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A Fundamental Principle

We should know that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam was sent by Allah to the whole of mankind, to explain and to make clear to them all that which is good and brings one closer to Allah; and also to explain to them all that is evil and would distance a person from Allah. The reason for this being, that life - with all its variety, colours and manifestations - is built upon two important matters: - Firstly: Knowing the good - in order to follow it. Secondly: Knowing the evil - in order to keep away from it.

So, for example, in the matter of Tawhid of Allah (to single out Allah alone for worship) - the crux of Islam - it is built on iman (faith) in Allah and the rejection of shirk[1], kufr[2] and taghut[3]. Iman in Allah is good, whilst belief in at-taghut is evil. Thus, it is a must to recognise that which is good in order to follow it, whilst knowing also that which is evil so as to keep away from it. Likewise, in the matter of da'wah (calling) to Allah, which is built upon commanding the good (ma'ruf) and forbidding the evil (munkar). To command the ma'ruf is good and is to be followed, whilst munkar is evil and is to be shunned. Likewise, in ittiba' (following of) the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, which is built upon following his Sunnah and turning away from bid'ah (religious innovations). Sunnah is good and is to be followed, whilst bid'ah is evil and is to be shunned.

Events to Befall this 'Ummah

The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam informed us of events which will befall this 'Ummah (i.e. Muslim peoples), some of these narrations speak of good for this 'Ummah - indicating also that the future, power and honour is for the Muslims; and that they will be established in the land. Other narrations warn us against those evil matters, that which would distance us from Allah - the Most High - and make us weak in front of the nations. We will discuss some of these narrations which mention the two types of weaknesses.

First Type of Weakness Explained

The first of these narrations is that of Thawban - radhiallahu 'anhu - the freed slave of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. He related that the Messenger of Allah said: "The nations are about to call each other and set upon you, just as diners set upon food." It was said: "Will it be because of our small number that day?" He said:

"Rather, on that day you will be many, but you will be like foam, like the foam on the river. And Allah will remove the fear of you from the hearts of your enemies and will throw wahn (weakness) into your hearts." Someone said: "O Messenger of Allah! What is wahn?" He said: "Love of the world and the hatred for death."
Sahih: Related by Abu Dawud (no. 4297), Ibn 'Asakirin in Tarikh Dimashq (2/97/8) and others. It was authenticated by Al-Albani in As-Sahihah (no. 958)

This hadith explains the first form of weakness, which has befallen the 'Ummah in all corners of the world, as being a result of inclination to this world, love of it, and being preoccupied with it, whilst turning away from the Hereafter, being distant from it and hatred of death. Hatred of death is a sign of loving this world, since the one who loves this world, hates death. Since, with death, comes the meeting with Allah - the Most Perfect.

Some Benefits of this Hadith

From the hadith we can conclude the following:

  1. That the disbelievers attentively observe the Muslim 'Ummah and study their condition, when they see a weakness they strike at it and if they see a barrier, they destroy it. When they see that the 'Ummah cannot defend itself, they do not show mercy, since they are the enemies of Allah. So they hate the Muslims because they (the Muslims) call to the worship and obedience of Allah.
  2. The Muslim lands possess many riches, being sources of goods and blessings. This is why the enemies of Allah desire these lands and try to conquer them.
  3. The 'Ummah has reached a level where it cannot defend its honour, riches nor wealth from its conquering enemies.
  4. The disbelievers have divided the conquered lands of the Muslims between themselves, just like diners when gathered around their dish - what do they do? Each of them take their portion until he is full; and he will not be content with that which is in his plate, except with that which fills. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, warned us about this fact - the cutting up of the Muslim lands, for he said: "You will form different armies, an army in Greater Syria (ash-Sham), an army in 'Iraq and an army in Yemen." I asked: "Which one shall I be with O Messenger of Allah?" He said: "I advise you with the (army) of ash-Sham and whoever refuses then let him join the Yemen and beware. For indeed Allah - the Mighty and Majestic - has guaranteed ash-Sham and its people for me."[4]
  5. That the disbelievers do not fear the Muslims. At the time of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam when the disbelievers heard that the Prophet was preparing to engage them in battle, they would become fearful and turn on their heels. This is what happened at the battle of Tabuk. At this battle, the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam traveled a months journey to fight the Romans, when they heard of the Messenger of Allah's, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, approach they fled. So the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "I have been given five (things) which no one else before me has been given. I have been aided with fear - a distance of one month's traveling ... "[5] Allah the - the Most High - states: "Soon We shall cast terror into the hearts of the disbelievers, for that, they made shirk, for which He had sent no authority." [Al-Qur'an 3:151]

