What Sunni Muslims need to know about unity and disunity

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

“When we forget who our real enemies are, we begin to find enemies among ourselves.” – Anonymous

Important Ayaat related to Unity
All of Suratul Hujurat (Surah 49)

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (49:11)

Discretion: this post is not being written by a scholar or student of knowledge. They are observations of someone who is a seeker of Islamic knowledge and someone who asks Allah to guide him towards loving da’wah. Hence, I ask you to read everything with a grain of salt. My intention is that this is read by an actual Aalim or Student of Knowledge and is conceptualized. That this gets the ball rolling to understand and resolve this issue of disunity in the Ummah and within our future scholars and students of knowledge. And lastly, I’m speaking strictly about the disunity among Sunni Muslims, with exception to four groups: those who adopt khariji/takfeeri characteristics or are ignorant of Islam, modernists/reformists/secularists/liberals, those who are anti-Sunnah or who are adamant on clear upholding innovations/traditions which sometimes border shirk, and those strongly attached to labels and personalities (groupism). I ask Allah to guide me and guide the Ummah. Ameen.

Firstly we must initially understand the many reasons or possibilities for disunity today:

  1. Intelligence and Taqwa: It is unfortunately emanating or spewing out the mouths of those who study Islam, whether they’re perceived as scholars or tulab al-ilm . We ask Allah to guide them. What do we notice about these seekers of knowledge? Firstly, we must accept that they do much good. And we must support them in that good. However, unfortunately, many of them which encourage bickering today among Sunni Muslims (refutations), lack a type of intelligence known as critical thinking skills and intellectualism. If we think about the classical scholars like the four Imams, they were true intellectuals. Why do we find that the latter never refuted the former? They were people who feared Allah They feared speaking about topics which they claimed to possess absolute knowledge of.  Moreover, when someone lacks critical thinking skills, they will often misread or misunderstand the position of another scholar or party.  And hence, the first reason for disunity is a lack of taqwa and a lack of intelligence. Many Imams will refrain to discuss Islamic economics and finance, because it is a complex topic. This is proof that not every Imam is qualified to discuss every topic. One’s strength may be in hadeeth, but not necessarily Islamic politics. Hence, an Imam must be humble and state that XYZ is not their area of experise. Hence, when judging another scholars’ or camp’s opinion, it may be necessary to have knowledge of the usool of the madhab/school, knowledge of their defintions, knowledge of their political situation, knowledge of their history, etc. in order to judge them. That is wh Imams should not be so quick to judge the ijtihad of another scholar or Sunni Muslim movement. They should be fair and say “we agree with them in this aspect, and they do good in this area; however, we disagree with this particular position for the following reason, they are still our Muslim brothers, and Allah knows best…” If they did this, it would be much better.


2. Relying on third-party sources. This is very common. Often when one camp or scholar wishes to refute another, they’ll quote their own scholar or quote from the books of the opposing camp. This SHOULD be an obvious fallible mistake. Because a quote within a book does not mean that those are the beliefs/practices held by the camp being refuted. In fact, if one were to dig deeper, you’d find that those beliefs/practices are actually not held, reinterpreted, or abrogated. This is because that particular camp wants to hold the respect for their scholar (as any camp does) and hence doesn’t outright refute their own scholar. You can’t judge a person’s beliefs based on what’s in a book in their house. You have to actually talk to the person themselves, understand how they use particular definitions — and this all requires a particular time of intelligence (critical thinking) which unfortunately is absent today.

