Responding to attacks on Islam with wisdom
The Quran is protected
Allah Almighty promised to protect the Quran. He stated this in the Quran:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
Surely We revealed the Message, and We will surely preserve it. [15:9]
In another verse, Allah Almighty described that though disbelievers wish to eradicate Islam and knowledge of Allah, they will never be able to.
يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّهُ إِلَّا أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
They want to extinguish Allah’s light with their mouths, but Allah refuses except to complete His light, even though the disbelievers dislike it. [9:32]
The command of the Creator is that He will protect the Quran no matter what happens. This is good news for believers, wherever they are. Although it makes you sad to see someone burning the Book of Allah, even though it is a translation of the Quran, not the Quran itself, it shows the hatred in their heart that leads them this criminal act under the guise of freedom of expression.
Yet again, freedom of expression seems only to apply selectively when it comes to insulting or defaming what is sacred to Muslims! We are told this simply a matter of freedom of expression. There have to be limits on freedom of speech – one person’s freedom to express their sentiments cannot be a licence to promote hatred.
Freedom of expression is a myth
If there was an attack on another religion or group, it would be treated differently. Other religions and groups are protected by laws criminalise inciting hatred towards them. Yet when it comes to Islam, we are fair game. We are meant to take it in the spirit of allowing others to say whatever they like, no matter how offensive or hurtful it may be.
This attitude towards Islam is not new. Since the time of the revelation of Islam to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he faced fierce animosity from his own people. Yet Islam survived despite this and will survive until the Day of Judgement. No one can stop it. No one can overturn the promise of Allah.
When the extent of the animosity culminates in aggression it is disturbing. However remember how many times the enemies of Islam tried to suppress the Prophet (peace be upon him) and stop the spread of Islam within Makkah itself, to the extent they tried to assassinate him. He escaped by migrating to Madinah and had a fresh start which was a fruitful beginning – the Prophet (peace be upon him) established Madinah as the first real Islamic state. The revelation came over 23 years, and throughout this time and till the end of his life, the Prophet (peace be upon him) exhorted his Ummah to convey the divine message.
Live by the Quran
Every single one of us is the manifestation of this message, and every single one of us can be the mirror of the Quran. Though we feel sad about has happened now, and what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future, it is an ongoing challenge which will never stop, it is the ongoing battle between good and evil.
Sometimes what makes me sad, is that while many Muslims love the Quran, they do not follow the Quran. It is a hollow love. Real love is not about being angry that someone attacked your Book, but applying what is in your Book to yourself. It requires application.
If we want to preserve our Book, we should preserve it in our actions, not by keeping the Quran as decoration in our homes and shops. The best way to preserve the Quran is living by it.
Islam will spread to every house – some will follow it and some will fight it
The Prophet (peace be upon him) promised that this religion would reach as far as the day and night can reach. Tamim bin Aws Al-Dari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said:
روى الصحابي الجليل تميم بن أوس الداري رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: (ليبلغنَّ هذا الأمر ما بلغ الليل والنهار، ولا يترك اللهُ بيتَ مَدَرٍ ولا وَبَرٍ، إلا أدخَله الله هذا الدين، بعزِّ عزيز أو بذلِّ ذليلٍ، عزًّا يُعِزُّ الله به الإسلامَ، وذلًّا يُذِلُّ الله به الكفر)؛ رواه الإمام أحمد والطبراني والبيهقي، وصحَّحه الحاكم والألباني.
This religion will reach what the night and the day reach, and God does not leave a house made of mud or wool, except that God enters it into this religion, with the glory of the dear or the humiliation of the humiliated. A glory with which God honours Islam, and a humiliation with which God humiliates disbelief). [Imam Ahmad, Tabarani and Bayhaqi]
Miqdad (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) say:
وفي هذا السياق أيضًا يروي الصحابي الجليل المقداد بن الأسود رضي الله عنه، قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: (لا يَبقى على ظهر الأرض بيت مَدَرٍ ولا وَبَرٍ، إلا أدخله الله كلمة الإسلام بعزِّ عزيزٍ أو ذل ذليلٍ؛ إما يُعِزُّهم الله فيجعلهم من أهلها، أو يُذلُّهم فيَدينون لها)؛ رواه أحمد والطبراني، وصحَّحه ابن حِبَّان والحاكم، وغيرهما.
