Sects in Islam
Were there any religious sects (firkas) during the time of prophet, alaihissalaam? Why have sects arisen amongst Muslims? Which sect amongst Muslims is the correct one?
Most certainly there were no sects (firkas) at the time of prophet, alaihissalaam. All Muslims were proud to be just Muslims. Sects have arisen because Muslims want to be identified with one religious group or another. It is indeed a curse and completely against the Quranic stipulation to Muslims “And together hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not disintegrate into groups”. Had Muslims decided that they would follow Islam the way they sincerely understand it and would consider none of the other religious groups as misguided, that they would only point out mistakes in what they think others are doing or believing is wrong, there would have been no sects amongst Muslims.
I believe all those Muslims are following the right approach, no matter what religious group they belong to, who have decided that they would believe in and follow what they sincerely understand to be correct so long as they are convinced that it is authentic from the point of view of their honest understanding, they would continue to listen to the religious views of others with an open mind and would let others know why they think the beliefs and practices of those others are incorrect. All those who follow a contrary approach are fanning sectarianism, which is condemnable in Islam.
Muslims must hold fast to Quran (the rope of Allah) and resolve, or at least discuss, their religious differences in the light of the teachings of Quran. The one who refuses to do so is guilty of promoting sectarianism in Islam.