Division in the Muslim World

“Internally weak, relatively backward, frustrated, conflict-ridden, suffering from internal tensions, and often controlled & abused by the foreign powers, the Muslim world is in state of crisis”

Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman, 2nd Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia

If you were to observe the Muslim world today, you would find little else other than utter disarray, turmoil and division; the above quote from Abu Sulayman being a regrettably apt description. This state of so-called “Islamic” countries should be a cause for concern for anyone who class themselves a Muslim. Then again, a Muslim should also be aware that the eventual decline of Islam was in fact foretold 1400 years ago by its founder, the Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him".

“A time will come in the near future when there will be nothing left of Islam except its name. And there will be nothing left of the Holy Qur’ān except its words. The mosques of that age will apparently be full of people, but will be empty of righteousness. Their ‘Ulamā’ will be the worst creatures under the heaven. Discourse will rise from them and will come right back to them.”

(Mishkatul Masabih Kitabul Ilm, page 38)

This prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. It is difficult to believe that the Muslims, using the knowledge granted to them by the Qur’an, were once considered among the greatest minds in the world. Today, they are a shadow of their past selves, more so resembling an ignorant, old man sleeping on heaps of treasure, unwilling to wake up and acquire it. The Holy Qur’an itself speaks of such a time where the Muslims would act in this way,

وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

“And the Messenger will say, ‘O my Lord, my people indeed treated this Qur’an as a discarded thing.’ ”

The Holy Quran (25:31)

Discarding the true teachings of Islam has led the Muslim world down a dangerous path of discord and division. Internally, the Shia-Sunni divide is ever present, signified by the tensions between Saudi Arabia (majority Sunni) and Iran (majority Shia). The assassination of leading Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 has only caused further escalations, with the Saudis categorically denying any involvement after being accused of conspiring with the White House by Iran.

Morocco’s normalisation of ties with Israel has caused an uproar in the Muslim world, with representatives of countries such as Turkey and Palestine, in the region labelling the deal as a “betrayal,” “unacceptable” and “a stab in the back to Palestine.” On the other hand, Muslim nations such as Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia welcomed the agreement with open arms.

These are but a few examples of the deepening divide evident in the Muslim world. It is becoming progressively more difficult to imagine that these nations were once united and considered the hub of arts, education, science, innovation, and culture. The Golden Age of Islam seems like an ancient myth of the distant past when juxtaposed with the current state of Muslims. In that age, the Muslims were leading in practically every field. They founded the University of al-Qarawiyyin, which is considered among the oldest universities in the world. Yet, in the 2021 The World University Rankings, not a single Muslim university made it into to top 100. Likewise, the Golden Age of Islam produced prominent scientists and mathematicians, such as Al-Khawarizmi, “The Father of Modern Algebra”, or Jābir ibn Hayyān, “The Father of Chemistry”. Now, after over a century, the Muslims have managed to muster up just three Nobel laureates in Physics & Chemistry.

Throughout the flourish in learning and innovation in the Muslims world, the western nations were in the depths of the “Dark Ages”. An age where they experienced a steep decline in all the spheres where Muslims had managed to excel.

However, the moment the Muslim clerics rose to power and began to interfere in state-related affairs, the Muslims regressed. Scientific advancements and innovations were looked at in disdain and emphasis was given to literalistic interpretations. As a result, their intellectual capabilities were severely suppressed and the Muslims strayed away from the true, core message of Islam. At the same time, the West were slowly breaking free from the shackles of their own crooked clerics and placed greater emphasis on learning, education, and innovation. The fruits of this swift change in the west’s ideology are evident today; the state of the Muslims, on the other hand, has continued to deteriorate since then, snowballing into the desperate situation in which we find the Muslims today. One teeming with all kinds of trouble, both internally and externally.

The countless theological differences between the Muslims have led to fierce internal conflicts. This is particularly an issue when it comes to the two majority sects in Islam: Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. Certain Sunni-majority countries are reluctant to have amicable relations with Shia-majority countries and vice-versa (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran mentioned above). These internal disputes between Islamic sects make it increasingly difficult for them to come to an agreement on any matter as a collective unit. Additionally, the rise in extremist attitudes amongst some Muslims has caused a worrying lack of tolerance – a crucial factor for fostering unity between nations.

Economic disparity between Muslim nations has played a large role in their deepening divides. Oil-rich Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE ally themselves with non-Muslim countries in order to satisfy their own interests while their Muslim neighbours suffer in poverty. Consequently, the developing Muslim nations, focused on trying to make something of their economy, are forced to seek help from foreign nations, allowing foreign powers to take advantage of them. The oil-rich countries welcome this foreign interference, preferring the wealth and prosperity that results from it to the wellbeing of their fellow Muslim countries. This further guarantees the division of the Muslim world, and the foreign powers continue to exploit their resources unopposed.

Lack of true leadership within the Muslim world makes it next to impossible for them to unite. Each country has its own method of governing (monarchy, democracy, etc.). Accordingly, there is a lack of cohesion and thinking between Muslim nations. Moreover, the leaders of the Muslim world rarely carry out their duty to their people with justice. They are more interested in adding to their own power than directing any attention towards their own people, which alienates the public from their leaders. The question then arises, who should lead a united Muslim nation? Some are in favour of a Caliphate to lead all Muslims. The issue with this is that the existing differences between Muslims will never allow them to come to a unanimous decision and to appoint a single leader. It seems that this lack of quality leadership in the Muslim world is a major factor for their growing divisions.

