CONDITION OF THE UMMAH
ARE WE MERCY TO MANKIND?
October 1st 2001
And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds. (Al-Anbiya 21:107)
In our previous article of this series, we discussed the topic of oppression and its ramifications on our individual and collective lives. This topic is a
continuation of the same theme but with a slightly different focus.
Allah SWT sent his messengers and prophets as a form of mercy to humanity. The highest form of mercy towards a person is to remind him of his eventual
meeting with his Creator and to prepare him for this meeting. Since there won’t be another prophet coming after Muhammad SAW, the responsibility of
conveying the message of Allah to humanity rests with his nation.
We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not. (Saba 34:28)
Since Muslims are conveying the message of Prophet Muhammad SAW, they by extension are also supposed to be carrying his title of being the mercy to
Are we really mercy to mankind?
Let’s not go as far as entire mankind, let’s look at our behavior with those who are our direct responsibility, our newest brothers and sisters in
faith—the converts to Islam. Instead of being role models for them and helping them to develop their faith and understanding, we often become a hurdle in
their spiritual growth.
UNDERSTANDING OUR CURRENT SITUATION
Today, the Muslim world is polluted with different ideologies and understandings. There are many groups and mosques, all adhering to some ideology instead
of the pure message of Islam. This causes confusion and division among all Muslims, but the effects are worst on new Muslims and Muslim youth. They receive
various contradicting information, interpretation, and messages from different people and places which cause confusion, doubt, and uncertainty.
Of course Allah SWT will guide those who are sincere as He promises in the Qur’an:
And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good. (Al-Ankabut 29:69)
The topic here is whether we are making matters easier for them, or more difficult.
Let’s do a quick rewind of last few hundred years to get a clearer understanding of the Muslim world today.
Up until a few decades ago, almost all of the predominantly Muslim nations were occupied by colonial powers. During the five hundred or so years of
occupation, Muslims were denied proper education and accurate understanding of their religion. The condition of the Muslim world can be compared to a
person after he wakes up from a long sleep. When the person initially wakes up, his mind is unstable and shaky. It takes a while for him to be able to walk
up straight. This is exactly the situation of the Muslim world after a long period of neglect from their religion under colonialism. It is going from one
transition of ideologies and understanding to another—both spiritual and political. And to make matters worse, each one of these ideologues claim to be THE
Confronted by this jumble, what is a New-Muslim supposed to do?
The only way to bring the Muslim world out of the mess it has fallen into is to go back to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad SAW. He SAW left us a complete
journey from disbelief to ultimate belief. If we want to follow Islam we have to follow the twenty three years’ period of revelation as sent by Allah SWT
to His Prophet SAW.
ALLAH (SWT) HAS A SYSTEM
Everything in life has a sequence. Just like that everything in Islam has a sequence. Allah SWT sent the Qur’an over a period of twenty-three years,
creating a system of belief and spiritual development. Anytime we want to follow Islam properly we have to follow the twenty-three years’ format.
The problem is that all the various ideological groups also claim to be following this divine system! What is a person supposed to do?
It is almost as if a person wants to be a surgeon but doesn’t want to go through years of education and training. Instead he puts on scrubs, wears a mask
and gets into the operation theatre.
Can he perform the surgery?
Can he be successful?
Can he help anyone?
Even if he has seen a surgical procedure and tries to imitate, he might be successful once but he won’t be able to continue since he doesn’t have the
knowledge and expertise, and he doesn’t know the sequence.
The Muslim world is facing a barrage of these pseudo surgeons. Instead of following the sequence that Allah SWT chose for spreading His message, each group
takes a portion of Islam and tries to implement that. They are right, yet wrong! Each one is right from its own perspective, yet they are all wrong for the
benefit of Islam, Muslims and humanity.
Take the example of the group that believes that women should be completely covered, have no interaction with men, stay at home, and be served. They derive
this understanding from the Qur’anic verses which were revealed for the Prophet SAW’s wives towards the end of his life. They believe that since the
Prophet’s wives are the role models for Muslims, all Muslim women should follow the same and thus the verses apply to them as well. In a way it is correct,
but what these people forget is that at that time in Islamic history men were also men! They were the teachers, care takers and role models for the women
in their lives. Today if women follow these teaching, who will take care of them?
