That you may know one another”: A Cognitive Vision

“That you may know one another”: A Cognitive Vision*

Dr. Yahia Reda Jaad**

Allah Almighty says:

“يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ…”

O mankind, indeed We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made you into people and tribes that you may know one another… (Al-Hujuraat (The Private Chambers): 13)***

  • “O mankind”: a speech delivered to the whole humanity despite their diversity and difference in languages and colors… It is a vocative style addressing the “humanitarian nature” embedded in all mankind. This is under the condition that they are equal in “status”, “dignity” and “honored status”. Therefore, it is a “universal” and “humanitarian” speech.
  • “indeed We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and female”:
  • A reminder about the humanitarian “common origin” of all mankind. Despite peoples’ differences, diversities and the difference in place, time and thoughts, they belong to “one family who expanded across time and space”… This common origin proves the equality in “significance”, “dignity” and “honored status” and refutes, under any claim, the fallacies indicating the superiority of some races, nationalities or nations over others.
  • It is also a reminder about the element of “accompaniment”, “duality”, and “diversity” on which the whole universe has been created. There is no “individuation” or “self-centeredness” but a “harmony”, “consensus” and “collectiveness”. In fact, the concept of existence in Islam is based on the Oneness of Allah Almighty and the accompaniment, duality, and diversity of others but Him.
  • “and made you into people and tribes”: is a declaration and reminder about the reality of the racial, social and historical (and also the intellectual) “humanitarian diversity”. In fact, the diversity in languages, colors and races definitely indicates a difference in religion, ideology, referential source, philosophical vision and political, economic, social and educational systems.

It is not just a “declaration” or a “reminder” but is of more advanced and higher level. It is a Divine “Action” and “Will”. Dare anyone wipe away, eradicate or limit It, by challenging Allah the Almighty?! May Allah protect us and you.

This Action, Declaration, and Reminder requires a deduction, so we should deduce the following:

  • The importance of communication, with all its kinds, types and means, among “different members” of the same people to preserve their character as a “nation”1 (avoiding dividing into conflicting sects and parties full of anger, hatred, envy and hostility)… This will never be achieved by adopting the strategy of the “armed conflict”, spreading “hostility” and “malice”, and “belittling” other members. Otherwise, all those “members” will totally perish! Yet, this can be achieved by tolerance and intimate communication by maintaining dignity and honor.
  • The importance of communication among “different people” to preserve their character as “nations2” (avoiding being imitated copies, from one side, and scattered, from the other side)….This will never be achieved by adopting concepts of the “clash of civilizations”, “conflict among powers”, “self-centralization” and strategies of “occupation”, “inferiority” and “domination”.

Yet, this can be achieved by mutually acknowledging the right of existence, sharing sciences and knowledges without monopoly, cooperating in what is mutually public and agreeable and engaging in fair competition properly as well as repelling evil with what is good as much as possible3 properly. All this should be applied with mutual respect of identities and privacies.

  • “That you may know one another”:

Al-A’rf العَرْف)), an Arabic word, linguistically means the nice smell; of persons, food and places.

               For example, Allah Almighty says:

“…وَيُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ عَرَّفَهَا لَهُمْ”

“….And admits them to Paradise, which He has made known to them.”(Muhammad: 6)

This means that which He beautifies for them and made them keen to enter.

Therefore, the known refers to the recommended and the familiar; the matters which people are acquainted with (due to its beauty). It is a word of every matter which its beauty is recognized by reason or Divine Revelation.

In addition, Knowledge is the realization of something (as it exists in the reality) by contemplating its traces (a definition derived from: the good is recognized by the traces of its good odor). In another words, it is a reason-based understanding.

In addition, “know one another” means to get acquainted with each other (It is a mutual realization of existence and identity in an environment of friendly and pure vibes).

In addition, “knowing one another” means to mutually interact in all acts of kindness…in a known familiar activity… to establish relationships among people in a proper manner and in a familiar way …to establish proper and friendly relationships with others.

Recognition is opposite to strangeness and ignorance, as Allah Almighty says:

“…فَعَرَفَهُمْ وَهُمْ لَهُ مُنْكِرُونَ.

“..and he recognized them, but he was to them unknown. (Yusuf: 58).

For Example, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

The spirits are like recruited troops; those who know one another will be friendly, and those who do not, will keep apart 4.”

Therefore, knowing one another leads to harmony, as we will discuss in detail later, while strangeness leads to dispute…In conclusion, we can deduce our triple stages: (1) knowing one another, then (2) harmony, then (3) interaction, cooperation and integration.

  • “that you may know one another”, thus, is a kind of relationship which should be established among different humans as emphasized by the Divine Revelation, history and reality, physically and morally and cognitively and socially, to inhabit the earth and discover its treasures and blessings and share its interests; as “an interactive, friendly, cooperative, mutual, prosperous, safe home” for everyone.

