The Encyclopedia Britannica, 2002 CDEdition.
11. Sahih Bukhari.
12. Sahih Muslim.
14. Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
15. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Risale-i Nur Collection, “The Twenty-First Flash, Your Second Rule.”