Fraternity and Brotherhood
“This world is on the very edge of hatreds, The only cure for it is nothing but love,”
1 – Who is our brother in society?
The Holy Quran has described the believers as brothers, as decreed by the Divine Command:
إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌۭ
All believers are but brothers (49:10)
Imam Muslim (رحمة الله عليه), has formally established a chapter related to our topic, titled ‘The Prohibition of Oppressing a Muslim, Letting Him Down, and Despising Him’. This chapter emphasizes that it is forbidden to oppress a Muslim, to humiliate him, and to consider him insignificant. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), has spoken about the brotherhood of Islam and its rights, saying:
’’الْمُسْلِمُ أَخُوْ الْمُسلِمِ، لَا یَظْلِمُہٗ وَلَا یَخْذُلُہٗ، وَلَا یَحْقِرُہٗ۔ اَلتَّقْوٰی ھَاہُنَا وَیُشِیْرُ إِلٰی صَدْرِہِ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ بِحَسْبِ امْرِئٍ مِنَ الشَّرِّ أَنْ یَّحْقِرَ أَخَاہُ الْمُسلِمَ، کُلُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَی الْمُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ، دَمُہٗ، وَمَالُہٗ، وَعِرْضُہٗ۔‘‘ (صحیح مسلم،ج:۲،ص: ۳۱۷، باب تحریم ظلم المسلم وخذلہ واحتقارہ)
A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; he does not oppress him, nor does he leave him helpless, nor does he consider him insignificant. Then, pointing towards his blessed heart, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said three times: ‘Piety is here.’ It is sufficient for a person’s evilness that he considers his Muslim brother insignificant. The blood, wealth, and honor of every Muslim are forbidden to another Muslim.
It is as if the foundation of brotherhood and love is faith and Islam, meaning everyone has one God, one Prophet, one Book, one Qibla, and one religion, which is the religion of Islam.”
2 – In Islam, there is no consideration for race and ethnicity
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) declared faith and piety as the basis of superiority, indicating that a person gains precedence not through their race, ethnicity, or tribe, but through higher virtues like faith and piety. Tribes and ethnicities are merely for the purpose of identification and acquaintance, as ordained by God:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍۢ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ شُعُوبًۭا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ
O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware. (49:13)
From the above verses and Hadiths, it is clear that Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ), have established the foundation of brotherhood on Islam and faith. This is because the foundation of faith is strong and everlasting, and thus, the edifice of brotherhood established upon it will also be strong and everlasting. Today, our relationships and connections revolve around race and ethnicity. It’s been 1400 years, but we haven’t moved beyond these issues. Furthermore, we are following the customs and practices of the Hindu community, accepting them wholeheartedly. Imam of the Messengers, Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (ﷺ), had four daughters. The acronym of their names is ‘Zaraf.’ Hazrat Zainab (رضي الله عنها), was married to Hazrat Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabi, who was the nephew of Khadija (رضي الله عنها), and not directly from the Quraysh tribe. Hazrat Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum (رضي الله عنهما), were married to Hazrat Uthman Ghani (رضي الله عنه), one after the other, and he belonged to the Umayyad family. Only Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنه), married the lady of heaven, Fatimah al-Zahra, who was brought up and nurtured by him, and was his cousin and son-in-law. This is a lesson for the community, and we should learn from it.
3 – The Universal Prophet and the Universal Religion
Islam is a universal religion. Its followers, whether they are Arab or non-Arab, white or black, belonging to any nation or tribe, speaking different languages, are all brothers. The basis of this brotherhood is the relationship of faith. All other foundations of brotherhood are weak and limited in scope. This is why, during the early and golden era of Islam, whenever there was a comparison or conflict between these foundations, the foundation of Islamic brotherhood always prevailed.
Even today, Muslims from the East and West and from every corner of the world gather in the sacred land of the Haramain Sharifain during the Hajj season. They meet each other with such warmth as if they have known each other for years. Some are even seen weeping with joy, despite their different languages, colors, and habits. Despite all these differences, what binds their hearts strongly together is the rope of faith and Islam. To foster Islamic brotherhood in the Ummah, qualities like love, sincerity, unity, and benevolence are essential, which are considered great blessings by Allah Almighty. The Holy Quran has mentioned this quality as a blessing, as stated in the verse of God:
وَٱذْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَآءًۭ فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِۦٓ إِخْوَٰنًۭا
Remember Allah’s favour upon you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts, so you—by His grace—became brothers. (3:103)
“If united, we can become a radiant sun, Otherwise, what use are these scattered stars?”
