Islamic Brotherhood

By Khalid Baig

"The Believers are but a single Brotherhood." [Al-Hujurat 49:10]

"A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He does not oppress him, nor does he leave him at the mercy of others." [Sahih Muslim].

The Islamic Brotherhood is not based on economic interests, race, or color. It is based on something infinitely superior: Rejection of falsehood and acceptance of the Truth as revealed by the One True God.

Not only is this Brotherhood based on faith, it is also a part of that faith. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "You cannot enter paradise unless you become a total believer and you won't become a total believer unless you love each other." Obviously, faith and community are inseparable in the faith community produced by Islam. Even a casual reader of Qur'an would note that it almost always addresses the Believers and not the Believer. All acts of worship that are declared pillars of Islam have a collective form. The five daily prayers are best performed in congregation, that being twenty-seven times more valuable than the individual prayer. The special Friday prayer cannot be offered individually at all. Zakat is obviously aimed at making the rich of the community take care of the needs of its poor. Fasting, an essentially individual act, has been given a collective form through unity in time. Hajj enforces unity in both time and place, bringing the believers together in the plains of Arafat in their remembrance of Allah.

Those who join in the worship of Allah produce a Brotherhood that embodies the best moral values of the faith: Mercy, compassion, fear of Allah, piety, and justice. It is a Solid Cemented Structure [As-Saff, 61:4], a tremendous force in the service of Right and against Wrong. Its members are to help each other in righteousness and piety but not in sin and rancor [Al-Maida 5:2]. They are to be "strong against unbelievers but compassionate amongst each other [Al-Fat-h 48:29]. They do not do injustice to others nor do they tolerate any injustice to themselves. In their love and concern for each other, all members of this Brotherhood are one body: when any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels the pain [Sahih Muslim].

This Brotherhood was established in the most unlikely place: Arabia, where before Islam internecine war was a way of life. On both social and political levels, this was one of the greatest achievements of Islam. On both levels, it remains one of Islam's greatest goals. We can imagine the sensitivity of the Shariah about it by reflecting on its teachings regarding the relations between believers. It is forbidden, for example, for two Muslims to start a whispering conversation in the presence of the third. This might offend the one left out and weaken the Brotherhood. It is not permissible for a Muslim to sever relations with his brother for more than three days. "It is sufficient evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother. The life, wealth, and honor of a Muslim are inviolable by another Muslim." [Sahih Muslim]. The books of hadith are full of such teachings.

This Brotherhood was a force for good, a purveyor of peace and justice for everyone. It provided stability in a quarrelsome world. To the downtrodden and oppressed everywhere, it provided freedom. When it was powerful, it even saved the Jews and Christians in Palestine and Spain from each other.

Two unfortunate developments in this century have impaired this Brotherhood. The first was the destruction of Khilafah and the emergence of independent nation-states in the Muslim world. This made it possible for "national interests" to be declared that are at cross-purposes to the interests of the Brotherhood. Not only that, it destroyed the means for both defining and defending the Brotherhood interests. The second development was the emergence of the United Nations Organization and the participation of individual Muslim nation-states in it, solely at its terms. The U.N. was and remains an organization of unequal powers, designed to perpetuate that inequality. Its purpose was to establish hegemony of the Western alliance over the rest of the world--- not for any higher moral purpose but solely for economic exploitation. Its very structure (with real decision making in the hands of a few in the Security Council ) guaranteed the disenfranchisement of the weak, and the entire Muslim world found itself in that category at the end of official colonialism.

While the U.N. has failed miserably in its declared goals, it has been tremendously successful in the real ones. While it promised peace and justice, it has delivered death and destruction, exploitation and oppression. It provided legal cover for the first U.S.- Iraq war in 1991. It facilitated the carnage in Bosnia by tying the hands of the victims. It has perpetuated genocide in Iraq through the imposition of the most brutal economic sanctions in the history of the world, resulting in death of a million people through starvation and disease.

If any one country or group of countries had tried to commit such atrocities on their own, there would have been a tremendous reaction. But we have allowed ourselves to be deceived by the legal camouflage provided by the U.N. And witness how low we have fallen with our own accord. Muslims are not allowed to kill the women and children of their enemies even in war. How could we support the killing of our own women and children? A Muslim is not really a believer if he eats his full while ignoring the plight of a hungry neighbor. How could a believer then participate in economic sanctions designed to starve his own people to death?

When giving commands regarding the Islamic Brotherhood, the Qur'an uses a beautiful style with a profound message. Instead of saying, "greet each other" it says, "greet yourself." [An-Nur 24:61]. Instead of saying, "do not defame each other," it says, "do not defame yourself." [Al-Hujurat 49:11]. Instead of saying, "do not kill each other," it says, "do not kill yourself." [An-Nisaa 4:29]. The message is clear: Whatever is happening to others in the Brotherhood, is actually happening to yourself. Any aggression against any part of the Brotherhood is an aggression against all of it.

We must free the Brotherhood from the servitude to the ideology of nation-states and the unjust international organizations so we can stop killing ourselves.