“There will not remain on the face of the earth a mud-brick house or a camel’s hair tent which God will not cause the confession of Islam to enter bringing both mighty honour and abject abasement. God will either honour the occupants and put them among its adherents, or will humiliate them and they will be subject to it.” Miqdad said, “God will then receive complete obedience.” [Ahmad]
Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
ثبت في صحيح مسلم أنَّ النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: (إنَّ الله زوى لي الأرض، فرأيت مشارقَها ومغاربَها، وسيبلغ مُلك أُمتي ما زُوِي لي منها)،
Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends which have been drawn near me. [Muslim]
Spread Islam through your good character
Our responsibility is not to act with anger but to apply our Book in our life, to teach our children about our Book. It is the way we should live – by our Book.
Remember, the final revelation descended on Friday on the Day of Arafah, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was performing Hajj, and it confirmed that Islam is the religion Allah has chosen for all mankind:
This day I have completed for you your religion, bestowed upon you My mercy, accepted for you Islam as a way of life. [5:3]
Live Islam and spread it by applying it. Learn how to recite it properly and teach your children how to recite it properly and learn the meaning of the Quran and apply what you have learned. This is how we give back to the Quran. The Quran has rights upon us. These is the minimum we can do to fulfil the rights of the Quran. The Companions used to memorise five verses, reflect on them and apply them and then move on to the next five. This is how the Quran was passed on from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to his Companions. We need activism over emotional reaction. Emotions, no matter how strong, are fleeting shadows. They are not actions, only moments of happiness or sadness. They are not concrete.
Our duty to convey the message
In the Farewell Hajj, as narrated by Abu Bakra (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided. [28:56]
This means we have a duty to carry and convey the divine message. Our missions is not to convert people, but to inform them about Islam. Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) was unable to convert them or force belief on them – he could only offer them a choice. That is why Allah said ‘you cannot guide those whom you love,’ meaning you cannot make Islam enter their hearts. Guidance is a choice.
If someone seeks guidance, Allah will guide them. No one who was seeking the truth sincerely, has been unable to find it. It is not up to us, it is up to them what they choose. That is why Allah Almighty said, there is no coercion in religion. As Allah stated in the Quran (2:56). We cannot force our child to eat a dish, let alone force someone to choose a path. We can only explain why that path is the best path. Beyond that we have no remit and no control. That is why Allah ‘guides whom He wills’ i.e. those who sincerely seek guidance.
Allah cannot be harmed by anything
Throughout the history of Islam, we have often seen the biggest enemies of Islam, the Quran and the Prophet (peace be upon him) accept Islam. Yet if all people were as evil as devils it would not hurt Allah. And if all people were to be the best of creation, like the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) it would not increase Allah’s sovereignty or kingdom one jot. It is us who are benefiting when we follow guidance or harming ourselves when we reject it.
Take hope in Allah’s promise
There are many verses in the Quran in which Allah reassures us that Islam is the way of truth and He will protect it from its enemies, even though they hate it.
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا
It is He who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, in order to make it prevail over all religions, even though the idolaters dislike it. [9:33]
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
They want to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths; but Allah will complete His Light, even though the disbelievers dislike it. [61:8]
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
It is He who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the true religion, to make it prevail over all religions, even though the idolaters dislike it. [61:9]
بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي تَكْذِيبٍ
In fact, those who disbelieve are in denial.
وَاللَّهُ مِن وَرَائِهِم مُّحِيطٌ
And God encloses them from beyond.
بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَّجِيدٌ
In fact, it is a Glorious Quran.
فِي لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوظٍ
In a Preserved Tablet. [85:19-22]
The best way to react is not to react emotionally
The way to respond to attacks such as the recent burning of the Quran in Sweden by Far Right extremists, is not to react with violence, but to increase our relationship with the Quran. The best way to respond is to convey the message of Islam in the prophetic manner. Otherwise it is a trap and we will be the prey, ready to jump into the trap. We should be mature enough not to give those who are attacking us the reason to get votes.
Though the Quran is dear to our hearts, and burning it is unacceptable and abhorrent, it does not mean that we should react in a way that benefits the provocateurs rather than impedes them.
Let’s deal with this with maturity and be responsible. Use all legal channels and avenues to protest against this – write to your MPs and use social media to highlight that this is not acceptable, but do not respond in any way that gives those who attack us the satisfaction of making us appear reactive, violent and uncontrolled.
We ask Allah to give us wisdom to deal with all the challenges and calamities we are facing. We ask Allah Almighty to make us better Muslims.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Khutbah 27th Jan 2023
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