The Tradition of Brotherhood
Among the events and historic incidents that took place in the holy month of Ramadan, is the bonding and covenant of brotherhood. As per the report of Sheikh Mufeed, on the twelfth day of Ramadan, the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) established a contract of brotherhood among his companions, and between himself and Ali (a.s.).
As we all know, Islam is a religion of brotherhood and fraternity, impartiality and unanimity, cooperation and equality. It considers the citizens of this world as members of one family. It does not recognize colour and creed, richness and poverty, governance and other worldly topics as the cause of superiority over others. It has reduced all distances and knows piety as the only barometer of excellence; a privilege which can never cause pride, arrogance, misuse and distance from others.
The faith of Oneness and monotheism is the nucleus of this religion and the source of the feeling of brotherhood with God’s creation. There is no substance or food, no belief, habit or trait, like the faith of monotheism for good-fortune and success of human beings.
The Holy Quran says:
إِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ
“Indeed this community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord. So worship Me”.
Quran has not held comparisons and competitions between individuals on the basis of wealth and riches, positions and rule, population and numbers, colour and gender. Arab and non-Arab, white and black, are all equal because these individuals are equal in the eyes of Quran, human rights and Islamic rights. The humanity of human being and perfectness of mankind is not related to these aspects.
While comparing human beings with each other, Quran has chosen the criteria of knowledge, piety, worship and faith.
Study the following verses and understand how Quran has encouraged and attracted human beings towards virtues of knowledge, piety and faith:
- أَمَّنْ هُوَ قَانِتٌ آنَاءَ اللَّیلِ سَاجِدًا وَ قَائِمًا یحْذَرُ الْآخِرَةَ وَ یرْجُو رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِ قُلْ هَلْ یسْتَوِی الَّذِینَ یعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِینَ لَا یعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا یتَذَكَّرُ أُولُوا لْأَلْبَابِ
Is he who supplicates in the watches of the night, prostrating and standing, apprehensive of the Hereafter and expecting the mercy of his Lord…? Say, ‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’
- أَفَمَنْ حَقَّ عَلَیهِ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ أَفَأَنْتَ تُنْقِذُ مَنْ فِی النَّارِ 
Can he against whom the word of punishment has become due…? Can you rescue someone who is in the Fire?
- أَفَمَنْ یتَّقِی بِوَجْهِهِ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ یوْمَ الْقِیامَةِ 
What! Is someone who fends off with his face the terrible punishment [meted out to him] on the Day of Resurrection…?
- أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا لَا یسْتَوُونَ
Is someone who is faithful like someone who is a transgressor? They are not equal.
- أَفَمَنْ كَانَ عَلَى بَینَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِ كَمَنْ زُینَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ
Is he who stands on a manifest proof from his Lord like those to whom the evil of their conduct is made to seem decorous and who follow their desires?
- أَفَمَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْیانَهُ عَلَى تَقْوَى مِنَ اللَّهِ وَ رِضْوَانٍ خَیرٌ أَمْ مَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْیانَهُ عَلَى شَفَا جُرُفٍ هَارٍ فَانْهَارَ بِهِ فِی نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ
Is he who founds his building on Godwariness and [the pursuit of Allah’s] pleasure better-off or he who founds his building on the brink of a collapsing bank which collapses with him into the fire of hell?
- أَفَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَ اللَّهِ كَمَنْ بَاءَ بِسَخَطٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ
Is he who follows [the course of] Allah’s pleasure like him who earns Allah’s displeasure and whose refuge is hell, an evil destination?
- أَفَمَنْ یمْشِی مُكِبًّا عَلَى وَجْهِهِ أَهْدَى أَمَّنْ یمْشِی سَوِیا عَلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِیمٍ
Is he who walks prone on his face better guided, or he who walks upright on a straight path?
- أَفَمَنْ یهْدِی إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَنْ یتَّبَعَ أَمَّنْ لَا یهِدِّی إِلَّا أَنْ یهْدَى
Is He who guides to the truth worthier to be followed, or he who is not guided unless shown the way?
- أَفَمَنْ یعْلَمُ أَنَّمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَیكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ الْحَقُّ كَمَنْ هُوَ أَعْمَى
Is someone who knows that what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth, like someone who is blind?
- أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِیاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیهِمْ وَ لَا هُمْ یحْزَنُونَ
Look! The friends of Allah will indeed have no fear nor will they grieve.
- إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
Indeed the nobles of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you.
- الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ طُوبَى لَهُمْ وَ حُسْنُ مَآبٍ
Those who have faith and do righteous deeds – happy are they and good is their [ultimate] destination.
- الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَ كَانُوا یتَّقُونَ ۔لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَى
Those who have faith and are Godwary. For them is good news.
- أَمَّا الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْمَأْوَى
As for those who have faith and do righteous deeds, for them will be the gardens of the Abode.
- أَمْ نَجْعَلُ الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ كَالْمُفْسِدِینَ فِی الْأَرْضِ
Shall We treat those who have faith and do righteous deeds like those who cause corruption on the earth?
And other verses which clearly imply on this point that the only factor which becomes the basis of excellence and the cause of success and deliverance for mankind is knowledge, faith, good deed, God-wariness and steadfastness.
In its group addresses, where Quran has not addressed a specific class of individuals, it has not regarded a country, a realm, a region, a language or a race as its addressee, so that one may assume that such descriptions are the reason of privilege in the sight of Islam; and lest the ones who have been addressed may consider it an evidence of their superiority over all the other nations. Instead, the entire humanity is addressed in such addresses.
Such as the following verses:
- قُلْ یا أَیهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّی رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَیكُمْ جَمِیعًا
Say, ‘O mankind! I am the Apostle of Allah to you all.
- اأَیهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَیءٌ عَظِیمٌ
O mankind! Be wary of your Lord! Indeed the quake of the Hour is a terrible thing.
- یا أَیهَا النَّاسُ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَیكُمْ
O mankind! Remember Allah’s blessing upon you!
- یا أَیهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ
O mankind! There has certainly come to you an advice from your Lord.
- أَیهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِی خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَ خَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَ بَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِیرًا وَنِسَاءً
O mankind! Be wary of your Lord who created you from a single soul, and created its mate from it, and from the two of them scattered numerous men and women.
In this verse, apart from addressing the humanity in general, it has declared the root and lineage of men and women as one; and in the era when a section of the nations was debating the humanity of women. The holy Quran has introduced it as similar to men and announced its humanity in a certain and inarguable manner. In other verse, it says:
یا أَیهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَ أُنْثَى
“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female”.
It can be understood from here that Islam is a universal religion and program, and a system of brotherhood and unity.
However, in some instances, its addresses are for a specific group of people. Such as:
یاأَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ
“Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a common word between us and you’.”
These addresses also approve those general addresses and invitation towards monotheism, sincerity and acceptance of Islam.
The instances in which the believers are addressed by یا ایھا الذین آمنوا are because on such places, the topic which was intended in the address constituted of rulings and such aspects regarding which naturally the believers had to be addressed.
Moreover, the specificity of faith and Islam which has been regarded in the addresses of یا ایھا الذین آمنواis something that can be possible achieved by anyone. The colour of Islam and the colour of faith in Allah is a colour appropriate for everyone; irrespective of men and women, rich and poor, Asian and European, Arab and non-Arab. It is the colour of Human nature and every human being possesses it inside himself; one must not conceal it or obstruct it with other colours. This colour, unlike the colour of nation, creed, tribe and language, is not the cause of separation and conflict; because it is not specifically for a particular tribe or people of a particular nation.
It has arrived in a Hadith that one day, Abu Zar Al-Ghifari was witnessed with a black slave in the presence of holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), while he was probably having a conversation with the slave and questioning him; amidst the conversation, Abu Zar said to him:
“O son of black!"
Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) became upset and said in anger:
“The son of a white has not superiority over the son of black but due to piety and Godwariness, or by means of good deed.”
We all are alike and have no superiority over each other but by means of piety and good deed.
In compensation of what he had said, Abu Zar placed his face on the ground and said to the black slave: ‘Stand and rub my face on the ground with your foot.’