Even if we try to implement this understanding today, we will be faced with two major challenges:
1. Humanity is made up of two parts—male and female. If females stay home and males are not fulfilling their role, who will take care of the females?
2. If females stay home, who will educate them about Islam? Who will teach them on how to be good wives, mothers and role models for others?
LET’S BE REALISTIC
Yes, Islam is complete in its teachings and understanding. Yes, Qur’an is complete and will never change but we have to take the rules of Islam according
to the condition and slowly and systematically build up towards what we want to achieve.
For example, is it realistic to ask a New-Muslim sister to completely cover up and stay at home? How will she be beneficial to herself and others? Are
Muslims that knowledgeable, nice and kind to provide for her and educate her? How many men today have basic knowledge of Islam to educate their own
families, let alone society at large? Even if you find them, they usually follow an ideology or understanding, not the pure teachings of Islam.
This brings us back to our original dilemma!
Let’s see what Allah SWT says about this matter:
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction… (An-Nahl 16:125)
What is the wisdom in this case?
To ask a woman who has never covered up to completely cover up and stay home?
Take the example of a person who is sick and is given an antibiotic. If he has sensitive stomach or an ulcer, the antibiotics can hurt him instead of
healing him. Is it advisable to give him this medication just because it is good? No! We have to set priorities according to the condition. We have to heal
the ulcer before giving the antibiotics!
Islam is not a way of life according to me and you. It is the way of life according to Allah SWT and He knows that we are weak and cannot do anything
except gradually. This is why the Qur’an was revealed in stages.
It is the biography of the Prophet SAW that teaches us how to understand Qur’an. It teaches us how the revelation was step by step and occasion by
occasion; and how regulations came toward the end of the Prophet’s life when community’s faith was perfected.
Careful study of the life of the Prophet SAW allows us to see that the initial teachings of Islam were focused on building faith, building the relationship
with the Creator, and on knowing the Creator and one’s own reality.
Once a person knows who he is, and once his relationship with his Creator is established, he will start building faith and will give the Lord the right
that is His due! Once a person has faith, it will help him to be devoted; since devotion cannot come unless you love someone, and love cannot come unless
you know the object of your love!
Devotion and love require knowledge and connection, and two-thirds of the Qur’an revealed in Makkah does exactly that!
During thirteen years in Makkah, only a handful of regulations were revealed by Allah SWT. The rest of Islamic rules and regulations were revealed in
Medina when people were ready to receive them. For example, the rule of hijab was revealed after many years in Medina.
What does that teach us?
When we give da’wah, should we start from the beginning of the revelation or the end?
It has to be the beginning! We have to be merciful to people and be patient until their faith is strong enough for them to implement the rules of Allah
WHO GIVES US THE RIGHT TO DEMAND PERFECTION?
A man once came to me who believed in Islam but he had a girlfriend and occasionally drank alcohol. What is the wisdom in this case? Ask him to wait until
he becomes a perfect believer and overcome all his shortcomings or bring him in the fold of Islam and under Allah’s mercy?
There are approximately 5,800 verses in the Qur’an that talk about the Creator and the relationship between a person and His Lord; and only 500 verses that
talk about rules and regulations. The verses about Allah SWT and His relationship with His creation begin with “O mankind”, whereas verses establishing
rules begin with “O you who have believed”, making a clear distinction between those who have submitted and those who have faith –Muslim vs. Mo’min.
A Muslim is someone who has embraced Islam and has willingly submitted himself to the Creator; whereas belief is a journey that is developed and perfected
over lifetime through struggles, sacrifices and gaining knowledge. The more a person gains knowledge, the more he develops his belief and strengthens it.
As the belief rises and gets stronger, the person is consequently enabled to implement regulations of Allah SWT.
