The Ideal Muslim
The True Islamic Personality - As Defined in the Qur'an and the Sunnah
by Dr. Muhammad 'Ali al Hashimi,   Translated by Nasiruddin al Khattab
Revised by Ibrahim. Kunna and Abu Aya Sulaiman 'Abdus Sabur, Source

Table of Contents

Chapter 8

The Muslim and His Friends and Brothers

In Islam He loves them for the sake of Allah

One of the most prominent distinguishing features of the true Muslim is his love for his friends and brothers in faith, a love that is untainted by any worldly interests or ulterior motives. This is true brotherly love, whose purity is derived from the light of Islamic guidance; its effect on the behaviour of Muslims is quite unique in the history of human relationships.

The bond that links a Muslim to his brother, regardless of race, colour or language, is the bond of faith in Allah:

{The Believers are but a single brotherhood . . .} (Qur'an 49:10)

The brotherhood of faith is the strongest of bonds between hearts and minds. It comes as no surprise that this unique brotherhood bears fruits of love that are amazingly sublime, pure, deep and lasting. Islam calls it "love for the sake of Allah," in which the true Muslim finds the sweetness of faith:

´There are three things that whoever attains them will find the sweetness of faith: if Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than anyone else; if he loves a person solely for the sake of Allah; and if he would hate to return to kufr after Allah has rescued him from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into the Fire. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The status of two who love one another for the sake of Allah

Many hadith describe the status of two people who love one another for the sake of Allah, and describe the high position in Paradise which He has promised them and the great honour which He will bestow upon them on the Day when mankind is resurrected to meet the Rabb of the Worlds: Among them is the hadith which describes the seven whom Allah will shade on the Day when there is no shade but His:

´...a just leader; a youth who grows up worshipping Allah; a man who is deeply attached to the mosque; two men who love one another for the sake of Allah, meeting for His sake and parting for His sake; a man who is called by a beautiful woman and says, 'I fear Allah·; a man who gives charity in secret such that his left hand does not know what his right hand is doing; and a man who remembers Allah when he is alone and his eyes fill with tears. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The two who love one another for the sake of Allah are clearly shown to be among those whom Allah will shelter with His shade and upon whom He will shower His mercy and kindness. What a great honour! It is enough honour for those who love one another for the sake of Allah that their Almighty Rabb will greet them on the Day of Resurrection and say to them: ´Where are those who loved one another for My glory" Today I will shade them in My shade on the Day when there is no shade but Mine.' (Muslim)

Such is the magnificent honour and tremendous reward that will be bestowed upon those who truly loved one another for the sake of Allah, on that awesome Day.

Love for the sake of Allah, and not for the sake of anything else in this life which is filled with greed, desires and interests, is very difficult, and none can attain it except the one who is pure of heart, for whom this world is as nothing compared to the pleasure of Allah. It is not surprising that Allah should give them a status and blessing which is commensurate with their position in this world, above whose concerns they have risen. We find proof of this in the hadith of Mu'adh who said that the Prophet (s) said:

´Allah said: 'Those who love one another for My glory, will have minbars of light, and the Prophets and martyrs will wish that they had the same.' 1

Allah gives to those who love one another for His sake a gift which is even greater than this status and blessing: that is His precious love which is very difficult to attain. This is proven by the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (r) in which the Prophet (s) said:

´A man went to visit a brother of his in another village. Allah sent an angel to wait for him on the road. When the man came along, the angel asked him, 'Where do you intend to go?' He said, 'I am going to visit a brother of mine who lives in this village.' The angel asked, 'Have you done him any favour (for which you are now seeking repayment)?' He said, 'No. I just love him for the sake of Allah.' The angel told him, 'I am a messenger to you from Allah, sent to tell you that He loves you as you love your brother for His sake.'" (Muslim)

What a great love, that raises a man to a position where Allah loves him and is pleased with him! The teaching of the Prophet (s) goes even further and states that the better of two brothers who love one another for the sake of Allah is the one who loves his brother more. The Prophet (s) said:

´No two men love one another, but the better of them is the one whose love for his brother is greater.' 2

1 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
2 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

Islam goes even further in spreading love in the rightly-guided Muslim society by telling the Muslim that if he loves his brother, he should tell him. The Prophet (s) said:

´If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him' 1

The Prophet (s) understood the impact of this strong, pure love in building societies and nations, so he never let any occasion pass without advocating this love and commanding the Muslims to announce their love for one another, in order to open hearts and spread love and purity among the ranks of the Ummah.

