Khuṭbah by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s khuṭbah on the Syrian crisis. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, one of the very few lands that our Prophet has mentioned in numerous traditions, and in fact even before him, Allāh has mentioned by reference in the Qur’ān is the land of Shām, which is now the land of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Filistīne. This land clearly our tradition, our religion has emphasized it like no other land after the land of Ḥijāz. There is no question that Makkah and Madīnah, the land of Ḥijāz, is the most sacred land on earth, but after the Ḥijāz comes the land of Syria.
Allāh Himself praises it in the Qur’ān in the beginning of Sūrat’l-Isrā’ when He says, “Masjid’l-Aqṣa, the land that We have blessed around it.” Allāh says that Masjid’l-Aqṣa is holy, and not just the masjid but the land around the masjid is holy. Therefore Allāh is saying in the Qur’ān that the land of Shām is indeed a blessed land. That is because is the region of Shām is more than what we now call Syria. The region of Shām includes what we now call Syria and also what is now Lebanon and the Occupied Territories of Filistīne – all of this is included in the classical Islamic term for Shām.
Our Prophet said in a famous ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, “O Allāh bless is in our Madīnah and in the measurements of our city, and bless us in our Shām.” What is amazing about this ḥadīth is that when the Prophet made this du‘ā’, Shām was not under Islamic control. Shām was the land of Christians. Shām was the right arm of the Byzantine Empire. Shām was the jewel and the crown of the Roman Empire, yet the Prophet said, “Bless us in our Shām.” One of the people from another land said, “Ask Allāh to bless us in our Iraq and other lands as well,” and the Prophet repeated for a second time, “Bless us in our Shām.” He asked for a second time. For the third time, he still did not respond to that request as if it was never asked, and he restricted the barakah (blessings) to the land of Ḥijāz and the land of Shām.
This clearly shows us that the status of Shām is something that we as Muslims need to believe in. In fact, in a ḥadīth in the Musnad of Imam Aḥmad, our Prophet said, “Count six things before the Day of Judgment…” It is a long ḥadīth and we don’t have time for all of it. “The first of these is my death. The second one: conquering Bayt’l-Maqdis.” Our Prophet predicted the conquering of Bayt’l-Maqdis even before it was conquered. Our Prophet told the Muslims that Bayt’l-Maqdis and Shām would be ours. It was not conquered in his lifetime, yet he said this would be something that would happen right after his death, which is exactly what we find in the books of history as well.
In another ḥadīth, the Prophet said he saw a light emanating from Shām. In another ḥadīth, he said, “Before my mother gave birth to me, my mother saw a light come from her that enlightened the palaces of Sham” as if the message of Islam is coming from Makkah and Madīnah and its primary target is going to be the land of Sham. In another ḥadīth in the Musnad of Imam Ahmed, the Prophet said, “I saw the angels carry a beam of light, and they placed it in arḍ’l-Shām.” This is an authentic ḥadīth that Allāh told the angels to place a beam of light signifying guidance and righteousness in the land of Shām.
Indeed our Prophet continued to praise Shām in so many aḥadīth. In one ḥadīth, the famous companion ‘Abdullāh b. Hawālah said, “O Messenger of Allāh, if I knew you would live forever, I would never leave your side, but I know your time is limited, and I want to go forth and preach the message of Islam. Where should I go?” Look firstly at the īmān of this ṣaḥābi. “Ya Rasūlullāh, I want to stay with you, but spreading the message of Islam is more important.” Look at the īmān of this ṣaḥābi. “If I knew you would live forever, I would be with you, but eventually you need to move on. Ya Rasūlullāh, where do you advise I go?” The Prophet said, “I command you to go to Shām.” Once again, it was a time when Shām was not in Muslim lands. The face of ‘Abdullāh b. Hawālah changed because he didn’t want to go to Shām. He wanted to go somewhere else. The Prophet saw this in him, so he said again, “O the son of Hawālah, Allāh has guaranteed me the people of Shām.”
