How to deal with injustice
In Surat Ibrahim Allah Almighty says:
وَلَا تَحۡسَبَنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَـٰفِلًا عَمَّا یَعۡمَلُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَۚ إِنَّمَا یُؤَخِّرُهُمۡ لِیَوۡمࣲ تَشۡخَصُ فِیهِ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ
Never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers are doing. He is but giving them respite up to a day when the eyes shall remain upraised (in terror). [Ibrahim:42]
In this verse, Allah is confirming the fact that nothing in this universe is out of His control. He is fully aware of everything that is going on.
During calamities many people are easily broken which reflects the inherent nature of humans, as Allah created man weak. What makes man strong is imaan. Only during calamities and when subjected to atrocities is the strength of imaan exposed and tested. These blows reveal the strength of our imaan and our qualities as an individual and as an Ummah. We have ongoing tests just as Allah tested those before us – prophets and messengers and their followers until the Day of Judgement.
In the midst of the test NEVER think that Allah is unaware of this. This is the point that Allah is highlighting here – when you do not see Allah’s intervention you might assume that He is not watching. You might wonder where He is and question why He has not intervened and a limited number of people may abandon their faith.
The Battle of the Ditch
During the Battle of the Ditch (Ahzab) at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) more than 10,000 confederates mobilised their troops and came to attack Madinah to kill the Prophet (peace be upon him) and wipe out Islam. Allah Almighty described this moment in the Quran in Surat al Ahzab, which is about this event. He said:
إِذۡ جَاۤءُوكُم مِّن فَوۡقِكُمۡ وَمِنۡ أَسۡفَلَ مِنكُمۡ وَإِذۡ زَاغَتِ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ ٱلۡحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۠
(Recall) when they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes were distracted, and the hearts reached the throats, and you were thinking about Allah all sorts of thoughts. [Al-Ahzab:10]
هُنَالِكَ ٱبۡتُلِیَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَزُلۡزِلُوا۟ زِلۡزَالاً شَدِیداً
There the believers were tested and shaken with a severe shaking. [Al-Ahzab:11]
Imagine this. Allah is describing the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) – they were the best of all Ummahs. We are nowhere near them. They were attacked from all sides and they were so shaken that their hearts jumped into their throats. They were seized by terror and all sorts of thoughts crossed their mind, just as we have now. We too are deeply shaken.
In this state of upset some people are critical of Allah and wondering why He has not come to our aid. However when we look to the Quran there are many lessons for us.
1. Know the tyrant’s strategy: Demonise the victim to justify killing
Firstly Allah has shown us the strategy of tyrants. This is what we need to take from Allah’s wisdom – that tactics tyrants use to terrorise and oppress people.
Firaun and Musa
When Musa introduced the divine message to Firaun, Firaun didn’t like it. He wanted to get rid of him, so he dehumanised him. It is not convincing to say ‘Don’t follow the good guy’. So the tyrant has to portray that he is the good guy and that the good guy is the bad guy. Therefore Firaun addressed his people and said he feared that Musa would corrupt them, their values and their religion and therefore asked them to condone killing him:
وَقَالَ فِرۡعَوۡنُ ذَرُونِیۤ أَقۡتُلۡ مُوسَىٰ وَلۡیَدۡعُ رَبَّهُۥۤۖ إِنِّیۤ أَخَافُ أَن یُبَدِّلَ دِینَكُمۡ أَوۡ أَن یُظۡهِرَ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ ٱلۡفَسَادَ
and Pharaoh said, ‘Leave me to kill Moses- let him call upon his Lord!- for I fear he may cause you to change your religion, or spread disorder in the land.’ [Ghafir:26]
In order to justify killing Musa, Firaun vilified him. He did not kill him without painting him as the villain first. This is the strategy of evil oppressors, tyrants and oppressors.
We saw this same tactic used in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was the most honest, trustworthy and decent person in Makkah, renowned for his good character. Yet the Quraysh of Makkah made out that he was mad, possessed, a liar, a sorcerer or a poet. They dehumanised him to justify killing him.
Quraysh put the prophet (peace be upon him) under siege for three years, and they sent a group to assassinate him but he left Makkah and migrated to Madinah.
If you read the history of all prophets – we see the same pattern repeated.
Today we are seeing the dehumanisation of the Palestinian people. The number of deaths keeps going up, more than 19,000 injured, over 7,000 have been killed. Half the casualties are children.
They are not Hamas. Instead of acknowledging that they are children, they are stripped of their humanity and devalued, in order to rationalise their tragic loss of life.
The sanctity of all human life
The taking of innocent life is prohibited by all religions and international law. We have to value the sacredness of every human being. This serves as a moral foundation that encourages compassion, peace, and respect for all individuals across various religious traditions.
