The Brotherhood of Islam

A Muslim is related to different people in different ways: first, he is very closely related to his family members; second, he is related to his relatives; and finally, he is related to other Muslims in the bond of religious brotherhood known as the Muslim Ummah.

The first two circles of relationship are based on family ties. You and your brother or you and your cousin are from a common fore-father. But the third relationship is not based on family ties, it is based on religious ties. All Muslims are related to one another through Islam, and this relationship is known as the “Islamic Brotherhood”. Allāh says in the Qur'ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10)

The basis of Islamic brotherhood is not a common forefather, but the common God, Prophet, the Book, etc. All Muslims believe in Allāh, Prophet Muhammad, and the Qur'ān, and they all pray towards the same Ka`bah.

Relationships are also based on common race, language or country. People of the same race, same language or same country feel a special fraternity towards each other. But Islamic brotherhood transcends all these boundaries of race, language, country, colour and wealth. Allāh says in the Qur'ān: “O you mankind! We have created you from a male and a female; and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other [more easily]. Indeed, the most noble among you in view of Allāh is the most pious of you.” (49:13)

All Muslims are brethren of each other even if they are from different families, races, and countries, or have different skin colour and language. Muslims in China, Mexico, Iraq, Kenya, USA, India, England, Turkey, Malaysia, Ghana, Japan and Tunis are all brethren of one another on the basis of their common faith and beliefs. Their colour, country, and language are less important when it comes to their relationship based on Islam.

All the Muslims of the world form a single brotherhood or community which is known as “the Muslim Ummah”. Every Muslim is a member of the ummah. The Ka`bah is a visual center of gravity for the Muslim ummah—Muslims all over the world face the same Ka`bah five times a day and confirm their brotherhood.

2. The Prophet & Islamic Brotherhood

The issue of Islamic brotherhood and fraternity was so important in Islam that soon after migrating to Medina, the first important social decree of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was on the issue of brotherhood.

The Muslim community of Medina was divided into two groups: the Ansār and the Muhājirin. “Ansār” (Helpers) was a title used for the natives of Medina, whereas “Muhājirin” (Immigrants) was a title used for those Muslims, mostly Meccans, who had migrated to Medina.

Among the Ansār, there were two tribes known as the Aws and the Khazraj who were bitter enemies and had fought each other for more than a century. The Prophet had resolved this conflict even before he migrated to Medina. With the advent of Islam, the Aws and the Khazraj put their past animosity behind and accepted the bond of Islamic brotherhood. Referring to this blessing of Islam, Allah says: “And remember the favour of Allah upon you—you indeed were enemies (of each other) and then He created fraternity between your hearts and thus you became brethren by His blessing...” (3:103)

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