عن عمر – رضي الله عنه – ذكر عنده أبو بكر فبكى وقال : وددت أن عملي كله مثل عمله يوما واحدا من أيامه ، وليلة واحدة من لياليه ، أما ليلته فليلة سار مع رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – إلى الغار فلما انتهيا إليه قال : والله لا تدخله حتى أدخل قبلك ، فإن كان فيه شيء أصابني دونك ، فدخل فكسحه ، ووجد في جانبه ثقبا ، فشق إزاره ، وسدها له ، وبقي منها اثنان فألقمهما رجليه ، ثم قال لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ادخل ، فدخل رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ووضع رأسه في حجره ونام فلدغ أبو بكر في رجله من الجحر ولم يتحرك مخافة أن يشبه رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فسقطت دموعه على وجه رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقال : ( مالك يا أبا بكر ؟ ) قال : لدغت ، فداك أبي وأمي ، فتفل رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فذهب ما يجده ، ثم انتقض عليه ، وكان سبب موته وأما يومه ، فلما قبض رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ارتدت العرب وقالوا : لا نؤدي زكاة فقال : لو منعوني عقالا لجاهدتهم عليه فقلت : يا خليفة رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ! تألف الناس وارفق بهم فقال لي : أجبار في الجاهلية وخوار في الإسلام ؟ إنه قد انقطع الوحي وتم الدين أينقص وأنا حي ؟ رواه رزين
Abū Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) was mentioned before ʿUmar (may Allāh be pleased with him). He wept and said:
How I wish that all my deeds were equal to but one night of deeds and one day of deeds out of his life. As for the night, it was when he went with Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ to the cave. He said, “By Allāh, you will not enter until I enter before you. Thus, if there be anything in it, it will strike me, not you.” He entered and swept through it. He found a hole in the side, which he plugged with cloth which he tore from his garment. But then there remained two holes which he filled with his legs. He then said to Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , “Enter.” Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ entered and placed his head on his lap to sleep. Abū Bakr was stung on the leg in the hole, but did not move out of fear of disturbing Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . His tears fell on Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ who asked, “What is wrong, Abū Bakr?” He replied, “I have been stung, but may father and mother be sacrificed for you.” Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ spat there, and what he felt then left him. Later that was undone and was the cause of his death. As for his day, it was when Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ was taken [from the world]. The Arabs apostatised and said, “We shall not pay Zakāh.” He said, “If they so much as refuse me a camel’s rope, I shall wage jihad on them for it.” “O Successor to Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ,” I said, “Draw people to you and be lenient with them.” He said to me, “Were you a strong tyrant before Islām and now a bellowing cow during Islām? Revelation has terminated and this religion is now complete. Will the religion become imperfect while I am living?” [Ibn Razīn]
Today (Monday), a brother posed this question to me. (Is Islām dead?). My first thought was that I had advised him previously on his choice of words in matters of faith. Fortunately, his question was followed by more of a comma than a full stop. Fortunately, too, he was addressing the temperamental Sulaymān al-Kindī and not the far more sensitive Miqdād al-Kindī (may Allāh be pleased with him), who had exploded at less.
The brother continued, expressing his anxieties, that as so many facets of Islām are not being practised upon, and in fact cannot be implemented and will never be implemented as can far as we can see, is Islām dead, in that there will never be a whole Islām? He specifically referred to political authority as an example, which is not only a legislated branch of Islām in itself, but a facilitator for several other branches.
Here are some of the thoughts I shared with him. Of course, I must emphasise that these are my interpretations, and in no way do I imply the slightest knowledge of the unseen plans of Allāh.
1. Such Anxiety is the hallmark of faith
Whatever the reality of the situation, and whatever humanly unchangeable predicament we may find ourselves in, it is to be expected of the believers that we mirror the anxiety and zeal for faith which Abū Bakr displayed in the above narration. I say “mirror” because whoever says that he can “emulate” the greatest man after Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , has either deceived himself or is a shameless liar.
