Caring for the Muslim Community (Ummah) and those Around You (Ethics 2.1)

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As we sit here, we don’t have to worry about clean drinking water because we have clean water, spring water, bottled water and safe tap water, but millions around the world do not. Alhamdulillāh (all praise is for Allah) many people in less well-off countries get their water from a stream or lake—and that is fresh and clean. However, others share water with animals, they themselves have to bathe in it and wash their clothes and dishes in the same place. The water’s colour, taste and odour is often affected by what is put into it. But the people quite often are poor and have no alternatives.

It is in conditions such as this that people are likely to pick up diseases such as cholera[1]: the main symptoms are watery diarrhoea and vomiting—and the severity of the diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration, and death in some cases—and also dysentery[2]: inflammation of the intestine causing diarrhoea with blood. These bacteria and parasites are carried in dirty, polluted and toxic water. So people need to be taught the Sunnah of what pollutes water and how to use water. The Prophet (salallahu ʿalaihi wasallam) taught us the following:

  1. Do not urinate in wells, rivers, lakes etc., (which includes defecating in water)—because that pollutes them and makes them filthy over time.
  2. If an impurity falls into the water—and its colour, smell or taste changes, then it becomes impure.
  3. People are allowed to bathe in large bodies of water (such as lakes or rivers) but they should not urinate in them or throw filth in them.
  4. Muslims should never put chemical pollutants and sewage into river water or lakes because it makes the water dangerous to drink and use—people get sick and even die.

Additionally, in many parts of the world where water is scarce, people are likely to struggle to grow enough food to provide for themselves and their families. So, the Sunnah teaches the Muslims not to waste water. In fact the Prophet (H) taught his companions to not waste water even if they live next to a flowing river! Conservation of resources is important in Islam—do not waste food, water, drink, electricity, gas, etc. When you leave a room, turn the light off. Do not keep the tap running when making wudu, do not waste water when taking a shower. If you buy a bottle of water, finish it, and don’t throw it away.

Islamic Teachings on Caring and the Community:

The core of the community in Islam begins with the Muslim family: mother, father (who are married) and their children—this makes up the local community, which in turn makes up the global community of Muslims (the Ummah). It is the responsibility of more wealthy members of the community to help the less well off. So, if the family cannot survive, then the local community helps. If the local community cannot survive, then the global community (Ummah) must help them. Wherever Muslims are in need, we must help them with food, water, clothing, shelter and medical supplies. Zakāt (obligatory charity) in Islam is to help those in need, and it must be paid by every wealthy Muslim.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded Muʿādh (I) Ibn Jabal when he sent him to the people of Yemen, he commanded him to invite the people to worship Allah alone (and not to worship false gods besides Allah), and to pray five times a day, then he said to Muʿādh: “If they accept all of that, inform them that Allāh has obligated upon them the Zakāh (obligatory charity)—to be taken from their wealthy and distributed amongst their poor.” (Hadīth reported by Bukhāri)

So this is the obligation upon a community to help each other. The term “charity begins at home” is actually in line with Islam, because Muslims are commanded to help those closest to them first. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once said: “Charity to a relative has two rewards: one for giving charity and one for maintaining family ties.” (Tirmidhi, no. 658, saheeh) He also said: “He is not a believer whose stomach is full while his neighbour is hungry.” (Al-Bayhaqi’s As-Sunan al-Kubrā, see Saheeh al-Jāmiʿ of Al-Albāni, no. 5382) He also said: When you cook a stew, put plenty of water in it, and go and see the people of your neighbouring house and give them a goodly amount of it.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad, no. 113, graded saheeh by Al-Albāni) The Prophet (H) said:

مَا نَقَصَتْ صَدَقَةٌ مِنْ مَالٍ وَمَا زَادَ اللَّهُ عَبْدًا بِعَفْوٍ إِلاَّ عِزًّا وَمَا تَوَاضَعَ أَحَدٌ لِلَّهِ إِلاَّ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ

“Giving charity does not decrease wealth, no one forgives another except that Allah increases his honour, and no one humbles himself for the sake of Allah except that Allah raises his status.” (Muslim, no. 2588)

brother in Islam is any Muslim anywhere in the world, they are like one family—this is what is referred to as the Muslim Ummah. So, they take care of each other and maintain each other. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The likeness of the believers in their love for each other, and their mercy for each other and their affection for each other is like one body—if one limb is afflicted with pain then the rest of the body is afflicted with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhāri, no. 6011, Muslim, no. 2586).

This establishes a great feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood in faith. If Muslims are struggling in their faith, practice, or life, they know they are not alone—they have others who will help them. The Prophet (H) said:

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا وَشَبَّكَ أَصَابِعَهُ

“Indeed, a believer to another believer is like a brick of a building—each one supports and strengthens the other.” Then he intertwined his fingers [illustrating the point]. (Bukhari, no. 481, Muslim no. 2585)

Acts of worship such as Hajj, Fasting in Ramadan and Prayer are made easier by knowing that hundreds and millions of Muslims are in the same situation. The concept of Ummah is reinforced in the Qur’an:

لَّا يَتَّخِذِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ فِى شَىْءٍ إِلَّآ أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَىٰةًۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ نَفْسَهُۥ ۗ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ ٱلْمَصِيرُ ٢٨

“Let not the believers take the disbelievers as helpers instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against His punishment1, and to Allah is the final return.(Aali ʿImrān 3:28) The Prophet (H) said about this, “There is none who has a greater sense of ghayrah (honour) than Allah, and for that reason He has forbidden the shameful deeds and sins. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does.” (Sahih Al-Bukhāri, no. 500). Ghayrah is a sense of fury and anger when one’s honour and rank are injured or challenged.

All of this does not prevent Muslims from having an association with the non-Muslims at all. In fact, millions of Muslims have non-Muslim relatives they care about. Islam encourages good treatment of all members of society: Muslim and non-Muslim. However, Islam advises that in matters of faith and ethics, help and advice should come from their community of fellow Muslims—i.e., from the scholars and shaikhs from this Ummah, who are known for Sunnah and following the way of the Salaf.


  1. Mention some of the hadeeths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that show the importance of helping other Muslims.
  2. What did the Prophet teach us about water?
  3. How does the feeling of Ummah and its closeness help the Muslims?

All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet, his family, his companions and all who truly follow him.

[1] Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening. (

[2] Dysentery is a gastrointestinal disease. Its causes include bacterial or parasitic infections. Symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and stomach cramps. (

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