3. One of the main reason is politics. Almost all scholars would agree, that when the Muslim Ummah is being attacked, there and then, it’s time to abandon disputes and some minute matters, and defend the Ummah. However, in order to defend the Ummah, a scholar/imam would have to first be “aware” that the Ummah is being attacked. The war on the Ummah today is a type of cold war, a military colonization that is enclothed with a psychological war on the very perception of the masses. For example, when one ethnic background is harmed or threatened, the world is made to hear about it. It’s on the first page of every newspaper. However, when 1 million people die in a war or due to hunger, no one bats an eyelid. These are very strange times we’re living in. Hence, that is why Imams are encouraged to be familiar with how the media and war work. Otherwise, they could end up doing much harm in the community or mis-prioritizing Islamic issues. Rasul’Allah (s.a.w.) was aware of his opponents activities, their positions, their beliefs, their tactics, their mediums (i.e poetry) , their agendas, etc. And hence, the Muslim scholars of today should be aware today too, and should consider it Sunnah or an act of ‘ibadah to be aware — and Allah knows best. No one is calling for Muslims scholars to be obsessed or consumed by current affairs or politics. But to at least have a solid understanding. And that’s why we’ve compiled resources on this website. Lastly, when a group of Muslims are not aware of who their true enemies are, they’re going to find enemies within the community to bicker with. And this is what’s been happening. Even if our classical scholars engaged in refutations, it is quite certain that today’s speakers (a) exaggerate and spend too much time refuting, more than classical scholars or (b) they are not qualified to delve into details of these refutations, often completely miscategorizing another scholar or camp. And Allah knows best.

4. Ego.  Arrogance, overconfidence, and negativity can destroy a Muslim. These tit-for-tat refutations sometimes could easily be solved by following the hadeeth:

“I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even when joking / for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.” [Prophet Muhammad (صلي الله عليه وسلم) – reported by Imam Abu Dawud]
Taken from: http://www.ilmfruits.com/2007/three-guarantees-of-paradise

5. Elevating labels & people. Making our scholar, label, movement, or organization greater or equivalent to Islam itself. Every scholar is human. They are 80-90% correct. The goal of a scholar is for them to connect us to La Ilaa IlAllah and MuhammadurRasulAllah. The scholar is to be respected yes, but not every single word of theirs is to be accepted like that of the Qur’an and the statements of RasulAllah s.a.w. We should ask for proofs, especially when their statements have serious consequences on Muslim lives, the community, the Ummah, and potentially our next life.

6. Other points/issues I don’t have time to elaborate on:

  • Not differentiating between a group, label, movement, affiliation
  • We understand that differences will always exists, but differentiate between unity and uniformity. And also some differences will always exist because we have different personalities and we are at different level intellectually.
  • Desisting from addressing greater priorities happening at the local, domestic, and global level.
  • Even if someone is qualified, sincere, and they have the ability to call someone to Islam, we don’t allow them to speak in our Masjid. Even if they have the ability to do good.
  • Misrepresenting the positions of other Muslims. Exaggerating the positions of other Muslims.
  • Everything has its time and place: Khutbah and conferences
  • Recognizing our priorities
  • Rarely reflecting upon what Allah says about this
  • Being overconfident
  • Not considering the effect it will have on the masses
  • Relying on third-party sources and not sitting with the knowledgeable among those whom you disagree with.
  • Ignoring and forgetting about external priorities in the Ummah: the lack of importance given to the Shariah, the global oppression of Muslims, the psychological warfare inflicted upon Muslims, dismantling secularism, liberalism, atheism, perennialism, hedonism, failing to address individual issues by making generalizations.
  • Ignoring and forgetting about internal priorities in the Ummah: Taqwa, Imaan, Tawakkul, Tazkiyah, Tawheed, Kufr, Shirk, etc.
  • The disunity identified may be the result of items related to the heart or simple intellectual misunderstandings. They are not easy to identify. But typically, it can be observed when a Muslim becomes obsessed and consumed by a particular issue.

Possible solutions:

Creating a focus to call humanity to Islam, building ourselves and building the Ummah. We’re all over the place because our community doesn’t have common goals.

We need to focus on the people-building, understanding the principles for ourselves. And books aren’t the only medium, but  looking at the reality around us, examining our lives after a hardship, or in times of ease. Complementing our conferences with smaller circles in the Masjid focused on building individuals and their ability to carry and spread Islam in the future.

