Allah Ta’ala declares:
“O People of Imaan! Fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die but as Muslims.
Grab hold onto the Rope of Allah firmly altogether, and do not become disunited.
Remember the Favour of Allah when you were enemies to each other and then He united your hearts.
By virtue of His Favour you became brothers to each other.
You were on the verge of falling into Hellfire, but He rescued you from it (Hellfire).
In this manner Allah Ta’ala explains His Ahkaam (Commandments) to you so that you remain on the Path of Guidance.”
(Surah Aali Imraan, 102/3)
Although these Aayaat were revealed in respect of a particular incident, however, the purport is not restricted to that episode. In fact, Allah Ta’ala has shown us a program to follow in order that such a scenario is not repeated and we remain safe from other calamities as well.
The incident goes like this that prior to the advent of Sayyidina Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) there were two tribes of the Arabs in Madinah; the Ows and the Khazraj. They were bitter enemies. When these Madinite tribes embraced Islam their enmity turned to unity and their hatred changed to friendship and brotherhood. With the Hijrat of Sayyidina Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) to Madinah Tayyibah the unity became reinforced.
This unity was exceptionally difficult upon the Yahood. One Yahoodi, observing the Ows and Khazraj in a gathering like bosom friends, became inflamed with jealousy. He appointed a person to go to the gathering of the Ansaar and recite those poems which the two tribes would recite during warfare and during their period of enmity. The mischief-maker achieved his aim and a fire was ignited. Past episodes of dispute and internecine warfare crossed their minds and they started bickering over blame for their former mutual hostility. Passions were aroused and anger clouded their thinking. They drew swords and were ready for a showdown.
Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was informed about this and he immediately made his way to the gathering. “What is this chaos?” he said. “In my presence and whilst I am alive; after becoming Muslims and sharing mutual love and unity you are descending to such deplorable behaviour? Do you desire to return to your former state of kufr after embracing Islam?”
These words of caution jolted everyone back to their senses and they realized that they were engaged in some satanic action. They embraced each other, cried and made Taubah. The conspiracy of the haasideen (jealous enemies of Islam) came to naught.
“They conspired and desired to plant evil, but We made them the losers.” (Surah Al-Ambiya, 70)
The resultant unity was even stronger and the Sahaabah understood now that in-fighting and internecine warfare for base motives are virtual acts of kufr. The avenue was closed for ever and the plan of the enemy backfired. The love and friendship among the Sahaabah became even more intense.
The Shayaateenul Ins Wal Jinn (Devils of the jinn and man) are sometimes deluded, like that Yahoodi who wished to create a rift and fight between the Ows and Khazraj. Had he known the consequence of his action he would never have ventured to make them fight. Not only did Allah Ta’ala make him unsuccessful in this incident, for posterity Allah Ta’ala closed the door of in-fighting and fratricide.
The preceding Aayaat condemn the Ahlul Kitaab who set up such a scheme. This condemnation is eloquently portrayed by firstly condemning them over their kufr. The gist of it is that you were supposed to become Muslims, not scheme ways to lead others away from the Straight Path.
Then Muslims are addressed and directed: The Ahl Kitaab severely dislike your unity and brotherhood which unity and brotherhood are the means for success in this world and the Hereafter. They wish to see you cutting each other’s throats. If you follow them, they will convert you to kufr after your Imaan. It is gross ignorance and foolishness to be beguiled by the enemy and in the process harm oneself and make them pleased. Ahead of that Allah Ta’ala states:
“And how can you commit kufr when (factors deterring kufr are before you, such as) the Aayaat of Allah Ta’ala are being recited to you and the Rasool of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is in your midst.”
These are two formidable means of remaining firm on Imaan. Thus, it is incumbent upon you to hold onto Imaan and the Teachings of Islam as the Kitaabullah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) teach you. And remember:
“Whoever holds on firmly to Allah Ta’ala (in other words, obeys Him and disobeys the adversary of Allah Ta’ala) then undoubtedly such a person is guided to the Straight Path.”
In this Aayat kufr has a broader meaning. It covers kufr in belief, as well as an act typical of the kuffaar. Fighting and killing co-religionists are acts associated with kufr, for it is close to kufr. These lead to disunity which is a sin and it ruins strength and progress. Engaging in this turmoil takes one away from the Deen of Haqq. When disunited then every person contrives every possible way to bring down his adversary, regardless of the plan being permissible or impermissible, civil or uncivil. Hence the Hadeeth Shareef has termed disunity as Haaliqah (a razor). Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) furthermore elaborated on its meaning. He said: “I don’t mean it shaves the hair, rather it shaves off one’s Deen.”
Obviously when a Muslim becomes distanced from his Deen then he draws close to kufr. It is a logical principle that something close to another falls in its category. For this reason the Fuqaha have judged a person closer to Qiyaam [the standing position in Salaat] as having stood, a person closer to Qu’ood [the sitting position in Salaat] as having sat, something in which there is overwhelming alloy as a an alloyed substance and that in which silver is dominant as silver. On the basis of this principle it is correct to declare an act which is close to kufr as kufr and its perpetrator as virtually a kaafir. The Qur’aan was revealed in idiomatic speech. In such speech a person who adopts the actions of another people is labelled with the foreign people’s epithet.
From what has been mentioned we can gauge that we as Muslims and disunited, just how sever this condition of ours is. Allah Ta’ala declared it to be kufr. As a result the Sahaabah were severely jolted and they took heed. So Allah Ta’ala set a program for them. What happened has happened. The past is the past. Prepare for the future so that this sin does not rear its ugly head again. Thus Allah Ta’ala commanded them firstly with Taqwa and constancy on Islam. Then they were instructed to grab hold firmly onto the Rope of Allah [the Shariah]. Further Allah Ta’ala states:
“Recall the Favour of Allah upon you when you were enemies and Allah then bonded your hearts. By virtue of this Favour of Allah you became brothers to each other.”
Remembering the blessing of unity is instructed here. Think about this favour and the blessings of it. And judge this with your previous state [of kufr and in-fighting]. What disastrous condition was that! On the other hand look at your condition of unity and what eternal bliss it carries.
(From Ad-Dawaam alal Islam by Hazrat Thanwi)