Allah denounces sectarianism in religion as an evil bigger than the evil of going astray. When Ḥazrat Musâ (pbuh) went to Holy Tûr leaving behind his brother Ḥazrat Harûn (pbuh) as his vicegerent, a group of Bani Israel took to worshipping of calf in his absence. On returning back, he (pbuh) made his brother accountable for not preventing them harshly asking: “What kept you back when you had seen them going astray, that you followed me? (Surah TâHâ, 20: 92 قَالَ يَاهَارُونُ مَا مَنَعَكَ إِذْ رَأَيْتَهُمْ ضَلُّوا ۩ ) Did you then disobeyed my order? (Surah TâHâ, 20: 93 ۩ أَلاَّ تَتَّبِعَنِي صلے أَفَعَصَيْتَ أَمْرِي)
Ḥazrat Harûn (pbuh) said: My most respected brother! Seeing them bent upon going wrong, I stopped because “I feard lest you should say, “You have caused a sectarian division among the Children of Israel, and did not respect my command.” (Surah TâHâ, 20: 94 ۩ إِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَنْ تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي …)
The Qur’an is the Standard of Truth in matters pertaing to Deen Islam. Any view, idea, belief, philosophy, ideology, interpretation, principle of interpretation of the Qur’an or of Ḥadîth, or principle of Jurisprudence, discernment or interptretation of religious experience that does not accord with the Qur’an is not true. Any tradition which cannot be interpretated to reconcile with ‘the Best of all Narrations Book’ (Ahsan-al-Ḥadîth Book) and the Most True Ḥadîth (Ḥadîth-e-Asdaq i.e., the Qur’an) doesnot qualify that it is ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) no matter it appears in commonly popular “The Authentic Six” compilations of Ḥadîth. It can never be a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) no matter it comes up to all other principles of Ḥadîth. An arbitrary interpretation of a Ḥadîth which does not reconcile with the Most True Ḥadîth (Ḥadîth-e-Asdaq i.e., the Qur’an) is as false as the arbitrary interpretation of an allegorical verse which is not founded on the imperatival verses of the Qur’an.
Allah denotes the Qur’an as ‘Al-Ḥaqq’ (the Standard of Truth), and as Al-Furqân (the Criterion for separating un-truth from truth’), and as Al-Meezân (the balance for judging the value of human actions). Whatever Allah descends ‘Al-Ḥaqq’ (the Truth), it possesses the status of ‘Authority’ in matters of deen. Is there any set of principles given by the Qur’an for the interpretation of the Qur’an itself so that we reach uncontroversial meanings, and donot drastically differ eachother? Of course it is true.
When Allah says: “We have not left any deficiency in it. ( )” “It consists of verses, full of wisdom, which appropriately qualify each other.” ( ) “Appropriate explanation of everything in it has been given.” ( ) “Its details are made comprehensible for the knowledgeable ones.”( ) “It has been made comprehensible with Knowledge.” ( ) How can such Qur’an lack in giving principles of its own interpretation! Then why do the exegetes disagree with eachother in its interpretation. How is it then that we have indulged in sectarianism and become devided in sects?
The reality is that they are unaware of Qur’anic guidance, as we shall see, to safeguard them from sectarianism. The case is that they have closed their minds, do not apply reason and do not safeguard them from indulging in contradictions. In case they follow the Qur’anic principles, and keep within limits prescribed by the Qur’an, the scope for drawing arbitrary implications or indulging in contradictions eliminates; the scope for inserting their own suggestion, opinion, and conjecture in the Qur’an in the name of traditions, rationality or intuitive experience reduces to the minimum, the scope for using the Qur’an to uphold their sectarian beliefs diminishes.
As for instance, Allah did not make His prophet Ḥazrat Musâ (pbuh) call those who took to worshipping of calf as infidels, polytheists or apostates, therefore to be beheaded and killed. Musa (pbuh) simply declares them as “those who have gone astray.” And in response to Ḥazrat Musa’s question for not preventing them from calf-worship, Allah narrates Ḥazrat Haroon (pbuh) saying: “Lest you should say, ‘I have divided Bani Israel into factions.” What this instance implies is that ‘splitting the believers into sects is more big a crime than going astray, be it as big as the worshipping of a calf.’ There are many verses in the Qur’an which corroborate this corollary.
In verses 13-14 of Surah ash-Shurâ Allah says: “He has enjoined on Muslims, the same commandment as He has enjoined on the people of Noah (a.s), Abraham (a.s.) and Moses (a.s.) and Jesus (a.s.) that “Uphold the faith and do not divide into factions within it’ ––– (but) what you [Prophet - pbuh] call upon the idolaters to do is hard for them.” (Surah ash-Shurâ, 42: 13)
Alah did not call those, who took to the worship of calf, idolators and polytheists. Allah only called them ‘gone astray’. But Allah calls those, who divide the believers into factions and do not keep back from sectarianism, the polytheists and the idolators in the verse mentioned above. The same judgement is passed on the people in Surah ar-Rome, 30: 31-32) when Allah says: "۔۔وَلاَ تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ۩ مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعا ً كُلُّ حِزْب ٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ۩ “…be not of those who ascribe partners to Allah; those who split their religion into sects, with each party rejoicing in that which they own. (Surah ar-Rome 30: 31-32) The same content is repeated in Surah al-Mo’minun when Allah says: “Messengers, …this community of yours is one community – and I am your Lord: be mindful of Me. But they have split their community into sects, each rejoicing in their own. So leave them for a while steeped in their error.” (Surah al-Mo’minun, 23:51-54)
Splitting up believers into sects and factions is such a big crime that Allah says: “As for those who have divided their deen (religion) and broken up the believers’ community into factions, the Prophet (pbuh) has no concern in them in the least. Their case rests with Allah.” (Surah al-An’am, 6:159)
It is not the case that those who divide believers into factions and promote sectarianism in them are ignorant of Allah’s command. Allah says: وَمَا تَفَرَّقُوا إِلاَّ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيا ً بَيْنَهُمْ ۔۔۩" They divide believers into factions out of transgression, after knowledge has come to them. (Surah ash-Shurâ, 42: 14)
Similarly concerning the People of the Book the Qur’an says: وَمَا تَفَرَّقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلاَّ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ۩ “As for the People of the Book, they did not split up into factions until after there had come to them the Clear Evidence.” (Surah al-Bayyinah 98:04)
Allah commands the believers not to split up into factions and be united as one community when Allah says: وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعا ً وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُوا۔۔۩ “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah stretches out for you, and be not divided into sects..” (Surah Al-e-‘Imran, 3:103)
Allah admonishes the believers وَلاَ تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُوا وَاخْتَلَفُوا مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَأُوْلَائِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيم۩ “Do not be like those who, after they have been given Clear Revelation, split into factions and fall into conflicts: these are the ones whom a terrible punishment awaits.” (Âl-e-‘Imran, 3:105)
Splitting up of the believers community into discordant factions, and broken into warring sects is a kind of Allah’s torment on the people as He says: قُلْ هُوَ الْقَادِرُ عَلَى أَنْ يَبْعَثَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابا ً مِنْ فَوْقِكُمْ أَوْ مِنْ تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِكُمْ أَوْ يَلْبِسَكُمْ شِيَعا ً وَيُذِيقَ بَعْضَكُمْ بَأْسَ بَعْض ٍ ۔۔۩ “Say, ‘He has power to send punishment on you from above or from under your very feet, or to divide you into discordant factions and make some taste the violence of others.’ ( )
Institutions to bring about schism among Muslims are established on the pretext of doing good to them. Allah commands Muslims not to have any concern with them. One such institution was established in the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) in the form of a mosque termed by the Qur’an as az-Zirâr (the harmful one) and was demolished and burnt by the Prophet (pbuh). The Qur’an says: وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدا ً ضِرَارا ً وَكُفْرا ً وَتَفْرِيقا ً بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ۔۔۩
Then there are those who built a mosquec ––in an attempt to cause harm, disbelief, and disunity among the believers––as an outpost for those who fought God and His Messenger before: they swear, ‘Our intentions were nothing but good,’ but God bears witness that they are liars. [Prophet], never pray in that mosque. You should rather pray in a mosque founded from its first day on consciousness of God: in this mosque there are men who desire to grow in purity– God loves those who seek to purify themselves. Which is better, the person who founds his building on consciousness of God and desire for His good pleasure, or the person who founds his building on the brink of a crumbling precipice that will tumble down into the Fire of Hell, taking him with it? God does not guide the evildoers: the building they have founded will always be a source of doubt within their hearts, until their hearts are cut to pieces. God is all knowing and wise.” (Sura Tauba 9: 107-110)
Now a days such institutions are established at international level in the pretext of Research in Islam, Qur’an, Ḥadîth, Qira’t (recitation) etc. Lucricious jobs, perks and privileges are offered to the teachers and scholarships to the researchers. International workshops and conferences are arranged and certificates and awards are given to encourage researchers on lines chosen by them. It is utmost necessary to beware of such mosques, institutions and traditional schools of religious learning which are working to promote schism among Muslims.
Author: Hafeez Fazli
Ex-chairperson Department of Philosophy, University of the Punjab, Lahore PAKISTAN. Born in 1952. Did PhD in Philosophy from the Dept of Philosophy, University of the Punjab, Lahore PAKISTAN in 2001. Author of "The Qur'anic Theology, Philosophy and Spirituality" (2016) and of "مسلم فکر کی قرآنی جہات" an updated version of above themes in Urdu. Proofreader of Tafseer-e-Fazli, 7 vol. (Urdu) Editor English Translation of first five volumes of Tafseer e Fazli.
Source: Part taken from THE QUR'ANIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF QUR'AN