Solidarity in the Muslim Community

Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany


Solidarity in the Muslim CommunityThe Islamic Sharia enjoins its followers to maintain cooperation, solidarity and unity of feelings and emotions among them, in addition to their solidarity in the needs and materialistic matters. Therefore, they became like the solid cemented structure whose parts enforce each other. Narrated by Abu Musa al Ash’ari, the Prophet (PBUH) says: “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other.”[1], or like the one body in which if any part is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness and fever with it. The Prophet says: “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.”[2]


Comprehensiveness of Solidarity in Islam

Social solidarity in Islam does not merely stop at the material benefit, which is one of solidarity’s main aspects, but covers all the needs of the society; individuals and groups, whether these needs are material, moral or intellectual, and in the widest scope of these concepts. This means solidarity involves all the basic rights of individuals and groups in the nation.


All the teachings of Islam affirm the comprehensive nature of solidarity among Muslims. That is why the Muslim community is stranger to individualism, selfishness and negativism. The Muslim community, rather, lives on faithful brotherhood, generosity and helping one another in righteousness and piety all the time.[3]


Generality of Solidarity in Islam

Social solidarity in Islam is not the concern of only the Muslims belonging to the Muslim nation, but also is the concern of all the humankind with all their religions and beliefs within that Islamic society. Allah exalted He is says: {Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just} [Al-Mumtahina: 8] because the basis of solidarity is the dignity of mankind. Allah exalted He is says: {We have honoured the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of our creation} [Isra’: 70].

One of the comprehensive verses in the context of solidarity and integration of members of the Muslim community is Allah’s saying: {Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah. for Allah is strict in punishment} [Al-Maeda: 2].

Al-Qurtubi[4] said: “It is a command for all the creation to help one another in righteousness and piety, which means they ought to help one another.[5] Al Mawardi[6] said “Allah exalted He is has called on people to help one another and connected it to righteousness and piety because with piety comes Allah’s pleasure and with righteousness comes people’s pleasure and he whoever got Allah’s pleasure and people’s pleasure is happy and completely blessed.”[7]


Importance of Zakat in Islam

Importance of Zakat in IslamThe Holy Quran has explicitly stated that there is a portion of the property of the rich that should be given to the poor and needy. Allah exalted He is says: {And those in whose wealth is a recognised right. For the (needy) who asks and him who is prevented (for some reason from asking)} [Al-Maarij: 24,25]. The Divine Legislator had fixed that portion Himself and had not left the matter for the generosity of the rich or the openhandedness of the benevolent. He had not left the matter for the feeling of mercy that may exist in the hearts of the rich or their desire for piety and benevolence and their love of philanthropy.[8]


Those needy people have been defined by the Quranic verse: {Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah. and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom} [At-Tawba: 60].

Thus, zakat (almsgiving) is highly important as regards to its covering of almost all members of the society and on the basis that zakat is seen as the first source of exemplifying the concept of solidarity and cooperation. Zakat is the third of the five pillars of Islam. One’s Islam is not accepted without zakat. Zakat purifies and sanctifies the almsgiver’s self. Zakat benefits the one who performs it before Zakat recipient. Allah exalted He is says: {Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them} [Repentance: 103]. Undoubtedly, as almsgiving purifies its performer from stinginess and avarice, almsgiving does also remove grudge, rancor and hatred of the rich and the wealthy from the hearts of the needy, the poor and those who deserve almsgiving. Zakat creates an atmosphere of love, domesticity, cooperation and mutual compassion between members of the society where such a great merit is performed.

Islam permits those charged with authority among the Muslims to take from the money of the rich what they deem enough to cover the needs of the poor – each one according to his financial capability. It is not permitted in a Muslim community that some people sleep with full stomachs whereas their neighbors are hungry. The whole society is commanded to cooperatively share the minimum necessary to support life. The Prophet says: “The one who sleeps with a full stomach knowing that his neighbour is hungry doesn’t believe in me”[9]. In this, Imam Ibn Hazm[10] said: “The rich people of every region are instructed to help their poor people and the sultan (ruler) forces them to do so. Therefore, the poor and needy should get food necessary for life, clothing for winter and summer and dwellings to protect them from rain, summer, sun and looks of passersby.[11]

In Islam, the material solidarity does not stop at providing the minimum necessary to support life for the needy, but it exceeds to achieving sufficiency. This was obvious in Omar Ibn al Khattab’s saying: “Repeat the alms to them, even if some of them had got a hundred camels.”[12]


Hadiths in the Merit of Solidarity

Hadiths in the Merit of SolidarityOne of the hadiths that call for the merit of solidarity in the Muslim community and illustrate its status in Islam was narrated by Abu Musa al Ash’ari, who said: The Prophet said: “When the people of Ash’ari tribe ran short of food during the holy battles, or the food of their families in Medina ran short, they would collect all their remaining food in one sheet and then distribute it among themselves equally by measuring it with a bowl. So, these people are from me, and I am from them.”[13] Ibn Hajar said in his book, Victory of the Creator: It means they are connected to me (the Prophet)[14], and this is the highest honor for every Muslim.

