Analysis: More than Bad Rulers and Corrupt Societies
Posted: 18 Safar 1424, 20 April 2003
In the past centuries the Muslim world was much more integrated than we realize. It was one social, cultural, religious and economic domain. Its language, system of education, currency, and laws were the same.
When British journalist Robert Fisk said that in the face of disaster Arabs act like mice, he was being polite. He could have said that the Muslims act like mice. The question is why?
It is easy and customary to blame the current Muslim rulers for this sorry situation. No doubt the Iraq invasion would not have been possible without their acquiescence and support. If they refused to open their lands, waterways, and airspace to the invasion, it could not have taken place. Neither would the slaughters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine have been possible if the Muslim rulers had their act together. But was it only because the Muslim rulers happened to be immoral, coward, and unscrupulous characters? Is the 1.2 billion strong Ummah suffering only because there are fifty-four corrupt persons who are ruling it?
These rulers do not carry out all their plans personally. They have armies of compliant soldiers, bureaucrats, and other staffers at every level of government that do the dirty work. Further the societies at large produce, nurture, and sustain the corrupt machinery of the corrupt governments. As we continue our investigation, we find that our problem is corruption; not only of the rulers but also of the ruled. Today we have strayed from the Shariah in our personal lives; we lie, cheat, steal at a higher rate than ever before; we exploit and oppress in our small spheres. In short, our problems are caused by our moral corruption.
But there is something more. And it is getting scant attention in the Muslim discourse.
Islam teaches us the correctness of belief is even more important than correctness of deeds. There is an implied message here: The corruption of ideas is far more devastating than the corruption of actions. This may be happening here. We complain about the particular tribal leaders that happen to be there today but forget about the tribalism that sits at the root of all this. This tribalism of the nation-states has been enshrined into the constitutions, legal structures, bureaucracies, and the entire apparatus of government in every Muslim country. Its language and thinking, though anathema to Islam, has gained widespread acceptance. While we condemn its outcome, we do not sufficiently examine or challenge the system itself.
We complain about the particular tribal leaders that happen to be there today but forget about the tribalism that sits at the root of all this
We constantly talk about the Muslim brotherhood and the need for Muslim unity. We assert that Muslims are one Ummah. Simultaneously --- and without much thought --- we embrace the symbols, ideas, and dictates of its exact opposite. We have lived under our nation-states, celebrated our national days, and sang our national anthems all our lives. As a result the realization that the gap between the idea of the nation-state and that of one Ummah is wider than can be patched with good leaders of individual nation-states does not occur easily. We do not realize that we may be trying to simultaneously ride two different boats going in opposite directions.
So let us consider some real life situations. In Pakistan, the provinces of Sind and Punjab share the Indus River. Available water is less than their combined needs and Punjab is situated upstream while Sind is downstream. Quite naturally, there is constant bickering over the distribution of water. The conflict is resolved by the presence of a central government and by the realization that both provinces belong to the same country. Now imagine that the two provinces had been transformed into two separate countries. We can be certain that the small issue that no body in the world knows about or cares about today would become a big international conflict. And it may matter little whether they were called Islamic Republic of Punjab and the Islamic Republic of Sind! The logic of a sovereign country is very different and once you embrace that there are consequences that good intentions and good people alone cannot overcome.
When completed Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, (GAP in Turkey) will reduce water supply to Syria by 50% and to Iraq by 90%, selling it instead to Israel through the so-called Peace Pipeline. A comparable situation would be Punjab denying water to Sind and then selling it to India.
To understand that let us move from the Indus basin to the Furat-Dijla (Euphrates-Tigris) basin. What is presented as a hypothetical situation in the former has been turned into an unfortunate reality in the latter. Both Dijla and Furat originate in Turkey, pass through Syria, and end up in Iraq where they join to form the Shat-al Arab that then discharges into the Persian Gulf. Mesopotamia means the land between the two rivers, the two rivers having been the source of civilization since the ancient times. Add the artificial international borders between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and the same life giving water turns into an explosive that could rock the area. In 1974 there was a near war between Syria and Iraq as Syria began to fill the reservoir that has become Lake Asad, decreasing the flow of the river to Iraq to as little as 25 percent of the normal rate. Armies were moved and threats were exchanged, though finally diplomatic activity by the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia defused the situation. In 1990 tensions ran high as Turkey stopped all flow in Furat for one complete month as it started to fill the Ataturk Dam.