Rasul Allah SAW said:
“Religion is easy, and no one overburdens himself in his religion but he will be unable to continue in that way. So do not be extremists, but try to be
near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded. Gain strength by worshipping in the mornings and afternoons and during the last
hours of the night.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
He SAW also said:
"This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him.” (Al-Bukhari)
What is a more merciful act, to let a person die as a Muslim even if he is a sinner, or let him die in the state of disbelief?
We will never be perfect. Allah SWT wants us to try, whether we succeed or not is in His hands. We will not be judged based on the outcome of our actions,
but rather only on our struggle and our sincerity. All Allah SWT wants us to do is to struggle in His way and ultimately invite other people to His Mercy.
After that what those people do is between them and their Creator.
Humans are complicated creatures. Their needs, desires, hearts, souls and understandings are different and unique. We cannot dictate what we want from
other people. We cannot force people to listen as it is an opening and guidance from Allah SWT. All we can do is invite them to the mercy of Allah who in
turn will take care of all their needs.
Therefore, the most important is to build your faith and your understanding! Not to dress as a surgeon to perform surgery, but first understand the job and
take necessary steps to become the surgeon!
Do those who are harsh and tough on others forget their own state before Allah SWT guided them?
Were they at this level of faith and understanding since they were born or they went through their own journey of faith until they became strong enough
to implement the commands of Allah?
If Allah SWT and His Prophet SAW didn’t do it, then who are we to expect others to implement the commands of Allah overnight?
A young Muslim came to the Prophet SAW one day and said: "O Prophet! Give me permission to commit adultery." Some of the Companions who were present,
seeing this request as being against Islamic morals scolded the young man and told him to be quiet.
Prophet Muhammad SAW was very calm and told the young man "Come over here and sit down." Then he turned to him and started to talk with him.
"Tell me, would you like for another to commit adultery with your mother?"
The young man said "O Prophet of Allah, I would never desire such a thing."
The Prophet said: "No one would want such a thing for their mother."
He continued, and said: "Would you want someone to commit adultery with your daughter?"
The young man said "O Prophet of Allah, I would not."
The Prophet said: "No one would want for their daughter to commit adultery."
Then he went on to ask if the young man would approve of his sister, paternal aunt or maternal aunt committing adultery. Each time, the young man answered:
"No, I would not want that."
When he saw that the youth had understood his error the Prophet SAW put his hand on the young man's chest and said " My Lord, forgive him his sin, clean his heart and protect him from committing sins."
The young man said that when I came to the Prophet my heart was full of desire of committing adultery, and when I left after this meeting my heart was
completely pure from this desire. (Ahmed)
Note the Prophet’s patience, mercy and consideration towards the needs and weaknesses of people.
During the lifetime of the Prophet SAW there was a man called `Abdullah who used to make Allah's Apostle laugh. The Prophet lashed him because of drinking
(alcohol). And one-day he was brought to the Prophet on the same charge and was lashed. On that, a man among the people said, "O Allah, curse him! How
frequently he has been brought (to the Prophet on such a charge)!" The Prophet said, "Do not curse him, for by Allah, I know he loves Allah and His Apostle." (Bukhari)
On certain occasions people asked the Prophet SAW questions or sought his approval over acts of devotion but Prophet SAW didn’t reply. When he was inquired
about his silence he explained that if he had replied or approved, it would have become a command and an obligation to follow those acts and people would
not be able to burden it. The following narrations explain some of these instances.
Narrated Aisha (RA), wife of Prophet SAW: The Messenger of Allah SAW never offered prayer in the forenoon, but I offer it. The Messenger of Allah SAW would
give up an action, though he liked to do it, lest the people should continue it and it is prescribed for them. (Abu Dawud)
Aisha (RA) also said that the Prophet SAW prayed once in the Masjid during one of the nights of Ramadan. People joined him, and then more people joined him
in the next night. Then more people waited for the Prophet SAW in the third and the fourth night, but the Prophet SAW did not come out to them. The next
morning, the Prophet SAW said: "I have seen what you did; nothing had prevented me from coming out to you except that I feared that it may become obligatory upon you." (Bukhari
What do we learn from that?
