The Islamic Fraternity
The Prophet, Muhammad, like all the earlier Apostles, was raised up in the world with Divine Faith and Heavenly Guidance. Those who responded to his Call and accepted the Faith he had brought, naturally, went to form a separate community which came to be known as Ummah Muslimah or the Islamic fraternity. The Prophet, also, declared adherence to Islam a sacred binding tie and took special pains to stress upon the members and different classes of the Islamic brotherhood the need to behave towards each other as brothers, helping one another and fulfilling the claims stemming from the common bond of Islam. The exhortation was all the more necessary because the Ummah included men drawn from various countries, races and social ranks, with their own ethnic, cultural, linguistic and temperamental peculiarities, and this diversity was to grow, further with the passage of time.
(1) It is related by Jabir that the Apostle of God said: “The (unfortunate) Muslim who forsakes a Muslim (and does not come to his aid) at a time when his honour is being outraged, God, too, will deny him His help when he is in the greatest need of it while the (blessed Muslim) who stands by a Muslim at a time when his honour is imperilled, God, too, will favour him with His help when he will be needing it most.” – Abu Dawood
(2) It is related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “Anyone before whom a Muslim brother is being defamed and his reputation is being injured, and he can speak for him and defend his good name, and, (also), does it, God will help him in this world as well as the next while if he does not defend or support him although he is in a position to do so, God will take him to task (for it) both in this world and the next.” – Sharh-us-Sunna lillman-el-Baghwi
Both the reports go to show how precious the honour of a Muslim is in the sight of God and what a grave sin it is for us to be found wanting in our duty to defend and protect it.
(3) Abu Hurairah relates that the Apostle of God said: A Believer is a Believer’s mirror, and a Believer is a Believer’s brother: he removes his defect (or deficiency), and guards him from behind. – Abu Dawood and Tirmizi
A mirror reflects every blemish on the face of a person, and shows it only to him and not to anyone else. That every Muslim is a Muslim’s mirror would, thus, mean that a Muslim should inform his brother of any fault or weakness he may observe in him, with a sincere heart, and refrain from spreading it abroad, The report, further, tells that: “Every Believer is a Believer’s brother.” It will, therefore, be his duty to protect him, to the best of his ability, from an evil or danger.
(4) It is related by Mu’ad bin Jabal that “I enquired from the holy Prophet about superior Faith, i.e., what was the highest grade of Faith and how could it be reached, The Prophet replied: ‘It is that you love whom you love solely for the sake of God, and hate whom you hate solely for the sake of God, (Friendship and enmity should be wholly for His sake). And, secondly, that you keep your tongue engaged in the remembrance of God’ ‘What else?’ asked further, ‘That you desire for others what you desire for yourself, and do not desire for others what you do not desire for yourself, the Prophet replied.” – Musnad-i-Ahmad
It shows that in the teachings of the sacred Prophet, sincerity and well-wishing for men, in general, to the extent of desiring for them what one desires for oneself is among the highest attributes of Faith.
(5) Jarir bin Abdullah relates that the Apostle of God said: “He will not gain the mercy of the Lord in whose heart there is no mercy for men.” – Bukhari and Muslim
It imparts a stern warning to those who do not treat the fellow-men with kindness and compassion and remain indifferent to their needs and difficulties. Such men, we are told, will have no share in the mercy of The All-merciful.
(6) It is related by Abdullah bin Amr bin el-Aas that the Apostle of God said: “God will have mercy on them that are merciful. Show compassion to the dwellers of the earth, He who dwells in the heavens will show compassion to you.” – Abu Dawood and Trimizi
It contains a most forceful exhortation for showing kindness to all the creatures of God on earth with whom one comes into contact. It, first, tells that there will be the special mercy of the Lord on those who are merciful, and, then, gives the assurance that the Lord will show compassion to those who are compassionate to His creatures. In this Tradition, the phrase Mann fi-es-Sama’i has been used for God which, literally, means, “He who is in the heavens”. (Evidently, the connection between the Almighty and the heavens is not the same as obtains between an occupant and the place he occupies). Like the earth and all the other living and non-living things, the sky, too, has been created by God. “He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth” and both of these are equally related to His functions and attributes of Divinity, Creation and Preservation. “And He it is Who in the heaven is God, and in the earth God.” (XLIII: 84). But since the heaven enjoys superiority over the earth, God has a special association with it, the true significance of which, however, is known only to Him. It is owing to it that Mann fi-es-Sama’i has been used in the above narrative for God as against Mann fi-el-Arz.
