Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462
The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasalam said: "Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through
trials (ordeals, suffering, difficulties).
Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment (happiness), and whoever is angry,
upon him is wrath (anger)."
All human beings are subjected to trials some time in life. The best way we Muslims can respond to these events is to examine ourselves, cool down the fire of these tribulations, remove their causes and reduce the effects of them to the bare minimum.
As Muslims, we pray and repent to Allah (SWT) to remove the trials that are afflicting the Muslim Ummah. We must perform righteous deeds and continue to help and support our unfortunate brothers and sisters who are facing military assaults, trials and tribulations.
Rasool Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, "Hasten to do good deeds before you are overtaken by one of the seven afflictions.'' Then (giving a warning) he said, "Are you waiting for such poverty which will make you unmindful of devotion; or prosperity (wealth) which will make you corrupt, or disease that will disable you, or such senility (old age) that will make you mentally unstable, or sudden death, or Ad-Dajjal who is the worst thing expected to come, or the Hour, and the Hour will be the most grievous and the most bitter".[At-Tirmidhi].
Allah (SWT) has warned the Muslims in the Noble Qur'an with trials, if they turn away from the religion of their Lord and His laws. The word trial here includes all kinds of punishments like killings, disasters, imposing of a tyrant ruler and disease.
Allah wants good for a person, He afflicts him.
When Muslims are tested one can distinguish between the faithful Muslims and the liars; between the sincere Muslims and the opportunists.
Muslims should seek redress(remedy) against the trials by holding fast onto the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Allah (SWT) says, “Then, whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress (suffering) and misery (sadness).” (Taa Haa, 20: 123). Muslims should implement the commands of these two pure sources in every aspect of their lives.
Supplication (Du'a) is also one of the means of facing trials for there is no power except with Allah. It is recommended for Muslims to supplicate to their Lord during trials. Muslims should try to purify their hearts through good deeds which strengthen the hearts during trials.
Perseverance (persistence, determination) and piety (Taqwa) are also good protection against the trials. One is saved from tribulations by turning to Allah sincerely and invoking Him truthfully. Prophet Yusuf (AS) was saved because of his sincerity and the people of the Cave were saved because of their truthfulness. So whoever is more perfect in faith (Imaan) and remembrance (Dhikr) will have greater protection and defence from Allah and whoever has less faith and remembrance gets less defence and protection.
How should we react to trials and persecution? We need to learn from the life of the Noble Prophet. The Prophet and his followers were subjected to some persecution and indignity. The hostile Quraish prevented the Prophet (SAS) from offering his prayers at the Sacred House of the Ka'ba; they pursued him wherever he went; they covered him and his disciples with dirt and filth. The Prophet suffered all kinds of insults. Thorns were placed in his way. Garbage, dirt, and smelly camels’ intestines were thrown at him. People laughed and mocked him. The Prophet and the Muslims remained patient and prayed to God for help. Amidst all these trials the Prophet did not falter (hesitate). He was full of confidence in his mission, even though on several occasions he faced imminent danger of losing his life. The non-believers thought that the best way to stop the progress of Islam was to kill the Prophet.
The Prophet continued preaching to the Arabs in a most gentle and reasonable manner. He used inspiring words which excited the hearts of his listeners, he warned them of the punishment which Allah had inflicted upon the ancient tribes of 'Ad and Thamud who had stubbornly disobeyed the teachings of Allah's messengers to them. He spoke to them of the Day of Reckoning, when their deeds in this world will be weighed before the Eternal Judge, when the children who had been buried alive will be asked for what crime they were put to death.
The Quraish were alarmed as the number of believers increased by the conversions of many powerful citizens. Their power and prestige were at peril. They were the custodians of the idols, which the Prophet had threatened to destroy; they were the ministers of the worship, which he denounced. In fact their existence and livelihood completely depended upon the preservation of the old institutions. The Prophet taught that in the sight of his Lord all humans were equal, the only distinction recognized among them being the weight of their piety (Taqwa).
The Quraish organized a system of persecution in order to suppress the movement before it became firmly established. With the exception of the Prophet, who was protected by Abu Talib and his kinsmen, and Abu Bakr(RA), all other converts were subjected to different sorts of torture. Some of them were thrown into prison, starved, and then flogged. The hill of Ramada and the place called Bata thus became scenes of cruel torture.