Anas (r) said that a man was with the Prophet (s), when another man passed by. The first man said, "O Messenger of Allah, indeed I truly love this man." The Prophet (s) asked him, "Have you let him know that?" He said, "No." The Prophet (s) said, ´Tell him.' He caught up with him and told him, ´Truly I love you for the sake of Allah,' and the man said, ´May Allah love you who loves me for His sake.'2

Mu'adh began to spread this pure love among the Muslims throughout the Muslim lands, telling them what he had heard from the Prophet (s) about the great reward that Allah had prepared for those who loved one another for His sake, and about His great love for them. In al-Muwatta', Imam Malik gives a report with a sahih isnad from Abu Idris al-Khulani who said: "I entered the mosque of Damascus, where I saw a young man who had a bright smile, and I saw the people gathered around him. When they disagreed on some matter, they referred it to him, and accepted his opinion. I asked who he was, and they told me, 'This is Mu'adh ibn Jabal (r).' Early the next day, I went to the mosque but I found that he had arrived even earlier than I. He was praying, so I waited until he had finished, then I approached him from in front, greeted him and said, 'By Allah I love you., He said, 'For the sake of Allah?, I said, 'For the sake of Allah., He repeated his question, 'For the sake of Allah?, and I said, 'For the sake of Allah., So he took hold of my collar and pulled me towards him and said, 'I have good news for you. I heard the Prophet (s) say: ´Allah Almighty says: 'My love is granted to those who love one another for My sake, who visit one another for My sake, and who spend on one another for My sake.'""

The effect of love for the sake of Allah on the life of Muslims

In another hadith, the Prophet (s) confirmed that this love between believers is one of the conditions of faith that will grant entrance to Paradise to the one who has it. In a report given by Imam Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (r), the Prophet (s) said:

1 Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a sahih hadith.
2 Reported by Abu Dawud, with a sahih isnad.

´By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that if you do it, you will love one another" Spread Salaam amongst yourselves.' (Muslim)

The Prophet (s), with the brilliant educational insight bestowed upon him by Allah, understood that nothing could eliminate hatred, jealousy and rivalry from people's hearts but true brotherhood, based on love, friendship and mutual advice, and free of conspiracies, envy, sullenness and hatred. So he called for the Muslims to spread salaam among their brothers, so that it would open their hearts to love and meeting one another on a good basis.

He frequently repeated this teaching to his Sahabah, hoping to sow the seed of love in their hearts and nurture it until it bore fruits of that great love that Islam wants for the Muslims. With this great love, the Prophet (s) built the first generation of Muslims which conveyed this divine Message to the world and formed the solid basis on which this religion was built.

Without this pure love, which Islam alone instilled in their hearts, the first Muslims would not have been able to persevere in jihad and make the great sacrifices through which they built the Islamic state and spread the rule of Islam throughout the world.

With this amazing true love, the Prophet (s) was able to establish the most ideal society of believers ever known, whose solidarity he described so well:

´The relationship between believers is like a wall, parts of which support other parts.' (Muslim)

´The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy and affection, are like one body. If any part of it complains, the rest of the body will also stay awake in pain.' (Muslim)

´The Muslims are like one person: if his eye hurts him then his whole body will suffer, and if his head hurts him then his whole body will suffer.' (Muslim)

In the light of this guidance, the Muslim cannot but be filled with love for his brothers and friends. Thus he becomes a good, constructive element of love in this world, and a victor who has gained the pleasure and love of his Rabb in the Hereafter.

He does not forsake or abandon his brother

The true Muslim who understands the teachings of Islam knows that the religion that calls for love, continued contact and mutual affection, also is the religion that has forbidden brothers in faith to hate or abandon one another. Islam has explained that two people who truly love one another for the sake of Allah will not be separated by the first minor offence that either of them may commit, because the bond of love for the sake of Allah is too strong to be broken by such minor matters. The Prophet (s) said:

´No two people who love one another for the sake of Allah, or for the sake of Islam, will let the first minor offence of either of them come between them.' 1

Islam does not ignore human nature; it recognizes that anger may strike in moments of weakness, but it puts a limit on the length of time that anger may prevail, and forbids Muslims to continue a dispute beyond this time without one or both of them bringing about a reconciliation. The Prophet (s) said:

´It is not permissible for a Muslim to be estranged from his brother for more than three days, both of them turning away from one another when they meet. The better of them is the one who is first to greet the other. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The true Muslim who has studied these definitive hadiths will not be able to bear having a dispute with his brother and being estranged from him, no matter what the reason. Rather, he will hasten to bring about a reconciliation, because the better of the two is the one who is first to give salaam. If the other returns the greeting, both of them will have a share of the reward for the reconciliation, and if he does not return it, then the one who gave the greeting will be absolved of the sin of forsaking his brother while the one who refused to return the salaam will have to bear the burden of that sin alone. This is made clear by the hadith in which Abu Hurayrah (r) said:

´I heard the Prophet (s) say: 'It is not permissible for a man to be estranged from a believer for more than three days. If three days have passed, then he should go and give Salaam to him; if he returns the Salaam then both of them will have a share in the reward, and if he does not respond then the one who gave Salaam will be absolved of the sin of estrangement.' 2

The longer the estrangement lasts, the greater is the sin and the more severe is the punishment that will befall the two who are split by the dispute. The Prophet (s) said:

´Whoever is estranged from his brother for a year, it is as if he has shed his blood.' 3

