Brotherhood, friendship and wilayah
Brotherhood – To take a friend as a brother for Allah’s sake.
Al-Okhuwwah is ‘taking brothers’ for Allah’s sake. This is a very interesting topic and scholars talk about it a great deal.
In Imam Ghazali’s Kitaab Al-Arba’in Fi Usul ad-Din, The Forty Principles of the Religion, his last section on how to deal with people ends with beautiful concept of brotherhood and friendship. He covered this in even greater deails in his Ihya ulum al Deen.
The first Islamic community established the first brotherhood
The principle of taking brothers for Allah’s sake is so fundamental, it is from the foundations of the religion. You might wonder why this is. If we look at the first Islamic society, which was established in Madinah, we see that the Prophet (peace be on him) established a brotherhood between the Muhajiroon, (those who migrated there) and those who hosted them, the Ansar (the supporters). In Arabic this is called brotherhood muakhat. This was from day 1. In Makkah the Prophet (peace be on him) had had no control over the people as it was dominated by the Quraysh.
What was the purpose behind the introduction of mu’akhat?
What was the necessity to introduce this concept? In Madinah the community were not that educated about Islam, although the Prophet (peace be on him) had sent Musab bin Umayr and others, the year before to teach them about it, they were novices and there were very few teachers.
The priority was therefore to educate them as quickly as possible to strengthen their belief, and their understanding by imparting the knowledge of the deen which the Muhajireen had acquired over 13 years in his company. They were well versed in Islam so they could pass on the Islamic ideals of behaviour, character and understanding.
In addition there was the economic needs of the migrants who had left everything behind – their property, businesses, homes and money for Allah’s sake. They surrendered to Allah Almighty and relied on him to find a way out for them. For this reason, the brotherhood concept would be a support for them financially and socially.
Moreover the Ansar taught the immigrants the culture and ways of their community. They had their own customs and rules and linguistic habits the new arrivals would need to become au fait with this.
In the early years, the ‘brothers’ made a covenant that if they passed away their brother in deen would inherit from them, though this was later abrogated. There has been some discussion by scholars whether the concept of brotherhood itself was abrogated or not. Some scholars say that it can still exist.
Reward – VIP treatment on the Day of Judgement
The rewards of brotherhood are significant.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: Where are those who love each other for the sake of My glory? Today, I will shelter them in My shade on a day when there is no shade but Mine. (Muslim)
On that day, due to the extreme heat of the sun, people will be immersed in sweat according to their sins -some will have sweat rising up to their knees, some to their middle, and some their mouths. However those who loved each other for Allah’s sake will be spared this agony and given special shade – cooled by special air conditioning! Who are these people? Imam al-Suyuti (may Allah be pleased with them) wrote a book “Al-Farsh fil Khisāl al-Mujibah lizillil Arsh” (The Clarification of the Features that required to get the Shade of the Throne) mentioned seventy categories of those who will get shade under Allah’s throne from all the narrations in the Sunnah he could find .
Among the 7 categories from the hadith are those who loved each other for the sake of Allah. They will not suffer at all. They will be VIPs, though they will be differing levels according to their deeds.
In another hadith Mu’adh ibn Jabal reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said Allah Almighty said:
قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ الْمُتَحَابُّونَ فِي جَلَالِي لَهُمْ مَنَابِرُ مِنْ نُورٍ يَغْبِطُهُمْ النَّبِيُّونَ وَالشُّهَدَاءُ
Those who love each other for the sake of my glory will be upon pulpits of light, admired by the prophets and the martyrs. (Tirmidhi)
Defining loving for Allah’s sake
You will not find the definition of loving for Allah’s sake in the English dictionary. Al Ghazali defined it as a love which is inconceivable without faith in Allah and the Last Day, for it is a love that is related to Allah and the Last Day. Al Ghazali elaborated on this in his Ihya in the volume on The Rights of Companionship and Brotherhood.
The first level of love
Al Ghazali says there are two levels of this love – the first level is loving those who enable you to serve Allah, for instance your servant because his service frees up your time or the one who sponsors a project and frees your heart from worrying about earning, so you can focus on your studies and your project. Or loving your shaykh or your teacher or your student, because they benefit you in the akhirah.
The second level of love
The second level is to love the one who loves Allah and is loved by Allah Almighty for purely that reason. The love is not mixed with any dunya issues. These people are from the rabbaniyun (those who have lordly attributes), or one of the awliya‘ (close to Allah). Although we cannot recognise them, they have signs.
