BROTHERHOOD

Anas b. Malik (r.a) narrated:

“When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not see one of his brothers in Islam for three days, he would inquire about him. If his brother is far away, he (pbuh) would pray for him; if he is home, he (pbuh) would visit his; if he is sick, he (pbuh) would say his good wishes for his health.” (Haythamī, II, 295)

Therefore the first condition of being brothers in Islam is to abandon to be a burden. In other words it means to try not to be an unnecessary burden upon his brother in Islam; on the contrary it requires trying to lighten the brother’s weight.

Brotherhood in Islam is such a lofty law that it is established by Allah the Almighty among the believers and if its requirements are properly observed then its rewards would be magnificent. It is a source of peace, tranquility, and happiness. Again Islamic brotherhood means to be able to love all believers; it means to become a sincere and candid friend, to e able to share the brothers’ joy and pain, and it means to be able to make self-sacrifice if and when it is needed.

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) says that:

“There are such people among the servants of Allah that they are not prophet or martyrs but all prophets and martyrs will look enviously at them on Judgment day because of their rank before Allah the Almighty.”

Companions asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Who are these people and what have they done to deserve such a great reward? Let us know, so we can love and try to befriend them”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) replied:

“They are such a community that even though they have no relationship or transaction among them, they love each other just for the sake of Allah. By Allah, their faces are light and they stay on thrones made out of light. When people are scared (on Judgment day), they are not afraid; when people are sad, they do not feel sorrow.” Then he recited the following verses:

“Now surely the friends of Allah– they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe and guarded (against evil): They shall have good news in this world’s life and in the hereafter; there is no changing the words of Allah; that is the mighty achievement.”(10; 62-64) (Abū Dāwūd, Kitāb al-Buy’ū, 76/3527; Ḥākim, IV, 170)

In another saying the Prophet (pbuh) states that love for the brothers in Islam conduces to the pleasure to Allah the Almighty as follows:

“A person visited his brother in another town and Allah deputed an Angel to wait for him on his way and when he came to him he said: Where do you intend to go? He said: I intend to go to my brother in this town. He said: Have you done any favor to him (the repayment of which you intend to get)? He said: No, excepting this that I love Mm for the sake of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. Thereupon he said: I am a messenger to you from, Allah: (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake) This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Hammid b. Salama with the same of transmitters.”(Muslim, Kitāb al-Birr, 38; Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, II, 292)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says that:

“Allah will give shade, to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) a just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (i.e. worships Allah sincerely from childhood), a man whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e. to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah, a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity), and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.”(Bukhārī, Adhān, 36)

Such mature believers’ main goal for loving their brothers and sisters in religion is to attain the contentment of Allah the Most High. The only intention for getting closer to a brother or sister in Islam and being able to get benefits from his supplication is to become a better servant of Allah the Almighty.

As a matter of fact, in Sufism, brotherhood or companionship in the same journey means to help one another on the journey to Allah and support each other in both religious and worldly affairs. It also means to appease a brother’s needs and to share his problems, which shows the most sensitive and elegant way of the living Muslim brotherhood.

One day Bishr Khafī sends Aswad b. Sālim to Ma’rūf al-Karhī. Aswad told Ma’rūf that:

“Bishri Khafī wants to be your brother. Because he was too shy to ask you personally, he sent me to you. He hopes you will accept his offer of brotherhood; however, he also has some questions about whether he would be able to observe the responsibilities of brotherhood.”

Upon this Ma’ruf al-Karhī said:

“I would not want to leave my brother alone and be together with him day and night” and then he narrated several sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) about the high merits of brotherhood in Islam. In order to explain the nature and how a real brotherhood should be, he said:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made ‘Ali (r.a) his brother, thus ‘Ali became his partner in knowledge. He (pbuh) wedded his most adorable daughter to him. Since Bishr sent you, then be a witness that I accepted him as my brother for the sake of Allah. Even if he cannot visit me, I will visit him. Tell him that we can see each other at Sufi gatherings. Tell him he should not hide his troubles from me; he should let me know about his problems…”

When Ibn Sālim narrated what had happened, Bishr Khafī was very pleased and accepted Ma’ruf al-Karhī’s offer.

BROTHERHOOD IN ISLAM IS MORE SUPERIOR

Brotherhood in Islam is such a lofty tie that it cannot be compared to temporary or lifelong friendships, nor can it be compared to blood and genealogical brotherhood.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who is the founder of a unique brotherhood system in history, says that:

“If I were to take a friend from mankind I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr but the Islamic brotherhood and friendship is more superior.”(Bukhārī, Ṣalāt, 80)

In other words, brotherhood in Islam constitutes the apex of friendship. The Messenger of Allah held the brotherhood in Islam dearer than his friendship with Abū Bakr, who was one of the greatest companions and was praised by the Prophet himself several times. Abū Bakr was, too, aware of the value of this brotherhood and he himself displayed the best manifestations of Muslim brotherhood.

