Brotherhood in Islam

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إِنَّمٌا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللٌّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“Without doubt the believers are brothers of one another so then make peace and harmony between your brothers and have consciousness of Allah so that maybe He will show you mercy.”

(Surah Hujurat, verse 10)

Imam Sadiq (as) is quoted to have said: “A believer is a gift of Allah to his Muslim brother; so if the latter makes him happy and befriends him, it is considered as the acceptance of Allah’s gift; but if he breaks with him and hates him, it is considered as the rejection of Allah’s gift.”

The only relationship that is a complete manifestation of strong unity, love, and affection is the one that exists between two people who are living on an equal plane in life and this is the relationship of brotherhood and sisterhood. We can understand the importance of brotherhood and unity from these words of a poet:

The goal of union and coalition,
Is to gather the powers.
Since when drops of water gather,
Then they form a (powerful) river.

Nothing comes about from a drop (individual),
However the river (unity) runs strong.
Any benefit that can be imagined,
Comes about from that river (of unity).

A fish can never be seen,
In one single drop of water.
How is it then from the river,
Whales can come about.

It is impossible for individuals – one by one,
To take on a great task.
However, from uniting together,
Anything that is desired can be accomplished.

Unity and conciliation can be seen,
In the way that the ants gather together.
In the words of the Shaikh,
Glory is strong, captive and temporary.

However when separation occurs,
To a community that is together.
They become just like the stories,
Of the Sufis, the Sayyid and the Mullah.

Abd al-Ali was traveling to Medina from Kufa. Imam Sadiq’s (as) friends and followers gave him some written questions for the Imam and also requested him to verbally ask Imam regarding the rights of other believers on another.

After reaching Medina, Abd al-Ali met with Imam and received answers to the written queries but did not receive a reply regarding the rights of believers. He did not say anything at that time and quietly left.

When Abd al-Ali planned on leaving Medina for Kufa, he went to bid farewell to the Imam and decided to ask the question again. He said: “O Son of Rasoolullah (prophet of Allah)! My question was left unanswered.” The Imam replied, “I purposely did not answer.”

Abd al-Ali was surprised and asked why, to which Imam (as) said, “Because I fear that you do not act upon what I tell you and be of the transgressors.” Imam then continued “The most difficult tasks assigned by Allah to his servants are three:

  1. Practicing equality and justice with yourself and others and treat others the way you would like them to treat you
  2. Not refraining from helping his fellow brothers financially
  3. Thirdly, remembering God at all times. This does not refer to continuously repeating ‘Glory to Allah’ or ‘All praises due to Allah,’ rather he should be in such a state that whenever he is about to commit a haram act, the remembrance of God stops him from committing it.”

The Prophet of Islam (sawa) has said:

“Surely the believers – in relation to the mercy and compassion and affection (that they show for one another) – are the same as one body. Therefore, if one part of the body is feeling pain, then it complains about this pain to the other parts of the body through a fear and hurt (so that the body can help the hurt or injured part).”

Therefore, any time a Muslim is facing troubles or difficulties, it is incumbent upon all the individuals of the society to rush to his aid and to also share in his grief.

These narrations explain the most essential principle of Islam–brotherhood–for the Muslims and serve as a reminder for us.

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