Another Hadith was reported by Abdullah Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and with his father, who said the Prophet said: “Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.”[15]

An-Nawawi, may Allah forgive him, said: “This illustrates the merit of helping a Muslim, brining him out of his discomfort and screening him. A facet of removing a Muslim’s troubles is by removing it with money and authority or assisting him. It is obvious that bringing a Muslim out of his discomfort can be achieved also by one’s giving his opinion or advice”[16], and this is the exact meaning of solidarity in the Muslim community.

The Prophet wanted to say that the whole society ought to share supporting one another and particularly the poor and needy and that each well-to-do individual and each individual who has an authority should support his society and always lend it a helping hand. He also wanted to say that all the human forces in the society should collectively target the preservation of each single individual’s interests and warding off harms, as well as protecting the social structure and establishing it on sound bases.[17]. The hadith also means that people should live with one another in a state of cooperation and unity between individuals and the groups and between everyone and their brother.[18]


The Prophet classified helping the needy and feeling the responsibility toward members of the society as one of the alms on one’s self. Abu Zar narrated: “Every person ought to give an alms everyday- with the rise of the sun”, I said: Oh, Prophet: Where can we give alms while we have no money? He replied: “Because one of the gates of alms is guiding a blind, helping a deaf and mute to understand, showing people the ways they should take when they ask for this, enthusiastically helping whomever is in bad need for help, enthusiastically helping the weak, all these are gates to charity giving…”[19]

Such values are outstanding civilizational landmarks with which Islam had preceded all systems and laws which paid a great concern to that issue. Who ever had heard about guiding the blind and helping the deaf-muted to understand what is said?!

The Prophet warned those who are able to fulfill the needs of people from lagging in doing this. Amr Ibn Murra told Mu’awiya: I have heard the Prophet saying: “Whoever imam closes his door at the face of the needy, the poor and the visibly in need people, Allah closes the gates of heaven without fulfilling his needs.”[20] Ibn Murra said: Mu’awiya assigned a man to fulfill the needs of the people.

Narrated by Jabir Ibn Abdullah and Abi Talha al Ansari, may Allah forgive them, the Prophet said: “Whoever disappoints a Muslim where his sanctity is profaned and his honor is assaulted will be disappointed by God when he would like to triumph and whoever stands by a Muslim where his sanctity is profaned and his honor is assaulted will be assisted by God when he need His assistance”[21]

Establishing the origin of this from the sayings of Muslim jurists is marvelous. They judged that every Muslim must try to fend off harms on others. Prayers have to be stopped in order to save the life of whoever needs urgent help such as a drowning person or a person in the center of a fire – he has to save them from anything that may cause his death. If the person is the only one capable to do so, this becomes an obligatory duty that he must do. But if there happen to be more than one who can do so, the duty becomes optional and there is no disagreement between jurists on this.[22]

Thus, solidarity is an essential mainstay in the Islamic society, which takes many forms of cooperation and partnership like offering help, protection, support and condolence until the need of the person in trouble is fulfilled and until pains and diseases come to an end.

[1]  Al Bukhari: Kitab al-Adab (Book of Good Manners and Form), chapter The Believers’ Cooperation With One Another (5680), Muslim: Kitab Al-Birr Was-Salat-I-Wa’l-Adab (The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship) chapter The Believers’ Being Merciful Among Themselves, Showing Love Among Themselves and Supporting One Another (2585)

[2] Al Bukhari: Kitab al-Adab (Book of Good Manners and Form), (5665), Muslim: Kitab Al-Birr Was-Salat-I-Wa’l-Adab (The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship) chapter The Believers’ Being Merciful Among Themselves, Showing Love Among Themselves and Supporting One Another (65)

[3] See: Mohamed al Disuqi: The Religious Endowment and Its Role in the Development of the Muslim Community, Islamic Issues series, issue No. (46), released by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, First Section, PP.5

[4] Al Qurtubi: Mohamed Ibn Ahmed el Ansari al Khazraji al Maliki al Qurtubi, is one of the greatest interpreters, author of the well-known: Al Jami’ Le Ahkam Al Quran. He died in 1273. see: Al Zirikli: Al Alam, 5/322

[5] See: Al Qurtubi: Al Jami’ Le Ahkam Al Quran, 6/46,47.

