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Articles Section > Brotherhood in Islam by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib

Brotherhood in Islam:
by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib


Islam is a universal religion and the Holy Qur’an teaches us that our Creator, Allah, is One and that we, human beings, are a single species, a single family, in spite of superficial differences like colour, nationality, race, etc.

In fact, every institution in Islam, including Fasting, is geared towards not only a theoretical understanding, but to a practical implementation of the unification of mankind under the umbrella of One God. In today’s talk, emphasis will be placed on the Islamic teachings concerning the spirit of brotherhood that should permeate the hearts and limbs of every individual; for, as mentioned before, Fasting is one of the means used by Allah, Most High, to make us really transform this ideological concept into a real, tangible, practical and spiritual expression in our daily lives.

Firstly, we learn from the Holy Qur’an that Prophets were sent to every nation on earth and they were all given the message: O ye messengers, eat of the good things and do good. Surely I am Knower of what you do. And surely this your community is one community, and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me. But they became divided into sects, each party rejoicing in that which was with them (23:51-53).

As a result of this splintering of the human race into disparate groups, the last Prophet of God, Muhammad (pbuh), was sent as a mercy unto all the nations in order to unite mankind under the banner of One God. The following verses of the Holy Qur’an reveal the message of unity, that which every Muslim is duty bound to fulfil to the best of his ability.

The Holy Qur’an says: Mankind is a single nation (2:213) and further informs us: O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware (49:13).

As a result, we are commanded: And hold ye fast, all of you, to the rope of Allah and break not loose from it (3:103).

The Hadith is replete with teachings, exhortations and commands on these all-important topics of brotherhood, unity, and love for all mankind. I shall quote a few sayings of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Firstly, as regards the universal brotherhood of man, our Holy Prophet teaches and instructs us:

"Mankind is a fold, every member of which shall be a keeper or shepherd unto every other, and be accountable for the welfare of the entire fold.

O Lord: Lord of my life and of everything in the Universe! I affirm that all human beings are brothers unto one another.

All creatures of God form the family of God; and he is the best loved of God who loves best His creatures.

Respect the ways of God, and be affectionate to the family of God" (Bases of Islamic Culture, pp. 16-17).

As regards unity, the Holy Prophet says: "You will find all believers in God as firm and united together in ties of love and kindness as the limbs of a body. If one part of it gets pain, all other parts feel afflicted in sympathy."

If we human beings, believers in God, claim to love God, how then can we demonstrate the sincerity of our profession? The Holy Prophet tells us:

"Whoever loves another for the sake of God, in reality has expressed his love for God.

God says: If you wish to receive graciousness from Me, show graciousness to those whom I have created.

Treat kindly the dwellers of the earth and God will treat you kindly.

He who, for the sake of God, has loved another human being, that person verily has extolled the glory of God" (Bases of Islamic Culture, pp. 20-21).

The Companions (rta) of our Holy Prophet (pbuh) imbibed these teachings of his and to what extent they practised them I leave you to judge as you listen to this incident from the earliest days of Islam as narrated by one of the Muslim soldiers:

"During the battle of Yarmuk I went out in search of my cousin, who was on the battlefront. I took some water with me, knowing it would do him good. I found him in the very thick of the fighting. Alas, he was dying. I ran forward to give the little water I had. But, as I did so, another badly wounded soldier beside him gave a sigh, and my cousin turned his face and pointed to take the water to the other man first. I took the water to the other person whom I recognised as Hisham-bin-Abilas. But I had hardly reached him when we heard another groaning person nearby. Hisham also pointed to the man, that I should give the water to him instead. However, before I arrived, this third man had died. Hastily I ran back to Hisham but he was also dead. Hurriedly I made my way over to my cousin. Alas, he, too, had passed away. (All of us came from Allah and we will all return to Him.)" (Muslim Stories for Children)

If it be objected that this shows love only between Muslims, then what about the famous example of Salah-ud-Din (Saladin), another celebrated son of Islam whom everyone has heard of and who lived centuries after the death of our Holy Prophet (pbuh)? It is related that during the Crusades, one of his greatest enemies, the English king, Richard the Lion Hearted, was ill. He sent him pears and peaches to eat and snow from the mountain to cool his drinks. Salah-ud-Din knew the verse of the Holy Qur’an, which says: We feed you for Allah’s pleasure only – we desire from you neither reward nor thanks (76:9).

This lofty behaviour does not come easily. It has to be cherished and nurtured in the family at home, and more so, in the larger and more important family – the Jamaat. The Jamaat is a microcosm of the world community, for the same principles that are needed to make us live a proper Muslim life internationally are the very ones that we need to inculcate if we are to build a united, cohesive, God-fearing jamaat instead of a disparate and motley group of individuals, each with his own agenda – principles like those of tolerance and understanding, patience and perseverance, gentleness and kindness, sympathy and empathy, sensitivity and refinement.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the 14th Century Mujaddid of Islam, in his own coherent, lucid, inspired, inspiring and heart-penetrating style has given us certain guidelines for living a successful life in a jamaat as well as in the world community that comprises both Muslims and non-Muslims. In his book Kishti Nuh (The Ark of Noah), he advises us to put God first in our lives and for His sake to be kind and merciful to humanity, for all are God’s creatures. He says:

"Do not oppress with your tongue, or hands or in any other way. Always work for the good of mankind. Never unduly assert yourselves with pride over others, even those who are placed under you. Never use abusive language to anyone, even though he may abuse you. Be humble in spirit, kind and gentle, and forgiving, sympathetic towards all and wishing them well…. Immediately compose all your differences and make peace among yourselves: forgive the transgressions of your brothers for indeed he is evil who is not willing to make peace with his brother…. In fact, if you really desire that God in heaven be pleased with you, then hasten to become one amongst yourselves as though you were brothers (and sisters) born of the same mother" (pp. 5-8).