What does this mean? It means that “not only will Shām be my ummah” – Allāh has guaranteed the people of Shām will be from his ummah and it has been the case for the last 14 centuries and more that the land of Shām has been the land of Islam. The Prophet is saying, “Allāh has guaranteed me ahl’l-Shām.” Not only that the people of Shām will be Muslims but also that they will be righteous, rightly guided Muslims and at the stalwart and vanguard of Islam and the people of Islam. This is something specifically, authentically, and explicitly mentioned in a number of aḥadīth.
Of them is the ḥadīth of the Prophet in which he said, “There shall always be a group of my ummah rightly guided, clearly upon the truth, attaining help from Allāh.” He was asked, “Where can I find them?” The Prophet said, “They are in the land of Shām and the surrounding land of Shām.” From this ḥadīth, Ibn Taymiyyah and others have derived that there shall always be a group of rightly guided Muslims – not just Muslims but rightly guided Muslims and Muslims at the vanguard and Muslims who are blessed to be a upon the guidance of Allāh and to be helped by Allāh because the ḥadīth says that Allāh will help them and the naṣr of Allāh is coming upon them. The ḥadīth says they will clearly be upon the truth until the commandment of Allāh comes.
Therefore, clearly the people of Shām have a blessing that hardly any place or area has been referenced with. This is a blessing and Allāh gives it to whomever He pleases. Because of the blessings of Shām, many of the trials and tribulations are linked to Shām in the prophetic tradition. Of them is the famous tradition of ‘Isa b. Maryam coming down on the white minaret in the city of Damascusin the landof Shām. When the Prophet said this ḥadīth, there was no mosque and there was no minaret in the land of Shām, but the Prophet predicted Jesus Christ shall descend down in the city Damascus – he mentioned it by name – and in a city in the east of Damascus on the white minaret. Most of the scholars have interpreted this to mean on the minaret of the Umayyad mosque that has been built – the first mosque built in Damascus. And Allāh knows best whether it is that reference, but clearly a minaret in the city of Damascus. A white minaret. ‘Isa b. Maryam will come down to that very land. In this as well is an indication of the blessings and sanctity of arḍ’l-Shām.
The Prophet also predicted that there would be many trials and tribulations dealing with Shām, but that always Shām would come out victorious at the end of it. This is a beautiful ḥadīth of us to be aware of in the times we see around us. We should not read into this ḥadīth that it is happening now because most likely this ḥadīth refers to something right before the Day of Judgment.
In one ḥadīth, the Prophet said, “There will be three major armies in the world fighting each other: an army from Iraq, an army from Yemen, and an army from Shām.” This is going to be a major civil war between Muslims. A major catastrophe that is going to take place. This is one of the signs of Day of Judgment that is going to take place before the Day of Judgment. The Prophet said there is going to be an army in Iraq, an army in Yemen, and an army in Shām. The ṣaḥābah asked him, “Ya Rasūlullāh, “Which of these armies do you advise us to be in?” He said, “I command you to be in the army that will be in Shām and with the people of Shām.”
In another ḥadīth reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, the Prophet predicted that there will be a treaty between us and al-Rūm (the Roman Empire), and we will fight a common enemy. This is also something that will occur right before the coming of al-Dajjāl, so we should not read in anything about it in our times. This is something that will take place right immediately preceding the coming of al-Dajjāl, and we seek Allāh’s refuge from every seeing that time. This is something that is going to happen in the future. We should not interpret modern events and assume that the Prophet is mentioning them.
The Prophet said, “There will come a time when you will have a treaty with the Roman Empire. After you fight the common enemy and defeat them, that treaty will be broken. Then they will march against you.” After you were together and fighting a common enemy, it will so happen that they will march against you. “Under 80 different flags.” Maybe 80 countries or 80 nations, Allāhu ‘ālam. “80 flags will be gathered against you, and at that time, the camp of the Muslims will be in a land [and he mentioned a place in Syria] and what is around it.” Once again, the people of Shām and the land of Shām are being mentioned where the base of the Muslims is going to be. When those armies attack, there will be the camp of the Muslims, and if we are alive at that time, the Prophet told us to be with the people of Shām.
