The Value of the Oppressed

Apr 11 - The value of the oppressed

Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz was the nephew and son-in-law of Caliph Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan. His mother Umm Asim was the grand daughter of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta). His father Abdul-Aziz governed Egypt for twenty-one years. Waleed appointed Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz as the governor of Madinah. In 99 Hijri, upon the death of Caliph Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Malik and as per his will, Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz was appointed as the succeeding Caliph.

During his caliphate, Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz had arranged for the plundered property to be returned to its rightful owners, ensured the effectiveness and operation of the state treasury and restored the integrity of Caliph Ali (rta), who was earlier slandered in sermons.

In 101 Hijri, with the assistance and wicked scheming of some influential men, Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz was poisoned and killed. But his short reign of two years is considered to be a historic one with regard to his achievements, success and popularity as a capable ruler.

Following is one of the many stories of the caliph’s sense of justice that won him people’s hearts.

Once, Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz was roaming in the market of Hamas. Suddenly, a man adorning a striped wrap approached him. He said: “O, Amir-ul-Mumineen! You have commanded the oppressed to come to you for justice!”

Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz replied: “Yes! Indeed.”

The man continued: “Hence, a man who has been wronged has come to you travelling from a faraway land.”

Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz questioned him: “Where is your family?”

The man replied: “Further from the province in Yemen.”

Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz responded: “By Allah! Your family is far from the family of Umar.” And he climbed down immediately from his mount. He further inquired: “How have you been oppressed?”

The traveler answered: “A man has illegally occupied my land, on which I used to grow grains, and evicted me.”

After listening to the man’s complaint, Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz wrote to Urwa Ibn Mohammad that he should pay heed to the man’s complaint, and when he would be proved right, Urwa should ensure that the man’s land was rightfully returned to him. Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz placed a seal on his letter, finalizing his orders.

When the stranger prepared to leave, Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz questioned him: “Wait! Since you have travelled from far, what expenses did you have to incur for your journey or how much did you have to pay for your ride and how many clothes did you change?”

When an estimate was prepared, it came to approximately 15 Dinars. Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz paid the traveller his money and set him off for his journey back home. Subhan’Allah!

Adapted (with permission) from “Sunehray Faislay” published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

Talk to Allah (swt)

Apr 11 - Talk to Allah swt

By Binte Aqueel

There are times in life when we feel confused – when our mind seems to be an endless cycle of thoughts and emotions, which just seem to be driving us crazy. There are times when we feel sad about how people treat us; when we feel hopeless about how things are; when we feel that the world is just not on our side, and when we feel completely alone.

At times like these, we often forget that there is one Being, Who is always with us and never leaves us – Allah (swt)! Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

There is a beautiful Hadeeth-e-Qudsi narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Prophet (sa) said: Allah (swt) says: ‘I am in accordance with the thoughts of My slave about Me; and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I also remember him in Myself. If he remembers Me in a group, I remember him in a better group (i.e., angels); if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by a cubit. If he draws near Me by a cubit, I draw near him by the space covered by two hands. If he walks towards Me, I go to him running.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the love Allah (swt) has for us!

Psychologists have found that talking about one’s problems is one of the most effective coping strategies. People who have strong socially supportive relations (either friends, family or others) to listen to them when they talk about their problems, frustrations and pains are higher on the psychological and subjective well-being scale. Studies have found that the most effective method for releasing feelings of grief or frustration is to talk to someone you trust and someone who listens to you.

Talking to friends and family members may help release pent-up feelings, but sometimes friends and family are just not there – they may be busy or may not understand. Or there can be any of the thousands of obstacles in our way to contact them, like a technical problem in the phone line.

However, no such problem exists if we talk to Allah (swt). We can make a direct call to Allah (swt) anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to wait for the right time to call or spend thousands on the phone bill. All you need to do is to call on Allah (swt) with sincerity. You can whisper to Him (swt) or talk out loud; you can cry before Him (swt) or even laugh; you can remember Him (swt) standing, sitting or lying on your side, in solitude or in a crowd. And He (swt) will most definitely be there for you – guaranteed!

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “Therefore, remember Me (by praying, and glorifying, etc.). I will remember you…” (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

We have a beautiful example of this in Surah Yusuf, when Prophet Yaqub (as), after being repeatedly betrayed by his sons concerning Yusuf (as) and his brother Binyamin, says: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah…” (Yusuf 12:86)

Talking and complaining to friends, family or any other human being about the injustices done to us or about the difficulties we face carries the risk that we may backbite, slander or mock. But we can most definitely complain to Allah (swt) without any fear of this. And when we talk to Allah (swt) and supplicate to Him (swt), He (swt) is the only One, Who can provide a solution and give us what we want.

We can talk to Allah (swt) in many ways by telling Him (swt) our problems: by sharing our grief, pain and joy with Him (swt); by supplicating to Him; by remembering Him (swt) and doing Dhikr; by performing Salah. There is a beautiful narration, which tells us, of how Allah (swt) communicates with us in Salah:

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Allah, the Exalted, said: ‘I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves, between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says: ‘All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Aalamin.’