Islam announced that Allah has not chosen any race, tribe or nation, with regards to rights, over others; it has not regarded salvation exclusively for the people of a country or a creed. It has rejected the words of the Jews and Christians who said: “We are Allah’s children and His beloved ones”, and also said: ‘No one will enter paradise except one who is a Jew or Christian’, by saying:
وَقَالُوا لَنْ یدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِلَّا مَنْ كَانَ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى تِلْكَ أَمَانِیهُمْ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِینَ۔ بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ
“Those are their [false] hopes! Say, ‘Produce your evidence, should you be truthful’. Certainly, whoever submits his will to Allah and is virtuous, he shall have his reward from his Lord, and they will have no fear, nor shall they grieve”.
Islam also declared that all humans hold the human dignity equally and they are each other’s partners. This dignity is not specific to any creed, race or nation. Allah’s has honoured all the children of Adam and said regarding them:
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِی آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِی الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَ رَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّیبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِیرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِیلًا
“Certainly We have honoured the Children of Adam, and carried them over land and sea, and provided them with all the good things, and preferred them with a complete preference over many of those We have created”.
These voices of nationalism and tribalism are against the actual honour and dignity of human beings irrespective of the throats from which it comes out. It is against the correct logic and the perspective of the holy and noble religion, Islam.
These cries sow the seeds of hypocrisy and two-facedness, hatred and separation, between the human beings. Those who raise these voices must know that they are the voice of hypocrisy and conflict.
The teachings of Islam help grow the seed of love and affection in the hearts and guide human beings towards mutual cooperation and sympathy.
The holy Quran has reminded us of the brotherhood which became the share of Muslims under the shadow of Islam, which eradicated the differences and hostilities, and attached the hearts with each other. It commanded the Muslims to hold fast to Allah’s cord. By using a small and meaningful phrase: ‘The faithful are indeed brothers’, it instigated their brotherhood or reported about their brotherhood and fraternity. Thus, those people who do not have brotherhood with each other are not faithful.
It has arrived in a tradition that:
“A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; neither does he oppress him, nor does he leave him alone. Whoever fulfills the need of his Muslim brother, Allah will fulfill his need”.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“A Muslim is the brother of other Muslim. It is the right of a Muslim over his Muslim brother that he should not fill himself while his brother is hungry; he should not quench his thirst while his brother is thirsty; he should not be covered while his brother is naked. So, how great is the right of a Muslim over his brother”.
It is reported from Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) that he said:
“Certainly the faithful men, in being kind and sympathetic towards the condition of each other, are like a single body. Whenever an organ from it suffers ailment, all the other organs of that body accompany it by remaining feverish and sleepless”.
Numerous traditions exist regarding the right of a Muslims over another Muslim and the reward he obtains in return.
The Covenant of Brotherhood among the Companions of Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
From the beginning of his invitation, the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) paid complete attention towards the issue of religious brotherhood, and regarded it among the significant pillars and firm foundations of the living Muslim society. With its help, he eradicated the grudges and age old hostilities that existed among the different nations and tribes.
Among the deeds that were performed with the intention of having a more complete level of determination and cooperation, and for the awakening of the Islamic understanding and other wisdoms, was the brotherhood was established between every two migrants; similarly, a covenant of brotherhood was instituted between every two individuals from the migrants (Muhajir) and the Ansar (the people of Medina – the supporters).
A covenant of brotherhood was established between every two individual who had homogeneity between themselves and were similar to each other from the aspects of thoughts and viewpoints. With this act, a connection and bonding was created between different families and tribes.
This step taken by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was beneficial and significant both from the socio-political aspects as well as the aspect of connecting the new-born Islamic society. It served as a ground for the general Muslim brotherhood and a comprehensive fraternity, as well as a universal human society. Initially, brothers used to inherit each other until the following verse regarding the ruling of Inheritance revealed:
“The blood relatives are more entitled to inherit from one another in the Book of Allah”. 
Hence, inheritances became established on the basis of blood relations.
Repetition of the Covenant of Brotherhood
As we have comprehended from the books of Hadith and History, the covenant of brotherhood has been established several times:
- One time among the migrants, as per the narration of Abdullah bin Umar in the book Bihar ul Anwar.
- In the holy city of Medina between the migrants and Ansar, when they entered Medina initially; as per the narrations of Bihar ul Anwar, Sira e Ibn e Hisham and other books.
