Sin & the Fate of Nations

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Allah has laid down certain unchanging laws in this universe – in the physical world, as well as in the spiritual domain, and it is imperative for us to be aware of these laws and to work within them if we are to be successful in this world and the Hereafter. “You will not find any changing of the Allah’s way.” [Surah al-FatH]

How the human being fares is based on his interaction with these laws, for when a person acts, he is inevitably liable to face the consequences of what he did, in accordance with these laws.  These consequences may be worldly, or in the Hereafter, or in both worlds.  The influences on the individual and society may be internal or external, and those internal may be either may be on the individual (micro-) or wide-scale (macro-) level, but in all cases, they fall under the laws of Allah.

As for the external factors, the believers have, since early times, had external enemies and foes who strive their utmost to inflict harm on the Muslims, and endeavor to hamper or eliminate Islam.

“And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back as renegades from your religion. And whoever among you turns apostate from his religion, and dies as an unbeliever, his deeds are void in this world and the Hereafter. And such are the inmates of the Fire; therein shall they abide.” Qur’an [2:217]

“Those who disbelieved said to their messengers, ‘We shall surely expel you from our land, unless you return to our religion. Then, their Lord inspired them (saying), ‘We shall indeed destroy the wrongdoers, and We shall surely cause you to inhabit the land after them. This is for whomever fears standing before Me and fears My warning.'” Qur’an [14:13]
The Muslim needs to be aware of the external enemies, to take account of them, and not to be beguiled or deceived by their ruses, for kufr will not contentedly tolerate faith.

“The Jews will never be pleased with you, nor [will] the Christians, until you follow their  religion.” [Surah al-Baqarah]
The double-standards and injustice of the adversaries of Islam is quite apparent to one who honestly analyzes world affairs.

Although it is a duty upon the Muslims to counter their enemies by reasonable means, and they may not sit back in complacence or abjection, the subjugation of the Muslims is itself one of the consequences of their own conduct.  So, let us turn now to discuss the internal influences on human destiny.  As we mentioned, these influences are either on the individual level or the community level.  Let us first address misconduct on the larger scale.

It is part of Allah’s system that large-scale sin has consequences in this world.  One has only to look at the reports of previous nations, as explained to us in the Qur’an, and at the world around, to realize this.  After all, what was it other than sin – rejection of faith in Allah and refusal to obey His orders – that led to the people of Noah being drowned in a wholesale flood, wherein the waves were surging and towering like mountains?  What was it that led to the `Aad people being annihilated by the wind unleashed upon them, which cast them dead upon the ground like hollow trunks of date-palms, and which wiped out their dwellings, their fields and their livestock, making them a lesson for other nations until the Day of Judgement?

What was it that caused the cities of Lot to be thrown up into the sky – to the extent that it is said that the angels could hear the barking of the city’s dogs – and then to be flung back down, overturned, annihilating them all, only to be followed with a hail of stones ?  What was it that destroyed Pharoah and his people in the water, and then caused their souls to be experience Hell, such that their bodies were drowned and their souls burned (even before the Day of Judgement – when they will be entered into the severest punishment)?  What was the cause of Qarun’s being swallowed up by the earth, along with his lavish wealth and dwelling?

“And how many generations have We destroyed after Noah?!” [Surah al-Isra’]

What was it that unleashed upon the Children of Israel a people of  terrible might, who penetrated into the depths of their homes, killing their men and capturing their children and women; burning down their homes and plundering their wealth?  And then unleashed this people upon them a second time, such that they destroyed whatever they could, and annihilated whatever fell into their hands?

It is reported that one of the Isrealite prophets, when he saw the humiliation and torture being inflicted on his people by Nebuchadnezzar, called out to Allah, “On account of what our own hands have earned, You have empowered over us one who neither knows You nor has mercy upon us.”

And, it is related that when Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel, “What has given me domination over your people?” he replied, “The enormity of your sins, and my people’s wronging their own selves.”

