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Keeping Our Brothers And Sisters In Islam

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الحمد لله رب العالمين و الصلاة و السلام على اشرف المرسلين سيدنا محمد سيد الاولين و الاخرين و على اله و اصحابه و من دعا بدعوته و استن بسنته الى يوم الدين. ) سُبْحَانَكَ لَاعِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَأ َنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ(

 

All praises belong to Allāh. We send prayers and salutations on the most honorable among the Messengers, our leader Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the leader of the early ones and the later ones, as well as on his family, his companions, and those who call towards his message and adopt his Sunnah until the day of resurrection. “To You belongs all purity! We have no knowledge except what You have given us. Surely, You alone are the All-knowing, All-wise.”

The Practice of More or Less

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This is an article meant to be a complement to two recent articles on the subject of practicing Islām. The intent here is to demonstrate how it is necessary for us, as Muslims, to bridge the gap between those who practice and those who practice less.

There is no denying that as Muslims, as a matter of fact, as human beings, we are bound to live as positive contributors to our social environment, through dignity and respect, despite our differences. One may use any word they wish: tolerance, open-mindedness, accepting diversity. All words refer to the ability the most honorable ones among us have in sincerely displaying a high standard of character when dealing with others.

The first matter to establish and agree on, is that there is a categorization among the Muslims which has been established by naṣṣ (textual evidence) of Qurʾān, and which will always exist until the end of times.

“Then We gave the Book as an inheritance to those whom We chose from among Our servants; among them is the one who wrongs himself, and among them is also the one who takes a middle course, and of them is the one who is foremost in virtuous deeds by Allāh’s permission; this is the great excellence.” (s. al-Fāṭir,v. 32)

One wishing to see a full tafsīr of this verse, may consult this article.

Below are three statements on the tafsīr of this verse which are most relevant to our present discussion:

It has been narrated that while delivering a sermon, ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, after having read the above verse, that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Our foremost ones have gone ahead, our middle coursed ones are saved, and our wrongful ones are forgiven.’[1]

It has also been narrated through Abū Dardā, that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘The foremost one will enter Paradise with no accounting; the middle coursed one will go through an easy reckoning and then enter Paradise; the wrongful one will be held, until he thinks he is doomed, at whichpoint, he will be overtaken by the mercy of Allāh and will enter Paradise.’[2] This is yet another glad-tiding for accepting Allāh’s oneness, although one may be lacking in their observance of Allāh’s commands. It is also a glad tiding for those who observe Allāh’s commands, through being freed from a reckoning or going through an easy one.

Ibn-ʿAṭā explains: Allah Taʿālā has mentioned the wrongful ones first in the verse so they may not despair from His favor. It is also said that he has mentioned them first so they may know that their sins do not distance them from their Lord. It is also said that this order was set because, generally, one’s initial spiritual state is that of disobedience, followed byrepentance [tawba] and then steadfastness [istiqāma].

According to Ibn-ʿAṭā’s explanation, if this verse is directed at anyone, it is to those who practice least. Yet, those who practice their Islām more diligently can benefit from the order of spiritual progress explained by Ibn-ʿAṭā. If we accept that spiritual progress is a natural progress, as explained by Ibn-ʿAṭā, then we convince ourselves to give salām because we are sure they’re good Muslims. It’s only that they are at a spiritual stage which is less advanced. There is nothing wrong with greeting others with all due respect and consideration, and with no fear of being judged. If the fear of being judged is the only reason why we fail to do so, then we are running away from annoyance while forsaking an obligatory or commendable matter. It is one of the traits of Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to endure annoyance from others. Being judged is a light matter, especially from a person with whom we do not have regular dealings (spouse, sibling, co-worker etc…).

In fact, those who practice Islam diligently should greet the less diligent ones with even more warmth than they would normally do to ones similar in practice to themselves. This is so because if the diligent Muslims were to forsake greeting the less-practicing ones, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then by what miracle will they be drawn towards their category? Guidance lies with Allāh, but Allāh has made means for everything in this world. The guidance of the first category of Muslims to the second category, or their capacity to remain within that first category is dependent on the dealings of those Muslims who have the fate of being in a higher category.

Why Keep Company?

Keeping company with one another has been encouraged in the Qurʾān by Allāh’s affirmation that He has bestowed His bounty on the people of īmān by making them brothers.

“Remember the blessing of Allāh upon you: When you were enemies to each other, and He brought your hearts together, so that, you became brothers through His blessing.” (s. Āl-ʿImrān, v. 103).

The main objective of companionship is to assist one another and strengthen one another.

“He is the One who supported you with His aid and with the believers,and He united their hearts.” (s. al-Anfāl, v. 62-63). It is also narrated in ḥadīth, ‘The relationship of the believer with another believer is like (the bricks of) a building, each strengthens the other.’[3]

There are even greater benefits in the ākhira (hereafter), such as the ability of those who are superior to intercede on behalf of those who are inferior, thus allowing them to gain forgiveness and high stations in Paradise (through that intercession).