BENEFIT TAKES PRECEDENCE
Islam teaches us that anything we do has to be done for the benefit of the person and his environment. We can’t ignore the environment or take it out of
the equation. Mercy also dictates that teachings and expectations should be according to the level of the people. For example, when people embrace Islam
all the odds are stacked against them from family and friends to the larger environment. Add to that the lack of brotherhood, sisterhood, support system,
Islamic environment and role models in the Muslim community.
Can we expect perfection?
Are New-Muslims today entering their faith in a society closely parallel to Makkah or Medina?
It is most definitely Makkah. We have to be merciful to them and try to facilitate the environment for them in which they can grow and strengthen their
faith. If a person embraces Islam with full conviction, even if he still commits sins, he will eventually enter paradise; whereas, the one who dies in a
state of disbelief will be in hellfire for eternity. So mercy and wisdom require that we invite people to Islam, overlook their weaknesses and allow them
to spiritually grow at their own pace.
We also have examples around us of what happens when we try to break the sequence of da’wah (propagation of faith) as ordained by Allah SWT. Look
at what happened in Afghanistan in recent history. Taliban tried to implement the Islamic law, but they did it out of sequence and harshly without any
mercy to the point they caused people to run away from them.
So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded
from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed,
Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Al-Imran 3:159)
This is Allah’s advice to His Prophet SAW, then what about you and me?! If we expect others to implement the regulations of Islam without any education and
strong faith or push them for it, they will do so but it will not be out of devotion and love for Allah SWT, and they won’t be able to continue for a long
period of time. They will struggle with a lot of internal conflicts and when the society challenges them, their faith will falter because it was not strong
enough to deal with the pressure.
It is imperative that we must understand that Islam outside is the direct result of the iman inside. The more a person has iman inside,
the more he will be able to implement Islam on the outside.
There is no compulsion in religion!
There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. (Al Baqara 2:256)
A person has to follow Islam and its rulings willingly in order to please Allah SWT. No one can force another to implement the teachings of Islam. If one
forces another to do something, he will do it for the person and not for Allah, thus to no benefit for either. But if you teach a person to be close to
Allah, when the time is right he will fulfill the commands of Allah purely for His pleasure.
Therefore the priority should be to gain the right understanding, knowledge, proper conduct and manners so when you outwardly proclaim your faith, you can
be a positive role model for others and not a destructive image for your religion.
HAVE WE PREPARED THE BANQUET?
If today Americans want to embrace Islam where are the Muslims to educate them?
Where are those who can be role models for them?
Where are the people with the right knowledge to support them?
Where is the Muslims’ love for humanity?
How can you invite someone you hate?
Are we supposed to just kill everyone?
Is this the mission of Islam, or the mission of Islam is to invite people to the oneness and mercy of Allah?
To kill and get killed is easy but to sacrifice the time, money and effort, and to be a role model for others to follow is tough!
Which one do you think is more rewarding and of pleasure to Allah?
Today a lot of Muslims misunderstand and have misconceptions about Islam.
How can we invite others when we are harsh, tough and stubborn in our own understanding?
How can we invite others when we ourselves lack proper knowledge?
How can we invite others when we are not ready to listen to them and deal with them according to who they are and where they are coming from?
How can we invite them when we are not proper role models for them?
Yes, we are coming out of colonialism which gave birth to many groups and sects that are driven by political and economic situations and are trying to
survive the oppression. Yes, the message of Islam got lost during that struggle and the purpose shifted and became focused on survival of land, money and
politics. Yes, our identities were snatched from us and we were cut off from our glorious past. But can we sit around lamenting and complaining? Or do we
have to re-focus our energies, rectify our situation and prepare the banquet so we can invite others to it?
Our only purpose and concern should be to spread Islam even if we face oppression and injustice for our cause. And what’s more, we have to respond with
kindness and generosity to the hostility we may face. Have you ever heard of a Prophet or Messenger running after people and abusing them? In fact, people
harmed the Messengers but they never retaliated because if they had aggressed, their image would have been tarnished and their message would have been
lost. Messengers and Prophets had to be patient, had to take humiliation and oppression for the sake of Allah, and offset the negativity with good manners
and good conduct—in order to elevate the message and keep it pure.
