This post is dedicated to my brother. May Allaah protect you and have mercy upon you always habibee…ameen.
al-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,
One of the first concepts encountered by those who decide to submit themselves to their Creator and accept Islam as their creed and way of life, is that a Muslim is the brother of his fellow Muslim, and that the bonds of faith are stronger than the bonds of blood. Thus one of the first words learnt by the new Muslim are akhee أخي (‘my brother’) and ukhtee أختي (‘my sister’), and in some cases these become the very words most frequented by the tongue of the Muslim.
Oftentimes though, a Muslim may feel disappointed or let down by his brother, the very feeling of which is a contradiction of what a brother represents to the Muslim and the Arabs, as told in part by the etymology of the word itself.
Some linguists believe that the word akh is derived from the word aakhiyyah آخيّة, which refers to a piece of rope the two ends of which are buried in the ground and attached to a small stone or stick, used to tie a horse or other animal in place so that it does not wander off. In this way should one be attached to their brother, so that they do not wander off from one another. Similarly, the brother should be like an aakhiyyah and ensure that his companion is kept close to the mark and does not wander too far away from it, but if it should happen, his brother shall draw him back to it.
Another group of linguists believe that the word akh is derived from the word wakhaa وخى, which refers to an aim, endeavour, or desire. This is because the two would share these same aims such that they are as one.
There is an Arabic proverb that states rubba akhin laka lam talid-hu ummuka رُبَّ أَخٍ لَكَ لَمْ تَلِدْهُ أُمُّكَ ‘There is many a brother for you to whom your mother has not given birth,’ referring to the full meaning of the word, as explained above. And indeed many can attest to the truth of this proverb.
al-Hamdu lillaah, Allah has blessed me with two such brothers to whom my mother has given birth, may Allaah have mercy upon them all and rain down His mercy and blessings upon them such that were each a mere raindrop from the sky, the world would be flooded many times over. Ameen.