Today Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, (GAP in Turkey) is promising a much more serious conflict in the days to come. The multi-billion dollar GAP includes more than 20 dams and 17 electric power plants, which will reduce water supply to Syria by 50% and to Iraq by 90% when it is completed in another twenty years. Even more bizarre is the plan Turkey has for part of the water that it denies to Syria and Iraq seriously endangering their agriculture and economies; it will sell it to Israel through the so-called Peace Pipeline that will run through the Mediterranean. The agreement with Israel was signed in 2001. "We have declared that we can sell water to whichever country needs water, regardless of its language or flag," said Cumhur Ersumer, Turkey's energy minister at that time. "It looks like Israel will be the first country to buy Turkey's water." That is the logic of the nation-state as articulated by Suleyman Demirel: "Neither Syria or Iraq can lay claim to Turkey's rivers any more than Ankara could claim their oil. This is a matter of sovereignty."
We can be sure that accountants in Turkey can show that Turkey will benefit economically by doing what it plans to do. And even a so-called Islamist party in Turkey will be driven by those calculations pledging, as it does, allegiance to "Turkish national interests." A comparable situation would be Punjab denying water to Sind and then selling it to India. No matter how corrupt leaders in Pakistan become (if they have not already reached the limit) it is just impossible to imagine that outcome. And yet the same situation is not only possible, it is there in the other case. Such are the wonders of the corrupt ideology of nation-state!
Conflicts of interest between any two entities are normal and natural. What is crucial is the mechanism and structure for resolving them. Islamic laws of inheritance highlight this fact. Conflicts could develop even among close relatives over distribution of inheritance. Since Islam values very smooth relations and does not like even the slightest bickering there, the Shariah has provided the detailed rules for this distribution. Neither the people involved, nor the government can override this distribution. Thus a solid mechanism has been provided for resolution of these conflicts.
In case of two provinces of the same country, the mechanism for the resolution of their conflicts remains in the form of the central government as well as firm realization on the part of everyone that they are riding the same boat. However when they turn into independent countries, both of these are lost.
How the definition of the self-interest can change with a change in the frame of reference can be seen through another example. When the US gave the Pakistani ruler the choice of either joining the invader or joining the target he did not hesitate for a minute to choose the first option. It can be criticized as much as one wants, but the fact remains that under the frame of reference under which Pakistan and all Muslim countries operate today, that was an option. But can we imagine the US demanding, or Pakistan conceding the support for attacking Baluchistan? This would clearly be seen as preposterous by everyone. As far as the Shariah is concerned, the two situations are exactly alike. But in the system of nation-states they are not.
The gap between the idea of the nation-state and that of one Ummah is wider than can be patched with good leaders of individual nation-states
That the opposition to what the Pakistani president did was manageable is also a reflection of the fact that Muslims the world over have generally and unwittingly bought into the philosophy of this nationalism.
The imposition of embargo on Afghanistan and Iraq is another example of the clash between Islam and the nation-state. Islam teaches that it is not a believer who eats while his neighbor goes to bed hungry. The system of the UN on the other hand, ordered its member-states not to supply any food or medicine to those dying of hunger and disease in Iraq. Again, the fact that Muslim countries have complied with the latter without any consternation or serious opposition is a reminder of our subconscious acceptance of the nationalist ideology.
We can see why world Muslims acted like mice in the face of disaster. The Qur'an warned us not to engage in disputes and infighting or we would become weak and powerless. But we have not only done the exact opposite, we have given a permanent structure and legal cover to the arrangement for that infighting in the current political organization of the Muslim domain.
This exposition of the ideology of nation-state invariably faces a mental block; namely that all this is impossible. This argument runs like this. We had a Khilafah centuries ago. Since then we have had a checkered history of nominal Khalifah, Sultans, and Nawabs running their own kingdoms and fiefdoms. Today we have fifty-four states and there is no way we can change that in our life times. Yes and no. While we had more then one centers of political power for centuries, the Muslim world was much more integrated then than we realize. It was one social, cultural, religious and economic domain. Its language, system of education, currency, and laws were the same. There were no restrictions on travel, or movement of capital or goods. A Muslim could take up residence and start a business or get a job anywhere. Ibn Batuta traveled from Tunisia to Hijaz, East Africa, India, Malaya, and China, covering 75000 miles without traveling the same road twice. During the twenty-five year journey he took up residence where he wanted to; got even government assignments as Qadi and even as ambassador in China for the Sultan in India. If that was possible then, it should be easier now because of the huge advances in the communication and transportation technologies alone.
