One of the questions that is on the lips of those watching the news these days is about the different sects of Muslims.
It is clear to most of us that there are groups in Islam. We have the common Sunni/Shia divide publicised in the media but alongside that we are also aware of the Ahmediyya group, the Ismaili group just to name a few.
However, most of us aren’t aware of the basis of this division or how important it is for us to address this in our personal lives. To illustrate this latter point, the following hadith is mentioned in which the Prophet SAWS was asked by the companions on groups. He replied:
The Jews are separated into 71 groups, and the Christians are separated into 72 groups and my people will separate into 73 groups all in fire expect one : they asked which one group oh Messenger of Allah : he said the ‘group’ and in another narration, what I am on and my Companions
Dear brothers, the Quran also mentions this in Sura An-Nisa:
And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.
Dear brothers, the need to identifying that one group to belong to is clear enough but with 72 incorrect ones, how does one achieve this?
First of all, we need to identify the divisions. People are divided based on doctrinal divisions and based on Ideological divisions.
Doctrinal division is based upon the belief system. The major groups here are publicised and well known such as Sunni, Shi’a doctrines. What isn’t so well known is that these are broken down further into groups.
The second type of division is based upon Ideological reasoning. Within this type of division you have the Traditional Islam taking up the vast majority of muslims at around 96%. Other groups here are Islamic Modernism and Islamic Fundamentalism.
Other reasons for division and groups can be defined under schools of Islamic Law with people falling under the Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali group.
And the list goes on dear brothers, groups are split into sub-groups until eventually you begin reaching the number mentioned in the Hadith.
The first point to make in reference to this difficult topic is that we must respect all the great scholars of Islam. Especially those which make the four schools of Islamic law.
They were great scholars and may Allah SWT reward them for their great work.
For those who are accustomed with people belonging to a defined and named group, this topic is often one that results in emotional reaction in people and heated debates and yet the answer, as with all things in relation to our faith, is a simple one.
Which group does one belong to? Which is the 1 of 73?
Dear brothers, the answer lies in the Glorious Quran.
Several verses interpret to saying “Obey Allah and Obey His Messenger” SAWS. Therefore a true Muslim should only follow the Glorious Quran and the correct and proven teachings of our beloved Prophet SAWS.
The true Muslim can agree with the views of any scholar or defined group, provided that they conform to the teachings of the Quran and the teachings of the Hadith.
If such views go against the Glorious Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet SAWS then they carry no weight, regardless of the reputation of the scholar or of the group.
And by that same account, if such a view is found, it does not mean that everything else that scholar or group says is against the Glorious Quran or Sunnah.
In essence, it means then that the true Muslim is one that is forever a student of the Glorious Quran and a student of the Sunnah of the Prophet SAWS.
He will forever require to refer back to these sources of knowledge in order that he remain in the correct group and that is the default and first group, the group of the Prophet SAWS and his companions.
It also means that he cannot be lazy in his faith and blindly follow a group of people. He should always be attempting to read the Quran with understanding and adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet SAWS. And most importantly, he should constantly be in supplication to his Lord asking for guidance regarding the path of the one true group.
And dear brothers, this should be the aim of every Muslim as this way of being is the best way for us to be a united Ummah once more.
May Allah SWT give us the ability to understand the importance of the true group within our Ummah. May Allah SWT give us the ability to follow the advice in belonging to the true group and may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts in belonging to the correct group.x
Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.