One day the Quraish tried to persuade the Prophet to stop his teachings of the new religion. 'Utba Ibn Rabi'a, was entrusted to see the Prophet and speak to him. 'Utba said: "O son of my brother, you have spread conflict among our people and cast disagreement in our families; you condemned our gods and goddesses and you accuse our ancestors with sinfulness. Now we came to make a proposition to you, if you intend to acquire riches, honors, and dignity, we are willing to collect for you a fortune larger than what is possessed by any one of us; we shall make you our chief and we will not do anything without your approval. If you desire dominion, we shall make you our king; and if the demon which possesses you cannot be restrained or controlled, we will bring you doctors and give them riches until they cure you." The Prophet, recited to him the first thirteen verses of Surah Fussilat, (Surah No. 41) which covers the topics of Tawhid, Aakhirah, creation of the universe and the fate of the people of Ad and Thamud. After finishing his recitation, Rasool Allah (SAS) said to 'Utba: "This is my reply to your proposition; now take what direction you find best."
Persecution by the Quraish grew fiercer every day and the sufferings of the Prophet's followers became unbearable. He had heard of the righteousness, tolerance, and hospitality of the neighboring Christian king of Abyssinia, Al Najashi (Negus). He recommended those of his companions who were without protection to seek refuge in the kingdom of that pious king. Some fifteen of the unprotected adherents of Islam promptly availed themselves of the advice and sailed to Abyssinia. Here they were welcomed with a very kind reception from Negus. This is called the first hijrah (migration) in the history of Islam and occurred in the fifth year of the Prophet Muhammad's mission, i.e., 615 CE. These emigrants were soon followed by many of their fellow sufferers, until the number reached eighty-three men and eighteen women.
The hostile Quraish, furious at the escape of their victims, sent deputies to the king of Abyssinia to request him to deliver up the refugees, so that they might be put to death for adjuring their old religion and embracing a new one. The king summoned the poor fugitives and inquired of them what was the religion, which they had adopted in preference to their old faith. Ja'far (RA), son of Abu Talib and brother of Imam 'Ali (RA), acted as spokesman for the exiles. He spoke thus: "O king, we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism, we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, and we ate dead bodies, and we spoke abomination (disgrace or outrage), we disregarded every feeling of humanity and sense of duty towards our neighbors, and we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allah raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware. He called us to profess the Unity of Allah and taught us to associate nothing with Him; he forbade us the worship of idols and enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful, and to regard the rights of neighbors; he forbade us to speak evil, to worship Allah and not to return to the worship of idols of wood and stone and to abstain from evil, to offer prayers, to give alms, to observe the fast. We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions (commands) to worship Allah alone and to associate nothing with Him. Hence our people have persecuted us, trying to make us forego the worship of Allah and return to the worship of idols of wood and stone and other abominations (disgraceful things). They have tortured us and injured us. Finding no safety among them, we have come to your kingdom, trusting, you will give us protection against their persecution."
After hearing the above speech, the hospitable king ordered the deputies to return to their people in safety and not to interfere with their fugitives. Thus the emigrants passed the period of exile in peace and comfort.
While the followers of the Prophet sought safety in foreign lands against the persecution of their people, he (prophet) continued his warnings to the Quraish more energetically (vigorously) than ever.
The Prophet used to declare to the disbelievers that the Qur'an is a book of blessings which is a warning for the whole world; it is a complete guidance and explains everything necessary; it is a reminder of what is imprinted on human nature and is free from every discrepancy and from error and falsehood. It is a book of true guidance and a light to all.
As the Quraish multiplied (intensified) their persecution, the Prophet, nevertheless, continued his preaching and responded to the hostility of his enemies with calmness and patience. In the face of all opposition and increased persecution, the new faith grew and expanded. The national fair at Okadh near Mecca attracted many desert Bedouins and trading citizens from distant towns. They listened to the teachings of the Prophet, to his admonitions (warnings), and to his condemnations of their sacred idols and of their superstitions. When they returned to their distant homes, they told the people what they heard and thus the advent of the Prophet was made known to almost all parts of the Arabian peninsula.
The residents of Makkah were infuriated (angry) at the Prophet's increasing preaching against their religion. As the Prophet persisted in his enthusiastic condemnation against their ungodliness and impiety, they turned him out from the Ka'ba where he used to sit and preach, and subsequently all of them went to Abu Talib. They urged the venerable(respected) chief to prevent his nephew from abusing their gods or uttering any bad words against their ancestors. They warned Abu Talib that if he failed, he (Abu Talib) would be excluded from the communion of his people and driven to side with Muhammad (SAS); the matter would then be settled by fight until one of the two parties were exterminated.
