Criteria for Mutual Love
Commentry by Adil Salahi
Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet (Pbuh) as saying : “By Him who holds my soul in His hands, you shall not be admitted into Heaven until you are truly Muslims, and you shall not be Muslims until you love one another. Spread the greeting of peace among you in order to love one another. Stay away from hatred because that is the razor. I do not say to you that it removes hair, but it removes the faith altogether.”
(Related by Muslim Al Bukhari in Al-Adab, Al-Mufrad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majaha)
Throughout his life Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) worked hard to ensure that the atmosphere which characterizses Islamic society is one of mutual love. Perhaps nothing was worrying to him than for hatred to establish roots among his followers. When hatred spreads in society, it leads to division which will, in turn, lead to trouble and perhaps to hostilities breaking out within the community with one section fighting another. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet has made love an essential characteristic of Islamic Society. It is a necessary prerequisite for Muslim community to be established and to conduct its affairs according to Islam.
Consider this authentic hadith, in which Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet as saying : “By Him who holds my soul in His hands, you shall not be admitted into Heaven until you are truly Muslims, and you shall not be Muslims until you love one another. Spread the greeting of peace among you in order to love one another. Stay away from hatred because that is the razor. I do not say to you that it removes hair, but it removes the faith altogether.” (Related by Muslim Al Bukhari in Al-Adab, Al-Mufrad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majaha)
The first thing to note about this hadith is that it is preceded by the oath with which the Prophet starts any statement to which he attaches great importance. Every time he made such an oath his companions listened attentively in order to understand fully the message he was about to give them. On this occasion the Prophet starts by telling them that they will never be able to get the ultimate prize for which they and all believers yearned, namely admission into heaven until they have accomplished certain duties. He firstly tells them that the attainment of that prize is depended on their being Muslims. That was something of which they were well aware. Indeed, they adopted Islam in order to avoid being thrown into hell and to be admitted into the heaven. The Prophet’s statements mean that they do not attain to the state of being truly Muslims. Which is prerequisite for admission into heaven until they meet the certain conditions. The surprise is that the Prophet does not tell them that they become true Muslims if they pray more often or fast more frequently or give so much of their wealth in charity. He tells them that they are not true Muslims until they truly love one another.
We ourselves may be surprised that mutual love within the Muslim community should be given such high priority. When we consider Islamic values and teachings which are relevant to what sort of feelings should characterise on the life of Muslim community, our surprise disappears. A religion which states that all his followers are brothers cannot fail to cement that tie of brotherhood with genuine love, indeed the first Muslim community witnessed the most affective and practical demonstration of that love when the Muslims of Makkah emigrated to Madinah where they were received with open arms and hearts by their brethren in Madinah. They shared with them their homes, income and provisions. The Prophet was keen on making future generations of Muslims well aware of the need to have such love towards one another. He, therefore, tells them how to strengthen their mutual feelings of love.
The Prophet tells us that if we spread the greetings of peace between us, we are certain to enhance and strengthen our mutual love. This is certainly true. Islamic greeting is “Assalaam alaikum”, which means peace be to you together with Allah’s mercy and blessings”. We are also recommended to greet all those to whom we meet, whether we know them or not. It is common in Islamic society that people exchanges such greetings whenever they meet, in houses, business place or in the street. The greeting itself is significant because it helps spread the atmosphere of peace within the community. Moreover, “Salaam”, or “Peace”, one of the blessed names or attributes of Allah. So, when we offer this greeting to someone, we are in effect telling him that we are extending to him the peace sanction by Allah. This is sure to generate the feelings of amity, friendship and love. Moreover, while Islam recommends its followers to take the initiatives and offer greetings to others, when they meet them, it is deemed obligatory on the person who is so greeted to return the greeting. That again helps spread the feelings of love.
The Prophet goes even further than that by warning us against hatred. He wants us to stay away from hatred at whatever cost. He describes it as the razor which removes everything on its way. To heighten the effects of his words, he borrows the connotations associated with hair removing. He, however, makes his meaning absolutely clear by telling us that he does not mean removing hair. He describes hatred as the one which removes the faith altogether. This means that when hatred spreads within the Muslims community, it leads that community to abandon faith. This is only natural because, hatred prompts people to try to cause harm to those whom they hate. They resort to foul means in order to achieve their purpose. They cannot maintained the path of faith when they have such priorities. Everytime, they contemplate harming others or take actual steps to do so, they remove themselves away from faith. If hatred is allowed to take roots, then it certainly causes the Islamic faith to be divorced from the life of the community altogether. Hence, the Prophet’s description is very apt indeed.
We have often said that the Prophet never lost an opportunity to strengthen the ties among members of his community. To that end, he took care to bring people in closer contact with one another, and emphasised that when they help each other, both the one who gives the help and the one who receives, it will benefit. Abu Masood Ali Al Ansari reports that a man came to the Prophet (Pbuh) and said : “ I have reached a state which I have never experienced before. Will you give me some means of transport”. The Prophet answered : “I have none to give you, but if you go to, he may be able to give you one”. The man acted on Prophet’s advice and got what he wanted. He came to the Prophet and told him. The Prophet commented : “ He who points out one way of doing good receives an equivalent reward to the person’s who does it”. (Related by Muslim, Al Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi)
We note here that the companions of the Prophet asked his help in every situation that they came across. In this story, we find a man who says that it was absolutely unusual for him to be without a means of transport. It was a new experience to him and he wanted something like a camel or a horse to continue his journey. The Prophet recognised that his was a legitimate claim but he could not provide him with what he needed. He, therefore, told him of a person who might do that for him. The significant message of this Hadith is that the Prophet tells his companions that it is very important that they try to help others by at least pointing out to them where and how they can get what they want, if they themselves cannot help them. The Prophet calls that as pointing out a way of doing a good deed. It is indeed so. The man in the story went to must have realized that he was not being approached by coincidence. He must have been a very generous man, otherwise the Prophet would not have named him. Perhaps the man who approached him told him that the Prophet mentioned him as a possible source for the help he wanted. He then acted in the way he did in order not to disappoint the man and to endorse the Prophet’s guidance. Thus, by naming him, the Prophet has encouraged him to do a certain good. That encouragement earned the Prophet a similar reward to that of the man. This applies to everyone of us. When we fully realize the import of this story, we cannot fail to recognize that the Muslim community is one in which good is always very highly valued. Showing others the way to do good is as valuable as doing good by oneself.