Friday, April 18, 2008

International Relations in Islam lecture series- 1

Lecture 1 – 10.02.2006

A series of talks delivered by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks on International Relations in Islam based on the classic work 'Alaqat Ad-Dauliya by Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra

The response of any insult toward Islam, is one that should be rooted in the Sunnah of Muhammad (saw). On record, there are very few people who were more persecuted that Muhammad (saw). The entire sira (history) of Muhammad (saw) testifies to it. [We see the warnings of Muhammad (saw) now needed so much concerning extremism as we live in a time where fanaticism and extremism are rampant]

Muslims can be proud that they were never in history responsible for the mass killings that others have brought fourth. If one looks at the access, which Europe has to mass weapons of destruction then it appears to be or is more than what Muslims have today, but there is one thing we have and that is the example of Muhammad (saw), which is alive. Figures become dim over time but for us as Muslims we live with this Sunnah of Muhammad (saw) everyday. He is the greatest figure, a figure that we revere. What ever problems we face (divorce or marrige etc) we turn to Muhammad (saw). We look at how he conducted these issues. He is our mentor and this we cannot negotiate and even compromise about.

People drawing cartoons about Muhammad (saw) – here we need to look how he (saw) responded to these kinds of things. There is no doubt that the cartoons drawn about Muhammad (saw) a while back were found despicable by every Muslim child and adult male and female.

A problem is that when we respond, we want to respond in kind. How did the great Mujahidin respond when they were belittled or when they were in Jihad or fighting for there rights to live? How did the Mujahidin engage a power wanting to destroy them? There are magnificent stories and we need to look back at history to understand why history reveres these men, look back at people, at the lives of people like Salahudin Ayubi and then compare them to the modern day counterparts who speak in the name of Jihad.

We are not soft in the face of oppression and persecution, this is what extremists say about us, that we are sitting down and are too soft. One thing we do have is the Sunnah of Muhammad (saw) and we do have the Qur'an, which acts as our ultimate guideline.

The Qur'an tells us,

وَلاَ تَسْتَوِى الْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِى بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيمٌ

This ayah came down as a result of the persecution of Muhammad (saw) and his Sahaba's growing discontent and agitation. The Mushrikin didn't call him Muhammad (saw); they called him Muthammam – meaning the debased.

The people who embraced Islam in His time were massacred and persecuted to an extraordinary kind.

A Jewish lady who was a neighbor of his poured trash on his door step everyday – these examples are in Sahih Bukhari. On the day she stopped throwing this trash on his door step, He (saw) went to look for her and found her sick in bed. She embraced Islam immediately.

Because of all these things the Sahaba became greatly annoyed and what did they want to do? They wanted to respond in kind and that is the reason why the ayah came down:

لاَ تَسْتَوِى الْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ السَّيِّئَةُ

(Is there a difference between evil and good) – this is a rhetorical question – is there any difference between a wicked person, wickedness and goodness?

Means, there is a huge difference between them.

Then answers,

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ

When you repel the evil (sayyiah) like cartoons drawn about Prophets Etc (Repel (the evil) with one, which is better) means, `when someone does you wrong, repel him by what is better,'


فَإِذَا الَّذِى بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيمٌ

By upholding the values of Ihsan in our responses to things, then it is possible that between you and he between whom there is animosity, it is possible that this person can become your warmest friend

This is what the Quran is telling us. It is not telling us to repel this kind of evil with revenge at all. When you repel, repel in the spirit of Islam and this was the response of Muhammad (saw).

'Aysha (R) says, 'Verily, the character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur'an.''

Allah (S) goes on to say,

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ

(But none is granted it except those who are patient) meaning, no one accepts this advice and works according to it, except for those who can be patient in doing so, for it is difficult for people to do.

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظِّ عَظِيمٍ

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas explained this Ayah: "Allah commands the believers to be patient when they feel angry, to be forbearing when confronted with ignorance, and to forgive when they are mistreated.

