Aspects of Islamic Faith 72: Cementing Ties Within The Muslim Community
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
& Information - By Adil Salahi
Al-Bara' ibn Azib reports: "The Prophet (peace be upon
him) ordered us to do seven things and to refrain from
seven others: He ordered us to follow funerals, visit
the sick, accept invitations, give support to the one
suffering injustice, fulfil oaths, return greetings
and bless a person who sneezes. He further ordered us
to refrain from eating in silverware, wearing gold
rings, silk, brocade, fine and thick silk." (Related
Islam is keen to establish strong ties between its
followers so that they are a solid community that
suffers no internal divisions. The Prophet used every
opportunity to point out actions and deeds that cement
relations and increase feelings of unity among
Muslims. The above-quoted Hadith mentions several
things that we are ordered to do or to refrain from.
When such matters are grouped together, they have a
common purpose, and the purpose here is to strengthen
relations within the community.
Although the Hadith uses the word ‘order', not
everything mentioned in the first seven is a duty;
some are only recommended. Likewise, some of the
things we are ordered to refrain from are only
reprehensible, not absolutely forbidden. Let us look
briefly at these.
The first order is to follow funerals. This means to
offer condolences to the relatives to the deceased,
join the special prayer offered in congregation before
burial and to join the procession to the graveyard.
Other Hadiths make clear that following funerals is a
collective duty, which means that when a group of
Muslims have done it, the duty is not binding on the
rest of the community. Also, the order is for men
only. Women should not join the procession to the
Visiting the sick is also a collective duty. It
applies to all, whether relatives, friends,
acquaintances and others, including opponents. The
Prophet is authentically reported to have said: "When
a Muslim visits his sick brother, he will be in the
garden of heaven until he returns." However, certain
manners need to be observed when visiting the sick: it
should be infrequent except by close relatives, and
the visitor must make sure that he is not causing
inconvenience. He should choose the proper time and
pray for the recovery of the sick person.
When we are invited, we should accept the invitation,
unless it involves something forbidden. This is
recommended, not obligatory.
Helping a person suffering injustice is a collective
duty for those who are able to render such support. It
is equally binding if the injustice is being done to
an individual or a community. Help should be rendered
in any way possible, physically when needed, or by
verbal protest. People are required to give such help
according to their means and ability.
The fulfilment of oaths is necessary as long as it is
concerned with what is permissible. Returning a
greeting and blessing a sneeze are collective duties,
except in situations where there is one person around,
in which case these two actions are incumbent on that
Although the Hadith mentions seven things we are
expected to refrain from, only six are enumerated.
Silverware and gold utensils are forbidden to use for
food or other purposes. Wearing gold and silk, of all
types, is forbidden for men, permissible for women.
Wearing a silver ring is also permissible for men. The
idea of these prohibitions is that using such
luxurious items is bound to create a feeling of
deprivation among the poor. This may lead to envy and
hard feelings. It is better to remove the cause of
such feelings in order to keep the Muslim community
closely knit, with all people feeling and
reciprocating good and brotherly feelings.