I am really hoping that you wouldn't mind answering my question. I tried asking a few people about this but I didn't get a clear answer.
I am studying overseas. From my first day here, I have been hearing a lot about different jemaahs (religious groups). One person tried to persuade me to join one jemaah and another persuaded me to join another jemaah.
Though I did join one jemaah, I am kind of confused to be honest. Almost all of friends feel the same way too. I keep asking myself, "Why do we need multiple jemaahs? If we have the same goal, then shouldn't there be only one jemaah?"
To be honest, because of these multiple jemaahs, many are hesitant to join usrah (small religious circle). It confuses people. Many think that these jemaahs have their own different agendas. That led to my friends thinking negatively about jemaah and usrah.
I want to stay within my usrah, but this question bothers me.
So if you wouldn't mind, I really hope you can help me with an answer.
May Allah bless you. Ameen.
Thank you for your question.
The concept of jemaah is this to accomplish a goal together rather than doing it alone. When you are in a group, it is easier because you have the help and support of your peers. A jemaah shouldn't be an enemy to another jemaah, despite having some differences of opinions.
Differences of opinions is a normal part of a healthy community and it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing if we can gather our collective intellectual maturity to live peacefully. I mean, we have the same goal for God's sake.
Our goal is to attain the pleasure of Allah. One of the things that will help us attain the pleasure of Allah is unity. So anything or anyone that causes disunity will go against the goal of attaining the pleasure of Allah. A jemaah is just a platform for us to do our work and to accomplish our goal.
A jemaah is not (or should not) be a cult-like group where you have an us-versus-them mentality, where the leader can't be questioned, where you can't be critical of the group, and where you are commanded to abandon your life for the sake of the group (e.g. quit your studies, quit your job, etc.).
Think of charity organizations for example. They all have a similar goal, but they are plenty of them out there. They are not out there to compete with one another, but they are out there to complement one another. There are too much problems, each with its own specific and unique complexities, for one organization to handle it all.
A jemaah is a beautiful thing. It is a concerted effort of a group of individuals for a noble goal for the betterment of humanity. One jemaah complements another jemaah to attain this goal, despite their differences.
To understand more, I highly recommend you reading the book by Dr. Maszlee Malik entitled "Risalah Pemuda Muslim".
I hope that helps.
May Allah grant us much wisdom. Ameen.