You are here

Unity over Division

Muslim and Christian reflections on our spiritual health

By Noor Sa’adeh , Family Flavours - Oct 01,2023 - Last updated at Oct 01,2023

By Noor Sa’adeh, a Muslim Perspective 

Songs of the season and accompanying prayers for peace on earth seem not to have had the intended effect. The number of refugees fleeing conflict is well into the millions. Yet, more doors are closed to the burgeoning number of immigrants. Racism is on the rise in even the most democratic of nations. Those who share the same faith are constantly at odds with diverse sects and opinions. 

 

Seeking common ground

 

God, in His infinite wisdom, created us to be able to choose. We can choose unity or choose division based on all kinds of criteria: Race, nationality, education, wealth, status and so on.

 Or we can look to unifying factors. All people are born, we live, we die, we have hopes and fears, we struggle and we celebrate. We bleed, we cry and we hurt. We smile, we love and we care. Even the rich and powerful, the poor and the destitute, engage in the same daily functions, have the same basic needs and wants. Why then do we perceive each other so differently? 

Qur’an (49:10) stresses the unity of humankind and God’s intention that people should live together in harmony. Yet, we are divided into differing sects by political parties, ethnicity, language and geography. Let us focus on and seek common ground rather than emphasise our differences.

 

United in purpose

 

 In the Qur’an (3:103), there is a verse which states: “Hold fast together to the rope of God and be not divided.” This reminds me of the game of tug-of-war we played as children – how teams would have to pull together to win. Those most united in purpose and strength would be the victors. Those who argued or insisted on personal opinions would lose. Even in Muslim prayer, we see the importance of standing side by side, toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder. 

We can easily see the effects of polarisation. Division leads to alienation, conflict, confrontation and at its worst, war. Yet, these all start innocently enough in the smaller divisions we create in our families and our communities. As usual, our good practices begin at home within our marriages and the role modelling we do for our children. According to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), the natural progression starts with ourselves then moves outward to those nearest to us.

 Can we face the new year committed to creating peace and harmony within the family? Can we imagine a unified front that will offer goodwill and understanding, tolerance and respect towards our extended families, our neighbours and the surrounding community? No single person can change the world, but if we unite around a common purpose, we can then effect a momentous change.

 

By Sonia Salfity, a Christian Perspective

 

Disagreements manage to weave their way into every fabric of our lives and if we are not careful, they will unashamedly unravel us, destroying everything in our path including relationships we treasure the most.

 I would quickly run out of space if I were to write about the different things that cause division among so many people. In the absence of wisdom and insight, simple arguments lead to division and disunity between family members, friends, neighbours, coworkers and even church members. 

Many churches have split up as a result of different leaders not agreeing on primary or secondary matters resulting in dividing their congregations. The same is true with many families as a result of simple misunderstandings or lack of communication; each party is usually busy licking its wounds and blaming the other for all their problems.

For the sake of the greater good 

 

Endless wars have destroyed innocent people on both sides of the aisle because of leaders and key players refusing to humble themselves and compromise to set their differences aside for the sake of the greater good. 

We live in a culture that falsely believes that compromise is a sign of weakness. Jesus however turned everything upside down. He taught us by example and showed us what true strength of character means. He insisted that his followers be servant leaders; putting other people’s needs ahead of their own. Instead of blaming and shaming, he led by caring: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last,” Matthew (20:16). 

 

Loving your enemy

 

Jesus went far enough to ask us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Friends, Jesus set the bar way higher than our worldly standards knowing full well that we cannot accomplish that without His help. 

If we claim to be His followers, we must strive to obey Him not only when it suits us, but especially when it doesn’t. Ponder this as you meditate on Jesus’ words in the book of Luke:“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that,” Luke (6:32-33). 

 

Bailing out 

 

As Christ’s followers, we don’t get to call ourselves Christians and then pick and choose what path we will follow. When the going gets tough, we don’t get to bail out and choose the easier path that our stubborn and prideful self would naturally have us take. Jesus was very clear on this and there’s just no way around it.

Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t ask us to agree with everyone, nor did He ask us to only love those who agree with us. This means we are to intentionally choose to love those who are disagreeable and not give our real enemy an excuse to rejoice.

This is exactly what Satan does every time we choose to disobey our Lord. The only way I can set my pride aside and humble myself is when I train my mind to remember that every person is created in the image of our one and true God.

 

It’s a choice

 

I don’t get to choose because Jesus already made His choice when He sacrificed himself on the cross for ALL people. By doing so, He leveled the field and all of us are in need of a saviour, redeemer and healer. He gave the same invitation to all people from every tribe and every nation. He gave us each a choice to accept or refuse His gift which was freely extended to us. A gift He paid for with His own life. Through His death and resurrection, those who trust Him are united with our heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Once we understand our true identity in Christ and fully receive His grace, we begin the process of taking that which division unraveled and participating with God as He weaves threads of love and grace into every fabric of our lives.

Sweet friend, we belong to a God who is faithful and keeps all His promises: “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth,” Psalms (46:10).

 

Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

 

up
54 users have voted.


Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.

PDF