In his Malfuzat, he gives us insight in how to acquire sensitivity and tolerance, understanding and tenderness and the divine attributes that are required for lifting ourselves from the stage of selfishness and crudity to that of social and spiritual sophistication. He writes:

"The truth is that everybody (in a jamaat) is not at the same level of development. Allah, Most High, has Himself described the various classes of believers thus:
(i) So of them is he who wrongs himself;

(ii) And of them is he who takes a middle course,

(iii) And of them is he who is foremost in deeds of goodness by Allah’s permission. That is the great grace (35:32)."

Secondly, it is also a fact that the Companions (rta) themselves also made slow and gradual advancement both in their faith and in their actions. It is recorded that when our Holy Prophet (pbuh) went to Madinah he asked a Companion for a piece of land on which to build a masjid, whereupon the Companion made an excuse and said: "I need it for my own use."

What a grievous sin that was – that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) should request a piece of land to build a masjid and this person, a disciple to boot, should put his personal needs above those of the religion! But it was that same Companion who later on willingly suffered martyrdom for the sake of Allah.

Progress always takes place by slow degrees. A person does something this year and in the next year he adds to it. However, if there exists any kind of evil thinking in our hearts, then we will be acting like someone to whom there comes for help a sick person who is beset by all kinds of illnesses, and after giving him medicine for a day or two we turn him out without paying the full attention that he deserves and so no cure is effected.

Our job is to make du‘a [prayer] for others night and day with humility, and to supplicate Allah for their welfare. It is not fitting for a preacher to take offence at the slightest thing and show repugnance to people. At this stage these people are deserving of mercy and Allah, Most High, is making preparations for their reformation. Moreover, everyone is not at the same spiritual level. Amongst the Companions (rta) there were some who were close to the status of prophethood and many at a lower level than that – just as one finds pearls in the sea and corals, too, and shells and other things like gold and various kinds of creatures. The same obtains in a jamaat.

Jamaat members should make du‘a if they see a fault in a brother. If they do not do so and instead talk about it and circulate it, then they will be committing a sin. What shortcoming is so great that it cannot be expunged? Therefore we should always help our brother by making du‘a for him.

Furthermore, we should not speak ill of, nor backbite our fellow jamaat members. The Holy Qur’an instructs us thus: O you who believe, avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin; and spy not nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor it! And keep your duty to Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful (49:12).

When our Holy Prophet (pbuh) was asked what constituted backbiting, he replied thus: "You talk about your brother which he dislikes…if what you say about him is true, still you would be backbiting him, and if what you say about him is not true, you will be slandering him" (Muslim).

We should realise that in a jamaat there are people of varying temperaments and conditions. Some resemble people who are now recovering from a strong bout of illness, whilst others have acquired a bit of strength. Therefore, if weakness is discerned in someone, then he should be given good advice in private. If he does not heed it, then you should make du‘a for him, and if these two devices do not work, then he should be left to the will of Allah, Most High.

One should not therefore be quick to take offence at the faults of others, for we should remember that among the ranks of the qutbs and abdals there were many who had previously committed wrong deeds like fornication and theft. Therefore, we must not be too hasty to abandon a brother, for if a person’s child is guilty of wrongdoing, he tries all methods available to reform him. The same treatment should be accorded a brother in faith.

The Holy Quran has not taught us to spread or publish abroad the defects of others. On the contrary, it exhorts us thus: Exhort one another to patience, and exhort one another to marhamah (mercy) (90:17).

By marhamah is meant that if one observes a blemish in someone, then offer him good advice and make du‘a for him. Du‘a has a very powerful effect and it is regrettable that a person should observe the fault of a brother and talk of it a hundred times without even once making du‘a for him. One should speak of the fault of another only after he has wept in supplication for him for at least forty days.

How eloquently the poet Sa‘di spoke when he observed that Allah, Most High, Who knows everything, conceals our shortcomings from public view but our neighbours who know nothing make a big hue and cry over our alleged defects. One of the names of Allah is As-Sattar – the One Who covers and hides the weaknesses of His servants - and we should therefore inculcate that quality of His in accordance with the dictum of the Holy Prophet – "Colour yourselves with the Divine colours."

It is not our intention that you should become a protector or conniver of faults, but what is discouraged is that you should publish the defects of your brothers and malign them in any way, for our Holy Prophet (pbuh) has mentioned this as a sin.

Shaikh Sa‘di had two students – one who was very brilliant in his exposition of deep spiritual truths and insights, whilst the other was of an envious disposition. The former complained to the shaikh that whenever he made a commentary on any subject, his colleague would burn with envy. The shaikh replied that one student had chosen the road to Hell by his envy, whilst the other had done the same by ill-speaking his brother.

In short, there can never be a jamaat unless there exist mutual mercy, compassion, du‘a and the habits of concealing the faults of others.

We hope and pray that these lessons will have been learnt or reinforced during the past month of Ramadhan and that their application will now become automatic in our daily lives as we plan and pray and anticipate the next month of Ramadhan. In sha Allah.


This page was printed from the 'Official Website of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-e-Islam Lahore (Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam)'
located at
http://aaiil.org or http://www.aaiil.org

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