In yet another ḥadīth, the Prophet told us that the land of mash-ḥar is the land of Shām. Many people misinterpret the mash-ḥar to mean the Day of Judgment. This is not correct because the Day of Judgment’s Ḥashr will not be on this earth. On that mash-ḥar, the actual Day of Judgment will not take place on this earth, so this is a misinterpretation. The meaning of mash-ḥar here is the worldly gathering together before the Day of Judgment. The very last group of believers that will be on this earth before the Day of Judgment will be in theland of Shām; therefore, theland of Shām will be the very last land to have Muslims on it right before the end of times.
Then the Prophet said, “There shall be a scented, perfumed, beautiful wind coming from Shām that will take the soul of every believer.” This will be right before the trumpet is blown. When the trumpet is blown, the believers will not hear it because the wind from Shām will have taken them away, and will have died when they smelled this beautiful scent coming from this region of Shām. This will be the end of the Muslims on earth. Then there will be a group that are the worst of mankind and like animals they will act and interact. That will be the generation upon which the trumpet is blown.
Therefore, the land of Shām will be not only the land where Muslims will be present until Jesus Christ comes down – of course even the great Armageddon that Christians and Muslims believe in will take place in the land of Shām. It will be arḍ’l-Shām that ‘Isa b. Maryam shall kill his opponent the anti-Christ and those who follow the anti-Christ. Remember Bayt’l-Maqdis is in Shām. Don’t be confused by modern nation states. Bayt’l-Maqdis and Jerusalem are in the land of Shām, even if modern countries have divided it into smaller imaginary lines. In classical time, this was all the land of Shām. Therefore all of this has been predicted in our tradition. The land of Shām has been blessed from the very beginning. After Allāh blessed Makkah, the second blessing was to Shām.
Our Prophet was asked, “What was the first house built on earth?” Allāh says it in the Qur’ān, so he answered directly from the Qur’ān. “The first house built on earth was in Makkah.” Then he was asked the second, and he said, “Bayt’l-Maqdis.” He was asked, “What was the time between them?” The Prophet said, “Forty years.” Therefore, Bayt’l-Maqdis is the second holiest land up until the coming of Madīnah. That is why in Makkah, the Prophet would pray facing Shām and Bayt’l-Maqdis. Then when Allāh caused him to emigrate to Madīnah, Madīnah became sacred and holy and it became the second holiest place during the time of the Prophet , unlike Makkah. Makkah was holy from the time of Ibrahim. Bayt’l-Maqdis was holy from the time of Ya‘qūb. Madīnah became holy in the time of the Prophet Muḥammad . This is the plan of Allāh that He does as He pleases.
It is because all of this that the khulafā’ al-rāshidūn understood the need to implement the ḥadīth of the Prophet in conquering Shām. Therefore, Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq, even though in his lifetime he never engaged in conquest outside of the Arabian peninsula and was busy with the wars of Riddah, there was only one battle that he was interested in outside of the Arabian peninsula and that was to send an army to Shām. The Battle of Yarmūk, even though the victory came in the first days of the khilāfah of ‘Umar, it was Abu Bakr who laid the seeds for the Battle of Yarmūk. It was Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq who sent the army out barely a year and a half after the death of the Prophet . That was the desire of the Muslims that the Prophet told us about Shām and our Lord has told us of the blessings of Shām. Therefore, in the khilāfah of Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq, he sent together the army to come to Yarmūk and begin the conquest of Shām. Abu Bakr died in the middle of the battle in Madīnah, so in the very first days of the khilāfah of ‘Umar was when the battle became a success, and it was the first domino that opened up the entire land of Shām – Damascus and Jerusalem and small principalities followed one after the other. The people ofJerusalem refused to surrender until ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb came himself to receive the keys to the city. ‘Umar did not do this for any other city, but who can refuse to come to Jerusalem? ‘Umar instantaneously took his servant.
