Islam teaches us how our relationships with one another should be. The most serious principle to be adopted in this regard is that of loving and hating for Allah’s sake. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, gives for the sake of Allah, and forbids for the sake of Allah, has indeed perfected his faith.”
This is the most important principle that should govern our interpersonal relationships. It ensures that our relationships with other people are not based on personal interests or ulterior motives. A Muslim is not just thinking: What can I get out of it? Such shallow relationships continue only so long as there is some personal benefit to be had.
And come to an end when those interests are fulfilled
On the other hand, a relationship based on the love for the sake of Allah is an enduring relationship that will never come to an end, not even by death. It will continue forever. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There are seven whom Allah will shade with His shade on the day when there is no shade but His shade…” and he mentioned among them: “… two men who love each other for the sake of Allah, meeting and parting for that reason alone.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim].
Ibn Hajr, in his commentary on this hadîth, makes it clear that though it mentions men in its wording, women are most certainly included in its meaning.
There are numerous rights that people have over one another. These rights help to shape our relationships. I would briefly like to mention eight of these rights that we as Muslims should seriously strive to put into practice in our dealings with one another. I shall reinforce what I say with practical examples from the lives of our pious predecessors.
1. There is a financial right that we have over one another. Each one of us has the duty of providing financial support to someone who is in need of it. We do not, however, have to bring harm upon ourselves in doing so.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) informs us that Allah says: “My love became obligatory for those who give to each others for My sake.”
Yazîd b. `Abd al-Malik said: “I feel ashamed before Allah to ask Him to grant entry into Paradise for one of my brothers and then feel stingy to give him a gold or silver coin.”
2. We must likewise provide food and clothing for those who need it. May Allah bless Abû Sulaymân al-Dârânî who said: “If all the life of this world was contained in one morsel of food that was in my hand, then a brother approached me for it, I would love to give him that morsel.” He also said: “I may put a morsel of food into the mouth of my brother and find its taste in my own mouth.”
3. We must also support each other with our physical efforts and our labors. We should always be willing to lend a helping hand and to do something personally for the sake of someone else.
Muhammad b. Ja`far said: “I promptly do what my enemies want me to do, because I loathe that they should be disappointed with me.” If this is the case for our enemies, then how should our conduct be with our friends?
4. We must express our feelings of good will to others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If any of you loves someone, let him tell him that.”
It is also right for us to defend the honor of another when someone tries to speak ill about him or her. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever defends the reputation of his Muslim brother will have a right from Allah to defend him from Hell on the Day of Judgment.”
5. We must forgive and excuse each other’s mistakes and shortcomings. These mistakes might be deficiencies in a person’s religion – someone committing a sin – or they may be in the way that person treats us. In the first case, what is needed from us is sincere advice. It should be our ardent desire to try and guide our brother or sister back to what is right.
It was related from the lives of our pious predecessors that two brothers in religion were very close to each other, then one of them fell into sin. People encouraged the pious man to abandon his sinful friend. He refused to do so and said: “He needs me in this trial more than he has ever needed me before. I must help him and pray to Allah to return him back to how he used to be.”
As for any mistreatment we might experience at the hands of another, we should overlook it and remember that no one is perfect and we cannot expect from anyone that he will never exhibit to us bad behavior at some time or another.
6. We must pray for others both during their lives and after they die. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A Muslim’s secret supplication for his brother will be answered. There is an angel at his head each time he offers supplication for his brother the angel says: ‘Âmîn, and the same for you’.”[Sahîh Muslim]
The Companion Abû al-Dardâ’ said: “I offer supplication for seventy of my brethren while prostrating in prayer.”
7. We must be faithful in our relationships. Our faithfulness to one another is something that must continue even after a person dies by our keeping up contact with that person’s children and dear ones. Your love for that person was intended for the Hereafter, so if this love ceases when that person dies, then it never really existed.
It has been said that a little faithfulness after death is much more precious than a lot of faithfulness during life.
8. We must be easy in our dealings with people and not expect too much from them. It is not good to place burdens on people that will be hard or costly for them. Imam al-Fudayl said: “Often, when people abandon one another, it is because of the burdens that they impose on each another.” When people deal easily with each other, it increases the love that exists between them.
May Allah help us to put these principles into practice in our lives, and may He increase the love that we feel for each other for His sake.