I start with the name of Allah. I praise Allah and thank Him for the blessings of Islam. I humbly ask Allah to raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad and his kind Al and Companions and to protect his nation from that which he fears for them. Thereafter:
Solidarity, cooperation, and standing by one another are important and basic elements for constructing a sound, united Islamic society. If the sincere Muslim was to take a brief look at the situations of Muslims at large throughout different parts of the world, it would be enough to make him active in establishing unity among Muslims. Moreover, a quick glance at the situation prior to and after the renewal of the call to Islam by Prophet Muhammad would shed bright light on the sound foundation for unity among Muslims.
The last prophet before Prophet Muhammad was Prophet ^Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him. The followers of Prophet ^Isa who adhered to the Religion of Islam started diminishing in numbers after Prophet ^Isa was raised to the sky, and ignorance started to become more evident among the people. Before Prophet Muhammad renewed the call to Islam, the people were living in an era of ignorance. It was a period of time when widespread ignorance prevailed. During that time, the Arabs in the Arabian peninsula were scattered tribes, dispersed throughout the land, fighting and robbing one another. The intensity of the wars that took place among them drove some people to bury their daughters alive--to escape the scandal should their daughters be captured by warring tribes.
The strong did injustice to the weak. Women were considered worthless just because they were female. Drinking alcohol was prevalent. Men could have tens of wives under them. The people unrightfully worshipped many stones and idols. Some even worshipped idols made from dates, and when they would get hungry, they would eat them!! Many people buried their children out of fear of poverty. Prostitution became widespread. Unjust tribal solidarity prevailed. This was the situation that prevailed before the Prophet came with his Message. The people were living in dungeons of ignorance and darkness.
When the Prophet received the Revelation of Prophethood, he began to call the people to Islam. The Prophet made reference to the state of ignorance prevalent at that time in a hadith related by Muslim and others. He said:
which means: <<When this Religion started, it was strange to the people, and it shall be strange again as when it started. Extremely blessed at that time will be the strangers--those who correct what other people have contravened among the laws of the Prophet.>>
At first the people felt the Religion was strange due to the rampant state of ignorance in which they were living. They were used to ignorantly and unrightfully worshiping many idols at the time the Prophet came to tell them to worship one and only one God--Who does not resemble the creation. They felt this was so strange because of the ignorance in which they were drowning.
In this same hadith the Prophet established that this Religion would again become strange to many people--because ignorance would again prevail. He also established when that time comes, there would be people who would stand up and correct the misconceptions in the minds of others; those who would again teach the people what the Prophet came with, and who would warn against those who contravene his laws.
What was the result when the Prophet established his call? The people united and their hearts and hands joined together. Those who immigrated from Makkah to al-Madinah were graciously received by the Ansar (the people of al-Madinah.) The bonds of brotherhood were established to such an extent that a member of the Ansar would offer to split his wealth and his belongings with a Muslim brother from Makkah. They united together; and they sacrificed their money, wealth, and efforts. They accepted many hardships for the purpose of raising the banner of Islam--the message the Prophet brought to them. Within a few years they had become one body expressing solidarity. As a result, they became united in the Arabian peninsula; they opened Makkah; and they went far beyond the Arabian peninsula teaching about Islam.
Allah said in Surat Al-^Imran, Ayah 103:
which means: [Adhere to the true Religion of Allah and do not disunite. Recall the endowment of Allah upon you--that you were enemies and Allah mended your hearts together.]
Hence, they became one nation which did not regard disunity. The lack of adhering to the true Religion of Allahcauses disunity. Moreover, adhering to the true Religion of Allah requires one to be knowledgeable about it.
The era in which these achievements were brought about was undoubtedly characterized by knowledge. It was characterized by that knowledge of the Religion the Prophet brought to the people. Hence, we can draw clear images, clear facts, and clear conclusions. When ignorance prevailed, the people were disunited and enmity was widespread between them. When the Prophet brought the knowledge of the only true Religion to the companions, they accepted it, implemented it, and consequently became united.
