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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself

Anas relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The importance of this hadith:

Al-Jurjânî says about it: “This hadith is one of the foundations of Islam.”

It is a most eloquent summary of how a Muslim is supposed to conduct himself with others. Al-Nawawî relates to us that Ibn Abî Zayd, the leading jurist in Morocco of his time, said: “All the etiquettes of virtue can be derived from four hadith – ” Then he mentioned the following statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

1. “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say something good or remain silent.”

2. “ From the perfection of a person’s Islam is his leaving alone what does not concern him.”

3. “Do not get angry”

4. “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

This hadîth shows how people are supposed to relate to each other. It negates base emotions such as envy and establishes the vision of a society based on mutual responsibility and caring.

None of you truly believes…

This hadith is not saying that a person becomes an unbeliever for failing to hold in his heart such love for others. It is merely stating that his belief is deficient.

This is made clearer by a narration in Musnad Ahmad that reads: “A worshipper does not attain the truth of faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself of good.”

This is similar to many other statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him), like:

“By Allah he does not believe… whose neighbor is not safe from his abuse.” [Musnad Ahmad]

“A fornicator is not a believer while he is engaged in fornication, a thief is not a believer while he is perpetrating a theft, and an imbiber of wine is not a believer while he is engaged in drinking it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

In all of these cases, what is being said is that a person’s faith is incomplete, that the roots of faith are not firmly embedded in a person’s heart and soul.

Hence, a Muslim whose heart is full of jealousy for the blessings held by others, or who is avaricious and loathes for others to possess the same blessings that he does is a person whose faith is deficient.

Until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself:

This hadith shows the humanity of Islam. A person cannot be considered to be fully a believer until he loves for others what he loves for himself. This meaning is not restricted to his fellow Muslims; it applies to all humanity. Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Love for the people what you love for yourself and you will be a believer.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah]

At the forefront of what a Muslim should want for others is for them to be rightly guided. He should desire Islam for all humanity just as he desires it for himself. This should inspire him to call non-Muslims to Islam and to call his fellow Muslims to righteousness and piety.

It also includes treating other people the way one wishes to be treated. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever wishes to be kept away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise should have death overtake him while he believes in Allah and the Last Day and should treat people the way he wants them to treat him.” [Sahîh Muslim]

It is also part of faith to hate that evil and misfortune should befall others in the same way that we hate it to befall ourselves. This is implied by the Prophet’s statement, because love for something necessarily implies dislike for what is opposed to it.

Some people might find this command to love for others what we love for ourselves to be a tall order that it is impossible for them to inculcate in their hearts. Ibn al-Salâh points out how this is not the case, saying:

This is realized by loving for others to attain such things without contending with them in doing so; meaning, in such a way that his brother’s providence does not decreased anything form his own. This is something easy on anyone possessing a sound heart. [Sharh Sahîh Muslim]

This hadith, by negating the faith of a person who does not love for his brother what he loves for himself, is a stern warning against envy. Envy is the very antithesis of what the hadith is discussing, since an envious person loathes that anyone else should excel him in goodness or even equal him.

Al-Nawawî defines envy as: “… to desire for someone who enjoys a blessing to become bereft of it, regardless of whether that blessing is of a religious or worldly nature.”

Al-Ghazâlî says: “As far as envy is concerned, Islamic scholars define it as the hatred of a blessing and the love that the one so blessed by it will become bereft of it.”

Allah instructs us to seek refuge from this vile emotion, because of the evil that ensues from it. He says: “…the evil of the envier when he envies.” [ Sûrah al-Falaq : 5]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned against the ill consequences of envy upon the envier, saying: “Beware of envy, for indeed envy consumes one's good deeds like fire consumes wood.” [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd]

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