What was it that unleashed upon the Israelites all manner of chastisement – sometimes in the form of slaughter and enslavement, at other times through the tyranny of kings, and at yet others by their becoming metamorphosed into apes and swine?  Until, eventually, “. . . [remember] when your Lord declared that He would surely raise up against them – until the Day of Arising – those who would afflict them with a humiliating torment.  Indeed, your Lord is certainly swift in chastisement and He is certainly Oft -Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, 7:167]

All these, and other frightful reports, bear grim testimony to the fact that when a community disobeys Allah on a large scale, they face the consequences in this world.  We should draw admonition from those in history, otherwise the Qur’an and hadith texts warn us of similar consequences.

It is narrated on the authority of Ibn `Umar that he said, “The Messenger off Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)  turned to face us, and then said : O assembly of Emigrants (Muhajireen)!  There are five things which I seek refuge with Allah lest you encounter them :

– Never does obscenity appear amongst a people, to the extent that they openly display it, except that they are afflicted by plagues and famines such as were not present among their forebears.

– Never does a people give short measure and weight except that they are afflicted with drought, severity of provisions, and tyranny of rulers.

– Never do a people withhold the zakat from their wealth except that they are withheld rain from the sky, and were it not for the animals, they would not be given [any] rain.

– Never do a people breach their treaties except that Allah will empower over them an enemy from outside of them, who will take some of what they possess.

– Never do their rulers fail to act by what Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic, has revealed in His book, except that they will fight amongst themselves.” [Ibn Majah]

“Never do a people defraud in measure, or give short weight, except that Alah will withhold rain from them. Never does zina appear amongst a people except that death appears amongst them.  Never does riba appear amongst a people except that Allah imposes madness upon them.  Never does murder appear amongst a people except that Allah will empower their enemy over them.  Never does the deed of the People of Lot appear amongst a people except that swallowing up by the earth will appear amongst them.  Never do a people abandon enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong except that their deeds will not be lifted up, nor will their supplications be heard. [Tabarani, Ibn Abi al-Dunya]

“When zina (fornication/adultery) and riba (interest) appear in a town, Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic, gives permission for it to be destroyed.” [Ibn Abi al-Dunya – via Simak ibn Harb, who is a mediocre narrator] “When people manifest knowledge but forfeit action; [when] they [manifest] love by tongue, but despise in their hearts, and sever ties of kinship, Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic curses them at that point, and deafens them and blinds their vision.” [from Hasan al-Basri in mursal form]
It is reported that Allah inspired one of the Israelite Prophets, saying, “When one who knows Me disobeys Me, I empower over him one who does not know Me.” [via Hasan al-Basri, mursal]

“The time is not far when the nations will gather around you from every side, just as diners gather around a dish.”  We said, “O Messenger of Allah!  Will it be due to smallness of our numbers at that time?”  He said, “You will be many on that day, but you will be rubbish (or foam) like the rubbish (or foam) of flood water.  Respect will be dislodged from the hearts of your enemies, and flimsiness will be placed in your hearts.”  They asked, “What is flimsiness?”  He said, “Love of this world and hate for death.” [Ahmad via Thawban]

“When people become stingy with dinars and dirhams, and trade with al-`eenah [a ruse attempting to bypass riba] and follow the tails of cows, and abandon jihad in the path of Allah, Allah will send down upon them a calamity [in one narration : a humiliation] which He will not lift until they re-examine their religion [in one narration : until you return to your religion]. ” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud]

Brothers and sisters!  These are all consequences in this world, and they are terrible enough.  But, as Muslims, we know that this is not all; there is the Hereafter to come, and there, even more so than in this world, our fate will be dependent on our worldly conduct.  Although in this world, we may put on a pleasing exterior, and manage to conceal our sins, this will not avail us in the Hereafter.  And, conversely, even though we suffer to some extent in this world, or even be wiped out by a large-scale disaster or slaughter, in the Hereafter, we can be assured of happiness if we were sincere in our dealings with Allah. Although even in this world, victory is eventually for the pious and firm Muslims, suffering, hardship and loss in this world may be experienced by both the pious and the sinners, by both the Muslims and the unbelievers; it is only in the Hereafter that felicity and enjoyment are exclusive to and assured for the believers. “If you are suffering [hardships], then they are suffering [hardships] just as you are suffering them, but you are hopeful to Allah for that of they they do not hope.  And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [Surah al-Nisa’]

