The Way Forward – Part 2

In Sura Isra Allahﷻ mentioned two historic events.

وَقَضَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ فِى ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَتُفْسِدُنَّ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَلَتَعْلُنَّ عُلُوًّا كَبِيرًا

فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ أُولَىٰهُمَا بَعَثْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ عِبَادًا لَّنَآ أُو۟لِى بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ فَجَاسُوا۟ خِلَـٰلَ ٱلدِّيَارِ وَكَانَ وَعْدًا مَّفْعُولًا

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَا لَكُمُ ٱلْكَرَّةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَمْدَدْنَـٰكُم بِأَمْوَٰلٍ وَبَنِينَ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ أَكْثَرَ نَفِيرًا

إِنْ أَحْسَنتُمْ أَحْسَنتُمْ لِأَنفُسِكُمْ وَإِنْ أَسَأْتُمْ فَلَهَا فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ لِيَسُـۥٓـُٔوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَلِيُتَبِّرُوا۟ مَا عَلَوْا۟ تَتْبِيرًا

عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يَرْحَمَكُمْ وَإِنْ عُدتُّمْ عُدْنَا وَجَعَلْنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلْكَـٰفِرِينَ حَصِيرًا

Isra 17: 4- 8    And We warned the Children of Israeel in the Scripture, “You will certainly cause corruption in the land twice, and you will become extremely arrogant. “When the first of the two warnings would come to pass, We would send against you some of Our slaves of great might, who would ravage your homes. This would be a warning fulfilled. Then ˹after your repentance˺ We would give you the upper hand over them and aid you with wealth and offspring, causing you to outnumber them. If you act rightly, it is for your own good, but if you do wrong, it is your own loss. “And when the second warning would come to pass, your enemies would ˹be left to˺ totally disgrace you and enter the Temple ˹of Jerusalem˺ as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever would fall into their hands. Perhaps your Rabb will have mercy on you ˹if you repent˺, but if you return ˹to sin˺, We will return ˹to punishment˺. And We have made Hell a ˹permanent˺ confinement for the disbelievers.”

In the first instance, in 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonians besieged Jerusalem which fell after a 30-month siege, following which the Babylonians systematically destroyed the city and the First Temple. The Kingdom of Judah was dissolved and many of its inhabitants were taken as slaves to Babylon. The second siege of Jerusalem of 70 CE was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), in which the Roman army led by future emperor Titus besieged Jerusalem, and following a five-month siege, the Romans destroyed the city and the Second Jewish Temple and enslaved and deported the survivors. There were no Jews left in Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was thoroughly sacked by the Romans. Buildings, homes, and walls were torn down, leaving the city in ruins. The level of devastation was such that Josephus claimed that those who visited the city after its destruction could scarcely believe it had ever been inhabited.

In this period mentioned in the Qur’an, it was the Bani Israeel who were the Khair Ummah of the time. Allahﷻ said that they were living lives of disobedience and refused to repent, so Allahﷻ allowed His warlike slaves to enter the holy city and destroy it and enslave the Muslims. Allahﷻ didn’t say that this was because of what the people in Jerusalem were doing, but because of what the Bani Israeel where doing generally wherever they lived. That is why many scholars have quoted these Ayaat and said that Jerusalem is a meter to check the health of the Muslim Ummah. This is also what Sayyidina Omar ibn Al-Khattab (R) mentioned in his letter. Today as we see what is happening in Filastine we must reflect on how we may be the reason it is happening. Like excess cholesterol harms the heart, not the mouth or stomach, our actions can cause results elsewhere.

To understand this logic let us look at another famous incident, the disobedience of the archers in Uhud. Rasoolullahﷺ  put 50 archers on the small hill near Uhud and gave them specific instructions: ‘Protect our backs. If you see us being killed don’t come to our aid. If you see us winning, do not join us. If you see the vultures flying off with us, don’t leave until I send you a message and if you see us trampling the enemy under our feet don’t leave until I send you a message.’ Very clear instructions.

