Would unity among Muslims make the whole world a better place?
Much has been said about the benefits of a genuine, inclusive Islamic unity for Muslims. But will the realization of Islamic unity also benefit the globe?
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Muslims' holy book urges them to join hands and work together to develop bonds of friendship among the believers.
From the Quran (3:103): “And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favor on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make His Signs clear to you: That you may be guided.”
And this was so important that Prophet Muhammad asserted that each Muslim was a brother or a sister to other Muslims in his last sermon.
Muslims share the same religious beliefs, the same holy texts and the same rituals. But they come from different ethnicities, grow in different cultures, speak different languages and hold different social habits.
So how can we achieve Islamic unity? This has occupied the minds of Islamic leaders and the more astute among Muslims in recent decades, particularly as a state of constant conflict became business as usual in the Islamic world.
Unfortunately, many Muslims have historically been too busy protecting their version of Islam as the only authentic version, and some do not even consider a united Ummah.
The answer lies in unity in diversity. Contrary to a common belief, Islam as a religion embodies pluralism within the Ummah and it is capable of absorbing diversity.
Although the Muslim world is mired in disunity and particularism, Islamic teachings say no group of Muslims ought to believe that their way is the only way.
But what happens to non-Muslim nations if Islamic unity is realized? Will they benefit or lose out?
It can be argued that a decrease in religious tensions among Muslims will lead to fewer conflicts in and between Muslim countries.
International peacebuilding is often ineffective. The past several decades have shown global organizations are in most cases unable to contain war and conflict in Muslim countries in the Middle East and the wider region.
Islamic unity, if realized, will most likely help end chronic conflict in the region and stop bloodshed in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. In fact, Muslim unity could be considered a peace-building technique that helps stop the cycle of violence in the Muslim world.
The return of calm to war-torn countries would allow their potentials to be unleashed, preparing the ground for the return of the Islamic Golden Age.
The growth of Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries triggered a golden age of scientific discovery.
A stronger Muslim economy would also bode well for global trade.
The world can benefit from Muslims' advancements in countless other ways too.
Islam sees all mankind as one great brotherhood and invites all of us to seek the pleasure of God through righteousness.
Quran orders Muslims to allow non-Muslims to live in the Muslim lands and commands Muslims to respect the laws of non-Muslim lands.
It also asks Muslims not to force people to profess Islam.
"Your task is only to exhort; you cannot compel them [to believe]", Quran says (88:21).
It appears a world with a united Muslim community would be a much nicer place to live in.