You all know the famous story that just him and his servant on their donkey, taking turns to get to Bayt’l-Maqdis and Jerusalem, not because of the people of Jerusalem but because Allāh has blessed Jerusalem. ‘Umar would take off from his khilāfah duties and walk with his servant from Madīnah to Jerusalem to pay respect to that land where our Prophet himself prayed. That was why as soon as Jerusalem was opened up, the first thing he did was revive Bayt’l-Maqdis and he built a masjid at Bayt’l-Maqdis because the Christians had desecrated the Jewish temple and made it into a trash joint and desecrated the sanctity of the Jewish temple because they didn’t want to have honor there, but Allāh had honored it. We don’t care of the other nations and races as much as we care of Allāh, and Allāh has said this is a holy land, so the first thing ‘Umar did was build a mosque at Bayt’l-Maqdis to honor this blessing of Shām and to honor the commandment of Allāh and to show the Sunnah of the Prophet when he prayed at that very spot in Bayt’l-Maqdis.
Historically, my dear brothers and sisters, Shām has always a bastion of knowledge. It has always been a repository of scholars and of authentic luminaries of academic Islam. We’ve had great people like Shaykh’l-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and before that Imam al-Awza‘i and Ibn Qudāmah and Ibn Kathīr and Ibn al-Qayyim. So many are the scholars who are linked with Damascusand with bilād’l-Shām. We can go on and on and on. Our ummah and our history is replete with luminaries who came from bilād’l-Shām.
Therefore, in light of all of this, when we see what is happening today in this very land that Allāh has praised and His Messenger has praised, and when we see the situation and tyranny and the bloodshed and civilians and innocent Muslims – men, women, and children – being massacred helplessly, and when we see an evil tyrant who loves his power more than he loves his own people and to the extent he is willing to shed the blood of his own people, then our heart bleeds not just because these are Muslims, but also because these are Muslims who Allāh ‘azza wa jall and His Prophet have mentioned in a very special light. This is a land that has been blessed like no other land after the Ḥijāz.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, when we see the particular tragedy unfolding in Syria and learn that over 3,000 have been killed in the last year of all the uprisings, then the very least that we should do is think about this land and our relationship with this land and what does Allāh ‘azza wa jall and His Messenger require of us and what can we do as Muslims to help our fellow Muslims not just in this land but around the Muslim world, but especially in this blessed land which our Prophet has praised and Allāh ‘azza wa jall has blessed. Realize, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, that our Prophet predicted that there would be many fitan and trials and tribulations, and of those trials and tribulations, many would involve resurrections and blood and warfare.
In one ḥadīth, our Prophet said, “The Day of Judgment will not come forth until there will be a lot of ḥarraj.” Ḥarraj was not a common word for the Arabs at that time. Some say it is an Ethiopian word. Now in Arabic it means “commotion and chaos.” The companions said, “What is ḥarraj, ya Rasūlullāh.” The Prophet said, “Massacre and blood. Massacre and blood.” This is what ḥarraj is. The Day of Judgment will not come forth until you will see many massacres and much bloodshed, and this is exactly what we see in the world today.
Abu Musa al-Ashar‘i narrated in the Ṣaḥīḥ of Imam Muslim – when he narrated this ḥadīth, his students said to him, “Ya Aba Musa, this ḥadīth is saying the Day of Judgment will not happen until there is a lot of bloodshed. Are you saying there is going to be more bloodshed than even now? For verily last year more than 70,000 people lost their lives.” They are mentioning maybe around the year 50 of the hijrah. He is talking about all the wars in the Muslim worlds and the conquests. Abu Musa said, “I am not talking about wars and battles with other lands. I am talking about Muslims killing other Muslims. I am talking about civil war from within and we killing one another. This is what the Prophet is saying, ‘al-ḥarraj, al ḥarraj.’ We are not talking about wars with other nations and defensive and offensive. We are talking about wars within our own. They are from your own. They will be speaking your language.” His students were shocked, and they said, “Will we still have our sanity? How can we be killing one another?” Abu Musa al-Ashar‘i said, “Indeed Allāh will take the sanity from many people. He will lift up the sanity and the people left behind will be the evil people and the people who have no ‘aql and no īmān. These will be the people who will be doing this slaughter.” In one version, he said, “They think they are calling to something good and they have nothing good in them.” Therefore, this ḥarraj and this fitnah that we are seeing are but a part of the predications of our Prophet Muḥammad .
