Divide and Conquer
By Shariffa Carlo Al Andalusia
I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately, and I remembered a story which I wish to share with ya'll. I have been thinking about the lack of unity we show as Muslims, and how when it comes to ememies, we can be our own worst enemies. Unfortunately, we can learn from the kafirs in this category, because they way they act sometimes is more Islamic than the way we do. Let me illustrate a case in point.
When I first accepted Islam, there was this Egyptian family that kinda adopted me. They had a small restaurant in Iowa that sold Middle Eastern type foods. The father of the family once related to me a story of what happened to him when he first came to America and tried to establish his business. He went to the bank and opened an account with a few thousand dollars. While he was doing so, the man taking the information, asked him a few questions about the business he was making. The Muslim answered that he was doing ethnic foods like hummos and falafel. The man asked, "Like Jewish food?" The Muslim answered, "Yes, like Jewish foods." A few days later, when the Muslim was checking his balance, he noticed it had suddenly grown to about a $100,000 or so dollars. He was shocked. He went to the bank to report the mistake and spoke to the same gentleman. The man told him not to be alarmed. He had spoken to a few of the brothers at the Jewish Temple, and they had donated the money as a gift to help a fellow Jew get started.
Of course, the man clarified himself and returned the money, but the point is this: This Jewish man and those he spoke to had seen only that the man was supposedly a Jew. For that reason alone, they had helped this total stranger. A Christian friend once told me that one of the reasons he disliked Jews was because they would rather pay more for a product and travel half way across town to a Jew-owned store to get something. They are, as he stated it, unfair in their business dealings because even by lowering your price, you can not compete for their business because they tend to stick with each other.
Amazing. He hated them for something I admired in them. I see their solidarity and I cry for the Muslims. I know that one of the only duas ever denied the Prophet was that his nation be united. I know there is definitely a good reason why Allah has done this. Yet, I see us acting like children so often that it sickens me. Once we agree upon la ilaha il Allah Muhammadur Rasool Allah, and we follow this as it was followed by the companions of Rasool Allah and the great scholars, we should be able to at least be civil to one another. It seems we can not even accomplish this, much less unity. In fact, we seem to do the exact opposite. We often sabotage one another.
Example: Recently in both South Carolina and in Los Angeles, we tried to have a nice article written about the status of women in Islam. On both occasions, the reporter sought a few Muslim women to interview. Both times, there were Muslim women who actually had the nerve (or ignorance or whatever) to contradict the words of Allah and state that hijab was not mandatory or "cultural". This not only lessens the impact of the importance of hijab, it also stands as an act of shirk on the part of the ones who stated it, if they know better. Here, an integral part of Islam, an undisputed one, is being not just downplayed but rejected by Muslims. How would we ever expect the non-Muslims to respect our religion if we refuse to???
Muslims are supposed to be brothers and sisters. We are not supposed to oppress one another by making it impossible to practice our religion. When someone denies an aspect of Islam to the non-believers it gives them a chance to hurt us or oppress us. It gives them a basis for their oppression - a precedent. I have related before how my father came to me once and told me I was being fooled. He had met a family, a "real" Muslim family from Saudi Arabia. The woman of the family was not covered and she even shook hands with him. Here was a real Muslim, not like me, and she did not wear these cultural rags like I do. She had explained to him how this was all cultural, so I did not really have to do it. I could be modest without covering so much. This woman did me a great favor, it seems, making my father understand that I did not understand Islam as well as this woman did, since she was a born Muslim. Allah guide her! She had hurt a Muslimah with her analysis and contradicted Allah in the process.
What we choose for ourselves is our own decision, and it is between us and Allah, but to openly state that integral parts of Islam are not from Islam is open shirk, may Allah keep us from this, and it is one of the main things keeping us divided.
Another problem is that we have groups that will avoid other groups because they are "too fundamentalist". They try to make the religion too hard. Why? Well, when you go there, the women and men are separated, the men and women do not mix around afterwards, the women are all covered up, and they expect other women to do the same, or they actually have the nerve to condemn the actions which Allah condemns or the sins Allah has promised to punish. In other words, because they speak the Quraan and the hadiths of the prophet without being afraid of offending Muslims. Come on brothers and sisters. Either we believe in the Quraan or we do not. Think about this: If the prophet of Allah came to your next meeting would he be pleased with what he sees? Would he even be welcome? Would his long beard and short thob be a turn-off - offensive? Would his actions like refusing to look at a man without a beard or cursing the women who are uncovered be rude? Our prophet, the one we say we love, respect and follow did this. It is all documented. Would we call him a fundamentalist and refuse to listen to him?
Would his words and his actions offend us? Where is our deen? Must all that we do conform to the relaxed, "I'm OK, you're OK" attitudes of the West, or are we finally going to realize that Al deeenu nasiha (the religion is advice) and constructive criticism which leads us in the direction of Allah is not only good but necessary. Do you really believe that you would welcome the prophet into your meeting or your home? Look at how he lived - really look at it. Look at the way he acted really look at it. You will undoubtedly find that things he said and did are things you criticize in others. What are we really following? I find myself sometimes falling into this trap, and I know it is one of the major factors that divide us.
We, as Muslims have to accept each other - warts and all. Look at how the Jews treat each other - like brothers. They are succeeding by doing what we are supposed to be doing, and they are managing to use our weaknesses to divide us because they know and practice divide and conquer. When the emigrants came to Medina, the Ansar shared everything:
Narrated Sa'd's father: When the emigrants reached Medina. Allah's Apostle established the bond of fraternity between 'Abdur-Rahman and Sad bin Ar-Rabi. Sad said to 'Abdur-Rahman, "I am the richest of all the Ansar, so I want to divide my property (between us), and I have two wives, so see which of the two you like and tell me, so that I may divorce her, and when she finishes her prescribed period (i.e. 'Idda) of divorce, then marry her." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 124.
This companion was willing to share half his wealth and even his wives - imagine! Yet most of us will not even share a meeting or a dinner with those who try their best to be closer to Allah. No one is perfect. The prophet warned us that those who go among the people are better than those who isolate themselves because they have to deal with the personalities. How would we react if Omar were to grab us and literally drag us to the prophet to verify something we said that had attributed to him? How many of us say, "In Islam this or in Islam that..." without knowing? How many of us even know that if we falsely narrate something - by mistake or otherwise - and attribute it to the prophet, we are guaranteed hellfire? Yet we easily contradict Allah!!! Allah guide us and unite us on the truth. Allah guide us and unite us on the truth! Allah guide us and unite us on the truth! Allah guide us, unite us on the truth, and make us of those who would not reject the prophet if he were before us today as we reject his words and his actions now that he has gone. Ameen.