Allah says: ‘My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says: ‘The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.’ Allah says: ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says: ‘The Owner of the Day of Recompense.’ Allah says: ‘My servant has glorified Me,’ or ‘My servant has related all matters to Me.’ When he says: ‘Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom you have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray.’ Allah says: ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’” (An-Nasai and Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

We must remember, however, that Allah (swt) already knows our deepest thoughts, for He (swt) states in the Quran: “And indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge).” (Qaf 50:16)

Our talking to Him (swt) strengthens our bond with Him (swt), benefits us by making us feel lighter and by turning in prayer to the only One Who can answer our prayers.

So, the next time you feel sad and glum (or even happy) and you want to share your feelings, just make a direct call to Allah (swt)!

“To Forgive is Divine” – The Way of a Muhsin

Apr 11 - MohsinBy Alia Adil

“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” (Booker T. Washington)

We were studying Surah Yusuf. We read the Ayah where Yusuf (as) reassures his step-brothers that Allah (swt) will forgive them, implying that he himself has already forgiven them. Later, Yaqub (as) also tells his sons that he will soon seek forgiveness for them from Allah (swt). It made me think how easy it can actually be for a human to forgive another human, who has constantly been transgressing his rights.

Prophets of Allah (swt) are models for us to emulate, and we can only do so if we put their teachings into practice. If you have been tortured (mentally or physically), if your rights have been trampled upon or if your life has been made miserable and you feel that a particular person is responsible for it, then how easy is it to forgive?

This question led me to Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) example in Taif. The inhumane treatment meted out to him, as a result of his call to the truth, shows the level of brutality a human being can possibly have towards another. But what was his response? He did not talk about revenge. All he was concerned about was his relationship with Allah (swt) – he was desperate to know whether this trial was a result of Allah’s (swt) anger or otherwise. All that mattered to him was that his Lord should be pleased with him. As long as he had that bounty, other issues were trivial. Allah (swt) was his primary concern.

Why is it that when we face a similar situation, our reaction is entirely different? This is because our primary concern is people, leaving Allah (swt) only as the second. Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Apostle (saw) never took revenge for his own self in any matter presented to him till Allah’s limits were exceeded, in which case he would take revenge for Allah’s sake.” (Bukhari)

We need to set our priorities right. We need to realize that Allah’s (swt) pleasure is what truly matters. When our purpose becomes to gain the pleasure of Allah (swt), then forgiving others becomes possible.

Islam is a comprehensive religion that caters to the whole of humanity, keeping their strengths and weaknesses in consideration. It also gives us space for our own unique circumstances in life. If the threat from the other person is of an ongoing nature, we are granted the right to choose how to deal with such a person. The Prophet (sa) informed us that the supplication of the oppressed does not go unanswered.

Allah (swt) says: “The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun. And indeed whosoever takes revenge after he has suffered wrong, for such there is no way (of blame) against them. The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel in the earth without justification, for such there will be a painful torment. And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40-43)

Thus, everything depends upon our attitude – a positive mind will be full of hope, while a negative-minded person will remain dissatisfied and vengeful. From the early generations of Islam, we learn about a person who slandered a scholar. In return, the scholar gave him a gift of dates. Later, when asked about the gift, he said: “Because he did good to me (i.e., on the Day of Judgement, the man would have to give him some of his good deeds or take from him some of his bad ones due to this offence).”

Ibrahim At-Tamimi once said: “When a man wrongs me, I pay him back with an act of mercy.”

However, we must never forget that no one can harm us, if Allah (swt) has ordained our well-being, and no one can save us from harm, if Allah (swt) wishes so. Nothing happens outside the Decree of Allah (swt). When someone hurts you, take it as a test from Allah (swt) and handle it with wisdom.

So then, what should be our response? Allah (swt) tells us: “And those who remain patient, seeking their Lord’s Countenance, perform As-Salat, and spend out of that which We have bestowed on them, secretly and openly, and defend evil with good, for such there is a good end.” (Rad 13:22) This Ayah holds a strong message – repel evil with good, injustice with forgiveness.

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “A man said to Prophet Muhammad (sa): ‘I have relatives, I try to keep the ties of relationship with them, but they sever relations with me; I treat them kindly, but they treat me badly; I am gentle with them, but they are rough to me.’ He (sa) replied: “If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will be with a supporter against them from Allah (swt), as long as you continue to do so.’” (Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “No one is wronged and bears it with patience, but Allah (swt) will increase him in honour.” (At-Tirmidhi)

At-Tabarani recorded that Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, then a good deed will be written for him for every single believing man and woman.”

Allah (swt) says: “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of the happiness in the Hereafter i.e. Paradise and in this world of a high moral character). (Fussilat 41: 34-35)

May Allah (swt) grant us the patience to forgive others and the ability to turn our foes into our friends. Ameen.