From the rights of brotherliness

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One of the greatest blessings Allah, the Exalted, bestows upon His servants is having righteous brothers with whom they get along and among whom there is mutual love. No doubt, such brotherliness has rights that should be observed. Our topic here is not the general rights between Muslims, yet the special rights of brotherhood, which we will address in the following points:

First: Sincerity in love

This means that a person's love for his Muslim brother should be sincere for the sake of Allah, the Almighty, not for some worldly interest. This is indicated in an authentic hadith in which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said:

There are three things, whoever attains them will find the sweetness of faith therein: When Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than anything else; when he loves a person and only loves him for the sake of Allah; and when he would hate to go back to disbelief, as much as he would hate to be thrown into fire.

What counts is not to merely love your Muslim brother; what really matters about this form of fulfilling the meaning of servitude to Allah Almighty is to obey His commands. Hence, your love for a person in particular or your Muslim brothers in general should be for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, not for a worldly purpose. If love is intended for the sake of Allah Almighty, it is hoped to continue; otherwise, it usually does not last; rather, it fades away. As the saying goes: "What is intended for Allah Almighty endures and continues, and what is intended for other than Him ceases and discontinues." Such love may even transform into hostility – may Allah protect us from this.

Second: Protection of honor

During his speech in the farewell pilgrimage, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) reportedly said: "Indeed, your blood, property, and honor are unlawful to one another…" So, the Muslim's honor in general is held inviolable. This inviolability is even greater when it comes to a special bond of brotherhood between two Muslims. It is more appropriate for each of them to protect the honor of the other, given their special brotherliness and love, which do not exist in this way between either of them and other people.

Considering the fact that the Muslim is required to protect the honor of his Muslim brother who is far from him, then what about the one with whom he has friendly relations; cooperation in righteousness and piety; and mutual endeavor to do good deeds, please their Lord, show servitude to Him, and keep away from sins.

Undoubtedly, this right entails some points, such as the following:

- Overlooking and concealing his faults. When a person has a special brotherly relationship with another person, he surely knows things about him that other people do not know. Some defects, therefore, might appear to him. One of the rights of his Muslim brother upon him is to conceal these defects and overlook them. Were the other person to know that his brother Muslim would expose his faults, he would be cautious with regard to him. Hence, it is not permissible for a Muslim to divulge the faults of his Muslim brother, whether in his presence or behind his back, and whether these faults are related to him, his family, or otherwise. Acting in line with his magnanimity and the rights of brotherhood, a loyal friend never reveals the faults of his Muslim brother.

- Keeping his secret and not disclosing it. This differs from the preceding point, for a secret is what a person confides to another, whether it pertains to him or someone else; verily, meetings are confidential. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is reported to have said: "If a man speaks to another man about some matter and then he turns away from him, this is a trust."

Allah, the Exalted, commands us to fulfill trusts. The righteous predecessors used to keep secrets to the extent that when one of them confided a secret to his Muslim brother and ended his talk, he would ask him as to whether he retained it in his memory as a secret. To this, the other person would reply: "No! Rather, I have forgotten it," indicating their excessive care in keeping secrets.

- One of the aspects of protecting the honor of a Muslim brother is to associate with him while acting upon the hadith in which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "A sign of man's good observance of Islam is to keep away from that which does not concern him." So, do not try to disturb your Muslim brother by asking questions about things which he did not inform you about. You should rather leave him the choice to tell you something if he finds it beneficial to do so, or to refrain from doing so. Do not press him to tell you something in a way that disturbs and annoys him.

Third: Thinking good of him

We are required to think positively about Muslims in general. There is even a greater reason to do so with those who are connected to us in a special relationship. Allah Almighty says (what means): {O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.} [Quran 49:12]
Also, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is reported to have said: "Avoid bad assumptions, for verily, bad assumptions are the worst form of lying."

The righteous predecessors used to keep away from such dispraised attitude. They used to search for excuses for one another. One of them even said: "I look for excuses for my brother, up to seventy excuses; then, I say: 'Perhaps there is an excuse for him that I do not know.'"

‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, reportedly said: "Do not think ill about a word uttered by your brother, while you can find some favorable interpretation of it."

A Muslim should not leave a means against him for the devil, whereby he can sow hostility between him and his Muslim brothers through bad assumptions. Indeed, the devil seeks to stir up animosity among people. In the Quran, Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {The devil only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred ...} [Quran 5:91]

We will address the other rights in a coming article, Allah willing. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Slave and Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his household and Companions. Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.

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