The corruption of ideas is far more devastating than the corruption of actions.
No one is suggesting that we can dismantle the fifty-four Muslim governments overnight and replace them with a Khilafah. But we can gradually breakdown the barriers between the Muslim states in travel, trade, and all exchanges at personal levels. With free flow of people, goods, capital, and ideas throughout the Muslim domain, a quite revolution can begin. We could realize that this domain is much more self-sufficient and strong then we have ever realized. That its various parts complement each other's needs and strengthen each other. That it is the artificial borders between Muslim lands drawn by colonial powers that have terribly weakened it!
While we recognize that the barriers to that vision are real and very serious, we must also realize that the most serious barriers are mental and psychological. We must break through the mental straitjacket and realize that another world is possible. Only then we will begin to see how to get there. It may take a generation or many generations. But we will never get there if we do not know that is where we want to go. Today sometimes Muslims say out of frustration that Muslim governments should form their own United Nations. The suggestion does capture our deep desire for unity as well as our deep running confusion about it. For it has one s too many. The Islamic discourse should be about a United Nation of theirs and not United Nations.
Aisha, the wife of Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) said:
"Allah's Messenger (s.a.a.w.) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing his own chores." (Narrated by al-Tirmathi).
She also said:
"He would patch his garments and sole his sandals. " She was once asked: "How was he with his family?", she responded: "He was in the service of his family until it was time for prayer, at which time he would go and pray."
Ibne Malik narrated:
"I never saw anyone more merciful with children than the Messenger of Allah (s.a.a.w.)" (Narrated by Muslim)
Abu Hurairah narrated that:
"The Messenger of Allah never denigrated any type of food; if he liked it he ate it, and if he disliked it he left it alone" (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) enjoined upon Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, Zakat, and in other ways. He said: "He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbor go hungry."
He asked, "Do you love your Creator? Then love your fellow beings first."
Monopoly is unlawful in Islam and he preached that "It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path that leads to bliss."
He did not prohibit or discourage the acquisition of wealth but insisted that it be lawfully acquired by honest means and that a portion of it would go to the poor. He advised his followers
"To give the laborer his wages before his perspiration dried up."
He did not encourage beggary either and stated that
"Allah is gracious to him who earns his living by his own labour, and that if a man begs to increase his property, Allah will diminish it and whoever has food for the day, it is prohibited for him to beg."
To his wife he said, "O A'isha, love the poor and let them come to you and Allah will draw you near to Himself." [Sahih Bukhari]
One or two instances of the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) concern for the poor may be given here. A Madinan, Ibad Bin Sharjil, was once starving. He entered an orchard and picked some fruit. The owner of the orchard gave him a sound beating and stripped off his clothes. The poor man appealed to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) who remonstrated the owner thus:
"This man was ignorant, you should have dispelled his ignorance; he was hungry, you should have fed him."
His clothes were restored to the Madinan and, in addition, some grain was given to him [Abu Dawood]
A debtor, Jabir Bin Abdullah, was being harassed by his creditor as he could not clear his debt owing to the failure of his date crop. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went with Jabir to the house of the creditor and pleaded with him to give Jabir some more time but the creditor was not prepared to oblige. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) then went to the oasis and having seen for himself that the crop was really poor, he again approached the creditor with no better result. He then rested for some time and approached the creditor for a third time but the latter was adamant. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went again to the orchard and asked Jabir to pluck the dates. As Allah would have it, the collection not only sufficed to clear the dues but left something to spare. [Sahih Bukhari]
His love for the poor was so deep that he used to pray: "O Allah, keep me poor in my life and at my death and raise me at resurrection among those who are poor." [Nasai]
This article is an analysis of the state of the rulers and governments of the world today.
