Brotherhood and Fellowship in Islam 3

The Imam ordered me to get up and see to the affairs of my co-religionist brother. I rose at once and did my best to get enough money for the man's fare, and after giving it to him, I returned to the Imam's session. The Imam asked me what I had done for that man. I reported that with God's aid his affair was put in order. The Imam said: ‘Remember that if you help your co-religionist brother, you will be held in a greater esteem by me than for the performance of weeklong circumambulation of the House of God by you’ and then added: ‘A man came to Imam Hassan (PBUH) and asked for assistance in his own difficulty.

The Imam put on his shoes at once and went out with him. On the way they reached a spot where Imam Hossain (PBUH) was engaged in prayer. Imam Hassan asked the man: ‘Why didn't you refer to Hossain to help you in your difficulty?’ The man answered: ‘O, son of the prophet of God! I intended to do so, but he is in his spiritual seclusion, so I did not go to him.’ Imam Hassan said: ‘But if he had received the favour of aiding you, it would have been better for him than one month's spiritual seclusion’”(1)

Imam Sadiq (PBUH) says:

ما قضی مسلم لمسلم حاجۀ الا ناداه الله تبارک و تعالی علی ثوابک و لا ارضی لک بدون الجنه

“Every Muslim who removes the need of his Muslim brother is promised a reward by God, and I think no reward other than heaven is adequate for him.” (2)

A man called Abdol-A'ela who was a distinguished Shi'a, left Kufa for Medina. The Shi'a followers of Imam Sadiq wrote down the questions on the issues they had in mind, and gave them to him in order to receive the answers back from the Imam through him. They also asked him on being received by the Imam to request him to explain the rights of a Muslim towards his co-religionist brother. Abdol-A'ela says: “When I found the honour of meeting the Imam, he answered all the questions but said nothing about the rights of co-religionist brethren. On the following days, too, the Imam made no reference to this matter. When my stay in Medina came to an end, and I went to beg leave from the Imam, I reminded him that my question was still unanswered.

He said: “I deliberately abstained from giving an answer”. I asked the reason, and he said: “I fear to explain since you may not act upon it and thus abandon your religion of God.” Then he added: “Of the hardest things that God has made obligatory for his servants there are three matters: firstly, the observance of justice and equity between oneself and others, meaning that one should treat his co-religionist brethren in the same way that one expects others to treat oneself. Secondly, one should show fellowship to one's co-religionist brethren, and aid them with his wealth and thirdly, one should, under all conditions, remember God, and by that I do not mean that one should keep on repeating the phrases ‘Glory be to God’ or ‘God be praised’. What I mean is that upon coming across a forbidden act, one should remember God and thus abstain from committing such an act.”(3)

These teachings had penetrated the spirit of the followers of Islam so deeply that their conduct cannot be compared with that of any nation. We have given several examples of this, and books of history abound in such cases of brotherhood and fellowship. Now that many centuries have passed since the advent of Islam, and humanity has made the so called "astonishing progress" in industries and technologies, not only is this noble human quality not observed in advanced countries, but rather the exact reverse of it exists there.

A writer says about the relations of Europeans with each other: “The relations of people with each other are cold and devoid of deep-rooted feelings. It seems that true affection, which is an emotional relationship illuminating life, has been crushed under the wheels of industry. Basically, there is no sign of self-sacrifice, indulgence and sympathy at all, and the number of one's friends may not exceed the number of one's fingers.” When the writer was confined in hospital, though my visitors were not many, I could claim that their number was greater than that of the visitors of the German patients in that ward of the hospital. This was quite surprising for the hospital staff, since one rarely saw a German visiting his sick relative. Here I will narrate an interesting incident as a living proof of my claim so that you may see the extent of the kindness and affection of civilized nations.

