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The Voice of Unity - (Part II continuation)

Jul 8, 2011, 1:47 PM

Islamic Brotherhood


It should be point out that just as there are various forms of unity in Islam, there are various forms of brotherhood in Islam as well.

The first form of brotherhood is familial brotherhood: two brothers, two sisters, or a brother and a sister from one father and one mother, from one father and two mothers, or from one mother and two fathers. All of these people are brothers and sisters to one another.

Of course, this is the case in a religiously sanctified marriage between a husband and wife. But, if two children  are born out wedlock, even thought people may consider them  brothers, religious law does not accept it and the laws regarding brotherhood does not apply to them; for instance, two brothers born out of wedlock do not inherit from each other.

Therefore, Islam even interfered in this natural from of brotherhood. It stated that two blood brothers are considered legal brothers if they stem from a religiously approves marriage. This is one from of brotherhood.

The second from of brotherhood has to do with nursing. If two infants who do not have familial relations breastfeed from one woman for a specified time, with the conditions that are mentioned in jurisprudence, they will become brother and sister, two brothers, or two sisters due to suckling. When the people whom it is forbidden to marry are mentioned in the Quran, the following phrase is mentioned:

….your [foster-] mothers who suckled you and your sisters through fosterage … (4:23)

This means that the mothers who nursed you are forbidden to marry just as it is forbidden to marry your natural mothers. Your sisters due to suckling [from the same woman] are also forbidden to marry. This is also another form of brotherhood which is different than familial brotherhood.

The third from brotherhood is tribal brotherhood. Two people from the same tribe are considered brothers, through it may seem strange. In fact, the Quran states that the prophets are brothers of their nations. I have collected many verses which prove this matter. The Quran reads:

And mention [Hud] the brother of ‘Ad, when he warned his people at Ahqaf. (46:21)

And to Midian We sent Shu’ayb, their brother. (29:36)

Certainly We sent to Thamud Salih, their brother. (27:45)

When Noah, their brother, said to them, ‘Will you not be wary [of Allah]? (26:106)

There are other verses similar to those that have been mentioned about Hud and Lot.

In any case, a member of a tribe has a connection with another member of that tribe; they are brothers of each other. For instance, in a tradition, the Prophet is said to have called a fellow Arab, “O Arab brother,” There is a brotherhood between the prophets and their nations, even if their nation did not believe in them. This type of brotherhood is tribal brotherhood.

Of course, it can be argued that the tribe believed in these prophets at a later time and that is why the Quran mentions them as brothers of their nation. If this is the case, then the type of brotherhood would be more of a religious brotherhood, which is the next category that will be mentioned.

The fourth form is Islamic brotherhood or religious brotherhood. There are numerous proofs in the Quran for this form of brotherhood. For instance:        

The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers. (49:10)

The verse just prior to this one is in reference to conflict between Muslims. It says that in such a conflict, Muslims must intervene and find out who is in the right. They must fight again the oppressor until he corrects his wrongdoing. This verse then states, “the faithful are indeed brothers” i.e., there is a religious brotherhood between them. There result: “Therefore, make peace between your brothers.”

Here, the two parties that are in conflict and the person that wants to arbitrate between them and make peace are all considered brothers of one another since the verse states: “[you] make peace between your brothers.” There are many other delicate points in this verse which will not be mentioned.

Another verse of Islamic brotherhood is the following verse:

Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do no be divided [into sects]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together, so you become brother with His blessing …. (3:103)

Some commentators of the Quran state that the enmity mentioned in this verse is in reference to the Aws and the Khazraj which lasted 120 years. Others say that what is mean is the enmity that commonly existed between Arab tribes since they were constantly at war with one another. There were only four months that were exempted and were considered “holy months” and they included Shawwal, Dhu al-Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, and Rajab. The purpose of this exemption was so that they could rest, attend to their lives, replenish their strengths for war, or perform the hajj and return to war.

There is no doubt that many of the Arab tribes were enemies with one another and constantly at war with each other. These wars and enmities of the Arabs before Islam are mentioned in many biographical books [of the Prophet] such as the Fajjar war, for instance. Other wars are also mentioned in detail in Surah ibn Hisham.

Therefore, this verse considers brotherhood and compassion between believers a blessing form Allah. It states that the divine rope should be clung to. In the previous speech I said that clinging on to the divine rope means clinging on to the religion of Allah. All of the people that have resorted to the religion are the unified nation and make up the brotherhood of believers.


How is brotherhood achieved? The above mentioned verse implies that it is with the compassion in hearts- “Remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together.” So, the bringing together of the hearts is a divine blessing. When the Quran mentions the issue of unity amongst Muslims (Islamic unity), Islamic brotherhood is also mentioned.

It is understood then that the Islamic Ummah is truly a single Islamic Ummah when the following conditions are adhered to: First, that the religion of Allah and the Quran are held onto: ‘Hold fast to Allah’s cord. ‘And second, that the hearts are brought together and that Muslims truly consider others as their Muslim brothers. If one does no think about Muslims (as was previously stated) then he is really not part of the Islamic Ummah.

In summary, the verse states that the foundations of Islamic brotherhood are a two-fold matter: holding fast to religion and having the hearts brought together; the hearts must be brought together.

In another place, the fondness for religion and holding fast to it is described in the following way:

….But Allah has endeared faith to you and made it appealing in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you faithfulness, transgression and disobedience… (49:7)

This is what is meant by holding fast to religion.

To be continued