In fact, the “universality of this tendency towards the act of knowing one another” is one of the characteristics of Islam:

  • The Lord of the Messenger of this religion is not a lord of a specific locality, region, race, or sect. Yet, He is the “Lord of the worlds” (Al-Fatihah (The Opening): 2); the whole universe, and He is the “Lord of mankind” (An-Nas (The People: 1); all humanity.
  • The Messenger of this religion was not sent by his Lord except as a “mercy to the worlds” (Al-Anbiyaa’ (The Prophets): 107). For example, these Verses read: “….O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all…” (Al-A’raf (The Heights): 158), “Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His Servant that he may be to the worlds a warner” (Al-Furqan (The Criterion): 1). In addition, “…Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind. (Agreed Upon).
  • The scripture of this religion is not for the Arabs only; It is but an admonition to the worlds.” (Ṣaad: 87), and “a reminder for the worlds.” (Al-An’am (The Cattle): 90).

This is the nature of the religion itself. It is not an Arabian, eastern, western, or a racial or regional call but a call to “the worlds”; the whole creatures.

How could it be possible to have a Universal Lord whose Messenger, Scripture and Religion are also universal, and, yet, this religion does not call for “interacting” with “the worlds”?! The interaction cannot be achieved without properly “know one another” as mentioned hereinafter?! How could it be possible also in case of the “honored” worlds, as mentioned in “and we have certainly honored the son of Adam” (Al-Israa’ (the Night Journey: 70)!?5

  • According to both definition and reasonable thinking, “Knowledge”, which is only attained amid an environment of friendly and pure vibes, can never be attained through fire but light. It can never be attained through the power of weapons but the power of listening and discussion. In other words, it cannot depend on violence (as violence leads to destruction. So, how, then, can we get to know one another and with whom?!). Thus, it requires a friendly and cooperative, reciprocal (and then, an integrated) attitude. It cannot be attained in an atmosphere full of hatred and impatience. Yet, it requires intimacy, kindness, and open mindedness.
  • “Knowing one another” can be attained without:
  • the intention of disputes and clashes,
  • the superiority and the lusts of dominance,
  • Double standards in dealings, as in “There is no blame upon us concerning the Gentiles©.” (Aal- ‘Imran (The Family of ‘Imran): 75)
  • Any claim of monopoly on virtues and any claim stating that evils and vices (are embedded in a specific party. This is because the virtues and vices are common features among all nations and people, and they differ through accomplishment and competition. In fact, their legacies and levels are distributed but are not regarded as embedded nature that can never be altered or changed)6

On the other hand, it can be attained through:

  • mutually acknowledging the right of existence, diversity and difference (accepting pluralism) and respecting others’ nature, personality, identity and privacy,
  • sharing thoughts and perspectives,
  • and spreading sciences and knowledges with no monopoly, and mutually cooperate in facing life physical and moral obstacles and seeking the horizons of research and experiment.

In other words, “knowing one another” needs the “desire” to intimately meet and interact; morally and physically.

This achieves “harmony” which helps in maintaining the integrity of the harmonized members, to interact without neither negating nor melting any of them in other identities.

These “several distinctions” (between “males” and “females”, “people” and “tribes”, with all the requirements needed and all the results) depends on building relationships among mankind…It is irrational to be growing/ diverse/ various people without being different. It is irrational also to belong to the same origin, as sons of Adam, without achieving harmony!

If this is the case in dealing with the strangers, so what is the case in dealing with those who belong to us!

  • Objectives of “Knowing one another”:
  • reaching an actual realization of others: their thoughts, characters, personalities and intrinsic qualities, with no media or obstacles. This, therefore, helps in correcting the stereotypical image about them, and then, encourages us to treat them kindly.
  • discussing ideas,
  • sharing blessings and experiences and cooperating, integrating and supporting each other in production and development,
  • hastening towards all good deeds. Knowing one another, which can be achieved without superiority and arrogance that hinder the principle of competition 7, opens the door widely for the competition. In addition, the diversity, duality, difference, and distinction, is the “most ultimate chemical stimulus” and the “greatest motivation” for engaging in the experiments of the competition in the fields of creativity and progress among different distinctive parties…Allah Almighty says:

وَلَوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ‌لَجَعَلَكُمۡ ‌أمة واحدة وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبۡلُوَكُمۡ فِي مَآ ءَاتَىٰكُمۡۖ فَٱسۡتَبِقُواْ ٱلۡخَيۡرَٰتِ…ۚ

“Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so hasten to [all that is] good…” (Al-Ma’edah (The Spreading table with food): 48)

“وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ

“For each [religious following] is a direction toward which it faces. So race to [all that is] good….”(Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 148)

If there is no duality, diversity and difference in a frame of harmony not violence8 , the motives and reasons of competition among individuals, nations, people, thoughts, ideologies, religions, philosophies and civilizations will perish. Consequently, life will be full of dull and rotten passiveness, with no vitality, renewal or progress.

