وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا
Wa-‘tasimū bihablillāhi jamī‘an walā tafarraqū
And hold fast, all together, to the rope of Allah
and be not divided among yourselves
(Sūrat Āli Imran, No.3, Āyat 103)
This verse is for the society of believers, telling them to unite together and hold on fast to the rope of Allah. What is meant by the rope of Allah? Rope in this verse has been interpreted to mean either the Holy Quran, or the Religion of Islam or the Ma’sūmīn (a), or all of them. The last interpretation is more likely.
All of them serve as the connection between Allah and the human being and have the same function. The Rope of Allah helps remove human beings from the depths of darkness and ignorance, from self-indulgence and lowliness, to the heights of spiritual ascendency. It lifts up the human being allowing him to rise and fulfill the potential within him. It is thus the means of escape and rescue.
A significant word in this verse is jamī‘an – all together. The verse is a direction to combine efforts and move forward together. Islam seeks to unite people on the basis of thought, focus, and goals. There is strength in unity. There is also encouragement, fulfillment, joy and many other positive outcomes resulting from being a part of a solid group.
The community of believers has one vision which is not beset by differences. Disunity creates weakness, do not dispute, or you will lose heart and your strength will be gone (Q 8:46). Unity and good relationships strengthen a group of people and allow them to achieve much. Thus Imam Ali (a) in his will after he was wounded by Ibn Muljim says to his sons: I advise you (both) and all my children and members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches, to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order, and to maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard your grand-father (the Holy Prophet – s) saying, ‘Improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting (Nahjul Balagha, Letter No. 47).
When believers come together they present a force that is awe-inspiring. This can be seen most evidently in the gathering that is gaining momentum each year – that of the gathering during Arba‘īn of the Shuhadā of Karbala in Iraq. The walk has become a much discussed phenomena, with people from around the world wanting to participate in it. It has been described as ‘an overwhelmingly powerful display of Shia belief and solidarity’. (Patrick Cockburn, independent.co.uk) The goal of course should be not just an outward display of unity but also an inner alignment of goals.
Recite this verse to remind yourself of the importance of holding on to that which will create unity – in the family, the community, the society. The connection to Allah is the rope that all can hold on to and ascend towards Him much faster.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Shaykh Tabarsī, Majma‘ul Bayān fi Tafsīr al-Quran; http://www.hawzah.net/fa/Magazine/View/4180/6616/76553