On the authority of Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) - the servant of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) - that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said :
"None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself."
Related by Bukhari & Muslim
Written commentary compiled by volunteers utilizing Sh. Jamaal Diwan's audio commentary above and English translation of Ibn Daqiq Al-Id's commentary on The Forty Hadith of Imam al-Nawawi.
This hadith is strongly correlated with the Golden Rule which is “do as to others what you want to yourself” and that is to love for your brother what you love for yourself. In this society, we live where people are shy to give advice or get offended to accept advice. When in reality, we should be welcoming in accepting other’s advice and give advice in the best way. This is essential for the fabric of the community and for your personal self.
Accepting the Truth
Is it possible to be better than someone else? There is an authentic narration mentioned in Al Hakim where a companion asks the Prophet (pbuh), “Oh Messenger of Allah, you have seen what is bestowed upon me from beauty, and because of that beauty that has been bestowed upon me, I don’t like anyone else to look better than me. Is that arrogance? Is that transgression?”
The Prophet (pbuh) responds saying, “No, that’s not transgression, that’s not arrogance. What is arrogance or transgression is to the reject the truth when faced with it and to look down on people.”
Based on this response, one of the characteristics of a believer is to accept the truth when they are confronted with it. So, when talking about loving for a brother what you love for yourself, that’s shouldn’t be an issue.
Flaws in Others
Another part of loving your brother what you love for yourself is really pushing the person to seek to rectify the flaws of others. Sometimes when we see flaws for others, instead of hoping, striving, and working toward rectify their difficulties in flaws, we actually exploit them. We take advantage of them and make ourselves feel better. This is actually a disease in the heart that we need to see someone to do something bad in order for us to feel good. Rather, we should fix their problems and love for them to able to grow in their relationship with Allah.
Hassad (Envy) & Ghibta (Jealousy)
Hassad is where you see something good in someone, and not only do you want it, but you want them to lose it. Whereas ghibta is you see that good in someone else, and you want it, but you want it without them losing it. So, if we feel like we want someone else to lose the good that they have, then that’s actually a problem in our belief, in the way that we look at our brother or our sister. It’s a problem in our love for our brother or our sister, and it’s contradictory to the meaning of this hadith.
Beyond the Translation
In the translation, it says “true belief” because we shouldn’t say that someone that does not attain this station is no longer a believer. They are a believer; they just haven’t reached that high level of faith. Another part of the hadith says “akhi” but some commentators say it’s not just “his brother”, it’s very general. This means it’s not just to Muslims, but all of humanity. Therefore for the person to receive true faith they have to love their brother in humanity, Muslim or non-Muslim, what they love for themselves. This is a very high level of spirituality and selflessness the true believer should seek.
Another characteristic of this hadith is wanting the brother to have what you have and even better. This doesn’t let us feel this scarcity mindset, and part of that is that it is a manifestation of us realizing that Allah is endless in His bounty. Sometimes when you look at what others have, we have that disease that makes us think that if they have it, then we can’t. However, Allah (swt) is endless in His bounty and endless in His generosity, even infinite in these qualities. Allah swt can give and take as He pleases so it shouldn’t make a difference if someone else has something as well.
Holding yourself accountable is also an essential characteristic. You hold yourself accountable and question yourself about your feelings towards your brother, sister, or humanity and why you feel that way. We should seek to attain this level, to have this love towards a cause. This cause is a principle that we love and we know that Allah can give and He is bountiful, and not by anything else. For example, Imam Shafi’i said that he would love for people to learn this knowledge and that none of it would be attributed to him; which shows how beautiful his character was.
May Allah (swt) to beautify our character and forgive us for our sins and our shortcomings, and to help us love for our brothers what we love for ourselves. A closing story of Malcolm X, he was encountered by this hadith. He thought it was profound but didn’t know it was a hadith, yet stuck with him for the rest of his life. This is how the examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) should be, because these are timeless, amazing, beautiful, and expansive wisdoms that should stick with us and affect us with the way we look at life and the way we deal with others.