The Islamic system of education is based on mutual love and affection, and ongoing contact. Therefore mutual hatred and envy should have no place in the life of the true Muslim. How could he allow such bad characteristics when he knows the teachings of the Prophet (s) which enjoin morals and manners the like of which have never been known since man first walked on the face of the earth? The Prophet (s) said:

´There should be no breaking off of ties, no turning away from one another, no hating one another, and no envying one another. Be brothers, as Allah has commanded you.' (Muslim)

´Beware of suspicion, for speaking on the basis of suspicion is the worst kind of lie. Do not seek out one another's faults, do not spy on one another, do not compete with one another, do not envy one another, do not hate one another, and do not turn away from one another. O servants of Allah, be brothers. (Bukhari and Muslim)

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.
2 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.
3 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

´Do not envy one another, do not outbid one another (in order to inflate prices), do not hate one another, do not turn away from one another, and do not enter into a transaction when others have already entered into it. O servants of Allah, be brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He does not oppress him, humiliate him or look down upon him. Taqwaa is here' - and so saying, he pointed to his chest three times - ´It is evil enough for a man to look down upon his Muslim brother. The whole of a Muslim's being is sacred to another Muslim - his blood, his wealth and his honour are inviolable.' (Muslim)

The Muslim who thinks deeply about this teaching of the Prophet (s) which is filled with love, affection and brotherhood, will not be able to persist in his hatred unless there is some disease in his heart or some twistedness in his nature.

Therefore Islam issues a stern warning to those hard-hearted people who are deviating from true Islam and denying its spirit of tolerance by insisting on remaining estranged. They are risking an awful fate in the Hereafter: their actions may prevent them from attaining the mercy and forgiveness of Allah, and may close the doors of Paradise to them. The Prophet (s) said:

´The doors of Paradise are opened on Monday and Thursday, and every servant who does not associate anything with Allah will be forgiven, except for the man who bears a grudge against his brother. It will be said, 'Wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile.' (Muslim)

The great Sahabi Abul-Darda, (r) used to say: ´Shall I not tell you about something that is better for you than charity and fasting" Reconcile between your brothers, for hatred diminishes reward.'1

This is deep and penetrating insight, on the part of this Sahabi whose intelligence and good sense the Prophet (s) used to trust, into the spirit of this religion which is based on brotherhood and love. He understood that hatred cancels out good deeds and destroys rewards, so reconciling the estranged Muslim with his brother is better for him than charity and fasting, because if he were to continue bearing a grudge against his brother, this would negate any reward he might receive for those acts of worship.

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

He is tolerant and forgiving towards them

If he becomes angry with his brother, the true Muslim restrains his anger and is quick to forgive him, and does not see any shame in doing so. Rather, he sees it as a good deed which will bring him closer to Allah and earn him His love which He bestows only on those who do good:

{...[those] who restrain anger and pardon [all] men - for Allah loves those who do good.} (Qur'an 3:134)

A man may be able to restrain his anger, but resentment may be smouldering in his heart, and may turn into deep-rooted hatred. Open anger and rage are healthier than hidden resentment and malice.

The true Muslim whose soul has been saturated with this religion, does not harbour grudges; if he restrains his anger, he then follows that with forgiveness, and thus he will be among those who do good.

Anger is very difficult to restrain, for it is a heavy burden on the heart. But when a person forgives another, this heavy burden is lifted, freeing him, soothing him and bringing peace of mind. These are the feelings of ihsan (goodness) which the Muslim feels when he forgives his brother.

The true Muslim is forgiving towards his brother, purely for the sake of Allah. He hopes thereby to earn the honour to which the Prophet (s) referred in the hadith:

´Allah will not increase His servant except in honour. No one humbles himself for the sake of Allah, but Allah will raise his status.' (Muslim)

It is a great honour from Allah, which combines with the good characteristics of the tolerant, forgiving Muslim, so that he becomes one of those who do good whom Allah loves, and one of those honoured ones whom people love.

Resentment has no place in the heart of the sensitive Muslim who truly understands his religion. He realizes the value of forgiveness and purity of heart, and their importance if he seeks Allah's forgiveness, as the Prophet (s) explained:

´There are three sins, whoever dies free of these sins will be forgiven for anything else if Allah wills: associating anything with Allah; practising magic or witchcraft; and bearing resentment towards his brother.' 1

He meets them with a smiling face

The Muslim should always be pure of heart and cheerful of countenance. He should not meet his brothers except with warmth and smiles, as the Prophet (s) said:

´Do not think little of any good deed even if it is just greeting your brother with a cheerful countenance.' (Muslim)

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

Having a cheerful and friendly face is a good characteristic which Islam encourages and considers to be a good deed which will bring reward, because a cheerful face mirrors a pure soul. This inward and outward purity is one of the distinguishing features of the sincere Muslim. Hence the Prophet (s) said:

´Your smiling at your brother is an act of charity (sadaqah).' 1

'Ali (r) said: "When two Muslims meet and converse, Allah will forgive the one who has the most cheerful face."