2. Be united
We will never be able to escape tyranny and oppression unless we unite. In a telling narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) we discover that he asked Allah to grant his Ummah unity but Allah did not grant his dua to unite the Ummah.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
عَنْ خَبَّابِ بْنِ الأَرَتِّ، قَالَ: صَلَّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صَلَاةً فَأَطَالَهَا، فَقَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، صَلَّيْتَ صَلَاةً لَمْ تَكُنْ تُصَلِّيهَا، قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : «أَجَلْ إِنَّهَا صَلَاةُ رَغْبَةٍ وَرَهْبَةٍ، إِنِّي سَأَلْتُ اللَّهَ فِيهَا ثَلَاثًا فَأَعْطَانِي اثْنَتَيْنِ وَمَنَعَنِي وَاحِدَةً،
سَأَلْتُهُ أَنْ لَا يُهْلِكَ أُمَّتِي بِسَنَةٍ فَأَعْطَانِيهَا،
وَسَأَلْتُهُ أَنْ لَا يُسَلِّطَ عَلَيْهِمْ عَدُوًّا مِنْ غَيْرِهِمْ فَأَعْطَانِيهَا،
وَسَأَلْتُهُ أَنْ لَا يُذِيقَ بَعْضَهُمْ بَأْسَ بَعْضٍ فَمَنَعَنِيهَا».
هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ. رواه الترمذي.
Allah’s Messenger once prayed and prolonged his Salah, I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! You have performed a prayer that I never saw you perform before.’
Allah’s Messenger peace be upon him said: Yes, it was a prayer of eagerness and fear. During this prayer, I asked my Lord for three things and He gave me two and refused to give me the third.
I asked Him not to destroy my Ummah with famine, and He gave me that.
And I asked Him for my Ummah not to be dominated by an enemy who is not from amongst them, and He gave me that.
And I asked Him not to make them treat one another with sever hostility but He did not give it to me. [Tirmidhi]
Why did Allah not grant this dua? This is our job as an Ummah. We have been commanded by Allah to be united, He said:
‘Hold fast all together to the rope of Allah and do not be disunited’ [Al Imran:103]
It is our duty to do this. Just as salah is our duty. We cannot delegate to someone else saying ‘Pray Dhuhr on my behalf today. I’m busy’. It is our homework. We have to do this. Allah will not do our homework for us.
Until the Ummah comes together and unites we will not be able to confront the atrocities perpetrated against us. We will be powerless as long as we are fragmented and disunited. The message from the Prophet (peace be upon him) is clear – Allah will not intervene to unite us. Our homework is ours. Raise your voices for a cessation to violence and for peace and justice.
3. Keep active
As an Ummah we need to remain active.
I have received many messages from people saying: what can we do? My response is: Always have hope and trust in Allah. Allah will not ask you about things you cannot do, but He will ask you about what you could do. Everyone can help whether you are at school or university. Firstly you can educate yourself, your family, your friends and colleagues. You can use social media to defend the innocent and the civilians but be careful to only post what is accurate. Use your skills – in writing, painting, or whatever it might be to spread awareness.
Write to your MP to push for a ceasefire to the violence.
After the Second World War, the United Nations and Security Council was formed with the core mission of establishing international peace and security and protecting people from oppression. Unfortunately, giving certain countries a veto hinders this primary goal.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was young, he witnessed a coalition to deliver justice to the oppressed called Hilf al Fudul, “Alliance of the Virtuous,” which was a historic pre-Islamic Arabian pact or alliance established to promote fairness, and the protection of the rights of individuals, particularly travellers and merchants who visited Makkah. Ibn Hisham in his Seerah Nabawiyah said, “They promised and pledged that they would not find any wronged person among their people, or anyone else who entered Mecca, but that they would support him. They would stand against whoever oppressed them until the rights of the oppressed were restored.” Thus it protected those were mistreated or faced injustice while conducting trade or other activities in Makkah and was a means to uphold the principles of fairness and protect the weak and vulnerable members of society. It was a clear commitment to ethical and moral principles, and it reflected the broader Arabian values of chivalry and protecting the rights of all individuals.
Talha ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“I witnessed a pact of justice in the house of Abdullah ibn Jud’an that was more beloved to me than a herd of expensive red camels. If I were called to it now in the time of Islam, I would respond.”
In another narration, the Prophet said, “Make such pacts to restore rights to their owners such that no oppressor has strength over the oppressed.” [al-Sunan al-Kubra].
4. Beware of false rumours and misinformation
The Quran warns us to be wary of those who spread rumours and cause us to be disheartened by spreading bad news. Allah calls them the Murjifun (Ahzab:33:60). We have to be wise and avoid being mislead by shares and posts including those who say the situation is so bad we cannot recover from it. With Allah’s power we can get out of any situation! Let’s follow what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Don’t be sad Allah is with us. [9:40]
Allah has promised that those who are righteous will be victorious. Don’t be disappointed. Trust Allah and make continuous dua and do everything you can to support truth and justice and keep pushing for a ceasefire.
Peace cannot be established without justice. We ask Allah to enable us to be messengers of peace and goodness and justice.
We ask Allah to relieve the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and all the oppressed in the world. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim 27th October 2023
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