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?Read more...
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are sins. Do not spy, nor should any one backbite the other. Is there any among you who would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?' Nay, you yourselves abhor it. Fear Allah, for Allah is Acceptor of repentance and All-Merciful. (49:12)
Gheebat (back-biting) has been defined thus: "It is saying on the back of a person something which would hurt him if he came to know of it. " This definition has been reported from the Holy Prophet himself. According to a tradition which Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others have related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet defined Gheebat as follows:
"It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him." It was asked: "What, if the defect being talked of is present in my brother ?" The Holy Prophet replied: "If it is present in him, it would be Gheebat; if it is not there, it would be slandering him."
In another tradition which Imam Malik has related in Mu'watta, on the authority of Hadrat Muttalib bin `Abdullah, "A person asked the Holy Prophet: What is Gheebat? The Holy Prophet replied: It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him. He asked: Even if it is true, O Messenger of Allah? He replied: If what you said was false, it would then be a calumny."
These traditions make it plain that uttering a false accusation against a person in his absence is calumny and describing a real defect in him Gheebat; whether this is done in express words or by reference and allusion, in every case it is forbidden. Likewise, whether this is done in the lifetime of a person, or after his death, it is forbidden in both cases.
According to Abu Da'ud, when Ma`iz bin Malik Aslami had been stoned to death for committing adultery, the Holy Prophet on his way back heard a man saying to his companion: "Look at this man: Allah had concealed his secret, but he did not leave himself alone till he was killed like a dog!" A little further on the way there was the dead body of a donkey lying rotting. The Holy Prophet stopped, called the two men and said: "Come down and eat this dead donkey." They submitted: "Who will eat it, O Messenger of Allah?" The Holy Prophet said: "A little before this you were attacking the honor of your brother: that was much worse than eating this dead donkey."
The only exceptions to this prohibition are the cases in which there may be a genuine need of speaking in of a person on his back, or after his death, and this may not be fulfilled without resort to backbiting, and if it was not resorted to, a greater evil might result than backbiting itself. The Holy Prophet has described this exception as a principle, thus: "The worst excess is to attack the honour of a Muslim unjustly." (Abu Da'ud).
In this saying the condition of "unjustly" points out that doing so "with justice" is permissible. Then, in the practice of the Holy Prophet himself we find some precedents which show what is implied by "justice" and in what conditions and cases backbiting may be lawful to the extent as necessary.
Once a desert Arab came and offered his Prayer under the leadership of the Holy Prophet, and as soon as the Prayer was concluded, walked away saying: "O God, have mercy on me and on Muhammad, and make no one else a partner in this mercy beside the two of us." The Holy Prophet said to the Companions: `What do you say: who is more ignorant: this person or his camel? Didn't you hear what he said?" (Abu Da`ud). The Holy Prophet had to say this in his absence, for he had left soon after the Prayer was over. Since he had uttered a wrong thing in the presence of the Holy Prophet, his remaining quiet at it could cause the misunderstanding that saying such a thing might in some degree be lawful; therefore, it was necessary that he should contradict it.
Two of the Companions, Hadrat Mu`awiyah and Hadrat Abu Jahm, sent the proposal of marriage to a lady, Fatimah bint Qais. She came to the Holy Prophet and asked for his advice. He said: "Mu`awiyah is a poor man and Abu Jahm beats his wives much." (Bukhari, Muslim). In this case, as there was the question of the lady's future and she had consulted the Holy Prophet for his advice, he deemed it necessary to inform her of the two men's weaknesses.
One day when the Holy Prophet was present in the apartment of Hadrat 'A'ishah, a man came and sought permission to see him. The Holy Prophet remarked that he was a very bad man of his tribe. Then he went out and talked to him politely. When he came back into the house, Hadrat `A'ishah asked: "You have talked to him politely, whereas when you went out you said something different about him. " The Holy Prophet said, "On the day of Resurrection the worst abode in the sight of Allah will be of the person whom the people start avoiding because of his abusive language." (Bukhari, Muslim). A study of this incident will show that the Holy Prophet in spite of having a bad opinion about the person talked to him politely because that was the demand of his morals; but he had the apprehension lest the people of his house should consider the person to be his friend when they would see him treating him kindly, and then the person might use this impression to his own advantage later. Therefore, the Holy Prophet warned Hadrat `A'ishah telling her that he was a bad man of his tribe.