It was the habit of the Sahabah, who were the living example of Islam, to shake hands whenever they met, and whenever they returned from a journey they would embrace one another. These actions increase the feelings of love and friendship between the two who meet. Ibn Sa'd reports in al-Tabaqat (4/34) that al-Shabi said:

´When the Prophet (s) returned from Khaybar, Ja'far ibn Abi Talib (r) came out to meet him, and the Prophet (s) embraced him and kissed his forehead, and said, 'I do not know which gives me more joy, Ja'far's return (from Abyssinia) or the conquest of Khaybar.'" Another report adds: ´He embraced him warmly.'

Islam encourages giving salaam, and shaking hands and embracing whenever brothers meet, so as to reinforce the ties of love and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood among believers, so that the Muslim society will be able to fulfil its purpose in life.

He is sincere towards them

The true Muslim is sincere towards Allah, His Book, His Prophet and to the leaders and the masses of the Muslims, as is stated in the hadith:

´The Prophet (s) said: 'Religion is sincerity2.' We asked, 'To whom?" He said, 'To Allah (by obeying Him, attributing to Him what He deserves and performing jihad for His sake); to His Book (by reading it, understanding it and applying it to one's daily life); to His Prophet (by respecting him greatly and fighting on his behalf both in his lifetime and after his death, and by following his Sunnah); to the rulers of the Muslims (by helping them in their task of leading Muslims to the right path and alerting them if they are heedless); and to their common folk (by being merciful towards them). (Bukhari and Muslim)3

1 Reported by al-Tirmidhi who said it is hasan gharib.
2 Nasihah is an Arabic word that may be translated by a number of words in English. The most common translation is "good advice," but it also carries connotations of sincerity, integrity and "doing justice to a person or situation." [Translator]
3 The explanations in brackets are adapted from those given in the English translation of sahih Bukhari by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Vol. 1, p. 48). [Translator]

It is no surprise, then, that the Muslim should be sincere towards his brothers and not cheat them or mislead them. Sincerity, in this sense, is one of the most basic principles of Islam, which the first believers pledged to adhere to when they gave allegiance (bay'ah) to the Prophet (s). This is confirmed by the statement of Jarir ibn 'Abdullah (r):

´I gave allegiance to the Prophet (s) and pledged to observe regular prayer, to pay zakat and to be sincere towards every Muslim. (Bukhari and Muslim)

In the hadith quoted above, we see that the Prophet (s) summed up Islam in one word, Nasihah, showing that sincerity is the central foundation of the faith. For without sincerity, a man's faith is invalid and his Islam is worthless. This is the meaning of the hadith of the Prophet (s):

´None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself. (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is impossible to achieve unless one loves one's brother with all sincerity. No doubt this level of love for one's brother is very difficult to attain, but it is not impossible as long as one is constantly aware that liking for one's brother what one likes for oneself is one of the conditions of faith, and that religion is sincerity. Indeed, it is a natural attitude of the sincere Muslim who truly understands Islam. Our history is filled with many examples, ancient and modern, of how true Muslims liked for their brothers what they liked for themselves. This reminds me of the stories I have heard from my elders about the traders in the markets of Syria. In the old covered souqs, traders dealing in one commodity would be grouped together, so there would be a souq for sellers of perfumes, another for dyers, a third for tailors, and so on. When a buyer came to one of them first and bought something, if a second buyer came - and his neighbour had not yet made a sale - he would politely tell the customer, "Go and buy from my neighbour, for I have made a sale, but he has not yet sold anything."

O Allah! How joyous and delightful life appears in the shade of this brotherhood and mutual affection! How happy life would be if it were infused with the spirit of Islam and if Islamic values pervaded all its interactions. Then we would be living in a higher status that no man can achieve except in this religion which teaches him that "religion is sincerity" and that he does not truly believe until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself. On the basis of these lofty principles of love and sincerity, the great Sahabi Abu Hurayrah (r) used to say:

´The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees any fault in him he corrects it.' 1

In these words, Abu Hurayrah (r) was echoing the hadith of the Prophet (s):

´The believer is the mirror of his brother. The believer is the brother of a believer: he protects him from ruin and guards his back.' 2

It is natural that the true Muslim should have this noble attitude towards his brother. He could not do otherwise, even if he wanted to; the person who is living on such an exalted level cannot come down to the level of individualism and selfishness. A vessel will leak whatever is in it; a flower cannot but smell sweet, and good land cannot but bring forth good produce. The poet rightly said:

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.
2 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad

´Does any plant produce large flowers but the washij (plant with spear like leaves)" / Are palm trees planted anywhere except in the soil which is suitable for them?'

He has a natural inclination towards kindness and faithfulness

Islam instils in its followers the characteristics of kindness and faithfulness towards one's friends: it even includes the parents, friends as we have already seen in Chapter 3 ("The Muslim and his parents"). Thus the true Muslim appreciates the value of faithfulness, and the value of the ties of brotherhood and friendship. The books of our Islamic heritage are filled with great examples of kindness and faithfulness, which the salaf embodied in their daily lives so that they truly were {the best of Peoples evolved for mankind.}

An example of this is the hadith narrated by Muslim in his sahih from Ibn 'Umar (r), in which the Prophet (s) said:

´The best kind of goodness (birr) is that a man should keep in touch with and respect his father's friend."

