NationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 03

Human fraternity in global village

Mrs. Sawera Ikram has been in the habit of distributing whatever she cooks in her home on religious or cultural occasions: Eid, Shab-i-Barat, Eid Miladun-Nabi, Basant and other occasions. Her neighbours are aware of her habit; they welcome her and her dishes.

However, last month she experienced something new. When she rang the doorbell of a neighbour, a new arrival in her street, to share ‘Gajar ka halwa’ (carrot-based dessert), with them, a woman in her mid-40s opened the door. Instead of taking the plate, she said: “My husband’s name is Sharif Masih and he is a motorcycle mechanic. He has asked me to tell about him before accepting anything from any neighbour.” The reply confused Mrs. Sawera. “What does that mean?” she asked. Sabiran Bibi, the woman, is visibly embarrassed now. She takes the plate from Mrs. Sawera. “We had to face serious consequences at our previous rented house when we accepted sweets on Eid Miladun Nabi from a neighbour without informing him that we are Christians. The situation worsened to the extent that we had to leave the area,” she explains. “That was definitely unfortunate, and I am sorry about that. There must be some misguided person, who forced you to leave your area. Otherwise, Islam believes in equal rights of all neighbours, no matter if they are Muslim or non-Muslim,” Mrs. Sawera tells Sabiran.

The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had said that the rights of the neighbour were so overwhelmingly emphasised to him by Angel Jibraeel that he feared that neighbours might be made shareholders in one’s inheritance. In another Hadith, the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said that a man, whose neighbour is not safe from his misdeeds, is not a believer in Islam. And stressing the rights of neighbours, Islam does not differentiate between a Muslim and a non-Muslim.

The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was once informed about a woman who used to offer prayers regularly and would often keep fast and give alms frequently, but her neighbours were sick of her abusive tongue. The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said that such a woman deserved only the fire of Hell.

Islam forms the basis of human fraternity and good society through stressing rights of neighbours. International Day of Human Fraternity is observed across the globe on Feb 4 every year. The day highlights the principles and values of the Document on Human Fraternity, while exploring good practices towards its implementation as a pathway to building a more peaceful world, which is the main aim of Islam also. International Day of Human Fraternity commemorates the historic signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on February 4, 2019.

On Dec 21, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution – co-sponsored by the UAE and Egypt – proclaiming February 4 as International Day of Human Fraternity, inviting all member states and international organisations to observe the day annually. “As we commemorate International Day of Human Fraternity, let us commit to do more to promote cultural and religious tolerance, understanding and dialogue,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his statement.

In the recent years, the world witnessed various glorious examples of human fraternity, set by great people. One such example was set by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In March 2019, wearing a dupatta, she visited the families of Christchurch terror attack victims, and her expression of solidarity with Muslims in that hour of grief was well received. Attacks on two Christchurch mosques had left at least 49 dead. A teary-eyed Ardern had said she brought the messages of love, support and grief on behalf of all New Zealanders to the crowd gathered at the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resources Centre.

Another demonstration of human fraternity was observed in Pakistan in December 2021, after a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot was lynched by a mob. The gory incident shocked the nation and brought them to a single platform of condemnation of the incident. From Prime Minister Imran Khan to each and every assembly member and from businesspeople to religious leaders, all came out in support of the victim. A delegation of religious scholars from all schools of thought also met with the Sri Lankan high commissioner and expressed their sympathies with the bereaved family. They all showed that they believed in humanity and human fraternity, which is the essence of true teachings of Islam.


The writer is a physician by profession. She has worked as an intern at the Capital Health (New Jersey) & the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (New York). Rights and gender issues are the areas of special interest to her. She can be reached at:[email protected]