Finally, “knowing one another” is: “a merciful interactive communication” and is neither “eradicative and aggressive” nor “passive”, where there is neither “reclusion” nor “melting or hybridization”.

Moreover, the philosophy of “knowing one another”, we presented its fundamentals here, is a vision which:

  • is humanitarian (regains and asserts human’s status as honored creature and the center (of universe); as only a master in the universe without being superior over it, and as a successor not a corrupter),
  • has a Divine origin (guided and asserted by Divine Revelation),
  • calls for [the interaction among civilizations, pollination among cultures, comparing ideologies, and achieving harmony, cooperation, solidarity and integrity among all nations, people and countries… regarding the world as a “forum for civilizations” in which its members constitute a large scale of “mutual common humanitarian” arenas encouraging cooperation and construction, while preserving the “cultural identity and privacy distinguishing each one” and the “national, patriotic, cultural, economic and security interests” which should be considered9.] This (can be achieved) within the framework of “integrated, settled and balanced interests” with no “rejection, contradiction and disagreement”, and by achieving equality in dignity, dealings and benefit exchanging with no oppression or harm. This should substitute the philosophies and tendencies of conflict, dominance, compulsion and exploitation.

Translated by: Rehab Jamal Bakri****


*  The Article Was Published in Al-Muslim Al-Muassir Magazine, Issue 152 (2014). PP. 5- 13.

** An Egyptian Physician and Researcher

*** All the Quranic English Interpretations mentioned here are retrieved from:

1  the concept of “subdivision”, in every sense of the word, indicates the internal connection and solidity from one side and the privacy and independent personality from the other side (If not, how to achieve a subdivision among the scattered or the identical?!

2  the concept of “subdivision”, in every sense of the word, previously mentioned.

3  reflect on the Saying of the Truth Almighty: (Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (Fussilat (Expounded): 34) and also Repel, by [means of] what is best, [their] evil. We are most knowing of what they describe. (Al-Mu’minun (The Believers): 96).

4  compiled by Muslim (2638) with a complete chain of transmission and mentioned by Al-Bukhari (3336) as Hadith Mu’alaq, a Prophetic narration that has one or more successive narrators omitted from the beginning of its chain.

{Note: The English Translation of the Hadith text is retrieved  from (The Translator)}

5  how dare the followers of religion “neglect” those honored by the religious teachings?!

How dare the followers of religion call for “boycotting”, “avoiding”, “abandoning” and even “belittling” those honored by religion?!

How dare the followers of religion to “belittle” those honored by religion?!

How to accept for those honored by religion to be categorized, by utterances sometimes and deeds most of the time, as human of a second rank?!

In fact, “being descended from Adam”, human beings have been granted this honorable status which is permanent and inevitable. Humanity is the reason of their honorable status because Allah Almighty allows human to have his own free will in choosing between faith and polytheism, which is the core of all issues. This free will is protected by its Giver even from His Intervention. He never forces any one to believe and He also totally and generally forbids His Slaves to force any one to accept religion. Thus, giving human this honored status is natural and legal due to the Divine honored status given to him in a form of his free will….Allah honored him and granted him freedom, so we pay tribute to him for this Divine honored status (our acceptance of a non-Muslim does not mean that we accept his polytheism or idolatry, but means that we accept the Divine  honorable status granted to him; his free will granted to him by Allah and its choice whatever it is. It is a legal acceptance of his nature and not a dogmatic acceptance of his path or creed)…It is not right to allow someone to totally enjoy his free will, during his life, to believe or not to believe, then, at the same time, oppressing him. If this is not among the forms of compulsion in acceptance of religion, so what is the compulsion?! …Allah granted human an honored status, in the issue of creed which is the core of all issues by allowing him to choose. Thus, it is not appropriate for us to belittle him by oppressing him when enjoying his freedom whatever his choice is.

© Gentiles is a term that is usually used by the Jews to refer to “someone who is not a Jew”; believing that Jews are the chosen people of God and that others are considered as common ignorant people. This verse proves the discrimination, prejudice and antagonism of the Jews against others. (The translator)

6  a saying by our prominent professor and scholar Dr. Muhammad Emarah

7 reflect on the Saying of Allah Almighty: “…And Moses had already come to them with clear evidences, and they were arrogant in the land, but they did not escape [Our punishment].” (Al-‘Ankabout (The Spider): 39)

8  In fact, the latter will totally destroy the other party; leading, then, to the sovereignty of the one and only and, consequently, the disappearance of creativity skills (as the flame of creativity never be aroused except through affliction, challenge and difference). Consequently, dull passiveness, rottenness and death will prevail (creativity, as similar as genius, does not fall from the sky for a lazy human).

9 a saying by our prominent professor Dr. Muhammad Emarah.

**** Egyptian Researcher and Translator.

عن رحاب جمال بكري

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