Once Hind bint 'Utbah, wife of Hadrat Abu Sufyan, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "Abu Sufyan is a miserly person: he does not provide enough for me and my children's needs. " (Bukhari, Muslim). Although this complaint from the wife in the absence of the husband was backbiting, the Holy Prophet pemitted it, for the oppressed has a right that he or she may take the complaint of injustice to a person who has the power to get it removed.
From these precedents of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, the jurists and traditionists have deduced this principle: 'Gheebat (backbiting) is permissible only in case it is needed for a real and genuine (genuine from the Shari'ah point of view) necessity and the necessity may not be satisfied without having resort to it". Then on the basis of the same principle the scholars have declared that Gheebat is permissible in the following cases:
(1) Complaining by an oppressed person against the oppressor before every such person who he thinks can do something to save him from the injustice.
(2) To make mention of the evils of a person (or persons) with the intention of reform before those who can do expected to help remove the evils.
(3) To state the facts of a case before a legal expert for the purpose of seeking a religious or legal ruling regarding an unlawful act committed by a person.
(4) To warn the people of the mischiefs of a person (or persons) so that they may ward off the evil, e g. it is not only permissible but obligatory to mention the weaknesses of the reporters, witnesses and writers, for without it, it is not possible to safeguard the Shariah against the propagation of false reports, the courts against injustices and the common people or the students against errors and misunderstandings. Or, for instance, if a person wants to have the relationship of marriage with somebody, or wishes to rent a house in the neighborhood of somebody, or wants to give something into the custody of somebody, and consults another person, it is obligatory for him to apprise him of all aspects so that he is not deceived because of ignorance.
(5) To raise voice against and criticise the evils of the people who may be spreading sin and immorality and error, or corrupting the people's faith and persecuting them.
(6) To use nicknames for the people who may have become well known by those names, but this should be done for the purpose of their recognition and not with a view to condemn them. (For details, see Fat-h al-Bari, vol. X, p. 362; Sharah Muslim by An-Nawawi; Riyad us-Salihin; al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ruh al-Maani commentary on verse wa a yaghtab ba 'dukum ba 'dan).
Apart from these exceptions it is absolutely forbidden to speak ill of a person behind his back. If what is spoken is true, it is Gheebat; if it is false, it is calumny; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. The Shari'ah has declared all these as forbidden. In the Islamic society it is incumbent on every Muslim to refute a false charge made against a person in his presence and not to listen to it quietly, and to tell those who are speaking ill of somebody, without a genuine religious need, to fear God and desist from the sin. The Holy Prophet has said: If a person does not support and help a Muslim when he is being disgraced and his honour being attacked, Allah also does not support and help him when he stands in need of His help; and if a person helps and supports a Muslim when his honour is being attacked and he is being disgraced, Allah Almighty also helps him when he wants that AIlah should help him. (Abu Da'ud).
As for the backbiter, as soon as he realizes that he is committing this sin, or has committed it, his first duty is to offer repentance before Allah and restrain himself from this forbidden act. His second duty is that he should compensate for it as far as possible. If he has backbitten a dead person, he should ask Allah's forgiveness for the person as often as he can. If he has backbitten a living person, and what he said was also false, he should refute it before the people before whom he had made the calumny. And if what he said was true, he should never speak ill of him in future, and should ask pardon of the person whom he had backbitten. A section of the scholars has expressed the opinion that pardon should be asked only in case the other person has come to know of it; otherwise one should only offer repentance, for if the person concerned is unaware and the backbiter in order to ask pardon goes and tells him that he had backbitten him, he would certainly feel hurt.
