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Islamic Brotherhood:
the most perfect brotherhood of all times

"I arrived as a stranger, and as an alien to this strange new culture. People were strange to me, and I already was aware of the cultural clash. After all, I was a Muslim of Arab blood; two forms of identification that would not prove to be popular in the Western world.

I went to a talk hosted by the Islamic society in the town. I met that night about five or ten Muslim brothers. Sometimes, I think that it is a shame that cults have taken to calling their members brothers, because it seems to cast a stain on the word. Nonetheless, in Islam, all men and women are of one family, be they Muslim, Jew, Christian or other.

But I have seldom known the warm hospitality of a Muslim by a non-Muslim or a non-Arab. In the Middle East, it was different; most Arab Christians did not identify Arab Muslims as being different from them, and treated them as brothers. However, I found in the West a different story; many (not all) religious Christians did identify themselves with the theological argument that only certain types of Christians are going to heaven and the rest of mankind can rot in hell. Myself included. It was, and continues to be, interesting to note that according to this doctrine, everyone I know, my family and friends will be consigned to the greatest punishment for all eternity.

That night, I never even thought about such things. A Yemeni brother named Abdul Hamid, who had married an English Muslim sister, was the friendliest of all. Never a harsh word, although he was probably old enough to be my father. Always kind and affectionate; typically Arab to me.

There were others I met that night. Quite a few Pakistanis, some Libyans; and all treated me as a member of the family. A few days later, I met a tutor from a nearby hall in my dormitory. He was Libyan, and as soon as we realised that we were both Muslim Arabs, we embraced. People around us were astounded; this sort of affection does not come easily in this kind of culture, it seems.

Well. Unless you're drunk, that is.

All I could think was,' Poor people. Do they know what miracles Islam can achieve when two grown men who do not even know each other hug each other in full view of the public?'

The brotherhood principle of Islam is one of the many things that I love about my faith.

It is one of the many reasons why I shall never leave it."

"It's hard for a non-Muslim to understand the depth of feeling that believing Muslims have for their co-religionists around the world, especially in places such as Bosnia and Chechneya, but for them the concept of the Ummah , that all Muslims are linked in one community of faith and belief is an integral part of Islam." [1]


Islam teaches that all mankind is but one family;[2] as such, all men and women are brothers and sisters. A Muslim takes this view with him wherever he goes, but uses it to it's fullest when speaking to another Muslim, because he assumes that the other Muslim will know this truth, and he cannot be sure that a non-Muslim will. As such, while he is not forbidden to utter ,'Peace be unto you' [3] to a non-Muslim, he will not usually do so.

The topic of racism has no basis in Islam. The prophet is reported as to having said," There is no superiority of the white over the black, nor of the black over the white"; in Islam, all are equal; only one who is more righteous is better in the sight of God, and God alone will decide who is really righteous.

"All of you people are equal because you have the same father, Adam, and you are his descendants." [4]

"You shall not enter Paradise until you have faith; and you cannot attain to faith until you love one another." [5]

In the early days of Islam, one of the greatest honours was to call Muslims to prayer, or to be the Muezzin. Muhammed Ibn Abdullah gave this honour to Bilal in Mecca, who was a freed Negro slave. Some proud Arabs said to this," Oh, this black Negro slave, woe to him. He stands on the roof of Holy Kaaba to call for prayer."

To this, the prophet delivered this sermon:

"God is to be praised and thanked for ridding us of the vices and pride of the days of ignorance. O people! Note that all men are divided in two categories only; the pious and God-fearing who are esteemable in God's reckoning, and the transgressors and hard-hearted, who are lowly and contemptible in the eye of God."

"O Mankind!
Most certainly, it is
We( God Almighty) who have
Created you all

From a single (pair)
Of a male and a female,

And it is We (God almighty) who have made you into
Nations and tribes,

That ye may recognise each other
(Not the ye may despise each other.)