A few years ago, a professor from a German university embraced Islam in the presence of the director of an Islamic group in Hamburg. Sometime later, this convert Muslim was confined in a hospital due to some sickness. The director of the Islamic group, learning of his sickness, went to visit him, but was unexpectedly faced with the sad and depressed countenance of the professor. He asked the reason for his depression and discomfort.

The professor who until that moment, had kept silent and was immersed in his own thoughts, began to speak, and narrated his amazing but unfortunate account as follows: “Today my wife and son came to visit me. The hospital ward informed them that I was suffering from cancer. While leaving the hospital, they addressed me and said: ‘We are told today that you are dying of cancer, and only a few days of your life are left. So we say good-bye to you for the last time and you must excuse us from paying another visit.’ He added then: ‘This noticeable pain and mental depression is not due to a feeling that the doors of hope are shut against me and that I despair of life. It is rather due to the unfair and inhuman behavior of my wife and son which has given me such a severe depression.”

The director of the Islamic group, who was deeply moved at the professor's uneasiness, said: “As Islam has strongly emphasized the matter of visiting the sick, I will come to see you whenever I find an opportunity.” One hearing these words, there emerged a happy smile on the professor's face. His physical condition however became worse and after some time he died. A number of Muslims went to the hospital to attend his funeral and burial rites, and carried the body of the convert to the cemetery. But the matter did not end here. At the moment of the burial, a young man, looking angry, arrived and said: “Where is the professor's corpse?” They asked: “Are you related to the deceased?” He said: “Yes he is my father. I have come to deliver his body to the hospital for autopsy; for, a few days before his death, I sold his body to the hospital for thirty German marks.”

But in spite of his insistence, those present opposed him and he was obliged to let the matter drop. Later on, when the young man was asked what his profession was, he said that he worked in a factory in the morning, and did hairdressing for dogs in the afternoon.

This bitter incident truly shows how human kindness and affection are declining in the civilized society. Today, too, the retrogressing course of humanity in terms of noble qualities, and outburst of social depravity are undeniable. Great thinkers, confessing this bitter truth, are looking for a remedy, and are deeply pained at this unpleasant situation. They know well what the sickness is, and feel that a fundamental combat with this carelessness and perversity, and building up a new world hinges on faith and virtue.

Those who are submerged in this kind of life, have realized that this is an empty life which can never offer happiness to mankind. It is interesting to hear this frank and clear confession from the present President of America on the occasion of taking the oath of office. He said: “We consider ourselves rich in commodities, but our spirit is unstable. While we land on the moon with brilliant skill, we are involved with a crushing dispersion on the earth. We are involved in war, while we desire peace. Discord has separated us, while we are looking for unity. We see empty lives all around us, while we long for satisfaction. In the face of a spiritual crisis which has afflicted us, we are in need of a spiritual response. To find such an answer we should only look at ourselves. When we listen to the call of conscience, we shall see that it respects such simple and basic things as goodness, purity, love, and kindness.”

It is by means of attention to these facts that every just person involuntarily bows to the great legislator of Islam - a legislator who, by paying attention to all the physical, spiritual and instinctive needs of man, has enacted such happiness-giving laws which are in harmony with human nature and logic, and which respond to all wishes. These are the laws which have, for many centuries, been carried out and have produced satisfactory results. They are the laws which have not merely stayed in a written from, but have also been executed in their full sense, without meeting any difficulty in their enforcement.

The more we look at the confessions of western thinkers, the more we feel their social and psychological disorders, and eventually we further appreciate and praise the pure, chaste and heavenly Islam. In conclusion, what should be remembered is that all Muslim are duty-bound to propagate the teaching of Islam without any adornment, and especially acquaint the young with these injunctions of Islam so that the spirit of brotherhood and fellowship, which has existed for many centuries in the Muslim society, may be strengthened, and under the auspices of this Islamic brotherhood, we may proceed towards true happiness.

NOTS:

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1. Kafi,vol.2, p.158.

2. Ghorbol-Assnad, p.19.

3. Usool-e-Kafi, vol.2, p. 170., Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.7, p.243.