'Abdullah ibn Dinar reported that he and 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (r) met a Bedouin man on the road to Makkah. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar greeted him, seated him on the donkey he was riding and gave him the turban he was wearing. Ibn Dinar said: "We said to him, 'May Allah guide you! He is only a Bedouin and the least thing would satisfy them!, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, 'This man's father was a friend of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (r), and I heard the Prophet say: "The best kind of goodness (birr) is that a man should keep in touch with and respect his father's friend."

The Prophet (s) used to nurture the souls of the Muslims and plant the seeds of faithfulness in them whenever he found an opportunity to tell them something of his guidance. A man of Banu Salamah came to him and asked: "O Messenger of Allah (s), is there any deed of kindness and respect that I can do for my parents after they die?" He said, "Yes, pray for them, ask forgiveness for them, fulfil their promises after they die, keep in contact with your relatives - for you have no relatives except through them - and respect their friends." 1

The Prophet's concern for this kind of faithfulness in friendship was something that used to upset 'A'ishah, because he used to extend it to the friends of Khadijah, and 'A'ishah used to feel jealous of her. This is clear from the words of 'A'ishah:

´I never felt jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (s) as I did of Khadijah (r), although I had never seen her. But he used to mention her frequently, and sometimes he would slaughter a sheep, butcher the meat, and send it to Khadijah's friends. One time I said to him, 'It is as if there was no other woman in the world but Khadijah' He said, 'She was such and such, and I had children by her.' (Bukhari and Muslim) According to another report: ´he used to slaughter a sheep and send to her friends a goodly amount of it.'

This incomparable Islamic faithfulness extends even to the distant friends of deceased parents and wives! So what about our own close friends who are still alive?

1 Reported by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban in his sahih.

One of the requirements of love, sincerity, kindness and faithfulness, according to Islam, is that a man should help his brother in all circumstances. If he is in the right, then he should help him by supporting him, standing by him, and defending him; if he is in the wrong, then he should help him by rebuking him, advising him and saving him from sinking into the mire of wrongdoing. This is what the Prophet (s) advocated in the hadith:

´A man should help his brother whether he is a wrong doer or is wronged. If he is a wrongdoer then he should stop him, and if he is wronged, then he should defend him.' (Muslim)

The true Muslim does not forsake his brother, whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged. Islam teaches him to like for his brother what he likes for himself: as long as he would not like for himself to be a wrongdoer or to do wrong, then he would not like this for his brother either. So if his brother is wronged, he stands by him, supports him and defends him, and if he is a wrongdoer he stands by him and stops him from doing wrong. This is indeed true sincerity and true kindness. These are two qualities that distinguish the true Muslim at any time and in any place.

He is kind to his brothers

The true Muslim who is adhering to the teachings and values of his religion is kind to his brothers and is good-natured and easy-going towards them. In this, he is following the guidance of Islam, which encourages good characteristics.

Allah describes the believers as being {...lowly [or humble] with the believers, mighty against the kafirun...} (Qur'an 5: 54). This suggests gentleness, modesty and good dealings with one's brothers in faith to an infinite degree of kindness, which is most akin to humility.

This message is reinforced by the teaching of the Prophet (s), which encourages the Muslim to be kind in a way that will add beauty to life. This is seen in the hadith:

´There is no kindness in a thing but it adds beauty to it, and there is no absence of kindness but it disfigures a thing.' (Muslim)

The Muslim sees a clear picture of the Prophet's character in his sirah, which is full of kindness, gentleness, honour and good manners. He was never known to use obscene language or to curse or insult a Muslim. Anas (r), his servant and constant companion, describes his noble character thus:

´The Prophet (s) never used obscene language, or uttered curses and insults. If he wanted to rebuke someone, he would say, 'What is the matter with him, may his forehead be covered with dust 1  (Bukhari)

1 It has been suggested that what is meant by this expression is "may his sujud (prostration) increase," thus he would be guided and corrected. [Author]

He does not gossip about them

The true Muslim does not gossip or backbite about his brothers and friends, or backbite against them. He knows that gossip is haram, as the Qur'an says:

{...Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it. But fear Allah: for Allah is Oft Returning, All Merciful.} (Qur'an 49:12)

The true Muslim who is infused with Islamic teachings and manners will be horrified by the depiction given in the Qur'an of one who gossips as being like one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. This will deter him from gossiping and, if he is guilty of this sin, he will hasten to repent sincerely, as indicated at the end of the ayah quoted. He will then restrain his tongue and speak only good of his brother, remembering the words of the Prophet (s):

´Do you know what gossip is" They said, ´Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, ´It is your saying about your brother something which he dislikes.' He was asked, ´What do you think if what I say about my brother is true" He said, ´If it is true then you have gossiped about him, and if it is not true then you have slandered him.' (Muslim)

