إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ
Innamal-mu’minūna ikhwatun fa-aslihū bayna akhawaykum
The believers are indeed brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren.
(Sūrat al-Hujurāt, No 49, Āyat 10)
Faith is a powerful unifying factor. Having a common goal brings people together and helps them overcome differences between themselves. In this verse Allah ‘azza wa-jall reminds us of that bond, asks that we maintain it and if it is broken or weakened then it is the duty of believers to mend it. Just as people would try to reconcile biological siblings who have a conflict between them, believers also have the same status. Their bond is akin to the blood bond.
The idea of believers as brothers is a founding principle of Muslim society. Islam promotes equality, kindness and compassion, overlooking of faults, and forgiveness with other believers. The Quran says this is because they believe in and worship the same God. Thus, they are spiritual brethren, regardless of race or ethnicity. It is an effective principle for harmony and progress in society. Usually when people want to show affection for someone and refer to the bond between themselves, they would consider them a close friend or companion. But Islam says the bond between believers is more than that of friendship. It is a family bond, making them to look out for each other’s interests just as they would for a brother or sister who comes from the same womb.
Many Hadiths emphasize this bond:
1) A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He does not oppress him, does not humiliate him, and does not leave him to face hardships alone – Holy Prophet sallalāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālhi wa-sallam.
2) The similitude of two believers is like two hands, one washes the other– Holy Prophet (s)
3) Believers are brothers. Like one body, when one part hurts the whole body is in pain. And their souls are from one soul – Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq‘alayhis salām.
(All hadiths quoted from Tafsir-e Namūne under verse 49:10)
The bond of brotherhood creates many rights over each other. There are rights of visiting each other, fulfilling needs, bringing comfort and happiness to the heart, showing respect, guarding property and reputation, and many more.
One of the rights as outlined in this verse is to reconcile believers who have differences between them. A lot of emphasis has been given to this action. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali ‘alayhis salām on his death bed, as part of his will to his son Imam al-Hasan ‘alayhis salām says: Maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard your grand-father (the Holy Prophet) saying, “Improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting”. (Letter 47, Nahjul Balāgha). Even the money used for this effort is considered to be charity. Imam al-Sādiq (a) encouraged his companion Mufaddal to reconcile believers even if he had to use the Imam’s wealth for that.
Let this verse remind us of the special bond between believers and the rights we have over each other. When you see believers, who have differences between them try to bring them together if you can. It is one of the great acts of worship.
Sources: Imam Ali (a), Nahjul Balagha; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh