Praise be to Allah.
Mankind was one nation, believing in Tawheed, then they differed. Some of them believed and some disbelieved. So Allah sent the Prophets AS with glad tidings and warnings, so whoever believes will enter Paradise and whoever disbelieves will enter Hell. The conflict is still going on between belief and disbelief, truth and falsehood, and will continue until Allah inherits the earth and everyone on it.
Islam is the religion for all of mankind, and Allah has commanded us to convey it to all people. This can only be achieved if we are strong, and strength is based on faith and unity. Hence Allah has commanded all the believers to adhere to His religion and to be united, and not to be divided. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves
[Aal ‘Imran 3:103]
Division, differences and disputes are the cause of the ummah’s defeat, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength departs, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Saabiroon (the patient)”
Unity and coming together are among the basic principles of Islam, and there are many aspects of unity in Islam, such as One Lord, one Book, one Prophet, one religion, one qiblah, one ummah.
In order to achieve the unity of the ummah, Islam urges us to adhere to the jama’ah (the group which follows the Qur’an and Sunnah). The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained that the hand of Allah is with the jama’ah, and that whoever deviates from that will be in Hell. Allah has enjoined coming together for all acts of worship in order to achieve this unity. Allah addresses the Ummah as one group in all rulings to indicate that they are one ummah, like one body. There is no difference between them; the commands and prohibitions are addressed to all.
Dearest brothers and sisters of the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), when we look around the globe today we see the Ummah has become selfish. We don’t see anyone caring for the Ummah, looking out for others and showing empathy towards those who are needy and the suffering. We see an Ummah suffering form individualism, everyone cares about ‘his own’. His own family, his own house, his own children, his own job, his own life and his own future.
The Ummah is devoid of men and women who stand up for the Ummah, who cry for the Ummah. Or even brothers and sisters who PRAY for the Ummah – Allahul Musta’aan.
I absolutely loathe selfishness and self-centred, self-absorbed, self-conceited individuals. If everyone is going to just care for themselves, who will stand up for the oppressed? Who will speak up for those who have been wronged? Who will stop injustice? Who will free the innocent prisoners? Who will protect the orphans and the widows? Who will be there for the lonely ones and the elderly? If you and I refuse to help them and ignore their cries, then I swear by Allah on His Majestic throne – nobody will help them! Nobody! Simply because we were too bothered and busy about earning the next dollar! We were too engrossed in keeping ourselves in shape. Wealth made us negligent. Materialism deceived us in thinking the world is forever.
If the above is true, then may I ask, what difference is there between us and animals? Animals just eat and rest and sleep, so do we. So do those who disbelieve in Allah.
“Let them (disbelievers) eat and enjoy themselves and be diverted by [false] hope, for they are going to know.” (15:3)
This story may only be an anecdote, but it reflects a very powerful lesson:
In a forest, there lived three bulls: a red bull, a black bull and a white bull. Among them lived a lion. The lion never felt he was king of the forest. He felt outnumbered by three bulls, which he was.
One day, the lion said to the red bull and the black bull: “That white bull is so large and white and can be spotted easily in through the trees of our forest. My colour is similar to yours. Let me eat the white bull, and the three of us will blend in well together. Then we will be safe in the forest.”
The red bull and the black bull said: “Go ahead, eat him.”
So the lion ate the white bull.
A few days later, the lion said to the red bull: “You and I look alike, your colour and mine are similar. What do you say I eat the black bull, and the forest will be ours.”
The red bull replied: “Go ahead, eat him.”
And so the lion ate the black bull.
A few days later the lion said to the red bull: “Today I think I will eat you.”
The red bull said: “Let me call my friends to rescue me!”
The lion replied: “Go ahead, call them.”
But the red bull cried out instead in dismay: “I know was eaten the day the white bull was eaten.”
Now reflect upon this Hadith:
Thawban – radiallahu ‘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.
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:-
- 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.
- 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.
- The ‘Ummah has reached a level where it cannot defend its honour, riches nor wealth from its conquering enemies.
- 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 takes 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 Yemen and beware. For indeed Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – has guaranteed ash-Sham and its people for me.” Sahih: Related by Ahmad (5/33), Abu Dawud (1/388).
- 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 travelled 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… “ Related by al-Bukhari (1/436) and Muslim (5/3-4) from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah radiallahu ‘anhu. Allah the – the Highest – 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 they’re 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 every day. 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.
O Lord of the Worlds, O Ever-living One, O Self-Existing One!
O Allah! Unite the Muslims.
O Allah! Save us from disunity.
O Allah! Make us brothers like the Ansaar RA and the Muhajireen RA.
O Allah! Protect us from Racism and Nationalism.
O Allah! Save us from differences.
O Allah! Help us to be One.
O Allah! Grant us sympathy and empathy for the Ummah.
O Allah! Save us from selfishness.
Ameen Ya Rabbal-Alameen.
Ismail Ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s Forgiveness, Mercy and Pleasure).