The true Muslim avoids the sin of gossiping directly or indirectly, abhorring the idea of being one who eats the flesh of his dead brother and fearing lest his tongue leads him to Hell. This is made clear by the Prophet's warning to Mu'adh, when he took hold of his tongue and said, "Restrain this." Mu'adh said, "O Prophet of Allah, will we be responsible for what we say?" The Prophet (s) said, "May your mother be bereft of you! Is there anything that causes people to be thrown in Hell on their faces (or he said: on their noses) but the harvest of their tongues?"1

Gossip is a bad characteristic which does not befit a real man. Rather it is a feature of two-faced cowards who look like men, those who gossip to people about their brothers and friends, then when they meet them they smile warmly and make a display of friendship. Hence the true Muslim should be the furthest removed from gossip and fickleness, because Islam has taught him to be a real man, to be straightforward and to fear Allah in Allah's words and deeds. It has made him thoroughly despise hypocrisy and fickleness. The two-faced person is regarded as being one of the worst people in the sight of Allah, as the Prophet (s) says:

´You will find among the worst people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection, the one who is two faced, who approaches some people in one way and others in another. (Bukhari, Muslim, et al)

The true Muslim is straightforward, never two-faced. He meets all people with a friendly, smiling face and does not differentiate between people in the face he presents to them. For he knows that being two- faced is the essence of hypocrisy and that hypocrisy and Islam do not go together. The two-faced person is a hypocrite, and the hypocrites will be in the lowest level of Hell.

1 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.

He avoids arguing with them, making hurtful jokes and breaking promises

Among the good manners of the true Muslim are: he does not exhaust his brothers and friends with futile arguments, he does not annoy them with hurtful jokes, and he does not break a promise that he has made to them. In this way, he follows the guidance of the Prophet (s):

´Do not argue with your brother, do not joke excessively with him, do not make a promise to him then break it.' 1

This is because arguing does not bring any benefits; hurtful jokes often lead to hatred and loss of respect; and breaking promises upsets people and destroys love. The true Muslim should be above all of that.

He is generous and prefers his brothers over himself

The true Muslim is generous, and spends freely on his brothers and friends. Naturally his brothers and friends should all be righteous believers, as the Prophet (s) said:

´Do not take for a friend anyone but a believer, and do not let anyone but a righteous person eat your food.' 2

The true Muslim understands where and when to be generous, and why. He does not waste his money or spend it on anyone but his righteous, believing brothers. He does not let himself become a milch-cow for worthless renegades as a means to protect himself from them or to earn their favour if they are in power. Those are people who do not hesitate to take advantage of simple-hearted, generous religious folk; you may see them eating at their tables whilst inwardly laughing at this simple-hearted, misplaced generosity.

The true Muslim is generous, but only when it is appropriate to be so. Generosity is a basic Islamic characteristic that elevates the one who possesses it and endears him to people. This virtue was deeply rooted in the Sahabah (r), and was one of the dearest of righteous deeds to them. This is seen in the statement of 'Ali (r):

´Having a small group of my brothers come and eat a little food with me is dearer to me than going out into your market to buy a slave and set him free.' 3

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.
2 Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi with a hasan isnad.
3 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

This kind of friendly gathering to share food strengthens the love between brothers and reinforces the spirit of human affection between friends. This is something which has been lost by modern, materialistic cultures, whose people now are concerned only for themselves and their own interests, and hence are suffering from a sense of spiritual emptiness and emotional dryness. The result is a deep feeling of being deprived of sincere friendship and true friends. These people devote themselves to caring for their dogs, to make up for the lack of human emotional warmth drained from them by the materialistic philosophy which they have taken as a religion governing all aspects of life. A French report states that there are seven million dogs in France, a country whose population is fifty two million. These dogs live with their owners like one of the family. It is no longer strange in French restaurants to see a dog and its owner eating together at the same table. When an official of the animal welfare organization in Paris was asked, "Why do the French treat their dogs like they treat themselves?" he answered, "because they want someone to love, but they cannot find any person to love."1

The materialistic man, whether in the West or in the East, can no longer find a true, sincere friend in his own society on whom to bestow his love and affection. So he turns to these animals in whom he finds more gentleness and faithfulness than in the people around him. Can man become any more emotionally degenerate than this extreme love for animals when he has lost the blessing of faith and guidance?

This emotional degeneration from which Westerners are suffering and which has dried up the human feelings in their souls, is one of the first things that attracted the attention of emigrant Arab writers, both Muslim and non-Muslim. They noticed that the materialistic lifestyle which has overtaken western societies has made men into machines who know nothing in life but work, productivity and fierce competition, who do not know what it is to smile warmly at a friend. They are overwhelmed by the haste and crowds of this machine-like existence. Seeing all of this alarmed those Arab writers, who had grown up in the Islamic world and breathed its spirit of tolerance, and whose hearts were filled with brotherly love. So they began earnestly calling the Westerners towards the values of love and brotherhood. One of them was Nasib 'Aridah, who raised the banner of this humane call to the Westerner whose heart was stained with materialism and who had been blinded and deafened by the roar of the machines: "O my friend, O my companion, O my colleague, my love for you is not out of curiosity or a desire to impose on you./ Answer me with the words 'O my brother!, O my friend, and repeat it, for these are the sweetest words./ If you wish to walk alone, or if you grow bored of me, / then go ahead, but you will hear my voice, calling 'O my brother,' bearing the message,/ and the echo of my love will reach you wherever you are, so you will understand its beauty and its glory."

