How to Deal with Different Sects of Islam?

There is an example in the life of Ali that is amazing for us in our time.

We’re talking about an Islamic Caliphate, where he could have snapped his fingers and said “do this and do that” and everybody would have executed his command.

What happened?

The first sect was broken away from the Ummah. That sect was called the Khawarij (the Kharijites) and they were a troublesome sect. They had some strange beliefs.

What did Ali do?

Did he say ‘I don’t care, you can believe as you believe?’

No, he was a Muslim. He loved his theology.

What did he do? He sent Ibn Abbas, the theologian and scholar, to debate and try to preach to them and convince them that they’re not correct in this belief of theirs.

Ibn Abbas went and held a public debate. One third of them realized their mistake and returned back to Ali and two thirds remain.

Now, what happened to the remaining two thirds?

Ali sent an emissary to them and he said:

‘If you decide to stay upon your theology, we have no right to force you otherwise.’ (That’s your business. We try to preach to you. We don’t agree with this theology of the Kharijites) ‘but if you wish to continue, then as long as you don’t harm us, we won’t harm you.’ (As long as you don’t harm the Muslims, we’re not going to harm you or let anybody harm you).

We need to imbibe this philosophy of Ali ibn abi Talib and replicate it.

Yes, I might disagree with many theologies, but it’s not my right to force my theology on other people.

These differences have been with the Ummah for a thousand and four hundred years. Do you think that our hatred together will eliminate this? No. We’re going to have this. Let’s be pragmatic and realistic. These schisms and sects will remain no matter what we want. So let’s try to do something that we all agree to and that is to make the world a better place.

Let Allah be the judge. In this dunya, we can all agree that we shouldn’t be killing one another, harming one another, physically threatening one another… this is not the role of any Muslim.

We should always be careful of the greatest sin that we are in danger of committing when we talk about sectarianism and that is the sin of arrogance. Sure, I might believe that my theology is right, but let that not translate into believing that I, as a person, am better than somebody else, as a person who disagrees with my theology. The theology might be right, I’m not perfect.

And we make a distinction between belief and the person, perhaps I have the sin of arrogance that I think I’m better than you because I have a different theology.

If I believe I’m upon the truth and if you believe you’re upon the truth, then both of us should follow the Quranic principle, best embodied by the Prophet (peace be upon him) of truth leading to humility, humbleness and lack of arrogance to those who might be upon the incorrect faith system.

No matter what we believe, we can and we should all believe in that golden rule that Prophet Muhammad taught, that Jesus Christ himself taught, that every single prophet taught and that is that we should treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. That is the general rule. That is the rule of mercy and compassion. That is what Allah and His messenger want from all of us.