A brief look at history is all it takes to see the harm that sectarian wars have done to the Islamic world. In 680 AD, Hazrat Huseyin, son of Hazrat Ali, was martyred at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq. For those looking into the reasons for the sectarian divisions among Muslims, that incident was the starting point of the bloody conflicts.
The problem is still going strong today in the Middle East and it is having the same destructive effects on Muslims. Sectarian divisions are the most deeply-rooted scourge that weakens the Muslim community, gnawing away at it from the inside. Certain forces that wish to set Muslims against Muslims have always used this enormous weakness within the Ummah. The Middle East has become a sea of blood down the years because of this mistaken mindset. Muslims who believe in the same faith and prophet and who say, ‘God is One,’ have fallen out because of this ridiculous and needless division and have been led to disaster by it, as we can see in Iraq and Syria. The total number of people killed in bombings and armed attacks between different sects is now too great to even grasp.
It is incompatible with Islam to support slaughter between sects
It is an unsettling fact that some Muslims attach credence to fanatical views and delusive hadiths that support war and conflict stemming from sectarian differences.
The idea of killing someone who thinks or believes differently has absolutely no place in Islam: Islam teaches that any behavior that might even disturb such people is to be avoided, let alone killing them. God reveals in the Qur’an that the way to wage jihad, to spread the moral values of Islam in other words, is not through bloodshed, but by waging an intellectual struggle by means of love and affection. In the Qur'an, Muslims are commanded to respond even to their adversaries in the kindest way:
“A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surah Fussilat, 34)
Despite this explicit command in the Qur'an, Muslims' attacking one another with rage and hatred would be a grave form of persecution. Muslims must abandon their sectarian disputes at once and establish the unity that God demands.
God commands Muslims not to ‘quarrel among themselves
’ (Surat al-Anfal, 46) in the Qur’an, and reveals that doing so is something that will weaken Muslims. Another verse reveals:
Do not be like those who split up and differed after the Clear Signs came to them. They will have a terrible punishment. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 105)
It is impossible for a Muslim who acts out of good conscience and reason, and who observes the principles of justice rather than of self-interest, not to establish an alliance with other believers but to be in a state of unending conflict with them.
Of course there may be regional, cultural and traditional differences of opinion and practice among Muslim communities. There might be some different interpretations, different opinions; that is perfectly natural. What is unacceptable is hostility toward one Muslim society or group because of those differences, to cut off dialogue with them and to regard them as outsiders and even enemies in such a way as to prevent coalescence around common values. That is not acceptable.
Muslims must treat everyone with love, compassion and affection, knowing that they are all manifestations of our Lord. They must regard those who share the same faith, believe in the same Qur’an, obey the same commandments of God and abide by the Sunnah of our Prophet as their brothers and they must not forget that they are one another’s guardians; the discord and factionalism that may arise between different Muslim communities because of cultural and traditional differences must be avoided. The aim must be to build union, unity and alliance, rather than constantly bringing those differences up and preparing the way for further division. Muslims must support one another as allies and must behave with understanding when it comes to differences of opinion. Sincere Muslims who grasp the importance of this, and the prominent thinkers and intellectuals of the Islamic world must work hard to establish unity and must encourage such union and oneness among Muslims. A solidarity based on love, respect, compassion and tolerance must be constructed in the Muslim world.
May these sectarian conflicts come to an end in this month of Ramadan! May our brothers attend evening ifthar meals laid out by one another without making any sectarian discrimination. May they welcome one another with affection and the love of God. We all believe in the same God, the same Prophet and the same Book. We all prostrate ourselves before God. All of us carry this ideal for the world to live by the faith of God and to be a place of peace. The most righteous thing to do in order to bring that about is to always be united, to cling tight to one another and to act as brothers, as God commands:
Hold fast to the rope of God all together, and do not separate. Remember God’s blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire and He rescued you from it. In this way God makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 103)
Adnan Oktar's piece on Tehran Times: