Quranic Reflection No. 329 Āyat 59:14 – Unity in Spirit

تَحْسَبُهُمْ جَمِيعًا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ شَتَّىٰ
Tahsubuhum jamī‘an wa-qulūbuhum shattā
You think they are united but their hearts are divided.
(Sūratul Hashr No.59, Āyat 14)

When Allah talks about the hypocrites and their enmity with the Muslims, He mentions a quality about them that weakens their strength. Although they fight as one group and seem united, they are actually divided within themselves. Their hearts are not together. This lack of unity causes them to move in different directions and diminishes their effectiveness.

For a group to be successful it is not enough to work together as a team. They have to be together in spirit. It should be many people working together as one. Only then can their force be significant. This applies to all sorts of teams, be it a marriage, a business, group, etc.

To have unity in spirit requires that members of the team have a goal that is higher than themselves. When they share the same goal and work towards it there is a selflessness created. This overcomes discord that may arise between them. Disagreements do not create rifts as the motivation to achieve the goal overrides it. Without this type of spirit, rifts can threaten to jeopardize the success of the team. Islam recognizes the importance of this type of unity. As part of his advice to his sons, Imam Ali (a) says: You should keep connections with one another and give to one another. Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations(Nahjul Balāgha, Document 47). He also says in the same letter: Improvement of mutual differences is better than general (i.e. non-obligatory) prayers and fasting.

According to Tafsīr-e Namūneh the reason behind the lack of unity of the hypocrites was the absence of faith in God. Instead there was individual selfishness, with each person wanting supremacy over others. This led to group weakness. When the foundation of the group is based on love of Allah and the desire to help His mission, the individuality of each members merges to form a whole that is strong and united. Allah talks about such united strength in Suratus Saff: Indeed Allah loves those who struggle in His way in ranks, as if they were a compact structure (Q 61:5) – a verse which is also quoted in Du‘ā al-‘Ahad which a believer recites daily to pledge his allegiance to the Imam and Master of the Time (af).

Let the Quranic verse 59:14 remind you of the importance of harmony and unity in a group. Have a goal and vision that helps you see the big picture and strengthens the resolve to overcome differences. It is essential for growth and success as a team.

Sources: Amīrul Mu’minīn Ali bin Abu Talib (a), Nahjul Balāgha; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh