Dear Brothers and Sisters! I would like to thank all of you for attending the talk. May the peace, mercy and abundance of Allah be with you. Praise be to Allah. Peace and blessings be on His beloved Prophet. May Almighty Allah place us among those whom He loves. May He grant us the intercession of the Prophet on the Day of Judgment. Human relations, interpersonal relations take up a wide field. It encompasses all of the relationships among human beings. The human relations begin in the family where each person is born. Interactions between the parents and children, among children and between husband and wife are included.
These relations exist in family that is the smallest social unit. Islam brought important jurisdictions on these relations. There are instructions and recommendations given by our beloved Prophet SAS. There are people that we are related through our parents or through our marriages. We have blood relationships (qarâbat) with our relatives through our parents. The relatives through marriages are categorized as non-blood relationships (sihriyyat). When a man marries a woman, then a relationship is established between each of them and the blood relatives of the spouse. There are rules and regulations concerning these relationships in Islam. There are also recommendations of the Prophet on the issue. Then, there are interactions among Muslims as Muslims who do not have any blood ties or marriage ties. There are ethical rules for these interactions.
There are relations originating from the proximity in living places. We call them neighbor-to-neighbor relations. You may have a next-door neighbor or neighbors living in the same building. There are also regulations for the neighborhood relationships. There are also interactions among people who live in the same community or society. There are human interactions at work, in business, in arts, and in all fields. Each one can be studied and the rules governing each type of interaction can be written. There are rules for the interaction among people who share a common place. The cleanliness of the place, how people get along in these places and other issues are governed by these rules. These are called muâsharat âdâb (rules of social behavior, etiquette). There are interactions with the neighboring nations that may have some enmity towards Muslims. It could be a state of peace or war.
The title of the talk is so inclusive that we could talk years over this topic. Yet from the technique of composition, wide topics are not preferred because one cannot go into the details and have to be content with an overview only. Despite the shortcoming of an inclusive topic, it is an interesting topic. It is an interesting topic because we have to establish a bridge between the life and code of conduct of the Prophet and our present life. There are so many things for us to learn from the life of the Prophet. We learn everything from the Prophet, and a good connection has been established already. The code of conduct of the Prophet and our human relations have been linked to the topic of this talk. I would like to thank the brothers who organized this talk. If we look at the general structure of Islam with the approach of a scientist, we observe that Islam pays amazingly great importance on social matters and issues concerning the community and society. In this aspect, it is quite different from other faiths. It looks as though Islam is a religion for communities. Community life is encouraged in Islam. A person may ask himself: “Should I live at a mountain alone? Should I isolate myself from the society? Should I live in the community?” Islam prefers the life in the community and encourages it. In previous ummahs, living away from the society had been encouraged. That is why you see monasteries and other houses of worship on top of the mountains. They tried to improve themselves by staying away from the society. That is called ruhbaniyyat (monastic life). There is a hadith that prohibits the monastic life: (Lâ rehbâniyyete fil islâm). Running away from the society is not acceptable in Islam. When a person is among people, he could be involved in some problems, troubles, hardship or some sort of injustice. He has to cope with all these troubles with patience. It is better than living in isolation. This is a principle in Islam.
