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8:75 All Muslims are Bethren to one another

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And those who accept Faith subsequently, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith in your company,- they are of you. But kindred by blood have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things.

Asad writes,

The classical commentators are of the opinion that this last clause refers to actual family
relations, as distinct from the spiritual brotherhood based on a community of faith. According
to these commentators, the above sentence abolished the custom which was prevalent among the
early Muslims, whereby the ansar (“the helpers” – i.e., the newly-converted Muslims of Medina)
concluded, individually, symbolic ties of brotherhood with the muhajirin (“the emigrants” from Mecca),
who, almost without exception, arrived at Medina in a state of complete destitution: ties of
brotherhood, that is, which entitled every muhajir to a share in the property of his “brother” from among the
ansar, and, in the event of the tatter’s death, to a share in the inheritance left by him. The above
verse is said to have prohibited such arrangements by stipulating that only actual close relations
should henceforth have a claim to inheritance. To my mind, however, this interpretation is not
convincing. Although the expression ulu ‘l-arham is derived from the noun rahm (also spelt rihm
and rahim), which literally signifies “womb”, one should not forget that it is tropically used
in the sense of “kinship”, “relationship” or “close relationship” in general (i.e., not merely
blood-relationship). Thus, “in the classical language, ulu ‘l-arham means any relations: and in
law, any relations that have no portion [of the inheritances termed fara’id]” (Lane III, 1056,
citing, among other authorities, the Taj al-‘Arus). In the present instance, the reference to
“close relations” comes at the end of a passage which centres on the injunction that the believers
must be “the friends and protectors (awliya’) of one another”, and that all later believers shall,
similarly, be regarded as members of the Islamic brotherhood. If the reference to “close
relations” were meant to be taken in its literal sense and conceived as alluding to laws of inheritance, it
would be quite out of tune with the rest of the passage, which stresses the bonds of faith among true believers, as well as the moral obligations arising from these bonds.

In my opinion, therefore, the above verse has no bearing on laws of inheritance, but is meant
to summarize, as it were, the lesson of the preceding verses: All true believers, of all times,
form one single community in the deepest sense of this word; and all who are thus closely
in spirit have the highest claim on one another in accordance with God’s decree that “all
believers are brethren” (49:10).


Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran.

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