The Muslims were winning and when the Quraysh fled, it looked like the battle was over. The Muslim soldiers got into the camp of the Quraysh and started collecting booty. There was great rejoicing and claims of victory. The archers on the hill who Rasoolullahﷺ had placed there for just such an eventuality with clear instructions not to abandon their post no matter what happened, disobeyed him. When they saw the Muslims gathering booty they wanted to go down and join them. Their commander Abdullah bin Jubair (R) reminded them of the orders of Rasoolullahﷺ but 40 out of the 50 mutinied and left. Their claim was that the order of Rasoolullahﷺ applied during the battle and not when the battle was over. Their leader reminded them that Rasoolullahﷺ had stated clearly that they must not leave their post no matter what happened, but they used their faulty logic to cover their real reason which was the desire to collect booty which they were afraid would be lost if they remained at their post. The result was that the commander of the cavalry of the Quraysh, Khalid bin Waleed attacked from the rear and the tide of battle was overturned. The Muslims were defeated, seventy Sahaba were killed and Rasoolullahﷺ himself was severely injured. Even his presence was not enough to avert disaster. Let’s reflect on this event.

Some Muslims disobeyed Rasoolullahﷺ but others were killed and Rasoolullahﷺ himself was badly hurt. Let us pause for a bit and reflect on the reasons we disobey Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ today. Among the most common reasons is because we feel that we will lose in a worldly sense if we obey, and another is because we feel that the order is not applicable today. Let us be clear that the orders of Allahﷻ and the method of Rasoolullahﷺ are not timebound. They are good for all people for all time. Allahﷻ mentioned this incident and said:

وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ اللّهُ وَعْدَهُ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُم بِإِذْنِهِ حَتَّى إِذَا فَشِلْتُمْ وَتَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ وَعَصَيْتُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا أَرَاكُم مَّا تُحِبُّونَ مِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الدُّنْيَا وَمِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الآخِرَةَ ثُمَّ صَرَفَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ لِيَبْتَلِيَكُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا عَنكُمْ وَاللّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Aal Imraan 3:152.   And Allah did indeed fulfil His Promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His Permission; until (the moment) you lost your courage and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you (booty) which you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them (your enemy), that He might test you. But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.

If we look at this incident and see what is happening in Gaza and ask, ‘What did they do to deserve this?’ Maybe it is because of us and not them. That is why we must begin by making sincere Istighfaar and Tawba.

Allahﷻ told us that we spoil our own good situation by disobeying Him.

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا۟ مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ

Ra’ad 13: 11    Indeed, Allah would never change a people’s state ˹of favor˺ until they change their own state ˹of faith˺.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to own up to our sins and seek Allahﷻ’s forgiveness. Allahﷻ mentioned what Nuh (AS) advised his people:

فَقُلْتُ ٱسْتَغْفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

يُرْسِلِ ٱلسَّمَآءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا

وَيُمْدِدْكُم بِأَمْوَٰلٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَـٰرًا

Nuh 71:10 – 12    saying, “Seek your Rabb’s forgiveness, ˹for˺ He is truly Most Forgiving. He will shower you with abundant rain, give you wealth and children, and give you gardens as well as rivers.

Let us examine our lives, our decisions, our ways, and choices and see where we are going against the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ and thereby displeasing Allahﷻ and correct that immediately. Then we must turn to Allahﷻ seeking his forgiveness. Allahﷻ told us that He is with the Muttaqoon and Muhsinoon. Not with Fasiqoon (disobedient).

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَوا۟ وَّٱلَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ

Nahl 16: 128    Surely Allah is with those who have Taqwa and who do Ihsaan

Taqwa is the foundation of all goodness and strength. We must regain it.

Once we make Istighfaar and Tawba and remove all disobedience from our lives, here is what we must do to change our personal and collective destiny. Remember that this is the long haul. It will take at least two generations but unless we start now, we will condemn ourselves and our children and grandchildren to slavery. For those who are serious about creating change which will be a Sadaqa Jaariya, there are four things that we must do right away.