There is an Arabic saying, “A judicial decision and no Abul Ḥasan for it,” meaning a hard decision requiring an amazing intelligence and understanding of the law similar that to of Ali (may Allāh be pleased with him). Shaykh Abul Ḥasan ʿAlī Nadwī played on the expression by saying, “Apostacy and no Abū Bakr for it.” In other words, we live in an era in which Islām faces an extinction like that of the apostacy of the Arabs. The difference is that we have no champion like Abū Bakr to crush it. That of course does not absolve us of at least feeling hurt at the decline of Islām.
Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
2. The decline was foretold
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ فِي زَمَانٍ مَنْ تَرَكَ مِنْكُمْ عُشْرَ مَا أُمِرَ بِهِ هَلَكَ ثُمَّ يَأْتِي زَمَانٌ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنْكُمْ بِعُشْرِ مَا أُمِرَ بِهِ نَجَا
Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said, “You [the Ṣāḥābah] are in such an era that should those amongst you leave a tenth of what you have been commanded with they will be destroyed. Then an era will come. Those amongst you [Muslims] who practice on just a tenth of what they have been commanded with will be saved. [Tirmiẓī]
Several points can be drawn from this Ḥadīth, and they do not contradict the narration of Abū Bakr.
• Islām started with vigour and a full ten out ten was expected from the first Muslims.
• Circumstances will be so changed and difficult that Allāh will have mercy on a latter generation who only manage to get one of ten on their Islām score card.
• As much as the decline of Islām hurts us, we accept Allāh’s will. We are the slaves. Slaves do not command or even think of questioning the King!
• Had Islām never declined, then the various Ḥadīth which predict it would be null. I cannot pen with respect what that would imply on the lofty status of Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . I shall not make a comparison between his status and that of the rest of us combined, for there is no comparing to him. The outward decline of Islām is one of the many testaments to his truth. If we are spending two centuries of utter humiliation to the West solely to prove a single sentence of Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , then so be it and congratulations to us. May we be sacrificed for Allāh’s Belovedصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . Allāh knows the reality of His plan.
• Note that managing to only practice a tenth due to weakness and circumstance is way different from intentionally rebelling against Allāh’s majesty and discarding the nine-tenths. One the one hand, there is narrational evidence for being rewarded for sincere intention. The “one-tenth” Muslim may indeed be a ten-tenths Muslim in the court of Allāh, purely through his intention, and his unique sacrifices may earn him unique rewards. On the other hand, those with Muslim sounding names, even those with the Prophet’s name, but fight for the destruction of Allāh’s religion, should really give up the pretence of being Muslims. The weakest, most sinful, wine-guzzling, fornicating criminal who has never prayed or fasted can still have love for Allāh and His Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . He is still a Muslim.
• The Ḥadīth proves that Allāh does not judge every individual the same. He is the King and has every right to do so. Yet seemingly, there is a logic and reason behind different scales of judgement. The reward and expectation of one who witnessed Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ and the revelation of the Qurʾān would be on a different level to one who did not witness these, but instead underwent the tribulations of the Anti-Christ. Similarly, the Ḥadīth singles out the youth engaged in worship. Why should they be rewarded more than their parents for the same deed? It is reasonable. They have greater desires and attractions to curb than their parents, and they do so with less experience and understanding. Still, they turn away from the world, and run towards Allāh. Why should Allāh not reward such youth exponentially more than their parents? Yet the brother who questioned me should note that youth have access to a “limited Islām”. They may perhaps not be giving as much charity as their parents. They do not have the rewards of marriage as their parents. They do not have the rewards of raising children. Each group has their own scale. The parents have the “complete Islām” the brother yearns for, but the children receive the higher reward of what is within their capacity.
• Miqdād bin ʾAswad ʾal-Kindī had exploded at a man who expressed the wish to have seen Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . Miqdād explained that one issue was that he had questioned Allāh’s will. Another was that he had not expressed gratitude for being a Muslim of whatever generation, for he had seen people like Abū Jahl. They had seen Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ hundreds of times but had died as disbelievers.
