Dissension, Earning Love, Seeking Reputation
Issue 549 » October 2, 2009 - Shawwal 13, 1430
Al-Rum (The Romans) Sura 30: Verses 31-32
"Turn to God and fear Him. Observe the prayer [salah] and do not be of those who take partners with God; those who broke up their religion and were split into sects, each being self-satisfied and complacent in their own beliefs."
A healthy human person would recognize God and be ever drawn towards Him. Even when distracted he would endeavour to return to the proper track. However, human beings are liable to be overcome by selfishness, dissension, and negligence and thrown off course. The Quran repeatedly calls on human beings to return to their pristine human nature.
Unbelief and associating partners with God may take many forms and patterns. Some unbelievers consider the jinn to be God's partners, others associate the angels, some their forefathers, while others take kings, rulers, priests, rabbis, trees, stones, planets, stars, the fire, night and day, false values, desires, and the like as partners with God. The forms and patterns are unending, yet each group is delighted with what they hold. Meanwhile, the true faith is one, unchanging and undivided.
Dissension is a human characteristic induced by the desire for self-expression and dominance, and is often associated with pride and complacency. It occurs among religious as well as secular communities and groups. It is a phenomenon known throughout human history, past and present. However, this should not be confused with differences and disagreements arising from the exercise of ijtihad by scholars, experts, and practitioners of Islamic law, or among the various schools of fiqh which have emerged within Islam.
Differences of interpretation should not necessarily lead to rancour and division. Those who adopt differing approaches and formulate divergent views on matters which are open to debate should be credited for their efforts, whether their conclusions are right or wrong. Taking such legitimate differences further by fuelling schisms, factionalism, and dissension can only lead to weakness and destruction.
"A Thematic Commentary on the Quran" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 437, 438
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, p. 378
Intelligent people are always hunting for opportunities to earn people's love.
Once Abdullah ibn Masud - may Allah be pleased with him - was walking with the Prophet, peace be upon him, and as they walked by a tree, the Prophet asked him to climb the tree and break off a twig to clean his teeth with. Ibn Masud climbed up the tree, since he was very slim and small, and began to break off a twig. Meanwhile, the wind blew, blowing his garment and exposing his shins that were very thin and bony. When people saw this, they laughed.
At that point, the Prophet said, "What are you laughing at, the thinness of his shins? By Allah, they are heavier than Mount Uhud in the Scales!" [Ahmad]
How good must Abdullah ibn Masud have felt when the Prophet defended and praised him after the people had laughed at him?
"Enjoy Your Life"- Muhammad 'Abd Al-Rahaman Al-"Arifi, pp. 440, 441
Seeking reputations entails informing others of one's acts of obedience after they had been performed free of blemishes.
This results from some causes of showing off. A good deed becomes corrupted when telling others of it. But should you repent, [the deed's goodness] is restored.
Similar to this are deeds done so that others may hear about them. The one who does this is also considered a seeker of reputation, according to those with insight.
The great brigand [al-Shizaz] who robs all of these wayfarers is covetousness.
This is the cause of every iniquity, such as backbiting, lies, preoccupation of the heart during one's prayers, and insincere praise of others. Indeed, one will inevitably resort to hypocrisy as a result of it.
If one recognizes that [creatures] are incapable of benefitting anyone even themselves, then [covetousness] wanes.
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, p. 74