Genealogical brotherhood is something temporal and related to this world. When we came into this world, we did not have the chance to choose neither our parents nor our brothers and sisters. But we can choose who can be our brothers and sisters in religion. This is the one which will help the person in the Hereafter.

Ḥasan al-Baṣrī says that

“Our friends and brothers are more important for us than the members of our family; because our family members remember us in this world, but our friends will look for us on Judgment Day.”(Ghazālī, I, II, 437)

Muhammad b. Yusuf Isfaḥānī says that:

“How can your children be like your brothers and sisters of righteousness? Your children will take your inheritance and then spend it in pleasure and amusement. While good brothers mourn behind you, think about your situation in the grave and pray for your goodness.”

Therefore, one of the most important conditions of brotherhood becomes loyalty. In other words, we need to continue to love our Muslim brothers and sisters when they are alive, and after their death we need to be in touch with their family members and pray for the goodness of their afterlife.

BROTHERHOOD OF ANSĀR (HELPERS) AND MUHAJIRŪN (IMMIGRANTS)

Allah the Almighty gives us the brotherhood between believers migrated from Mecca to Medina or muhajirūn (immigrants) and the Medinan believers who opened their arms for the Meccan immigrants or ansār (helpers) as the best example of brotherhood in Islam. He wants us to form our lives according to their example.

The brotherhood established by the Prophet (pbuh) between ansār and muhajirūn is a unique scene of merits. By offering their possessions, ansār virtually declared all their property and stated that they were ready to share it with their brothers from Mecca. On the other hand, muhajirūn displayed a matchless manifestation of contentment and told their Medinan brothers:

“My brother, you can keep your property, just show me the way to the market.” They displayed many more examples of that brotherhood in Islam is more significant than the genealogical brotherhood.

In fact in the battle of Badr, which was the first resistance of faith against disbelief, Abū Bakr (r.a) fought with his son; Abū ‘Ubayda b. Jarrah (r.a) fought with his father; and Hamza (r.a) fought with his brother. In other words religious brotherhood cancelled out all other types of relationship.

Zubayr b. Awwām narrates another example of religious brotherhood from the battle of Uḥud:

“My mother Ṣafiyah brought two sweaters and told:

“I brought these for you to use as shrouds for my brother Hamza.” We took the sweaters and went to Hamza. There was a martyr from ansār lying next to Hamza’s body and yet there was not a shroud found for his body. We thought that it would not be nice to use both sweaters for Hamza’s (r.a) body and bury the ansāri enshrouded. We drew a lot between them because one of the sweaters was small and the other was big.” (Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, I, 165)

This virtuous brotherhood is also praised by Allah in the Qur’ān as follows:

“And those who made their abode in the city and in the faith before them love those who have fled to them, and do not find in their hearts a need of what they are given, and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones.”(59; 9)

This verse includes many requirements of brotherhood. According to this verse, the real object of Muslim brotherhood is not the friendship during the times of ease and comfort but it is the friendship, closeness, and sharing the problems of the brothers during the hard times. It also means to prefer the needs of our brothers over our own needs and to make self-sacrifice.

BE A FRIEND NOT A BURDEN

Someone told Junaid al-Baghdādī:

“We don’t see real brotherhood anymore. What happened to the old brotherhoods?” Junaid replied:

“If you are looking for a brother who will endure your problems and take care of your needs you cannot find him in this age; but if you are looking for someone whom you will help, and will endure his problems for the sake of Allah, there are many of them.”

The Prophet (pbuh) says that:

“A believer is someone who is nice to people and people can be sociable with him. There is no good with those who are not nice to others and with whom nobody can get on.”(Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, II, 400; V, 335; Ḥākim, I, 73/59)

Therefore the first condition of being brothers in Islam is to abandon to be a burden. In other words it means to try not to be an unnecessary burden upon his brother in Islam; on the contrary it requires trying to lighten the brother’s weight.

There are some conditions of Muslim brotherhood, which must be observed. These are the rights of our Muslim brothers upon us. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) summarizes these rights as follows:

“Six are the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim. It was said to him: Allah’s Messenger, what are these? Thereupon he said: When you meet him, offer him greetings; when he invites you to a feast accept it. when he seeks your council give him, and when he sneezes and says: “All praise is due to Allah,” you say Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah show mercy to you); and when he fails ill visit him; and when he dies follow his bier.”(Muslim, Salām, 5)

“Spread greetings among you, feed the poor and the needy, and thus become brother as you are ordered by Allah.” (Ibn Mājah, Aṭ’imah, 1)

Our horizon should be very wide in respect to the requirements of brotherhood; because our level of brotherhood shows our level of maturity.

A wealthy believer’s help to his needy brothers is the first step of brotherhood. It is stated in a verse: “… do-good (to others) as Allah has done good to you…” (28; 77)

The second step is to comprehend the meaning of the verse “…you can recognize them by their mark…” (2; 273) and take care of the needs of the poor without even waiting them to ask. This verse indoctrinates us to reach the spiritual level with which we can recognize our needy brothers who cannot tell their needs because of their modesty. This is a very high state of brotherhood.

Our Ottoman predecessors used to offer meals at the caravanserais, guesthouses, and soup kitchens to all of the visitors. Travelers could stay there for three days and when they were leaving, they would be given a new pair of shoes if they were old.

Wealthy people used to visit jails and save the people who were sent to jail because of their debts.

Wealthy members of the Ottoman society used to go to a grocery store, and randomly select a page from the grocer’s loan book. Then they would pay people’s debts on that page without even knowing their names. Thus they would help people just for the sake of Allah.

With this consciousness of brotherhood, endowments covered all parts of the Ottoman society like a spider web. There were more than 26 thousand endowments established during the period of Ottomans, which is a nice proof to show their sensitivity in regards to social brotherhood and solidarity. For instance, Bezmiâlem Vâlide Sultan’s endowment in Damascus is a remarkable one. The object of this endowment was to compensate the damages caused by the servants in order to protect their dignity. It is very hard for today’s self-seeking societies to comprehend the sensitivity of our predecessors in this respect.

The third step of brotherhood is to achieve the level of birr that means to desire for your brother the things that you desire for yourself. In fact the Prophet (pbuh) stated that “None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb al-Imān, 7)

One of the best examples in this regard is presented by Uthmān (r.a). When there was a shortage of water in Medina, he bought the well of Rūmah for a big sum of money and endowed it for the use of believers. According to the records, he used to wait in line with other Muslims in order to get water from this well.

During the Ottoman period, people put a red flower in front of the houses where there was a sick person, so everybody passing by knew that they should keep quiet so not to disturb, and also to respect the rights of the home.

The highest step in the brotherhood of Islam is the state of i’sār, which means to prefer the needs of a brother in Islam over your own needs. It means to be content with self destitution, and try to solve the problems of your brother when it is necessary. This is the characteristic of righteous, pious, truthful, and upright believers and it is the highest level of brotherly love.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would think about his people before considering his own needs. He would not eat or feed his family before his companions ate. Whatever he had, he would give to the poor. Sometimes he would not have a warm meal or even a piece of bread for days.

Abū Hurairah (r.a) narrates that:

“By Allah except whom none has the right to be worshipped, (sometimes) I used to lay (sleep) on the ground on my liver (abdomen) because of hunger, and (sometimes) I used to bind a stone over my belly because of hunger. One day I sat by the way from where they (the Prophet and his companions) used to come out. When Abu Bakr passed by, I asked him about a Verse from Allah’s Book and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he answered my question and passed by; but he did not satisfy my hunger. Then Omar passed by me and I asked him about a Verse from Allah’s Book, and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he passed by without doing so, because both of them did not have anything to give.

Finally, the Prophet (pbuh) passed by me and smiled when he saw me, for he knew what was in my heart and on my face. He said, “O Aba Hirr (Abu Huraira)!” I replied, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said to me, “Follow me.” He left and I followed him.

Then he entered the house and I asked permission to enter and was admitted. He found milk in a bowl and said, “From where is this milk?” They said, “It has been presented to you by such-and-such man (or by such and such woman).” He said, “O Aba Hirr!” I said, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Go and call the people of Suffa to me.” These people of Suffa were the guests of Islam who had no families, nor money, nor anybody to depend upon, and whenever an object of charity was brought to the Prophet, he would send it to them and would not take anything from it, and whenever any present was given to him, he used to send some for them and take some of it for himself. The order of the Prophet upset me, and I said to myself, “How will this little milk be enough for the people of al-Suffa?” thought I was more entitled to drink from that milk in order to strengthen myself, but behold! The Prophet came to order me to give that milk to them. I wondered what will remain of that milk for me, but anyway, I could not but obey Allah and His Apostle so I went to the people of al-Suffa and called them, and they came and asked the Prophet’s permission to enter. They were admitted and took their seats in the house.

