Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayah 103
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.”
It was said that the rope of Allah refers to Allah’s covenant as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said in another ayah,
ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُوا إِلَّا بِحَبْلٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِّنَ النَّاسِ
“They have been put under humiliation [by Allah] wherever they are overtaken, except for a covenant from Allah and a rope from the people.” [Aal-Imran 3:112]
A rope from the people refers to pledges and peace treaties.
“And do not become divided,” orders sticking to the community of the believers and forbids division. There are several ahadeeth that require adhering to the Jama’ah [congregation of the believers] and prohibit division.[Disputing after Witnessing the Signs indicates Deviation]
Muslim recorded that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
إِنَّ اللهَ يَرْضَى لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا، وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: يَرْضَى لَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْبُدُوهُ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا، وَأَنْ تَعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا،وَأَنْ تَنَاصَحُوا مَنْ وَلَّاهُ اللهُ أَمْرَكُمْ. وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: قِيلَ وَقَالَ، وَكَثْرَةَ السُّؤَالِ، وَإِضَاعَةَ الْمَال
“It pleases Allah for you to acquire three qualities and displeases Him that you acquire three characteristics. It pleases Him that you worship Him Alone and not associate anything or anyone with Him in worship, that you hold on to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not divide, and that you advise whoever Allah appoints as your Leader. The three that displease Him are that you say, ‘It was said,’ and, ‘So-and-so said,’ asking many unnecessary questions and wasting money.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا
“And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers.”
Ibn Katheer comments that this ayah was revealed about the Aws and Khazraj. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the Aws and Khazraj were at war and had great hatred, enmity and ill feelings towards each other, causing long conflicts and battles to occur between them. When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala brought Islam, those among them who embraced it became brothers who loved each other by Allah’s grace, having good ties for Allah’s sake and helping each other in righteousness and piety.
In Surah Al-Anfal, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
هُوَ الَّذِي أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ – وَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ ۚ لَوْ أَنفَقْتَ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مَّا أَلَّفْتَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ أَلَّفَ بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ
“It is He who supported you with His help and with the believers. And brought together their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have brought their hearts together; but Allah brought them together.” (8:62-63)
Before Islam, their disbelief had them standing at the edge of a pit of the Fire, but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala saved them from it and delivered them to faith. The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reminded the Ansaar (from both Aws and Khazraj) of this bounty when he was dividing the war booty of Hunayn. During that time, some Ansaar did not like the way the booty was divided since they did not get what the others did, although that was what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala directed His Prophet to do. The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave them a speech, in which he said,
يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَلَمْ أَجِدْكُمْ ضُلَّالًا فَهَدَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَكُنْتُمْ مُتَفَرِّقِينَ فَأَلَّفَكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَعَالَةً فَأَغْنَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟
“O Ansaar! Did I not find you misguided and Allah directed you to guidance because of me? Were you not divided beforehand and Allah united you around me? Were you not poor and Allah enriched you because of me?”
Whenever the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked them a question, they would answer, “Indeed, Allah and His Messenger have granted us the bounty.”
We learn the virtue of unity and brotherhood for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We see in the example of the Sahabah radhiAllahu ‘anhum, the pious predecessors and the leaders of the different schools of thought that despite their disagreements, they remained united. They were not of those who would boycott one another or do character assassination if someone differed from them.
As students of knowledge, it is an obligation on us to stay united. We should not let the differences in understanding a topic lead to breaking ties or slandering one another.
It is this disunity and hatred that keeps many people away from studying and understanding the Deen. When the founders of Islamic institutes, the Imams of the masajid and their followers are fighting with anyone who is different from them, then how will the hearts be united and Islam be strong?
We also learn that love, affection, and unity is a special favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, whether you have come together for the promotion of His Deen or you live as a family, ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to put love, affection, unity, and mercy among you. Do not be divided over petty matters. Hold on to Allah’s Book and do what He commands you to do.