Learning from the unshakable imaan of the people of Gaza
Real imaan gives you superstrength
Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abd al-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him) reported God’s Messenger as saying,
وَعَن الْعَبَّاس بن عبد الْمطلب قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «ذَاقَ طَعْمَ الْإِيمَانِ مَنْ رَضِيَ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولًا» . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ
“He who is well-pleased with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as messenger will experience the savour of faith” [Muslim]
From this hadith we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was teaching the Ummah to focus on the quality of their imaan. It is the difference between superficial imaan which is merely lip-service and deep imaan. There is vast chasm between them. It is deep imaan which bears fruit.
In around the seventh year after the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Prophet (peace be upon him) started sending letters to kings and rulers inviting them to Islam. One of these was Heraclius, who was Emperor of the Byzantine emperor from 610 to 641. He was curious about Islam and asked his men to find someone who was related to Muhammad (peace be upon him) to find out more about him. They brought Abu Sufyan back to him, who was not yet a Muslim, and Heraclius posed ten questions to him about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Islam.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
عن أبي سُفْيَانَ، أَنَّ هِرَقْلَ، قَالَ لَهُ سَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَزِيدُونَ أَمْ يَنْقُصُونَ، فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّهُمْ يَزِيدُونَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ حَتَّى يَتِمَّ. وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَرْتَدُّ أَحَدٌ سَخْطَةً لِدِينِهِ بَعْدَ أَنْ يَدْخُلَ فِيهِ، فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ حِينَ تُخَالِطُ بَشَاشَتُهُ الْقُلُوبَ، لاَ يَسْخَطُهُ أَحَدٌ. البخاري.
I was informed by Abu Sufyan that Heraclius said to him, “I asked you whether they (followers of Muhammad) were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing. And in fact, this is the way of true Faith till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his (the Prophets) religion (Islam) became displeased and discarded it. You replied in the negative, and in fact, this is (a sign of) true faith, when its delight enters the heart and mixes with them completely, nobody can be displeased with it.” [Bukhari]
One of the questions Heraclius asked was if anyone reverted back to their old religion after becoming Muslim and Abu Sufyan said no. Heraclius commented on this saying that when true imaan mixes with the heart it gives you such tranquility that no one who has experienced it ever turns away from it. We see from his perspicacity that Heraclius understood the nature of true imaan and was inclined towards however he was too afraid of losing his throne to accept Islam. He put the dunya before belief.
This hadith shows that when imaan enters the heart deeply, it gives you a new dimension and makes you a new person. On another occasion, we have read about in books of seerah, Khabbab bin Al-Aratt (may Allah be pleased with him) who was persecuted a great deal by the evil leaders of Makkah, and asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to protect them. However the Prophet (peace be upon him) had no power at that time to protect them. He could barely defend himself and his uncle, Abu Talib was his protector.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
عَنْ خَبَّابِ بْنِ الأَرَتِّ، قَالَ شَكَوْنَا إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهْوَ مُتَوَسِّدٌ بُرْدَةً لَهُ فِي ظِلِّ الْكَعْبَةِ، قُلْنَا لَهُ أَلاَ تَسْتَنْصِرُ لَنَا أَلاَ تَدْعُو اللَّهَ لَنَا قَالَ “ كَانَ الرَّجُلُ فِيمَنْ قَبْلَكُمْ يُحْفَرُ لَهُ فِي الأَرْضِ فَيُجْعَلُ فِيهِ، فَيُجَاءُ بِالْمِنْشَارِ، فَيُوضَعُ عَلَى رَأْسِهِ فَيُشَقُّ بِاثْنَتَيْنِ، وَمَا يَصُدُّهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ، وَيُمْشَطُ بِأَمْشَاطِ الْحَدِيدِ، مَا دُونَ لَحْمِهِ مِنْ عَظْمٍ أَوْ عَصَبٍ، وَمَا يَصُدُّهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ، وَاللَّهِ لَيُتِمَّنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ حَتَّى يَسِيرَ الرَّاكِبُ مِنْ صَنْعَاءَ إِلَى حَضْرَمَوْتَ، لاَ يَخَافُ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ أَوِ الذِّئْبَ عَلَى غَنَمِهِ، وَلَكِنَّكُمْ تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ ”. البخاري.
We complained to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) (of the persecution inflicted on us by the infidels) while he was sitting in the shade of the Ka`ba, leaning over his Burd (i.e. covering sheet). We said to him, “Would you seek help for us? Would you pray to Allah for us?” He said, “Among the nations before you a (believing) man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that (torture) would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion.
