Helping One Another in Righteousness

(Eid-ul-Fitr Speech prepared by Mohamed Baianonie, Imam at the Islamic Center of Raleigh NC, on September 20, 2009)

We are grateful to Allaah ﷻ who has helped us fast and make Qiyaam in the month of Ramadaan . He has gathered us this morning on this blessed day of Eid to pray and benefit from the message of this speech. With His mercy, He has guided us all to His deen and without His guidance we are lost. With His kindness, He has brought us together as a Muslim Ummah and we are here today only for His sake. Our differences in color, language or nationality do not divide us from being His Ummah . We are grateful to the glorified Allaah for His many bounties and we ask His glory to help us thank Him for these countless bounties.

Allaah ﷻ created man and honored him over all of His other creations. He trusted man with the responsibility of carrying on His commands. This is a great honor, yet a difficult task that cannot be fulfilled completely without full cooperation among human beings. Successfully completing this task from Allaah depends on how well humans cooperate with one another. And because of this, Allaah ﷻ orders His servants in what may be interpreted as, "Help one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression."

In this verse, Allaah ﷻ clearly defines the areas that we should or should not help one another. Allaah ﷻ however, does not specify who we must or must not cooperate with because He ﷻ meant for us to cooperate with all people regardless of their race, faith, or gender. We should not make race, faith, or gender an obstacle in cooperating with one another in righteousness and piety. And just because people from the same race, faith, or gender are committing sin, does not justify our participation or support of this transgression. This is the great foundation that Allaah ﷻ set for the Muslim Ummah to build their relationships upon.

In this verse, Allaah ﷻ orders us to help each other do good, calling this al-birr , while forbidding us from committing and aiding others in sin, calling this at-taqwaa . He also mentions Al-ithmu , meaning to abandon Allaah's ﷻ orders, and similarly, He forbade us from Al-'udwan , or transgressing the limits and obligations He ordained. Al-'udwan also means to transgress when we treat ourselves or others unjustly. In fact, the prophet reiterated this verse's meaning over and over again through numerous ahadeeth .

Encouraging others to do good is one of the many ways that Muslims can cooperate with each other in righteousness. The prophet ﷺ promises those who encourage goodness to receive the same reward of those who do the good deed. On the other hand, when people encourage others to do sinful things, then they will receive the same penalty of those who committed the sin.

While Islaam aims to build upright individuals, it also takes interest in building a strong Muslim community. This is not surprising, since Islaam is the deen of the individual and the community. For this reason, we find many verses and ahaadeeth that lay down the foundation and guidelines for the Muslim community. Allaah ﷻ desires the Muslim Ummah to be the model for all of humanity in fulfilling this great task He has entrusted us with.

Cooperation is one of the important foundations the community must build upon. Before we can begin working on a community level, individual Muslims must find cooperation among their own families. The family is the building block of society. Only when a husband and wife find mutual cooperation between each other can they carry out the roles delegated to them. If they cooperate, then they will raise their children in the correct manner, and those children will then become good citizens in the Muslim community and the entire society.

Aishah ﷸ, the wife of the prophet, described the prophet's family life and said, "He used to remain busy serving and helping his family."

Furthermore, Muslims must cooperate with all their neighbors: Muslim or non-Muslim. A good person will tend to his neighbor's needs, and help them in all good and protect them against harm and evil. The Prophet ﷻ considered harming one's neighbors to be contradictory to fulfilling one's faith, and said, "By Allaah, he does not believe! By Allaah, he does not believe! By Allaah, he does not believe!" The companions asked, "Who, messenger of Allaah?" He replied, "He whose neighbor is not safe from his evil." In this hadeeth , "neighbor" is a general term that includes Muslims and Non-Muslims living close-by, the person working near him, or the person next to him on any form of transportation, etc. This hadeeth also means that the person who harms his neighbor has weak faith in Allaah.

Just as Allaah ﷻ ordered the good treatment of parents and relatives, He also orders the same good treatment of one's neighbors, saying in what may be interpreted as, "Submit yourselves to Allaah, and do not join any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, and the wayfarer (you meet). "

There are so many ways in which we can show kindness to our neighbors, with the lowest type of kindness being that we simply not hurt them. The prophet ﷺ said, "One who believes in Allaah and the Last Day must not hurt or harm his neighbor..." And the highest type of kindness to your neighbor is when you share in good and bad times. The prophet ﷺ said, "...the best neighbor is the one who behaves best toward his neighbors." And also the prophet ﷺ said, "Gabriel kept advising me to treat neighbors kindly, so much that I thought that he would order me to make them my heirs."

All neighbors, whether they are Muslim, non-Muslim, relative, or non-relative deserve their rights as a neighbor just because they are your neighbors. There should be no difference in the treatment of a Muslim neighbor and a non-Muslim one, or a relative and a non-relative. However, a Muslim neighbor has the additional rights of the neighbor and the rights of a Muslim. And a relative has in addition to the rights of a neighbor, the rights of a relative as well.

And if we look beyond the neighborhood, we find the larger community, the Muslim community living in the same locality. Cooperation must be the basis for our relationships in our various efforts and endeavors, so that our efforts meet and form a force for good and against evil...and in achieving this, the community will be able to reach its great needs and hopes.

Every person has a force in him, and every group is a force in itself. And when these individuals and groups cooperate and unite towards a goal, everyone will benefit. However, if our effort remains scattered about, we will lose momentum and all our efforts and goals will be lost.

We need both physical and moral cooperation to reach our goals to accomplish this great task from Allaah. The prophet ﷺ said, "Support your brother whether he is the transgressor or the transgressed." The companions asked, "How can we support our brother if he is the transgressor? He replied, "By preventing him from transgression."

Also, the prophet ﷺ said, "The bonds of brotherhood between two believers are like the parts of a building, each part strengthens and holds the other." The prophet then clasped his hands with his fingers."

The prophet ﷺ set the greatest examples of moral and physical cooperation. Only when we can cooperate with one another, can we carry on the duty of passing on Allaah's ﷻ word. The prophet showed us an example of physical and moral support when he bonded the Muhaajireen (those who migrated with him from Mecca to Medina) and the Ansaar (the people of Medina who supported him). Their brotherhood was so strong that they even passed their inheritance to one another, until the Qur'aan laid down the specific laws of inheritance.

The prophet ﷺ also encouraged Muslims to support good causes, even if they were cooperating with non-Muslims. In fact, at 20-years of age, before becoming a prophet, he attended a meeting of the Quraish, the prophet's tribe who were at the time idol worshippers. At this meeting, the men of the Quraish pledged to help the weak overcome the strong, and to support the victim whose rights were taken to overcome his oppressor. He took part in the pledge and spoke highly of it after he became a prophet and said, "I attended the home of Abd Allaah Ben Jada'aan where a treaty was formed and I was very pleased with it. If I had been invited after Islaam was revealed, I would still have attended."

Success is our reward today when we cooperate with one another in good; and even greater rewards await us in Paradise. On the other hand, failure is the penalty for those who do not cooperate with one another in righteousness, and for them Allaah ﷻ will punish them even greater in the Hereafter.

O' Allaah help us cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety. O' Allaah join our hearts and our efforts in doing what is right for your sake. Aameen.