Islam, Muslims and Social Life

Islam, Muslims and Social Life

By: Mohammad Khalid Qasmi

A Muslim who truly understands the teachings of his religion is gentle, friendly and likeable. He mixes with people and gets along with them. This is something which should be a characteristic of the Muslim who understands that keeping in touch with people and earning their trust is one of the most important duties of the Muslim. It is an effective means of conveying the message of truth to them, and exposing them to its moral values, because people only listen to those whom they like, trust and accept. Hence there are many traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), which commend the type of person who is friendly and liked by others.

According to a hadith, such a person will remain closest to the Prophet (saws) on the Day of Resurrection.

Reported by Ahmad once the Prophet (saws) said to his companions, “Shall I not tell you who among you is the most beloved to me and will be closest to me on the Day of Resurrection?” He repeated it two or three times. They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah (saws).” Upon this the Prophet (saws) said, “Those of you who are the best in attitude and character.” (Musnad Ahmad)

 Some reports add: “Those who are down to earth and humble, who get along with others and with whom others feel comfortable.”

One of the attributes of the believer is that he gets along with others and others feel comfortable with him. He likes people and they like him. If he is not like this, then he will not be able to convey the message or achieve anything of significance. Whoever is like that has no goodness in him, as in the Hadith:

“The believer gets along with people and they feel comfortable with him. There is no goodness in the one who does not get along with people and with whom they do not feel comfortable.” (Musnad Ahmad and Al-Bazzar)

The Prophet (saws) set the highest example of good behaviour towards people. He was skilful in softening their hearts and called them to follow him in word and deed. He demonstrated how to reach people’s hearts and win their love and admiration.

He was always cheerful and easy-going, never harsh. When he came to any gathering, he would sit wherever there was a free space, and he told others to do likewise. He treated everyone equally, so that no one who was present in a gathering would feel that anyone else was receiving preferential treatment. If anyone came to him and asked for something, he would give it to them, or at least respond with kind words. His good attitude extended to everyone and he was like a father to them.

The people gathered around the Prophet (saws) were truly equal, distinguished only by their level of taqwa. They were humble, respecting their elders, showing compassion to young ones, giving priority to those in need and taking care of strangers.

The Prophet Muhammad (saws) never used to disappoint anyone who came to ask from him. There are three characteristics that he did not possess: he was not argumentative, he did not talk too much, and he did not concern himself with matters that were not his business. There are three things that he never did to people: he never criticized anyone, he never said “Shame on you!” to anyone, and he never looked for anyone’s faults. He never said anything but that for which he hoped to earn reward.

When he spoke, the people around him would listen earnestly, sitting still as if there were birds on their heads. When he was silent, only then they would speak. They never argued with one another in his presence. They would smile at whatever he smiled at, and would be impressed by whatever impressed him. He would be patient with a stranger who might be harsh in his requests or questions, and his Companions would ask the stranger to speak gently.

He said, “If you see someone in need, then help him.” He never accepted praise except from someone who was thanking him for a favour, and he never cut off anyone who was speaking; he would wait until the person indicated that he had finished, or stood up.

Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) tells us that the Messenger of Allah (saws) used to be cautious of the worst type of people, and he would speak gently to them and treat them well. A man sought permission to enter upon him and he said, “Let him in, what a bad brother of his tribe he is!” When the man came in, he spoke gently to him. Aishah said: “O Messenger of Allah (saws), you said what you said, and then you spoke gently to him.” He (saws) said, “O Aishah, the worst of people is the one whom people avoid (or are gentle towards) because they fear his slander.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

The true Muslim follows in the footsteps of his Prophet (saws) in his dealings with all people, whether they are good or bad, so that he is liked and accepted by all people.

Worship and Social Service

All forms of prayer in Islam are essentially designed for the remembrance and worship God. However, they also serve the purpose of the building of humanity. In the course of their worship the believers never cease to be instructed in the paying of the dues of man along with the paying of the dues of God.

Salat (prayer), for instance, besides being a way of remembering and supplication before God, it has become a means of establishing equality between people. In congregational salat Muslims perform their prayers in rows five times a day. Big and small, rich and poor, powerless and powerful, literate and illiterate all are in the same rows without any discrimination. In this way the simultaneous worship of salat by all and sundry turns into a great lesson of human equality.

In Ramadan (the month of fasting) everyone on the fast goes without food and water from dawn to dusk. A man may be very rich, but he has to go hungry and thirsty just like any common man does. In this way, by observing the fast in the process of worshipping God, a Muslim personally experiences human need as well. Fasting along with worship of God also makes a man considerate and caring for other fellow beings.
The purpose of Zakat, monetary worship, is also clearly the same. Zakat requires that out of one’s earnings a share be apportioned to God and given to the needy and the poor. In this way Zakat is a form of worship of God along being with a form of service to humanity. By apportioning a share of one’s wealth to God, man acknowledges God as the giver, while at the same time he trains himself to fulfill his responsibilities towards human beings.

Hajj, too, is essentially a form of worship. During Hajj many different kinds of people come together, but the pilgrims are forbidden to fight. The pilgrim must avoid all friction lest his pilgrimage become unacceptable in the eyes of God. In this way, hajj besides being a form of worship, takes on the form of annual training in leading a peaceful social life.

The writer is the Director of American Institute of Modern Studies at Tanda Badli Rampur and the former Imam at Al-Farooq Masjid of Atlanta, USA. He may be reached at khalidqasmi@gmail.com