Ibn Rasheed, UK
Muslims have regressed but believers have not
When a prophet appears, disbelievers are often at the height of power and glory – and also the height of arrogance and evil. They have power, wealth and resources. The prophet has absolutely nothing but a band of poor followers, a heart full of compassion and a tongue flowing with pathos-filled prayers. He is God’s most beloved person on earth, yet he is the most despised by the majority, persecuted by the elite and ridiculed by the masses.
However, after many years of heartfelt prayers, constant efforts and preaching, he overturns the circumstances and succeeds in establishing the unity and glory of God on earth.
Worldly wealth and resources are not a sign of God’s love, approval or acceptance. As Allah says in the Holy Quran, “Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of this world. But enduring good works are better in the sight of thy Lord in respect of [immediate] reward, and better in respect of [future] hope.” (Surah al-Kahf, Ch.18: V.47)
The world is very transient. Every honour, respect, glory, wealth and success in this life is short-lived. It doesn’t guarantee you happiness; it doesn’t prove your nearness to Allah and ultimately leaves a person with emptiness inside, if not filled with sincerity and moral values.
Nations who have abandoned God today, thinking their wealth and knowledge is sufficient for them, are in grave error. Having forsaken God, they have been left to their own devices to a large extent. And since they desired the world and also strove for it, the law of cause and effect operates for them as much as it does for believers – efforts don’t go wasted.
At times, the doors are flung wide open for those who seek only worldly wealth and glory:
“Whoso desires the harvest of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his harvest; and whoso desires the harvest of this world, We give him [thereof], but in the Hereafter he will have no share.” (Surah al-Shura, Ch.42: V.21)
For many, such prosperity in this life becomes a means of their downfall:
“So let not their wealth nor their children excite thy wonder. Allah only intends to punish them therewith in the present life and that their souls may depart while they are disbelievers.” (Surah al-Taubah, Ch.9: V.55)
In this is a message for believers specifically – don’t wonder why these people have so much more than you. It’s a trial for them; as they desired the life of this world and gave scant regard to religion and the higher values of life, God has given them what they wished for, but ultimately it will result in nothing but their own ruin.
“And strain not thy eyes after what We have bestowed on some classes of them to enjoy [for a short time] – the splendour of the present world – that We may try them thereby. And the provision of thy Lord is better and more lasting.” (Surah Ta Ha, Ch.20: V.132)
Muslims are instructed to look to the everlasting heavenly life and not pine after or fret at the fact that today the disbelievers are vaster in number, wealth and power. It is only short-lived. It’s bound to end quickly and suddenly.
The signs of this are already appearing. Both the US and Europe are suffering from economic uncertainties, deepening division and political turmoil. Every nation has its day and only those endure who stay just.
The Holy Quran has made prophecies regarding Latter-Day Christian nations:
“When the disciples said, ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, is thy Lord able to send down to us a table spread with food from heaven?’ he said, ‘Fear Allah, if you are believers.’” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.113)
“Said Jesus, son of Mary, ‘O Allah, our Lord, send down to us a table from heaven spread with food that it may be to us a festival, to the first of us and to the last of us, and a Sign from Thee; and provide sustenance for us, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers.’
“Allah said, ‘Surely, I will send it down to you, but whosoever of you disbelieves afterwards — I will surely punish them with a punishment wherewith I will not punish any other of the peoples.’” (Surah al- Maidah, Ch.5: V.115-116)
Christian nations were destined to be given much glory, wealth and resources in the Latter Days. Jesusas and his disciplines were found in strenuous circumstances but had prayed to Allah to bless them and their future peoples. Allah had promised it to them, but also issued a warning – those who would be ungrateful thereafter would be met with a severe punishment.
Those who claim to be representatives of God on earth and claim they are following the true faith, but fail to exhibit the qualities that that necessitates, incur the wrath and displeasure of God.
In fact, both Muslim and non-Muslim nations have succumbed to the lure of lavish luxuries and wealth. Oil-rich Muslim countries are basking in what seems unlimited wealth, yet their neighbours are drowning in poverty, disease and conflict.
If this is the state of Muslims, why should anyone be surprised when their nations become political puppets for other nations? Why should they accept to be treated any differently by God than those who deny God? Allah changes not the condition of people until they change what is in their hearts.
Muslims have malice and hatred in their hearts for their fellow Muslim brothers. Yemen is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history, yet nothing is done to help it. When one’s words and actions are not in accord then can anyone expect God to help them?
