FaithRules of Socialisation in Islam

Rules of Socialisation in Islam: Part 1

based on a series of lectures by Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Story Highlights

  • Islam Encourages Socialisation
  • Focusing on the Greater Jurisprudence
  • We should treat all people well
  • The Sanctity of Friendship and Neighbourhood in Islam


وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً

“And speak good words to people” (2:83)

In this series, we will be discussing the rules of socialisation in Islam. Although the rules of jurisprudence are important in Islam, the rules of socialisation are also extremely important. In fact, while the rules of jurisprudence are called ‘the minor jurisprudence’ or ‘Fiqh Asghar as referred to by the Holy Prophet (P) in a famous Hadith, the rules of socialisation are called ‘the great jurisprudence’ or Fiqh Kabeer as mentioned in Surah 25, Ayah 52 (Jihad Kabeer), and self-purification or practical mysticism is called ‘the greatest struggle’ or Fiqh Akbar.

Our discussions will be based on the above ayah from the Holy Qur’an which commands us to say and do only good things to all people in general. The word ‘قولوا ‘ in this ayah includes actions as well as words.

Islam Encourages Socialisation

Islam is a social religion and hence monasticism and isolation from the society is normally discouraged in Islam. In a very famous Hadith it is narrated from the holy Prophet (P) to have said: “There is no monasticism in Islam.” (Da’emul-Islam, vol.2 p.193) That means isolation from the society and celibacy is not compatible with the Islamic teachings. However, temporary isolation from the society for greater reasons as in the case of soldiers protecting the borders, fasting, praying and pilgrimage to Hajj are well encouraged by the holy Prophet (P). (Behar, vol. 14 p.277). Thus, it is very evident that Islam encourages practical actions within society rather than self-isolation.

Focusing on the Greater Jurisprudence

Our jurists in the past would dedicate parts of their literature on the social rules. For instance, Sheikh al-Horr al-Ameli (d. 1104 A.H) when discussing the rules of pilgrimage to Hajj collected many social rules in 166 chapters. [see: Wasa’elu-Shi’a vol. 12, pp 5-132]

Unfortunately, in the recent times the focus of our scholars has been on the minor jurisprudence. We also often focus too much on this, caring about minor aspects of jurisprudence and ignoring major social rules. Paying attention to minor jurisprudential issues such as purifiers and impurities and so on is important, but it must be coupled with attention to issues of greater jurisprudence. Unfortunately, many people make excuses to scam or deceive the government or other people to attain wealth and make false excuses to justify this. Often, the same people who are very particular about issues of purity and impurity disregard issues like where they get their wealth from and so on. This is definitely not correct Islamically. Taking wealth by illegal or deceptive way is not correct Islamically.

Bukhari in his Sahih has narrated from Abu-No’aym: “I witnessed that a man asked Ibn Umar concerning the purity of the blood of a mosquito? Ibn Umar asked where was the man from? He replied: from Iraq (i.e. the then Kufa). Ibn Umar said to us: “look at this man who is concerned about the blood of a mosquito but is not concerned that the innocent blood of the son of the Prophet (P) was shed. I heard Allah’s Messenger (P) saying: “Hasan and Husain are my two flowers in this world.” (Sahih Bukhari, vol. 8. P.8)

We should treat all people well

When our Imams were asked about how we as Shia should treat people of different beliefs to us, the Imams answered that these interactions must always be positive. In summary, the Imams wanted us to treat them well in order to set a good example for them and attract them towards our beliefs, and to be a good reflection of our Imams and our school of thought.

Zayd al-Shahham says that Imam al-Sadiq (as) told him: “Convey my greetings to whoever you think would obey me and take my word. I advise you to be conscious of Allah and to particularly careful when it comes to your religion. Endeavour for the sake of Allah, tell the truth and fulfil the trust. Prolong your prostration and be good neighbours. This is the message that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) brought”.
[al-Kaafi vol.2. p. 464]

Mu’awiyah ibn Wahb asked Imam al-Sadiq (as): “How should we interact with our brothers in faith and with other people that we mix with who do not follow our faith?” The Imam (as) said: “Look at your Imams whom you took as guides and do what they do. By Allah, your Imams visit their ill, and attend their funerals, and give testimony for them or against them and fulfil their trusts….once you become very careful about your religion, tell the truth, fulfil the trusts and make your manners with people good, then they will say: ‘this is a Ja’fari…’ and that would please me”. (Ibid)

The Sanctity of Friendship and Neighbourhood in Islam

A believer is responsible for maintaining friendships with friends and good relations with neighbours, whether they are Muslims or not. In one story, Mufadhdhal ibn Umar one of the close companions of the Imam, comes to the Imam after a trip. The Imam (as) asks him about his companions on this trip. Mufadhdhal says that he had a companion on this trip but that they had parted and he had not heard of or seen him again. The Imam (as) encouraged him to maintain his relationship with that person, saying: ‘do you not know that if a person accompanies a believer for forty steps, Allah (swt) will ask that believer about that person on the Judgment Day?’ [Wasaelu-Shi’a vol.12, p.12]



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