The Prophet said, “O Aba-Hirr!” I said, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Take it and give it to them.” So I took the bowl (of Milk) and started giving it to one man who would drink his fill and return it to me, whereupon I would give it to another man who, in his turn, would drink his fill and return it to me, and I would then offer it to another man who would drink his fill and return it to me. Finally, after the whole group had drunk their fill, I reached the Prophet who took the bowl and put it on his hand, looked at me and smiled and said. “O Aba Hirr!” I replied, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “There remain you and I.” I said, “You have said the truth, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Sit down and drink.” I sat down and drank. He said, “Drink,” and I drank. He kept on telling me repeatedly to drink, till I said, “No. by Allah Who sent you with the Truth, I have no space for it (in my stomach).” He said, “Hand it over to me.” When I gave him the bowl, he praised Allah and pronounced Allah’s Name on it and drank the remaining milk.” (See. Bukhārī, Riqāq, 17)

Again, the following incident from the Battle of Khandaq is a very exemplary one.

It is narrated by Jabir (r.a): We were digging (the trench) on the day of the Battle of Trench and we came across a big solid rock. We went to the Prophet and said, “Here is a rock appearing across the trench.” He said, “I am coming down.” Then he got up, and a stone was tied to his belly for we had not eaten anything for three days. So the Prophet took the spade and struck the big solid rock and it became like sand. I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Allow me to go home.” (When the Prophet allowed me) I said to my wife, “I saw the Prophet in a state that I cannot treat lightly. Have you got something for him to eat?” She replied, “I have barley and a she goat.” So I slaughtered the she-kid and she ground the barley; then we put the meat in the earthenware cooking pot. Then I came to the Prophet when the dough had become soft and fermented and (the meat in) the pot over the stone trivet had nearly been well-cooked, and said, “I have got a little food prepared, so get up O Allah’s Apostle, you and one or two men along with you (for the food).” The Prophet asked, “How much is that food?” I told him about it. He said, “It is abundant and good. Tell your wife not to remove the earthenware pot from the fire and not to take out any bread from the oven till I reach there.” Then he said (to all his companions), “Get up.” So the Muhajirn (i.e. Emigrants) and the Ansar got up. When I came to my wife, I said, “Allah’s Mercy be upon you! The Prophet came along with the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who were present with them.” She said, “Did the Prophet ask you (how much food you had)?” I replied, “Yes.” Then the Prophet said, “Enter and do not throng.” The Prophet started cutting the bread (into pieces) and put the cooked meat over it. He covered the earthenware pot and the oven whenever he took something out of them. He would give the food to his companions and take the meat out of the pot. He went on cutting the bread and scooping the meat (for his companions) till they all ate their fill, and even then, some food remained. Then the Prophet said (to my wife), “Eat and present to others as the people are struck with hunger.” (See. Bukhārī, Maghazī, 29; Waqidī, II, 452)

Ibn Omar (r.a) explains the self-sacrificing for the sake of a brother in Islam and people’s spiritual maturity at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) as follows:

“We lived in such times that nobody would think that he was worthier for gold and silver than his brother in Islam; whereas today people love worldly possessions more than their Muslim brothers.”(Haythamī, X, 285)

This scene becomes more serious in societies in which the balance of the matter and spirituality is destroyed in favor of the matter. For little matters and worldly interests, believers get angry to each other and their hearts get broken. As a result of ignorance, selfishness, and heartlessness Muslim brotherhood gets weakened.

Whereas the Prophet (pbuh) orders his followers to love their brothers and prefer them over their own needs. Thus he orders them to establish a society of sincere love.

However love cannot be just an empty claim. We cannot talk about real love without sacrifice, sharing the pains, forgiving mistakes, and altruism. In this regard brotherhood in Islam should be lived in actions and should not be just in words. Perfect believers, who have attained the real love, will be the brother’s of the Prophet (pbuh) in the Hereafter.

One day the Prophet (pbuh) said:

“I love to see my brothers.”

The Companions said:

“Aren’t we your brothers- O Messenger of Allah?”

He said:

“You are my companions, and our brothers are those who have, so far, not come into the world.”(Muslim, Ṭahārah, 39: Faḍāil, 28)

In order to deserve to be a brother of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), we need to share the problems of the believers and work to solve their problems. Because serving the servants of Allah has the same value to serve Him; and serving the followers of the Prophet (pbuh) is similar to serving the Prophet (pbuh) himself.

May our Lord make us one of His happy servants who observe the requirements of brotherhood and pass the trial of responsibilities of brotherhood. May he fill our heart with the love and blessings of brotherhood in Islam.

Amin…