There are also ahadith indicating that people who live in cities will enter paradise 500 years before the people who are of the same caliber yet live in villages or in isolation. This is because there is knowledge, congregation and friendship in cities or towns and the villages lack these. That is why the good deeds are rewarded more. This has encouraged people to move from uncivilized regions to civilized regions. This is one of the differences between Islam and previous beliefs. When you study the jurisdiction on rewards and offenses, you can see clearly that Islam rewards even the smallest deeds towards improving the community life and providing people peace and comfort. Amazingly great rewards are due for such deeds. On the contrary, any mischief that would disturb the peace and tranquility in the society is considered as an offense and discouraged. Greeting is an example for this. We greet one another with “As-salaamu alaikum!” This greeting is a very rewarding deed. Our beloved Prophet encouraged this very much: “Say salaam to everybody even if you do not know the person.” Once our beloved Prophet was with his companions. Somebody joined them saying “As-salaam alaikum!” The Prophet commented: “He earned 10 rewards.” Then another person arrived and said, “As-salaam alaikum wa rahmatullah!” The Prophet said, “He earned 20 rewards.” Yet another person arrived and greeted: “As-salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!” The prophet said, “He earned 30 rewards.” When a person joins a group, he greets them with salaam. When one leaves a group, he also greets them with salaam. Some people are not aware of this and find it strange. It is a Muslim tradition to say “As-salaamu alaikum!” upon departing. Greeting with salaam is different from other greetings such as “good morning” or “good day.” The word salaam has a connection with faith. When we greet a person as “As-salaamu alaikum,” we tell him “May you be in paradise.” It has such an inclusive meaning: “I wish you peace and tranquility in this life. May your body be healthy and free of pains and discomfort. May Almighty Allah place you to the abode of peace in the hereafter.”
Islam is aware of how a person is educated–there is a gradual progress from words to the pith, from the form to the spirit, from outside to the inside. That is why the form has significance. As the person performs a deed in a special form, the essence manifests gradually. As a person continues greeting with salaam, love and affection result. Islam encourages love and affection. Love, affection and friendship towards fellow believers have great rewards in Islam. As Imam Ghazzali indicated in his book Ihya-u-Ulumiddin, our beloved Prophet SAS stated: “There are certain deeds that are not formal worship, yet they have great rewards.” For instance, daily salat is a formal worship. One has to make wudu and turn to qibla. Then one starts with the takbir “Allahu akbar!” It has the ruku and sujud. There are other things that do not have a specific form and may not be thought of as worship, yet they are servitude to Almighty Allah and are given rewards. One such deed is the establishment of a friendship in the community. It is called “ukhuwwat” i.e., Islamic brotherhood. It has great rewards and it is an important worship. “As a Muslim acquires a new friend–for instance you met somebody today and go to know him–Almighty Allah elevates his rank in paradise.” There is encouragement to make new friends. Actions that strengthens the friendship are encouraged, too. For instance, inviting people for food, giving gifts, visiting one another, visiting the sick and alike are rewarding deeds. Our beloved Prophet encouraged these deeds and described the rewards for them.
I would like to tell you about an incident that happened in Libya. The leader Qaddafi invited many news reporters to Trablus, Libya for propaganda. Some leftist and rightist columnists from Turkish newspapers were invited, too. They were hosted in a hotel in Trablus. Abdurrahman Dilipak was one of the columnists who told me the story. In the lobby of the hotel, he told the other guests: “Do you know that the French Philosopher Roger Garaudy became a Muslim?” Those who were present there did not believe in what they heard: “You keep telling that everybody is accepting Islam. You say that an astronaut became a Muslim, Captain Cousto became a Muslim, this person became a Muslim… That philosopher Roger Garaudy would not become a Muslim. He is a great philosopher, a leftist, a great man. He has numerous books, some of which are used as textbooks in Moscow. He would not accept Islam. It is a lie.” Almighty Allah creates wonders–the next day Roger Garaudy arrived in the hotel. He was invited, too. Everybody was curious if he really accepted Islam. Finally they asked him: “Are you a Muslim?” “Yes I am. I have accepted Islam.” With a disapproving tone of voice, one of the leftist columnists asked him: “Why did you become a Muslim?” Roger Garaudy understood what the reporter implied with these words. He responded in a way that I like very much and repeat often: “Look son! Capitalism made the man a slave for the capital and the boss.” As you know, the wild capitalism gave birth to the communism. The harsh treatment of capitalism incurred reactions that led to communism. Roger Garaudy continued: “Communism sacrificed man to the society.” In a communist system, man has no value–he can be jailed or killed. What matters is the society. The person as an individual has been neglected and the society is brought forward. In capitalism, too, the individual is exploited and abused. The boss, the capital owner, gets richer and richer. It is imperialism and exploitation. While the capitalism had made the individual a slave for the boss, communism sacrificed the individual for the society. Roger Garaudy continued: “Islam treats the individual as a person and values him. That is why I became a Muslim.” Of course, this is a brief summary of what he said. He is very knowledgeable on the systems and made the decision as an informed person. Islam establishes an amazing balance in every field. It eliminates the extremes.
