The social life of the true Muslim is based upon supreme principles and designed to secure happiness with prosperity for the individual as well as for the society. Class warfare, social castes and domination of the individual over society or viceversa are alien to the social life of Islam. Nowhere in the Qur’an or the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad can one find any mention of superiority on account of class or origin or wealth. On the contrary, there are many verses of the Qur’an and sayings of Muhammad to remind mankind of the vital facts of life, facts which serve at the same time as principles of the social structure of the Islamic life. Among these is the fact that humanity represents one family springing from one and the same father and mother, and aspiring to the same ultimate goals.
The unity of mankind is conceived in the light of the common parentage of Adam and Eve. Every human being is a member of the universal family established by the First Father and First Mother, and is entitled therefore to enjoy the common benefits as he is enjoined to share the common responsibilities. When people realize that they all belong to Adam and Eve and that these were the creation of God, there will be no room for racial prejudice or social injustice or second class citizenship. People will be united in their social behavior as they are united in nature by the bond of common parentage. In Qur’an and the Traditions of Muhammad there is a constant reminder of this important fact, the unity of humanity by nature and origin. This is to eliminate racial pride and claims to national or ethnic superiority, and pave the way for genuine brotherhood (Qur’an, 4:1; 7:189; 49:10-13).
The unity of humanity is not only in its origin but also in its ultimate aims. According to Islam, the final goal of humanity is God. From Him we come, for Him we live and to Him we shall all return. In fact, the sole purpose of creation as described by Qur’an is to worship God and serve His cause, the cause of truth and justice, of love and mercy, of brotherhood and morality (Quran, 51:56-58).
On this unity of origin and ultimate goal as the background of the social life in Islam, the relations between the individual and society are based. The role of the individual is complementary to that of society. Between the two there are social solidarity and mutual responsibility. The individual is responsible for the common welfare and prosperity of his society. This responsibility is not only to the society but also to God. In this way the individual works with a sound social-mindedness and genuine feeling of inescapable responsibility. It is his role to do the utmost for his society and contribute to its common welfare. On the other hand, the society is also responsible to God for the welfare of the individual. When the individual is able he is the contributor and society is the beneficiary. In return he is entitled to security and care, should he become disabled. In this case he is the beneficiary and society is the contributor. So duties and rights correspond harmoniously. Responsibility and concern are mutual. There is no state to dominate the individual and abrogate his personal entity. Likewise, there is no individual or class of individuals to exploit the society and corrupt the state. There is harmony with peace and mutual security. There is a constructive interaction between the individual and society.
Besides the unity of humanity in origin and ultimate goal, and besides this mutual responsibility and concern, the social life of Islam is characterized by cooperation in goodness and piety. It is marked with full recognition of the individual and his sacred rights to life, property and honor. It is also marked with an effective role played by the individual in the domain of social morals and ethics. In an Islamic society the individual cannot be indifferent. He is enjoined to play an active part in the establishment of sound social morals by way of inviting to the good and combating the evil in any form with all lawful means at his disposal. In so doing, not only does he shun evil and do good but also helps others to do the same. The individual who feels indifferent to his society is a selfish sinner; his morals are in trouble, his conscience is in disorder, and his faith is undernourished.
The structure of social life in Islam is very lofty, sound and comprehensive. Among the substantial elements of this structure are sincere love for one’s fellow human beings, mercy for the young, respect for the elders, comfort and consolation for the distressed, visiting the sick, relieving the grieved, genuine feelings of brotherhood and social solidarity; respect for the rights of other people to life, property, and honor; mutual responsibility between the individual and society it is a common thing to come across Prophetic statements like these:
Whoever relieves a human being from a grief of this world, God will relieve him from a grief on the Day of Judgement.
Anyone who has no mercy on the juniors and respect for the seniors is not one of us Muslims.
None of you is a true believer in Islam until and unless he loves for his fellow man what he loves for his own self.
Whoever invites others to good is like the doer of good and will be rewarded accordingly, and whoever instigates evil is like the doer of evil and will be punished accordingly.
In the Qur’an, on the other hand, one finds numerous Divine instructions like these:
O you who believe! Mind God as He should be minded, and die not except in a state of Islam. And hold fast, all together, by the Rope of God, and be not divided among yourselves. And remember with gratitude God’s favor on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in Love, so that by His Grace you have become brethren; and you were on the brink of the Pit of Fire and He saved you from it. Thus does God make His Signs clear to you that you may be guided. Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. They are the ones to attain felicity (3:102-104).
O you who believe! Fulfill all obligations . . . and help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help you not one another in sin and rancor. Mind God; for God is strict in punishment (5:1-3).
In addition to what has already been said, the social patterns of Islam could be seen, once more, in the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad during the course of pilgrimage. Addressing the tens of thousands of pilgrims, he said among other things:
O people! Listen to my words, for I know not whether another year will be vouchsafe to me after this to find myself amongst you at this place.
Your lives and properties are sacred and inviolable amongst one another until you appear before the Lord, as this day of this month is sacred for all. And remember that you shall have to appear before your Lord Who shall demand from you an account of all your actions.
O people! You have rights over your wives and your wives have rights over you. Treat your wives with love and kindness. Verily you have taken them as the trust of God, and have make their persons lawful unto you by the words of God. Keep always faithful to the trust reposed in you, and avoid sins.
Henceforth, the vengeance of blood practiced in the days of ignorance and paganism is prohibited and all blood feud abolished.
And your slaves! See that you feed them with such food as you eat yourselves, and clothe them with the stuff you wear; and if they commit a fault which you are not inclined to forgive, then part from them, for they are the servants of the Lord, and are not to be harshly treated.
O people! Listen to my words and understand the same. Know that all Muslims are brothers unto one another. You are One Brotherhood. Nothing which belongs to another is lawful unto his brother unless freely given out of good will. Guard yourselves from committing injustice.
Like this day of this month in this territory sacred and inviolable, God has made the life and property and honor of each of you unto the other, until you meet your lord.
Let him that is present tell it to him that is absent. Haply he that shall be told may remember better than he who has heard it.
Verily, I have fulfilled my mission. I have left that amongst you, a plain command, the book of God, and manifest Ordinances which if you hold fast, you shall never go astray.
Chapter - I Chapter - II Chapter - III Chapter - IV Chapter - V