Five trials for the Ummah
The Prophet ﷺ warned us that the Ummah would be hit by fitan (trials) which would affect everyone just as the waves of the sea continually crash on the shore, and this fitan would drive people out of their minds and they would become like animals.
أخرج ابن أبي شيبة من طريق عاصم بن ضمرة عن علي قال ” وضع الله في هذه الأمة خمس فتن ” فذكر الأربعة ثم فتنة تموج كموج البحر وهي التي يصبح الناس فيها كالبهائم أي لا عقول لهم .
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Allah has placed in this Ummah five trials.” He mentioned the four, then a trial that ripples like a wave of the sea, and it is the one in which people become like beasts, meaning they have no brains. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah)
In each of the six renowned books of hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawoud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah), there is always a dedicated chapter on the trials and tribulations (fitan) which will afflict the Ummah.
The Prophet ﷺ warned us of these to prepare us for what is coming and also to give us insight into the Unseen. We cannot penetrate the Unseen with our intellect, or predict it, we can only access it through revelation and guidance.
عن علي – رضي الله عنه – ، قال : ” جعلت في هذه الأمة خمس فتن : فتنة عامة ، ثم فتنة خاصة ، ثم فتنة عامة ، ثم فتنة خاصة ، ثم تأتي الفتنة العمياء الصماء المطبقة التي تصير الناس فيها كالأنعام ” ” رواه الحاكم وقال: هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد ، ولم يخرجاه .
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Five trials have been placed in this Ummah: a general trial, then a specific trial, then a general trial, then a specific trial, and then comes the blind, deaf, and complete sedition in which people become like cattle.” [Mustadrak Al-Hakim]
ويؤيده حديث أبي موسى : تذهب عقول أكثر ذلك الزمان “
This is supported by the hadith of Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him):
“Most of the minds of that time are lost.” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah)
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said people will be as if the are insane. What can one say about the one who decides to invade another country and kill innocent people? What gives him the right to kill peaceful civilians who have done nothing to deserve this? It is the actions of someone who is driven mad and drunk on power. It is the someone who thinks that if he has nuclear weapons, and allies, he can do whatever he wants. This is insanity.
It is a sign of the Day of Judgement when people appoint unsuitable leaders to power. They will be like hip-bones being stuck onto ribs, as we see from the hadith below. Sadly we have no end of unsuitable leaders in power.
Darkness, death, war, plunder, disunity and the Great Trial
The most knowledgeable among all the Companions in the narrations of fitan was Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman, who compiled and memorised these narrations. He said that one day the Prophet ﷺ spent the entire day delivering a khutbah (sermon) on these trials. When the adhan was called, he ﷺ would stop to pray and then return and resume his sermon.
عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ، قَالَ قَامَ فِينَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَقَامًا مَا تَرَكَ شَيْئًا يَكُونُ فِي مَقَامِهِ ذَلِكَ إِلَى قِيَامِ السَّاعَةِ إِلاَّ حَدَّثَ بِهِ حَفِظَهُ مَنْ حَفِظَهُ وَنَسِيَهُ مَنْ نَسِيَهُ قَدْ عَلِمَهُ أَصْحَابِي هَؤُلاَءِ وَإِنَّهُ لَيَكُونُ مِنْهُ الشَّىْءُ قَدْ نَسِيتُهُ فَأَرَاهُ فَأَذْكُرُهُ كَمَا يَذْكُرُ الرَّجُلُ وَجْهَ الرَّجُلِ إِذَا غَابَ عَنْهُ ثُمَّ إِذَا رَآهُ عَرَفَهُ . رواه مسلم.
Hudhaifa reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stood before us one day and he did not leave anything unsaid (that he had to say) at that very spot which would happen (in the shape of turmoil) up to the Last Hour. Those who had to remember them preserved them in their minds and those who could not remember them forgot them. My friends knew them and there are certain things which slip out of my mind, but I recapitulate them when anyone makes a mention of them just as a person is lost from one’s mind but is recalled to him on seeing his face. (Muslim)
عن عبد الله بن عمر رضي الله تعالى عنهما يقول: كُنَّا قُعُودًا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ فَذَكَرَ الْفِتَنَ فَأَكْثَرَ فِي ذِكْرِهَا حَتَّى ذَكَرَ فِتْنَةَ الْأَحْلَاسِ، فَقَالَ قَائِلٌ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، وَمَا فِتْنَةُ الْأَحْلَاسِ؟
قَالَ: “هِيَ هَرَبٌ وَحَرْبٌ، ثُمَّ فِتْنَةُ السَّرَّاءِ، دَخَنُهَا مِنْ تَحْتِ قَدَمَيْ رَجُلٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ مِنِّي، وَلَيْسَ مِنِّي، وَإِنَّمَا أَوْلِيَائِي الْمُتَّقُونَ.