- At the time of revelation of the verse: The faithful are indeed brothers; as mentioned in the traditions of Bihar ul Anwar and Amaali of Sheikh Tusi.
- On the day of Mubahila. As per the tradition mentioned in Safinatul Bihar. 
A Significant and Interesting Topic
The issue that was most affectionate and lovable, interesting and significant, in these incidences, was the selection of Imam Ali (a.s.) by Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as his brother.
Prophet (p.b.u.h.) made everyone the brother of one another and as per the view of the majority of historians and narrators, he established brotherhood between those men who were of a similar position and grade.
On this basis, he had to select a brother for himself also. Rightfully, who was suitable and appropriate for this honour? Who has the personality which can possibly be near or equal to the status of Allah’s Messenger (except for apostleship)?
This selection was not a simple one! Certainly, Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had to choose someone as his brother who was appropriate from all aspects. A brother who shared his thought, language and perspective. One who can sacrifice his wealth and life and fulfill the right of Prophet’s brotherhood.
Indeed, none but Ali was suitable for this position that Allah’s Messenger (p.b.u.h.) said about him:
“You are to me like Aaron was to Moses, but there will be no prophet after me”. (The only difference between you and Aaron is that you will not be given Prophet-hood after me). 
Therefore, Prophet (p.b.u.h.) did not select anyone except Ali (a.s.) for this position (brotherhood).
Covenant of Brotherhood between Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Ali (a.s.).
Apart from the Shia clerics, renowned Sunni narrators, famous historians and authors of biographical books, such as Halabi, ZainiDahlan and Ibn e Hisham, have also narrated the tradition of Brotherhood.
With regard to this topic, whoever refers to the Shia and Sunni books, will obtain certainty that among all the companions and relatives, the only person whom the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) chose for his brotherhood was Imam Ali (a.s.). Whoever claims this status other than Imam Ali (a.s.), is a liar and untruthful person. As none but Ali (a.s.) claimed for this virtue, then like all the other virtues, this privilege is also exclusively for his holiness (a.s.). Prophet (p.b.u.h.) announced his selection on several instances which are as follows:
- At the time of the covenant among the migrants.
- At the time of the covenant between migrants and Ansaar.
- At the time of revelation of the verse ‘All faithful are indeed brothers’.
- On the day of Mubahila.
This selection was done on the basis of revelation and was a divine selection. Allah (s.w.t.) established brotherhood between the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Ali (a.s.). One LaylatulMabeet (the night of sleeping), the night in which the infidels conspired to assassinate Allah’s Messenger (p.b.u.h.), and Ali (a.s.) sacrificed his life for the life of the Apostle (p.b.u.h.) by sleeping on his bed – as per the description mentioned in the authentic Sunni books – Allah (s.w.t.) revealed upon his Archangels Gabriel and Michael that:
“Are you not like Ali bin AbiTalib (i.e. do you not learn from his sacrifice, therefore) I have established brotherhood between him and Mohammad (peace be upon them)”.
Moreover, on several instances and places, Prophet (p.b.u.h.) called Ali (a.s.) his brother. From the time of invitation, when the verse “Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk” revealed and Ali (a.s.) pledged allegiance with the Apostle (p.b.u.h.), his holiness said regarding Ali (a.s.):
“Certainly Ali is my brother, my successor and my vicegerent among you. So listen to his word and follow him”.
In the book “Sira e Ibn e Hisham”, it is narrated from Ibn e Ishaq that Allah’s Messenger (p.b.u.h.) established brotherhood between the migrants and the Ansaar. Then he said, ‘Seek refuge in Allah from associating a word towards the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) which he has not said”.
“In the path of Allah, become each other’s brother in the form of couples”.
He then held Ali bin AbiTalib’s hand and said:
“He is my brother”.
Then he added: Thus, Allah’s Messenger (p.b.u.h.), the head of all Apostles, the Chief of all the God-fearing men, the Prophet of the Lord of the worlds, like whom there is none amongst the servants of God, is the brother of Ali bin AbiTalib (a.s.).
