What to do about what happened

I remind you and myself that a fire can’t be extinguished by another fire but by pouring water over it. Violence does not end violence. It only increases it. As Muslims we are against all violence, no matter who does it. We condemn the actions of Hamas and all calls to violence. We follow the Qur’an which clearly advocates against violence and murder and says:

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ أَنَّهُۥ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًۢا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ ٱلنَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَآ أَحْيَا ٱلنَّاسَ جَمِيعًا

Ma’aida 5: 32   That is why We ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever takes a life—unless as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land—it will be as if they killed all of humanity; and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity.  

The example of Rasoolullahﷺ is the best example for us to follow. In Makkah where heﷺ and those with him were subjected to the greatest persecution including when some of his Sahaba, like Sumaiyya bint Khayyat (RA) and her husband, Yasir bin Amir (R), the parents of Ammar bin Yasir (R), were being tortured and were eventually murdered by Abu Jahal, Rasoolullahﷺ advised them and Ammar bin Yasir (R) to be patient; to have Sabr. He didn’t tell them to retaliate or fight the oppressor. This was not pacifism. This was guidance from Allahﷻ because whatever Rasoolullahﷺ said or did, was because of Wahi from Allahﷻ.

Then when Rasoolullahﷺ had been given victory over his enemies who had persecuted him and his family, killed his daughter, killed many of his Sahaba who he loved more than we love our own children, he forgave them all. He didn’t extract revenge though it was in his power to do so, and he would have been justified if he had done so. He did not do that because there is only one way to stop the cycle of violence and that is to break the cycle. The truth about any conflict without exception, be it between individuals, groups, or nations, is that it can only be resolved by all parties sitting together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and arrive at an agreement which is just and fair for all. No matter how difficult this may seem to be or how long it takes, this is the only way to resolve any conflict. There is no other way. The sooner all parties wake up to this and come together to speak, the sooner the conflict will end. This is what we must pray for. For Sabr, for the ability to get over the pain, for the wisdom to forgive and to go forward.

I advise you and myself, that we must repair our relationship with Allahﷻ  and beg for His Forgiveness and ask Him for His help. That’s the only way to change the terrible situation that we find ourselves in. I therefore want to begin by asking Allahﷻ for His Mercy and Forgiveness and for His Protection from all evil; what is visible and known and what is invisible and hidden. Justice is only with Allahﷻ and will happen only when Allahﷻ Wills it. Allahﷻ’s Will depends on our actions and so we need to correct our actions. Our situation will not change until we change ourselves.

Islam demands complete submission and obedience as a condition of faith. A Muslim is one who has submitted. Not someone sitting on the fence and trying to find a desire-compatible version of Islam. Islam didn’t come in different flavors and amounts of caffeine or sugar. Islam came as one complete truth, needing no additions, subtractions, good for all time, needing no alterations or corrections. Allahﷻ commanded us and said:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ فِى ٱلسِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

Baqara 2: 208   O believers! Enter Islam wholeheartedly and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. Surely, he is your sworn enemy.

It is our attitude of selective obedience which is the root cause of bringing upon ourselves the anger of Allahﷻ.‎ Allahﷻ told us that selective obedience is disobedience and will attract its own consequences. We are free to choose but the choice is not free. Every choice comes with a price tag. It is like shopping. You are free to choose anything in the shop but try walking out without paying for it and you will know what I mean by price tag. That is life. Choose anything, any way to live, any action, any way to relate to others, to speak, to earn, to eat or drink. But remember that everything has a price tag. If we choose it, we will pay for it. There are no exceptions. If the choice is good, we are rewarded. If not, it attracts punishment. No exceptions.

 أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَآءُ مَن يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْىٌ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰٓ أَشَدِّ ٱلْعَذَابِ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

Baqara 2:85   Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest?  Then what is the reward for those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.

