TOPIC: SOCIAL SOLIDARITY: LESSONS FROM THE PROPHETIC TRADITIONS
All praise and adoration belong to Allah the perfect being. May His peace continue to shower upon the prophet Muhammad, his companions, household, and the entire Muslims.
Yesterday, just like every December 20, was the International Human Solidarity Day and it is important to note that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda is centred on people & planet, underpinned by human rights and supported by a global partnership determined to lift people out of poverty, hunger and disease. It will be thus be built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.
International Human Solidarity Day is:
• a day to celebrate our unity in diversity;
• a day to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements;
• a day to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity;
• a day to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication;
• a day of action to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication.
Generally solidarity means a union of interest’s purpose or sympathies among members of a group, fellowship of responsibilities and interests.
Emile Durkheim, a renowned sociologist said that “solidarity is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies.
Social Solidarity in Islam is one of the bases of society through which it can achieve its permanent happiness, goodwill, security, unity, and peace.
Simply, each member of society should help those in needs so that they can lead even the least decent life and meet their basic needs.
Social solidarity is one of the principles that Islam has established to enable man to lead a decent life. Thus, Islam has laid down many forms of religious donation to achieve social solidarity. Among them are Zakat (regular obligatory charity), (voluntary) charity, Al-Waqf (Religious endowment)(1), expiation(2), vows(3), etc. Such forms do not reduce donation to meeting human basic needs.
Scholars have stressed the fact that social solidarity can be categorized into two kinds: financial and molar solidarity. The latter is represented by many forms because human needs are not only financial ones, but they also include different forms such as consultation, advice, friendship, education, and other forms of donation. Therefore, time and in-kind donation is not less significant than financial donation. Moreover, it should be a human development-oriented means rather than a motive for dependence, the result of limiting donation to meet basic needs, which is considered as a palliative; ignoring the roots and rational solutions of the problem. So, each one should play a real effective role in society and take responsibility for putting an end to poverty and unemployment. Furthermore, one should offer even the least form of assistance to one individual or family through providing them access to income or education, which can ease the achievement of their independence.
Types of Solidarity
Emile Durkheim classified solidarity into two types
• Mechanical solidarity.
• Organic solidarity
“A society characterized by mechanical solidarity is unified because all people are generalists. The bond among people is that they are engaged in similar activities and have similar responsibilities.”
1. Minimum division of labor.
2. Collective consciousness.
3. Lack of difference.
4. High homogeneity and unity.
5. Unique personality
According to Ritzer “A society characterized by organic solidarity is held together by the differences among people, by the fact that they have different tasks and responsibilities”.
Emile Durkheim said that “In organic solidarity labor is more divided and on the other hand the activity of each is as much more personal as it is more specialized”
1. High division of labor.
2. Human relationship like human organ.
3. High difference and heterogeneity.
The basis of social solidarity:
Social solidarity is based on kinship or neighborhood.
The Prophetic Sunnah is full of Ahadeeth with regard to the rights of the neighbor which are source of pride to every Muslim.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
Angel Jubril kept on commending the neighbour to me so that I thought he would make an heir
“Do you know what the rights of neighbors are?” asked the noble Prophet, peace be upon him.” Then he went on saying: “Help him if he asks for your help, give him relief if he seeks your relief, lend him if he needs a loan, show him concern if he is distressed, nurse him when he is ill, attend his funeral when he dies, congratulate him if he meets any good, sympathize with him if any calamity befalls him, do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission, harass him not, give him a share when you buy fruits, and if you do not give him, bring what you buy quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the jealousy of his children and let not the delicious smell of your cooking hurt him, unless you give him some of it (what you are cooking).”
There is social solidarity that is based on the closeness of place (neighborhood). There are lots of Ahadeeth in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, mentioned the rights and the duties of neighbors.
“Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression” Suratul Ma’idah :2
The Ahadeeth in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, reminded Muslims of their kinship are even more. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us when someone gives Sadaqah or Zakat to his kin, he will be given two rewards; a reward for giving Sadaqah and a reward for giving this Sadaqah to his kin. Social solidarity should be based on geographical and genealogical bases, and all people, without exception, have relatives and neighbours.
Dear brothers, collaboration between Muslims always starts financially, and looking after your kin in Islam is one of the noblest transactional acts of worship, is not it? The number of the Ahadeeth in which this act of worship is mentioned is about 30. This act of worship starts with a phone call to keep in touch with your relatives, then it should be followed by a visit. After that, you can check their social, financial, educational and religious conditions, so that you can help whoever is poor by giving money, whoever has a social problem by giving him advice, whoever is ignorant or whose education is limited by educating him and so on. The main thing is helping your relatives in meeting their different needs. Having helped them, you are supposed to guide them to the Right Path of Allah. This is how Silatul Rahim (to have good relations with relatives and do good for them as possible) should be applied. Unfortunately, the majority of people void this act of worship from its gist, turning it into paying visits on the days of Eid. Most of the time people hope that they don’t find their relatives at home, and so it is enough for them to put Eid card on the door congratulating their relatives. You see who this wonderful social act of worship is distorted; it is no more than a card that is annually left on doors.
“And lower your wings for the believers (be courteous to the fellow-believers” Suratul Nahl 90.
Summary of lessons from the Ahadeeth
1. Doing good (Sadaqah) to your relatives
2. Expansion of the goodness to your neighbours regardless of their tribes, religion and race.
May Allah forgive us where our mistakes lie, correct us and guide us aright.