In the verse, Allah by likening backbiting to eating a dead brother's flesh has given the idea of its being an abomination. Eating the dead flesh is by itself abhorrent; and when the flesh is not of an animal, but of a man, and that too of one's own dead brother, abomination would be added to abomination. Then, by presenting the simile in the interrogative tone it has been made all the more impressive, so that every person may ask his own conscience and decide whether he would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. If he would not, and he abhors it by nature, how he would like that he should attack the honour of his brother-in-faith in his absence, when he cannot defend himself and when he is wholly unaware that he is being disgraced. This shows that the basic reason of forbidding backbiting is not that the person being backbitten is being hurt but speaking ill of a person in his absence is by itself unlawful and forbidden whether he is aware of it, or not, and whether he feels hurt by it or not. Obviously, eating the flesh of a dead man is not forbidden because it hurts the dead man; the dead person is wholly unaware that somebody is eating of his body, but because this act by itself is an abomination. Likewise, if the person who is backbitten also does not come to know of it through any means, he will remain unaware throughout his life that somebody had attacked his honour at a particular time before some particular people and on that account he had stood disgraced in the eyes of those people. Because of this unawareness he will not feel at all hurt by this backbiting, but his honour would in any case be sullied. Therefore, this act in its nature is not any different from eating the flesh of a dead brother.
Inducement towards the Recitation of some Special verses and Surah of the Noble Qur'an
1009. Abu Sa`id Ar-Rafi` bin Al-Mu`alla (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Shall I teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur'an before you leave the mosque?'' Then he (PBUH), took me by the hand, and when we were about to step out, I reminded him of his promise to teach me the greatest Surah in the Qur'an. He (PBUH) said, "It is `Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil `Alamin (i.e., Surat Al-Fatihah) which is As-Sab` Al-Mathani (i.e., the seven oft-repeated Ayat) and the Great Qur'an which is given to me.''
Commentary: Allah the Almighty says:
"And indeed, We have bestowed upon you seven of Al-Mathani (the seven repeatedly recited Ayat), (i.e., Surat Al-Fatihah) and the Grand Qur'an.'' (15:87).
This Hadith is an elaboration of the Quranic Ayah quoted above. The Prophet (PBUH) held that As-Sab` Al-Mathani is Surat Al-Fatihah (the Opening Chapter) because these seven Ayat are recited not only in every Salat but in every Rak`ah of every Salat for the reason that no Salat is valid without the recitation of this Surah, as is evident from the saying of the Prophet (PBUH): "The Salat of that person who has not recited Surat Al-Fatihah is void.'' It has also been regarded as the greatest Surah of the Qur'an as it covers all the objects of the Qur'an and is a condensation of all the subjects which have been discussed in detail in its other Surah. It includes the belief in the Tauhid (the belief in the Oneness of Allah)), the worship of Allah, the Day of Resurrection, promise (of Jannah) and warning (against Hell-fire), instances of the pious and impious people of the past communities, and the lessons their conduct has for others. Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi have reported a Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Al-hamdu lillahi Rabbil `Alamin (i.e., Surat Al-Fatihah) is Umm-ul-Qur'an that is its origin, basis and essence".
1010. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported about Surat Al-Ikhlas (Chapter 112): The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, it is equivalent to one-third of the Qur'an.''
According to another version, he (PBUH) said to his Companions, "Is anyone of you incapable of reciting one-third of the Qur'an in one night?'' They considered it burdensome and said: "O Messenger of Allah, which of us can afford to do that?'' He (PBUH) said, "Surat Al-Ikhlas [Say: He is Allah (the) One] is equivalent to one-third of the Qur'an.''
Commentary: One reading of Surat Al-Ikhlas has return and reward equal to the recitation of one-third of the Qur'an. This Surah mentions the Oneness of Allah. This is enough to make one realize how much Allah (SWT) likes the recitation and remembrance of His Oneness. This is the reason, He has declared Shirk (polytheism) an absolutely unpardonable sin.
1011. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man heard another reciting Surat Al-Ikhlas repeatedly. The next morning he came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and informed him about it as if he considered it to be of little reward. On that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, this Surah is equal to one-third of the Qur'an.''
Commentary: "Yataqalluha'' means he thought that its recitation had no special merits. The Prophet (PBUH) clarified his misunderstanding by elucidating its eminence.
1012. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Surat Ikhlas is equivalent to one-third of the Qur'an.''