1 Muharram 1437
Ya Rabb! Place the reward of this article in the scales of my Late Father RH, in his mizaan of Hasanaat. I believe he was a man who stood up for the Ummah, he wasn’t a selfish man. He believed in Unity and empathy. He taught me dignity and self respect. I learned from him not to ‘go with the flow’, rather be a force against the tide – no matter what the pressure, no matter what the odds are. And never fear the criticism of the critics. Most importantly, he taught me how to place all reliance on Allah. Because, if Allah can’t help you, nobody can! Two years after his demise, his legacy remains in sha Allah…
by Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafidhahullāh
By Khalid Baig – (From the book ‘First Things First’)
The article below is adapted from two talks of Mufti Muhammad Shafi (Allah have mercy on him) given in 1963 and published in the booklet Wahdat e Ummat.
“I gave a lot of thought to the causes of the sorry state of the Ummah, during the years of captivity in Malta,” said Shaykh-ul-Hind Mawlana Mahmoodul Hassan (Allah have mercy upon him). It was 1920, and at 69 not only was he one of the most distinguished scholars of his time, he had also spent a lifetime in political struggle. His audience was a gathering of Ulama, eager to hear the lessons of a lifetime of study, struggle and reflection. His conclusion: “Our problems are caused by two factors; abandoning the Qur’an and our infighting.” He spent the few remaining days of his life addressing these causes.
The reasons Shaykhul Hind (Allah have mercy upon him) stated are as valid today as they were then. They are also related; the second being caused by the first. The Qur’an had declared us as one Ummah and had warned us against infighting. We have ignored those teachings and the billion-strong Ummah has turned into an Ummah fragmented into a billion segments.
A very large number of our internal battles are the result of narrowly defined self-interest. Islam could have been the force that helped us overcome that. Unfortunately, instead of letting it fulfil that role, today we have made even religion provide us with additional and irresolvable points of conflict. We fight over petty issues of fiqh. We fight over fine points of religious interpretation. We turn minor points of religious law into big battlegrounds while most important and fundamental teachings of religion are violated.
We all do this even as this religion has been under attack from all directions. Thousands of people become apostates every year in Pakistan. Qadianis (who declare Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian to be a prophet), and munkireen e hadith have been busy attracting our new generation to their falsehoods. Haram is being declared as Halal. Our masses are ignorant of their religion and easily indulge in customs borrowed from polytheists. On top of all that is the western culture of hedonism, of shamelessness, of moral anarchy, that is invading our societies through film, television, radio and obscene literature.[And we might add now the internet.] Corruption of all sorts has permeated all layers of our society. Should not we be reflecting on this and asking ourselves what would the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) expect of us, the heirs of the Prophets? In the hereafter shall we be able to give a sufficient answer by mentioning that we wrote a book on rafa-yadain (the issue of raising hands during certain movements in obligatory prayer)?
Once I saw Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (Allah have mercy upon him) in a very sad mood. What is the matter? I asked. “I have wasted my whole life,” he said. “You have spent your entire life in spreading Islamic teachings. Thousands of your disciples are themselves Ulama who are serving the religion. If that is a waste, what hope can anyone else have?” I insisted. “Look, what has been the main thrust of all our efforts,” he replied. “It has been to show why Hanafi school is better than others. Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy upon him) did not need this. His grandeur did not need our approval. Imam Shafi’ee (Allah have mercy upon him), Imam Malik (Allah have mercy upon him) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy upon him) could not care less about it. All that one can ever prove in these matters is that a certain position is right but has the probability of being wrong and the other position is wrong but has the probability of being right. Moreover, these issues will not be resolved even in the hereafter. For Allah (be He glorified) will not humiliate Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi’ee, Imam Malik or Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal by showing that they were in error.” Then he added: “Today when the roots of Islam are under attack, we have been busy taking care of the leaves.”
It is not that debates or disagreements in religious interpretation are themselves evil. Today, many western educated Muslims, with scant understanding of their religion do think that way. Some even suggest that we should bury all fiqhi schools and create a new one. This is neither possible nor desirable. Difference of opinion are inevitable wherever people have both intellect and honesty. Complete consensus on every issue is only possible when everyone is dumb, so they cannot think of a different idea, or they are dishonest so they willingly agree with a position they consider wrong. After all religious interpretations are not so personal rights that can be sacrificed away.
The problem rather occurs when we overstate these differences. There were difference of opinions in Fiqh amongst the companions, the Successors and great Mujtahideen. They disagreed but did they not turn these into fights. They disagreed but they maintained respect and love for each other.
The brotherhood remained intact.
They had tolerance for the other view.
How can we have tolerance for something we know is wrong? Of course we cannot have any tolerance for anything clearly established as wrong by the Qur’an or Hadith. We can never show accommodation for apostasy. We can never agree on changing the Shariah’s established definitions of halal and haram. But beyond this there are issues about which the Qur’an and Sunnah are silent or are subject to more than one interpretation.
Here the Mujtahideen deduce the intent of the Qur’an and Sunnah based on their based ability. Here disagreements are possible. As long as those involved are qualified Mujtahideen (like the four respected Imams), their differing views have to be respected. We can follow only one opinion, and we should try and determine the one closest to the intent of the Shariah, but we cannot declare opposing views as evil. We exaggerate when we deal with people holding valid opposing views as if they were outside the bounds of Islam.
