[This is the second article on the topic of Brotherhood by Faruq Post, Resident Scholar of the Islamic Society of Western Maryland in Hagerstown, MD]
Emphasizing the importance of brotherhood we find that Allah, in the Quran, and the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam), in the Sunnah, frequently mention (nafs) which literally means ‘oneself, with the intention of meaning ‘one’s Muslim brother’. This is to encourage the Muslims to be conscious of the fact that the true bond and connection of Islam is what makes your Muslim brother as he is one’s own self. In agreement with the prophetic hadeeth that states: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”
So just as you love to be a righteous servant of Allah, love that for your brother, just as you love to seek and learn religious knowledge, love that for your brother, just as you love to be a successful businessman, love that for your brother, just as you love to be aided in times of need, then be there for your brother, just as you don’t like to be spoken about in a bad way, then don’t do that to your brother. Just as you don’t like to be cheated, lied to or deceived, then don’t do so towards your brother.
Let’s look at this usage of the word (nafs) in the Quran, as Allah says: “And remember when We took your covenant saying: Do not shed the blood of yourselves (your people/ your brothers in Islam), nor turn out your ownselves (your people/your brothers in Islam) from their dwellings….” (al Baqarah: 84) i.e.: do not turn out your brothers, do not kill your own brothers.
And Allah’s statement in the Quran: “Do not insult yourselves (one another) and do not call each other by offensive nicknames….” (al Hujurat: 11), i.e.: do not insult your brothers, do not slander and backbite your brothers.
“Why then, when you heard the slander, the believing men and women think good of themselves (one another) and say, “This is obvious falsehood” (an Nur: 12), i.e.: think good of your brothers, according to the strongest explanation.
And Allah’s statement: “And do not devour/consume your own property (one another’s property) unjustly….” (al Baqarah: 188), i.e: do not consume your brothers money, and many other verses similar to this.
Furthermore, from the Quranic verses which prove that the real connection that establishes true brotherhood between Muslims is the ‘Shahadatain’ and that brotherhood of Islam makes all the other bonds based on tribalism, partisanship, and kinship disappear, dwindle and fade away.
Allah says in the Quran: “The believing men and believing women are supporters of one another…” (at Tawbah:71)
And Allah says: “The believers are nothing but brothers (in Islam). So make reconciliation between your brothers…” (al Hujurat:10)
From the most clear-cut, decisive proofs for this is what Imam al Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh under the chapter heading of Allah’s statement in the Quran:
“The hypocrites say: ‘If we return to al Madinah indeed the more honorable (Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salool, chief of the hypocrites) will expel therefrom the more humble (Allah’s Messenger). But honor, power, glory belong to Allah, His Messenger and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.” (al Munafiqun: 8)
On the authority of Jabir ibn Abdullah who said: ‘We were with the Messenger of Allah on a campaign when a man of the Muhajireen hit a man of the Ansaar from behind. The Ansaari man called out: O Ansaar! And the Muhajir called out: O Muhajireen! Then the Messenger of Allah said: ‘What is this call of Jahiliyyah (ignorance)?’ They said: O Messenger of Allah, a man of the Muhajireen hit a man of the Ansaar from behind. The Prophet replied: Leave this (type of calling), for verily it is putrid/disgusting.”
The statement of the Ansaari man, “O Ansaar” and the statement of the Muhajir man, “O Muhajireen”, this is an outright call similar to bigoted tribalism/nationalism. Furthermore, the statement of the Prophet: ‘leave this type of calling, for verily it is putrid/disgusting’ necessitates the obligation of abandoning and shunning any calling to or propagation of these types of things (nationalism/tribalism/group partisanship).
True Bonds Between People
The Quran was revealed upon the Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty three years, clarifying to the people the realities of creed and actions. This was done to rescue the people from the evils and darkness of misguidance and bring them to the light of faith and guidance. It was after no time that the people of the Arabian Peninsula learned the Quran, and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Quran and Sunnah) began to mix with their blood and souls until their lives were completely changed. They sincerely believed in Allah alone and directed all of their worship to Him solely without partners. Then after learning the guidance contained in the Quran and Sunnah, they dispersed and spread throughout the world to bring the people the divine guidance and light, while their hearts were filled with mercy and pity for the citizens of the world at that time and the darkness of the polytheism and ignorance they were in. Allah, in the Quran eliminated the false bonds and relationships which were based on kinship, or bigotry to certain tribes, rebuked them for boasting of their lineage and kinship, while clarifying that Allah created them all so as to get to know one another as Allah says:
“O Mankind! We have created you all from a male and female and made you into tribes and nations so that you may get to know one another. Verily the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who is the most pious. Verily Allah is All knowing, All aware.” (al Hujurat 49:13)
The Prophet Muhammad also emphasized this point in his sermons, and informed the Muslims that propagation or calling to tribalism and fighting/dying for it is that which takes someone away from Islam , on the authority of Jundab ibn Abdullah al Bajali who said the Prophet Muhammad said:
“Whoever is killed (fighting) for no real cause, calling for tribalism or supporting tribalism, his death is a death of jahiliyyah.”