The key of inviting others to Islam is manners—good manners, conduct, generosity, peaceful behavior and wisdom in dealing with others according to who they
There was once an American Christian woman who described her experience of embracing Islam. She embraced Islam and married a Pakistani man who was very
wise and patient with her. He never asked her to change her clothing or to implement any other Islamic rules. It was five years before Allah SWT guided her
and she began to not only practice Islam but became an author and an inviter to Islam.
Another story I came across is of a Jewish man from New York who had embraced Islam but didn’t practice it at all. He carried on with his old life style
until he met a group of Muslims who truly impressed him and inspired him to practice his newly adopted faith. It was three years after his conversion to
Islam that he actually became a Muslim.
ISLAM TAKES TIME!
When we eat food, it takes a while for our bodies to derive nutritional benefit from it. Similarly, when we embrace Islam it takes time to digest the
meaning, to develop understandings, to establish the connection, to fall and then get up, and to overcome our weaknesses.
This time varies from one person to another. So who are we to burden anyone with any rule? These are the rules of Allah SWT and we have no right to push
them on others! Our education should be focused on teaching people
· how to be good Muslims between them and Allah,
· how to know their Lord, Allah SWT,
· how to know Prophet Muhammad SAW,
· how to understand their own faith!
The more people understand the faith the more they are molded into it, and when the time comes and they learn about a rule or regulation they willingly
implement it. Once they are spiritually ready to apply the rules of Allah SWT, nothing can shake their resolve and make them change their mind.
Majority of people today have forgotten da’wah and its basic understanding. We have forgotten how to invite, how to be kind, how to be generous,
how to be patient, and how to focus on the priority which is to help people reach the mercy of Allah and enter paradise.
Our mission is to help people establish a connection with their Lord Allah SWT. After that how much Islam they implement is not our concern. It is
their own struggle between them and Allah SWT!
It is like we take a person to marathon just because he is strong. Yes, he might be strong and might be able to walk and run but that doesn’t mean that his
body is trained to accomplish the task. He might pull, stretch or cut a muscle and permanently damage it and will never be able to win or even compete
again. All because we didn’t respect his body and didn’t allow him to go for proper training before putting him in a challenging environment.
This brings us back to our topic of being Mercy to humanity!
Are we really occupied with the concern of saving the humanity from eternal punishment?
If so, what are we doing about it?
If not, then is it a justifiable claim that we are not really mercy to mankind and thus by extension, we are not really true followers of the Prophet SAW?
EMBRACE THE MISSION
One day, Dawud (AS) was walking and he said to Allah SWT "Oh Allah who is the most beloved slave to You." Allah revealed "
Oh Dawud, most beloved person to me is the one with a pure heart. He will not spread mischief and he will not walk among people with backbiting and
harshness. Mountains can be destroyed but he will not be. He loves me and loves those who love me and he makes people love me
. Dawud (AS) asked "Oh Allah, how does he make people love you?" Allah replied, "He reminds people of my bounties and goodness to them so they will love me.”
Mercy is at the very core of the da’wah to Allah. We invite people towards their goodness:
To take them from darkness to light.
To take them from the torture of Allah to the Mercy of Allah.
To take them from hell fire to paradise.
To take them from the darkness and evil of this life to the openness and unlimited pleasure of the hereafter.
To take them from being slave to other creatures to being the slave of Almighty alone.
To free them from the shackles of temptations and Satan and let them willingly become slaves of Allah SWT.
To elevate them from following man-made rules, regulations and constitutions to following the constitution of the Almighty Lord SWT.
If someone gives you a gift which is very precious, valuable and beneficial, are you going to save it for yourself and be greedy and selfish or are you
going to share it with others?
What can be a more precious gift than knowing and loving your Lord, SWT! And what can be a greater mission than to be ambassadors of Allah SWT and invite
humanity towards His message!
If you do not do it and I do not do it, who will do it? If you and I become so occupied with ourselves that we become careless about our responsibility
towards humanity, we will be abandoned by Allah SWT and thus be destroyed both in this life and the next.
