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Golden Rule in Islam: Love for humanity what you love for yourself | Minhaj al-Nubuwwah

Golden Rule in Islam: Love for humanity what you love for yourself


Dome-of-Rock Gold

By Abu Amina Elias

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

The golden rule, or the ethics of reciprocity, is an Islamic moral principle which calls upon people to treat others the way they would like to be treated. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, the golden rule is defined as:

Any form of the dictum: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In some form this is found in almost all religions and ethical systems.

Source: Blackburn, Simon. “Golden Rule.”

This principle was stated several times by our Prophet Muhammad, so it is a principle Muslims should discuss when sharing Islam with people of other religions.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ أَوْ قَالَ لِجَارِهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 13; Sahih Muslim 45, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

An-Nawawi comments on this tradition, saying:

 الأولى أن يحمل ذلك على عموم الأخوة حتى يشمل الكافر والمسلم فيحب لأخيه الكافر مايحب لنفسه من دخوله في الإسلام كما يحب لأخيه المسلم دوامه على الإسلام ولهذا كان الدعاء بالهداية للكافر مستحبا والمراد بالمحبة إرادة الخير والمنفعة ثم المراد المحبة الدينية لا المحبة البشرية

It is better to interpret this as brotherhood in general, such that it includes the disbeliever and the Muslim. So he should love for his brother, the disbeliever, what he loves for himself which is his entering Islam, just as he should love for his brother Muslim that he remains in Islam. For this reason, it is recommended to supplicate for the disbeliever to be guided. The meaning of love here is an intention for good and benefit, and this meaning is religious love, not human love.

Source: Sharh Arba’een An-Nawawi

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ عَبْدٌ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ مِنْ الْخَيْرِ

By Him in whose Hand is my soul, a servant does not believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself of goodness.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 12734, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ وَحَتَّى يُحِبَّ الْمَرْءَ لَا يُحِبُّهُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

None of you has faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself, and until he loves a person only for the sake of Allah the Exalted.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 13463, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

لا يَبْلُغُ عَبْدٌ حَقِيقَةَ الإِيمَانِ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ

The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself of goodness.

Source: Sahih Ibn Hibban 238, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

لَا يَجِدُ أَحَدٌ حَلَاوَةَ الْإِيمَانِ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ الْمَرْءَ لَا يُحِبُّهُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ

None of you will find the sweetness of faith until he loves a person only for the sake of Allah.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5694, Grade: Sahih

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُزَحْزَحَ عَنْ النَّارِ وَيَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَلْتُدْرِكْهُ مَنِيَّتُهُ وَهُوَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْتِي إِلَى النَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ

Whoever would love to be delivered from the Hellfire and entered into Paradise, then let him die with faith in Allah and the Last Day, and let him treat the people the way he would love to be treated.

Source: Sahih Muslim 1844, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا تَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَا تُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّى تَحَابُّوا أَوَلَا أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ إِذَا فَعَلْتُمُوهُ تَحَابَبْتُمْ أَفْشُوا السَّلَامَ بَيْنَكُمْ

You will not enter Paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love each other. Shall I show you something that, if you did, you would love each other? Spread peace between yourselves.

Source: Sahih Muslim 54, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لا تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى تُسْلِمُوا وَلا تُسْلِمُوا حَتَّى تَحَابُّوا  وَأَفْشُوا السَّلامَ تَحَابُّوا وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَالْبُغْضَةَ فَإِنَّهَا هِيَ الْحَالِقَةُ لا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ تَحْلِقُ الشَّعْرَ وَلَكِنْ تَحْلِقُ الدِّينَ

By the one in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you submit, and you will not submit until you love one another. Greet each other with peace and you will love one another. Beware of hatred, for it is the razor. I do not say it shaves hair, but rather it shaves away the religion.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 260, Grade: Hasan

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَأَحْسِنْ إِلَى جَارِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا وَأَحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا

Be kind to your neighbor and you will be a believer; love for the people what you love for yourself and you will be a Muslim.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2305, Grade: Hasan

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَأَحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا وَأَحْسِنْ جِوَارَ مَنْ جَاوَرَكَ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا

Love for the people what you love for yourself and you will be a believer; behave well with your neighbors and you will be a Muslim.

Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 4217, Source: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَأَحِبَّ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ وَأَهْلِ بَيْتِكَ وَاكْرَهْ لَهُمْ مَا تَكْرَهُ لِنَفْسِكَ وَأَهْلِ بَيْتِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا وَجَاوِرْ مَنْ جَاوَرْتَ مِنَ النَّاسِ بِإِحْسَانٍ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا

Love for the Muslims, the believers, and the people of your house what you love for yourself. Hate for them and the people of your house what you hate for yourself, and then you will be a believer. Be a good neighbor to whomever will be your neighbor among the people and you will be a Muslim.

