ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/07 Sept) — Muslims have been instructed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his Ithrah) to consider people “40 houses front, back and the sides to be his neighbor,” as such part of a Muslim’s religious duties is being responsible neighbors to other people.
The reflections and citations of texts are arranged in a way, Muslims from different schools of thought can correlate and agree on the concepts discussed in the reflection.
There are two spheres of relationships we deal with others, first there are our Muslim Brethren (Ukhuwah) and the generally non-Muslim communities who are in the words of Sayyudina Ali (Karamallahu wajhah) that while Muslims are our brothers in faith, those who are non-Muslims are our brethren in creation (Nahjul Balaghah).
It is important to understand that one of the reminders of the Prophet (salawatullahi alayhi) is best reflected in this hadith: “No one of you shall become a true believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.” (Bukhari)
Another Hadith from Sahih Bukhari quotes the Prophet (s.a.w) saying: “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the greatest falsehood. Do not try to find fault with each other, do not spy on one another, do not vie with one another, do not envy one another, do not be angry with one another, do not turn away from one another, and be servants of Allah, brothers to one another, as you have been enjoined.
Point in Focus
A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he does him no wrong, nor does he let him down, nor does he despise him. Fear of God is here, fear of God is here, and he pointed to his chest. It is evil enough that a Muslim should look down on his brother. For every Muslim is sacred to one another: his blood, his honor, and his property. Allah does not look at your bodies or your forms, or your deeds, but He looks at your hearts”. (Bukhari, Muslim)
This is one of the most famous quotes of the Prophet (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad had thought the world would be a place full of envy, pride, jealousy, selfishness and backbiting and had attempted to proffer solution to it through his practice to his followers. He encouraged fellow Muslims to have a sense of fraternity amongst each other and to come to one common platform and help the overall growth of the Muslim world.
In order to achieve this unity and peace generally, the Prophet (s.a.w) gave us comprehensive direction on how to sustain fraternity. These are the six duties of a Muslim to another Muslim.
1) The salutation: “When you meet him, greet him; greet him with a warm smile, a friendly face and As Salaamun Alaykum. The first duties that a Muslim has over another is saying As-Salaam Alaikum (May peace be with you) with a very good and friendly expression and being good to a brother even though you don’t know him. It also means that you answer the person with an equally good natured Wa Alaikum Assalam (May peace be with you too). Muslims should always say As Salaam Alaikum, even if you don’t know the person.
2) “When he invites you, respond to him.” When a Muslim brother invites you to a function, you’re to participate in the joy of the host. It is not enough excuse to say ‘I don’t know him.’ Once he is a Muslim, you don’t have to deny the invitation, rather, join him to rejoice with him.
3) “When he seeks counsel, give him good advice.” This is very important in that a Muslim brother relies on the other even in kind. But caution must be exercised that you don’t give him the wrong advice. And if you don’t know, lead him to whoever will give him the good advice.
4) When a Muslim sneezes or even when he trips and he remembers to praise Allah, we must respond to him with a prayer for Allah to have mercy on him. “When he sneezes and praises Allah, say to him: `May Allah have mercy on you (Yarhamukum Allah).
5) “When he is sick, visit him.” Sometimes, physical presence at the bedside of a sick Muslim could do wonders better than a dose of pain relief tablets. But do not also forget to pray for him.
6) “When he dies, give him the last respect and follow to his funeral.” One hadith even related that the Prophet stood up when the corpse of an unbeliever was being carried away for burial.
For a funeral of Muslim, attend his last rites. This is of utmost importance. Speaking well of him and seeking forgiveness for him will ease his condition in the grave. In turn, when you die, others will also feel for you and make du’a sincerely for your forgiveness.
If we can fulfill these basic duties of a Muslim to another, it is hoped that much of the problems of the society and the world at large will reduce drastically. That is one of the things Islam wants to achieve.
One of the Quran’s instructions was to invite people to goodness as mentioned in the following verse:
“Invite people to the way of your Lord, with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are the best and most gracious: For your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” <Qur’an Nahl 16:125>
We cannot get away with merely affirming that we are Muslims and that we have accepted God as our only God and Islam as our religion. Rather, as soon as we acknowledge Allah as our only Lord and His guidance as our way of life, we take upon ourselves certain obligations and duties towards ourselves and towards others.
Why is it important to show good manners towards non-Muslims? To be a man of principles and a pure source of good is not something easy to achieve. Justice, honesty, integrity, kindness, sincerity, and truthfulness are the qualities of the Muslims that opened the hearts of millions of people in Asia and Africa to the truth of Islam. People know the tree of Islam by the fruits of the good conduct it produced in its followers.
Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, a well known british Muslim scholar reminds us” (British and Muslim by convert to Islam, Abdal-Hakim Murad): To solve the problem thrown at us and at our identity by the real world outside the mosque gates, we need to engage regularly with non-Muslim society. People convert through personal experience of Muslims. And this takes place overwhelmingly, at the workplace. Other social contexts are closed to us: the pub, the beach, the office party. But work is a prime environment for being noticed, and judged, as Muslims. There is nothing remotely new in this. Islam has always spread primarily through social interactions connected with work. The early Muslims who conquered half the world did not set up soapboxes in the town squares of Alexandria, Cordoba, Fez, in the hope that Christians would flock to them and hear their preaching. They did business with the Christians; and their nobility and integrity of conduct won the Christians over. That is the model followed by Muslims; and it is the one that we must retain today, by interacting with non-Muslims in our places of work, as much as we can.” (Mashyekhi, Ghodratullah. A Divine Perspective on Rights; A commentary on Imam Sajjad’s “The Treatise of Rights” by Imam ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn as-Sajjad (as). Translated by Dr. Ali Peiravi, Lisa Zaynab Morgan. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. Retrieved 14 June 2014)
Guiding society by spreading the call of righteousness, fighting atrocities and detestful things, encouraging virtue, enjoining all that is good, helping the people, trying to win the public opinion to the side of Islam, and observing the Islamic principles in all aspects of public life: these are the duty of individual Muslims as well as the community working as a unit.
Let us remember that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spent the first 40 years of his life speaking the truth and became famous as Al-Amin (the truthful) before he started preaching the Truth. Muslims must follow in his path and start condemning intolerance within, even as we demand tolerance from without.
A model of life to others
“…You enjoin the good, forbid the evil, and believe in Allah” <Qur’an Imran 3:110>
Our life should be an ideal one which may draw the attention of Western people. It should agitate the minds of the local people who may be compelled to contrast their own lives with ours. That is one of the ways that will make them curious for gaining sound information about Islam. However, if we slavishly imitate the parts of the Western lifestyle that do not agree with Islam, and thus degrade ourselves, there will not be and cannot be any distinction between us and the local people. In this case, they will not feel any attraction towards us. Nor will it make them reflect on the Muslim behavior or hold us in esteem.
However, when we present before them a unique way of life, it will make them curious. They will be forced to approach us, seeking the source of our worldview. They will naturally ask us how you learnt these high values and noble ideals. They will be keen to have literature about Islam and its philosophy.
It is really important that Muslims present a model and an ideal way of life which may make them interested in studying Islam and eager to know the source of your guidance which enabled you to follow a particular way of life and worldview. This is the only radical way in which you can play an effective role in non-Islamic societies.
Brotherhood in Islam
One of the greatest blessings of Islam is it’s admirable success in creating strong, warm, rich and durable bonds of love and brotherhood between men. It is this blessing of love and brotherhood which is the greatest source of sustenance and nourishment for man, but few of us can honestly say that we have experienced true brotherhood. True Muslim brotherhood implies that you should pray for your brother and want for him what you would want for yourself, and this is the fourth duty. You should pray for him as you pray for yourself making no distinction at all between you and him. You should pray during his life and death that he may have all he might wish for himself, his family and his dependents.
The importance of brotherhood is highlighted by the institution of this by the Prophet (pbuh) in his first state in Medina. As many Muslim emigrants were without means of livelihood, the Prophet (pbuh) laid the obligation of supporting them on the Ansar. The institution of brotherhood in its case was not simply a short term measure designed to deal with an immediate economic crisis but a major and permanent feature of the new social order that was emerging under the Prophet. It represented a deliberate choice in favor of a collective, co-operative spirit, over individualism and competitiveness. It was not an abstract unity. It was a real life organic unity that bound all Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) has described it as such: “You find the Muslims in their mutual love and compassion, like one body, should any organ of it fall ill, the rest of the body will share in the fever and sleeplessness that ensues”. (al-Bukhari)
Risalatul Huquuq [Treatise on Rights] (Mashyekhi, Ghodratullah. A Divine Perspective on Rights; A commentary on Imam Sajjad’s “The Treatise of Rights” by Imam ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn as-Sajjad (as). Translated by Dr. Ali Peiravi, Lisa Zaynab Morgan. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. Retrieved 14 June 2014) describes the different rights of a Muslim towards others, This treatise is an efficient description of one’s duties and obligations to others, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. the following is a summary of rights which Imam Sajjad elucidates these Rights:
The Rights of God
The Greatest Right of God
The Rights of Yourself and Body Organs
The Right of the Tongue
