During his Caliphate, 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, once set out for Ash-Sham (Damascus) and with him was Abu 'Ubaydah. They came upon a deep creek which they needed to cross. So 'Umar took off his sandals and carried them on his shoulders. Then he took the reign of the camel and began ploughing through the water. Abu 'Ubaydah - seeing the Leader (khalifah) of the Muslims in this state - felt saddened and said, "I fear that the people of the village will think you without any honour." 'Umar said:
"Oh Abu 'Ubaydah, if only someone less knowledgeable then you made such a statement! We were of the most disgraced of people and Allah granted us honour with Islam. Now, whenever we seek honour in other than that which Allah honoured us with, Allah shall disgrace us (once again)."
Dear brothers and sisters, we hear often that the victory of Allah is something promised and very near. However, some of us do not really believe in our hearts that Allah will grant victory to Islam. Some of us may think that this victory that Allah speaks about is only for a certain 'star-status' group of believers, or that the victory was only for a certain time in history, or that it's not a promised victory, just a miraculous will of God ...
We must understand that it is not anyone who is promising this - it is Allah the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. And it is not just a promise of the Hereafter but it is promised in this life as well. Allah says:
"Indeed, we will grant victory to Our Messengers and those who believe in this life of the world and on the day when the witnesses will stand."
We can only hope for victory when we surrender our loyalty to Allah and His Messenger and to the believers - and no one else! Allah says:
"And whoever is an ally of Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed - indeed the party of Allah will be the victors."
Honour and victory come only from Allah. Nothing awaits whoever seeks it from other than Allah but disgrace. Allah says:
"Give glad tidings to the hypocrites (munafiqin) that there is for them a painful punishment - those that take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do they seek with them honour ('izzah)? Rather, to Allah indeed belongs all honour!"
And when someone thinks that this victory and honour that was promised to the righteous is only a delusion, they are in fact recycling the statements of the hypocrites before them. Allah recorded their scoffing:
"And (remember) when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is disease said, 'Allah and His Messenger did not promise us anything more then delusion.'"
Was the promise of victory just a delusion? Let the Qur'an speak to us the outcome - dear brothers and sisters - of that battle of Al-Ahzab! Allah tells us:
"And Allah repelled those who disbelieved, in their rage, not having accomplished any good. And enough was Allah for the believers in battle, and ever is Allah Powerful and Exalted in Might."
Ibn Kathir said:
"Whoever wants a place of honour in this life and the next, let him hold firmly to the obedience of Allah - his goal will be realised. This is because to Allah belongs this life and next and all honour is His. Allah says (3:26), 'Say, 'O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honour whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is (all) good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.'' "
King, prince, duke, marquise, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, and knight - these were the names the English used to appropriate nobility amongst themselves. Humans want to be honoured in this life and so they set out in search of things that will grant them this honour.
Some search for it in money - but when a stock market crashes and they lose everything, they commit suicide or live in humility. Some search for it in degrees - but those same degrees may be their citation for arrogance over others. Some search for it in military might or leadership position - but when the tables turn on them they become the most humiliated.
Only in the worship of Allah is true honour found, because all honour belongs to Allah:
"And to Allah belongs all honour, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not."
Al-Hasan al-Basri said concerning the people of sin, "They - even though their riding beasts pitter patter with them atop, and their mules carry them ever so gracefully, upon them at all times is the hovering disgrace of sin. Allah shall never allow for those who disobey Him anything more then disgrace."
"And whoever Allah humiliates - for him there is no one to give him honour."
'He's doing what? Building a boat in the desert?!' The people of Noah ran out to see if the news was true. Um-hmm, there he was indeed, building a huge boat without a drop of water in site. Allah tells us:
"And he constructed the ark - whenever a group of the eminent of his people passed him they mocked him."
They couldn't help themselves but to ridicule him. 'Hey Noah, you were a Prophet yesterday - have you now become a carpenter?!' What happened, dear brothers and sisters, to those devilish people who disbelieved in Allah's Messenger for 950 years - where are they now? And who was the winner in the end?
Certainly, in the end Allah granted a decisive victory to Noah. More so, Allah tells His Prophet, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, at the conclusion of Noah's story how victory will always be for the believers:
"So be patient, indeed, the (best) outcome is (and will always be) for the righteous."
In their misguided quest for honour, the Greeks designated a female god whose sole job was to dispense victory and honour. She was a popular subject in their art, usually represented as winged and bearing a wreath or palm branch. They called her Nike. And many of us leaving this khutbah may still sadly find remnants of their shirk present today on our shoes.
The Prophet, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, said:
"Indeed this affair (of Islam) shall reach wherever the night and day reach. Allah will not spare a single clay or wabar home except that Allah will cause for Islam to enter it - whether with nobility or with humiliation. Nobility that Allah grants with them entering Islam, or humility that Allah places upon them for their kufr (disbelief)."
The narrator of the hadith, Tamim ad-Dari, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
"Certainly, I saw this in my own family. Those that become Muslim amongst them found prosperity and nobility and honour. And those that turned to kufr found nothing but disgrace and humility and the jizyah tax (a tax paid by non-Muslims living in the Islamic state)."
There are different ways in which Allah grants victory to His righteous servants: Allah may grant victory through martyrdom. We read in the Qur'an Allah telling us to not think that those who were killed in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive with Allah, well provided for.
Allah may grant victory through the huge success in spreading one's da'wah. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, taught us this in the story of the boy and the king. In the end, the only way the king could kill the boy was to shoot the arrow pronouncing the statement, 'In the Name of the Lord of this boy.' When he did so, although the boy was martyred, the entire village believed in Allah, Alone, the Lord of the boy.
Allah may grant victory through the trials that distinguish the believers from the hypocrites. As a sage once said, "All thanks are to Allah who places a hardship on me through which I distinguish my friends from my enemies."
Or victory may come through Allah assisting his servant with clear and decisive arguments. An example of this is how Allah supported Abraham, peace be upon him, against the tyrant Namrud when he said that he too gives life and death. Abraham replied that verily Allah brings the sun from the east so bring it ye from the west. Namrud was dumbfounded and had no reply.
In conclusion, we all know that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, started this mission of Islam at the Mountain of Safa. After telling his people about Allah and the Final Day, Abu Jahl - his own uncle - turned his back on him and said aloud, "May you perish O Muhammad! Is this why you have gathered us?" On his heels he turned and everyone followed him, leaving our Prophet, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, standing alone.
Two decades later, in the farewell hajj, he, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, stood on that very same mountain. At this time, the victory of Allah had come true as Allah had promised. All of Makkah was now Muslim, a sea of believers memorising their Prophet's every move. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah send His prayers and blessings upon him, stood there on Mount Safa and faced the Ka'bah and recited:
"There is no god but Allah. Only One. He was true to His promise. He granted victory to His servant. He granted honour and nobility to his army. And the confederates did He - alone - defeat."