A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Fraternity (A Value of Isalm)|
|04/16/03 at 23:58:59|
Fraternity (A Value Of Isalm) ..... Sits under the tree of Hope
Numerous thinkers consider Divine religions to be extensive revolutions aiming at effecting changes in the lives of men and societies, and in their addressing themselves to the human mind and to the feelings of man, revolutions do in fact try to ensure the best relationships amongst men’s societies at all times and in all places.
Islam had advocated and upheld all this, adding however the general rights of man. Social revolutions which preceded the advent of Divine religions did not pay attention to the rights of man that we now acknowledge and respect, nor did the democratic system that today’s world acknowledge and respect, nor did the democratic system that rose in ancient Greece resolve the principles that today’s world acknowledges in this connection, namely, equal opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, color, or birth nor again did it uphold equality amongst the sons of the same nation, for there were classes of slaves and land serfs that were denied even basic human rights.
Then Islam came with a set of values that indeed constituted one of the most potent factors for its vast and quick spreading, and was in fact a most powerful incentive inducing nations and men, eastwards and westwards, to embrace Islam. Those values however were not just mottoes or principles that stood separate from or independent of men’s conduct, behavior, thought, and work. Awareness of these values and their meticulous application was one of the main reasons why Islam found its way to the hearts and minds of men, and why again Islamic society became the lighthouse that beamed such ethical and human values which man so readily embraced, and which soon became the essence of this civilization and its main characteristics that have lived with it to this very day.
We have talked of the value of “Man” ((Ch#2)) and the “Equality” ((Ch#3)) as expounded in Islam by the holy Qur’an, how it became one of the basic characteristics of Islamic life, and how the Prophet Muhammad, and the Caliphs after him, held all men equal regardless of race, color, ancestry, or position in life.
Next to the value of equality comes that of fraternity. The Holy Qur’an states that the faithful are all brothers. Islam goes to the farthest end in stressing this value and extending this scope both in theory and in practice. It allows no limitations or obstacles to stand in the way of this great human value, and does not condone race, language, or color as reasons for man’s estrangement from his fellow-man. The Holy Qur’an has stressed that when It said, “The faithful are but brethren”, (sura 49: 10), and Muhammad, God’s Messenger said, “You are from Adam…” He also said: “No preference is given to an Arab over a non-Arab except through piety, which is Islam and means fear of God and doing His bidding".
The value of fraternity in Islam is not in just being a theoretical principle, or a slogan raised with no consideration to its application in the diverse social relationships, for Islam considered it a basic principle, and a belief closely-tied to man’s belief in God and religion. God’s Messenger Muhammad said: “One’s faith is not complete till he wishes his brother what he wishes for himself.” The loftiest manifestation of this love of man for his fellow-men, is his putting other human-beings before himself. Islam says that the Moslem who does not have such an ethical value deeply-rooted in him, is viewed by the Islamic religion as weak of faith and lacking in Islamic devotion, and so is he considered of hatred for his fellow human beings rises in his heart or mind. The man who loves his brother in humanity and wishes him all that he wishes for himself is a man whose religion and faith are completed.
There is hardly any ethical doctrine or any social one that reached in its estimation of the brotherhood of men the extent that Islam has, and what God’s Messenger Muhammad, and the Caliphs after him exalted and extolled for his Divine Mission, would not assume that air of authority, kingship, or even leadership when He became in the fact supreme authority in the whole Arabian Peninsula. When he came to a meeting, he would sit where the last man sat, as if he were just another man among them, and would answer anyone who addressed him whether a free man or a slave, a rich man or a poor one, and if he heard a man was sick, he would go to visit him whether he was a lowly poor man, or a notable known for his riches.
The Messenger of Islam Muhammad applied this value of fraternity in indeed a broad and general way in the new Moslem society when he and his followers, whom the heathens of Mecca had so harassed, deprived of freedom to adopt the new faith, tortured, and boycotted socially and economically, emigrated to yathrib (Al-Madina). On arriving at Al-Madina, the Prophet called on his followers to take brothers from among the faithful, whether from amongst themselves, the new immigrants, or the townspeople of Al-Madina who had flocked into the new faith. So, an immigrant, be he slave or master, took a brother and shared his home and wealth with him. Some even divorced some of their wives so that they might become wives to their new brothers. Such brotherliness, unmatched even in revolutions and religious calls, was one of the strongest bonds that cemented the unity of this new Moslem society.
Brotherliness between the faithful became the strongest substitute of blood relationships and tribal belonging, which Arabs had previously held so tenaciously to. The Prophet made of this new brotherliness a relationship stronger than that of blood or tribal relationships, and was in fact the beginning of a society that built its present and future on purely ethical, truthful, and benevolent bases. This brotherliness soared so high that it became inheritable after death; a brother-in-faith thus inherited his faithful brother’s wealth when the latter died. Heathens who were blood relatives to a faithful dead man would not contest the right of his brother-in-faith to inherit him after his death. This kept on being practiced till heathenism was done away with and Islam was embraced by one and all. Then the principles of heritage went back to what they had been, and Islam reinstated the rights of offspring to what their fathers and brothers left.
This human brotherliness, considered by Islam to be one of its top values, does not at all mean that anyone should be denied the fruit of his aptitude or excellence in his work, for Islam opens the door widely to all aptitudes, creativeness, and talent, (mental or physical), to get due reward. The Holy Qur’an says:
“To all are degrees (or ranks) according to their deeds; For your Lord is not unmindful of anything that they do" (sura 6:132)
Umar Ibnil-Khattab, the second of the well-Minded Caliphs, said: “He who slackens in doing his work does so at the expense of his ancestry and their good name.”
G.H. Wells devotes a whole chapter of his book “An Outline of History” to these values of Islam, which were considered the greatest triumph in history of humanism. He points out that one reason why Islam spread so widely and so quickly was the fact that Islam persisted in considering all the faithful (regardless of race or color) equal brothers in he sight of God, with precisely the same standing.
This brotherliness that Islam so emphatically stipulated and applied, completely did away with the age-old rivalries and conflicts of the pre-Islamic era which had carried- because of the way of vengeance, the causes of the perpetual bloody disputes that dominated the Arabian peninsula before Islam.
This brotherliness again lead to the prevalence of a sense of security among the weak, the strangers, and others of the lower classes who had come to have genuine brotherly feelings towards the rich and the notables. The Holy Qur’an describes what fraternity had entered the spirits of the faithful in the Almighty’s saying:
“And (moreover) He has put affection between their hearts; not if you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have produced that affection , but God Has done it: for He is Exalted in Might, Wise” (sura 8:63)
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Values of Islam Ch. #4
Dr. M. Abd El-Kader Hatem
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board