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Behavioral Principles of Unity in the Quran

One of the essential factors in preserving unity, sincerity, and brotherhood among believers is beautiful conduct characterized by gentleness, love, and respect. Harsh behavior accompanied by insults, rudeness, animosity, and discord only exacerbates conflicts.

The Quran provides insight into the beautiful conduct of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) towards people: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you.” (Quran, 3:159) Allah commands His servants in the Quran to speak the best words: “And speak to people good [words].” (Quran, 2:83) The phrase “good [words]” implies words characterized by politeness, devoid of harshness, disrespect, and harmful insults, and free from harmful and vile language. Even when debating with the People of the Book, the Quran emphasizes engaging in the most graceful and respectful manner: “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them.” (Quran, 29:46) This instruction implies that Muslims should engage in debate in the most graceful manner, except when dealing with those who act unjustly. The Quran even prohibits insulting the gods of the idolaters, stating, “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.” (Quran, 6:108) This verse underscores the importance of not using offensive language towards the deities of idol worshippers, as it could lead to them reciprocating with insults towards Allah out of enmity and ignorance.

In summary, from the Quran’s perspective, personal grudges, enmities, and ethnic or tribal conflicts should not hinder the execution of justice or violate the rights of others. Justice supersedes all these considerations. Hatred and enmity towards certain groups should not lead believers to act against justice and fairness. Upholding justice is obligatory even towards enemies. If you have no right to transgress against a non-believer, you have no right to transgress against a Muslim and a believer in the same manner.

The Quran emphasizes the virtues of forgiveness and compassion. Forgiveness helps reduce animosity and enmity while preventing discord and conflicts among people. For example, the Quran states: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” (Quran, 25:63) This verse highlights the importance of responding to ignorance with gentleness and peaceful words.

The Quran also refers to murderers as “brothers of the victim” and encourages the concept of Qisas (equitable retribution) while allowing for forgiveness and compensation. It states: “O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” (Quran, 2:178)

The Quran’s inclusion of “brothers of the victim” is intended to evoke feelings of love and compassion and to encourage believers to choose forgiveness and mercy over retribution when possible. It highlights that forgiveness is a source of satisfaction that retribution lacks.

Islam grants individuals the freedom to choose their religion and beliefs. Coercion in matters of faith is not permissible, and people should not be forced into religious beliefs. However, it’s essential to note that coercion only applies to physical actions, not to matters of the heart. The Quran makes it clear that there is no compulsion in religion: “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.” (Quran, 2:256) This verse underscores that faith must be a matter of free choice and sincere conviction. When dealing with those who have gone astray from the right path, the Quran instructs Muslims to convey the correct message but not to force belief upon them: “So if they argue with you, say, ‘I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me.’ And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, ‘Have you submitted yourselves?’ And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away – then upon you is only the [duty of] notification, and Allah is Seeing of [His] servants.” (Quran, 3:20) .Regarding Muslims, once someone professes the Shahada (the declaration of faith), they are considered Muslim, and it is not permissible to label them otherwise. The Quran states: “O you who have believed, when you go forth [to fight] in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to the one who gives you [a greeting of] peace, ‘You are not a believer,’ aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You [yourselves] were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (Quran, 4:94) In this context, Islam respects outward appearances and speech, leaving matters of the heart to God’s knowledge, as He is the All-Knowing and All-Aware. Islam, as a comprehensive religion, provides guidance on conflict resolution. The Quran instructs believers to obey Allah, His Messenger, and those in authority among them when conflicts arise. It advises that if disputes arise among individuals, they should return to Allah and His Messenger for judgment: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” (Quran, 4:59)

Additionally, the Quran provides guidance for resolving marital disputes: “And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].” (Quran, 4:35)

Overall, Islam encourages peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes through arbitration and negotiation, seeking reconciliation and understanding, and maintaining respect for authority and the principles of justice. Sometimes, certain weak-hearted Muslims may accept the allegiance of non-Muslims and enemies of the faith while forsaking the allegiance of fellow believers. This can occur due to fear of the power of the enemies of the faith, hoping for protection from other non-believers, or seeking personal benefits by aligning with a particular group of disbelievers. This action can lead to increased animosity and discord among Muslims because accepting the allegiance of disbelievers can influence one’s ethics and lifestyle, causing them to drift away from the community of believers and potentially creating openings for the infiltration of enemies, harm to believers, and the promotion of division and conflicts. Therefore, just as the Quran calls believers “brothers to one another” (Quran, 49:10) and commands unity, friendship, and peace among them (Quran, 2:208), it discourages accepting the allegiance of disbelievers and forsaking the allegiance of fellow believers.

The Quran explicitly warns against hypocrisy, considering the acceptance of disbelievers’ authority and the rejection of the authority of believers as hypocrisy. The aforementioned verses specifically address weak-hearted individuals and caution them not to fall into this dangerous trap. Believers are urged not to be deluded by such actions, avoid incurring God’s wrath, and refrain from providing clear evidence against themselves.

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