1013. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man said: "O Messenger of Allah! I love Surat-Al-Ikhlas [Say: He is Allah, (the) One].'' He (PBUH) said, "Your love for it will admit you to Jannah.''
Commentary: Some scholars have highlighted the eminence of Surat Al-Ikhlas by saying that it comprises the whole discipline of Tauhid. This Surat deals with Tauhid. Many other reasons have also been given for its great eminence by Muslim scholars.
1014. `Uqbah bin `Amir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Do you not know that last night certain Ayat were revealed the like of which there is no precedence. They are: `Say: I seek refuge with (Allah) the Rubb of the daybreak' (Surah 113), and `Say: I seek refuge with (Allah) the Rubb of mankind' (Surah 114).''
Commentary: "Alam tara'' means "Have not you seen?'' or "Are you not aware?''
"There is no precedence'' means that there is no other complete Surat in the Qur'an on this subject, except these two. For this reason these two Surat are called (Al-Mu`awwidhatain) which means two Surat which we use to seek Allah's protection.
1015. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to seek protection against the evil of jinn and the evil eyes till Surat Al-Falaq and Surat An-Nas were revealed. After they were revealed, he took to them for seeking Allah's protection and left everything besides them.
Commentary: Like men, jinns have also good and bad elements among them. Almighty Allah has endowed them with such power that if they want they can, with the Will of Allah, harm human beings. This is the reason mischievous jinns harm people. Similarly, influence of the evil eye is also true. What it means is that if a person looks at someone with greed and envy, the evil effects of his look will reach the person viewed, and because of that he has to suffer some loss or trouble or accident. For this reason, the Prophet (PBUH) would seek the protection of Allah against the jinns and the evil eye and pray in his own words for it, saying: "I seek Your protection against jinns and evil eyes of the people.'' After the revelation of the Surah Al-Falaq and An-Nas (last two Surah of the Quran) he started reciting them because these were revealed for this purpose. These Surah are also called "Al-Mu`awwidhatain'' which mean two Surah which provide protection. It is, therefore, very useful to seek the protection of Allah by reciting them.
1016. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "There is a Surah in the Qur'an which contains thirty Ayat which kept interceding for a man until his sins are forgiven. This Surah is `Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion.' (Surat Al-Mulk 67).''
[At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].
Commentary: This Hadith means that on the Day of Resurrection this Surah will intercede with Allah for the forgiveness of its reciter. This Hadith has been narrated (in Arabic) in the past tense because, like the past indefinite, its occurrence is definite and not open to inquiry. At some places, however, it has also been narrated in the present tense.
1017. Abu Mas`ud Al-Badri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Prophet (PBUH) saying, "He who recites the two Ayat at the end of Surat Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice him.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: "Suffice him'' here means that he will be protected from the evils. Its another meaning is that these two Ayat will take the place of Tahajjud (optional prayer in the late hours of the night). Imam An-Nawawi has cited the latter meaning.
1018. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: "Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Satan runs away from the house in which Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.''
Commentary: This Hadith instructs us not to turn our homes into the like of a graveyard through the negligence of reciting the Qur'an in them. It also points out the excellence of Surat Al-Baqarah, which when recited, will certainly keep the devil away.
1019. Ubayy bin Ka`b (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Abu Mundhir! Do you know which Ayah in Allah's Book is the greatest?'' I replied: "It is `Allah la ilaha illa Huwal-Haiyul-Qayum (Allah! none has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living...)'.'' (2:256) Thereupon he (PBUH) patted me in the chest and said, "Rejoice by this knowledge, O Abu Mundhir!''
Commentary: The words cited in the Hadith occur at the beginning of Ayat-ul-Kursi (No. 256 of Surat Al-Baqarah of the Qur'an). The merits mentioned in the Hadith are for the whole Ayah. Ayat-ul-Kursi mentions the Majestic Attributes and Mighty Powers of Allah and is, therefore, very meritorious.
"Rejoice by this knowledge'' means "May this knowledge be a source of respect, honour and benefit to you.'' And knowledge here stands for the knowledge of the Qur'an and Hadith which is certainly a means of success in this world and the Hereafter.