Overstatement (ghuloo) is the main cause of most fights involving our religious groups. It also happens with Islamic organizations. Most are doing useful work in the areas they have chosen based on their abilities and inclinations. Had they developed a spirit of cooperation and considered their differences as just a natural division of labour, together they could have become a formidable force. Unfortunately, each one of them considers their work and methodology as the only methodology for Islamic work. If a person leaves one of these organizations to join another, he is treated as if he recanted his faith. This is ghuloo. It produces the tribalism of Jahiliya (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance) among religious workers.
Pious people are not extinct today. What we sorely need are the reformers who can rise above their narrow perspectives and heed the universal and unifying call of Islam
The ship and the lifeboats (This section contains Khalid Baig’s reflections on the above).
The above comments of Mufti Muhammad Shafi (Allah have mercy upon him) regarding ghuloo (overstatement) and tribalism in Islamic workers need to be understood in light of Muslim experience with colonialism and its aftermath. Colonialism had hit them hard. It subjugated them physically, politically, economically, culturally and mentally. It was like a big crash in which their ship was destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, survival was the main goal, and people came with whatever lifeboats they could. After the formal ending of direct colonial rule after decades of struggle, there was the time to pick up the pieces and build the ship again. The problem is they had been living in the lifeboats for so long, they confused them with the ships. They still do.
The schools for secular education were one such lifeboat. They imparted some skills necessary for survival in a changed world, although they impoverished Muslim education and society tremendously in so many ways. But today so many well-meaning people who get excited about spreading education in the Muslim world think of nothing more than establishing more of these same schools. Campaigns for “democracy,” whatever it means, were another such lifeboat, aimed at returning control of Muslim affairs to them thereby seeking liberation. Today, democracy or no democracy, nowhere do Muslims have any control over their affairs, but this lifeboat has become a ship and Khilafah, the Islamic system of governance, remains a strange entity.
Most important, Islamic organizations were such a lifeboat, aimed at gathering likeminded people so they could focus their resources and energies on some of the important things. Islamic teachings encompass our entire life and no private organisation can handle all of them to the exclusion of others. Charity is a big part of Islam and it needs organized efforts. So does Islamic education. And calling to Islam. And amr-bil-maroof-wa-nahee-anil-munkar. And the struggle on the battlefield. And so on. Those engaged in media, political, charitable, or other struggles are all part of the jihad. In the absence of the Khilafah, these are all lifeboats. Yet each of them is considered to be the ship by its occupants and captains, thereby creating new lines of cleavage within the Ummah.
The claim that what an organization is doing is the task that needs to be done and the way it is doing it, is the only Islamically legitimate way of doing it, is as damaging as it is common. It helps recruitment for a particular organization but hurts the overall cause. It may make the riders of the lifeboat feel good, but it pushes further the day when we can build the ship again. Little do we realize that one cannot live forever in the lifeboats.
The attitude also betrays lack of appreciation of the current situation of the Ummah. Since the formal end of colonialism we have been living with its legacies. One of them is an education system that we embraced as a ticket out of our miseries during that period of oppression; it compounded our problems by producing self-doubt and self-hate. It produced generations of perfect strangers within the house of Islam, who were then – for this “acheivement” – given leadership roles in all areas of Muslim societies. They hated their languages, their culture, and their religion. It is such people who rule the Muslim world today.
Simultaneously, a whole gamut of institutions, from sophisticated research centers to slick media, is dedicated to the campaign to sow doubts, to spread confusion, and to denigrate Islam. In hot spot after hot spot around the world, the sword is busy prosecuting a war on Islam. The pen is busy in both conducting a war on Islam and in trying to foment a war within Islam.
With that armada arrayed against it, not only the ship is missing here, but the lifeboats cannot even make a fleet because of their illusion that each of them is not a lifeboat but the ship.
This is not to suggest that the situation is entirely hopeless. For these are also the times when people all over the world are coming to Islam in unprecedented numbers. At a time when Muslims have lost control of the sword and the pen, Islam is finding new followers everywhere everyday. (It is quite revealing that even as Islam continues to spread despite the sword, some people continue to insist that it spread by the sword).
Within the Muslim world there are signs of awakening. Muslims are coming back to Islam after having toyed with one false ideology after another. More women are choosing Hijab and are becoming more assertive about it as a symbol of their Islamic identity. There is a greater interest in Islamic knowledge. Qur’an lectures are attracting crowds that were not seen in the past. The nature of the questions people ask about Islam is also changing. There are more “how to” and “what to” questions than “why” questions coming from the secular educated groups. As a small indicator of the new trend, the Biswa Ijtimas (annual gatherings of Tablighi Jamat in Bangladesh) lately have attracted around two million attendees. What is more, they come from widely varying segments of society. A parallel growth can be seen in Islamic activism. Politics, media, relief and charity, education, and community service are all attracting new workers and new organizations. There is new enthusiasm, new energy, and new awareness.
Can we imagine how much speedier our recovery could be if we rose above our petty perspectives, pooled our resources, and recognised the difference between the lifeboats and the ship?
Allah purify our hearts and unify our souls. Ameen.