How can you identify those who are loved by Allah?
When Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
“When Allah loves a slave, calls out Jibril and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him’. Then Jibril loves him. After that he (Jibril) announces to the inhabitants of heavens that Allah loves so- and-so; so love him; and the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him and then make people on earth love him”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Therefore when Allah Almighty loves someone, He puts acceptance in people’s hearts for this person and this means the doors are open for him and hearts cling to him because he is a man of God. He is from the awliyaullah.
Al Ghazali calls this level aqmal (better) and more perfect than the previous level. When you love this person you love everything he loves, when it is in line with the shariah. The shariah must always be your reference. Do not let it be contaminated with other practices.
Real awliya do not advertise themselves
Real awliya do not come with badges and signposts they hide themselves. Do not be fooled by imposters who claim they are awliya or that their group are awliya as they are deceitful and they trap people. There are many wolves lying in wait along the path to Allah.
Those who genuinely remind you of Allah will draw your heart to them. In their presence your heart pumps in a different way, due to the the beams of light emanating from their heart and penetrating your heart. Ya Rabb enable us to meet such people and be with them.
These people are special; they have good character, charisma and a special way with people which makes you feel mercy in everything they do.
The magnetism of the Prophet (peace be on him)
The foremost example of this is of the Prophet (peace be on him). In his presence, the Companions were so mesmerised that they sat as still as if birds were perched on their head whom they did not want to fly away. They wanted to invest every second in admiring him and listening to him and benefitting from his presence. They would notice time. This was the magnetism of Rasul Allah (peace be on him).
In his first and last Hajj which was a few weeks before he passed away, he addressed over 100,000 hajjis. Imagine how they could all hear him spread over that terrain. Jabir bin Abdillah narrated that they could hear his voice even when they were in their houses, not near him. Allah Almighty imbued his voice with the power to reach everywhere.
When you meet someone for the first time and you feel instantly connected to them, and the light in their face it is the love of Allah in their heart which connects to the love of Allah in your heart – this is the bondship between you.
This is why you have to choose your friends because it makes or breaks you. You follow their footsteps and copy them, so when they are emulating the Prophet (peace be on him), you can feel the beauty of how they interact and behave. This is why the scholars are the heirs of the prophets.
Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi narrated the book “ Al-Faqeeh wal mutafaqqih” that Abu Hanifa and Al-Shafi’i said: if the Fuqahaa’ are not from the awliya’, then there is no waliy for Allah.
This is because the path to wilayah is clear: what makes you close to Allah is doing what He commanded you to. The path is to follow the Sunnah. The more you follow it, the closer you are to Allah Almighty.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said that Allah Almighty said:
My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (Bukhari)
Eethar – Put others before yourself
Those who excel demonstrate eether, in other words they give preference to your brother over yourself.
Love and hate for the sake of Allah
When you love for Allah’s sake you also hate for Allah’s sake. You do not join in and smile and laugh when people disobey Allah. You do not hate them, but their actions and you have to show them that you disapprove of their behaviour. When you do this you have achieved a good level.
If you love someone, let them know
In the Sunnah, if you love someone for Allah’s sake, you should inform them. It is transferring emotions to actions. Inform them because it fosters love in the community. Your love is not based on looks or wealth but they recite the Quran with you or go to the mosque with you.
Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’di reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“When one of you loves his brother, let him know.” (Tirmidhi)
Be loyal to your friend
Part of loving someone is being loyal to them. It is not being fickle like a cat. In addition, there should not be takaluf (sense of burden) between you. You should be generous but not feel strained in the relationship.
Do not resent or hold grudges
Forgive and forget their mistakes. Just as you want them to forgive you, remember the good things and forget the bad things. And support them and make dua for them.
When the angels tell you they love you!
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
“A man set out to visit a brother (in faith) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him, “Where do you intend to go?” He said, “I intend to visit my brother in this town.” The angel said, “Have you done any favour to him?” He said, “No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious.” Thereupon the angel said, “I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake)” (Muslim)
What great news! That the angels tell you that Allah Almighty loves you because you are doing this for Allah’s sake. It gives us a special feeling.
This concept raises us out of this materialistic world and gives us a different flavour, uncontaminated by the toxicity of dunya. It fills your heart with the love of Allah.
You need to train yourself to love others for Allah’s sake, maintain this and keep improving it.
We ask Allah Almighty to make us closer to Him and make us better people. Ameen
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