Our Prophet told us that one of the signs of the Day of Judgment would be evil rulers over us. “They won’t have any fear of Allāh. They won’t have an ounce of fear when they are ruling over you.” Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, even forget the fear of God, an ounce of humanity would not allow for what we are seeing today. No human could kill his own civilians and his own population. No human can abduct and kidnap 10-year old kids and torture them to death. No human can take a warplane and bomb it upon a civilian building. This is not a part of humanity. It is not possible for a person who believes in Allāh and has a living heart to do this, yet this is what we see around us, and the world is silent. The world will not intervene as they did in Libya and as they did here and there because there is no oil in Syria as there was in Libya. We should not waiting for NATO and the UN because that is not going to happen. The world politics plays its own rules, and we have the rules of Islam to play by.
My brothers and sisters in Islam, the question arises: what is to be done in light of this entire situation? First and foremost, the bare minimum is that there needs to be an attachment and a relationship and a pain and suffering in the heart from what is happening. Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, – allow me to be totally blunt here – the one who can spend the last few weeks enjoying and heedless and ghāfil and disconnected from the reality of Syria is the one whose īmān is nonexistent in the heart. It is a sign of īmān to love for your brothers and feel pain for your brothers. It is a sign of īmān to live with your brothers and sleep with your brothers. It is a sign of īmān that when something is hurting in them, something is hurting in you. That is exactly what the Prophet said: “The ummah is like one body. If one limb, one area, one finger of the whole body is in pain, then the whole body will be in pain because they will not be able to sleep. They will be suffering a fever.”
Therefore, brothers and sisters, whoever is disconnected from these news and couldn’t care less and is looking at all of the other things and not caring about the plight of the people of Syria, such a Muslim really needs to see his own Islam and check his own īmān. He needs to see what is the problem with him that he can live a life that is un-phased. Wallāhi, if this had been your own brother, your own cousin, your own ethnicity, how would you be able to live? Do you not realize that the blood of Islam is thicker than the blood of actual blood brothers? Do you not realize that the brotherhood of Islam is deeper than the brotherhood of nations and the brotherhood of ethnicity and the brotherhood of race? “Indeed all the believers are brothers.”
The first point: there needs to be an attention. There needs to be a relationship. There needs to be genuine pain. Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, whoever is able to sleep peacefully in the last seven, eight days and last two weeks, then I say to this person: check your īmān! Check your īmān that how can you go to sleep comfortably in your bed and not be thinking about hundreds and thousands of people. Realize that for every one that is killed, there are at least 20 that are injured. For every one that is killed, there are at least 10 that have had to flee their lands. For every one that is killed, there are at least 1,000 living in terror of being killed, living in terror of the bombs falling, living in terror of these heartless troops that do not have an ounce of īmān and would be willing to kill their own children in front of their eyes.
Realize it is not even just 2,000-3,000 people. It is an entire civilization, an entire land that has been subjugated by this evil tyrant and the people around him.
The second point, dear brothers and sisters, is to realize that in all of these tribulations, there is a test from Allāh. There is a wisdom, even if we don’t understand it. In this as well is a test of our faith. When we look at this, these situations of bloodshed and massacres are what people’s īmān are shaken by. This is always the case. “Where will the Help of Allāh come?” “O Allāh, why is this happening?” This is a common question and theme from the beginning of time until our times, every righteous nation wonders why this is happening and where is our Lord and where is the Help of our Lord. Therefore, in every one of these situations, we need to renew our īmān and have full faith in Allāh and realize that “Verily, the naṣr of Allāh is gharīb.” Even if we don’t see it and know it, we need to have that īmān in Allāh. It is a test of our own īmān.
The third point is that having pain and suffering from their suffering indicates and shows us that have to also make du‘ā’ for them and raise our hands to pray for them and ask Allāh for their fortitude and their patience and to ask Allāh to accept their shuhadā’ and to comfort their widows and to give sakīnah and raḥmah to those who are living deprived amongst them. The least that we can do is that when we make du‘ā, we make du‘ā’ for those Muslims as well who have been suffering in this manner, especially du‘ā’ in our sajdahs and du‘ā’ in the middle of the night. Insha’Allāh today in the salah we will also do du‘ā’ al-qunūt for the people of Syria because our Prophet would do a special du‘ā’ when the Muslim ummah was affected, which is called du‘ā’ al-qunūt.
