UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: The Golden Rule

Understanding Islam by Muhajid Navarra

The golden rule is one of the primary tenets that simplify the way we should treat other human beings. It is named as the golden rule as every major religion or ideology preaches the same rule which means that this is one of the infallible human nature – the ethic of reciprocity.

The golden rule is grammatically expressed in three forms: directive, negative and emphatic. The first recorded and known usage of the term golden rule was by Charles Gibbons and Thomas Jackson in 1604 but the statements that express the golden rule date back to ancient history. The golden rule is also known as the golden law.

The Islamic version is that of an emphatic statement and is from the saying of Prophet Muhammad, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari and Imam Muslim. This saying of Prophet Muhammad could be a source of many different teachings.

TRUE SIGN OF BELIEF

Loving for your brother that which you love for yourself is a sign of true belief. The Muslim who does not love for his brother that which he loves for himself does not become a disbeliever through it but this only shows the incompleteness of his faith of belief. Prophet Muhammad said, “The believers, in their mutual mercy, love, and compassion, are like a (single) body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will join it in staying awake and suffering fever.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

However, being simply able to love your brothers that which you love for yourself does not make one perfect in his faith. There are other obligations in Islam such as acts of worship and the observance of other fundamental belief that will render a Muslim a disbeliever by violating it.

ESTABLISHMENT OF REAL BROTHERHOOD IN FAITH

When Prophet Muhammad and his companions migrated from Mecca to Madinah, Prophet Muhammad established different ways in which the Ansar or the people of Madinah could help the Mujahirun or the immigrants from Mecca. Since the Muhajirun left Mecca due to the persecutions that they have gone through, most of them did not bring enough provisions for them to stay, eat and live in Madinah.

Prophet Muhammad established a system of brotherhood where one Ansar is bound to a Muhajirun from Makkah which the Ansar agreed to immediately by sharing their homes, food and even other material riches with them. This system has been expedited by the firm belief of the early Muslims in the golden rule that they should wish for their brothers that which they wish for themselves.

A very inspiring example of it was a story related by Abdurrahman bin Awf. He said, “When we came to Madinah, the Messenger of Allah established bonds of brotherhood between me and Sa’d ibn al-Rabee’. Sa’d ibn al-Rabee’ said: “I am the wealthiest of the Anaar, so I will give you half my wealth, and see which of my wives you would prefer, I will divorce her for you, and when she becomes permissible you can marry her.” ‘Abdurrahman said to him, “I do not need that. Is there a marketplace where people trade?” He said, “The marketplace of Qaynuqa’.” So the next day ‘Abdurrahman went there and took some cottage cheese and ghee, and he did that the next day. It was not long before Abdurrahman came with traces of yellow perfume on him. The Messenger of Allah said, “Have you gotten married?” He said, “Yes?” He said, “To whom?” He said, “A woman from among the Ansar.” He said, “How much was the dowry?” He said, “A gold piece equal in weight to a date stone (or a date stone of gold).” The Prophet said to him, “Give a wedding feast even if with one sheep.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari. 

AVOIDANCE OF GREED AND ENVY

Greed and envy and probably two of the worst motives for the commitment of crimes against other persons such as backbiting, theft, robbery, extortion, and others. By understanding the golden rule fully, the spirit of brotherhood is established better in their hearts and minds, Muslims are also closing the doors through which greed and envy could enter one’s heart by committing one’s self to altruistic motives in dealing with others.

Believers are even compelled to give charity out of good things and not that which is considered garbage in most situations. Allah said, “You shall not attain piety until you spend from that which you love.” Quran 3:92.

He also said, “O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have legally earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein” Quran 2:267

DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOVE

Different types of love could exist between humans and it could be divided into two, natural love and religious love. Natural love is that which exists between the husband and the wife, their children, and family members. Natural love could also be found in people in their friendships, and other relationships with each other that is based on humanitarian love that is based on pity and mercy. The other type of love is that which is upheld for religious reasons such as the love that exists between the believers.

This saying of Prophet Muhammad emphasizes the level of love that should persist between the believers but it does not mean that Muslims are allowed to be unjust towards Non-Muslims. Muslims are still expected to be kind and helpful to the Non-Muslims especially on things that will promote peace and common humanitarian goals that will not lead the Muslim into sinning or violating Allah’s prohibitions.