Abu Talib was neutral and he spoke to the Prophet very softly and pleaded him to abandon his mission. The Prophet firmly replied: "O my uncle, if they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand and ask me to give up my mission, verily I would not cease (discontinue) there from until Allah made manifest (visible) His cause or I perished in the attempt."
The Quraish again failed to impress upon Abu Talib to abandon his nephew. The esteemed chief declared his intention to protect his nephew against any danger or violence. He appealed to the sense of honor of the two families of Bani Hashim and Bani Muttalib, both families being related to the Prophet, to protect their member from falling a victim to the hatred of rival parties. All the members of the two families graciously responded to the appeal of Abu Talib except Abu Lahab, one of the Prophet's uncles, who took part with the persecutors.
During this period, 'Umar Al-Khattab (RA) adopted Islam. In him the new faith gained a valuable adherent and an important factor in the future development and propagation of Islam. Until then, he had been an aggressive opposer of the Prophet and a bitter enemy of Islam. His conversion is credited to the miraculous effect on his mind of a Surah (Ta Ha, # 20) of the Qur'an, which his sister was reading in her house, where he had gone with the intention of killing her for embracing Islam. Thus the party of the Prophet had been strengthened by the conversions of his uncle Hamza, a man of great valor and merit; and of Abu Bakr and 'Umar, both men of great influence and status. The Muslims now decided to perform their devotions in public.
At the end of the 11th century, the Christians spread the news that the Muslims were attacking pilgrimages to Jerusalem, then the Holy Land became an object of legitimate desire for people of the Christian faith. Muslims attacking the pilgrims to Jerusalem was purely a rumor, like that spread in the communal newspapers today. An example is the Gujarat riots in India in 2002.
In the First Crusade, the Crusader conquests were held by only a handful of professional troops. It is clearly amazing that neither the Turks nor the Fatimids were able to annihilate such a tiny European force in their midst, and a force that did not receive substantial reinforcement for more than a decade. Perhaps it might be useful for modern Islamic societies to remember that foreigners were only able to intervene militarily because of inter-Arab divisions (even in 1097 CE, the Sunni-Shia split was an open wound) and foolish leadership. In military terms, the Crusades should have been a non-event; the Fatimid navy dominated the eastern Mediterranean and the Seljuk Turks dominated central Turkey with a large, powerful army. However the greatest result of the Crusades was a Sunni Muslim revival that "resulted in less tolerance of Shia Muslims". We are still feeling the results of this revival to this day.
Muslims lost Andalusia or southern Spain because of internal squabbles among Muslims that resulted into a divided Islamic world. There was no unity. There was corruption among the Muslims. Muslims lost the qualities of courage, virility, energy, spirituality, leadership and solidarity that helped them to survive and prosper against their enemies.
The weaknesses of the Muslims today are: Poverty, Illiteracy, Disunity, Corruption, poor leadership, autocracy, lack of Imaan.
The strengths of the Muslims today are: a population of 1.4 billion Muslims, vast lands and natural resources. If all the Muslim countries are united and all the Muslims are united under one leader - a Khalifa then the Muslims become the most powerful nation on earth.
If Muslims can remove five things they can remove the obstacles to becoming great. These are: (1) Ignorance (2) Laziness (3) Inefficiency (4) Addiction to Alcohol (5) Addiction to Gambling. There are about 37 unlawful acts in Islamic Law, but these five are the most dangerous because they cancel all of our progress and open the gates of destruction.
Allah revealed Islam to us to turn our world into Paradise and a Peaceful place. Not understanding Islam, people only focused attention on the hereafter (Aakhirah) and neglected this world, at the same time turned it into a hell. The chief characteristic of Islam is that it makes no distinction between the Spiritual and the Secular in life. It should be obvious to Muslims that nobody should assume to have a guarantee to enter Paradise. Entering Paradise is a gift from Allah(SWT) in whose forgiveness and generosity we take refuge.
Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an in Surah Baqarah, 2: 214 "Do you think that you will enter paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out "When will Allah's help come?" Then they were comforted with the good tidings, "Yes, Allah's help is near."
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