In Islam, both the individual and the society are important. It does not allow one to abuse the other. In Islam the individual is happy and the society is orderly. Other systems lack that. That is why when Islam is practiced the way it should be, individuals become happy spiritually and remain in peace. They would be healthy physically and mentally, for Islam also protects the mind and reasoning. It provides an order in the family by ordering duties to the husband and wife. It has regulations on sexual relationships. The social order and happiness are established by Islam, too. All these are possible in Islam. No doubt, Islam is the best of the systems as described by Garaudy. You know that the worship is individual; it is something between an individual and his Lord. Yet the worship that is carried out in congregation has more reward. For instance, a person could offer his prayers at his own home and receive one unit of reward. But when he offers his prayers in the mosque with congregation, he receives twenty-seven units of reward. If the mosque is large so that Friday prayers are held inside, then the reward is fifty units. Twenty-seven is not a small number! Another point that attracts attention is the following: The daily prayers are a form of worship. We stand before Allah, recite some verses, make rukû and sujûd (bow-down and prostrate). Then there is fasting. For Allah, you stop eating and drinking and be patient whole day. It is a form of worship, too. Yet there is Zakat which is also a form of worship. Zakat is an economical phenomenon. It also has social and ethical dimensions. Islam pays great significance to the Zakat and there were important incidences during the time of the Prophet. For instance, when Hadrat Abubakr-i Siddiq RA became the caliph, some said: “O Abubakr! We have no problem with salat, declaration of faith (Shahadah), and fasting in Ramadan, but do not ask us to pay zakat!” He responded: “Either you pay the zakat as you paid during the time of the Prophet, or I will declare war against you because you do not want to fulfill one of the obligations Allah placed on you.” The same Abubakr RA, refused to receive zakat payment from a person who had refused to pay zakat during the time of the Prophet and then the Prophet asked the zakat collectors not to go to him: “Here o Abubakr, this is my zakat!” “How could I collect zakat from a person whom the Prophet did not take the zakat? I cannot take it!” The incidence is quite interesting. When the verse about paying zakat was revealed to the Prophet, the person was informed: “A verse instructing to pay zakat has been revealed. You are required to pay zakat on you sheep and camels.” They stated the rates. The person refused to pay anything. Then the Prophet instructed: “Do not go to him or ask him for zakat from now on.” When the person wanted to pay zakat, Hadrat Abubakr refused: “No! The Prophet of Allah did not take zakat from you, neither can I!” Of course it is not a matter of money or wealth; he did not want to get it because the Prophet SAS had instructed that way. Yet he wanted to collect zakat as it was paid during the time of the Prophet. Otherwise, he would declare war against those who refused to pay. Let’s put all these aside. Zakat is an economical phenomenon with social functions. It is an essential obligation and can be a cause for war. It is such an important phenomenon. It does not say: “Well, it is a simple issue. He earned the money or wealth by himself, and he can do whatever he wants with it.” It has a system, a rate. It shows how wonderful Islam is. ……
May Almighty Allah provide us with the means to adorn ourselves with the manners of the Prophet. May He keep us observant of these principles in our interactions within our family, with our relatives, with our neighbors and with our brothers and sisters in Islam, in our business, and in our social life. May He grant you His consent, happiness in this life and in the hereafter. May he place you among those whom are honored by His Beauty in His Paradise. May He reward you with the best of the rewards. May Allah be pleased with you.
As-Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu! October 24, 1995 — Hannover/GERMANY
Translated from Islam, Tasavvuf ve Hayat, Istanbul: Seha, 1996, pp. 177-186.
The original text is available at http://meckitap.8m.com