Examples from history:

  • Creed
    • Imam Ahmed’s du’a for al Mu’tasim Billah
      • Sent an army for the sake of one Muslim woman’s honour
    • Ibn Qudamah fighting under the leadership of Salahuddin al Ayyubi
      • A staunch Hanbali who considered Ash’ari’s as heretics fights under a staunch Ash’ari who forced Ash’arism to be taught in masjids
      • Ibn Qudamah’s Hanbali curriculum is based on al Ghazali’s Shafi’i curriculum
        • As well as Rawdhat an-Nadhir based on al Ghazali’s al Mustasfa
      • Hanbalis being in the classes of Imam al Ghazali (2 famous students of Abu Ya’la)
      • Ibn Taymiyyah refused to make takfir on a scholar by the name of al Bakri who made takfir on Ibn Taymiyyah because IT considered Istighathah to be shirk.
        • The important point here is the same al Bakri sought refuge in IT’s house when people wanted to physically hurt him!
      • Fiqh
        • Battle of Khandaq and siege of Khaybar
          • Salah al Asr
        • Imam Ahmed and salah behind a person who didn’t make wudhu after eating camel meat
        • Imam al Shafi’i and his tremendous respect for Imam Ahmed
        • Imam Abu Hanifah’s students and companions disagreeing with each other
      • Race
        • Bilal al Habashi
        • Salman al Farisi
        • Suhayb ar-Rumi
        • Aws and Khazraj




Common Goals for Muslims

  • Masjids
    • Where salah can take place
    • Qur’an is taught
    • Madrasah for children, adults, men and women
    • Social events
  • Schools
    • Islamic, academic
  • Safety of our community from harassment in public
  • Our way of life to be protected
    • Halal food and halal income, rizq
    • Halal careers, security
    • Niqab, hijab
    • Salah in schools, uni’s colleges
    • Political discussions

Common Challenges:

  • Atheism
  • Homosexuality
  • Zina
  • Secularism
  • Housing, University finances
    • We all do not want to take haram loans
  • Anti-Terror Laws and related
    • C-51, C-24
    • Security Certificates
    • Spying and raids
    • Incarcerations and trumped up cases

Suggested Solutions

  1. We need to realize that we all have common goals and common challenges
  2. Amongst inter-sunni movements, the common understanding is that everything our movements does/says is divine and that it does not need to change. There are common conservative practices amongst these groups and these practices are attacked by liberals, modernists, secularists, etc alike. We need to work together to defend each other and our community.
  3. We have differences, and some of those differences may be deep and emotional. But, some of the things we know and think about each other are hearsay. We need to have an open mind to talk to each other, and to be willing to say “SubhanAllah, I was wrong about you”
  4. Go to each others masjids without the intend to ‘correct and bring the other to the truth’ and just pray and attend the halaqas.
  5. Allow one another to do halaqas in each others masajid and centres without it wrinkling the goals of the centre
    1. Example, maybe one jam’ah are permitted to have their daily or weekly Bayans but they should stick to a certain agreed upon book (i.e. Riyadhus-Salihin)
    2. A brother with expertise in atheism can hold a talk in a a masjid but, doesn’t speak about fiqh because it may upset the congregation because they may have studied a different madhab.
  6. In the end, regardless of what group we are from would we not want all the Muslims to be safe? Would not want our children to be Muslim even if they decide follow a different madhhab or method instead of leaving Islam?


The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5665, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2586

“The believer to the believer is like a building whose different parts support each other” Then the Prophet clasped his hands with fingers interlaced. [Agreed Upon]



Shaykh Zahir Mahmood (hafidullah) on Unity:

Shaykh Hasan Ali (hafidhullah):

Contradicting Community and our Future by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan:

Our Legacy for Our Children: Doubt? by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad defends Tablighi Jamaat:

“Do not blame the Salafis” by Imam Zaid Shakir

Dr. Yasir Qadhi on differences:

Unity by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan:

Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick:

Shirk is the greatest sin + be careful of accusing other Muslims of shirk:


5 Pillars – Muslims on the same platform:

Muslims coming together for conference to address Islamophobia:

Jawziyyah Institute:


Keywords: Salafi, Sufi, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Jihadi, Deobandi, Tablighi Jamaat, Ikhwani, Jamat-e-Islam, Tanzeem


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