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Is peacemaking superior to fasting and prayers?

Could you please comment on the hadith that says that peacemaking is superior to fasting, prayers and charity.


The hadith to which you refer may be translated as follows: The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said: “Shall I tell you of something that is superior in rank to prayer, fasting and charity?” “Yes, O Messenger of God,” his Companions answered. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Reconciling between people, for the evil of discord is the eraser (destroyer)" [recorded by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]. Another version with an addition explaining the meaning of "the eraser" quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: "The evil of discord is the eraser. I do not say that it removes hair, but it destroys faith." It is clear that the hadith puts strong emphasis on keeping peace and good relations in the Muslim community. This is something also stressed in the Quran where we read: "Have fear of God and set to right your internal relations. Obey God and His Messenger, if you are true believers" [8: 1].

It should be noted that the expression used in the hadith and the Quranic verse is the same. It means more than just keeping peace but aims to achieve stronger and better relations within the Muslim community. This is expressed by the Quranic verse: "All believers are but brothers" ([49: 9].

Brotherly relations are much closer and more intimate than the mere absence of conflict. Such relations mean mutual love and care throughout the Muslim community, where every individual is important, and every complaint should be addressed. Keeping good relations between the people means the absence of any injustice, ensuring that everyone's rights are respected and everyone is looked after. Although a community may be free of discord and contention, the element of care may be lacking. This is not what Islam wants. It wants the community’s members to be caring and compassionate, mitigate the distress of others and bring them happiness. This is what the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) meant when he described good relations as superior to prayer, fasting and charity. This does not mean that we should not perform these devotional acts. In fact, only when we worship properly can we attend to other duties, particularly at the social level.

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