“Imam Bukhari (may God have mercy on him) has established a chapter: ‘Chapter on Mercy towards People and Animals’, emphasizing kindness and compassion towards people and livestock. Often, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would describe the relationships and brotherly love among believers as analogous to the different limbs of a single body
عن النعمان بن بشير -رضي الله عنه- مرفوعاً: «مَثَلُ المُؤْمِنِينَ في تَوَادِّهِمْ وتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وتَعَاطُفِهِمْ، مَثَلُ الجَسَدِ إذا اشْتَكَى مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ تَدَاعَى له سَائِرُ الجَسَدِ بالسَّهَرِ والحُمَّى» (صحیح البخاری،ج:۲،ص: ۸۸۸، حدیث: ۶۰۳۶،باب رحمۃ الناس والبہائم )
An-Nu‘mān ibn Bashīr (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The believers, in their mutual love, compassion, and sympathy are like a single body; if one of its organs suffers, the whole body will respond to it with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari)
Wherever Muslims inhabit any part of the earth, they are a part of the Islamic Ummah. If they are living a life of peace and comfort, then the entire Ummah will be at peace. And if they are suffering from any distress or injustice, the entire Ummah will feel restless and pained, and will necessarily think of removing their distress and adopt every possible means for it.
“When a dagger strikes someone, we, the leaders, writhe in pain, The pain of the entire world resides in our hearts.”
4 – The Bond of Unity of the Ummah
The unity of the Ummah and the bond of brotherhood is very dear to Allah Almighty and His Messenger (ﷺ). That is why great emphasis has been placed on it throughout the Holy Quran and the Hadiths of the Prophet, and division and separation have been discouraged. Islam has commanded to maintain and strengthen this brotherhood and has forbidden all causes and actions that could harm it, as Almighty God has instructed:
وَٱعْتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبْلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًۭا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا۟ ۚ
And hold firmly together to the rope of Allah1 and do not be divided. (3:103)
For the unity and brotherhood of the Ummah to remain strong, it is essential that we firmly hold onto the rope of Allah, namely the Holy Quran and its teachings, those teachings which the Noble Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) presented before the Ummah through his words and actions. We must believe in them and follow their guidance, and tread on the path of the Noble Prophet (ﷺ) and the righteous predecessors. This is the path to success and it is through this that the bond of unity and brotherhood in the Ummah will be strengthened.
This rope cannot break, yes! It can be let go of, but if everyone holds onto it with full strength, then no devil will be able to succeed in their mischief, and just like in individual lives, the collective strength of the Muslim nation will also become unshakeable and indisputable. Adhering to the Holy Quran is what gathers scattered strengths and revives a lifeless nation. The unity and brotherhood of the Islamic Ummah is that great power which always frightens the enemies of Islam and they conspire to weaken this power. Thus, the demand of Islamic brotherhood is that a Muslim shares in the sorrow, pain, and happiness of another Muslim brother, whether he resides in the East or the West.
The demand of Islamic brotherhood is that a Muslim wishes well for another Muslim brother, desiring for him the same good he desires for himself, and disliking for him what he dislikes for himself. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said:
عن أنس بن مالك -رضي الله عنه- عن النبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال: «لا يؤمنُ أحدُكم حتى يحبَّ لأخيه ما يحبُّ لنفسِه».
Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “None of you is a real believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari)
5 – Promote Greeting (Salām)
The esteemed companions of the Prophet (رضي الله عنهم) viewed the act of greeting (Salām) with such great regard. Consider this blessed Hadith:
Once, the Prophet (ﷺ) went to the house of Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubādah (رضي الله عنه). He said ‘As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatu-llāhi wa barakātuh’ (peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you) twice to seek permission, but received no reply from inside. After not getting a reply the third time, he decided to leave. Sa‘d came running out and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), I was hearing your voice but my heart desired that your blessed tongue should utter the greeting and blessings for me as many times as possible. That’s why I was slow to respond.’ Narrated by Abu Dawud and Ahmad.
