Correct ‘Aqeedah – The Unifying Factor for our Ummah
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us beforehand that this Ummah would be divided as the previous nations were divided.
The famous hadeeth about the ummah splitting into seventy-three sects bears witness to that.
It was narrated from Mu’aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood among us and said: “Those who came before you of the people of the Book split into seventy-two sects, and this ummah will split into seventy-three: seventy-two in Hell and one in Paradise, and that is the jamaa’ah (main body of Muslims).”
[Narrated by Abu Dawood (4597) and others; classed as saheeh by al-Haakim (1/128), who said: it is an important hadeeth that represents a basic principle.]
How foolish are those people who still dream that they can unite upon misguidance. Label yourself as only Muslim or not – the fact remains the same – that by calling yourself a Muslim without any label you cannot achieve unity with the misguided sects – for they are as per the hadeeth, inhabitants of the Fire.
Sheikh Saaleh al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said in his Explanation to Sharh as-Sunnah Lesson 1:
“So this (correct belief that the scholars have written from earlier times upon with these books) is something which the Ummah has proceeded upon and given attention to in order to distinguish between the Truth and falsehood, and between Guidance and misguidance, however those people have their own purpose in doing this. They want to merge all of the people together and that there would not be anything to differentiate between an atheist and an evil heretic, and a person who is upright, or one who is an innovator, rather they want all the people to remain beneath the umbrella of the name of Islaam so that the Muslims will remain united, they claim!
So we say to them, the Muslims will not be united except upon correct ‘aqeedah (creed and belief). ‘Aqeedah is what united the Companions when they had been divided. Just as He the Most High said:
And remember the favour of Allaah upon you, that previously you were enemies and He joined your hearts together
(Soorah Aale ‘Imraan (3), aayah 103)
What is it that united the Companions after this separation and after this fighting each other except this `aqeedah (creed and belief) which is the meaning of Laa ilaaha illAllaah, Muhammadun rasoolullaah, ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah’?
So nothing will unite the people except for the correct belief, but if the people differ and disagree in their `aqeedah (creed and belief) then they will never unite.
As for differing in matters of fiqh, involving ijtihaad, matters that can be understood from an evidence one way or another, then this will not affect the matter and it will not necessarily produce separation nor enmity because this is ijtihaad which can be permitted however differing in ‘aqeedah (creed and belief) is not permitted and those who differ concerning it (creed and belief) will never unite, ever. Those who differ in ‘aqeedah will never unite, no matter what attempts there are to bring it about because this person intends to unite those things which are opposites to each other, and it will not be possible to unite opposites and things which contradict each other.
So if those people do actually desire the unity of the Muslims then what is upon them first of all is to correct the ‘aqeedah that the Messengers, from the first of them to the last of them, used to give importance to and which they used to begin with.
It is upon them to unify this first, so if they unify the ‘aqeedah then the Ummah will be united. This is if they are actually serious and sincere in their call, however they mock the person who speaks about ‘aqeedah and who calls to the correct ‘aqeedah and they say, “This person declares the people to be kaafirs, he just wants to split up the Muslims; he actually wants such and such,” to the end of what they say.
So we say to them, you will never be able to gather the Muslims upon something other than the correct ‘aqeedah, for if the ‘aqeedah (creed and belief) were united then the people would unite easily.
[Source: Ithaaful-Qaree bit-Ta’leeqaat ‘alaa Sharhis-Sunnah by Shaykh Saalih ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan (hafidhaullaah)]
It is the unity of the Muslims upon the correct ‘Aqeedah and Manhaj which is desired and which we strive to achieve.