Allah T’ala says in the Holy Quran,
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ إِلاَّ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ وَمَن
يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ فَإِنَّ اللّهِ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ
3:19 The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account. Read more...
|The Invasion of Tabuk in Rajab, in the year 9 A.H.|
The invasion and the conquest of Makkah was considered a decisive one between the truth and the error. As a result of which, the Arabs had no more doubt in Muhammad’s mission. Thus we see that things went contrary to the pagans’ expectations. People started to embrace Islam, the religion of Allâh, in great numbers. This is manifested clearly in the chapter — The delegations, of this book. It can also be deduced out of the enormous number of people who shared in the Hajjatul-Wadâ‘ (Farewell Pilgrimage). All domestic troubles came to an end. Muslims, eventually felt at ease and started setting up the teachings of Allâh’s Laws and intensifying the Call to Islam.
|The Underlying Reasons|
The Byzantine power, which was considered the greatest military force on earth at that time, showed an unjustifiable opposition towards Muslims. As we have already mentioned, their opposition started at killing the ambassador of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), Al-Harith bin ‘Umair Al-Azdi, by Sharhabeel bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassani. The ambassador was then carrying a message from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the ruler of Busra. We have also stated that the Prophet consequently dispatched a brigade under the command of Zaid bin Haritha, who had a fierce fight against the Byzantines at Mu’tah. Although Muslim forces could not have revenge on those haughty overproud tyrants, the confrontation itself had a great impression on the Arabs, all over Arabia.
Caesar — who could neither ignore the great benefit thMu’tah Battle had brought to Muslims, nor could he disregard the Arab tribes’ expectations of independence, and their hopes of getting free from his influence and reign, nor he could ignore their alliance to the Muslims — realizing all that, Caesar was aware of the progressive danger threatening his borders, especially Ash-Sham-fronts which were neighbouring Arab lands. So he concluded that demolition of the Muslims power had grown an urgent necessity. This decision of his should, in his opinion, be achieved before the Muslims become too powerful to conquer, and raise troubles and unrest in the adjacent Arab territories.
To meet these exigencies, Caesar mustered a huge army of the Byzantines and pro-Roman Ghassanide tribes to launch a decisive bloody battle against the Muslims.
|General News about the Byzantines and Ghassanide Preparations for War|
No sooner news about the Byzantine’s preparations for a decisive invasion against Muslims reached Madinah than fear spread among them. They started to envisage the Byzantine invasion in the least sound they could hear. This could be clearly worked out of what had happened to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one day.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had taken an oath to stay off his wives for a month in the ninth year of Al-Hijra. Therefore, he deserted them and kept off in a private place. At the beginning, the Companions of the Messenger of Allâh were puzzled and could not work out the reason for such behaviour. They thought the Prophet (peace be upon him) had divorced them and that was why he was grieved, disturbed and upset. In ‘Umar’s version of the very story he says: “I used to have a Helper friend who often informed me about what happened if I weren’t present, and in return I always informed him of what had taken place during his absence. They both lived in the high part of Madinah. Both of them used to call at the Prophet alternatively during that time of suspense. Then one day I heard my friend, knock at the door saying: “Open up! Open up!” I asked wondering, “What’s the matter? Has the Ghassanide come?” “No it is more serious than that. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) has deserted his wives.”
In another version, ‘Umar said, “We talked about Ghassanide preparations to invade us. When it was his turn to convey the news to me, he went down and returned in the evening. He knocked at the door violently and said ‘Is he sleeping?’ I was terrified but I went out to meet him. ‘Something serious had taken place.’ He said. ‘Has the Ghassaindes arrived?’ Said I. ‘No,’ he said, ‘it is greater and more serious. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) has divorced his wives.’”
This state of too much alertness manifests clearly the seriousness of the situation that Muslims began to experience. The seriousness of the situation was confirmed to a large degree by the hypocrites behaviour, when news about the Byzantines’ preparations reached Madinah. The fact that the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) won all the battles he fought, and that no power on earth could make him terrified, and that he had always proved to be able to overcome all the obstacles that stood in his way - did not prevent the hypocrites, who concealed evil in their hearts, from expecting an affliction to fall upon the Muslims and Islam.