By Allah, this religion (i.e. Islam) will prevail till a traveller from Sana (in Yemen) to Hadrarmaut will fear none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty. [Bukhari]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to Khabbab citing the true believers of the nations before them who were so steadfast they put up with untold cruelty. We may think reading this that such bravery can only be found in books of seerah and tafsir, but we are seeing this now in Gaza. They are reviving the seerah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). You can see the remarkable strength of their imaan. The rooves over their heads are being demolished yet their imaan is unshakeable. What is this quality? It is the sweetness of true imaan in their hearts.
The one who truly accepts Allah as their Lord is the one who tastes the sweetness of imaan. As we see the people emerge from the rubble, the first words that tumble out of their lips is ‘Alhamdulillah’. Their link with Allah is strong. It is transformative. It turns an ordinary person into a supernatural person. The edge given to them is the strength of their imaan. They accepted Allah as their Lord from their hearts and Muhammad as His Messenger truly. They are not clinging to dunya.
While the pain they endure surpasses our understanding, it exemplifies how a deeply rooted imaan transforms an individual into an unyielding mountain. Despite facing formidable challenges such as advanced weaponry, technology, and the might of the world’s powers, the people of Gaza stand resolute. They are the ones who are on the receiving end of the ummah, on the front line. We are behind them.
It shows how much we need to improve our submission to Allah and have a deeper link to Him. Anything can break us, but they endure massive atrocities but they do not let it break them. When you are with Allah, no one can defeat you, because no one can defeat Allah.
بلغ الخنساء رضي الله تعالى عنها خبر استشهاد أولادها الأربعة مرفقًا بخبر النصر على الأعداء، رفعت يديها إلى السماء عندما بلغها نبأ استشهاد أولادها الأربعة في القادسية لتقول بلسانٍ واثقٍ وقلبٍ مطمئن: الحمد لله الذي شرفني باستشهادهم وإني لأرجو أن يجمعني بهم في مستقر رحمته.
Al-Khansaa bint Amr (may Allah be pleased with her) received the news of the martyrdom of her four children, accompanied by the news of victory over the enemies. She raised her hands to the sky when she was informed of the news of the martyrdom of her four children in Al-Qadisiyah, to say with a confident tongue and a reassured heart: Praise be to God who honoured me with their martyrdom, and I hope that He will gather me with them in the abode of His mercy.
Be truly with Allah, and no one will be able to defeat you. When you are with him in your heart, your actions and your words and you reflect this on a daily basis, you will see the effects of this in the midst of any test.
Anyone can claim whatever they want, but in the midst of the test, we can see which claims stand and which claims crack under pressure. It is a big lesson for us to see that imaan can transport and elevate you and strengthen you, when you are committed to Allah and submissive to Him. No matter how great the challenge, although our challenges compared to their challenges are nothing, we can overcome any challenge when we are truly with Him.
Towards the end of Surat al Imran, Allah gave us the formula of what we need to achieve success.
یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱصۡبِرُوا۟ وَصَابِرُوا۟ وَرَابِطُوا۟ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ ٢٠٠
O you who believe, be patient, compete with each other in patience, and guard your frontiers and fear Allah, so that you may be successful. (Al Imran:3:200)
Firstly we need patience (sabr). Positive patience, which is controlling our tongues, and patience with action, not sitting and waiting for victory to come. Next we need murabatah (perseverance) which is not to give up. It is the nail-biting end, where the one who blinks last is the winner. The third thing is to protect your frontiers – whether it is as an individual against your desires or in the community or on the battlefield. Finally be obedient to Allah (taqwa). This means doing what you have been commanded to do and refraining from everything that has been forbidden.
يا أيها الذين آمنوا بالله واتبعوا رسوله، اصبروا على تكاليف الشريعة، وعلى ما يعرض لكم من مصائب الدنيا، وغالبوا الكفار في الصبر فلا يكونوا أشد صبرًا منكم، وأقيموا على الجهاد في سبيل الله، واتقوا الله بامتثال أوامره واجتناب نواهيه، لعلكم تنالون مطلوبكم بالسلامة من النار ودخول الجنة.
O you who have believed in Allah and followed His Messenger, be patient with the duties of the Sharia and with the calamities of this world that are presented to you, and overcome the disbelievers in patience, so that they will not be more patient than you, and persist in jihad in the path of God, and fear God by obeying His commands and avoiding His prohibitions, so that you may attain what you seek in safety from Hell and entering Paradise.
Based on the Khutbah of Shaykh Haytham Tamim 19th Jan 2023
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