1020. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) put me in charge of charity of Ramadan (Sadaqat-ul-Fitr). Somebody came to me and began to take away some food-stuff. I caught him and said, "I must take you to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).'' He said, "I am a needy man with a large family, and so I have a pressing need.'' I let him go. When I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) next morning, he asked me, "O Abu Hurairah! What did your captive do last night?'' I said, "O Messenger of Allah! He complained of a pressing need and a big family. I felt pity for him so I let him go.'' He (PBUH) said, "He told you a lie and he will return.'' I was sure, according to the saying of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) that he would return. I waited for him. He sneaked up again and began to steal food-stuff from the Sadaqah. I caught him and said; "I must take you to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).'' He said, "Let go of me, I am a needy man. I have to bear the expenses of a big family. I will not come back.'' So I took pity on him and let him go. I went at dawn to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) who asked me, "O Abu Hurairah! What did your captive do last night?'' I replied, "O Messenger of Allah! He complained of a pressing want and the burden of a big family. I took pity on him and so I let him go.'' He (PBUH) said, "He told you a lie and he will return.'' (That man) came again to steal the food-stuff. I arrested him and said, "I must take you to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), and this is the last of three times. You promised that you would not come again but you did.'' He said, "Let go of me, I shall teach you some words with which Allah may benefit you.'' I asked, "What are those words?'' He replied, "When you go to bed, recite Ayat-ul-Kursi (2:255) for there will be a guardian appointed over you from Allah, and Satan will not be able to approach you till morning.'' So I let him go. Next morning the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked me, "What did your prisoner do last night.'' I answered, "He promised to teach me some words which he claimed will benefit me before Allah. So I let him go.'' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked, "What are those words that he taught you?'' I said, "He told me: `When you go to bed, recite Ayat-ul-Kursi from the beginning to the end i.e.,[ Allah! none has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi encompasses the heavens and the earth, and preserving them does not fatigue Him. And He is the Most High, the Most Great].' (2:255). He added: `By reciting it, there will be a guardian appointed over you from Allah who will protect you during the night, and Satan will not be able to come near you until morning'.'' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Verily, he has told you the truth though he is a liar. O Abu Hurairah! Do you know with whom you were speaking for the last three nights?'' I said, "No.'' He (PBUH) said, "He was Shaitan (Satan).''
Commentary: This Hadith tells us the excellence of Ayat-ul-Kursi and the importance of reciting it before going to bed.
1021. Abud-Darda' (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Whoever commits to memory the first ten Ayat of the Surat Al-Kahf, will be protected from (the trial of) Ad-Dajjal (Antichrist).''
In another narration, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "(Whoever commits to memory) the last ten Ayat of Surat Al-Kahf, he will be protected from (the trial of) Ad-Dajjal (Antichrist).''
Commentary: Ad-Dajjal will appear sometime before Yaum-ul-Qiyamah. Allah, the Almighty will give him some supernatural powers the manifestation of which will shake the faith of many people. For this reason, this will be a serious trial. All Prophets warned their people against him. Our Prophet (PBUH) also warned us against him and ordered us to guard ourselves from it and strictly advised us to seek Refuge of Allah against it. This Hadith tells us the way to save ourselves from Ad-Dajjal. The recitation of the first or the last ten Ayat of Surat Al-Kahf, in the morning and evening, is very useful for this purpose. Sheikh Al-Albani has, however, regarded the last ten Ayat probably and the first ten Ayat surely effective against this mischief.
1022. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: While Jibril (Gabriel) was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), he heard a sound above him. He lifted his head, and said: "This is a gate which has been opened in heaven today. It was never opened before.'' Then an angel descended through it, he said: "This is an angel who has come down to earth. He never came down before.'' He sent greetings and said: "Rejoice with two lights given to you. Such lights were not given to any Prophet before you. These (lights) are: Fatihah-til-Kitab (Surat Al-Fatihah), and the concluding Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings it contains.''
Commentary: This Hadith tells the excellence of the last Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. (That is from Amanar-Rasul to the end of the Surah). Any one who recites these Ayat with a sincere heart will receive guidance, forgiveness and bliss in this life and in the Hereafter.