The fourth thing that we should do is to help them out in whatever way possible. This requires the subject of many other khuṭbahs and talks. To be brutally honest, many of you are more experts than I am on what can be done politically, economically, socially, and to boycott certain countries that are supporting these regimes. These are things which you are experts in more than me, so we help each other together and you tell us what can be done. In some cities, there is no question to hold demonstrations in front of embassies in order to draw the public attention. Brothers and sisters, do not trivialize these types of things. You all know that this evil tyrant’s father was a worse tyrant than him and that he massacred some say up to 30-40,000 people in the city of Hama in 1982. Do you realize why this tyrant cannot do as blatant ẓulm as his father did? It is because of the internet, videos, the presence of reporters and all of this public pressure that was not possible to have in 1982 inHama.
I understand that petitioning and standing in front of embassies doesn’t seem like the best, but there is some benefit in there. There is some pressure that is exerted. Even Russia, who vetoed the bill, got so embarrassed that it had to send its foreign minister to see it could resolve the issue with Bashar. This shows us that this type of pressure might have some effect. Do not trivialize any good that we can do. You are more experts than I am. Tell us what can be done as a community and what we should be doing economically, socially, in the media. This is something we all help one another out in. Surely there is so much that can be done on the physical level apart from the spiritual level.
The fifth point is that when we see what is happening in Syria, we should realize that Allāh is testing us in different ways. If He is testing them with deprivation and with death and bloodshed, then He is testing us with the opposite. In some ways it is more difficult, and in many ways, it is easier. The opposite of that is the possibility of oblivion and the possibility of coarseness of heart. The possibility of immersing our self in our luxuries and materialism and cutting off our relationship with the ummah. Our test is the exact opposite, and it is the test of māl, money, pleasures, and the test of this dunya.
Brothers and sisters in Islam, no doubt that is a test that is easier in this world, but perhaps in the next it might be more difficult. Perhaps for the next it might be more difficult. No doubt in this world anybody would prefer this test over that one, but in the next world, those people will come, and their ḥasanāt inshā’Allāh are like the mountains, and we will be asked about the blessings we had and the money and wealth and what did we do. The least we can do, brothers and sisters, is to wake up from the ghaflah, heedlessness, and materialism almost every one of us is immersed in head over heels and to rediscover our religion and have a relationship with Allāh and to be regular in our prayers and our charity.
Last, but definitely not least, – of course the khuṭbah precludes longer talk – we need to have tawakkul (trust) in Allāh and think the best thoughts of Allāh. It is at these times that people think bad things about their Lord. When trials come forth and tribulations are present, people think evil thoughts of their religion and God. This is the time when we as Muslims need to show the world that no matter what happens, we never lose faith in our religion and in the God that we believe in.
SubḥānAllāh, brothers and sisters, it is this last year that we have seen the fall of multiple tyrants. Tyrants that I speak as personally not having known any other tyrants in those regions. They have been on earth so long, I don’t remember the tyrants before them. My entire life has been with these tyrants in the Arab world, yet we saw all of them fall like a stack of dominoes, one after the other, until finally the last one is left. This is the last in the stack. How can we lose hope in Allāh when we have seen what happened in the last year? How can we lost hope in Allāh when we saw how Allāh humiliated the tyrants of other lands?
Shaykh’l-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “When Allāh wants to punish a ruler, the first thing that He does is removes the love and respect that his people have for him. When a people hate their own ruler and curse their own ruler and despise their own ruler, this is the sign that Allāh will humiliate that ruler. Who is there of sound īmān and, dare I say, of sound ‘aql who loves this person Bashar al-Assad? His own people curse him with the most vile and vulgar and filthy curses. When your own people have already lost all respect and ‘izzah for you, where will you find respect anywhere else? This is just the beginning, and we will inshā’Allāh see the fall of this tyrant and the end of this regime – not because I’m predicting ‘ilm’l-ghayb but because Allāh has told us that ẓulm cannot last on earth and Allāh has told us that the du‘ā’ of the oppressed will be responded to. Allāh has told us that He will help the masākīn. Because I trust in Allāh and because we all trust in Allāh, then we also trust that this person who is causing this ẓulm and causing this persecution the likes of which we have hardly ever seen, this person’s end is near. This is what we hope and pray.