In the book ‘UsdulGhabah’, Ibn e Atheer says: Prophet (p.b.u.h.) established brotherhood between himself and Ali (a.s.) two times; because once he established brotherhood among the migrants, then between the migrants and Ansaar, and each time, he said to Ali (a.s.):
“You are my brother in this world and hereafter”.
There are several texts and chains of the tradition of Brotherhood in both the books of Shias and Sunnis; such that its detail illustration is available in books such as SunanutTirmizi, SunanIbn e Majah, Al Mustadrak of Hakim e Nishaburi, Tarikh by Tabari, Musnad e Ahmad, MajmauzZawaa’id by Haythami, At Taba’qaatul Kubra by Ibn e Sa’d, Ad DurrulManthoor by Suyooti, ArRiyadunNadhra by Tabari and FadhailulKhamsa.
Mufeed, Masarush Shia, p. 23.
Aal e Imran, verse 162.
 A group of people used to debate on the humanity of women in that era and those who had a higher view, considered them like a purgatory between human beings and animals, and said: Women are women, not animals.
Aal e Imran, verse 64.
Tabarah, RoohudDeen Al-Islami, p. 289.
Bukhari, Sahih, v. 3, p. 98; v. 8, p. 59 ; Muslim e Nishaburi, v. 8, p. 18; Tirmizi, Sunan, v. 2, p. 440; Ibn e AbiJamhoorIhsaayi, AwaaliulLe’aali, v. 1, p. 128; Mohaddith e Noori, MustadrakulWasa’il, v. 12, p. 415.
Mufeed, Al Ikhtesaas, p. 27; Hurr e Aamuli, Wasailush Shia, v. 12, p. 206; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 71, p. 221.
Tabari, Jamiul Bayan, v. 1, p. 556; Tusi, At Tibyan, v. 1, p. 332; Tabrisi, Majma’ul Bayan, v. 8, p. 288.
 Our respected readers can refer to the book ‘Safinatul Bihar’ of Mohaddis e Qummi, for gaining more information regarding this topic (v.1, p. 13), Bihar ul Anwar of Majlisi (v. 71, p. 221 – 359) and Dar us Salaam of Mohaddis e Noori (v. 3, p. 319 – 459).
Majlisi, Biharul Anwar, v. 38, p. 333, chapter 68.
Ibn e Hisham, As SiratunNabawiya, v. 1, p. 504 – 505; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 38, p. 336.
Tusi, Al Amali, p. 587; Majlisi, Biharul Anwar, v. 38, p. 333.
Mohaddis e Qummi, Safinatul Bihar, v. 1, p. 53.
This Hadith is famous as the ‘Hadith of Position’ and has been narrated through numerous chains by both Shias and Sunnis. Refer to: Ibn e Sa’d, At Tabaqaatul Kubra, v. 3, p. 16; Balazari, AnsaabulAshraaf, v. 2, p. 347 – 349; Beyhaqi, Dalail un Nubuwwa, v. 5, p. 220; Mar’ashiNajafi, Sharh e IhaqaqulHaq.
Yaqubi, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 39; Ibn e Batreeq, UmdatoUyooneSihahulAkhbar, p. 240; same, KhasaisulWah’yulMobeen, p. 120; Ibn e AtheerJazri, UsdulGhabah, v. 3, p. 600 – 601; Amini, Al Ghadir, v. 2, p. 48.
IbneBatreeq, KhasaisulWahyulMubeen, p. 121 – 124; Amini, Al Ghadeer, v. 2, p. 278 – 284.
Ibn e Hisham, As SiratunNabawiyah, v. 1, p. 505.
Ibn e AtheerJazri, UsdulGhabah, v. 3, p. 588.
Tirmizi, Sunan, v. 5, p. 300.
Ibn e Majah, Sunan, v. 1, p. 44.
Hakim e Nishaburi, Al Mustadrak, v. 3, p. 14.
Tabari, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 56.
Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad, v. 1, p. 159.
Haythami, MajmauzZawaa’id, v. 9, p. 134, 205.
Ibn e Sa’d, At Tabaqaatul Kubra, v. 8, p. 23.
Suyooti, Ad DurrulManthoor, v. 4, p. 295, 371.
 Tabari, Ar RiyadunNadhra, p. 75 – 80.
Firozabadi, FadailulKhamsa, v. 1, p. 318 – 337.