Indeed, fear is a weapon, which Allah implants in the hearts of His enemies. This is why the strength of the Muslims, is not in their great numbers - weapons or wealth - but it is in their 'aqidah (belief) and their adhering to it. For today there are plenty of Muslims, but they are like foam, like the foam carried by the waves. And their riches are many but cannot be for them. Rather, it has become the possession of their enemies. For example: The Muslims today approximate over one billion and they grow in number everyday. However, at the same time they are the weakest of nations in every country they are in, being persecuted - why?

Because they have become like foam, like the foam on the waves. Also, the lands of the Muslims possess many riches and minerals, but where does it all end up? With the disbelievers in Europe or America, or it goes to the Jews of Palestine. The Muslim oil constitutes approximately one third of the world's reserves, but the Muslims are the poorest of people - why?

Because they do not possess anything from their Din (religion), except a name. So they call to it, but all their riches now belong to their enemies.

Second Type of Weakness

The second form of weakness which illustrates the condition of the Muslims today is their being far from the Sunnah (example) of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and being far away from the correct manhaj (methodology), in a state of innovation.

The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us of this in the hadith of Hudhayfah radhiallahu 'anhu in which he said:

"The people used to ask the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam about the good, and I used to ask him about the evil out of fear that it would reach me." So I asked the Messenger of Allah: "O Messenger of Allah, we were living in ignorance and evil, then Allah brought this good to us. So will there be any evil after this good?" He replied: "Yes." I then asked: "Will there be any good after this evil?" He replied: "Yes, but it will be tainted." So I asked: "What will be its taint?" He replied: "A people who guide others to other than my way, you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others." I further enquired: "Then is there any evil after this good?" He said: "Yes! Callers at the gates of Hell - whoever responds to their call, they will be thrown into the fire." I then said: "O Messenger of Allah! Describe them to us." He said: "They will be from our people and speak our language." I asked: "So what do you order me to do if that reaches me?" He said: "Stick to the Jama'ah (the united body) of the Muslims and their Imam (ruler)." I further asked: "What if they have neither Jama'ah or an Imam?" He said: "Then keep away from all those sects, even if you have to bite upon the roots of a tree, until death reaches you whilst you are in that state."
Related by Al-Bukhari (no. 7084) and Muslim (no. 1847)

A Brief Explanation

" ... you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others."

Meaning: You will accept the Sunnah from them and reject the bid'ah from them.

"Yes! Callers at the gates of Hell."

Meaning: Callers inviting to the various deviated schools of thought which will lead their followers to the Hellfire.

" ... whoever responds to their call, they will be thrown into the fire."

Meaning: Whoever obeys the callers of innovation and misguidance then his end will be the fire, because the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam has said: "Every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the fire."[6]

So the innovation is in the fire along with its companion. Whoever obeys the callers of innovation will be led to the Fire and whosoever obeys the callers of Sunnah will be led to Paradise.

"Stick to the Jama'ah of the Muslims and their Imam."

Meaning: Stick to the Islamic Empire if they have one. So you migrate to it, live amongst the Muslims, and do not remain in the lands of the disbelievers. And you give the bay'ah (oath of allegiance) to the leader of the Muslims - if they have one.

"I asked: What if they neither have a Jama'ah or an Imam?"

Meaning: Like today

"Then keep away from all those sects."

Meaning: Keep away from the callers of misguidance and (religious) innovation, neither being of them, nor aiding or supporting them.

"Even if you have to bite upon the roots of a tree."

Meaning: Adhere to the Sunnah and cling to its foundations. The meaning of this is not remain in your house and abandon the calling to Allah, nor abandon ordering the good and the prohibiting of evil, since the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said "Hold fast to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of my rightly guided caliphs - cling (lit. bite) to it tightly."[7]

And here, in this hadith, he has ordered them to cling (lit. bite) to the roots of a tree. So the (roots of a tree) here means the Sunnah.

"Until death reaches you whilst you are in that state."

