Aug 22, 2012

Maintaining the bonds of Unity and Sisterhood after Ramadan

By Abeer S


They say food brings people together. But year in, year out, on the 9th month of the blessed lunar calendar, we witness that lack of it also brings people together.

The Islamic month of Ramadan has seen many miracles – the first and greatest of which: The revelation of the Quran. But in our times, we continue to witness miracle after miracle: families that were once torn apart (likely by a trivial shortcoming on everyone’s part) come together to mend what was never meant to be broken, friends that had sworn each other off decide to forgive and forgo the past in hopes of being forgiven and their sins erased by Al-Ghafoor, Al-Afuww and best of all, travellers who had strayed too far, find their way back to Him and they do what only a few have managed to do; they sever their ties with anything that would take them away from Him again.

This month sees bonds formed upon a Oneness better known as Tawheed – relationships are formed for the sake of The Almighty. And these bonds that are formed upon Tawheed cannot break. The strength of these bonds is directly proportional to the strength of our faith – such is the beauty of Islam.

I can list activities off the top of my head that will see you, my beloved reader, and your sisters coming together in the blessed month of Ramadan and even after Ramadan – and in effect ‘maintaining’ your sisterhood. But what is the worth of empty actions?

In order to maintain any relationship (and in our context that within a sisterhood), we must base it upon something that does not erode – that will never erode; the love of Allah subhanahu wa taala. And that is our key to maintaining the bonds of unity within our sisterhood.

But how do we nurture this love and unity? Especially when undertones of feistiness are much prevalent within sisterhoods that claim to have the one goal of serving Allah subhanahu wa taala. Point me to any sisterhood and I will point out the power struggle and frenemity within the sisterhood.

From my short experience, I have noticed there are several things lacking from within these sisterhoods, and these are the things that can help establish the much needed unity:

Dua “Oh yes I make Dua”, you quickly dismiss this point and are about to move to the next one.

But no, I don’t necessarily mean dua to Allah for unity, love and strengthening of bonds of our sisterhoods, though it is of great importance and you should be making this Dua.

What I mean is this: think of a sister who makes it next to impossible to like her, let alone love her. Everyone has that one friend that does everything she can to make your life miserable, even if she does it ‘unintentionally’. You know, that one sister whom you claim to ‘love for the sake of Allah’, yet if she were to move to the other side of the world, you will find yourself saying, “Good riddance!” Remember her? Now sitting where you are sitting, make the best dua that you can think of, for her.

Ask Allah to give her the best in this life and name what these best things are, ask Allah to give her the ultimate happiness and comfort in her family in this dunya, ask Allah to give her the highest jannah in the next life, and ask Allah to guide her to Him always. And ask Allah for all of this and more sincerely. Believe me, we can trick ourselves, but He knows exactly how badly we want something for ourselves or for others. So you can say this, without meaning it and He will know. But say it because you mean it. Make it often, and just watch dislike and hatred melt away.

And if it makes it easier, I’ll remind you of this:
Our Prophet ﷺ said: “None of you have truly believed until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” [Sahih Bukhari[1]

Your faith is not complete until you love for her, what you love for yourself. It is as if the health of our relationship with Allah is dependent on us fixing our relationship with our sisters. And my advice above is the action, perhaps one of many, that can help us achieve a fuller Eeman and a stronger relationship with Allah.

And our beloved Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no believing servant who supplicates for his brother in his absence except an Angel says: The same be for you too” [Sahih Muslim[2]

The sincere dua that you make for your sister, in her absence, is answered for you as well; whatever good you ask for her, Allah gives you an equal of what you have asked for her. More motivation for us to make an even better dua for others.

Building the Love The first step towards maintaining a sisterhood, and increasing love and unity is by decreasing all forms of hatred, dislike and the aforementioned frenemity. And the second step is building love within that relationship.

This is easier said than done. You can end your text messages with “Love x”, or the many different versions of “Love you for the sake of Allah”, but again a question arises: are these words meaningfully said? Or are they simply parroted?

This entire deen of Islam is manifestation of words being backed by actions and more importantly by sincere intentions.

And in most sisterhoods, the words are present, but there is no action to back them, and Allah is All-Aware of all our intentions.

Especially in Ramadan, when this bond between Muslims is supposed to be at its peak, sisters turn hostile towards each other (taraweeh anyone?!). No wonder relationships are even worse after Ramadan.

Thus as a starter, try fixing your actions towards your sisters in Ramadan, whether she is complete stranger or your best friend. It is the smallest and simplest acts of kindness that matter.

This time, when the great month of Ramadan comes around inshaAllah, if we try and be better Muslims by being better human beings that would be an amazing achievement. And it is these small scale achievements that will enable us to strengthen the bonds of unity within this Ummah in the long run.

I came across an athar[3] recently which really touched me at how beautiful it was, despite it being a very simply incident.

“Mohammed bin Munadhir said: I was walking with Al Khalil bin Ahmed and my sandal broke. So he took off his sandals, I asked him, 'What are you doing?' He replied, 'I'm keeping you company'.”

I ache for such a company. And I think, even the harshest of hearts ache for such beautiful company, even if slightly. Just reflect with me, this small, sincere incident touched Mohammed bin Munadhir so much so that he talked about this incident. And look at what a small, sincere act of kindness has attained: it has been shared from one person to another until it became immortalised in books.

And this incident teaches us not just good conduct, but it teaches us something greater: love for the sake of Allah. If it were not sincere love for the sake of Allah, would someone go to the great length of walking on the hot, burning sand, just to keep someone company? This incident resonates a friendship that cannot be expressed in words but the hearts and actions speak louder, and clearer.

I ache for such company. But I cannot expect someone to take off their sandals and walk on the hot desert sand for me but you know what? I can strive to be that friend. Because relationships don’t just happen, it takes great people to make them happen and work at them to ensure their success. And we cannot sit back and expect others to be those great people, we must become them ourselves. And in return Allah subhanahu wa taala will give us friends and companions that surpass our own attempts at being that loving companion.

And this is what I want to end with, even if every other person has been mean to you, try and be a loving friend, a friend like Al Khalil bin Ahmed. A friend like Abu Bakr and Omar and a friend like Mohammed ﷺ, notice how even in their death, these three friends are together, their graves next to each other.

Remember because of our limited amount of time (here, in this dunya), we cannot afford to cut ties, or even be mean to each other. (I am using the word mean, even though the word malicious might paint a better picture). And whatever you do, always remember that at the end of the day you are trying to please someone Who is Greater. Someone Who is constantly aware of what strikes your mind and your heart.

So try and erase all negativity from your hearts and minds, so that when He subhanahu wa taala looks, He is pleased with what He sees.

And perhaps one day your unity and unflinching bonds of sisterhood might become the means of victory for this ummah.

[1] English reference: Vol. 1, Book 2, Hadith 13
[2] English reference: Sahih Muslim Book 35, Hadith 6588
[3] Athar (أثر) is the term used for what has been passed down from the companions and from the noble predecessors of the second and third generation. (As opposed to a Hadith, which is what has passed down from our Prophet)

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


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