The Right of Hearing
The Right of Sight
The Right of the Legs
The Right of the Hand
The Right of the Stomach
The Right of the Private Part
The Right of Deeds
The Right of the Prayer
The Right of Fasting
The Right of the Pilgrimage
The Right of the Charity
The Right of the Offering
The Right of the Leaders
The Right of the Possessor of Authority
The Right of the Trainer through Knowledge
The Right of the Trainer through Ownership
The Right of the Subjects
The Right of Subjects through Authority
The Right of Subjects through Knowledge
The Right of the Wife
The Right of your Slave
The Rights of Relationship
The Right of the Mother
The Right of the Father
The Right of the Child
The Right of the Brother
The Right of Others
The Right of the Master
The Right of the Freed Slave
The Right of the One Who Treats You Kindly
The Right of the Caller to Prayer
The Right of the Ritual Prayer Leader
The Right of the Sitting Companion
The Right of the Neighbor
The Right of the Companion
The Right of the Partner
The Right of Property
The Right of the Creditor
The Right of the Associate
The Right of the Adversary
The Right of Him Who Seeks Your Advice
The Right of Him Whose Advice You Seek
The Right of Him Who Seeks Your Counsel
The Right of Counselor
The Right of the Older One
The Right of the Younger One
The Right of Him Who Asks You
The Right of Whom You Ask
The Right of Him Through Whom God Makes You Happy
The Right of Him Who Wrongs You
The Right of People of Your Creed
The Right of Those Under Protection of Islam
The concluding comments of Imam Sajjad at the end of the treatise is as follows:
“These are the fifty rights that surround you and you cannot evade under any circumstances. It is incumbent upon you to observe them and exert all efforts to fulfill them. You should seek God the Majestic’s help in this respect. And there is no power or strength but in God. And all praise is due to God the Lord of the Worlds”
Upon looking upon these points elucidated in Risalaatul Huquuq we can see the different rights that should be reserved both for Muslims and non-Muslims.
Another case in Point is the Charter of Madina [ دستور المدينة, Ṣaḥīfat al-Madīnah] (text can be found in http://www.constitution.org/cons/medina/con_medina.htm originally from A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad — A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1955; pp. 231-233. Numbering added)is one clear example where even when the Prophet established Madinatul Nabawi (the state/city of madina) in Yathrib, full rights and respect were accorded to non Muslim subjects, conversely in the state of Al ahbash (ethipia) the Muslims led by Jaafar at-tayyar was also accorded equal rights and protection under the Christian state.
In a way , Muslims whether existing under a Muslim or secular state are expected to observe rights of non-Muslims.
Duties of Muslims towards Society
The Duty of Muslims towards the Society (selections taken from http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=5633)
As we know, human beings work with joint effort. They take advantage of each others’ endeavours to eliminate the needs of their life. The society established by these individuals is similar to a “great man” and each individual is like an organ of this great man’s body.
Each organ of the body performs its own specific function and makes up for its own weaknesses by benefiting from the functions of other organs; that is, in its sphere of activity, each organ provides its interests while providing the interests of other organs and continues its life in the light of the life of other organs. If some organs acted selfishly and were of no use to other organs; for example, if while the hands or feet were functioning, the eyes did not cooperate with them or if the mouth only contented itself with chewing and enjoying the food without swallowing it to satisfy the needs of the stomach, man would die and, as a result, the same self-centred and self-seeking organ would also die.
The duty of the members of a society is exactly like the duty of the organs of a body, i.e., man must look for his interests within the framework of the interests of the society. He must consider what benefits the society would derive from his efforts so that by his efforts all are benefited and he also gets benefited. He must defend the rights of others so that his own rights would not be violated.
This is a fact which we realize with our Allah-given nature. The holy religion of Islam, which is established on the basis of nature and creation, does not have the commandments and views other than these on this matter.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “A Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue Muslims are safe.”
He further states: “Muslims are brothers and are like a single-hand, single-heart, and single-direction against aliens.”
He also states: “Whoever does not care about the affairs of the Muslims is not a Muslim.”
For the Battle of Tabuk when the Holy Prophet (SA) set out with the army of Islam for the frontier of Rome, three Muslims did not participate in the battle. After the return of the army of Islam, when these three persons welcomed and greeted the Holy Prophet (SA), the Prophet (SA) turned his face and did not answer their greetings. In the like manner, the Muslims also turned their faces from these three men. No one, in Madinah, not even their wives, talked to them. Consequently, they became helpless and sought refuge in the mountains of Madinah and engaged themselves in repentance and contrition until Allah accepted their repentance after several days and then they returned to the city. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Yusuf Morales is the Muslim Concerns Coordinator of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University and a member of the Board of Advisers of Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities of the Ateneo de Davao University)