It begins with purification of body and soul which is critical to success.

  1. Earn Halaal and eat Halaal and fulfill all Fara’aidh. It begins with that because the dua of those who earn and eat Haraam is not accepted. We need to begin by cleaning up our act. Let us return to Allahﷻ.
  2. Dua – We cannot and should not underestimate the power of dua. Dua is the most powerful tool that a believer has. Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Dua is the weapon of the believer.” It is a direct line of communication between us and Allahﷻ. It is the essence or epitome of worship.  Allahﷻ told us about the dua of Zakariya (AS) which is a lesson in how to make dua. There are three principles in making dua: Glorify Allahﷻ, express your helplessness, and ask Allahﷻ in keeping with His Majesty.

ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُۥ زَكَرِيَّآ

إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥ نِدَآءً خَفِيًّا

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى وَهَنَ ٱلْعَظْمُ مِنِّى وَٱشْتَعَلَ ٱلرَّأْسُ شَيْبًا وَلَمْ أَكُنۢ بِدُعَآئِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا

وَإِنِّى خِفْتُ ٱلْمَوَٰلِىَ مِن وَرَآءِى وَكَانَتِ ٱمْرَأَتِى عَاقِرًا فَهَبْ لِى مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيًّا

يَرِثُنِى وَيَرِثُ مِنْ ءَالِ يَعْقُوبَ وَٱجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا

Maryam 19:2-6   ˹This is˺ a reminder of your Rabbs mercy to His slave Zakariyya, when he cried out to his Rabb secretly, saying, “My Rabb! Surely my bones have become brittle, and grey hair has spread across my head, but I have never been disappointed in my prayer to You, my Rabb! And I am concerned about ˹the faith of˺ my relatives after me since my wife is barren. So, grant me, by Your grace, an heir, who will inherit ˹prophethood˺ from me and the family of Yaqub, and make him, O Rabb, pleasing ˹to You˺!

There is blessing in everything that Allahﷻ does and so also in this terrible crisis in Filastin. Two amazing things have happened. Muslims who are normally divided on all kinds of bases have come together and are raising their voices in solidarity for the Palestinian people. And Muslims have realized that all their schemes and plans are worthless and only Allahﷻ can help us and so they have turned to Allahﷻ and are making dua. So, while participating in protests, please remember that change can come from Allahﷻ alone and not from the protest. (A’mal bil jawarih wa quloobina mutawakkil A’la-Allah). Make sure you pray on time, respect the boundaries of Allahﷻ and make lots of dua. Keep begging Allahﷻ until He changes the situation. Our job is to beg Him. All power belongs to Allahﷻ and He promised to respond to those who call on Him.

  • Awareness – All of us should be aware of what is happening right now and educate ourselves regarding the history of the conflict. We should also be actively engaged in spreading awareness in our respective spheres of influence. Learn and teach. The problem is that many people claim to be experts on the Middle East and then when you ask them, ‘Where is Jordan?’ they say, ‘He retired.’ We don’t need that.

We must have our facts right. So, let us learn. Then teach others. Teach-ins, seminars, fireside conversations, round tables, open house sessions, do whatever is suitable. We must learn to speak objectively, with dignity, without emotion, and neither provoke nor be provoked. Speak the language of human rights, justice, anti-racism, sanctity of human life, anti-apartheid, and equality.

  • Get involved with the BDS movement. To date it is the most effective course of action. You have the right to buy or subscribe to anything or not. By our choices, let us make it clear that we will not help those who support apartheid and have no respect for human life. Yes, it may be difficult to do without your favorite brands but remember that is easier than being bombed and rendered homeless. Let’s show our sincerity by putting our money where our mouth is.

Finally, as we shall see next week, there are structural changes that we need to make in our career goals, attitudes, focus and effort, if we truly want to break out of the quicksand of humiliation that we are stuck in. We must change our priorities and support each other, and efforts aimed at creating long-term change. More about that next week In-sha-Allah