BBSI Guidance – Eid 1442 – Turning to Allah in Ease and Hardship
To You, our Lord, do we complain of our weakness, our lack of support and the humiliation we are made to receive. O Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak,
and You are our Lord.
To whom would You leave us? To a distant stranger who receives us with hostility? Or to an enemy whom You have given power over us? But as long as You are not displeased with us, we care not what we must face. Yet, O Allah, we would be more pleased with Your mercy.
We seek refuge in the light of Your Blessed Countenance – by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the Life Eternal are put in their right course – against incurring Your wrath or being the subject of Your anger. To You do we submit, that we might earn Your pleasure, for everything is powerless without your support.
The month of Ramadan is one in which, as well as our spirits drawing closer to God in worship, our hearts grow closer to our fellow human beings through the feeling of hunger and fatigue, and through our supplications for them by night. As the month has drawn on, our hearts have been filled with grief and hurt about the situation of oppressed and persecuted communities, particularly Muslim ones, throughout the world.
Whether the ongoing oppression of the Uighurs in China, the ongoing and needless devastating famine in Yemen, the continuing plight of the displaced Rohingyas, the brutalised Syrians, or those in developing countries being overwhelmed by COVID-19, it is both right and natural to feel a deep sense of empathy and compassion for their suffering, as well as a burning desire to somehow rectify their circumstances. This is the definition of raḥma (mercy), and we are the Community of the Mercy to all creation (peace and blessings upon him).
The latest news about the dreadful events at Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, Palestine and now Gaza: yet more Palestinians being forced from their homes, thousands of worshippers being assaulted by the Israeli army during prayer on the most holy nights of the year in one of our most sacred places, have served as a grim capstone to this feeling. Many Muslims, from the relative comfort and safety of our lives in the UK, feel increasingly helpless about what we can do to assist our brothers and sisters – in Islam as well as in humanity – elsewhere in the world.
At present, it is not the role of the BBSI to put out statements or calls about events occurring beyond our borders, though many of our Council have done so in our personal and other organisational capacities. However, it is very much the role of this fellowship of scholars to provide guidance and theological leadership for the community in such circumstances. In recognition of this, we humbly offer up this guidance for constructively channelling the human feelings that we all experience for the suffering of our fellow human beings and believers into holistic action, at spiritual, physical and emotional levels.
The first of these is to turn to God in earnest worship, sincere repentance, and heartfelt supplication. This is especially but not exclusively so during blessed times such as the nights of Eid, the last third of the night, at fast-breaking and after prayer. Unfortunately, this is something that is often dismissed by those who feel that more tangible action is the only true action. Yet this is not an alternative to physical action, but rather the true basis of all our deeds. 40 times a day, we recite in prayer “You alone we worship, and to You alone do we turn for aid, guide us to and along the straight path”. This is the basis of all our interactions with the world around us: we first turn to our Lord, acknowledging His lordship, His power, His wisdom in directing the events of creation, and seeking to act based on His infinite strength and wisdom, rather than our own weakness and fallibility.
We strongly encourage every Muslim, no matter whether you think your du’as are worthy of being answered or not (they are), and no matter how religious or not you consider yourself to be, to sincerely supplicate to Allah to relieve oppression, to end persecution, to provide consolation, to bring relief, to rectify affairs, and to cover all in His merciful embrace. In addition, always remember that everything that occurs falls under the decree and destiny of Allah, and nothing escapes His Knowledge, His Will and His Power. There is no place for hopelessness, helplessness, despair or futile rage in the heart of a believer, and if you experience any of these feelings, then turn back to Allah, for ‘in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace’.
We encourage the recitation of the powerful du’as that have been transmitted from the Prophet (s), his companions and successors, and the righteous of this Umma for relief and success, including the prayer of need, the Du’a al-Nasiri, and others. Additionally, we strongly encourage mosque Imams (and individuals) to consider the performance of the Qunut al-Nazila (the prayer to avert calamity), to be recited aloud after the ruku’ of the last rakat of any of the 5 daily prayers. This is a confirmed sunna during periods of great crisis, particularly but not exclusively according to the relied upon (mu’tamad) position of the Shafi’i school. The Hanafi school’s position is to recite the Nazilat at Fajr prayer after the second ruku.
All other actions, whether financial support, information raising, and protests of different types, are to be undertaken with the firm conviction that it is Allah who rectifies affairs and brings success; human endeavour in this regard is thus primarily about fulfilling our responsibilities to God and the community to ‘stand as witnesses for justice, even if against our own kin’, to ‘assist one another in righteousness and taqwa, and not assist one another in fomenting sinfulness and enmity’, to ‘stop evil, whether by hand, tongue, or to detest it in one’s heart’ and to ‘bring forth the good, for Allah loves those who bring forth good’.