They used to harbour evil and ill-intentions against the whole process of Islam and the Muslims. On grounds of illusory hopes of destroying this great religious edifice, they erected a hotbed of conspiracy and intrigue in the form of a mosque — Masjid-e-Darar (the mosque of harm). They approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the request that he should come and consecrate the place by praying in it himself. As he was at the moment about to start for Tabuk, he deferred compliance with their request till his return. Meanwhile he came to know through Divine Revelation that it was not a Mosque for devotion and prayer but a meeting place for the anti-Islamic elements. On his return, therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a party to demolish the new structure.
|Particular News about the Byzantine and Ghassanide Preparations for War|
A magnified image of the prominent danger threatening the Muslims life was carried to them by the Nabateans who brought oil from Ash-Sham to Madinah. They carried news about Heraclius’ preparations and equipment of an enormous army counting over forty thousand fighters besides Lukham, Judham and other tribes allied to the Byzantines. They said that its vanguard had already reached Al-Balqâ’. Thus was the grave situation standing in ambush for the Muslims. The general situation was aggravated seriously by other adverse factors of too much hot weather, drought and the rough and rugged distance they had to cover in case they decided to encounter the imminent danger.
The Messenger of Allâh’s (peace be upon him) concept and estimation of the situation and its development was more precise and accurate than all others. He thought that if he tarried or dealt passively with the situation in such a way that might enable the Byzantines to paddle through the Islamic controlled provinces or to go as far as Madinah, this would — amid these circumstances — leave the most awful impression on Islam as well as on the Muslims’ military credibility.
The pre-Islamic beliefs and traditions (Al-Jahiliyah) which were at that time dying because of the strong decisive blow that they had already had at Hunain, could have had a way to come back to life once again in such an environment. The hypocrites who were conspiring against the Muslims so that they might stab them in the back whereas Byzantines would attack them from the front. If such a thing came to light and they succeeded in their evil attempts, the Prophet and his Companions’ efforts to spread Islam would collapse and their profits which were the consequences of successive and constant fights and invasions would be invalidated. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) realised all that very well. So — in spite of the hardships and drought that Muslims were suffering from — the Prophet (peace be upon him) was determined that the Muslims should invade the Byzantines and fight a decisive battle at their own borders. He was determined not to tarry at all in order to thwart any Roman attempt to approach the land of Islam.
When the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) had made up his mind and took his final decision, he ordered his Companions to get ready for war and sent for the Makkans and the other Arab tribes asking for their assistance.
Contrary to his habit of concealing his real intention of the invasion by means of declaring a false one, he announced openly his intention of meeting the Byzantines and fighting them. He cleared the situation to his people so that they would get ready, and urged them to fight in the way of Allâh. On this occasion a part of Surat Bara’a (Chapter 9 — The Repentance) was sent down by Allâh, urging them to steadfastness and stamina.
On the other hand, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) cherished them to pay charities and to spend the best of their fortunes in the way of Allâh.
No sooner had the Muslims heard the voice of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) calling them to fight the Byzantines than they rushed to comply with his orders. With great speed they started getting ready for war. Tribes and phratries from here and there began pouring in Madinah. Almost all the Muslims responded positively. Only those who had weakness at their hearts favoured to stay behind. They were only three people. Even the needy and the poor who could not afford a ride came to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) asking for one so that they would be able to share in the fight against the Byzantines. But when he said:
“...‘I can find no mounts for you’ they turned back while their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend (for Jihad).” [9:92]
The Muslims raced to spend out money and to pay charities to provide this invasion. ‘Uthman, for instance, who had already rigged two hundred, saddled camels to travel to Ash-Sham, presented them all with two hundred o(of gold) as charity. He also fetched a thousand dinars and cast them all into the lap of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), who turned them over and said: “From this day on nothing will harm ‘Uthman regardless of what he does.” Again and again ‘Uthman gave till his charity toped to nine hundred camels and a hundred horses, besides the money he paid.
Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf, on his side, paid two hundred silver ounces, whereas Abu Bakr paid the whole money he had and left nothing but Allâh and His Messenger as a fortune for his family. ‘Umar paid half his fortune. Al-‘Abbas gifted a lot of money. Talhah, Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah and Muhammad bin Maslamah, gave money for the welfare of the invasion. ‘Asim bin ‘Adi, on his turn, offered ninety camel-burdens of dates. People raced to pay little and much charities alike. One of them gave the only half bushel (or the only bushel) he owned. Women shared in this competition by giving the things they owned; such as musk, armlets, anklets, ear-rings and rings. No one abstained from spending out money, or was too mean to grant money or anything except the hypocrites:
“Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allâh’s cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allâh’s cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers).” [9:79]
|The Muslim Army is leaving for Tabuk|
Upon accomplishing the equipment of the army, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) ordained that Muhammad bin Maslamah Al-Ansari should be appointed over Madinah — in another version Siba‘ bin ‘Arftah. To ‘Ali bin Abu Talib he entrusted his family’s safety and affairs and ordered him to stay with them. This move made the hypocrites undervalue ‘Ali, so he followed the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and caught up with him. But the Prophet made ‘Ali turn back to Madinah after saying: “Would it not suffice you to be my successor in the way that Aaron (Harun) was to Moses’?” Then he proceeded saying: “But no Prophet succeeds me.”
On Thursday, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) marched northwards to Tabuk. The army that numbered thirty thousand fighters was a great one, when compared with the previous armies of Islam. Muslims had never marched with such a great number before.
Despite all the gifts of wealth and mounts the army was not perfectly equipped. The shortage of provisions and mounts was so serious that eighteen men mounted one camel alternatively. As for provisions, members of the army at times had to eat the leaves of trees till their lips got swollen. Some others had to slaughter camels — though they were so dear — so that they could drink the water of their stomach; that is why that army was called “The army of distress”.
On their way to Tabuk, the army of Islam passed by Al-Hijr — which was the native land of Thamud who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley; that is “Al-Qura Valley” of today. They watered from its well but later the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) told them not to drink of that water, nor perform the ablution with it. The dough they made, he asked them to feed their camels with. He forbade them to eat anything whatsoever of it. As an alternative he told them to water from that well which Prophet Salih’s she-camel used to water from.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar: “Upon passing by Al-Hijr the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Do not enter the houses of those who erred themselves lest what had happened to them would afflict you, but if you had to do such a thing let it be associated with weeping.”
Then he raised his head up and accelerated his strides till he passed the valley out.”
Shortage of water and the army’s need to it made them complain to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) about that. So he supplicated Allâh, who sent a rainful cloud. It rained and so all people drank and supplied themselves with their need of water.
When they drew near Tabuk, the Prophet said: “If Allâh will, tomorrow you will arrive at Tabuk spring. You will not get there before daytime. So whoever reaches it should not touch its water; but wait till I come.” Mu‘adh said: “When we reached the spring it used to gush forth some water. We found that two men had already preceded us to it. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) asked them: ‘Have you touched its water?’ They replied: ‘Yes’. He said what Allâh inspired him to say, then he scooped up little water of that spring, thin stream which gathered together, he washed his face and hand with it and poured it back into it; consequently plenty of water spouted out of it so people watered. ‘Mu‘adh’, said the Messenger of Allâh, ‘if you were doomed to live long life you will see in here fields full of vegetation.’
On the way to Tabuk, or as soon as they reached Tabuk, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) said: ‘Severe wind will blow tonight, so none of you should stand up. Whoever has a camel should tie it up.’ Later on when the strong wind blew, one of the men stood up and the wind carried him away to Tai’ Mountain.
All the way long the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) was intent on the performance of the combined prayer of noon and the afternoon; and so did he with sunset and evening prayers. His prayers for both were either pre-time or post-time prayers.
|The Army of Islam at Tabuk|
Arriving at Tabuk and camping there, the Muslim army was ready to face the enemy. There, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) delivered an eloquent speech that included the most inclusive words. In that speech he urged the Muslims to seek the welfare of this world and the world to come. He warned and cherished them and gave them good tidings. By doing that he cherished those who were broken in spirits, and blocked up the gap of shortage and mess they were suffering from due to lack of supplies, food and other substances.
Upon learning of the Muslims’ march, the Byzantines and their allies were so terrified that none of them dared set out to fight. On the contrary they scattered inside their territory. It brought, in itself, a good credit to the Muslim forces. That had gained military reputation in the mid and remote lands of Arabian Peninsula. The great and serious political profits that the Muslim forces had obtained, were far better than the ones they could have acquired if the two armies had been engaged in military confrontation.
