Societies are made up of different individuals who vary in race, ethnicity and religion. Today, there is much talk about pluralistic societies and how can societal cohesion be promoted in such societies. The approach to Islam in this question is unique. In the process, it creates the strongest bond possible.
Before getting to a description of the strongest bond, it is important to note that Islam strikes at the very root of societal disunity: racism and prejudice. One can pass as many laws as one wills but as long as this disease is rooted in the heart, there can never be true social cohesion. Nothing highlights this fact more than the debates going on in Europe and the U.S. over immigration. Hatred for “foreigners,” even those who are full members and citizens of society, will always prevent true social cohesion.
Islam has wiped that disease away with one verse that indicates wherein one’s true worth lies. Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala) has said:
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has piety and God-consciousness. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”
Hence, race and ethnicity should have no effect whatsoever with respect to societal cohesion in the eyes of a Muslim. There is, though, a difference that Islam does take into consideration: the difference of faith and religion. Hence, this discussion of societal cohesion will be focused on societal cohesion in the context of a pluralistic society with respect to religion.
THE BOND OF FAITH:
If one were to ask many today as to what the strongest bond there could possibly be among people, most of them would probably answer something like blood relationship, ethnic origin, nationality and so forth. Actually, the Quran shows that these types of bonds are not that strong if the foundation behind them is weak. In the Quran, Allah gives the examples of Cain and Abel, who were two brothers yet one killed the other, as well as the example of the brethren of Joseph (Yousuf (AS)), who cast Joseph into a well. Those were all blood relatives; however, they put this world above their relationship with others. Such is occurring today throughout the world. The ties between the people are subservient to their desires, goals and wants of this world. Many individuals are quickly and easily willing to sell out their own kith and kin to get ahead in this world or to get something they want in this world.
All of this demonstrates one thing: When the ties between people are based on worldly considerations, even if they are originally blood ties, then those ties are given up when the worldly considerations so demand them to be given up. Hence, those are not the strongest ties that can be built among people. The strongest ties that can be achieved between people are the ties of Islam and true faith. These are the bonds forged between people that are solely the result of their belief in Allah and their love for Allah. This was clearly pointed out by Allah in the Quran when Allah (SWT) stated:
“And He has united their (believers’) hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them. Certainly, He is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”
Allah (SWT) also says:
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts together, so that by His grace, you became brethren and you were on a brink of a Pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear His signs to you, that you may be guided.”
The Quran and the Sunnah show that the bond of faith is the strongest of all bonds. It represents humans from all over the world coming together for one purpose only: to establish the worship Allah alone. To achieve that goal, Muslims work together and help one another in compassion mercy and love.
There are actually numerous texts of the Quran and hadith that demonstrate beyond any doubt that Muslims are to form one universal, international brotherhood and sisterhood. For the sake of brevity, only a few examples of those texts will be presented here:
Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala) says:
“The believers, men and women, are auliyaa (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoining what is good and eradicate what is evil. They offer the prayers and pay the zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Surely, Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”
Another verse reads:
“The believers are nothing else but brothers…”
Allah (SWT) also says:
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers and merciful among themselves…”
The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“The believer with respect to another believer is like a building, one portion strengthening the other.”
[Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim]
Another hadith states:
“The parable of the believers with respect to their love, mercy and compassion for one another is like that of the body: if one of its limbs is hurting, the remainder of the body is afflicted by sleeplessness and fever.”
But this great brotherhood of Islam is not something simply theoretical. It is, in fact, well defined and supported by practical guidance. It has certain basic components to it and specific rights and obligations that are spelled out in the Quran and Sunnah. These rights and obligations are due on Muslim, of every time and place