Book Review: To overcome the sectarian divide, first we need to learn it

Belief in One God and facing the Kaaba for five daily prayers unites all Muslims of all the sects

Handbook of Islamic Sects and Movements

Editors of the volume: Muhammad Afzal Upal and Carole M. Cusack
Book reviewed by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

I read the book through my personal lens and an unquenching thirst to uplift the 1.8 million Muslims, to unite them in their struggle for their human rights and to put their intellectual and emotional forces together in fight against Islamophobia, which is like a tsunami in all the non-Muslim countries at the present time.

This multiauthor book of more than 700 pages is a very comprehensive research on all the Muslim sects including the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is covered by Muhammad Afzal Upal in chapter 27.

Before we could ever dream to unite the Muslims, we need to know what divides them.

Unlike Christianity, all the schisms in Islam have more to do with the leadership than theology. The very first divide in the Muslim history came about when Umayyad caliphate followed the four righteous Khalifas, 30 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. Invariably, each and every sect wants to unite all Muslims, but only under their flag and under their leadership, which is simply futile and almost an oxymoron, as the 1400 year of the Muslim history is enough proof.

Nevertheless, all the Muslims face Kaaba five times a day to pray to the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus and Muhammad, may peace be on them all. In other words they are all united on the most important belief in Islam that is knowing the All Knowing, All Powerful, Most Gracious and Ever Merciful God, Who is also the Master of the Day of Judgment, as mentioned in the very first chapter of the Quran.

We can unite in our understanding of Unitarianism, a belief in One God, Who can listen to our prayers as explained in a very short article in light of Quantum physics: Quantum Theory – Sign of a Personal God.

We can unite in our struggle for human rights: Book Review: The Final Blueprint for the 21st and 22nd Century.

We can unite in our struggle against Islamophobia in the Western world and else where.

Two things will become self evident to the reader in going through the dozens of chapters of this book that political Islam and Islamism are destined to fail, for example, read the chapter on Gulen Movement and their failure in trying to overthrow the Turkish government in 2016. Even if they had succeeded, from the global perspective of all the Muslims, any gains would have been very short lived.

Secondly, debates on the details of individual articles of faith are of no earthly importance, as I see it, as they only divide us and can never be resolved. All Muslim sects within themselves already enjoy a great diversity in their understanding of one of the fundamental beliefs, namely angels, which is one of the five fundamental beliefs of Islam, according to Sunni understanding and have decided not to quibble about them. Likewise, it is our choice to argue or not to argue, about the details of prophethood or understanding of details of the Quran or other scriptures, which we generally call as ‘belief in the books.’

And finally, read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

Read the book online:

Additional reading
Non-Sectarian Islam: The Proportionate Faith
Hajj and Universal Brotherhood and Sisterhood
A New Commentary of the Holy Quran Emphasizing Compassion, Justice and Human Rights Launched
Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran
Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living
We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma
Hajj and Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Hajj: Inside Mecca Documentary by National Geographic
Hajj: The Best Symbol for Our Universal Brotherhood!
Collection of Ideas to Overcome Sectarian Divide Among the Muslims
Who Speaks for the Flesh and Blood 1.8 Billion Breathing Muslim Souls?

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