Translated by: Manal Samhat
The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.), says in his will: “I advise you, all my children my relatives, and whosoever receives this message, to be conscious of Allah, The Most Exalted ’s message to be conscious of Allah, remove your differences and strengthen your ties. I heard your grandfather (The Messenger(p.) ) saying : Reconciliation of your differences is more worthy than all prayers and all fasting, and that hatred shaves (wipe out) religion and there is no power except with Allah.”
In this will, the Imam talks about a very crucial issue and perhaps a critical one in our Muslim society. Although it is natural that people would differ in personal, religious or political matters, it is the responsibility of the society as a whole to reconcile between those who differ by all possible human means. Differences between people could lead to devastating consequences on the entire society. Difference between a married couple could lead to divorce, not to mention its effects on the lives of both the husband and the wife. Differences between the parents and the children might lead either to abandoning them or to rough treatment to the parents, which Allah, The Most Exalted, has prohibited. On the other hand, we have seen many parents abandoning their responsibility towards their children.
There are also the economic differences, whether on the level of individuals or having to do with the economy of the society, as well as political and sectarian differences which could lead to civil war. And this is what we are facing in Iraq where there are those who are working on inciting strife, especially through the use of certain sectarian leaders who seek to further strengthen their leadership by resorting to sectarian rhetoric. They are creating strife between Shiites and Sunnis and even within the same sect, thus opening the door for non-Muslims to exploit this rhetoric and create an armed conflict which the local leaders do not oppose even if it kills all Muslims. Then there are the differences between two Muslim states which might get complicated and lead to the boycott of the leaders of one state to that of the other with its devastating effects, on the citizens of the two countries including the non-Muslims.
Such critical consequences make us clearly understand why the Messenger said that reconciliation is more worthy than all prayers and all fasting. Both praying and fasting are individual issues of somewhat individual consequences, while strife affects the entire society and the entire nation. Thus, the danger it inflicts is much more greater than that of some Muslims not abiding by prayer or fasting.
And we know that the current differences between Muslim whether sectarian (Shiites and Sunnis) or racial (Arabs, Persians and Kurds) have enabled the arrogant countries – with America leading them- to dominate over the Muslim presence in the entire world. When we compare between the number of Americans who are only 200 millions and the number of Muslims who are about one and a half billion, we know that they have been able to impose their hegemony over all our strategic resources and political decision, only because they are united while we are divided both on the sectarian and racial levels… Such differences do- in the words of our Prophet -shave our religion, just as a blade shaves a man's hear.
When two persons engage in a feud they might curse one another or try to damage the other's interests. We have heard some people saying when they engage in a fight with others that all prohibitions are lifted- that they can now kill and destroy as they wish. All these things have negative consequences. They shave the religion. Some people fast, pray and perform all religious duties but they deem it lawful to kill another Muslim.
This is devastating and amounts to shaving the Religion, since it destroys Muslim unity and divides the Muslim nation.
Since reconciliation is vital and necessary, Allah has emphasized its necessity in the Glorious Quran encouraging people to intervene and reconcile those who differ and reminding those who incite strife that they will be punishedWhoso intervenes in a good cause will have the reward thereof, and whoso intervenes in an evil cause will bear the consequence thereof. Allah oversees all things.
And in another Ayah, Allah considers settling differences as an act of obedience to Allah and His Messenger They ask you about the windfalls. Say: The windfalls are for Allah and the Messenger. So be careful of (your duty to) Allah and set aright matters of your difference, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are believers). He also says:
The believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren and be careful of (your duty to) Allah that mercy may be had on you. If the relationship among Muslims is built on the basis of brotherhood which Allah has fastened by the rope of belief, than this brotherhood renders all Muslims responsible of solving any differences among Muslims for this is the line or piety and the means of attaining Allah's mercy.
In another Ayah, Allah explains that there is no good in much of our talk if it does not contain a call for performing good acts which include the reconciliation between people, and explains that the rewards of who those who do such acts of good will be great There is no good in most of their secret counsels except (in his) who enjoins charity or goodness or reconciliation between people; and whoever does this seeking Allah's pleasure, We will give him a mighty reward.
In one of his saying the Messenger(p.) considers reconciliation between those who differ as an act of charity "that Allah and His Messenger love". Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) used to leave some money among some of his companions to be used in solving the differences among his Shiites in case solving the differences depended on paying some money.
Allah also says in his Glorious Book And make not Allah because of your swearing (by Him) an obstacle to your doing good and guarding (against evil) and making peace between men, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) says in explaining the meaning of this Ayah that if you are called to solve a difference between two people, do not say I have sworn not to intervene. More importantly, Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) explains that we are allowed to lie in order to reconcile among those who differ. He says: "The one who reconciles is not a lier". He also says: talking is of three kinds: Truth, lies and reconciliation among people". He explains that when you tell someone that the man he had differed with said good things about him you would be lying , but you will be rewarded for this lie .In such cases, lying is not only permissible. It is a duty.
The differences in our Islamic society, whether personal or between sects or even states have led to disastrous consequences that weakened Islam and Muslims. Therefore, we have to abide by the command of Allah and His Messenger, and the Imam's will when he was on his way to meet his Lord: To seek, each according to his ability, to reconcile Muslim differences.
* The aforementioned is an edited Friday sermon.