• ʿAbdul Qādir ʾal-Jīlānī had consoled the poor in the following words, but I would leave it to the reader to deduce how Allāh in His wisdom knows best how to place us in different times and circumstances and judge us accordingly:
• “O Empty-handed beggardly fellows, the world would appear to be at loggerheads with you; you are barefooted, unclothed and unfed, broken hearted and ill-starred, evicted from every place and deprived of your longings and fancies. But do not say that Allah has reduced you to poverty, turned the world against you, abandoned, maligned or persecuted you, did not assign the portion of earthly pleasures due to you, or did not bestow honour and fame upon you. Nor is it proper for you to complain that Allah has granted his favours to others, made them reputed and honoured, although they belong to the same faith as you do and are the progeny of Adam and Eve like you.
“It is really so because you are like a fertile land on which Allah is sending down the rains consisting of endurance and resignation, conviction and faith, knowledge and grace. The tree of your faith is taking roots, sprouting forth its branches, its shade closing over you, pushing out new shoots and fruits, getting higher and bigger without your providing any fertiliser to it. Allah Almighty knows what you really need. He had, therefore, assigned a befitting place for you in the Hereafter. He has made you a lord in the life-to-come where His bounties are countless, inconceivable and unheard of. As Allah has said, nobody knows what delights have been stored for your eyes in the Paradise. This shall be your recompense for the faithful performance of what has been enjoined unto you, and your endurance, resignation and submission to the will of Allah.
“As for those who have been well-afforded in this world, they have been placed in easy circumstances for they are like a barren land, rocky and sandy, which neither stores nor absorbs the rains, and it is difficult to implant the tree of faith in it. It has, therefore, to be provided with fertilisers so that the weak saplings of their faith may get nourishment and push out the shoots of righteous actions. Thus, if the wealth, honour and fame are taken away from them, the tree of their faith shall waste away and its leaves and fruits shall wither although Allah intends to make it strong. Therefore, my poor brethren, you ought to know that the faith of the wealthy does not have deeper roots, it lacks that strength which has been endowed to you, and it needs the riches and earthly prizes for its nourishment. If these gifts were to be taken away from them, their faith will give place to blasphemy and they shall join the ranks of infidels, apostates and hypocrites, unless, of course, Allah bestows on them spiritual light and illumination, endurance and resignation to strengthen their faith.” [end of quote]
3. Do not confuse Allāh & Islām
As great as Islām is, it should not be forgotten that Allāh is greater. Allāh is above all and independent of all, including Islām. Allāh is the object and free of any defect. If there is a decline in our practice of Islām, does that affect the majesty of Allāh? We need practise Islām as best we can but keep our gaze on Allāh.
This concept is so difficult for some to understand that a new secular Islām arises minus any Allāh. Thus I see Palestine activists with every slogan but no Allāh in their mission whatsoever. Palestine has become an idol. I hear orators blaring a plethora of political benefits of pilgrimage and economic benefits of charity, but not once is Allāh mentioned in their religious concert disguised as a sermon. We love everything associated with our King – Palestine, pilgrimage and charity. However, religion divorced of Allāh is nothing but Satanism.
4. Individual Criteria has been there since the beginning
Allāh, the King has always treated different people with a different criterion. Oh, isn’t that unfair? No, unfair is that the humanist and secularist whisperings of Satan have become of equal merit to you as against the decree of Allāh, which His slaves are happy to accept.
عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ ، قَالَ : كَانَ الرَّجُلُ أَحْسِبُ عَبْدَ الرَّزَّاقِ ، قَالَ : كَانَ الرَّجُلُ فِي بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِذَا أَذْنَبَ أَصْبَحَ عَلَى بَابِهِ مَكْتُوبًا : أَذْنَبَ كَذَا وَكَذَا ، وَكَفَّارَتُهُ مِنَ الْعَمَلِ كَذَا ، فَلَعَلَّهُ أَنْ بِتَكَاثُرِهِ يَعْمَلُهُ ، قَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ مَا أُحِبُّ أَنَّ اللَّهَ أَعْطَانَا ذَلِكَ مَكَانَ هَذِهِ الآيَةِ : وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا سورة النساء آية 1
ʾal-Bayhaqī records ʾIbn Masʿūd (may Allāh be pleased with him) as saying that when an Israelite committed a sin then the sin and its required atonement would be found written on his door. Yet Allāh wished that this practice be replaced by giving us the verse, “He who does an evil or wrongs himself, then seeks forgiveness from Allāh, will find Allāh Most Forgiving and Merciful.” [Shuʿb ʾal-ʾĪmān]
This is also indicated in the Ḥadīth of ʾal-Bukhārī wherein the previous nations are compared to labourers who give up their tasks and lose their wages and thus the Muslims receive the wages of labour they had not even done.
عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ مَثَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْيَهُودِ وَالنَّصَارَى كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ اسْتَأْجَرَ قَوْمًا يَعْمَلُونَ لَهُ عَمَلاً إِلَى اللَّيْلِ، فَعَمِلُوا إِلَى نِصْفِ النَّهَارِ، فَقَالُوا لاَ حَاجَةَ لَنَا إِلَى أَجْرِكَ، فَاسْتَأْجَرَ آخَرِينَ فَقَالَ أَكْمِلُوا بَقِيَّةَ يَوْمِكُمْ، وَلَكُمُ الَّذِي شَرَطْتُ، فَعَمِلُوا حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ حِينَ صَلاَةِ الْعَصْرِ قَالُوا لَكَ مَا عَمِلْنَا. فَاسْتَأْجَرَ قَوْمًا فَعَمِلُوا بَقِيَّةَ يَوْمِهِمْ حَتَّى غَابَتِ الشَّمْسُ، وَاسْتَكْمَلُوا أَجْرَ الْفَرِيقَيْنِ ”
“The example of Muslims, Jews and Christians is like the example of a man who employed labourers to work for him from morning till night. They worked till midday and they said, ‘We are not in need of your reward.’ So the man employed another group and said to them, ‘Complete the rest of the day and yours will be the wages I had fixed (for the first group). They worked until the time of the `Asr prayer and said, ‘Whatever we have done is for you.’ He employed another group. They worked for the rest of the day till sunset, and they received the wages of the two former groups.”
5. Differences within the Prophetic era
The Companions were expected to be ten out of ten Muslims. Yet the “ten” parts of Islām was not the same. In the beginning there were not many regulations and tests were on faith. Thus Miʿrāj [Ascension to the heavens] was a test of faith which all did not pass. Some Muslims refused to believe the incident and left Islām. Later tests were on deeds which had not been promulgated at the time of the Miʿrāj, e.g. battles, fasting, etc.
6. Benefits of an inferior position
The loss of Islām’s previous position of domination is not without benefit. We no longer have people pretending to Islām with the aim gaining lucrative government positions. Amongst those positions was that of the paid Islamic scholars, particularly palace scholars and judges. That kind of insincerity is far less. Some still lick the boots of the kings (MBS and Sisi) and some still turn religion in lucrative posts (radio and television), yet your average post-islamic empire scholar, has little financial incentive in his calling and despite personal weaknesses, is a far surer ally in preserving your faith when Mr Anti-Christ reveals himself.
7. There are parallels between the first and later generations
In as much as Allāh can test every people and individual differently, His Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ has indicated a kind of similarity between the tests of the first and later generations.
أن النبي ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قال: بدأ الإسلام غَريبًا وسيعود غريبًا كما بدأ، فطُوبى للغرباء
“Islām began forlorn and rejected. Soon it will be forlorn and rejected as it had started, so congratulations to the forlorn ones.” [Muslim]
A similarity may be in that the first generation and the latter in that the first were tested when Islām was yet incomplete and the time has now come when we are tested when forces have made Islām again incomplete, in a manner of speaking. If it is that you are the generation being referred to, and your tests have given you the honour of being compared with Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, ʿUthmān and ʿAlī (may Allāh be pleased with them), then o brother, then o sister, from the lips of Allāh’s Messengerصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , “congratulations” unto you!!!!!!