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Why are Muslims divided into sects?

When all the Muslims follow one and the same Qur’an then why are there so many sects and different schools of thought among Muslims?

1. Muslims Should be United:

It is a fact that Muslims today, are divided amongst themselves. The tragedy is
that such divisions are not endorsed by Islam at all. Islam believes in fostering
unity amongst its followers.

The Glorious Qur’an says:
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for
you), and be not divided among yourselves;” [Al-Qur’an 3:103]
Which is the rope of Allah that is being referred to in this verse? It is the Glorious
Qur’an. The Glorious Qur’an is the rope of Allah which all Muslims should hold
fast together. There is double emphasis in this verse. Besides saying ‘hold fast
all together’ it also says, ‘be not divided’.

Qur’an further says,
“Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger” [Al-Qur’an 4:59]
All the Muslim should follow the Qur’an and authentic ahadith and be not
divided among themselves.

2. It is Prohibited to make sects and divisions in Islam:

The Glorious Qur’an says:
“As for those who divide Their religion and break up into sects, thou
hast no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the
end tell them the truth of all that they did.” [Al-Qur’an 6:159]
In this verse, Allah (swt) says that one should disassociate oneself from those
who divide their religion and break it up into sects.
But when one asks a Muslim, “who are you?”, the common answer is either ‘I
am a Sunni, or ‘I am Shia’. Some call themselves Hanafi, or Shafi or Maliki or
Hambali. Some say ‘I am a Deobandi’, while some others say ‘I am a Barelvi’.

3. Our Prophet was a Muslim:

One may ask such Muslims, “Who was our beloved prophet (PBUH)? Was he a
Hanafi or a Shafi, or a Humbali or a Maliki?” No! He was a Muslim, like all the
other prophets and messengers of Allah before him.
It is mentioned in chapter 3 verse 52 of Al-Qur’an that Jesus (PBUH) was a Muslim.
Further, in chapter 3 verse 67, Al-Qur’an says that Ibrahim (PBUH) was not a
Jew or a Christian but was a Muslim.

4. Qur’an says call yourselves Muslim:

If anyone poses a Muslim the question who are you, he should say “I am a
MUSLIM, not a Hanafi or a Shafi”. Surah Fussilat chapter 41 verse 33 says
“Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works
righteousness, and says, ‘I am of those Who bow in Islam (Muslim)?’ ”
[Al-Qur’an 41:33]
The Qur’an says “Say I am of those who bow in Islam”. In other words, say,
“I am a Muslim”.

The Prophet (PBUH) dictated letters to non-Muslim kings and rulers inviting
them to accept Islam. In these letters, he mentioned the verse of the Qur’an
from Surah Ali Imran chapter 3 verse 64:
Say ye: “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s Will).”
[Al-Qur’an 3:64]

5. Respect all the Great Scholars of Islam:

We must respect all the great scholars of Islam, including the four Imaams,
Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Humbal, and Imam Malik (may Allah be
pleased with them all). They were great scholars and may Allah reward them for
their research and hard work. One can have no objection if someone agrees
with the views and research of Imam Abu Hanifa or Imam Shafi, etc. But when
posed a question, ‘who are you?’, the reply should only be ‘I am a Muslim’.

Some may argue by quoting the hadith of our beloved Prophet from Sunan Abu
Dawood Hadith No. 4579. In this hadith, the prophet (PBUH) is reported to have
said, “My community will be split up into seventy-three sects.”

This hadith reports that the prophet predicted the emergence of seventy-three
sects. He did not say that Muslims should be active in dividing themselves into
sects. The Glorious Qur’an commands us not to create sects. Those who follow
the teachings of the Qur’an and Sahih Hadith, and do not create sects are the
people who are on the true path.

According to Tirmidhi Hadith No. 171, the prophet (PBUH) is reported to have
said, “My Umma will be fragmented into seventy-three sects, and all of them will
be in Hellfire except one sect.” The companions asked Allah’s messenger
which group that would be. Whereupon he replied, “It is the one to which I and
my companions belong.”

The Glorious Qur’an mentions in several verses, “Obey Allah and obey His
Messenger”. A true Muslim should only follow the Glorious Qur’an and the
Sahih Hadith. He can agree with the views of any scholar as long as they
conform to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sahih Hadith. If such views go
against the Word of Allah, or the Sunnah of His Prophet, then they carry no
weight, regardless of how learned the scholar might be.

If only all Muslims read the Qur’an with understanding and adhere to Sahih
Hadith, Inshallah most of these differences would be solved and we could be
one united Muslim Ummah.


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