Allah is the Greatest, what amazing people with such wondrous thoughts. In another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) has declared causing harm to a Muslim brother as contradictory to faith. He swore three times saying: ‘By Allah, that person is not a believer whose neighbor is not safe from his harm.’
To strengthen Islamic brotherhood, an important means is to meet and greet each other with love, and to offer prayers and greetings. This purifies the heart, increases love, and becomes a source of strength in Islamic brotherhood. The Prophet (ﷺ) has said:
وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : “لا تدخلوا الجنة حتى تؤمنوا ولا تؤمنوا حتى تحابوا أولا أدلكم على شيء إذا فعلتموه تحاببتم؟ أفشوا السلام بينكم” ((رواه مسلم )).
Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I inform you of something which, if you do, you will love one another? Promote greetings amongst yourselves.” [Muslim]
In any case, the Holy Quran has declared Muslims as brothers to each other and has regarded this brotherhood and love as a blessing from Allah. The strength and power of the Muslims depend on this love and unity. It is the duty of every Muslim to maintain this brotherhood and to adopt all those qualities that strengthen this bond, such as well-wishing, love, sincerity, altruism, social interaction, peacemaking, and offering greetings and prayers to each other, etc.
Therefore, it is the duty of the leaders and guides of the Ummah, whether political or religious, to strengthen the unity and brotherhood of the Ummah, to promote the causes of this unity and to keep the Ummah away from division and discord, and to eliminate those causes that create distance, hatred, and discord among the hearts of the Ummah and in its ranks.
In the same way, it is also the duty of the leaders of the Ummah to ban any customs and traditions that may be hindering this unity and brotherhood, no matter how much they have been colored with religious sanctity because the unity and brotherhood of the Ummah should be more dear to us compared to these customs and traditions. Additionally, it is the duty of every Muslim to develop the quality of faith within themselves. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said:
الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُوْنَ مِنْ لِّسَانِہٖ وَیَدِہٖ وَالْمُہَاجِرُ مَنْ ہَجَرَ الْخَطَایَا وَالذُّنُوْبَ. (صحیح البخاری،ج:۱،ص: ۶، باب المسلم من سلم المسلمون )
The perfect Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe, and the true emigrant is the one who abandons evil.
In another tradition, it is stated: “And I swear by Him in Whose power my life lies! The person whose neighbor is not safe from his evil will not enter Paradise.”
Among the things that harm Islamic brotherhood are belittling each other and mocking each other, hence the Holy Quran also prohibits believers from this. The Divine Command states:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌۭ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونُوا۟ خَيْرًۭا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَآءٌۭ مِّن نِّسَآءٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًۭا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا۟ بِٱلْأَلْقَـٰبِ ۖ بِئْسَ ٱلِٱسْمُ ٱلْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ ٱلْإِيمَـٰنِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ
O believers! Do not let some ˹men˺ ridicule others, they may be better than them, nor let ˹some˺ women ridicule other women, they may be better than them. Do not defame one another, nor call each other by offensive nicknames. How evil it is to act rebelliously after having faith! And whoever does not repent, it is they who are the ˹true˺ wrongdoers. (49:11)
Playing the Role of Peacemaker
If a dispute or conflict arises between two Muslim brothers or between two Muslim communities, Muslims are commanded to make an effort to mediate peace between the two parties. The divine command states:
Translation: “Believers are brethren to one another, so make reconciliation among your brothers, and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.”
This means that in all circumstances of peace and war, it should be kept in mind that the quarrel between two brothers should end and turn into reconciliation, not behaving like enemies or infidels. When two brothers fight, they should not be left to their own devices; rather, every effort should be made to reconcile them. And in making such efforts, fear Allah so that you do not unjustly side with one or act out of a vengeful emotion. May Allah Almighty grant the Muslim Ummah the ability to become brethren and fulfill the rights of this brotherhood. May Allah, the Generous, enrich our country, Pakistan, with advancements, assist us at every step, and keep this God-given realm, Pakistan, safe from external and internal threats. Amen.
“In hearts is the love for the homeland, if you remain united. Enhance this garden, if you remain united.”