Verily the noblest of you

In the sight of Allah
Is (he who is) the most
Righteous of you."
[6]

Many African-Americans have converted to Islam because of this single colour-blindness; because they recognise that in Islam, the problem of racism is fully and completely solved by eradicating it.

"It was the first religion that preached and practised democracy; for in the mosque when the Azaan( the Muslim call to prayer) is sounded and the worshippers are gathered together the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim," God alone is great"..... I have been struck over again by the indivisible unity of Islam that makes a man instinctively a brother. When you meet an Egyptian, an Algerian, an Indian and a Turk in London what matters is that Egypt is the homeland of one and India is the homeland of another." [7]

"The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue." [8]

"Someone has said that Europeans in South Africa dread the advent of Islam - Islam, that civilised Spain; Islam, that took the torch of light to Morocco and preached to the world the Gospel of Brotherhood. The Europeans of South Africa dread the advent of Islam, as they claim equality with the white races. They may dread it. If brotherhood is a sin, if it is equality of the coloured races that they dread, then their dread is well-founded." [9]

"The League of Nations founded by the Prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity and human brotherhood on such universal foundations as to show candle to other nations. The fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done towards the realisation of the idea of League of Nations. " [10]

"No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity and endeavour so many and so varied races of mankind. The great Muslim communities of African, India and Indonesia, perhaps also the small community in Japan, show that Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of the East and West is to be replaced by co-operation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition." [11]

There are indeed many stories of Muslim brothers that show the best of men. There were stories of brothers, not by common first mothers or fathers, but by choice. There is the story of two such brothers; one who was succumbing to an evil desire. He knew it was wrong and thus gave his brother the choice of separating himself from him:

"I have a blemish, so if you wish you may consider yourself released from your brotherhood with me." The other said,
"I am not one to dissolve our brotherhood on account of your error."

"Fulfilment includes not neglecting the days of his need and poverty - and poverty in religion is more acute than material poverty. He has been afflicted by calamity and harmed by adversity, consequence of which he is impoverished in his religion. Therefore he must be watched and cared for, not neglected."12

That brother vowed that he would not eat or drink until God cured his brother of his evil passion. For forty days, he kept asking his brother of his desire. He said that his heart was set in this condition, so he wasted away in sorrow and hunger. At the end of the forty days, the passion left his brother's heart and he gave him the news. At last he ate and drank, having all but perished from emaciation and suffering.

"And then you see Islam offered to prisoners, and suddenly there is something else in their life. And they are praying five times a day. And their mental and physical self-discipline becomes of an extremely high order, so that if there is a prison riot, they are the ones that save lives. They are the ones that people turn to for leadership."13


The Muslim family stretches across the globe; in every country, there is a Muslim community. Who knows; perhaps this is why the press paints such an awful picture of Islam and all Muslims. If all the Muslims followed the religion of Islam properly and joined together as they should, the world would become a paradise of equality and righteousness in a very short while.

They may yet.

Notes

1. Adam Lebor, Jewish author in A Heart Turned East.

2. Quran, 49:13.

3. Traditional greeting of Islam; usually said in Arabic: 'As-Salaam wa allaykum'.

4. Reported statement of Muhammed Ibn Abdullah, the Seal of the Prophets of Islam.

5. Reported statement of Muhammed Ibn Abdullah, the Seal of the Prophets.

6. Quran, 49:13.

7. Sarojini Naidu, a great poetess of India.

8. A.J. Toynbee, Civilisation on Trial, New York, 1948.

9. Mohandas K. Ghandi, the Mahatma.

10. Professor Hurgronje.

11. H.A.R Gibb, Whither Islam, p. 379.

12. Imam Al-Ghazali, translated from his 'Ihya' by Muhtar Holland into The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam.

13. Ramsey Clark, Former Attorney General of the United States during the Johnson Administration.

Hisham Zoubeir

31 March 1998.

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[Currently, he is at the University of Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality, righteousness and spirituality.]

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