This is critical to understand and practice upon. If those who practice less are deprived of the company of those who practice more, their practice will only worsen as they progress towards death. ʿAbdullāh Ibn-ʿAbbās  explains, ‘Does anyone other than people corrupt people?”

In other words, either corruption or righteousness is a guaranteed effect of companionship. Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also explains this through his saying, ‘A person is on the religion of his friend, so let each one of you carefully consider whom they befriend.’[4]

Those Muslims who are less-practicing and yet love their Islām, should attempt to keep the company of those who practice more than them. Likewise, Muslims who practice more should attempt to befriend the Muslims who practice less so they may benefit from their companionship. The problem of forsaking the salām requires much more than a simple online discussion. It’s a behavior that requires actively seeking Allāh’s assistance to correct. In doing so, we hope to comply to Allāh’s command in assisting one another towards righteousness and taqwā. It’s just as important as, if not more, than dressing in accordance to the precepts of Islām.

There are numerous examples from Rasūlullāh r that exemplify adopting kindness when dealing with others. One such example is when he reprimanded ʿĀisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) for being harsh to a Jewish woman. He said, ‘O ʿĀisha, adopt gentleness, because indeed Allāh-Taʿālā is gentle and He loves gentleness. He grants through gentleness that which He does not grant through harshness, and which He does not grant through anything else.’[5]

Afshush Salam

Greeting our fellow Muslims is the simplest form of social interaction. The salām is ‘the greeting of the people of Paradise’, and it is ‘The word (they receive) from a Merciful Lord’ (s. Yāsīn, v. 58). Regular salām through many weeks, months, years can go a long way in preserving a Muslim’s Islām or taking them to the next category of piety. This is nobility of character. That is, for one to be able to maintain honorable dealings with those who fail to do so, or those whose demeanor is repulsive. It is mentioned in ḥadīth that, ‘The believer will certainly reach, through his noble character, the rank of the one who pray during the hours of the night and fast abundantly.’[6] It is also mentioned that those who will sit the closest to Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) on the day of qiyāma are those whose character is the most noble[7]; the noble next to the noblest.

According to ʿUmar, the less diligent are ‘forgiven’ and according to Abū-Dardā’s ḥadīth, ‘will be overtaken by the mercy of Allah and will enter Paradise.’ One may as well look at them as people of Paradise when dealing with them. Their road to Paradise is just different and we are responsible for contributing to better that journey.

It is narrated about ʿUmar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), that he once took someone as a brother for the sake of Allāh in Madīna-Munawwarah, and that the person eventually moved to Shām (Syria). ʿUmar later enquired about his state of affairs from someone coming from Shām. The person replied, ‘That man is shayṭān’s brother!’ ʿUmar asked ‘Why?’ He replied, ‘He indulges in major sins to the point that he even drinks liquor.’ ʿUmar then said, ‘Inform me prior to leaving for Shām’. He then wrote to his friend in Shām:

“Hā Mīm .This is revelation of the Book from Allāh, the Mighty, the All-Knowing, the One who forgives sins and accepts repentance, the One who is severe in punishment, the One who is the source of all power. There is no god but He. To Him is the ultimate return (of all).” (s. Ghāfir, v. 1-3)

Following the verse, Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) then reprimanded and rebuked him.

When the man came to read the letter, he wept, and said, ‘Allāh has said the truth and ʿUmar has indeed discharged naṣīḥa (well-wishing advice).’ He then repented and returned to his good ways.

It is worthy to note that ʿUmar’s advice was received well and had the desired effect. This is because, rather than shunning the brother, he kept the man as his brother in Allāh, even after having been informed about his state of affairs. Finally, the advice was discharged through a letter privately (with wisdom).

The salām of the practicing Muslims to the less-practicing ones, taking them as brothers or sisters for the sake of Allāh and advising them when there is an opportunity to do so, will go a long way in improving their practice, in shā Allāh. Having dealings with them while living as a contributor to the betterment of society will have an even greater effect. Furthermore, doing all this for the sake of Allāh will guarantee that results are reached.

The above is a reminder to all our Muslim brethren. A reminder that Allāh has put us in the same verse insūra Fāṭir; our differing levels of practice are none but a source of strength for us. Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), whom we all profess to believe in, is our link to Allāh and his teachings and lifestyle should be our aim. Muslims who practice less should make a sustained effort to educate themselves about the Rasūl ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his practice of Islām. Those who follow that practice outwardly should make a sustained effort to learn how to take example on him inwardly, by adopting his noble character when dealing with others.

We ask Allāh to favor us all with an Islām that is granted acceptance, which constantly grows, and which we meet Allāh with.

Was-salāmu ʿalaykum wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuh.

