It is perhaps more a statement of my own arrogance and weak spiritual condition, instead of that of others, that I often react with incredulity to some people’s views. Is that not obvious? Do they not know what the Qurān says? How can they believe that?
These reactions of mine display a lack of patience far from the Sunnah. If Allāh has granted me some understanding of His Speech and that of His Rasūl صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم , I should be patient enough to explain to those who have drawn their own conclusions as opposed to drawing guidance from Allāh and His Rasūl صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم , but really, it is so difficult! On the other hand, those who have knowledge, and deliberately distort Allāh’s Word for their own material gain, are no better than Jewish Pharisees in my eyes. In fact they are worse. They have been admitted into the best Ummah and have knowledge of the best scripture and yet walk in the footsteps of Rabbis.
Reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela
Since the death of Nelson Mandela, I am overcome with grief, not at his death, but at the dangerous reaction from certain quarters. Rather than mourn over Mandela. I grieve over statements from Muslims which contradict the Qurān they are supposed to follow, and to put it lightly, such contradictions surely have a negative effect on one’s Īmān.
Muslims have been texting messages such as:
- May Allāh grant him Jannatul Firdaws.
- May Allāh accept his good and forgive him.
- May he rest in peace.
Moreover, a South African politician not only sings his praises at the Jumu‘ah platform, but expects the ‘Ulamā to toe his line.
But what is Allāh’s reaction?
Allāh’s reaction is known. I earnestly beg all Muslims who have held an opinion contrary to the Word of Allāh to sincerely and immediately repent. How possibly can any of the above statements and praising one who died denying Allāh be at all justified when Allāh says:
إن الذين كفروا وماتوا وهم كفار أولئك عليهم لعنة الله والملائكة والناس أجمعين. خالدين فيها لا يخفف عنهم العذاب ولا هم ينظرون
Verily those who disbelieved and died as disbelievers then upon such be the curse of Allāh, the angels and all mankind. May they be forever in it [the curse or Hell]. Punishment will not be lightened for them and they will not be granted respite. [al-Baqarah: 161-2]
Allāh is clear that:
- Those who die as disbelievers are under His curse.
- The angels also curse him.
- As opposed to the politician who said that what happens in the grave is not under discussion, only the good of Mandela, the rest of mankind who submit their opinions to Allāh curse those who die denying him. According to al-Imām al-Baghawī, the disbeliever will even curse himself.
- Unlike a believer who can hope for eventual release, the disbeliever is punished forever. Allāh makes no distinction how good or bad he was.
- There is no lightening of the punishment.
- It is continuous with no respite.
How possibly does a slave then utter words contrary to the decree of Allāh? Such a slave must surely be unaware of what Allāh says, and will repent when he learns the truth. No doubt.
Good deeds of disbelievers – Abū Ṭālib
Good deeds? Is there anyone on the face of the earth who can match the deeds of Abū Ṭālib who raised the orphan boy, Muḥammad bin ‘Abdillāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم , as if he were his own son since the age of 8? Which Muslim, living or dead, can claim to have a deed equal Abū Ṭālib’s protecting Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم for a decade when the Quraysh opposed him? These are not good deeds, these are GREAT deeds. Add to this that Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم loved him most intensely. The Qurān even testifies to the sadness of Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم that his beloved uncle never embraced Islām:
إنك لا تهدي من أحببت ولكن الله يهدي من يشاء وهو أعلم بالمهتدين
Verily you do not guide those whom you love, but it is Allāh who guides whom He wills. He knows best those deserving to receive guidance. [al-Qaṣaṣ: 56]
Yet when he died, Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم clearly said that he is to be in Hell. If good deeds were sufficient, then Abū Tālib would be destined for Jannah, not Hell. Let alone Mandela, the most pious of Muslims cannot match either his service to Islām, or the love Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم had for him. Yet he is condemned to eternal damnation.
Muṭ‘īm bin ‘Adī & Ibn Jad‘ān
Muṭ‘im bin ‘Adī was a distant uncle of Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم . Every Muslim should learn at least two of his amazing and unmatchable deeds:
- When Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم was exiled into the Glen of Abū Tālib and starved there for three years, Muṭ‘im bin ‘Adī helped terminate the boycott.