The Head of Ailah, Yahna bin Rawbah came to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), made peace with him and paid him the tribute (Al-Jizya). Both of Jarba’ and Adhruh peoples paid him tribute, as well. So the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) gave each a guarantee letter, similar to Yahna’s, in which he says:
“In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
This is a guarantee of protection from Allâh and Muhammad the Prophet, the Messenger of Allâh, to Yahna bin Rawbah and the people of Ailah; their ships, their caravans on land and sea shall have the custody of Allâh and the Prophet Muhammad, he and whosoever are with him of Ash-Sham people and those of the sea. Whosoever contravenes this treaty, his wealth shall not save him; it shall be the fair prize of him that takes it. Now it should not be lawful to hinder the men from any springs which they have been in the habit of frequenting, nor from any journeys they desire to make, whether by sea or by land.”
The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) dispatched Khalid bin Al-Waleed at the head of four hundred and fifty horsemen to ‘Ukaidir Dumat Al-Jandal and said to him: “You will see him hunting oryxes.” So when Khalid drew near his castle and was as far as an eye-sight range, he saw the oryxes coming out rubbing their horns against the castle gate. As it was a moony night Khalid could see Ukaidir come out to hunt them, so he captured him — though he was surrounded by his men — and brought him back to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), who spared his life and made peace with him for the payment of two thousand camels, eight hundred heads of cattle, four hundred armours and four hundred lances. He obliged him to recognize the duty of paying tribute and charged him with cit from Dumat, Tabuk, Ailah and Taima’.
The tribes, who used to ally the Byzantines, became quite certain that their dependence oinn their former masters came to an end. Therefore they turned into being pro-Muslims. The Islamic state had therefore enlarged its borders to an extent that it, touched the Byzantines’ and their agents’ borders. So we see that the Byzantine agents role was over.
|Returning to Madinah|
The Muslim army returned from Tabuk victoriously, undeceived or wronged. That was because Allâh had sufficed them the evils of fight.
On the way back and at a mountain road, twelve hypocrites sought the Prophet’s life and that was while he was passing along that mountain road with only Ammar holding the rein of his she-camel and Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman driving it, at the time that people had already gone down into the bottom of the valley.
The hypocrites seized that opportunity to seek the Prophet’s life. As the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and his two companions were moving along, they heard thrusts of people coming towards him from behind with their faces veiled. Hudhaifa, who was sent by the Prophet to see what was going on, saw them and stroke their mounts’ faces with a crook in his hand and Allâh cast fear into their hearts. They fled away and overtook their people.
However, Hudhaifa named them to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and informed him of their intentions. So that was why Hudhaifa was called the “confidant” of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him). About this event Allâh, the Exalted says:
“And they resolved that [plot to murder Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)] which they were unable to carry out.” [9:74]
When his headquarters, Madinah, began to loom at the horizon, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “This is a cheerful sight. This is Uhud, which is a mountain, we like it and it likes us.” When the Madinese learnt of their arrival they set out to meet the army. Women, youths, youngsters and small children went out of town to celebrate their home-return wholeheartedly singing:
“The full moon shone down upon us, through the traits of Al-Wada‘ Mountain.
Thanks is due to us, as long as a supplicator invokes to Allâh..”
The Messenger of Allâh ’s march to Tabuk was in Rajab and his return in Ramadan. So we see that this Ghazwah took fifty days, twenty days of which were spent in Tabuk and the others on the way to and fro. Tabuk Invasion was the last one made by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
|The People Who lagged Behind|
Due to its particular circumstances, this invasion was a peculiar severe trial provided by Allâh only to try the believers’Faith and sort them out of others. This is Allâh’s permanent Will in such circumstances. In this respect He says:
“Allâh will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good.” [3:179]
Lagging and hanging back from full participation in that invasion amounted to the degree of hypocrisy. Whenever the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) was informed of a man’s lingering, he would say: “Leave him alone! If Allâh knows him to be good He will enable him to follow you; but if he were not so, Allâh would relieve us of him.”
Nobody stayed behind except those who were either hindered by a serious excuse or the hypocrites who told lies to Allâh and His Messenger.
