Islamiat Notes Brotherhood Lecture No. 14


Lecture No. 14

TOPIC: BROTHERHOOD


Definition of Brotherhood
Universal Brotherhood
             As understood in the Esoteric Philosophy, and which is a sublime natural fact of universal Nature, does not signify merely sentimental unity, or a simple political or social co-operation. Its meaning is incomparably wider and profounder than this. The sense inherent in the words in their widest tenor or purport is the Spiritual Brotherhood of all Beings; particularly, the doctrine implies that all human beings are inseparably linked together, not merely by the bonds of emotional thought or feeling, but by the very fabric of the universe itself, all men, as well as all beings, both high and low and intermediate, spring forth from the inner and spiritual Sun of the universe, as its hosts of spiritual rays. We all come from this one source, that spiritual Sun, and are all builded of the same life-atoms on all the various planes.
Brotherhood in Islam
           Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
           Brotherhood in Islam has a glorious meaning, Islam established deep roots for it. Allah (S.W.T) says (Interpretation of the meaning): "The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion)."
           A Muslim always keeps a favorable judgment towards his Muslim brothers and works hard to defend their honor. Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales. Do not look for other's faults. Do not spy one another, and do not practice Najsh (means to offer a high price for something in order to allure another customer who is interested in the thing). Do not be jealous of one another and do not nurse enmity against one another. Do not sever ties with one another. Become the slaves of Allah, and be brothers to one another as He commanded. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He should neither oppress him nor humiliate him. The piety is here! The piety is here!". While saying so he pointed towards his chest. "It is enough evil for a Muslim to look down upon his Muslim brother. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in Faith: his blood, his wealth and his honour. Verily, Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts and your deeds."
           A Muslim does not have any priority on his Muslim brother, they are as equal as the teeth of a comb. There is no superiority at all except on the basis of fear of Allah (S.W.T) and good deeds. Prophet (Blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The lives of all Muslims are equal, they are all one hand against others, the lowliest of them can guarantee their protection. A Muslim must not be killed for an infidel, nor must one who has been given covenant be killed while his covenant holds. A Muslim always soft nature for a Muslim and will be kind and humble to the believers. Allah says (Interpretation of the meaning): "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him, humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers."
Equality of Mankind
          God created a human pair to herald the beginning of the life of Mankind on the earth and all persons inhabiting this world today have sprung from this pair. For some time in the initial stage the progeny of this pair reminded a single group. It had one religion and spoke the same language. There were little or no differences among them.
           But as their numbers gradually increased, they spread all over the earth and as a natural result of their diversification and growth were divided into various tribes, and nationalities. Their languages became different; their modes of dress varied; and their manners of living also became distinct from one another. The climate and environment of various places altered their color and physical features. All these differences are natural variations.
           They do exist in the world of reality. Hence, Islam recognize them as matters of fact. It does not seek to wipe out or to ignore them but affirms that their advantages consists in affording the only possible means of distinguishing one from the other. But the prejudices which have arisen among mankind out of these differences in the shape of groupings and organizations based on race, color, language, nationality, etc. are disapproved by Islam. Islam regards all distinctions of birth, of high and low among men, of upper and lower classes, of natives of the soil and aliens as the manifestation of sheer ignorance. It declares that all men in the world have sprung from the same parents and therefore are brothers and equal in their status as human beings.
          After propounding this concept of equality and brotherhood of mankind, Islam adds that if there can be any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, country or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles. Two children of the same mother, though they may be equal from the point of view of common ancestry, will have to go their different ways in life if their beliefs and moral conduct differ from one another. On the contrary two persons, one being in the East and the other in the West, even thought geographically and outwardly separated from one another by vast distances, will tread the same path in life if they have identified fundamental tenet. Islam seeks to build a principled and ideological society as against the racial, national and parochial societies existing in the world. The basis of co-operative effort among men in such a society is not one's birth but a creed and a moral principle. Anyone, if he beliefs in God as his Master and Lord and accepts the guidance of the Prophets as the law of his life, can join this community, whether he is a resident of American or Africa; whether he is black in color or white-skinned; whether he speaks a European language or Arabic. All those who join this community will have the same rights and social status. They will not be subjected to any racial, national, or class distinctions of any kind. No one will be regarded as high or low. There will be no unsociability among them; none could be polluted by the touch of anyone's hand. There will be no handicaps for them in the matter of material relations, eating and drinking, and social contacts. None will be looked down as lowly or mean by reason of his birth or profession. Nobody will claim any distinctive rights by virtue of his caste, community or ancestry. Man's merit will not depend on his family connections or riches, but only on whether he is better than others in moral conduct or excels others in piety and righteousness.
          Such a social order, out stepping the geographical boundaries and limits of race, color and language as it does, can spread itself in all parts of the world and on its foundations can be raised the edifice of the universal brotherhood of men.       
          In societies based on race or nationality, only those people can join who belong to a particular race or country and the door is closed in the face of all those who do not belong to them. But in this ideological society anyone who accepts the creed and its moral standard can become its member, possessing equal right with everyone else. As for those who do not accept this creed, the community, while it cannot receive them within its fold, is prepared to have relations of tolerance and brotherhood with them and give them all the basic human rights. It is evident that if two children of the same mother differ in their thoughts, their ways of life will necessarily be different in any case; but this does not, however, imply that they cease to be brothers. Exactly in the same manner, if two groups of human beings or two groups of the people living in the same country, differ in their fundamental beliefs and principles and ideology, their social order will also certainly differ from one another, although they will continue to share the common ties of humanity. Hence, the Islamic society offers to non-Muslim societies and groups the maximum social and cultural rights that can possibly be accorded on the basis of common bonds of humanity.
Human Rights in Islam
           Since God is the Absolute and the sole Master of men and the universe, He is the Sovereign Lord, the Sustainer and Nourisher, the Merciful, Whose mercy enshrines all beings. And since He has given each man human dignity and honor, and breathed into him of His own spirit, it follows that, united in Him and through Him, men are substantially the same and no tangible and actual distinction can be made among them.
           Although an Islamic state may be set up in any part of the earth, Islam does not seek to restrict human rights or privileges to the geographical limits of its own state. Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances whether he is at peace with the Islamic state or outside it, whether he is at peace with the state or at war. The Qur'an very clearly states:
            "O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is next to piety." (5:8)
           Human blood is sacred in any case and cannot be spilled without justification. And if anyone violates this sanctity of human blood by killing a soul without justification, the Quran equates it to the killing of entire mankind:
 " Who slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, should be as if he had slain mankind altogether." (5:32)
           It is not permissible to oppress women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded. Women's honor and chastity are to be respected under all circumstances. The hungry person must be feed, the naked clothed and the wounded or diseased treated medically irrespective of whether they belong to the Islamic community or are from amongst its enemies.
           When we speak of human rights in Islam we really mean that these rights have been granted by God; they have not been granted by any king or by any legislative assembly. The rights granted by the kings or the legislative assemblies can also be withdrawn in the same manner in which they are conferred.
           The same is the case with the rights accepted and recognized by the dictators. They can confer them when they please and withdraw them when they wish; and they can openly violate them when they like. But since in Islam human rights have been conferred by God, no legislative assembly in the world or any government on earth has the right or authority to make any amendment or change in the rights conferred by God.
           No one has the right to abrogate them or withdraw them. Nor are they basic human rights, which are conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and denied in actual life when the show is over. Nor are they like philosophical concepts, which have no sanctions behind them.
           The charter and the proclamations and the resolutions of the United Nations cannot be compared with the rights sanctioned by God; because the former is not applicable on anybody while the latter is applicable on every believer. They are a part and parcel of the Islamic Faith.
           Every Muslim or administrators who claim themselves to be Muslims, will have to accept, recognize and enforce them. If they fail to enforce them, and start denying the rights that have been guaranteed by God or make amendments and changes in them, or practically violate them while paying lip service to them, the verdict of the Holy Quran for such government is clear and unequivocal;
 "If any do fail to judge by what Allah hath revealed, they are Unbelievers." (5:44)
Human Rights in an Islamic State:
           The Security of life and Property: In the address which the Prophet delivered on the occasion of the Farewell Hajj, he said; "Your lives and properties are forbidden to one another till you meet your Lord on the day of Resurrection." The Prophet has also said about the zimmis (the non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim state): "One who kills a man under covenant (i.e., zimmi) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise."
           The Protection of Honor: The Holy Quran lays down:
i). "You, who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set."
ii). "Do not defame one another."
iii). "Do not insult by using nicknames."
"Do not backbite or speak of one another." (49:11-12)
Sanctity and Security of Private Life:
 The Qur'an has laid down the injunction.
i). "Do not spy on one another." (49:12)
ii). "Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant's consent."
(24:27)

