Ramadan – a month of internal and external victories
Ramadan: victory against your nafs and your enemy
Praise be to God, we have received an honourable guest, Ramadan, which will stay with us for around a month. Guests usually brings gifts, and Ramadan generously brings with it forgiveness and mercy in abundance.
In Ramadan, God has made it compulsory for us to fast, as He stated in the Quran:
O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will gain taqwa. (2:183)
The verse ends with you will achieve ‘taqwa’, in the second person “you”. The last of the verses of fasting, reiterate this in the third person, that they may achieve taqwa:
These are the limits set by God, so do not exceed them. This is how God makes His revelations clear to people, so they may achieve taqwa. (2:187)
The definition of taqwa is to fulfil your obligations and refrain from whatever is forbidden, which is essentially obedience. The one who does what he is told and stays away from what has been prohibited is, in one word, obedient.
Ramadan is a training camp which teaches us how to gain victory over our own selves and our enemies. We can win the internal battle when we achieve taqwa, i.e. through being obedient to God.
How to we gain victory over external enemies?
Throughout our history, there have been several invasions and battles in Ramadan that have brought relief and victory to the Muslim Ummah. Most notably were:
• 624CE Victory at the Battle of Badr on 17th Ramadan 2AH.
• 630CE The Conquest of Makkah on 10th Ramadan 8AH.
• 636CE The Battle of Qadisiyyah in Ramadan 15AH led by Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas.
• 711CE The Conquest of Andalusia in Ramadan in 92AH under the leadership of Tariq Bin Ziyad.
• 1127CE The Battle of Hittin in 584AH Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin) and his troops fought and triumphed against the Crusaders
• 1260CE The Battle of Ayn Jalut in Palestine in Ramadan 658AH under the leadership of Sultan Qutuz and military commander Baybars, which stopped the advance of the Mongols in the East.
These victories were unimaginable at the time and changed the course of history. Allah Almighty has said that even though it seems unthinkable, Allah can grant victory:
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا اسْتَيْأَسَ الرُّسُلُ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ قَدْ كُذِبُوا جَاءَهُمْ نَصْرُنَا فَنُجِّيَ مَن نَّشَاءُ ۖ وَلَا يُرَدُّ بَأْسُنَا عَنِ الْقَوْمِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ
Until, when the messengers have despaired, and thought that they were rejected, Our victory came to them. We save whomever We will, and Our severity is not averted from the guilty people. (12:110)
Battle of Badr
The very first battle was the Battle of Badr which took place in Ramadan two years after the migration of Muslims from Makkah to Madinah (2AH/624CE) to escape persecution and found the first Islamic community. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) led 300 of his Companions to a decisive victory. It boosted their morale and gave them confidence.
Muslims who had fled persecution from Makkah had lost their homes and property to the Quraysh wanted to recover some of their wealth so they set out to intercept an enemy caravan. A detachment of just 313 men fought 1000 men led by Abu Jahl.
In the Quran, Allah mentioned the battle and how He enabled them to be victorious despite their weakness compared to the might of their enemy:
God had given you victory at Badr, when you were weak. So fear God, that you may be thankful. (3:123)
Conquest of Makkah
In the eighth year after the migration of Muslims from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) entered the city of Makkah with an army of 10,000 and won victory peacefully after the Quraysh broke their covenant, the Treaty of Hudaibiya with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, the leader of the Quraysh, surrendered. The believers were triumphant in the land where they had been persecuted for 10 years.
It was a major turning point in the history of Islam, signalling the end of idol worship in the Arabian Peninsula and around the holy vicinity of the Kaaba.
The defining feature of this conquest was not only its peaceful nature but that the Prophet (peace be on him) extraordinary quality of forgiveness which he showed his fiercest opponents and his bitter enemies, saying to them “you are free”.
Among the commands he (peace be on him) had given his army was that they were not to chop down any trees or destroy any crops or other valuable resources. Women, children and old people were not to be attacked or harmed in any way. Anyone who took refuge in the Kaaba or the house of Abu Sufyan or their own house was not to be harmed. No unarmed men were to be attacked. Moreover, Muslims were not allowed to attack, only to defend themselves.
The Prophet Muhammad(peace be on him) entered Makkah with humility, his head lowered, aware this victory was a blessing from God Almighty. The exemplary conduct of the Prophet (peace be on him) brought about massive conversions to Islam and finally crushed the threat of Quraysh of Makkah who had been determined to wipe out their existence from the start.
Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas set out to face the Persian army in Qadisiyyah (near Kufah, in Iraq) during Ramadan 15AH (636CE) with the Muslim army, comprised of 30,000 men and very few resources. They faced the mighty 100,000 strong Persian army and their formidable elephant corps.
On the fourth day of fighting, a sandstorm blew up against the Sassanids and the Muslims managed to slay the Persian commander, Rostam. The Persians abandoned the field, and this battle led to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire of Persia with a resounding Muslim victory. Sa’ad wrote a letter to the Khalifah, ‘Umar stating:
“Lo, God has given us victory over the Persians…the Muslims met numbers chroniclers have not heard of but their numbers were of no avail to them and God gave their possessions to the Muslims.”
In the Quran, Allah states that no one can overcome you when Allah supports you:
إِن يَنصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَن ذَا الَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّن بَعْدِهِ ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
If God supports you, there is none who can overcome you. But if He fails you, who is there to help you after Him? So in God let the believers put their trust. (3:160)
Conquest of Andalusia
Tariq bin Ziyad led approximately 7,000 Umayyad troops in Ramadan 92AH (711CE) to face King Luderique of the Visigothic Kingdom. Outnumbered 3:1 by the enemy, the Muslims still managed to defeat the Visigoths in a decisive victory at the Battle of Guadalete. This led to Muslim conquest of Spain for eight centuries (711-1492CE) in the region. Gibraltar got its name from the place the Muslim army landed – Jabal-Tariq ‘Mountain of Tariq’.
Andalusia had been ruled by an unjust king, Ludrique, who was hated by his own people. They wanted him overthrown, so sought the help of the Muslims, as they were impressed by their rule over the North African region.
A decisive battle took place between the two armies near Shadhunah on 28th Ramadan and continued for eight days. The Muslims fought courageously against their well-equipped enemy. They were victorious due to their excellent preparation, deeply-rooted faith and sincerity.
On the eighth day of the battle, Roderic, the last of the Visigoth kings, fled after the battle. Tariq conquered the country. As he marched north, he encountered very little resistance. He treated indigenous people kindly and he did not destroy their churches.
He was a great commander who managed, through his faith, patience, decisiveness and determination, to achieve a series of victories. He would think over his steps, and he was not hasty in taking decisions. He did in-depth research and planning before he made his moves. He was also a faithful believer and had full trust in God even at the most critical moments.
Andalusia became one of the great Muslim civilisations; reaching its summit with the Umayyad caliphate of Cordovain the tenth century.
Battle of Hittin
Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin) and his troops fought and triumphed against the Crusaders at the Horns of Hittin, northern Palestine in Ramadan in 584AH (1187CE). This battle paved the way for Salahuddin’s conquest of Jerusalem.
The Crusaders had massacred over 70,000 Muslims and Jews. Muslim leaders of the time were weak, disunited and engaged in in-fighting with neighbouring Muslim rulers. Salahuddin al-Ayyubi quickly rose to power becoming the ruler of Egypt and wanted to liberate Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
When the peace treaties between him and the Crusader Kingdom was repeatedly broken, he marched and laid siege to Crusader fortresses and fought the Crusaders at the Battle of Hittin. Victorious under Salahuddin’s command, the Ayyubid army wrested control of Palestine and liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, who had conquered the area 88 years earlier. This marked a turning point in its conflict for the Muslims.
Where the Crusaders massacred thousands of Muslims and Jews to take Jerusalem in the first Crusade, Salahuddin was magnanimous and let them go peacefully with all their belongings if they paid a small ransom and those who couldn’t pay went completely free.
At the height of his power, Salahuddin ruled a unified Muslim region stretching from Egypt to Arabia. He is celebrated for his political and military skills, as well as his generosity and chivalry.
His goal was to unite the Muslim territories of Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt under his rule, and by 1186 he had achieved it through a mix of diplomacy and military force.
Known for his love of poetry and gardens, he was a well-respected, chivalrous, generous and noble leader. This was underpinned by his being pious and devout, and his resolve, as he never gave up. God rewarded him by enabling him to secure victory in re-conquering Jerusalem.
