How to Face Challenges? And Be Strong Instead of Weak
The Recipe for Success and Unity
‘O you who believe when you meet your enemy forces, take the firm stand against them and remember Allah Almighty much so that you may be successful and do not dispute with one another, lest you will achieve failure and your power will depart from you and be patient, indeed Allah Almighty is with those who are patient.’ (8:45)
In Surah Anfal, Allah Almighty is confirming the importance of thabat or steadfastness, of being firm in your positions. Although, Surah Anfal is referring to the battlefield and the attack of enemies, this verse is not restricted to real battle, but extends to everyday challenges in our life.
Not Burying Your Head in the Sand
The main thing about this ayah is how to face these challenges. What do you do? It’s very easy to run away, to turn a blind eye and claim ‘I’ve seen nothing, I’ve heard nothing’, to ignore it. But, this is not the position of the believers.
Face Your Challenges with Firmness
Allah Almighty warns us to face challenges head on, as all prophets and all messengers did – from the time of Adam till the Prophet (peace be upon him), all of them, were faced with countless challenges.
When you face your enemies, your challenges, whether it’s in your house, in your community, in your work, in your ummah, take a firm stand against it.
We are weak Allah, so how can we take this firm stance?
In order to strengthen your weakness, you have to be in continuous remembrance of Allah Almighty’ He specifically linked achieving results with two things: thabat and dhikr of Allah Almighty, being firm in your position, and being in the status of remembrance of Allah Almighty.
This imaan is reflected in your actions. Imaan is not just a claim, or a badge we wear. It actually changes your position from weakness to power when you harness it to act upon on it.
Allah Almighty didn’t say ‘remember Allah Almighty’, He said ‘remember Allah Almighty much’. You can only be in one state at a time, either in the status of heedlessness (ghaflah) or in the status of dhikr (remembrance).
As narrated in Muslim, when they asked Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) about the Prophet (peace be upon him) she said he used to remember Allah Almighty much in all his positions, outside/inside, whatever he was doing in a continuous state of remembrance of the Almighty.
Remembering Allah Almighty continually will enable us to face any challenge.
Prophets and messengers were faced with huge challenges in their communities, maligned, smeared and insulted. Attacked, persecuted and assassinated – some chopped into pieces. Yet their position was very firm. They did not give in. They demonstrated bravery and courage, with a strong imaan and connection to Allah Almighty.
Internal and External
Imaan is the internal position, so what about the external position?
The external aspect of imaan is obedience to Allah Almighty and His Messenger (peace be on him), and do not dispute with one another. Why? Because discord is the recipe for failure and disaster.
Our ummah today is fragmented into different groups and conflicting opinions. Although, we are nearly 2 billion, in terms of our strength there are only about 3 million who are united.
Having different opinions is natural and healthy, however it is forbidden to argue and fight. This weakens us. Firmness and strength cannot be achieved whilst we are disputing, fighting and killing one another. This simply leads to a loss of power, and respect.
Disputing Weakens the Ummah
There is no place for weak people in negotiations, and on an international level, weak people have no voice at all, let alone make the decisions. They have zero influence.
Allah Almighty said:
‘and hold fast all of you together to the rope of Allah and do not be disunited.’ (3:103)
Do Not Let Emotions Create Rifts
To be united as an ummah, we cannot act based on emotions. In the very famous narration from the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said:
Do not envy one another, do not have hatred towards each other. The Muslim is the brother of his Muslim. (Muslim)
Put your feelings aside. Put your envy aside. Put your lower self (nafs) aside.
The bigger picture is the ummah picture.
If we were united, then it will be in the blink of an eye we could stop the massacres in Syria, Palestine, Burma and Yemen. Unfortunately we are not, we are still following our desires, and the shaitan, and the politicians.
The moment we follow Allah Almighty and His Messenger, our ummah would regain its honour.
The story of Musa is not far from the story of the Prophet (peace be upon him). As Allah Almighty stated in Surah Yunus:
Indeed Firaun is so high in the land, and he crossed all the boundaries. And Musa said to his nation, ‘If you are true believers of Allah Almighty, in Him out your trust, if you are real obedient to Allah Almighty.’
When Musa said to his people, ‘in Him you put your trust’, he meant put your trust in Allah fully, put your trust in Him first, then deal with the means.
Take Ownership of Your Decisions
We have to stop blaming others for our reality and move away from a victim mentality. We need to take charge of our destiny by taking ownership for our decisions.
Unity has to start from our families, from our community, from our city, and so on and so forth.
Until then unity is a long way off. Our situation will not change overnight, as it takes time to change reality. We can regain this unity of the ummah if we follow what we were taught. It would bring the power of change.
Allah Almighty wants us to be in the position of change: those who change their reality to make it a better reality. Unless we change our practice, we cannot change our reality.
Khutbah delivered at Muslim World League
Transcribed by Sana Zuberi
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January 17, 2020
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