In fact, this is exactly what we believe in and have yaqīn in and this is our thinking the best of Allāh.
There is no question, brothers and sisters, that this is a major trial afflicting not just the people of Syria but the Muslim ummah because it is Syria and because they are our Muslim brothers and sisters in Syria. Realize that in every trial and in every fitnah there is also Allāh’s raḥmah and mercy.
Our Prophet said, “My ummah is a nation that has been blessed because there is no punishment for my ummah in the ākhirah, rather, my ummah will be punished in this world by murder, chaos, massacres, chaotic times, earthquakes, and fitan.” The punishment in this world is a million times easier. The Prophet said that Allāh will punish other nations in the ākhirah, but “my ummah is a blessed ummah because there is no punishment in the ākhirah.” That is the worst punishment. To be saved from that punishment, this ummah will suffer some punishments in this world. Of these punishments is massacres and bloodshed. Therefore, even in this there is some consolation for us even though we don’t want massacres and bloodshed and we ask Allāh to lift it, but when it happens, we take consolation in these aḥadīth. We realize that there is a wisdom in them as well.
Realize that our Prophet said as well, “There shall be fitnahs that come upon you one after the other. There shall be trials and tribulations that will come one after the other. Every time a fitnah comes, the people will say, ‘It’s too much for us. I cannot bear it. This fitnah will cause me to be destroyed.’ Then Allāh will lift the fitnah up, and another fitnah will come. The mu’min will say, ‘This is the one that will cause me to be destroyed!’” This will not destroy him because Allāh will give him īmān and a way of out of the fitnah, but this is what life will be like. Every successive generation and every successive time looks to be worse than the one before it, so the Prophet said, “Whoever wishes that death comes to him in a good state, let death come when his īmān in Allāh is firm…” Don’t let your īmān waver. Don’t be ashamed to be Muslim. Don’t hide your īmān when fitnahs come. Be a proud Muslim. “…let him do unto other people what he would want to be seen done unto him.” Don’t let fitnahs cause you to treat others in an evil manner. If everybody else is being evil, it doesn’t give you the right to be evil.
This is a beautiful ḥadīth that reminds us that even if the people around you are barbarians, even if they have left all morality, you don’t have a reason to leave morality. Let him do unto others like he would like others to do unto himself. During times of fitnah, our ethics and morality don’t change. If the whole world gets lost and if the whole world loses the plot, we shouldn’t lose our plot. We shouldn’t lose our ethics and manners because we are a people of Islam and a people of a Book and a people of a Prophet, and most importantly, we are a people who worship Allāh ‘azza wa jall. So no matter what happens on earth, we never lose track of our own principles.
Last but not least, realize that the purpose of a fitnah and the meaning of the word fitnah is to examine and purify in order to cleanse and clean. This is what fitnah means in the Arabic language. That is why the Arabs would call the goldsmith fatān, the one who causes fitnah because the goldsmith takes raw gold from the sand and throws it into the furnace and causes fitnah to this raw ore to separate the pure gold from the soil and sand. Fitnah will separate the gold from the dust. Fitnah will separate the diamonds from the charcoal. Fitnah will separate the gold from everything around it.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, the purpose of the fitnahs is to test who amongst us truly has faith versus those who don’t. Allāh says, “Did mankind think that We would leave them alone untested without fitnahs? Indeed We tested the people before with fitnahs so that Allāh will see those who are telling the truth when they say they are believers versus those who are telling lies.”
This is indeed a great fitnah and a fitnah with which we are being tested incidentally and a fitnah the people of Syria are being tested with directly. It is much more of a fitnah for them, but it is also a major fitnah for us in our own way and in our own manner. This is a fitnah that everyone’s īmān will be shown and demonstrated. Allāh will see who amongst us is telling the truth when we say we are believers versus those amongst us who are kādhibīn and not telling the truth.