Responding with Knowledge and Action
Seek to learn about the situation of Muslims around the world, especially those in states of difficulty and hardship.
This should go beyond simply regurgitating snippets of information from social media, which may or may not be verified, and apprising oneself of the nuances and complexities of the circumstance (or at least, to realise that there are complexities).
Based on this, seek to work towards strategic, achievable and concrete solutions or assistance, rather than tokenistic gestures that are quickly forgotten.
Inform others of the plight of Muslims in a clear and fair-minded way. Consider your audience, and what element of the situation is likely to appeal to them most.
In terms of the land of Bayt al-Maqdis, specifically, one should seek to understand and distinguish between the theological and ethical aspects of the conflict.
The latter relates to acts of oppression and persecution, such as state-sanctioned indiscriminate killing, seizure of people’s homes, the use of state power to terrorise and dominate a largely helpless population, discriminatory policies, unfair and unequal distribution of resources, and so forth, which have all been documented by Palestinian, Israeli, and international rights organisations.
This latter element is common to many conflicts and the source of much human misery – whether Muslims are the victims, perpetrators, both, or neither – and we should always be vociferously opposed this no matter where it occurs.
The former relates to, for example, the importance of the land to all three Abrahamic faiths, and the specific importance of the region in Prophetic discourse. Syro-Palestine (Shaam) and al-Aqsa specifically have a very special place in the hearts of Muslims: our first qibla, the setting-off point of the Mi’raj, and the place where all the Prophets were honoured to have our Prophet (s) lead them in prayer. It was a place that he (s) spoke about many times – there are over forty Prophetic narrations on the blessedness of this land.
Fulfil your responsibility to both speak out against injustice, oppression and persecution in a general way, but also to raise awareness of the ‘Palestine Question’ and its importance to Muslims around the world.
Supporting charities and other agencies working to alleviate the suffering of those who are oppressed, wronged and downtrodden, financially, by volunteering and by offering your own skill set to their disposal. Support movements such as BDS, which are peaceful means to raise awareness.
Additionally, once it is safe to do so, every Muslim from the UK should make a firm intention to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lives. There is nothing that the inhabitants of that land wish for more than for the world to know that the Muslims have not forgotten Palestine, and nothing that makes them happier than our visiting them and thereby showing that solidarity with them.
At the same time as visiting the holy sites, visit Palestinian families, send gifts for their children, support their businesses and economy however you can. If possible, also visit one of the interfaith organisations in Jerusalem – some set up by Israeli Jews themselves – that work tirelessly to hold their own government and people to account and to bring about fairness.
Learn and raise awareness about the causes of the occupation – some historical, some contemporary, some theological and others political – that fuel the ongoing conflict.
Seek to understand the reasons for, signs of, and ways to overcome bias in the media.
At the same time, learn about the complexity of the situation, and the complicity of some Muslim countries in the ongoing persecution – whether occurring in Palestine, Syria, China, Myanmar or elsewhere.
Recognising when the Muslims themselves are committing wrongs, and clearly distinguishing between the action (which may be wrong) and the reason for the action (which may be justified).
Work together in a strategic, cohesive manner to find effective ways of both supporting organisations and individuals that are supporting truth and justice, and calling out and holding to account those that propagate falsehoods, support oppression.
Pressing our elected representatives to raise these issues in the corridors of power, and supporting them when they do so.
Developing effective media strategies (and supporting those with the ability to do so) to challenge distorted narratives, including coordinated campaigns to demand fairness in media reporting.
Working with other faith-based, or secular organisations to build bonds based on mutually agreed objectives and ideals, on the basis of the Quranic dictum: ‘Come to a word (agreement) common between us’.
Lastly, we urge all believers, during this blessed time, not to lose hope in Allah’s mercy, wisdom and power. There are many individuals and organisations working tirelessly both at grassroots and within the corridors of power and influence who have started to see a deep-rooted change in attitudes towards some of these adversities – particularly Palestine.
More broadly, though it may be difficult to believe, the Umma of Muhammad (s) has been in a worse position than this, and it has survived. It will survive this too. Place your trust in the Decree of Allah, and set your hands, minds and tongues to work in fulfilling His command. Be peacemakers. Be witnesses for truth, justice and reconciliation. Be beacons of mercy and compassion for all mankind, yet unafraid to stand up to tyranny, following the Sunna of the Mercy to all Creation (s).
Lastly, remember that we are created for the hereafter, that this world is only a temporary abode, that after hardship comes ease, and that the reality of things is not the same as its appearance. Many of those in states of hardship and suffering have been raised – by that very suffering – to such states of Iman that they will look to us with pity on the Day of Resurrection, as we look towards them with pity now. As He told the Prophet (s) at the outset of his mission,
‘Your Lord has not abandoned you, nor is he displeased, and what is to come will be far better for you than what has gone past.’