A very integral part of establishing a community is to stand together with a singular direction and unified vision. These are the ingredients that Allah has prescribed for His prophets and mighty messengers. It is these ingredients that we must possess for success as an Ummah. Allah says,
شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ
He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad SAW), and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it (religion) (i.e. various sects in religion)… (as-Shuraa 42:13)
In his celebrated exegesis, Imam Sa'di said, “This is the greatest grace that Allah has bestowed upon His servants, that He has legislated for them the best and most virtuous of religions, the most pure of faiths, the religion of Islam. This is the way of life which Allah legislated for those He chose from His servants; the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the mighty strong willed messengers mentioned in this verse. They are the best of creation and most complete in every way.
The religion that Allah legislated for them must have been appropriate for all their situations and conditions and with it He would complete them and chose them due to their establishing it. If it was not for the Islamic faith none from among the creation would be raised in rank. This faith is the spirit of happiness and axis of perfection which is found in the Noble Book calling to monotheism, righteous deed, good morals, and exemplary manners.
For this reason He said what means, "you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically)", meaning that He ordered you to establish the entire legislation of this faith; that which is fundamental as well as what is secondary. You are to establish it within yourselves and strive hard to establish it in other people, mutually cooperating with each other in righteousness and piety and not helping each other in sin and transgression.
He then says what means, “and make no divisions in it (religion)” so that you will achieve unity and agreement regarding the fundamental and secondary issues of your faith and way of life. You are also to persist in not becoming divided and enemies to each other when you have already agreed about the fundamentals of faith…” -End Quote
In order to unite as a community we must be united in our vision and direction. Allah has provided for us the direction, to “establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically)” and it is up to us to embrace that direction and get behind it 100%. Allah says,
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ
O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy. (Al-Baqarah 2:208)
Allah is commanding us to embrace our faith, not to follow it as custom inherited nor to pick and choose what we like or what is convenient while abandoning the rest. Allah is our God, not our own whims and desires. Allah says,
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember? (Al-Jaathiyah 45:23)
This verse has been explained by Qatada (may Allah have mercy upon him) to mean "the person does not desire a thing except that they do it and do not fear Allah.
Faith is not a matter of convenience, neither is community! It must be foremost in our lives if we truly want unity.
This must be applied in our hearts and in our households. If we as families cannot establish faith, then as an Ummah we will not find common ground. There will be no unity with one segment fully invested in this world having made very little to no room in this life for the next and the other segment doing their best journeying to Allah and the Home of the Hereafter. We will not stay together as a community if one wants to go north and the other wants to South, one wants to go east and the other west.
This was the way of the Prophet, he united us companions upon a singular vision and headed them in a singular direction. Their vision was to please Allah and their direction was to the Home of the Hereafter.
Another integral part of strengthening the community is by coming together, sharing experiences, and creating memories together. Imam Sa'di, concluding his commentary on the previously mentioned verse, goes on to say,
“…From the many types of unity in faith is that which has been ordered by the legislator such as general gatherings including Hajj, Eid, Friday prayer, obligatory prayers, struggling in His cause, and the various other communal forms of worship which are only completed by being united and not divided.”
If we have no interest in showing up for these communal acts of worship to establish faith how is it possible to establish community let alone by united as one body?!
Prepared by Abu Ibrahim J. Starling