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                          RIGHTS OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), like all earlier Apostles, was chosen and bestowed with Divine Faith and Heavenly Guidance. Those who responded to his call by accepting his Message, naturally, went to form a separate community - which came to be known an "Ummat-um-Muslimah'' the Islamic Fraternity and Brotherhood.

During the Prophet's lifetime, the Ummah served as his right hand assisting him in the preaching and propagation of the Islamic Faith to mankind. After his death, the Ummah had to fulfil this sacred mission, till the end of time, as his "deputy." The fulfilment of this responsibility not only requires possession of qualities of firm belief, devotion to Allah Almighty, piety, righteousness, enthusiasm etc., but also strong bond of unity amongst the members, of the Ummah - where their hearts remain united and they act like a single body. They should behave like a fraternity, bound together by ties of religious solidarity, brotherly love and kind feelings. If, on the other hand, the Muslims were to be divided among themselves, and if instead of unity and solidarity there is a discord and disunity, they cannot be regarded as worthy of such a task.

Due to this very reason, the Prophet (S.A.W.) took special pains to stress upon the members and different classes of the Ummah (i.e. all Muslims), the need to behave towards each other as brothers- helping one another fulfilling the claims arising from the common bond of Islam. This emphasis by Rasulullah (S.A.W.) was all the more necessary because the Ummah includes people from various countries, races, tribes and social ranks, each with their own ethnic, cultural, linguistic or temperamental features.

Islamic Unity Enlikened To a Strong Building

It is related by Abu Moosa Ash'ari (R.A.) that The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The connection between Muslims is like that of a strong building - one part strengthens another." The Prophet (S.A.W.) then showed this by interlocking the fingers of one hand with those of the other (that Muslims should remain united and combined - thereby streghthening one another).

In the above hadith, by enlikening Muslim unity to a strong building, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has in effect urged the Ummah to form a fortress by uniting where each Muslim will be a "brick" and the closeness and coherence amongst Muslims should be like that of bricks in a building. He then demonstrated, interlocking the fingers of both hands that the Muslims should remain together and blend into a single body.

In a hadith, narrated by No'man Ibn Bashir (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said that "The Muslims(the Ummah) are like the limbs of a man, where if the eye hurts the whole body feels pain and if the head hurts, the whole body feels pain and suffering.

This hadith, also seeks to emphasise the desired unity of the Ummah. "All for one and one for all" should be the Muslims' motto. They should be prepared to assist one another and even share the sorrows and problems of each other. In fact, in yet an other hadith mention is made of the fact that just as it is necessary for a believer(Muslim) to be loyal and devoted to Allah, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the Holy Qur’an and the Islamic government; it is an essential condition, for being a faithful Believer, not to remain indifferent to the difficulties and problems of the Muslims but to take a genuine interest in them. As related by Huzaifah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever does not take an interest in the affairs and problems of the Muslims, he is not of them. And whoever's state is such that, each morning and evening, he is not loyal and earnest to Allah, his Apostle, His Book, the Islamic ruler and towards the Muslims, as a whole, he is not of them. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was so stem with regards to the mutual relationship of Muslims, that he even took pledges for brotherly feeling and sincerity towards all Muslims.

It is related by Jabir Ibn Abdullah (R.A.) that he said "I had taken a pledge at the hand of Rasulullah (S.A.W.) to observe Salaah (prayers), to pay Zakaah (charity due) and to be a sincere well-wisher of every Muslim." The Fact that the Prophet (S.A.W.) took the pledge or promise from the companions, for being a sincere well-wisher of the Muslims together with that of observing Swalaah and Zakaah which are important pillars of Islam - shows the importance attached by him to the matter.

Some Special Rights and Claims

Besides the general kind treatment, brotherly love etc. to be extended to fellow Muslims, there are certain specific rights and claims to be fulfilled.

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "There are five claims of a Muslim upon a Muslim: to return his greetings when he greets; to visit him when he falls ill; to attend his funeral; to accept his invitation to a meal and to pray for him, when he sneezes, by saying 'yarhamukallah'(May the mercy of Allah be on you)."

The five things mentioned in the hadith are acts which not only give expression to, but also promote brotherly feelings between Muslims and therefore a special attention should be paid to them. In another report, some other acts are specified too - which shows that the claims described here are by way of example only and not conclusive.

Anas (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) once said "I swear by the Holy Being in whose power my life is, any one of you cannot be a true believer unless he desires for his fellow-brother what he desires for himself.

To feel earnestly for a Muslim brother, to the extent of preferring for him what one prefers for oneself has been classed as a prerequisite for complete faith. So, anyone who claims to be a Muslim, but is lacking in this aspect, he in fact does not possess the reality of Faith (Iman).

Defending The Honour of A Muslim

The honour and dignity of a Muslim is precious in the sight of the Almighty and therefore it is a grave sin to abstain from defending and protecting it, let alone disgracing him or treating him disrespectfully. The defence of a Muslim's honour, when it is at stake, is in fact a virtuous and rewardable deed as explained in the hadith related by Jabir (R.A.), that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The Muslim who forsakes a fellow Muslim brother(and does not come to his assistance) at a time when his honour is at stake, will be denied the help of Allah when he is greatly in need of it, whereas the Muslim who stands by a fellow Muslim at a time when his honour is at stake, - Allah will grant him His assistance when he will need it most."

In another hadith, reported by Abdullah Ibn Umar (R.A.) the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Every Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he should neither harm him, nor should he leave him alone when others treat him unjustly (he should help him). Whoever will fulfil the need of a fellow brother, Allah will fulfil his need, and whoever removes the distress of a fellow Muslim, Allah will remove his distress on the Day of Judgement, and whoever will hide (keep secret) the faults (and shame) of a fellow Muslim, Allah will keep his sins secret on the Day of Account."

Both these reports show the value and respect that should be attached to the honour and good name of a Muslim.

A Muslim is like a Mirror unto a fellow Muslim

Abu Hurairah(R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "A Believer is a mirror to a fellow-believer and he is his brother, he removes his defect (or deficiency) and guards him from behind. (In cases where he is unaware etc.)." Just as a mirror reflects every blemish on the face of a person (and shows it to him), similarly every believing Muslim should act as a mirror to his fellow-brother by informing him of any faults or weakness that he may observe in him. He should do this with a sincere heart and, as explained in the previous section, should most definitely refrain from spreading this to anyone else (i.e. he should keep it secret). And since the hadith classes the fellow-believer as his brother, it will be his duty to protect him, to the best of his ability, from any evil or danger, that he may be unaware of.

Mutual Hatred, Jealousy, Back-biting etc., is strictly Forbidden

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) strongly condemned acts which create mutual hatred like suspicion, contempt, jealousy, backbiting etc. and warned the Ummah, in all earnestness, against the painful consequences of suck habits.

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that The Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "Do not be suspicious, for suspicion is the height of falsehood, nor bear a grudge or enmity against each other, nor be jealous of each other, nor indulge in backbiting nor dig into secrets of one another, nor try to (unreasonably) excel one another, but 0 Bondmen of Allah! Live like brothers as the Lord has commanded.

The evils mentioned above are highly detrimental to the growth of good and friendly relations. They cause ill-will and produce bitterness in the hearts. They breed hatred and enmity and leave no room for the development of goodwill and fellowship which the common religious bond demands.