Allah says “Why do you say what you do not do? Most hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Surah al-Saff, Ch.61: V.3-4)
Looking at the condition of Muslim nations in the world is not dissimilar to the condition of disbelievers. Muslims may pray, but do not do justice to their prayer by way of actions and have fallen prey to the verse “Woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayer.” (Surah al- Ma‘un, Ch.107: V.5-6)
If you are a Muslim in name alone, then you’re not much different from anyone else. Allah does not promise a mere Muslim success; nowhere does it say that merely being called a Muslim is something of merit; rather, it is the believers who show in their actions the proof of their faith and their Islam, that are recipients of God’s special favours.
Before the siege of Baghdad in 1258, when the Mongol invader Hulagu Khan ransacked the city, it is narrated that the caliph asked a saint to pray that he be saved. A few nights later, he told the caliph the divine answer had come:
“O ye disbelievers, kill the wrongdoers.”
It is a similar situation happening in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Muslims have no longer remained believers but have fallen to sinful activities, hence as a way of punishment, God also withdraws His protection and it is as if he has given permission to the disbelievers to destroy the wrongdoing Muslims.
It must also be remembered that all races, religions and nations have been given a fair share of talent and ability.
Amongst Muslims, you will find those who are more successful and those less. Amongst non-Muslims there will be the more prosperous and the less well off. The believer’s objective, however, is the Hereafter. This is why Jesusas said that it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven.
It is not that every rich person is bound for hell, but that abundance of wealth very often leads to indifference to the higher values of life, laxity in regard to responsibilities and a false sense of security. It also paves the way for a lavish and extravagant lifestyle.
Allah does not differentiate between religions when it comes to material benefits; to some he tries with wealth and success, while others are tried with illness and affliction, poverty and distress. But the Promised Messiahas has explained that the latter trial is less dangerous, as the former often leads to arrogance and a false sense of superiority.
This is why saints and prophets of the past did not consider trials and difficulties as God’s displeasure; rather, the Holy Prophetsa has stated that if Allah intends good for you, He afflicts you. There is much spiritual progress to be had under difficult and trying conditions. The stars only show their light under darkness. You don’t know who is good until they are tried and tested. Otherwise good nature is a natural state, not a moral one and only until it is tested can one manifest it at every appropriate occasion. If you have never experienced difficult times, how can your good qualities be exhibited?
Non-Muslims will also be rewarded for their actions, but believers who struggle and establish a relationship with God by honing their spirituality begin to see God in this life. Believers hope from Allah what others do not. (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.105)
This is why a lot of the Muslim world’s dilemmas is their own doing. Allah blesses people with prosperity and adversity. In prosperity, they are meant to be grateful and use their power and resources to serve God and His creation. In adversity, they are meant to be steadfast and resolved to the will of God, whilst patiently striving and praying for better.
Hence, the Holy Prophetsa gave the glad tiding:
“There is good for a believer in everything. If he experiences something pleasing, he is grateful; if he experiences something disagreeable, he is patient.”
But Muslims nations, having been blessed with abundant wealth, have become greedy, selfish, lax and immoral. They conspire with non-Muslim nations against their own fellow Muslim brothers. They oppress their own citizens and do not fulfil the dues of God and mankind.
In such a condition why do they expect their prayers to be answered and God to grant them success? In adversity and suffering, Muslims have become emboldened in their harshness, resentful of the West and forgotten the qualities of gentleness, forgiveness and forbearance.
The prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa that his ummah would resemble the Jewish nation has been fulfilled. Just as the Jews were vengeful, harsh and scheming at the time of Jesusas, so are Muslims now.
The difficulties Muslims nations are undergoing are not the same as trials endured by believers and true Muslims. For those who are good-natured, trials lead only to their own betterment. For those who are crooked, trials only expose their own wrongdoing and lead to their ruin.
Everyone is tried one way or another and it all comes down to how you respond to it. For believers, however, strained circumstances and difficult conditions do not lead them away from God or to wonder or question why Allah has blessed non-Muslims more than them in this world.
The Holy Prophetsa has given us such inspiring and enlightening spiritual knowledge. It puts a perspective on all the woes, worries and wounds of this world. Once he was lying on a rough straw mat when Hazrat Umarra wept and said, “O Prophet! When the Chosroes of Iran and Byzantine emperors live in such luxury and comfort, how can you live like this? You deserve better!”
The Prophetsa replied, “O Umar, is it not enough that for them is this world and for us is the next?” He taught that this life is a drop in the ocean compared to the next and that this life is like a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever.
The success and prosperity in the minds of people is not the same as the success mentioned in the Holy Quran. To be free from the covetousness of one’s own soul and at peace with God is the supreme triumph which transcends and outlives every other worldly wealth, glory or honour.