(7) Anas and Abdullah bin Masud related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said: “All the creatures are the Ayaal (family) of God. The more beloved of God, among His creatures, therefore, is the man who is good to His family, i.e., creatures.” – Baihaqi
Those who are dependent on a person for the necessities of life, like food and clothing, are called his Ayaal. ‘In this way, all the created beings are the Ayaal of God. He is their Cherisher and Sustainer. The above Tradition, consequently, tells that whoever shows kindness to the creatures of God will be deserving of His love.
(8) Suhail bin Hanzaliyyah narrates that “once the Apostle of God came upon a camel whose belly was touching its back (owing to starvation). On seeing it, he said: ‘O people, fear God with regard to the dumb animals. (Do not starve them like that). Ride on them in the condition that they are well, i.e., properly fed, and when you leave them, leave in the condition that they are well’, i.e., after you have fed them properly.’” – Abu Dawood
(9) Jabir narrates that “(once) the Apostle of God, saw a donkey whose face had been branded. Upon it, he remarked: ‘He is removed from the mercy of the Lord who has committed this (cruel) act’.” – Musnad-i-Ahmad
In the olden days, it was customary to brand animals, like horses and donkeys, with red-hot iron, as a mark of recognition, and it is done, even now, at some places. But to burn the mark on an animal’s face, which is the most sensitive part of the body, is most cruel, indeed. The holy Prophet felt deeply hurt on seeing the donkey whose face had been branded and observed that ‘cursed was the man who had done that. It, surely, was an expression of severe resentment against the person who had been so cruel to the poor animal.
(10) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A woman of bad character was granted remission (of her sins) on the act that she saw a dog that was (moving round) a well in such a state that its tongue was hanging out, and it was panting, and (it appeared that) it would die of thirst, (The woman took pity on the dog, but there was no rope or vessel to draw water from the well). So, she took off her leather stocking, and, somehow tied it to her Orhni and drew water (from the well) by means of it, (and gave it to the dog to drink). She was forgiven (by God) of her sins upon this act (of mercy),” A Companion, thereupon, enquired: “O Apostle of God! Is there a reward even on giving food and drink to the animals?” “Of course”, the Prophet replied, “There is a reward on giving food and drink to every living creature. – Bukhari and Muslim
The aim of the holy Prophet, obviously, was not merely to narrate the story, but to stress the importance of being kind and compassionate to all the creatures of the Lord, even to a dog. A similar report has been quoted in the preceding pages from the same sourcebooks, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. In it, however, the giving of water to the dying dog is attributed to a male traveller and not a woman of easy virtue. We have discussed it, in detail, over there and explained how a simple act like it could lead to salvation, and what was the real significance of it.
(11) It is related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “A Muslim bondsman who plants a tree or grows a crop, and, then, a man, bird or animal eats of it, it will be charity on his part.” – Bukhari and Muslim
The moral of it, again, is that to give food and drink not only to human beings, but to all the creatures of the Lord, including a bird or an animal, is an act of virtue on which there is a reward in the Hereafter. On the other hand, to treat an animal cruelly and inflict pain on it unnecessarily is a great sin, as the following Tradition will tell.
(12) Abdullah bin Omar and Abu Hurairah relate, they both relate, saying that the Apostle of God said: “A hard-hearted woman will make her way to Hell simply for killing a cat (in a most callous manner). She held it in captivity and neither gave it anything to eat herself nor set it free so that it could feed on the rodents (till it died of starvation).” – Bukhari and Muslim
These few Traditions are enough to give an idea of the teachings of the holy Prophet concerning the treatment of animals. It, in no way, conflicts with the command of the Prophet about the killing of poisonous animals, such as, snakes and scorpions, which. is an act of service to men as well as to the other creatures of God.