Allah SWT characterized the believers as those who spread goodness saying:
[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And
to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. (Al Hajj 22:41)
And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims." (Fussilat 41:33)
Can there be a better way of enjoining right than to bring people back to their Creator?
GOOD EXPELS THE EVIL
A scholar once said,
“If the voice of truth becomes low then the voice of oppression becomes high. Don’t blame the oppressor instead blame the people of truth; if they are
not doing their job, then the oppressors will prevail.”
Another scholar addressed this issue saying,
“If we only worry about ourselves and our families and ignore our surroundings we will pay a high price. We are part of our surroundings and our
environment. We are products of our environment and cannot remove ourselves from it. If we do not develop our environment, it will destroy us.”
Muslims are supposed to be agents of change. Good change. When they live in a society, they should be able to influence it with their good conduct and by
being exemplary role models for others.
Is this what Muslims are doing today?
Instead of being busy with the mission of changing themselves and their surroundings, Muslims have become pre-occupied with accumulating and enjoying
material wealth. And just look at what havoc this negligence has caused! Who is the criminal? We are, because we did not do our job!
We are all responsible—according to our capabilities—to be the agents of change in our environment. When revelation started in Makkah the only thing
required of Muslims was to invite others to the message. We have to start with just that!
WHERE TO BEGIN
Anything a person talks about nonstop eventually enters his heart. If someone likes a certain drink and keeps talking about it continuously, then not only
the listener will begin to like it more, others around will also be influenced to try it. The same goes for a house, car, business or anything else; the
more we talk about something the more it will manifest in our hearts and personalities.
If we talk about Allah SWT all the time, His reality will enter our hearts. At that time our days and nights will be busy with Allah, inviting others
towards Him and increasing ourselves and others in faith. This is why Allah SWT said:
O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance. (Al Ahzab 33:41)
The foremost component of doing da’wah is to build the motivation to do it. The sequence goes like this:
- Anything you talk about a lot, the reality of it will enter your heart.
- This reality will produce desire to get what you talk about.
- The more you talk about something, the more this desire will grow into love.
- This love will produce zeal and motivation which will cause you to make steps towards gaining the object of your desire.
The same is true for da’wah to Allah. If a Muslim talks about Allah SWT, His bounties, His paradise, His Mercy, His Ability and Power, not only
will he grow in his belief, he will invite others towards it too.
At any given time in our lives we are either inviters or invited. If we do not invite others to Allah SWT we will invite them to something else, and odds
are that this something else will be materialistic and thus worthless. On the other hand, if we do not invite others, they will invite us to something
other than Allah SWT. In both cases, we will lose.
Islam teaches us to make a consistent daily effort for our spiritual growth, even if just for an hour or two. The consistent effort is necessary to offset
the pull of material world around us. Our environment lures us to materialistic pleasures whereas Islam invites us to afterlife. They are total opposite of
each other and this creates a tug of war inside. Wherever our efforts are focused, that is what will prevail in our hearts.
A Muslim should dedicate his time every day to read in order to build knowledge and understanding. This knowledge must be acquired under the supervision of
someone more experienced who can guide the person to the knowledge that he needs most. This knowledge then needs to be spread and shared with others.
If you gain knowledge and are good to yourself only, what is your benefit on earth? How can Islam benefit from you? It is like someone who takes vitamins
and exercises regularly and has strong muscles; but he doesn’t use these muscles. What is the benefit of his muscles?
Islam contains no selfishness or greed. It is all about giving, sharing and benefitting. It is all about mercy! Allah SWT said:
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. (Al Imran 3:110)
Allah SWT ties our honor of being the best nation to the responsibility of spreading His Mercy to humanity. Humanity is plunged in the ferocious cyclone of
oppression, strife, discontent and arrogance. This Mercy is needed more than ever to save people from themselves and from a disastrous end.
Trust your heart and your knowledge. Together they will give you a beautiful bond with your Lord who will guide you and help you accomplish that which will
truly fill your heart and soul with contentment and happiness.
May Allah SWT accept us among those fortunate ones who receive the honor of being ambassadors of Allah SWT and His Messenger SAW. Ameen.