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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslim community beset with disunity

By Dr Fazlur Rahman Faridi

Today the most important need of the Muslim community is sincerity and service for the sake of Allah, but our leaders are just the opposite of these qualities today. Differences and discord have become the hallmark of the Muslim community. This has taken the toll of its defensive capability. Instead of fighting inimical forces, Muslims are fighting among themselves. Islam teaches us that all Muslims are brothers and Allah loves those who unitedly put their lives at stake for the sake of their brethren.

Our Millat today is divided into small segments and factions. Small organisations have cropped up everywhere. A few people manage and control the affairs of each organisation. Some of these self-imposed groups are concerned with the political empowerment of the community. Some are concerned with its economic uplift according to its own self-made ideas, while others are keen on spreading education in the community.

These Muslim organisations fight with each for influence. Sincerity demands that cooperation should be given to each group in the area of its work. The Millat is facing umpteen problems and each problem requires untiring efforts and determination to solve it. There should have been a division of labour to discharge this duty in a good manner. But what is taking place is contrary to this.

The Muslim community is very poor in terms of resources. Every task would have been discharged well if there was division of labour and cooperation with the organisation focussing on a particular field. Because of mutual rivalry and lack of cooperation, the Millat’s resources could not be allocated properly. As a result, every known organisation has included in its list of duties everything and every field of activity. For example, a particular organisation is involved in politics and preaching Islam, building and construction, and even preaching Islam to non-Muslims. As a result, every work is shabby and haphazard. Each organisation tries to project its shabby work in an impressive way. There is no Islamic organisation which is able today to present the Islamic teachings in a reasonable and convincing manner. No major and impressive research has been carried out on the life of the Prophet and other important themes. Disunity despite lack of resources and paucity of intellectuals can only weaken the overall strength of the community.

Not only this, every Muslim organisation tries to disgrace, belittle and ignore the achievements of others. As a result of this disunity most of the organisations have little or no touch with Muslim masses. Most Muslim organisations try to maintain contacts only with influential persons, intellectuals and self-styled reformers. Most of them are serving Islam without having proper knowledge of it. They express their views on each and every topic while they don‘ t have sufficient knowledge about them. Such elitist organisations are neither popular nor reliable among common Muslims. They cannot reform the community nor empower it.

In this atmosphere of competition, which lacks sincerity and devotion, workers are bought and sold. They are enticed by offering them impressive posts. A result of this atmosphere is also that these organisations depend on others for funds. A big organisation as well as many smaller ones depends on others instead of their workers and well-wishers. As a result of this unnatural style of functioning, both their policies and actions become dependent on the likes and dislikes of others. When the source of funds is same rivalry too shoots up. Experience shows that many co-workers left each other to the extent that they are not on talking terms today. The casualty was the collective cause of the Islamic millat. The path trodden should not have been the path of these organisations. As ways parted, cooperation too became impossible.

In such a situation of alienation it becomes easy for the enemies of Islam and Muslims to create rift and disunity among them. If there was unity among the community, it would not be easy for the enemies of the community to weaken it as is the case today.

Ulama and intellectuals are receiving to enter the worldly paradise with a view to impress them, their cultural identity is crushed and their mentality is changed. There is no need to pinpoint someone but the phenomenon is only increasing. This disunity is leading to bold expressions of dissent.

The issue of triple talaq is indeed a serious issue and it needs to be solved. But the way some members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) have expressed their views provides sad testimony to our disunity. One of the AIMPLB members recently advocated for family planning in the wake of the mischievous announcement of the census on religious basis by a government official.

Sectarianism which badly harmed the community in the past is still on the prowl. Sectarianism has now been linked with politics and thus the problem has become even more complicated. The casteism in the community has also done much ham to the interests of Muslims. There are many biradaris in the community as Ansari biradari and many such other biradaris which think in terms of their own exclusive interests. One is seeking reservation and working for it. Instead of the collective interests of Millat they seek reservation for their biradari and thereby seek to dismember the community. The disunity could be avoided if the mission was one and there was cooperation to achieve the goal. We have made even our major task of Da‘ wat, preaching of Islam to non-Muslims, subject to maslak and factions. One group believes Da‘ wat is obligatory, while the other considers it haram to offer the Qur’an to non-Muslims.

It seems we have divorced sincerity and fear of Allah. Some follow their elders or leaders while others blindly seek power. (Translated from Urdu)

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