Question 5. What is the Islamic justification for the claim that one must be part of a jama’ah? Isn’t it sufficient for a Muslim to belong to the global Muslim Ummah (Al-Jama’ah)?
The word “Al-Jama’ah” denotes the one Muslim ummah established by the Prophet Muhammad (SWT). As Muslims and followers of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), we are all part of this “Al-Jama’ah.” To accept Islam is identical with joining this Al-Jama’ah, and to leave the latter is tantamount to abandoning Islam itself. By definition, there can be only one such ummah, and to cause dissension and separation within this Al-Jama’ah is nothing short of an attempt to sabotage the work and mission of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We seek the refuge of Allah (SWT) from becoming an agent of such dissension and separation.
The current state of the Al-Jama’ah, however, leaves much to be desired. To begin with, the worldwide Muslim community is not organized in such a way that allows it to effectively fulfill its divinely ordained obligations. The ummah is divided and subdivided along racial, national, sectarian, ethnic, and other lines; it lacks even an informal structure of leadership and there is hardly any established tradition of “listening and obeying.”
Since the desired and ideal unity of the entire Muslim ummah cannot be achieved overnight, Muslims who do realize their duties and are willing to strive for them have no recourse but to organize themselves in some sort of group. Such a group is by no means an attempt to replace the ummah. Instead, it is meant to facilitate the taking of conscious and deliberate steps in the direction of restoring the desired and ideal unity of the global Muslim ummah.
In other words, the aim of establishing such a group is not to cause further division within the ummah, but to develop and organize the human and material resources so that the desired goals may be pursued in the most effective manner. In fact, the Qur’an itself contains a clear imperative that points in this direction: “Let there arise out of you a band of people, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong…” (3:104).
“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong.
And they are the successful ones.”
[Alee ‘Imran; 3:104]