Meaning: To die in a state of Islam, as in the saying of Allah: "And do not die except as a Muslim." [Al-Qur'an 3:101]

Striking A Balance

The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam has explained in many other ahadith that clinging to this world, loving it - whilst neglecting the Hereafter and giving a greater share to worldly matters at the expense of the Hereafter - is also from the causes of weakness amongst the Muslims. These narrations do not mean that a Muslim should ignore this world and not work for it, and become dependant upon others. Rather, he should work, in order to attain his sustenance and support himself so that he is not in need of others.

Indeed the words 'akhirah' (Hereafter) and 'dunya' (this worldly life) appear in the Qu'ran an equal number of times. This is an indication that a Muslim should maintain a balance between this world and the Hereafter, so he performs righteous deeds and seeks the pleasure of Allah; and he works in this world within the limits of the Shari'ah (Islamic Law) to obtain a lawful sustenance, in order to provide for himself and have no need to beg. However, if the balance is not kept, corruption appears. For example, if the 'Ummah inclines more to worldly matters - forgetting the Hereafter and the meeting with Allah - it is overcome with weakness and humiliation. If, however, the tendency is in the opposite direction, the 'Ummah forgets this world and then becomes in need of people - extending its hands towards them submissively. But the Muslim should be distinguished, strong and honourable - as Allah says in the Qu'ran: "And to Allah belongs all honour and to His Prophet and to the believers." [Al-Qur'an 63:8]

So the Muslim is obligated to maintain this balance. Therefore, one should be sincere in ones actions, intending with them the face of Allah and His good pleasure. However, rivalry for this world and love for it weakens the Muslims and debases them.

Rivalry for this World

'Amr ibn Awf al-Ansari radhiallahu 'anhu related that the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam sent Abu 'Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah (the trustworthy one of this 'Ummah) to Bahrain to bring back its jizyah. The Prophet had made a treaty with the people of Bahrain and had appointed over them Al-'Ala ibn Hadrami. Abu 'Ubaydah returned with the money. The Ansar came to hear of his arrival and went to pray Al-Fajr with the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. When the Prophet had finished the prayer he got up and left, so the Ansar approached him. He smiled and remarked: "I think you have all heard that Abu 'Ubaydah has returned with something." They replied: "Indeed O Messenger of Allah." He said: "Then be happy and hope for that which pleases you, for by Allah I do not fear poverty for you, but I fear that this world will be opened up for you, just as it was for those before you. So you will compete with one another for it, as they competed for it; and it will destroy you as it destroyed them."[8]

Another hadith which shows love of this world is a reason for ruin, is the hadith of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar in which he said: The Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "O Muhajirun! You may be afflicted with five things. Allah forbid that you should live to see them. (i) If fornication and adultery should become widespread, then you should know that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forefathers never suffered. (ii) If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods, you should realise that this has never happened without a drought and famine befalling the people and their rulers oppressing them. (iii) If people should withhold zakah, you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the sake of the animals, it would never rain again. (iv) If people should break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force. (v) If the leaders do not rule according to the book of Allah, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah making them into groups and making them fight one another."[9]

A Brief Explanation

"If fornication and adultery should become widespread, then you should know that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forefathers never suffered."

Meaning: If fahishah (evil actions and sexual iniquity) appears in the 'Ummah and fornication and adultery increases, then it will be accompanied by many strange diseases not known or experienced by those before, like AIDS and Syphilis. Diseases, which now cause so much fear in Western societies, like America and Europe. Since this fahishah has become widespread in these communities to a well-known degree, rather it is considered a sign of their progression. How can this be a sign of advancement? When the animals in the jungle are ashamed to commit what they do and the bare people in Africa and its forests feel too embarrassed. If nakedness was an evidence of progression, then the naked people of the African jungle would be the most advanced!

"If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods ... "

Meaning: Giving short measure is now a common thing, and is something unlawful. Allah destroyed a nation - the people of Shu'ayb 'alayhis-salam - because of this, as they did not show mercy to themselves or to others, so how can Allah show mercy to them. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Show mercy to one who is upon the earth, and the One above the sky will show mercy to you."[10]

"If people should withhold Zakah, you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the sake of the animals, it would never rain again."

Meaning: if it rains, then it is not because of them or the fact they deserve it, but it is because of the animals - as a mercy for them.

"If people should break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force."

For example: When the Muslims neglected the obedience to Allah, He gave the Jews the power and they took Palestine, and when were negligent about that which they were reminded of, Allah established the Christians over them and they took Spain; and when they were negligent yet again, Allah put the Christians in control in Bosnia.

