Advice to Believers to shun Sectarian Bigotry.
Sectarianism causes division. Division creates lack of empathy and hate. Hate generates extremism. Extremism often leads to bloodshed and terrorism!
God warns in the Quran:
“Say, He has the power to send torment upon you, from above you and beneath your feet, and to confuse you with sects to make you taste each other’s oppressions. See how we illustrate our messages that you may understand” [6:65].
It is an undeniable fact that sectarian strife is a sign of God’s displeasure. Furthermore, the harsh reality of division among Muslims into various sects we witness today is predominantly a construct of history after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and thus cannot be attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or the Quran.
Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) stance on sectarianism:
God says in the Quran:
As for those who have divided their religion and broken up into factions, have nothing to do with them [Prophet]. Their case rests with God: in time He will tell them about their deeds. [6:159].Moreover, these sects are an invention and later development after the “completed favour” of God (Quran 5:3).
Sectarianism was the reason that divided the followers of the previous Prophets into denominations, and it was also prophesied to be for the followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
And, verily, this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: remain, then, conscious of Me! But they (who claim to follow you Prophet) have torn their unity wide asunder, piece by piece, each group delighting in [but] what they themselves possess [by way of tenets]. But leave them alone [Prophet], lost in their ignorance, until a [future] time. [Quran 23:52-54]
Today all faith communities of the world are divided into different sects or denominations. But they are (perhaps) in the main ‘co-existing in harmony’ albeit many had to learn it the hard way. Hence, sects are a reality, but sectarianism (sectarian bigotry) is a menace. It is about time for Muslims, particularly the younger (future) generation to respectfully renounce and move forward from the bigotry and partisan attitudes of their revered ancestors, sectarian clergymen, preachers and politicians to attain inter-sect harmony. Abandon sectarian supremacy, acknowledge their limitation and authority in judging others, abstain from sectarian rhetoric, and feel free to worship along with fellow believers in virtually any place of worship whenever God alone is worshipped, regardless of its sectarian or denomination label and persuasion.
It is a relief and a humbling experience to know that according to God’s Message in the Quran there are numerous paths by which they may lead one back to God’s way for those who strive in God’s cause.
But as for those who strive hard in Our cause - We shall most certainly guide them onto paths that lead unto Us: for, behold, God is indeed with the doers of good. [29:69]
And that truly only God knows who is rightly guided or gone astray.
Your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is rightly guided. [68:7]
And it is comforting to know that God is the Judge in such matters:
If some of you believe the message I bring and others do not, then be patient till God judges between us. He is the best of all judges. [7:87]
Moreover, God in the Quran does not teach that salvation is due to the denominational or sectarian exclusivity of people or a group, but rather for those who have faith in God (i.e. who heed the message of God) and work righteousness.
VERILY, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians - all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. [2:62]
And Allah knows best.