lionsThe Qur’an says: The believers are indeed but brothers. [49:10] Brotherhood (ukhuwwa) is a core principle of Islam. It is a brotherhood obliged by God. It’s a brotherhood, the bonds of which are rooted in love of God and love in God. Islam’s teachings all ensure that these bonds are allowed to flower and flourish, and that whatever stands in the way to prevent this, or incite discord or division between Muslims, is disowned by the shari‘ah. Hence the Holy Qur’an says about things that may incite schism or friction between Muslims: The Devil seeks only to cast enmity and hatred amongst you by means of alcohol and gambling, and to turn you from remembrance of God and from worship. Will you not then abstain? [5:91]

Islam not only explains the ideals of brotherhood, it lays down specific teachings and measures that help to make it a reality in our lives. Among that which helps nurture a deep and abiding sense of brotherhood are:

Firstly, remembering that God has made the life and honour of every believer sacred and sacrosanct. It is forbidden to harm a Muslim’s honour or repute, as it is to harm their life or their property. Let us remind ourselves about this foundational fact with the following hadith: ‘Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not turn your backs on one another; and do not undercut one another – but be, O God’s slaves, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim: he doesn’t oppress him or forsake him, nor does he lie to him or hold him in contempt. Piety is right here (pointing to his breast, thrice). It is evil enough to hold a brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim, for another Muslim, is sacred: his blood, his property and his honour.’ [Muslim, no.2564]

Secondly, to make it a part of our daily spiritual habit of supplicating for the well-being of Muslims. One hadith says: ‘The du‘a of a Muslim for his brother [Muslim] in his absence, is always responded to.’ [Muslim, no.2733] In fact, so great an act is it, and so sacred is the life of a believer, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, once declared: ‘Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, God records for him a good deed for every believing man and woman [he prays for].’ [Al-Haythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 10:210]

Thirdly, another way to arouse love of fellow believers in our hearts is to devote some time of our day, each day, in their service or khidmah, in whatever capacity we can. So dear is this dedication and service to God, that one celebrated hadith says: ‘God helps His servant as long as the servant continues to help his brother.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.2442; Muslim, no.2580]

Fourthly, trying not to end the day with rancour in our hearts against any Muslim, but striving to rid ourselves of this noxious disease whenever it arises. The following du‘a from the Qur’an is a powerful medicine for such a thing: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and leave not in our hearts any rancour towards those who believe. Our Lord! You are Kind, Compassionate.” [59:10]

Fifthly, doing one’s utmost to follow the Golden Rule: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’ [Bukhari, no.13; Muslim, no.45] But if one fails to live up to this lofty ideal, then to never fall below the minimum level of behaviour with others – as taught to us by the early pietist, Yahya b. Muadh al-Razi: ‘Let your dealing with another believer be of three types: If you cannot benefit him, do not harm him. If you cannot gladden him, do not sadden him. If you cannot speak well of him, do not speak ill of him.’1

Allahumma allif bayna qulubina wa aslih dhata
baynina waj‘alna min

1. Cited in Ibn Rajab, Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 2:283.

7 thoughts on “Breaking Bread as Brothers: Rights of Brotherhood

  1. Isn’t there a narration where the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam, says while at the Ka’aba that despite its exalted sanctity with Allah, the sanctity of a believer’s blood, property and honour is greater. We would not dream of dishonouring the Ka’aba in anyway, yet how cheap we often make the blood, property and honour of our brothers. May Allah guide us and forgive us.
    JazakumAllah khairan.
    Great pic btw!

  2. Jazak Allah Khair for such a good reminder to us all. I especially made note of the the end quote – the simplicity and goodness that it should invoke in all of us – Inshallah.

  3. This is a great post which invoke all of us to do something with our muslim community. Though, sharing these wise words with each other is ofcourse a holy act, we need to take some initiatives to actually do something i.e. act on it. But, whenever I think about doing something about these things I feel directionless. May Allah resolve this deadlock for me and the whole muslim ummah.

  4. After listening to your bayaan on this subject I transmitted it to my wife quoting the quranic verse and warning. A week later I heard that she had gone through her phone book and called everyone she had issues with (which was quite a few) and received positive responses and reconciliation from all. May Allah swt give us all the tawfeeq to do this.

    1. Lubna Ul-Hasan – barakallahu fikum. May Allah fill our lives with simplicity and goodness.

      Talha – Amin. May He show us all a path to be in the service of others. Perhaps, with His grace, it’s a matter of assessing your skill-set and then finding others to work with in an area you feel passionate about – being careful not to reinvent the wheel, but to co-operate with existing projects that may already be doing the task.

      Abdur-Rahman – Mashallah, that is truly beautiful. May we all strive to become self-effacing.

  5. Assalam alaykum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatahu,

    Shaykh, I would like to use this post for a magazine that we starting for prisoners/inmates (non-profit). May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make it a source of hikmah for everyone who reads it. Please keep us in your duas.

    1. wa alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullah.

      Sorry about the delay in responding. Your email went into the spam folder and I have just now retrieved it.

      As to your request, then yes, please feel free to use whatever posts you find useful for the magazine – with the usual acknowledgement. May Allah bless your endevours and cause it to be of benefit to the inmates, and to all who read it. Amin.

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