The world at different times faces unique challenges that marks apart the different epoch of human history when chronicled. For the 21st century historians, this era will be marked by numerous challenges; but, most prominent will be the challenge of uniting a world broken into hostile fragments making each vulnerable to contemptuous harassment and oppression of others.
Generally, this century is probably the worst in terms of conflicts and conflicting interests in the history of mankind resulting from highly pronounced differences, even to the minutiae, of ideology and convictions along lines of races, religions, ethnicity, tribalism, clannishness and other 21st century isms.
Meanwhile, this century is a millennium and half since the last Prophet (salallahu alaehi wassalam) came to unite the hearts of the most disunited race in the world; beyond the shores of clanishness and internicine strifes, he (saw) imploded all barriers that had been built to dehumanize humanity, from racism to nationalism, and all manners of classisms and divisionisms.
And the Arabs, particularly, were united with the rest of the world thereby establishing the only and most enduring universal brotherhood ever witnessed on planet earth.
With his (SAW) coming, it became a religious duty to love others, and loving and caring for a stranger was even more meritorious, while man's concern for the welfare of humanity became an act of worship and a means of earning the most coveted reward a man could get, paradise! He (saw) brought the worlds together in unison like cement sealing blocks together to form firm walls that make a house stand.
It is for the rare feats and unprecedented achievements of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that the state of humanity in the 21st century seems pathetic while the hole in humanity's progressive claims becomes so pronounced and deafening that the overall human failure can no longer be hidden in phantom material transformation.
Taking therefore that the world is fragmented along several divisive lines of convictions, the question then is, can anything still effectively cement the fragments?
World leaders have attempted to unite the world through conventions and treatises establishing world bodies of sovereign nations, changing nomenclature from League of Nations to United Nations but, the inadequacies and failures are obvious in the numberless arms conflicts in today's world.
Meanwhile, without any physical convergence of world leaders, the last Mercy to the world was given the gift of Islam to establish a Universal brotherhood that transcends demeaning divisive tendencies of racism, tribalism, ethnicism, nationalism and so on.
Consequently, in an attempt to progressively appreciate the state of today's fragmented world of man, Islam and Muslims must be critically assessed to achieve a meaningful end.
It is in this line of thought that the Muslim world, which is the flag bearer of the universal brotherhood established by Muhammad (SAW) 1437 years ago, must be uniquely reawakened and engaged in a discourse, as a unifying world within the world.
Thus, a look at the basic role a Muslim should, and must, play to ensure the unity of Muslims and promote harmonious existence in the whole world as part of important steps towards mending the fragments of a broken world.
The following eight points are highlighted particularly for Muslims to re-engage and redirect individual mind towards ensuring that the objective of Islam, as a peaceful uniting factor, is achieved at least within the Muslim world.
(1)----Uniting is an Order of Allah: The correct perception for a Muslim must be that Allah's command has no better option. Muslims do take Allah's command as irreversible, and for this when commanded by Allah, the believers only say "we hear and we obey" (Q2:286).
Thus uniting is a must as ordered by Allah in different verses of the Qur'an: Q22:78 "So, establish regular prayer, give regular charity and hold fast to Allah! He is your protector"; Q3:103 "And hold fast all together by the rope of Allah, and do not be divided among yourselves"; Q21:92 "Verily, this ummah of yours is a single ummah, and I am your Lord and Cherisher therefore, serve me (and no other)"; finally as a warning, Q6:159 "As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least".
2)---- Who is a Muslim? The basic conditions of being a Muslim are to be understood from the hadeeth of Jibreel as narrated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, "Islam is that you witness that there is no God (deserving worship) but Allah and that Muhammad is HIS messenger, and you establish the prayer, and you give the zakat, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform hajj if you are able to" (Bukhari).
Although there are numerous ways to exit Islam, it portends more goodness for the ummah to focus less on those who have exited and embrace those who are in in order to Unite nonetheless without compromising the basic tenets of the Deen.
