Rafed English

Islamic Brotherhood : Byword of Unity and Fraternity

Islamic brotherhood is not a honorific expression but a reality mingled with the spirit of faith whose fruits emerge one after the other. Our Holy Leader Imam Sadiq has explained some of the fruits of Islamic brotherhood in the following way: 'A believer is the brother and guide of another believer. He does not betray or oppress him, nor does he ever cheat his brother. A believer never breaks his promise'. 123

One of the requirements of Islamic brotherhood is that whatever a Muslim desires for himself, he should desire for his brother in Islam, and he should help his Muslim brothers by any means possible, whether by his wealth or by his speech or by any other means. It is far from Islamic brotherhood if you have enough food, water, and clothing while another Muslim is hungry, thirsty and naked. Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him, has said, 'If you have a servant and your brother in Islam does not have any, you must send your servant to help your brother prepare food, clean clothes, and perform any other needed work'. 124

Islamic fraternity has overshadowed all relationships, even family relationships. The Qur'an openly says, 'You shall not find a people who believe in God and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to God and His Apostle, even though they were their own fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kinsfolk' (58:22).

It was the principle of Islamic brotherhood that made the Ethiopian Bilal and the Persian Salman brothers and two of the best companions of the Holy Prophet of Islam. In the light of Islamic brotherhood, many deep-rooted enmities were reconciled and divided groups were united. This unity requires that all Muslims share each other's sorrows and joys like members of a large family. Muslims should be sincere and affectionate toward each other, and their watchword should be unity and brotherhood. Islamic brotherhood firmly holds all Muslims responsible toward each other and establishes an all-embracing responsibility so that Muslims cannot be heedless of each other's troubles and problems but every Muslim must, within his own abilities, endeavour to solve the problems of Muslims and to create possibilities for the advancement and promotion of Islam.

This responsibility is divided into two parts:

Economic Cooperation: This responsibility is related to meeting people's economic needs, such as hygiene, education, shelter, employment, and the like, and part of the precepts of the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of religious leaders deal with this as well as with fundamental precepts and programs such as zakat (the poor-due prescribed by Islam), almsgiving, charity, and the like. Scientific and Educational Cooperation: This part includes propagation, guidance, and teaching. That is to say, all Muslims are duty-bound to communicate to others whatever they have learned and not to neglect each other's guidance. Also, there are two basic principles among the practical precepts of Islam that urge Muslims to call upon each other to perform their religious duties and to refrain from committing sins. These precepts, which are indeed most beneficial to Muslims, are rated among the most significant requirements of Islamic brotherhood. But unfortunately, Muslims seem to have forgotten this great precept due either to imaginary fears or to selfish interests, and perhaps due to both. As we clearly observe, in most Muslim societies, prohibition from committing sins and mutual encouragement to obey religious instructions have long been neglected. This deplorable situation has resulted in the ruin of the ethical spirit of Islamic brotherhood, and following this ruin, other superiorities and advantages of this living society are lost.

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123. Usul ul-Kafi, Vol. 2, pp.166-167.

124. Ibid., p.169.

Adapted from: "A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam" by: "Dar Rah Haqq's Board of Writers"

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