Don’t mix truth with falsehood – Tarawih reflections 15

Don’t mix truth with falsehood - Tarawih reflections 15

From ayah 69 of Surat Ale ‘Imran onwards, Allah talks about the phenomenon of People of the Book who knew the truth about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, but refused to accept it. Allah had sent signs in the Torah and Injeel that another prophet was coming, but they hid these signs because they did not want to believe.

‘A group from the people of the Book loves to mislead you, while they mislead none but themselves, and they do not realise.’ [3:69] True believers’ imaan will not be shaken by anything.

Abu Sufyan’s meeting with Heraclius

There is a famous narration in Sahih Bukhari about Abu Sufyan’s meeting with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, quite early after Hijra, when the emperor called Abu Sufyan to ask him questions about the Prophet ﷺ.

One of the questions Heraclius asked was, ‘Does anybody who embraces his religion become displeased and renounce the religion afterwards?’

Abu Sufyan was not yet Muslim, but he still answered honestly out of fear that his companions would call him out as a liar if he didn’t. He had to say that none of the Muslims would leave their faith.

Heraclius said that this was a sign of true faith, as ‘when its delight enters the hearts and mixes with them completely.’ Once the sweetness of imaan resides in your heart, you will not go back to disbelief. 

Misled people want to mislead others

This section of ayahs was revealed because members of the Jewish community had been approaching companions – including some quite high profile ones, like Mu’adh bin Jabal, Ammar and Hudhayfah – to convince them to convert to Judaism instead of following Islam. This is why Allah says that the People of the Book will not mislead any but themselves – i.e. they are trying to mislead the Muslims, but they can’t.

If you look deeper, you find that this is a reflection of an illness in the heart. Think of a troublemaking schoolchild who wants everyone else to be in detention with them. The aren’t satisfied by being naughty themselves, they want everyone else to be the same as well. This is the situation Allah is describing.

The technique to mislead people

O People of the Book! Why do you mix the truth with falsehood and hide the truth knowingly? [3:71]

Allah asks them why they are doing this, and then He answers His own question: this is their technique to mislead people.

A group among the People of the Book said ˹to one another˺, “Believe in what has been revealed to the believers in the morning and reject it in the evening, so they may abandon their faith.’ [3:72]

Their plan is to pretend to believe in Islam in the morning, and pray Fajr with them, then at the end of the day they would leave and go back to their own religion.

The context for this is that the Arabs used to look up to the People of the Book, as they had no book of their own. They considered the Jews and Christians as more educated, and those groups used to look down on the Arabs for not having a Messenger or book.

Therefore, their plan was that when they left Islam, the Arabs would think that they had discovered flaws in this new religion. Thinking that the People of the Book were better able to judge these things, they hoped that the Arabs would just follow in their footsteps and also abandon Islam. They wanted to plant a seed of doubt to get people to divert from the truth.

The danger of envy

All of this was ultimately a result of envy. The Jews were expecting a prophet, but it never crossed their minds that he would come from the Arabs. Historically, Jews have no roots in the Arab world. But because they knew the last Messenger would come from that area, they travelled to settle there because they believed that he could only come from their community.

When they discovered that he had come from the Arabs, they were shocked and envious, and therefore not interested. Allah stated this to be the case several times in the Quran.

وَدَّ كَثِیرٌ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ لَوۡ یَرُدُّونَكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ إِیمَـٰنِكُمۡ كُفَّاراً حَسَداً مِّنۡ عِندِ أَنفُسِهِم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا تَبَیَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلۡحَقُّۖ فَٱعۡفُوا۟ وَٱصۡفَحُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ یَأۡتِیَ ٱللَّهُ بِأَمۡرِهِۦۤۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَیۡءࣲ قَدِیرٌ

(O Muslims,) many among the people of the Book desire to turn you, after your accepting the faith, back into disbelievers – all out of envy on their part, even after the truth has become clear to them. So, forgive and overlook till Allah brings out His command. Certainly, Allah is powerful over everything. [Al-Baqarah, 2:109]

People who sow doubt in the community

Today in our community, we also have some who mix truth and falsehood, such as by forging fatwas to approve what certain rulers are doing. It’s like a click on demand service, coming up with any ruling to suit what someone wants. This is a test from Allah, and there will be people like this until the Day of Judgement.

These ayahs are there to warn us against this type of people, who would come and cause doubt and distrust in the community. But the true believers will not be shaken, because they are connected with Allah and have deep trust in Him. We ask Allah to protect us from delusion and from these troublemakers.

Based on the reflections of Shaykh Haytham Tamim

Transcribed by Hana Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.