ثُمَّ يَصْطَلِحُ النَّاسُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ كَوَرِكٍ عَلَى ضِلَعٍ،
ثُمَّ فِتْنَةُ الدُّهَيْمَاءِ لَا تَدَعُ أَحَدًا مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ إِلَّا لَطَمَتْهُ لَطْمَةً، فَإِذَا قِيلَ: انْقَضَتْ تَمَادَتْ. يُصْبِحُ الرَّجُلُ فِيهَا مُؤْمِنًا وَيُمْسِي كَافِرًا، حَتَّى يَصِيرَ النَّاسُ إِلَى فُسْطَاطَيْن: فُسْطَاطِ إِيمَانٍ لَا نِفَاقَ فِيهِ، وَفُسْطَاطِ نِفَاقٍ لَا إِيمَانَ فِيهِ. فَإِذَا كَانَ ذَاكُمْ، فَانْتَظِرُوا الدَّجَّالَ مِنْ يَوْمِهِ أَوْ مِنْ غَدِهِ”. رواه أبو داود وأحمد. حديث صحيح.
Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
When we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he talked about periods of trials (fitan), mentioning many of them.
When he mentioned al ahlaas someone asked him, ‘Messenger of Allah ﷺ, what is the trial of al ahlaas?’
He replied, ‘It will be to do with escape, war and plunder’.
‘Then will come a test of al-sarra’ that pleases the enemy. Its murkiness is due to the fact that it is produced by a man from the people of my house, who will pretend that he belongs to me, whereas he does not, for my friends are only al muttaqoun, the obedient.
Then the people will agree to give the leadership to a man who will be like a hip-bone on a rib.
Then there will be the al duhaymaa’ the great trial which will leave none of this Ummah community without giving him a slap, and when people say that it is finished, it will be extended. During it a man will be a believer in the morning and an infidel in the evening, so that the people will be in two camps: the camp of faith which will contain no hypocrisy, and the camp of hypocrisy which will contain no faith. When that happens, expect the Antichrist (Dajjal) that day or the next.’ (Abu Dawoud and Ahmad)
The fitan – war and the displacement of people
We have been seeing the fitan in our world for sometime. We have had fighting and bloodshed and we have seen huge displacement of people from Syria, Iraq, Yeman, Afghanistan, Myanmar and more, and now Ukraine. We have tremendous loss of life in Yemen, and continual persecution in Palestine, against the Rohingya’s and Uighurs. We have seen Iraq decimated, Bosnia and Afghanistan destroyed.
Hudhaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) understood the hadith to mean that trials will be ongoing. They will be like a darkness that spreads over everything. They will stay for a long time. Just as we are witnessing in our time.
The Prophet (peace be on him) foretold all this in his Farewell Sermon, which was his last address to his people with his clear instructions on how his Ummah should behave and what they should not do.
وَعَنْ جَرِيرٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي حَجَّةِ الْوَدَاعِ: «لَا تَرْجِعُنَّ بَعْدِي كُفَّارًا يَضْرِبُ بَعْضُكُمْ رِقَاب بعض».متفق عليه.
He ﷺ said:
Do not turn back after me, disbelievers killing one other. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Unfortunately we have been disunited. We have turned a blind eye to atrocities in our midst and it is no wonder that our Ummah has become so weak. So weak, that no one respects the refugees from Muslim countries, unlike the refugees from Ukraine who are being treated with compassion and welcomed with open arms into Europe. These double standards are clear as day. The discrimination is stark, even though we are all human – whether we are Syrian or Ukrainian, brown-eyed or blue-eyed.
What to do in times of trial
As per the hadith, the last fitan is the greatest. It will affect everyone and slap everyone on the face. Is it the pandemic or war? We do not know, but it could be. The fitan will spread like the waves of the sea, whenever we think it is ending, another one, even greater than before will strike.
Calamities are indeed hitting us repeatedly. One after another.
Cling to your religion
What advice did the Prophet ﷺ give us to cope with this? He ﷺ told us to cling to our religion – to the Quran and the Sunnah. This means worshipping Allah as well as clinging to the principles of our religion, such as to promote justice for all people- regardless of their background, nationality, race, faith or colour.
وأخرج ابن أبي شيبة من وجه آخر عن حذيفة قال ” لا تضرك الفتنة ما عرفت دينك ; إنما الفتنة إذا اشتبه عليك الحق والباطل “.
Having faith will be extremely important, as truth and falsehood will be so mixed up, that only faith will give one the clarity and guidance to know right from wrong.
Hudhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“Tribulation will not harm you as long as you know your religion. The fitnah is only if the truth and falsehood become ambiguous over you.” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah)
When so many people are losing their minds, it is the time to show sabr (patience) and cling to your religion, even though having faith will become as painful as clinging onto a burning hot coal.
Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَى دِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْرِ ” .الترمذي.
“There shall come upon the people a time in which the one who is patient upon his religion will be like the one holding onto a burning ember.” (Tirmidhi)
When so many people are dying and the world becomes an increasingly contrary place to uphold values of righteousness, worshipping at this difficult time will have the same reward of migrating for the sake of Allah.
عن معقل بن يسار رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : “العبادة في الهرج كهجرة إلي” ((رواه مسلم)).
Ma’qil bin Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“The reward of worship performed at a time of trials is equal in reward to an emigration to me.” (Muslim)
We ask Allah to protect us from fitan, to keep us on the straight path, to give us patience and give us the ability to think and not to lose our minds. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Khutbah 18th March 2022
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