Source: Shu’b Al-Iman 10369, Grade: Sahih

Abu Muntafiq reported: He said, “O Messenger of Allah, teach me what will save me from Allah’s punishment and enter me into Paradise.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

اعْبُدِ اللَّهَ وَلا تُشْرِكْ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ الْمَكْتُوبَةَ وَأَدِّ الزَّكَاةَ الْمَفْرُوضَةَ وَحُجَّ وَاعْتَمِرْ وَأَظُنُّهُ قَالَ وَصُمْ رَمَضَانَ وَانْظُرْ مَا تُحِبُّ لِلنَّاسِ أَنْ يَأْتُوهُ إِلَيْكَ فَافْعَلْهُ بِهِمْ وَمَا تَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَأْتُوهُ إِلَيْكَ فَذَرْهُمْ مِنْهُ

Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Establish the prescribed prayers, give the obligatory charity, fast the month of Ramadan, and however you love for the people to treat you, then treat them that way, and however you hate for the people to treat you, then do not treat them that way.

Source: Al-Ma’jam Al-Kabeer 15833, Grade: Hasan

Khalid ibn Abdullah Al-Qasri reported: He was giving a sermon upon the pulpit, saying that his father told him that his grandfather said: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَتُحِبُّ الْجَنَّةَ

Do you love Paradise?

He said, “Yes.” The Prophet said:

فَأَحِبَّ لِأَخِيكَ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ

Then love for your brother what you love for yourself.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 16219, Grade: Sahih li ghayri

Az-Zubair ibn Awwam reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

دَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ دَاءُ الْأُمَمِ قَبْلَكُمْ الْحَسَدُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ هِيَ الْحَالِقَةُ لَا أَقُولُ تَحْلِقُ الشَّعَرَ وَلَكِنْ تَحْلِقُ الدِّينَ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَا تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَا تُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّى تَحَابُّوا أَفَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا يُثَبِّتُ ذَاكُمْ لَكُمْ أَفْشُوا السَّلَامَ بَيْنَكُمْ

There have come to you the diseases of the nations before you: envy and hatred, and hatred is the razor. It shaves the religion and it does not shave hair. By the one in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I tell you something which, if you did, you would love each other? Spread peace between yourselves.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 1415, Grade: Sahih

Abu Al-Mughirah reported: He said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me about a deed that will bring me near Paradise and distance me from the Hellfire.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

تُقِيمُ الصَّلَاةَ وَتُؤْتِي الزَّكَاةَ وَتَحُجُّ الْبَيْتَ وَتَصُومُ رَمَضَانَ وَتُحِبُّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْكَ وَتَكْرَهُ لَهُمْ مَا تَكْرَهُ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْكَ

Establish the prayer, give the charity, perform pilgrimage to the House, fast the month of Ramadan, and love for people what you would love for yourself, and hate for people what you would hate for yourself.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 15453, Grade: Hasan

Mu’adh ibn Anas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَفْضَلُ الْإِيمَانِ أَنْ تُحِبَّ لِلَّهِ وَتُبْغِضَ فِي اللَّهِ وَتُعْمِلَ لِسَانَكَ فِي ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ

The best faith is to love for the sake of Allah, to hate for the sake of Allah, and to work your tongue in the remembrance of Allah.

Mu’adh said, “How is it, O Messenger of Allah?” He said:

وَأَنْ تُحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ وَتَكْرَهَ لَهُمْ مَا تَكْرَهُ لِنَفْسِكَ وَأَنْ تَقُولَ خَيْرًا أَوْ تَصْمُتَ

That you love for the people what you love for yourself, and you hate for the people what you hate for yourself, and that you speak goodness or remain silent.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 21627, Grade: Hasan

Ibn Rajab comments on these traditions, saying:

  قَالَ بَعْضُ الصَّالِحِينَ مِنَ السَّلَفِ أَهْلُ الْمَحَبَّةِ لِلَّهِ نَظَرُوا بِنُورِ اللَّهِ وَعَطَفُوا عَلَى أَهْلِ مَعَاصِي اللَّهِ مَقَتُوا أَعْمَالَهُمْ وَعَطَفُوا عَلَيْهِمْ لِيُزِيلُوهُمْ بِالْمَوَاعِظِ عَنْ فِعَالِهِمْ وَأَشْفَقُوا عَلَى أَبْدَانِهِمْ مِنَ النَّارِ وَلَا يَكُونُ الْمُؤْمِنُ مُؤْمِنًا حَقًّا حَتَّى يَرْضَى لِلنَّاسِ مَا يَرْضَاهُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَإِنْ رَأَى فِي غَيْرِهِ فَضِيلَةً فَاقَ بِهَا عَلَيْهِ فَتَمَنَّى لِنَفَسِهِ مِثْلَهَا فَإِنْ كَانَتْ تِلْكَ الْفَضِيلَةُ دِينِيَّةً كَانَ حَسَنًا

Some of the righteous predecessors said: The people who love Allah look by the light of Allah, and they are compassionate with those who disobey Allah. They hate their actions but show mercy to them so that through their admonitions they might leave their actions. They are afraid that the Hellfire will consume their bodies. The believer will not truly be a believer until he is pleased for people to have what he is pleased for himself. If he sees in someone else some merit by which they excel him, then he wishes the like of it for himself. If that merit is related to the religion then it is good.

Source: Jami’ Ulum wal-Hikam 13

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.



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