What did the Prophet bring to his people? He came to them and told them the only true and acceptable Religion to Allah is Islam, and he who elects for himself a religion other than Islam will be a loser in this life and in the Hereafter. He called the people to worship one and only one God Whose Name is Allah. He taught the people Allah exists and His existence is without a beginning and His existence is without an ending. He taught the people Allah does not resemble any of the creation, and hence, He is not a body; He is not a soul; He does not occupy places; He is not subject to time; He cannot be imagined in the minds; delusions do not conceive Him. He taught the people Allah does not need any of the creation. He taught the people Allah is attributed with the perfect, befitting attributes. He is attributed with Power, Will, Knowledge, Hearing, Sight, Life, and Speech. None of His attributes are similar to the attributes of the creation. None of His attributes develop or change. None of His attributes fall in a sequence; there is no one attribute before another or one after another. In the Qur'an, Allah attributed to Himself, "Nothing is like Him." Surat ash-Shura, Ayah 11:
means: [Nothing is like Allah.] From that, the scholars of Islam established a well-known statement. Dhun-Nun al-Misriyy (Ibrahim Ibn Tawbah) and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said:
This means: "Whatever you imagine in your mind, Allah is different from it." This is because what one imagines in his mind is a creation of Allah, and Allah does not resemble the creation.
The Prophet taught the people he was the messenger and the slave of Allah, and the Prophet was truthful in all he conveyed from Allah. He taught all the Prophets before him were prophets of Islam; they all came with the basic message--la illaha illallah. They all called the people to worship one and only one God--Allah. Prophet Muhammad taught all the prophets have befitting attributes and are clear of all non-befitting attributes. Hence, they are attributed with befitting attributes such as courage, beauty, and intelligence; they are clear of non-befitting attributes such as stupidity, illnesses that cause others to repel from them, and vileness; and they are clear of handicaps which impede their ability to deliver their message to the people. He taught the prophets are impeccable from committing blasphemy, enormous sins, or small mean sins before and after the office of prophethood.
The Prophet taught the people about the tortures of the grave and the enjoyments of the grave and about the balance on which the deeds of the people will be weighed. He taught the people there is the Resurrection and the Assembly and about the Bridge (as-Sirat) that extends over Hellfire. The Bridge will be between the changed earth and Paradise, and all will pass over it--some successfully, either walking on or flying over, and others will fall from it into Hellfire. The Prophet taught there is Hellfire and Paradise, and the enjoyments of Paradise and the tortures of Hellfire are not allegoric--rather they are by body and soul. He taught the people there is a Day of Judgment after which there is no more death. On that day, death will come in the shape of a lamb and will be slaughtered, and there will be no death after that. He taught those who enter Paradise will be there forever, and those who are blasphemous and doomed to Hellfire will be there forever. The Prophet taught the people about the belief in the Books that were revealed; the belief in the Angels and the Messengers of Allah; and the belief in destiny--that which is good and that which is evil.
The Prophet also taught the believers in Paradise will be rewarded. Among the many rewards is they will see Allah without Allah being in a place or a direction and without distance between themselves and Allah. They would see Allah not like the creature is seen, because Allah does not resemble any of the creation, and hence, Allah is not in a place. Allah is not a body and is not a body of light. Whatever one imagines in his mind, Allah is different from it.
The Prophet came and invited the people to worship one and only one God. He planted in them the correct creed of Ahl us-Sunnah and brought them the highest level of ethics and manners. He taught the people how to deal with one another; how to observe the rights of others; how to fulfill one's obligations and responsibilities; how to be obedient to Allah; how to refrain from all sins. The Prophet taught the people those who carry the correct conviction in Islam and die with that status shall be winners on the Day of Judgment. Those who carry this correct conviction, are obedient to Allah, and refrain from sinning are pious people and shall have a very high reward on the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet praised the status of knowledge. He gave the people incentives to acquire knowledge, to better themselves, and to excel. He taught them with knowledge, implementation, and sincerity one could attain high levels of belief, and thereby earn high levels of reward on the Day of Judgment.
This is what the Prophet brought to the people which inspired and established the change in the society. This did away with the enmity that existed during the Era of Ignorance and replaced it with a state of unity and bonding among the Muslims--which led to a time of accomplishments as well as propagating Islam. It led to one nation--all united under the banner of the correct creed--the creed of Ahl us-Sunnah.
Hence, the theme is clear. Those who advocate the unity of Muslims and do that in sincerity, need to know unity among Muslims is only established and founded on the correct creed of Ahl us-Sunnah--the same creed the Prophet came with--and on the methodologies the Prophet prescribed and implemented himself. Unity among Muslims is founded on adherence to those principles, following the teachings of the Prophet, and on following the scholarly consensus (ijma^) and the sayings of the reputable and dependable scholars of Islam. On the other hand, enmity and disunity result from ignorance and the departing and detaching of oneself from those principles.