There is a beautiful hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari that has stayed with me over the years since I first read it and upon which try to build all of my relationships with the Muslims that I meet. It reads:
Abu Musa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The believers are like a structure, each supporting the other.”
-Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Number 6257
When I first read it, I imagined that every believer can be seen as a brick upon which the foundation of the Ummah is constructed and like in every building, each brick must be sound in order for that building to be stable, secure, safe and reliable. Recently I have experienced situations where I have come into contact with fellow Muslims that have said or done things that I felt were hurtful and unnecessarily negative and I have had to remind myself that I am my sister’s keeper and that regardless of what happens to me or around me, I must daily strive to be a support and help in every aspect of my life, from my thoughts and words to my deeds and intentions.
For reverts, experiencing harshness from fellow Muslims who may have been born into Islam or who have been practicing Islam for many years can be especially off-putting because we come into the religion with idealistic perceptions.
I can recall how soon after I took my shahadah, I would run into Muslim women everywhere and and it was both astonishing and delightful how upon almost every occasion, the sister would come up to me and offer salaams with a hug as if she already knew me. This occurred once when I was with my mother, a practicing Christian, and she asked me with surprise after the sister walked away, “Do you know her?”
I replied that I did not and I could tell that it had made as much of an impression upon my mother as it did upon me and I cherish those instances, recognizing a standard that we as believers should all seek to live up to. Acts and words of kindness can have a lasting affect and can do much to dispel misconceptions about Islam.
More often than not, the sisterhood (and brotherhood) that I have witnessed among the Muslims that I’ve met over the years has demonstrated the principals of compassion, love, tolerance and wisdom, some of the things that I love most about Islam, and so when I have interactions with Muslims who may not be inviting unto Islam with beautiful preaching, I take a deep breath and I hold fast to the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith, focusing on offering prayers for the betterment of the believers and mankind (self included of course).
A verse in the Qur’an reads: “The believers, men and women, are awliyyaa’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another: they enjoin good and forbid evil.” Surah at-Taubah 9: 67.
We have been instructed to pray daily, five times a day, for Allah Ta’aala to bless Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers as Allah Ta’aala has blessed Abraham (pbuh) and his followers and that clearly illustrates that we have work to do, but it’s a good and noble labor. We are our sister’s keepers.