Can a Muslim call a non-Muslim ‘Brother’?

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Yes, it would be permissible to refer to or respond to a non-Muslim as a ‘brother’ referring to the common brotherhood of humanity.

According to some scholars, it would also be permissible to greet a non-Muslim with ‘Assalam ‘alaykum’ and respond to their greeting with ‘Wa’alaykum assalam’. The permission is more desirable if one hopes for their Islam. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Brotherhood

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“There are certain people amongst the servants of Allah, who are not prophets, nor are they martyrs, yet on the Day of Judgement they will have attained to such a position that even the prophets and the martyrs will look at them in admiration”.

The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, asked:

“Who are these people and what sort of good deeds will they have done? Let us know so that we can love them and be close to them, o Messenger of Allah”. The Prophet ﷺ answered:

‘They are such people that though there are no blood relations amongst them, nor any business or trade relations, yet they love each other for the sake of Allah. By Allah their faces are radiant with light and they are upon pillars of light. When others fear, they do not fear, and when others feel sorrow, they do not feel sorrow”.

He ﷺ then recited the following verse:

‘Yes, the friends of Allah will feel no fear and will know no sorrow: 

those who have faith and are conscious of Allah, there is good news for them in the life of this world and in the afterlife. There is no changing the words of Allah. That is the great victory!’ (Yunus, 10:62-64)

The Blessed Prophet ﷺ narrated the following story as an demonstration of how loving one’s fellow Muslim for Allah will allow one to attain to Allah’s love.

“One time a man set out to visit his Muslim brother who lived in another village. Allah Most High appointed an angel with the duty of watching him on his way. When the man came to the angel, the angel asked him:

‘Where are you going?’

The man replied:

‘My Muslim brother lives in that village. I am going to see him.

The angel asked him:

‘Is there something that you wish to benefit from that friend?’

The man replied:

‘No, no. It is just that I love him for the sake of Allah and I am going to visit him’.

The angel then said:

‘Just as you love him, so does Allah love you. I am a messenger sent to you by Allah in order to give you this good news’ (Muslim, Birr, 38; Ahmad, II, 292).

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Abu Idris al-Hawlani (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates:

“I had gone to the mosque of Damascus, where I saw a young man there with a smiling face. A group of people had gathered around him. Whenever they fell into dispute about some matter they would immediately go to that young man and ask for and accept his opinion. I asked who this young man was. They told me it was Muadh ibn Jabal .

The next day I ran to the mosque as early as I could. When I got there I saw that that young man was there already performing his prayer. I waited until he had finished and then approached him and greeted him with the greeting of peace and then said to him”:

“By Allah! I love you”.

“Do you love me for the sake of Allah?” he asked.

“Yes for Allah” I said. Then he asked me twice:

“Do you really love me for the sake of Allah?” Both times I answered:

“Yes I truly love you for the sake of Allah”. Then he held me by my robe and pulled me towards him and said:

“I congratulate you. I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say:

“Allah Most High has said: ‘Those who love each other merely for My sake, and those who gather together to please Me, and those who visit each other for My sake and who give charity and do good for My sake… They will be the ones who (will) have earned my love” (Muwatta, Sha’r, 16).

 

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Worldly Ambition, cancer of the heart

Allah Almighty states in the holy Qur’an:

…And (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement on the day when it shall be heated in the fire of Hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it. This is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded. (Tawbah, 9/34-35).

Inspired by this verse, Hadrat Mawlana (Alaihi Rahma) said:

• “No matter how rich you are, you cannot eat more than your stomach can hold. Even if you dip your water-pot into the sea, it will carry no more water than it can hold.”

• “There are so many fishes which, because of ambition, swallow the bait, though the sea could safely feed them.”

• “What is this world about? This world is about being ignorant of Allah!”

• “This world, a testing ground, is like a magnet for selfish desires: it attracts them as amber attracts straw. Only the substan- tial wheat, the wise believer whose inner world contains spiritual secrets and wisdom, can escape the attraction of this magnet.”

• “The trap of raw egos is worldly gain. It tricks and allures,and the inner eyes of some people go blind out of desire for it. They drink bitter and salty water out of wet clay. Since they never taste spiritual happiness, they regard what they taste of the worldly life as happiness.”

• “Greed and ambition for the pleasures of this world lead us to obtain what we do not deserve.”

Worldly ambition is the prime drive leading to great ignorance. Ambition makes the heart go blind. Such a heart ceases to draw a line between right and wrong, legitimate and illegitimate. Hadrat Mawlana (Alaihi Rahma) says of heart-blindness, “Even a dog will not eat a bone before sniffing it.” So whoever is heart-blind due to ambition for worldly attractions has less wisdom than a dog. Worldly ambition brings spiritual disaster!

Our master, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), warned of ambition as a human failing. He said, “The son of Adam may have two valleys full of gold: he will still want a third valley. The son of Adam will be satisfied with nothing but the soil of the grave.” (Bukhari, al-Riqaq, 10; Muslim, al-Zakat, 116).

Even if those afflicted with ambition attained all the wealth on earth, they would still wish to get more from the Moon or Mars. Today, the ambition and spiritual rottenness of the followers of materialism seems endless. Such is the sad condition of our world.

Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him), eloquently expressed how the faithful should view property. He said, “There are three shareholders in any worldly possession. The first is its owner, which is you. The second is fate. Fate does not consult you about whether your possession will bring you good or evil, disaster or death. The third shareholder in any possession is its heir, who wants you to die. Your heir will take your property when you die, but it is you who will be held accountable for it. If you can, try not to be weakest of the three (by giving charity before death). Allah Almighty says, “You cannot reach perfection in spending for the sake of Allah unless you give of what you love.” My most valuable possession my camel; there- fore I am giving it as a charity. I am sending it in advance so that it will welcome me in the Hereafter.” (Abu Nu`aym, al-Hilyah, I, 163).

Worldly possessions are only entrusted to us by Allah. We do not know when what He has deposited will be withdrawn. We may lose our possessions at any time. Life is open to surprises, and we cannot tell what fate will bring. The most inescapable surprise, death, is undoubtedly on the agenda of fate. We may be ready for it always by managing the trusts we administer in the most useful of ways.

 

-Excerpt from the book, “Such a mercy he is”