Some of those hypocrites’ lingering was due to an excuse based on forgery and delusion. Some others tarried but didn’t ask for an instant permission. But there were three believers who unjustifiably lingered. They were the ones whom Allâh tried their Faith, but later on He turned to them in mercy and accepted their repentance.
As soon as the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) had entered Madinah, he prayed two Rak‘a then he sat to receive his people. The hypocrites who were over eighty men came and offered various kinds of excuses and started swearing. The Prophet acknowledged their excuses and invoked Allâh’s forgiveness for them but he entrusted their inner thoughts and Faith to Allâh.
As for the three faithful believers — Ka‘b bin Malik, Murara bin Ar-Rabi‘, and Hilal bin Omaiyah — who favoured telling the truth, the Messenger of Allâh ??? ???? ???? ???? bade his Companions not to talk to them.
Consequently they were subject to a severe boycott and were excluded from the life of the community. Everybody turned them their back. So they felt as if the whole land had become constrained to them in spite of its spaciousness and they felt awkward and uneasy. The hard times they lived and which lasted for over forty days were towered by an order to them to forsake their wives. After fifty days’ boycott Allâh turned to them and revealed that in Qur’ân:
“And (He did forgive also) the three [whom the Prophet (peace be upon him)] left (i.e. he did not give his judgement in their case, and their case was suspended for Allâh’s Decision) till for them the earth, vast as it is, was straitened and their ownselves were straitened to them, and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allâh, and no refuge but with Him. Then, He accepted their repentance, that they might repent (unto Him). Verily, Allâh is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” [9:118]
Allâh’s turning to them was a great joy for both Muslims and the three concerned. The joy of the stayers behind was unaccountable in aim and degree. It was the happiest day in their lives. The good tiding cherished them and filled their hearts with delight. As for those who lingered due to disability or sickness or any other serious excuse, Allâh, the Exalted said about them:
“There is no blame on those who are weak or ill or who find no resources to spend [in holy warfare (Jihad)], if they are sincere (in duty) to Allâh and His Messenger.” [9:91]
When he approached Madinah, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) said:
“Inside Madinah, there are certain men, who though being left back due to serious excuses, they have, all the time, been with you. Lingerers as they are, they have been while you were passing valleys or walking along roads.” “Do you mean that they have done that while they are still in Madinah?” They wondered. “Yes though they are in Madinah.” The Prophet said.
|The Invasion of Tabuk and its Far-Reaching Ramifications|
The effect of this invasion is great as regards extending and confirming the Muslims’ influence and domination on the Arabian Peninsula. It was quite obvious to everybody that no power but Islam’s would live long among the Arabs. The remainders of Jahiliyin and hypocrites — who used to conspire steadily against the Muslims and who perpetually relied on Byzantine power when they were in need of support or help — these people lost their expectations and desires of ever reclaiming their ex-influence. Realizing that there was no way out and that they were to submit to the fait accompli, they gave up their attempts.
From that time on, hypocrites were no longer treated leniently or even gently by the Muslims. Allâh not only bade Muslims to treat them severely but He also forbade them to take their gift charities or perform prayer on their dead, or ask Allâh’s forgiveness for them or even visit their tombs. Allâh bade the Muslims to demolish the mosque, which they verily appointed and used as a hiding place where they might practise their plots, conspiracy and deceit. Some Qur’ânic verses were sent down disclosing them publicly and utterly so that everybody in Madinah got to know their reality.
The great impact that this invasion produced could be perceived in of the great number of delegations who came successively to meet the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him). Naturally, deputations used to come to meet him at the end of an invasion particularly after Makkah Conquest but they were not as many as these nor were they as frequent as they were then in the wake of Tabuk event. It was certainly the greatest.
|The Qur’ânic Verses Relating to this Invasion|
Many a verse of Bara’a (Tauba) Chapter handling the event of Tabuk were revealed. Some verses were revealed before the march, while others after setting out for Tabuk, i.e.in the context of the battle. Some other verses were also revealed on the Prophet’s arrival in Madinah. All of which covered the incidents that featured this invasion: the immanent circumstances of the battle, exposure of the hypocrites, the prerogatives and special rank earmarked for the strivers in the cause of Allâh, acceptance of the repentance of the truthful believers who slackened and those who hung back, etc.Some Important Events that featured that Year:
During this year many events of great significance took place. They were: