Brotherhood in Islam, the Greatest Gleam of Faith
By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
The centralization of Muslims in Madina opened a new chapter is the life of the Prophet. Before his arrival there he had been engaged in attracting the hearts and in propagating his religion, but from that day onwards it was necessary that he should protect his own existence as well as that of his followers like an experienced statesman and should not permit the internal and external enemies to penetrate into the Muslim society. At this juncture he was faced with three main difficulties:
1. Danger from Quraysh and other idol-worshippers of the Arabian Peninsula.
2. The Jews of Yathrib who lived within and outside the city and possessed enormous wealth and resources.
3. The differences which existed between his own supporters. As the Muhajirs and the Ansar had been brought up in two different environments there was a vast difference between their ways of thinking and culture. And then there were the two components of Ansar (viz. Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj) who had been fighting for one hundred and twenty years and were the sworn enemies of each other. With all these dangers and differences there was no possibility of their continuing to lead a peaceful religious and political life. However, the Prophet overcame these difficulties in a perfectly wise manner. As regards the first two problems he took measures the details of which will be recorded later, and as regards the differences between his followers he removed them with perfect wisdom and ingenuity.
He was ordered by Allah to establish brotherhood between the Muhajirs and the Ansar. One day he turned to his followers in a general meeting and said: "Now you should become brothers in faith in pairs". The particulars of persons who became brothers of each other have been recorded by the Muslim historians including Ibn Hisham.[ Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 123 - 126]
Hence, by this method the Prophet ensured the political and spiritual unity of the Muslims and this unity enabled him to think about ways and means of solving the other two difficulties as well.
TWO GREAT DISTINCTIONS OF ALI
Most of the Shi'ah and Sunni historians and traditionalists have mentioned two great distinctions of Ali which we record here briefly: The Prophet established brotherhood between a pair of two among three hundred persons out of the Muhajirs and Ansar and told every one of them that he was the brother of such and such person.
When the establishment of brotherhood was completed Ali, with tears in his eyes, said to the Prophet: "You have established brotherhood amongst your companions but have not made me the brother of anyone". Thereupon the Prophet turned to Ali and said: "You are my brother in this world as well as in the Hereafter".
Qandozi has quoted this incident in a more comprehensive manner and says that the Prophet replied to Ali: "By the Almighty (who has appointed me to guide the people) I postponed the question of your brotherhood for the reason that I desired to become your brother when brotherhood among all others had been completed. Your position vis-a-vis myself is similar to that of Harun and Musa, except that there will be no Prophet after me. You are my brother and my successor".[ Yanabi'ul Muwwadah, vol. I, page 55]
Ibn Kathir has, however, doubted the authenticity of this incident.[al-Bidayah wan Nihayah, vol. II, page 226] But as his doubts are the product of his special mentality and are nothing short of the apology which he has tendered on behalf of Mu'awiyah and his supporters, we refrain from quoting his remarks and refuting them.
ANOTHER DISTINCTION OF ALI
The construction of the mosque was completed. Around the mosque there were the houses of the Prophet and his companions. There were also the houses whose doors opened into the mosque, and whose inmates entered the mosque through those doors. Suddenly an order was received from Allah that all the doors which opened into the mosque, except the door of the house of Ali, should be closed. Thereupon some persons became fussy about the matter and thought that this exception had been made on sentimental grounds. In order to enlighten the people on the subject the Prophet delivered a sermon and said inter alia: "I have not given orders about the closing or otherwise of the doors on my own account. In fact it was an order from Allah and I had no alternative but to implement it".
In short, by establishing Islamic brotherhood, the Prophet removed the differences between his followers which had existed for some years and consequently one of the difficulties was solved.