           The Security of Personal Freedom: Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proved in an open court. To arrest a man only on the basis of suspicion and to throw him into a prison without proper court proceedings and without providing him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defense is not permissible in Islam.
The Right to Protest Against Tyranny:
            Amongst the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to protest against government's tyranny. Referring to it the Quran says: "God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by some one who has been injured thereby."
           In Islam, as has been argued earlier, all power and authority belongs to God, and with man there is only delegated power which becomes a trust; everyone who becomes a recipient or a donee of such a power has to stand in awful reverence before his people towards whom and for whose sake he will be called upon to use these powers.
Freedom of Expression:
            Islam gives the right of freedom of the though and expression to all citizens of the Islamic state on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness. The Islamic concept of freedom of expression is many superior to the concept prevalent in the West.
Freedom of Association:
            Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations. This right is also subject to certain general rules.
Freedom of Conscience and Conviction:
           Islam has laid down the injunction: There should be no coercion in the matter of faith."
           On the contrary totalitarian societies totally deprive the individuals of their freedom. Indeed this undue exaltation of the state authority curiously enough postulates a sort of servitude, of slavishness on the part of man. Protection of Religious Sentiments: Along with the freedom of conviction and freedom of conscience Islam has given the right to the individual that his religious sentiments will be given due respect and nothing will be said or done which may encroach upon his right.
Protection from Arbitrary Imprisonment:
           Islam also recognizes the right of the individual that he will not be arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Quran has laid down this principle clearly:
 "No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear the burden of another."
The Right to Basic Necessities of Life:
           Islam has recognized the right of the needy people that help and assistance will be provided to them:
"And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute."
Equality Before Law:
           Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law.
Rulers Not Above the Law:
            A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet replied, "The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common-man for their offences and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand." The Right to participate in the Affairs of State:
 "And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (42:38).
           The shura or the legislative assembly has no other meaning except that:
           The executive head of the government and the members of the assembly should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.
           Lastly, it is to be made clear that Islam tries to achieve the above-mentioned human rights and many others not only by providing certain legal safeguards but mainly by inviting mankind to transcend the lower level of animal life to be able to go beyond the mere ties fostered by the kinship of blood, racial superiority, linguistic arrogance, and economic privileges. It invites mankind to move on the plane of existence where, by reason of his inner excellence, man can realize the ideal of the Brotherhood of man.

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