I was once asked by a friend how it is that I have mothers in different countries and sisters all over the world.
The weird part is that they don’t know each other and they only have one thing in common: Me.
“Explain to me,” she told me one day.
So I began explaining by quoting an incident that happened to me when I was visiting another country just a few months back.
“As Salamu alaykum, dear…” greeted the elderly lady sitting next to me.
“Wa alaykum salam, aunty…” I answered with a smile.
“You are new here?” She asked
“Yes, I am just visiting some friends and doing a book tour at the same time.”
Within an hour, we were already talking and giggling together as if we have known each other for years. She hugged me, patted my head, held my hands, invited me into her home, offered me a place to stay and insisted that I at least have dinner with her family, making me feel accepted and warm all over.
I was overwhelmed by her kindness and she is not alone and unique in that sense.
Throughout my trip, I was “fought over” by my sisters-in-Islam whom I just met. Our initial embraces and hugs would be our ice-breaking gestures. These loving hugs made me feel secure and safe with them.
The kind gestures do not just stop there. I received so many invitations for lunch, dinner, supper and even to sleep over at their homes. All these have made my eyes water too many times and made me realize the wisdom of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad in shaping the Muslim community.
The love and affection I received from my sisters even if they barely knew me could be explained easily.
Prophet Muhammad said:
On the Day of Judgment, God will announce, ‘Where are those who love each other for the sake of My pleasure? This day I am going to shelter them in the shade provided by Me. Today there is no shade except My shade. (Muslim)
Isn’t that wonderful?
A Beautiful Deal
Just by loving each other we are entitled to His shade on the Day of Judgment.
I can’t help but think of how merciful God is. He didn’t say that we should pray the whole night or fast the whole year.
Instead, He wants us to continue loving each other, taking care of one another to earn His shelter on the day when humans are gathered from Prophet Adam to the last man born, when the sun will be just above our heads, and when there is nothing that can be used to cover and protect us from the heat torment except for His shade.
Thinking about it made me realize how beautiful this deal is for Muslims, because Muslims who love each other for the sake of God would earn at least two rewards. The immediate one is His pleasure and the second reward would be their ‘booking for a spot’ to be under His shade in the Day of Judgment.
This is among the values that Prophet Muhammad has instilled in Muslim hearts. He has removed the barriers of race, ethnicity, and prejudice that would usually become a hindrance when people from different races, ethnicities or countries meet. He put in their hearts love and care for others even before they know them.
I reflected on what Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Islam has long taught its followers the concept of love between humans, brotherhood, and sisterhood from the very beginning.
I remembered a verse from the Quran that says:
The Believers are but a single brotherhood: so make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear God, that ye may receive Mercy. (49:10)
God has clearly stated that all Muslims are brothers, one single brotherhood. Muslims, regardless where they are from, are considered one. They belong to the same community: the Muslim community.
That was why I was accepted very quickly into the lives of the sisters whom I just met. We all knew that we are one: one family, one unit.
Naturally, as one family, Muslims are asked to be kind and compassionate towards one another. Prophet Muhammad used the parable of a human body to explain what he meant by brotherhood in Islam.
This is how Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims to treat each other:
The Muslims in their mutual love, kindness and compassion are like the human body; when one of its parts is in agony the entire body feels the pain, both in sleeplessness and fever. (Al-Bukhari)
Let us see why Prophet Muhammad used the human body to explain the concept of brotherhood to us.
When we have a toothache, with it comes a headache too. This is because the nerves from our teeth are connected to the brain, thus causing the headache.
And with headache, we really need to rest. So, would we still be able to be chatting, giggling, or continuing our daily chores when we have a toothache or the whole body feels the discomfort and needs to rest?
What will happen if, say, we have diarrhea? The affected body organ is only the colon, but, as we all know, if we have diarrhea, all that we would want to do is just rest as the whole body is in discomfort.
For the ladies, despite the monthly menstrual pain that comes from one organ, this pain causes backache, sore muscles and cramps all over the body.
So, yes, when one part of the human body is in pain, the whole body feels pain too.
That is the love that all Muslims must have for each other. When we see another Muslim in difficulty, pain must creep into our hearts too. If we see the tears of another Muslim, our hearts should be crying too.
The joy felt by our brothers should be our personal joy too.
We are all one part of one body.