We as Muslims are held to a higher moral standard than those who are not Muslim yet. Just as you hold your children to a higher standard than other children, especially strangers. Just as a police officer in uniform is expected to behave differently from an ordinary person. Proximity to power comes with its special privileges which are conditional upon fulfilling special responsibilities. That’s why Muslims are punished more quickly and apparently for lesser crimes than others. We see this in the story of the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of Hunain even though in both cases Rasoolullahﷺ was present. In both cases it was the conduct of a few of the Sahaba which resulted in turning victory into defeat and in the case of Uhud, the deaths of 70 Sahaba and severe injury to Rasoolullahﷺ himself.

However, this correction is really a Mercy from Allahﷻ so that we can correct ourselves before we meet Him. Because the punishment of Allahﷻ in the Aakhira is much more severe and painful than anything we may face in this life. So, Allahﷻ slaps us on the wrist so that we can return to Him.

وَلَنُذِیقَنَّهُم مِّنَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ ٱلۡأَدۡنَىٰ دُونَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ ٱلۡأَكۡبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ یَرۡجِعُونَ

Sajdah: 32:21   We will certainly make them taste some of the minor torment ˹in this life˺ before the major torment ˹of the Hereafter˺, so perhaps they will return ˹to the Right Path˺.

The Sahaba understood this and used to introspect when they lost a battle or faced any adverse situation. They didn’t spend so much time thinking about external factors but reflected on what may have been going on in their lives, which could have led to the adversity that they were facing. They understood the connection of A’amaal to Ahwaal – actions to circumstances. We understand this connection in a materialistic sense – for example market forces in a free-market economy where lending rates affect economic growth. But we don’t or refuse to understand the effect of the same lending rates in the form of Riba, on the overall wellbeing of our society. We have legitimized what we like to do and call it lifestyle choice, personal freedom and so on – ignoring that all choices have consequences – some of them permanent and painful. Allahﷻ told us about the reason we are seeing trials and disasters, both man-made and natural, with increasing frequency:

ظَهَرَ ٱلْفَسَادُ فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِى ٱلنَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ ٱلَّذِى عَمِلُوا۟ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُون

Rum 30: 41   Calamities have appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of the people have earned, so that He (Allah) makes them taste some of what they did, in order that they may return (to the right way).

This Ayah mentions both the cause and the cure. A Muslim must be able to diagnose the disease and implement the cure using the lens that Allahﷻ gave us which is His Book, the Qur’an Al Kareem, and the blessed method that His Messengerﷺ taught us through his Sunnah. If disobedience invites punishment, then the cure is repentance and correcting our lifestyle.

 فَقُلۡتُ ٱسۡتَغۡفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمۡ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ غَفَّارࣰا

: 71: 10  …saying, Seek your Rabb’s forgiveness, ˹for˺ He is truly Most Forgiving.

There are three major evils that we have chosen for ourselves knowing full well what their consequences will be. Eating the doubtful or Haram, buying and selling Haram, and dealing in interest. All three nullify our dua and prayers and dealing in interest means that we have accepted war with Allahﷻ. This is the hard reality which we must face and correct. If we want Allahﷻ’s help we must first apologize for defying Him, then we must clean up our act and change our ways. Earn and eat Halal and get out of interest-based dealings. Then ask Allahﷻ for His help. He promised to answer those who call upon him. But that doesn’t include His enemies. So, we must get our names back into the list of His Awliya. 

As you can see, the situation is critical. We are running out of time. Allahﷻ will only increase the pressure until it starts to touch all of us. Then we won’t be watching scenes on television but will start to experience them ourselves. As Rasoolullahﷺ said, Laisal khabaru kal muaaina…the report is not like seeing or experiencing. Believe me, we don’t want to go there. Let us decide right now to stop defying Allahﷻ and to beg His Forgiveness and make the Niyyah (intention) to change our ways. For each of us, this will be different. But whatever it is, it must change.

Remember that this is not only to avoid calamities in this life but far more importantly to save ourselves from the anger of Allahﷻ when we meet Him. Let us bring our lives into the orbit of obedience to Allahﷻ and on the path of the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ, not from next month or next week or tomorrow, but from right now. Then see how Allahﷻ will open doors for us and will provide us from sources we can’t imagine. There is no mystery. We know why we are failing, and we know what we must do to change that and succeed. The choice is ours.