This past week, nearly two billion Muslims from all over the world celebrated the birth anniversary of the beloved Messenger of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (saw), a celebration known as Mawlid Al-Nabi.
Muslims also commemorated “Islamic Unity Week,” which spans the days between the two differing opinions of the exact date of the Prophet’s birth. This 37th International Islamic Unity Conference was held in Tehran, Iran, consisting of hundreds of Muslim scholars, professors, and researchers of different Islamic sects and denominations from all over the world, in an effort to create unity and solidarity among Muslims and develop mutual understanding and respect.
“Whoever wakes up in the morning and is not concerned with the affairs of Muslims, is not a Muslim” – Prophet Muhammad (saw)
All Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the final Messenger of Allah (s), who completed and perfected the divine call of his predecessors from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and is regarded as the seal of the Prophets. The Holy Quran describes his eminence as the greatest of creation and the most excellent model, who was sent with guidance and truth, as a witness, bearer of glad tidings, and warner, to bring humanity out of darkness and into the light.
The Holy Prophet maximinaly manifested all of God’s attributes; his spiritual proximity to Allah (s) is likened spatially in the Holy Quran as reaching “within two bows’ length or even nearer.” Thus, the Holy Prophet unlocked the final manuscript for mankind to follow to reach its maximum potential and salvation both in the material world and hereafter. His holy birth began a new era in the human journey, one of divine favors, wills, and mercy.
“…And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to all the worlds.” 21:107
Muslims celebrate Mawlid Al-Nabi out of love and admiration for the Holy Prophet, to pay homage to his life, mission, and message, and to inculcate his divine values and traits into their everyday lives. In many Muslim countries, such as Yemen, grand, majestic ceremonies were held celebrating the event.
SubhanAllah … 🌹
Mawlid un Nabi ﷺ Celebrations 💚 Yemen pic.twitter.com/xUCjkSspBs
— عاءشه مینه قولوغلو (@Helya_1453) September 30, 2023
Across Muslim communities worldwide, Islamic centers overflowed for worship and jubilation, families and friends gathered to share meals and gifts, festivals took place filled with joy and cheer, and holiday lights and ornaments decorated streets and neighborhoods.
Historically, Muslim scholars held differences of opinion on the exact day of the Prophet’s birth, with Sunni Muslims believing it was the 12th of the Islamic lunar month of Rabi’ al-Awal, and Shia Muslims believing it was the 17th. However, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini proposed the idea for “Islamic Unity Week” in order to accommodate both dates and bring Muslims together—above trivial differences and under one platform— stating that Muslim segregation is the result of ignorance, corrupt elements, and foreigners, and that Muslims are brothers who should avoid all kinds of disputes and discords that will only benefit the enemies of Islam.
The annual International Islamic Unity Conference was therein established, with the purpose of creating unity and solidarity among Muslims, to develop consensus among scholars and academics, approximate their scientific and cultural viewpoints, and present practical solutions in order to solve the problems of Muslims and reach a unified Ummah, or community, in the Islamic World.
This year’s conference focused on Islamic cooperation to achieve common values. Topics included justice in war and peace, religious freethinking and acceptance, Islamic empathy and sympathy, mutual respect and etiquettes of difference, avoidance of tensions, conflicts, desecration, and insults. It also focused on Islamic brotherhood and countering terrorism, confronting Takfir and extremism, and the disapproval of normalization with the usurping Zionist regime “Israel”.
Islamic Unity is a Quranic principle, and a tradition of the Holy Prophet, the Ahlulbayt (the Prophet’s honorable family), and righteous scholars.
“Stick to unity and avoid division and turning away from each others help and withholding the hand from one anothers assistance” – Imam Ali (as)
But what is meant by Islamic Unity? The current Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly spoken on the topic in depth and is a staunch advocate for Islamic unity, explains that by no means are different sects and denominations expected to compromise or change their beliefs and practices, but rather, to put aside their differences and not use them to cause wars and enmity amongst each other, and instead, to focus on strengthening and promoting commonalities in order to work for common goals.
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah, and be not be divided…” Quran 3:103
Furthermore, he has issued religious edicts that forbid insulting and slandering historical figures respected by different schools of thought. Grand Ayatollah Syed Ali Sistani has famously called for Shia Muslims to not refer to Sunni Muslims as their “brethren,” but rather, as their own “souls.”
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are firm against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves…” 48:29
Islamic unity is not with Takfiris such as ISIS, nor with Nasibis – those who hate Ahlulbayt – but rather with the overwhelming majority of Muslims, mainstream Sunnis and Shias, who all love the Ahlulbayt, and share much more similarities than differences. Differences naturally exist between sects, and even within sects; differences are not intrinsically negative, as they encourage continued scholarly research and exploration, prevent intellectual stagnation, and maximize potential. This is not to say all beliefs and practices within Islam are valid, as the truth has been made clear from error. However, differences challenge Muslims to arrive at ultimate truths, which can be achieved through patience, reasoning, and respectful dialogue, breeding tolerance and unity.
“Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in the best manner…” 16:125
Martyr Ayatollah Mutahhari argues there are sufficient sources of conformity which could be used as a basis of solid unity, with most differences only in the details, and that all Muslims possess a universal perspective, share a great civilization, have common cultures, beliefs, acts of worship, social customs and traditions that can easily make a single nation and create a great power before which all the world’s great powers may be humbled.
“You are the best nation ever brought forth for mankind – you enjoin what is good, forbid what is evil, and believe in Allah…” 3:110
The divisions and disunity running rampant in the Muslim Ummah are not due to theological or jurisprudential issues, but rather a cause of intolerance, ignorance, and poor responses to such differences. Islamic unity is needed now more than ever, as Islam continues to be attacked from all angles, culturally, ideologically, spiritually, and physically. The enemies of Islam, mainly Western imperialism, Zionism, and Takfirism, fear Muslim unity, as it threatens their hegemony. They have long employed the strategy of divide and conquer – planting the colonial apartheid entity of Israel in the heart of the Muslim world, creating Takfiri groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, supporting oppressive monarchies in the region, and sponsoring wars in and between Muslim nations – in order to weaken the Muslim world and make it easier to invade, occupy, and plunder its lands and resources.
They know that if Muslims were ever a unified front, their schemes would fail. It is Islamic unity that will liberate the Muslim world from colonization, subjugation, and exploitation, and pave the way for the advent of humanity’s awaited savior, Imam Al Mahdi (atf), who will fill the world with equity and justice after it has been filled with oppression and injustice.
If you value our journalism…
TMJ News is committed to remaining an independent, reader-funded news platform. A small donation from our valuable readers like you keeps us running so that we can keep our reporting open to all! We’ve launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $10,000 we need to meet our publishing costs this year, and it’d mean the world to us if you’d make a monthly or one-time donation to help. If you value what we publish and agree that our world needs alternative voices like ours in the media, please give what you can today.