The burden of materialistic life in the West became too much for Yusuf As'ad Ghanim to bear, and he could no longer stand this life which was full of problems and sinking in the ocean of materialism, and was devoid of the fresh air of spirituality, brotherhood and affection. So he began to long for the Arab countries of the Islamic world, the lands of Prophethood and spirituality, the home of love, brotherhood and purity. He wished that he could live in an Arab tent, and leave behind the civilized world with all its noise and glaring lights: "If I were to live a short life in any Arab land, I would thank Allah for a short but rich life in a world where He is loved in the hearts of its people. I got so tired of the West that tiredness itself got bored of me. Take your cars and planes, and give me a camel and a horse. Take the Western world, land, sea and sky, and give me an Arab tent which I will pitch on one of the mountains of  my homeland Lebanon, or on the banks of Barada or the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the suburbs of 'Amman, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, in the unknown regions of Yemen, on the slopes of the Pyramids, in the oases of Libya... Give me an Arab tent, and I will weigh it against the entire world and emerge a winner..."

1 Prof. Wahid al-Din Khan, Wujub tatbiq al-shari'ah al-Islamiyyah fi kulli zaman wa makan ("The necessity of applying Islamic Shariah in every time and place"), in al-Mujtama', No. 325, Kuwait, 24 Dhu'l-Qi'dah 1396/16 November 1976.

Many writings by emigrant Arab authors share the same tone, but it is sufficient to give just a few examples here. All of their writings express the emigrants, longing for the emotional richness that they missed when they came to the West, an experience which awoke in them feelings of longing for the East where Islam had spread love, brotherhood, mutual affection and solidarity. Islam encourages its followers to meet their brothers and compete in generosity that will strengthen the ties of brotherhood among them, because generosity to one's brothers is viewed as a basic characteristic that is required of the Muslim. Islam made accepting a Muslim brother's invitation a duty in which he must not fail. The Sahabah used to accept their brother's invitations, because they saw this as their brother's right and their own duty; failing to do so would be a sin. This is seen in the hadith narrated by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad from Ziy d ibn An'am al-Ifr¯q¯, who said: ´We were waging a campaign by sea at the time of Mu'awiya (r). Our ship came alongside the ship of Abu Ayyub al Ansari (r). When it was time for lunch, we sent for him and he came to us and said, 'You called me while I was fasting, and I had no choice but to answer you, because I heard the Prophet (s) say: ´The Muslim has six duties towards his brother: he should greet him with Salaam when he meets him; accept his invitation; bless him1 when he sneezes; visit him when he is sick; attend his funeral when he dies; and give him advice when he asks for it.'·' Indeed, the Sahabah thought that if a Muslim rejected his brother's invitation for no good reason, he was committing a sin against Allah and His Messenger. The Prophet (s) said: ´The worst of food is a meal which is cooked for guests, to which those who would come are not invited, whilst those who would reject it are. Whoever rejects an invitation with no good reason has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.' (Muslim) The brotherhood of faith is not just the matter of empty slogans to be shouted. It is a sacred bond that has its own commitments, duties and rights. The one who truly believes in Allah and the Last Day, and who follows Islam, knows this, and does his best to fulfil the duties of Islam. We see evidence of that faith and devotion to Islamic duty in the deeds of the Ansar who set the highest example of selfless love towards their Muhajir brothers who had emigrated for the sake of their religion and arrived in Madinah possessing nothing. The Ansar offered them everything, to the extent that one of them told his Muhajir brother: "This is my wealth: take half of it. And these are my two wives: see which one is more pleasing to you and tell me, so I will divorce her and she can become your wife after she has completed her 'iddah." The Muhajir responded to his brother's kindness and affection with something even better. He told him: "May Allah bless your wealth and your wives for you. I have no need of them. Just show me where the market is so that I can work."