[1] Al-Durr al-Manthūr, al-Suyūṭī

[2]MusnadImāmAḥmad, Mustadrak al-Ḥākim

[3] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim

[4]Abū-Dāwūd and Tirmidḥī

[5]Al-Bukhārī

[6]Abū-Dāwūd and Ibn-Ḥibbān

[7]Al-Tirmidhī

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Mukhtar Ba is a Muslim man in his early forties, who hopes one day to become among the Ṣāliḥīn. He has a strong interest in continuously acquiring and perusing Islamic knowledge. An Industrial engineer by profession, he has strived to assiduously seek sacred knowledge along with his professional activities since the early 2000s. This interest has led him to study with contemporary senior scholars in Mauritania and Senegal, his home countries. He has studied mainly the following subjects: Māliki Fiqh, Arabic grammar, Seerah Nabawiyya, Hadith, Aqeeda and Tasawwuf. He takes a particular interest in Tafsir of Quran, and has translated one volume (out of 6) of a classical Tafsir by a Senegalese scholar of the 20th century, organized in a similar fashion to the Jalalayn. One of his areas of interest is analyzing the intersection between modern issues and traditional sources of Islamic knowledge. He currently resides in Canada.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Syed J

    March 27, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    Assalam alaikum Mukhtar Ba,

    Bahut zabardast article likhe na Mukhtar Ba.. May Allah forgive the shortcomings and JazakAllah Khair!

    Syed J
    bay area, CA

  2. Br. Nakir

    March 27, 2015 at 4:05 PM

    Interesting enough article….but who really follows this advice? Is it really suitable for the Muslims today?

    • June

      March 28, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      The advice has been given. It is up to the one who hears it to act upon it or not.
      Perhaps what you are suggesting is a follow-up article? One that gives practical advice on how to act in order to compliment this article that gives textual evidence on how to act.
      Out of curiosity what advice from the article does not seem “suitable” for today’s Muslims?
      Perhaps you yourself have advice you feel is more suitable for the Muslims today? As far as I know MM accepts article submissions from guest writers. I’m curious about and would love to hear what you have to say – be it article submission or comment reply. :)

      • Br.Nakir

        March 28, 2015 at 12:57 PM

        Ill share a few thoughts..

        If a person has problems sleeping (insomia), do you tell such a person to sleep? Of course you do, that’s the obvious solution..

        but does that qualify as advice? does the person who suffers from insomnia not know what he should be doing? are we overstating the obvious? is it a sign of our own disconnect with our fellow insomniac that we tell them to do something they already know they should be doing?

        Would it not be more reasonable to explore what is causing the insomnia? what is causing people not to give salams?

        One aspect of people not giving salams is that people are unaware of its value, that is something the article relates well….people don’t do things because they are unaware of its inherent benefit..easy enough to understand…

        there is a flip side…people do things because they are aware of its inherent benefit..also easy enough to understand..

        now lets look at another coin; ignorance of benefit aside (lets face it, the vast majority of muslims understand the obligations and importance of salam)

        aside from ignorance, what causes people not to give salam

        …that is a perspective that would yield lots of insight and opportunity for self reflection

        Another aspect is the nafs..

  3. Gary H.

    March 27, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    Finally, an article with solid contextual evidence. I don’t understand why so many writers feel the need to express and project their own opinions of Islam when dealing with different subject matters. It confuses the reader and doesn’t capture the spirit of Islam. I guess that’s what happens when peoe feel the need to express their ego rather than what Allah and his messenger said.

    Good write up, this article presents the essence of Islam.

    Jazakullah kahyr

  4. Garrick

    March 29, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    Thanks for the article brother, a good reminder to those who want to humble themselves. Sometimes I feel like we just lose sight of whats important and how easy the little things like these are.

    Ill definitely be sharing this.

  5. Sahil Khan

    March 30, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    Thanx for the reminder bro. I have shared in my group Practicing Peace..!!

  6. Spirituality

    March 31, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    As Salamu Alaikum,
    I can’t help but think that this aamazing article is a response to the articles ‘practicing Islam in short shorts’ and ‘practicing Islam in long prayer garments.’

    If so, please make that explicitly clear- everyone who read both those articles and had a strong divisive reaction should read this article and reflect deeply.

    Jazak Allahu Khayran for writing this piece.

  7. Spirituality

    March 31, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    Oops there was a link to the articles! Maybe include a direct reference in the title?

  8. Shahin

    April 4, 2015 at 9:09 PM

    As some people have guessed, I also believe that this is a response to “Practicing Islam in Long, Long Prayer Garments” by Umm Zakiyyah, which was a response to “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts” by Thanna El-Naggar. When Umm Zakiyyah wrote her response, it seemed “harsh” to some since it mimicked the same attitude found in the “short shorts” article but it was important. The way that this article above highlights the way Muslims need to deal with each other on a day-to-day basis is true, esp. with the contextual evidence provided, but when practicing Muslims get judged by less practicing Muslims (which is something we don’t really talk about), someone needs to speak up, and that’s what Umm Zakiyyah did.

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