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The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam.

Islam is the religion of love, peace, and affection. Islam teaches the lesson of brotherhood between Muslims. This entire world is a brotherhood of Allah’s people whom His created. Brotherhood has great importance in the Quran and Sunnah as our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) preached and practiced the lesson of Brotherhood. Islam establishes brotherhood on basis of faith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

[إِذَا أَحَبَّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَخَاهُ فَلْيُعْلِمْهُ أَنَّهُ أَحَبَّهُ].

[When one of you has love for his brother, he should inform him that he loves him]. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, No:542).

Brotherhood in Islam is a comprehensive concept that is based upon good character with others, treating others the way we want to be treated, and uniting together upon common values. It has three levels of degree: religion, family, and humanity. Each of these levels has a set of rights and duties that a Muslim must uphold with others.

The strongest level of brotherhood is the sense of community, friendship, and common purpose in Islam for the sake of Allah. At this level, the believers work together towards fulfilling the goals of the religion and living out its divine values.

Allah said:

{إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ}.

{The believers are but brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy}. (Al-Hujurat:10).

The parable of the community of believers is that they are like one body in their love for one another. Just as each organ of a body is connected, so are the believers in their empathy and care for each other.

An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

[مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَوَادِّهِمْ وَتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ مَثَلُ الْجَسَدِ إِذَا اشْتَكَى مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ تَدَاعَى لَهُ سَائِرُ الْجَسَدِ بِالسَّهَرِ وَالْحُمَّى].

[The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever]. (Al-Bukhaari, No:5665).

Finally, the widest level of brotherhood is the relationship that we have with all of humanity, the children of Adam. We should love for all people what we love for ourselves, including non-Muslims whom we should love to be guided and brought closer to Islam.

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

[لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ ما يحب لنفسه].

[None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself]. (Al-Bukhaari, No:13).

The scholars interpreted “brother” in this tradition to mean universal brotherhood, as other prophetic narrations mention love for the “neighbor” and “people,” which includes non-Muslims and unbelievers.

This is interpreted as brotherhood in general, such that it includes the unbeliever and the Muslim. Thus, he should love for his brother the unbeliever what he loves for himself, which is his entering Islam, just as he should love for his brother Muslim that he remains in Islam. For this reason, it is recommended to supplicate for the unbelievers to be guided. The meaning of love here is an intention for good and benefit. This is religious love, not human love. (See: Sharḥ al-Arba’īn,13).

And Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami said: "What is apparent is that the use of the word ‘brother’ is based upon its widest meaning, such that it is befitting for every Muslim to love for the unbelievers to have Islam and the virtues that derive from it." (See: Al-Fatḥ al-Mubīn 1/305).

In sum, every person we meet will fall into one or more categories of brotherhood in Islam. As Muslims, it is our duty to treat them well according to the rights for which they are entitled, whether they are coreligionists, family members, or fellow human beings.

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