Victory comes to those who are truly obedient to Allah
Allah Almighty said in the Quran:
لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Surely, in the narratives of these, there is a lesson for the people of understanding. [Yūsuf, 12:111]
Almost a third of the Quran is stories of previous nations. They are not just for entertainment, although there is nothing wrong with halal entertainment, but they contain deep lessons for us to understand.
The story of the People of the Cave
There are three stories I wish to share with you. The first is the story of the People of the Cave, who were a small group of youngsters who believed in the Lord and Allah increased them in their faith. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said they were just seven youths plus their dog. Allah put their story in the Quran and it is being recited continuously until the Day of Judgement.
Their story shows that it is not quantity (the number of the youths), but quality (the depth of their belief) that counts. They were few but they had strength of faith and a strong connection with Allah. We see the status of their hearts from their yearning for Allah to grant them steadfastness which they prayed for. Allah responded to their call and protected and supported them.
نَّحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَیۡكَ نَبَأَهُم بِٱلۡحَقِّۚ إِنَّهُمۡ فِتۡیَةٌ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِرَبِّهِمۡ وَزِدۡنَـٰهُمۡ هدى
We narrate to you their story with truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord and We gave them more guidance. [Al-Kahf, 18:13]
وَرَبَطۡنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمۡ إِذۡ قَامُوا۟ فَقَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا رَبُّ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ لَن نَّدۡعُوَا۟ مِن دُونِهِۦۤ إِلَـٰهاً لَّقَدۡ قُلۡنَاۤ إِذࣰا شَطَطًا
We made their hearts firm when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We shall never invoke any god other than Him, otherwise we would be saying something far from the truth. [Al-Kahf, 18:14]
The story of Talut (Saul) and Jalut (Goliath)
Talut’s army set out to fight Jalut and his men. It was then that they were given a trial by Allah to test their sincerity. When they arrived at a river, Talut, inspired by Allah, commanded his men to sip not more than one handful of water from it, even though they were extremely thirsty. Only a few of his army were able to follow his command, as most of them drank from it. Recognising their obedience, Talut selected this very small, but disciplined group to fight with him.
When they arrived to fight with Jalut, they felt intimidated by the opposing military strength, advanced, sophisticated equipment, and superior technology. However, the faithful members of Talut’s army remained undeterred, confident that as long as they believed they would be victorious by the will of Allah – not because they had formidable strength.
فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِٱلۡجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مُبۡتَلِیكُم بنهر فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنۡهُ فَلَیۡسَ مِنِّی وَمَن لَّمۡ یَطۡعَمۡهُ فَإِنَّهُۥ مِنِّیۤ إِلَّا مَنِ ٱغۡتَرَفَ غُرۡفَةَۢ بِیَدِهِۦۚ فَشَرِبُوا۟ مِنۡهُ إِلَّا قليلاً مِّنۡهُمۡۚ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُۥ هُوَ وَٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ قَالُوا۟ لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا ٱلۡیَوۡمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِۦۚ قَالَ ٱلَّذِینَ یَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلَـٰقُوا۟ ٱللَّهِ كَم مِّن فِئةٍ قَلِیلَةٍ غَلَبَتۡ فِئةٍ كَثِیرَةَۢ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ
So, when Tālūt set out along with the troops, he said: “Allah is going to test you by a river, so, whoever drinks from it is not my man, and whoever does not taste it is surely a man of mine, except the one who scoops a little with his hand.” Then they drank from it, except a few of them. So, when it (the river) was crossed by him and by those who believed with him, they said: “There is no strength with us today against Jālūt and his troops.” Said those who believed in their having to meet Allah: “How many small groups have overcome large groups by the will of Allah. Allah is with those who remain patient.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:249]
وَلَمَّا بَرَزُوا۟ لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِۦ قَالُوا۟ رَبَّنَاۤ أَفۡرِغۡ عَلَیۡنَا صبرًا وَثَبِّتۡ أَقۡدَامَنَا وَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِینَ
And when they faced Jālūt and his troops, they said: “Our Lord, pour out endurance on us, make firm our feet and help us against the disbelieving people.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:250]
فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُۥدُ جَالُوتَ وَءَاتَىٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُۥ مِمَّا یَشَاۤءُۗ وَلَوۡلَا دَفۡعُ ٱللَّهِ ٱلنَّاسَ بَعۡضَهُم ببعضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ذُو فَضۡلٍ عَلَى ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِینَ
So, they defeated them by the will of Allah, and Dāwūd (David) killed Jālūt, and Allah gave him the kingdom and the wisdom and taught him what He willed. Had Allah not been pushing back some people by means of others, the earth would have been spoiled. But Allah is All-Gracious to all the worlds. [Al-Baqarah, 2:251]
The story of the Prophet ﷺ with Quraysh
After 13 years of revelation, only a tiny minority of the Quraysh had accepted Islam in Makkah, just 113 and Allah Almighty describes in Surat al Anfal how they felt they were outnumbered, threatened and oppressed. Then the disbelievers conspired to kill and expel them. However Allah was planning and He is the best planner and His plan will prevail. No one can succeed in any action, without being held to account by Allah Almighty.
وَٱذۡكُرُوۤا۟ إِذۡ أَنتُمۡ قليلٌ مُّسۡتَضۡعَفُونَ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ تَخَافُونَ أَن یَتَخَطَّفَكُمُ ٱلنَّاسُ فَـَٔاوَىٰكُمۡ وَأَیَّدَكُم بِنَصۡرِهِۦ وَرَزَقَكُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّیِّبَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ
Recall when you were few in number, oppressed on the earth, fearing that the people would snatch you away. Then, He gave you shelter and fortified you with His support and provided you with good things, so that you may be grateful. [Al-Anfāl, 8:26]
وَإِذۡ یَمۡكُرُ بِكَ ٱلَّذِینَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِیُثۡبِتُوكَ أَوۡ یَقۡتُلُوكَ أَوۡ یُخۡرِجُوكَۚ وَیَمۡكُرُونَ وَیَمۡكُرُ ٱللَّهُۖ وَٱللَّهُ خَیۡرُ ٱلۡمَـٰكِرِینَ
And (recall) when the disbelievers were conspiring against you to hold you as a captive, or to kill you, or to expel you. They were planning, and Allah was planning, and Allah is the best planner. [Al-Anfāl, 8:30]
وَلَا یَحِیقُ ٱلۡمَكۡرُ ٱلسَّیِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهۡلِهِۦۚ
And the evil plot engulfs none but its own people (who make it). [Fāṭir, 35:43]
It is clear from these stories that quality not numbers matter. Regardless how many people threaten you, if Allah is against you, you won’t be victorious but even if you are small in number and Allah is with you, Allah will protect you and give you victory, but you have to be with Allah truly.
We are experiencing a very heavy test for the Ummah right now, but I believe our Ummah will come out of this test stronger and unified and more aware of the unlawful actions and brutal warfare of our enemies. And this will teach us a deep lesson that being with Allah is the only way to be victorious.
Based on the khutbah of Shaykh Haytham Tamim 5th Jan 2024
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