3)---- Who can't be wrong? The one immuned and refined beyond wrongfulness is Allah, all else may err. Hence, Muslim should assume first that s/he can be wrong. To really find the truth, Muslims must ask upright scholars questions but in cases of difference with fellow Muslims, it is better for one with doubt to first assume being wrong until he becomes sure. And when certain, should refrain from castigating others; rather, he should seek honourable manner of bringing others to know of what he knows thereby correcting them. 4)---- Best manner of disagreement: A Muslim should be as enthusiastic about listening to other person's evidence/argument as he advances his own evidence/argument. Muslims must be open-minded and willing to accept stronger evidence for or against with no ill feeling. This will foster mutual respect thereby promoting harmony. 5)--- Probable multiple correct answers: 2x2=4; 3+1=4; 4x1=4; 4+0=4; 16÷4=4; 80÷20=4.... What is correct is sometimes not just a single thing that one knows, although so many things are correct only in one manner (Allah is One not in a three equals one formation: one is one). However, a Muslim must not be unnecessarily adamant and hostile about open-ended issues, particularly doing dawah. It was reported that the Prophet (SAW) sent a group of companions on a mission to Bani Qurayzah and told them "Do not pray asr until you get to Bani Qurayzah". Enroute Banu Qurayzah, time for asr was drawing to a close and a dispute arose ensued. Part of the group interpreted the command metaphorically to mean that they should hurry up, therefore they decided to perform salatul asr before getting to Banu Qurayzah; while other did not. When their dispute reached the Prophet (SAW), he, rather than issue a straight jacket right or wrong verdict to each party said "whoever performs ijtihad and errs will receive one reward. Whoever performs ijtihad and arrives at the correct answer gets double the reward". One should note that this applies only to issues/contexts lacking explicit textual pronouncements, and ignorance is not equal to absence of textual context. What is germane however is that Muslims must be open-minded to differences that do not alter basic creeds. 6)--- Which Label is preferred? Shall we not accept that a Muslim is a Muslim? This is how the Qur'aan named us. However, there are numerous appellations given to Muslims today either self-given or given by others, Muslims and non-muslims alike. These include: sunni, shiah, salafi, ahlu Sunnah, moderate, liberal, radical, fundamentalist, secular and other more microscopic names like hijabites, scarfites, TMC, MSS, Onilawani, Alasalatu and so on. So, the question is which label is preferred and why? This act is of the most potent divisive habits today creating gulf of distance that should never have existed among mankind. 7) Would you please have mercy on others! For how long will abject poverty and extravagant luxury shake hands without friction? In spite of the noble institution of zakat in Islam, it is heartrendering to imagine the margin of difference between the dynastically rich Muslims and the abjectly impoverished poor ones. Take Nothern Nigeria for example, can one believe the rate of unemployment coexisting with the monetary figures emanating from people of that region? Not forgetting the luxurious life style of leaders of religious groups/societies and the poverty of their followers. Fostering unity demands that hands of help be stretched to people in need. May Allah be pleased with Umar ibn AbdAzeez who in abundance remembered the birds. 8)---- Sympathy for those who lack guidance: Despite the abundance of information technology of this age, the average Muslim do not see the light of Islam. So also are the non-Muslims because of proliferation of falsified messages on the internet which is an uncontrollable platform, and the closet mindset of many. With this in mind, the one who knows should not be angry at them or ridicule their shortcomings. For who knows, tomorrow might be too long before Allah grants them light from HIMself. The same for non-Muslims who are not hostile to Islam/Muslims. A Muslim should seek Allah's help for both and constantly strive to make the true message clear to them.
Lastly, would their ever be peace? Divine revelations (Qur'an and Ahadith) are a compass for a Muslim as he navigates the sail of living over extensive ocean of life. And for every era, all major events are explicitly and implicitly included in divine narratives. Hence, nothing that may have happened, that is happening or that will happen, is left untold in the Qur'an except that which human mind is yet to comprehend. There is no doubt the world as it is is closest to end time. However, most people believe in end time but cannot situate current events in the foretold scriptural narratives of end time. Thus, going by these known narratives of end time, the world is meant to witness turbulence in all facets of life as summarised in Suratul Asr (inna l insaana la fii khusrin). But like the calabash being tossed around on the surface of strong ocean tides, an exempted group of men will be spared all the troubles of this turbulence. In other words, just as the current of the sea will never sink a calabash, the turbulence of end time will not consume Muslims who sticks to the guidance of Islam. Noteworthy however is the fact that although the calabash sinks not, it is not as calm as being on the sand. The world is so broken into parts that even its parts are further broken beyond amendment. The Muslim world is part of the larger world and not immuned from the narratives of end time, both are fragmented hopelessly and cannot be cemented till the return of prophet Eesa, alayhi salam. But a Muslim is not hopeless nor free from fear, for the way of Islam is the middle course, a balanced affair. Thus it is strongly believed that adhering to the recommendations above would probably make a Muslim part of the exempted few in Suratul Asr, calling to the truth, being patient, being merciful to Allah's creations, animals inclusive and advancing courses that will promote unity among Muslims. Adhering to this may not bring any utopia but can earn one the status of calabash on a turbulent waves.