It is narrated from Umm Salamah that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “When [acts of] disobedience [to Allah] appear in my ummah, Allah will envelop them with a punishment from Him.” She asked, “O Messenger of Allah!  Wil there not be amongst them righteous people in those days?” He said, “Yes. ”  She asked, “What will be done with those?”  He said, “They will be afflicted with that which afflicts the people, and then they will proceed to forgiveness from Allah and pleasure.” [Ahmad]

Similarly, in the authentic hadith about the army which sets out to destroy the Ka`bah, but then the earth swallows from the first to the last of them.

The Sahabah asked that how can this be so, given that there will be amidst them people who are not part of them?  The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied that they will be swallowed up, from the first of them to the last of them, and then they will be resurrected according to their intentions.[Riyad al-Saliheen]

If we look at the condition of Muslims around the world, it is a sorry picture. So, what then do we need to do to improve our condition?
Certainly, we should not abandon large-scale endeavors, means and measures, nor lose hope, for eventually, the sincere Muslims will triumph, and the enemies of the truth will be humbled by Allah. No matter how prosperous or mighty a nation may appear to be, if it persists upon disobedience to Allah, it cannot escape Allah’s plan, and will eventually face the consequences of its deeds.

“Have they not seen, how many generations We destroyed before them, whom We had established in the land such as We have not established [these], and We made the sky shower rain upon them, and, We caused rivers to flow beneath them.  Then, We destroyed them on account of their sins, and raised up after them another generation!” [Surah al-An`am]

The following is some of what we can do on the personal level:

– Be sincere with Allah.  Try to purify our intentions and deeds and lives.

“In the last [part of] time, there will emerge a people who will deceive the world by religion, and will wear sheepskin before people.  Their tongues are sweeter than sugar, while their hearts are the hearts of wolves.  Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic, says: Are they deceived by Me?  Or do they act presumptuously with regard to Me?  I swear by Myself!  I shall raise up against those [people] a fitnah which will leave the mild one among them perplexed.”  [Tirmidhi]

Whoever comes nearer to Allah a span, Allah comes to him a cubit.

“[Allah] it is Who accepts repentance from His servants, and pardons evil deeds, and knows what you do.”

– Enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.

Bani Israel were destroyed when they abandoned this duty.  It is narrated by Ibn Abi al-Dunya that Allah inspired Prophet Joshua saying, “I am destroying of your people 40,000 of their good ones, and 60,000 of their evil ones.”  He said, “O Lord!  These evil ones [it can be understood], but what is the matter with the good ones?” He said, “They did not anger according to My anger, and they would eat with [the sinners] and drink with them [as if there was nothing wrong].”

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his Household) emphatically cautioned us that we must enjoin the right, and we must forbid the wrong, and that otherwise we would become accursed just as the Israelites became accursed when they gave up this duty.

One should start with oneself and one’s family, and thence proceed to others, in the appropriate manner and where it is called for.

– Help and support, not only our local communities, but Muslims all over the globe, in whatever legitimate way is most appropriate to our capabilities in the given circumstances.

It is reported in the Hadith Qudsi: “If only My servants obeyed Me, I would surely water them with rain by night, and cause the sun to shine on them by day, and I would not make them hear the sound of thunder.”

“And Fear the Fire which has been prepared for the unbelievers. And Obey Allah and the Messenger in order that you may be successful. And race with one another, to mercy from your Lord, and [to] a garden whose expanse is like the expanse of the heavens and the earth; it has been prepared for the pious – those who spend in prosperity and adversity, and who pardon people.  And Allah loves those who do good.  And, those who, when they commit an indecency, or wrong themselves, remember Allah, and so ask forgiveness for their sins; and who forgives sins besides Allah? And they will not knowingly persist upon what they did

.  The reward of those is mercy from their Lord, and gardens beneath which flow rivers, abding therein.  How fine if the reward of those who work!” [Surah Aal-`Imraan]


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