In the Quran is says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ
O you who believe! If you support God, He will support you, and will strengthen your foothold. (47:7)
۞ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُدَافِعُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ خَوَّانٍ كَفُورٍ
God defends those who believe. God does not love any ungrateful traitor. (22:38)
Battle of Ayn Jalut
In the early thirteenth century CE, the Mongol invasions shook a large part of the globe. As Genghis Khan had united the warring Mongol tribes he embarked on a series of conquests in China, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Russia. Then he reached the Muslim civilisation in Persia and Central Asia.
Not since the Battle of Badr had the Islamic world stood face to face with extinction as it did at the Battle of Ayn Jalut. The Mongols were skilled but notoriously brutal warriors, who slaughtered enormous numbers of people in the cities that they conquered.
After this victory, the fortunes of the Muslims improved and Mongols became weaker. Many of the Mongols, including their leaders in the Muslim portion of their empire (Iran and Central Asia) accepted Islam and all of the territories they had conquered from the Muslims were restored under Muslim rule.
The Mamluk Sultan of Egypt at that time, Saifuddin Qutuz, decided to face and fight the Mongols. He lead an army to Palestine with his military commander Baybars, to stop the invasion.
The two forces met each at Ain Jalut in Palestine, which literally means “Spring of Goliath” on 25th of Ramadan in 658AH (1260 CE). Both armies were of comparable strength at about twenty thousand soldiers each.
The leader of the Mongol army, General Ketbugha was captured and executed by the Mamluks. At the end of the battle most of the Mongol army was destroyed and the Mamluks achieved a decisive victory. The Mamluk losses were significant as well.
As a result of this battle the Mongol advance was halted and the Muslim world was saved from perhaps total occupation by the Mongols. Indeed it ranks as one of the most decisive battles Muslims fought since the Battle of Badr because a loss at Ain Jalut would have meant the loss of Egypt and the Hijaz, including Makkah and Madinah.
In Surat al-Imran, God Almighty describes how He fortifies believers who seek His assistance:
وَلَمَّا بَرَزُوا لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ وَآتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاءُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ
And when they confronted Goliath and his troops, they said, “Our Lord, pour down patience on us, and strengthen our foothold, and support us against the faithless people.”
And they defeated them by God’s leave, and David killed Goliath, and God gave him sovereignty and wisdom, and taught him as He willed. Were it not for God restraining the people, some by means of others, the earth would have gone to ruin. But God is gracious towards mankind.(2:250-251)
The ingredients of victory
What are the ingredients of victory (nasr)? Nasr is always linked to sabr in the Quran. Patience is on the main ingredients as well as sincerity towards God. Internal preparation comes before external preparation. Ramadan builds the internal preparation in the Ummah for victory
الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ
Those who, when We empower them in the land, observe the prayer, and give regular charity, and command what is right, and forbid what is wrong. To God belongs the outcome of events. (22:41)
It does not matter what size the enemy is, even if it is an entire nation, Allah can destroy them as He destroyed all the rebellious people at the time of Prophet Nuh (peace be on him):
وَنُوحًا إِذْ نَادَىٰ مِن قَبْلُ فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَأَهْلَهُ مِنَ الْكَرْبِ الْعَظِيمِ
And Noah, when he called before. So We answered him, and delivered him and his family from the great disaster. (21:76)
وَنَصَرْنَاهُ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمَ سَوْءٍ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
And We supported him against the people who rejected Our signs. They were an evil people, so We drowned them all. (21:77)
Factors in securing victory
Timing is one of the key ingredients in any victory, as is understanding the reality of the situation, and how power structures work. Above all, have a strong link with God. During the first battle, which took place in Badr, on paper, they should have lost, yet because of their reliance on God, Muslims believers were victorious.
Having brute strength or massive force is not everything; you certainly need it, but it is not the only determining factor to gain victory. You need a strategy (including using the media), resilience, mental strength and reliance on God Almighty. Then inshallah God will give victory to those fighting for their rights.
وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ لَكُمْ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُكُم بِهِ ۗ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
God made it but a message of hope for you, and to reassure your hearts thereby. Victory comes only from God the Almighty, the Wise. (3:126)
With the Muslim world in disarray at the moment and scourge of corrupt leaders sinking to even lower depths in their greed and machinations, what hope is there for the sincere?
We must adhere to the principles that we were sent to follow. We must work on inner strength and connection with Allah, work on our strategy and have determination. No lost battle is the final defeat until one gives up.
We ask God to enable us to achieve victory over our own self and our enemies. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Khutbah 8th April 2022. Edited and elaborated by Ayesha Khan.
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