These stumbling blocks to unity were only to be expected in accordance with the prophecies. However, the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" did not just foretell the decline of the Muslims only to leave them in a state of hopelessness. Alongside this, the Muslims were given the glad tidings that they would be rescued from their perils by the Messiah and the Imam Mahdi who would come to restore Islam to its rightful pedestal. This was fulfilled in the personage of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" who presented the superiority and perfection of Islam to the world at a time where it seemed nothing was left of it. However, most Muslims, in their pride and ignorance, could not even bring themselves to accept their own saviour and preferred to openly reject, taunt, and abuse him. Interestingly, this response was also hinted towards by the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". It is narrated that he once said,

“My people will be divided into 73 sections, all of them will be in the fire except one.” The companions asked, ‘Who are they O Messenger of Allah,’ Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said, “They are those who will be like me and my companions.”

“Scientific advancements and innovations were looked at in disdain and emphasis was given to literalistic interpretations.”

“My people will be divided into 73 sections, all of them will be in the fire except one”

It seems ironic that, amidst their heated divisions, one of the few occasions where the Muslim Ummah has unanimously agreed upon anything was the ruling in Pakistan in 1974 which put the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community outside the pale of Islam. Referencing this decision, a Pakistani newspaper reported at the time,

“One of the special importance of this decision has been that on it the consensus of Ummah has been in substantially correct manner. Throughout the history of Islam, such an overwhelming complete consensus has never been reached on any important topic. Other than the big religious scholars, holders of Shar’a, all the political leaders and political leaders of each group have agreed on this consensus. Other than these, all Sufia Karam, Aarifeen Billah, the leaders of Tassawaf and practices had complete agreement. Excluding Qadianis all the rest of 72 sects which are considered to be of Muslims, agreed and are happy on the solution of this affair. Among the leaders of the nation and A’maideen, there does not appear to be any group which does not have a joyous attitude towards this decision. Nation should take a notice of this.”

The second Islamic Summit was hosted in Lahore in 1974

When this is the state of the Muslim Ummah, how can we expect anything more? When they “joyously” turn on the ones sent to unite them, can we really expect anything other than further deterioration and division? In this regard, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" states,

“My status is not that of a mere Maulvi [cleric], rather my status is that of a prophet. Accept me as one who has been divinely commissioned and all of these disputes and hostilities found amongst Muslims can be resolved once and for all. The meanings of the Holy Qur’an as understood by the one who has been sent by God as the Hakam and ‘Adl will be the true meanings. Likewise, the authentic Hadith will be those which he deems to be authentic. Ponder over the fact that whether the disputes and hostilities between the Shi’as and the Sunnis ever come close to being resolved?”

In fact, they remain unresolved to this day.

“…However, I say that they can only attain the truth if they abandon this way of theirs and affiliate themselves with me.”

Nonetheless, due to their ignorance and internal division, Muslim nations leave themselves wide open for external attacks. The rise of Islamophobia in the West is a perfect example. President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about Islam following the murder of Samuel Paty, a teacher who showed his students the infamous Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" show that Western nations are not afraid to attack Islam as the Muslim nations themselves are busy in handling their own divisions. If the Muslims nations were united, the rest of the world would not dare to launch such hateful attacks on Islam as they have been doing of late.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad abaabbreviation for "May Allah be his helper", Khalifatul Masih V and the current head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has repeatedly drawn the Muslim nations’ attention towards this point. In a Friday Sermon which he delivered on the 6th of November 2020, he stated,

“In reality, the only reason that anti-Islamic forces and individuals commit such actions and make such statements is because they know that Muslims are not united amongst themselves…In any case, it is clear that there is a lack of unity amongst Muslims, and this is the very reason why all of this is occurring. Muslim countries are at odds with one another and increasing divisions display to the world that there is discord amongst Muslims. If the world knew that Muslims are united, that they believe in the same One God and His Messenger saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and are ever-ready to present sacrifices for their sake, then the non-Muslim world would never act in this way and never would a newspaper be emboldened to publish caricatures of the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". In short, all I wish to say is that we must pray for the Muslim nations to at least be able to raise a single and united voice against others; only then will we see true results.”

It is clear, from these words that the only solution is for the Muslims to set aside their differences and unite. Otherwise, the suffering and plight of Muslims will only escalate further. The Muslim world may be “in a state of crisis”, however, this does not mean that the religion of Islam is. In reality, Islam contains the antidote for the poisonous division which the Muslims are held up in today. The only way to procure this antidote in this day and age is through Islam Ahmadiyyat which, under the guidance of Khilafat, is the only sect practicing Islam’s true teachings. It is now up to the Muslim world now to act upon these teachings, exercise tolerance and establish unity.


This article was originally published in the Annual Printed Edition of Majallatul Jamia

Sabahuddin Aleem

Sabahuddin Aleem

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