|Allah has addressed this nation in all places in the Quran collectively, never in the singular form. This is because Islam is the religion of collection and cooperation. Indeed, love and affection constitute the foundation upon which Muslims group, not just on the intellectual level but equally so on the emotional level. That’s why Allah said in the ‘Qudsi Hadith’ (narrated by Malik by way of Mu’aath bin Jabal): “My love is incumbent upon those who love one another for my sake, those who exchange visits for my sake, those who sit with one another for my sake, and those who put themselves in the service of one another for my sake”. It is the loyalty of those who love one another not for worldly benefits but only in the cause of Allah. Those are the the ones for whom Allah’s love is incumbent.
The Messenger explained that love for the sake of Allah is one of three fruits of faith: “Whoever attains three qualities can taste the sweetness of faith”, one of which is to love solely for the cause of Allah (narrated by Bukhary & Muslim). A bounty worthy of mention in Quran “And remember with gratitude Allah’s favor on you for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His grace you became brethren” (Quran 3:103). In another verse He addresses His Messenger: “… He it is that has strengthened you with His aid and with the company of the believers. And He has put affection between their hearts: not if you had spent all that is in the earth could you have produced that affection, but Allah has done it” (Quran 8:62). It was also narrated in the ‘Hadith’ of the seven who will be sheltered under the shadow of Allah on the day when there is no shelter but under his shadow [the day of judgment]: one category of which is two men who love one another for the sake of Allah, only on His cause that they meet and disperse.
The fruits of this love in the cause of Allah are particularly needed in a society as materialistic as the one we live in, where relationships are mostly founded on worldly concerns and interests. Most prominent among these fruits are the establishment of an atmosphere of bonding which protects the Muslim individual from being lost. An atmosphere which enables the Muslim to lead an Islamic life which satisfies his emotional and spiritual needs in a healthy way.
As such, Islam strives to protect the believers’ brotherhood from disturbance. Imam Muslim by way of Abu Huraira related that the Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
“Do not envy one another, do not deceive one another, do not hate one another, do not estrange one another. Do not unfairly compete in trade. Be O servants of Allah brothers. A Muslim is the brother of another: he does not inflict injustice upon him, he does not let him down, he does not lie to him, and he does not belittle him. Piety is in the heart. It is enough evil for a Muslim to scorn his Muslim brother. All that which belongs to the Muslim is forbidden [protected]: his blood, possessions, and honor”.
This ‘Hadith’ provides a complete guide for the Muslim society. It forbids envy even though it is part of human nature. Instead of giving in we are urged to fight it. It is after all the original sin of Satan that he envied Adam peace be upon him. The ‘Hadith’ also forbids cheating, lying and deception. Hate is forbidden except for the cause of Allah, in Quran: “Satan’s plan is but to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling” (Quran 5:91). And in ‘Hadith’: “By He in whose hand is my soul you will not enter paradise until you have faith, you will not have faith until you love one another. Let me tell you about something if done you will love one another: spread the greeting of peace [‘salam’] among yourselves”.
We are taught that to spread love we must engage in actions which promote love and refrain from actions which promote hatred. For that reason gossip was forbidden, and reconciliation was encouraged to the extent that lying for that purpose was permitted. In Quran: “… so fear Allah and keep straight the relations between yourselves” (Quran 8:1). The Messenger said (narrated by Ahmad, Tirmithi, Abu Dawood by way of Abu Al-Darda): “Let me tell you about what is better than prayer, fasting and charity”, he then said “reconciling people”. Can you imagine that putting forth effort to reconcile people is better than fasting and standing in prayer. It is so probably because those acts of worship only benefit the person performing them whereas reconciliation benefits the group individually and collectively.
In the statement “Be O servants of Allah brothers” there is a clue to the fact that if Muslims applied the preceding parts, that is, they refrained from envy, deception, cheating, and hatred then they would indeed become brothers. It also indicates the necessity of pursuing all paths leading to love and affection, and the necessity of staying away from all paths leading to hatred and disunity. To promote those values Islam instituted the spread of Salam, to visit the ill, to attend funerals, and to accept invitations, among many such practices. We are also urged to exchange gifts, the Messenger said: “Exchange gifts for gifts dispels wrath from the heart”.
Al-Hasan said that shaking hands increases affection. Mujahid said that it was related to him that when two persons who love one another in the cause of Allah meet and shake hands their sins fall away from them like leaves fall off of a tree. Someone commented [as if in doubt] that this deed was too easy for that much reward, to which Mujahid replied [disapprovingly]: you say too easy? and he recited: “… not if you had spent all that is in the earth could you have produced that affection, but Allah has done it”.
Then the Messenger declared that Muslims are brothers and he forbade injustice which is forbidden in general but becomes doubly so between Muslims. Scorn which is born of insolence is forbidden as is lying to one another since it causes animosity and diminishes trust.
The Messenger finally summarized by stating that “All that which belongs to the Muslim is forbidden: his blood, possessions, and honor”. This indicates that one may not abuse others in any form. Allah said: “And those who annoy believers men and women undeservedly, bear on themselves a calumny and a glaring sin” (Quran 33:58).
In the same vein the Messenger said: “The believers are like a single body, if one part falls in illness the whole body is affected”. He also said (narrated by Abu Dawood): “The believer is like a mirror to other believers (in truthfulness). The believer is a brother to another believer, he safeguards his property and he watches over his back”. He also said (narrated by Bukhary & Muslim): “You will not have faith until you wish for your brother that which you desire for yourself”.
So my brothers in Allah cooperate for the sake of good and love among yourselves. Form together a barrier in the face of Satan lest he infiltrates your ranks. May Allah guide us to that which he loves and approves for us. I say these words and ask Allah for forgiveness for me and you.