- When the people of aṭ-Ṭāif brutally stoned Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and he had no physical refuge, it was Muṭ‘im bin ‘Adī who protected Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and allowed him to return to Makkah.
Were I to live a million years, I would never be able to match either deed. Yet I thank Allāh for granting me Īmān, for despite my paucity of deeds and profusion of sin, I am an Ummatī of Muḥammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم unlike the disbeliever, Muṭ‘im bin ‘Adī.
‘Abdullāh bin Jad‘ān was legendary for his generosity and nobility of character. In fact, before Islām, Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم joined him in assisting a trader who had been cheated by a prominent man of Makkah. Sadly today there are Muslim traders who are cheats. On one occasion alone, Ibn Jad‘ān imported 2000 camel-loads of wheat, honey and butter from Syria, not for trade, but he publicly invited all and sundry to come and eat from his food.
Again, I cannot match his one donation throughout my life, but what does Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم say about him? Al-Imām Muslim narrates:
عن عائشة قالت قلت يا رسول الله ابن جدعان كان في الجاهلية يصل الرحم ويطعم المسكين فهل ذاك نافعه قال لا ينفعه إنه لم يقل يوما رب اغفر لي خطيئتي يوم الدين
‘Aishah said, “O Rasulullāh! In the pagan time Ibn Jad‘ān used to maintain family ties and feed the poor. Will that benefit him?”
“No,” he replied, “For he never said, even a single day, ‘O my Rabb, forgive my sin on the Day of Reckoning.’”
I would further point out that the Muḥaddith, al-Imām an-Nawawī, labelled this Ḥadīth under, “Proof that good deeds do not benefit one who dies upon disbelief.” Some of us hold al-Imām an-Nawawī in greater regard than what we hold the politician who praises one who dies upon disbelief, at Jumu‘ah.
Condoling with disbelievers
Our neighbours have rights over us, even if they reject Allāh. This is what Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم taught us. Consoling them during their grief is but good character and fulfilling their right. This is not what I dispute. I dispute extending “good wishes” to the extent that we contradict the Qurān. I dispute praising a disbeliever in the house of Allāh.
Praising a disbeliever in the Masjid
The Masjid is established for the remembrance and praise of Allāh:
في بيوت أذن الله أن ترفع ويذكر فيها اسمه يسبح له فيها بالغدو والآصال
In houses which Allāh has commanded be erected and wherein His Name is mentioned and He is praised in them morning and evening. [an-Nūr: 36]
Allāh dislikes the praising of a sinner. Abū Ya‘lā, Ibn Ḥajar, Abū Nu‘aym and al-Bayhaqī record the Ḥadith narrated by Anas رضي الله عنه :
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ، قَالَ : قَالَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ” إِذَا مُدِحَ الْفَاسِقُ اهْتَزَّ لِذَلِكَ الْعَرْشُ ، وَغَضِبَ لَهُ الرَّبُّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
When an open sinner is praised the Throne shakes at that and Allāh Most Mighty and Majestic becomes angry.
How much more serious is it when the praise is in the Masjid, and how much worse than a sinner is one who died rejecting Allāh? The ploy that Islām acknowledges the achievements of disbelievers is only viable to those who cannot distinguish between a simple record of history and singing someone’s praise. Every Ḥadīth of Abū Ṭālib is a simple unbiased record of fact, whether that he did good, or that he is eternally condemned. Is there a single authentic narration of Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم singing his uncle’s praises after he died? Rather there is proof that that would have angered Allāh.
Is Islām compromised still Islām?
If the above gives the impression that I am advocating a hard-line hostile attitude to disbelievers, then I apologise, that was not my intention. By all means let us show the character of Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم to them. We should condole, and a simple statement of acknowledging the historical record of a person’s deeds might also be in order, in a given context. Let us however pause and draw a breath, to ask ourselves if we have not overstepped the bounds when we offer opinions which contradict the Qurān. There might be scope in differing presentations when dealing with them, but if we compromise basic principles to appease disbelievers, where is the line drawn? Is the eventual product after compromise and yet more compromise still Islām?