1 By saying "yar­amuk Allah" (may Allah have mercy on you). [Translator]

An Ansari welcomed his Muhajir brother as a guest when he had no food in his home except what was just enough for his children, but he preferred his brother over himself and his family, so he told his wife, "Put your sons to bed and extinguish the lamp, then offer what you have to our guest. We will sit with him at the table, and make him think that we are eating, but we will not eat." So they sat at the table, and the guest alone ate, while the couple stayed hungry all night. The next morning, the Ansari went to the Prophet (s) and told him what had happened. The Prophet (s) said: ´Allah is pleased with what you have done for your guest this night. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The selfless attitude of the Ansar towards the Muhajirin and their willingness to support them with their wealth reached such an extent that they asked the Prophet (s): ´Divide the date palms between us and our brothers.' He said, ´No.' So they said to the Muhajirin, ´Help us to tend the trees, and we will share the crop with you.' The Muhajirin said, ´To hear is to obey.  (Bukhari)

The Muhajirin greatly appreciated the good deeds of their Ansar brothers, and told the Prophet (s): "O Messenger of Allah, we have never seen anything like this people to whom we have come: if they have a little, they are still willing to help, and if they have plenty, they are most generous. They have supported us and shared their wealth with us, so much so that we feared that they would receive all the reward." The Prophet (s) said: ´No, not so long as you praise them and pray to Allah for them.' 1

 It was sufficient for the Ansar that Allah praised them and commended their good deeds. He revealed an ayah of the Qur'an which would be recited, and the story of their unique selflessness would be told, for all time, and would serve as a realistic and vivid example of how people can break free from selfish greed:

{But those who before them, had homes [in Madinah] and had adopted the Faith - show their affection to such as had come to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the [latter], but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their {own lot}. And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls - they are the ones that achieve prosperity.} (Qur'an 59:9)

Whenever people are called upon to make sacrifices and be generous, this Qur'anic description of the Ansar will remain forever a beacon of guidance and a shining example to mankind who is lost in greed and covetousness.

The Ansar understood the meaning of the brotherhood of faith when the Prophet (s) established the ties of brotherhood between them and the Muhajirin. They were true believers who liked for their brothers what they liked for themselves, as they had learned from the Prophet (s). They did not withhold any of their worldly goods from their brothers, but they willingly offered them half of what they possessed. At the beginning of the hijrah, they made the Muhajirin their heirs, to the exclusion of their own relatives, in order to fulfil the duties of brotherhood which the Prophet (s) had taught them. This is seen in the report narrated by Bukhari from Ibn 'Abbas (r), who said: ´When the Muhajirin came to Madinah, a Muhajir would inherit from an Ansari to the exclusion of his own relatives. When the ayah: {'. . . But kindred of blood have prior rights against each other . . .'} (Qur'an 8:75) was revealed, this inheritance was abrogated, but the duties of support, help, selflessness and beneficence remained.'

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, and by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa'i. Its isnad is sahih.

He prays for his brothers in their absence

The sincere Muslim who truly likes for his brother that which he likes for himself does not forget to pray for his brother in his absence, which is a practical demonstration of his brotherly love and care. He knows that this is the prayer which is most quickly answered, because it is characterized by sincerity and purity. The Prophet (s) said:

´The quickest prayer to be answered is a man's supplication for his brother in his absence.' 1

Hence the Prophet (s) asked 'Umar (r) to pray for him, when 'Umar came and sought permission to perform 'Umrah. 'Umar (r) said:

´I asked the Prophet (s) for permission to perform 'Umrah. He gave me permission and said:

'Do not forget us in your prayers.' He told me something that meant more to me than the whole world.' 2

The Sahabah understood this and used to ask their brothers to pray for them whenever they were in a situation where their prayers would be answered. Men and women alike shared this virtue, which is indicative of the high level of the entire society during that golden period of our history. Bukhari reports, in al-Adab al-Mufrad, from Safwan ibn 'Abdullah ibn Safwan, whose wife was al-Darda, bint Abil- Darda,. He said: "I came to visit them in Damascus; I found Umm al-Darda, in the house, but Abul- Darda, was not there. She said, 'Do you want to go to hajj?, I said, 'Yes., She said, 'Pray for me, for the Prophet (s) used to say, "The Muslim's prayer for his absent brother will be answered. There is an angel at his head who, whenever he prays for his brother, says 'Amin, and you shall have likewise."" He (Safwan) said, "I met Abul-Darda, in the market and he told me something similar, reporting from the Prophet (s)." The Prophet (s) taught his Sahabah team spirit and the importance of caring for others. At every opportunity he would direct them towards a true understanding of brotherhood, so that there would be no room for the selfish individualism which makes eyes blind and seals hearts. An example of the way the Prophet (s) instilled the spirit of brotherhood in people's hearts and removed the seeds of selfishness is his words to the man who prayed, "O Allah, forgive me and Muhammad only." He told him, "You have denied it to many people." Thus he taught him that Islam forbids a Muslim to seek good only for himself, even if the Prophet (s) is included in that. The believer must love for his brother what he loves for himself. Such is the true Muslim, who loves for his brother what he loves for himself: he is sincere towards his brothers; he safeguards their reputation, honour and wealth both in their presence and in their absence; he prefers them to himself; he is tolerant and forgiving of their faults and mistakes; he is gentle, kind and humble towards them; he is decent in his dealings with them, in word and deed. He is generous, not miserly; truthful, not a liar; friendly, not hostile. He is reliable and trustworthy and does not betray them; he is straightforward, not two-faced. It is no wonder that the true Muslim is like this, for this is the miracle that Islam has wrought in man's characters. This is the Muslim as Islam meant him to be.

1 Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.
2 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.

Go to top