"If the leaders do not rule according to the book of Allah ... "

Meaning: when they no longer implement the Laws of Allah, the Muslims will then fight and kill each other like what occurs in border disputes and so on.

The Initial Strangeness

Amongst those ahadith which also highlight the second form of weakness - that is, deviating from the guidance of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - is the hadith: "Islam started as a stranger and it will return to being a stranger in the same way it started, so Tuba (a tree in paradise) is for the strangers."[11]

Initially, Islam was strange and weak in Makkah, the disbelievers did not know of it. Then people began to believe in Islam and entered it in great numbers. It then spread, grew stronger and was no longer strange. Now, after its strength and spread, it has returned once again as a stranger as it first started. How can this be, when the Muslims are great in number and their lands are plenty? Because the Muslims no longer understand the Din, they are far from Islam - implementing other than the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, committing innovations in worship, whilst they think they are following Islam. So the correct Islam, the correct Sunnah, becomes far away from their lives - like a stranger amongst the people, they have no knowledge of it.

In Conclusion

How do we understand these ahadith which point out these weaknesses? Do we merely accept them and remain weak, dependant upon the West and remain far from our Din (religion)? The Prophet did not intend this for us, for he explained to us these things in order for us to flee from them - like a parent who says to his child: 'Do not go up this road, as there is a wild animal awaiting to eat you if you do!' So this is a warning from the parent to the child not to take that path. So:

  1. When the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam informed us of these events - which are not from him but from Allah, as he does not speak of his own desire but it is a revelation inspired to him - it is understood to be a prohibition of taking the path that leads to that.
  2. We have to work to repel these weaknesses; to fight them, reject them and not to be pleased with them - since it is an evil which has to be rejected.
  3. We have to acquire knowledge of the Qu'ran and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the Salaf as-Salih (Pious Predecessors - the first three generations of Muslims) in order to comprehend our state of affairs. However, if we rely on newspapers, magazines and the radio then these media sources belong to the disbelievers, the West. Will they be truthful in their narrations and in their solutions? Do they really want good for the Muslims? Indeed, they do not spread except that which weakens the Muslims and makes them falsely believe in the West. Thus, we must become people who have understanding of the book and the Sunnah to know exactly what our enemies want from us, and Allah has indeed informed us:
"Never will the Jews and the Christians be satisfied with you, until you follow their way."
Al-Qur'an 2:120

 From Al-Ibaanah Magazine, Issue No.1 - Dhul-Qa'dah 1415H / April 1995. The content is based on a talk delivered by the Shaykh at the Qu'ran and Sunnah Society Conference in America in 1993.

Footnotes

  1. Shirk: Associating partners with Allah in those matters which are particular to Allah ^back
  2. Kufr: Disbelief, denial and rejection ^back
  3. Taghut: All that is worshipped other than, or along with, Allah ^back
  4. Sahih: Related by Ahmad (5/33), Abu Dawud (1/388), Al-Hakim (4/510) - from 'Abdullah ibn Hawalah radhiallahu 'anhu. Shaykh Al-Albani authenticated it in Takhrij Ahadith Fada'il ash-Sham (no. 2) ^back
  5. Related by Al-Bukhari (1/436) and Muslim (5/3-4) from Jabir ibn 'Abdullah radhiallahu 'anhu ^back
  6. Related by Al-Bukhari (no. 7084) and Muslim (no. 1847) ^back
  7. Sahih: Related by Abu Dawud (no. 4606) and others. It was authenticated by Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar in Takhrij Ahadith Mukhtasar Ibn Al-Hajib ^back
  8. Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim ^back
  9. Hasan: Related by Ibn Majah (no. 4019) and Abu Nu'aym in Hilyatul-Awliyah (8/333-334), from 'Abdullah Ibn 'Umar radhiallahu 'anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh Al-Albani in As-Sahihah ^back
  10. Sahih: Related by Abu Dawud (no. 4941), At-Tirmidhi (1/350) and others, from 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr radhiallahu 'anhu. Al-Hafidh Al-'Iraqi authenticated it in Al-'Ishariyat (1/59) ^back
  11. Related by Muslim (2/175-176) and Ibn Majah (2/320), from Abu Hurayrah radhiallahu 'anhu ^back
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