[6] Al Mawardi (364-450AH/974-1058AC) is Abul Hassan Ali Mohamed ibn Habib, called the supreme qadi (judge in Sharia court). He was an authority in jurisprudence, fundamentals and interpretation. He served as judge in several towns. Among his production are Adab al Dunia wal-Din (Good Manners of The Present Life and Religion), al Ahkam As-Sultaniya (The Principles of Government), Look: Az-Zahabi: Siyar A’alam an-Nubala’a (Biographies of Noble Figures) 18/65, and az-Zarkali: The Noble Figures 4/327

[7] Look: Al Mawardi: Adab al Dunia wal-Din (Good Manners of The Present Life and Religion), pp. 196, 197

[8] Hussein Hamid Hassan: The Social Solidarity in the Islamic Sharia, pp. 8

[9] Al Hakim (7307) and said: This hadith’s attribution is right. Az-Zahabi and at-Tabarani agreed with him, reported by Anas Ibn Malek: The Massive Lexicon (750), the text wording is his, al-Bayhaqi: Shu’ab-ul Eman (The Branches of Faith) (3238), al Bukhari: al Adab al Mufrad (A Code For Everyday Living) (112), corrected by al Albani, look: as-Silsilah as-Sahihah (The Correct Chain) (149)

[10] Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi: Abu Mohamed Ali Ibn Ahmed Ibn Saeed Adhahiri (384-456AH/994-1064AC) is one of the greatest Islamic imams. He was an authority in jurisprudence. He was a follower of Dawood Adhahiri who believed in the superficial interpretation of the holy texts. Look: As-Safadi: al-Wafi bi’l-Wafayat (The Biographical Lexicon) 20/93

[11] Ibn Hazm: Al-Muhalla (The Adorned Treatise) 6/452, issue (725)

[12] Ibid

[13] Al Bukhari: Kitab ash-Sharika (Partnership Book), chapter Partnership in Food and Offers (23540, Muslim: Kitab Fadha’il as-Sahaba (Virtues of the Companions), chapter Among The Ash’ari Tribe’s Virtues (2500)

[14] Ibn Hajar: Fath al Bari 5/130

[15] Al Bukhari: Kitab al Mazalim (Oppressions Book), chapter A Muslim Shall Not Oppress Another Muslim and Shall Not Hand Him Over To An Oppressor (2310), and Muslim: Kitab Al-Birr Was-Salat-I-Wa’l-Adab (The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship) chapter Prohibition of Injustice (2580)

[16] An-Nawawi: Al Minhaj Fi Sharh Sahih Muslim (The Minhaj in Interpreting The Authentic Hadiths of Muslim) 16/135

[17] Mohamed Abu Zuhra: Social Solidarity in Islam, pp. 7

[18] Abdul Aal Ahmed Abdul Aal: Social Solidarity in Islam, pp.13

[19] Narrated by Ahmed (21522) and Shu’ayb al Arna’out said: Its attribution is right, and Ibn Hibban (3377), and al Bayhaqi in his book The Branches of Faith (7618), and an-Nasai: As-Sunan al-Kubra (Major Hadith Collections) (9027) and corrected by al Albani, look: Sahih al Jami (The Sound Collections) (4038)

[20] At-Tirmizi (1332), Ahmed (18062), Abu Ya’la (1565), corrected by al-Albani, look: The Sound Collections (5685)

[21] Reported by at-Tabarani in his Al Mu’jam Al Kabeer (The Massive Lexicon) (4735) and his Al Mu’jam Al Awsat (The Medium Lexicon) (8642), and Abu Dawood (4884), and Ahmed (16415), and al Bayhaqi in his The Branches of Faith (7632), corrected by al Albani, look Sahih Al Jami (The Sound Collections) (5690) and Al Jami as-Saghir (The Small Collection) and its addition (10627)

[22] Ashirbini al Khatib: Mughni al Muhtaj 4/5 and Ibn Qudama: Al Mughni 7/515, 8/202

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