The Prophet mentioned in one of his sermons: “O people, Verily Allah has removed from you the arrogance of Jahiliyyah and your boasting of kinship and lineage, the believer is pious and the wrongdoer is miserable, all of you are sons of Adam, and Adam is from clay….”
The elimination of tribalism, partisanship and bigotry led also to the elimination of aiding one another upon falsehood as Allah says: “Cooperate with each other upon righteousness and piety but do not cooperate upon sin and transgression. And fear Allah, indeed Allah is severe in punishment” (al Ma’idah 5:2)
Islam also eliminated the motto of the Arabs: ‘Aid your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed’ where members of the same tribe would unite and stand together upon truth or falsehood. So Islam came and corrected the understanding of this principle by what the Prophet Muhammad said: "Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed," A man said, "O Allah's Apostle! I can help him if he is oppressed, but if he is an oppressor, how shall I help him?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing (others), for that is how to help him."
Islam came to unite the people upon the pure and sincere worship of Allah alone and put an end to unification based solely upon kinship, tribalism, nationalism, and/or group partisanship. And make followers of the Quran and Sunnah universal brothers in Islam, regardless of their race, nationality, culture, language, status, and education.
Furthermore, Allah clarified in His Quran the wisdom and reason behind creating people into nations and tribes-it is to get to know one another. The reason is not that every nation or tribe becomes bigoted to their own tribes or nations against others, as Allah says in the Quran:
“O mankind! Indeed we have created you from a male and female and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. Verily, the most noble/honorable of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous/pious. Indeed, Allah is All knowing, All Aware.” (al Hujurat: 13)
So in the Arabic Language the letter (lam) in Allah’s statement (li-ta’aarafoo) is called the ‘lam’ of justification. So getting to know one another is the justification behind Allah’s statement “We have made you nations and tribes.”
The true bond which connects the people who are divided and separated is the bond of ‘La ilaha Illa Allah’ (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah). Isn’t it obvious that this bond is that which makes the Islamic community as if it is one body, and makes it as if it is one structure in which its’ parts support each other. Even the the angels who carry Allah’s throne and the angels surrounding them felt pity for the sons of Adam within the earth and the differences between them, as Allah says:
“Those angels who carry the Throne and those around it exalt Allah with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed saying: ‘Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed your way and protect them from the punishment of the Hellfire. Our Lord admit them to gardens of perpetual residence which you have promised them and whoever was righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their offspring. Indeed, it is you who is the All Mighty the All Wise. And protect them from the evil consequences of their sins. And he whom you protect from evil consequences that Day-You will have given him mercy. And that is the great achievement.” (Ghafir: 7-9)
Verily Allah pointed out that even the bond which connects the angels carrying His throne and those around it, and between the sons of Adam in the earth which the angels made this great supplication for them-is the bond of true faith in Allah the Most High. Because Allah said about the angels: “and believe in Him” so Allah described them as those that have ‘Iman’ faith. And Allah said about the sons of Adam whom which the angels ask Allah’s forgiveness for “they ask forgiveness for those who have believed” so Allah also described them with ‘Iman’ faith. This is proof that the true bond between them is ‘Iman’ faith, which is the greatest bond.
‘Know that there is no dispute between the Muslims regarding the fact that the only true bond upon this earth which connects individuals to each other, and connects the individuals of the earth to the beings in the sky, it is only the bond of ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’ (there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone). So it is definitely impermissible to call the people to unite upon any other type of bond.
And Allah’s statement: “And if you do not ally yourselves with other believers there will be ‘fitnah’ oppression, disbelief, trials upon the earth and great corruption.” (al Anfal:73)
And all knowledge is with Allah the Most Wise.