We have to be so careful because the Din is not about me or you as a person. Islam is bigger than you and I and our duty is raise ourselves up to the level required.

We are not allowed to respond by burning things down, we are not allowed to respond with fire. This is pointed out in Bukhari by Muhammad (saw) – saydia 'Ali was persecuted, made fun of and insulted. When they proposed that 'Abdullah bin 'Ubay should be burnt, Saydina 'Ali said no, this is not the way (together with ibn 'Abbas and others). He said that there is no crime that can merit burning things. It is simply not a Muslim response

If we feel we have been insulted or Muhammad (saw) has been insulted, yes we can speak out but our response is critical.

When we speak in the name of Islam, we are speaking in the name of Muhammad (saw) as well and his image has to be protected

When we look at a group of people, do we only take note of the rotten apples and say that this is the potential this group has or do we look at those who excel and say that this is the potential the group has?

Do we reduce the human being to his faults or do we see more to the next person that the faults we see in him or her?

These are questions we need to ask ourselves

If you want to follow the prophet then look for seventy excuses for a person whom you think is bad, make an excuse for the person

There are far few prophets in history that has such an accessible history than Muhammad (saw) and this is part of our blessing, which we can turn as if it happened yesterday and look at the Sirah of Muhammad (saw)

Three years of boycotting, many commentators say that after six months of this, Saydina Hadija died. A while after that Abu Talib passed away, because of the pressures of these boycotts. He saw people and children dying on a weekly basis because of these things and this was what Muhammad (saw) had to live with.

Then he went to Ta'if where he tried to speak about Allah but he was pelted out of Ta'if by children leaving his ankles to bleed. When Allah sent Gabriel (as) to him (saw) and gave him the choice of destroying the people of Ta'f, what was Muhammad (saw)'s response?

He said, 'Do not destroy them, for perhaps one day there children might just accept Islam'.

This is the portrait of the prophet and this is what we need to hold onto.

When he went into his final victory into Makkah and he handed the banner over to Abu Ubaada and Abu Ubaada said,' Today is a day of slaughtering. You who considered yourself inviolable, (he is speaking to the Quraysh) you will today be violated'.

Abu Sufyan panicked and went over to the prophet and said to him, 'Is this what you are going to do to us today?'

And the prophets response was, Today is a day of mercy for you. While you have violated us, Islam has today elevated Quraysh. (He (saw) then got onto a rock and said, 'What do you think I will do to you today?

The replied, 'You are Akh al Karim ibn Akh al-Karim – you are noble and the son of a nobleman and he (saw) says, 'All of you (meaning all of them who persecuted him, raped there women etc)… you are all forgiven today'. While he talks, the following happens

[This woman runs across crying as she sees her son, they were split up from the children for long periods. She held him and cried. This was a moment when emotions were high and if Muhammad (saw) had ordered the Muslim to destroy the Quraysh they would have carried out is command but he had a responsibility.

Saydina 'Umr, Abu Bakr and 'Ali etc, they see this women running to her child crying and holing the child. Muhammad (saw) sees them looking on and says to them, 'the compassion Allah (S) has towards you and these people is greater than the compassion this women is showing to her child'. And they all cried.

This was the way in which Muhammad (saw) conducted his affairs.

This is a prophet and no cartoon or insult can ever reduce Him (saw)

This is our example and not the recklessness and anger of other people.

We have to live up to this as we are the carriers of this message

He is the cause of every one in five people walking on this planet being Muslim

The Quran says to Muhammad (saw), 'If you were hard hearted, your companions would have fled from you' and rightfully so.

He always had a smile on his face, except for sometimes like in his Khutbas.

He lived up to his word when he said that smiling to your brother is sadaqah (charity)

We have to ask ourselves before acting, 'What would Muhammad (saw) have done?'

What is the difference with the person who draws a picture of Muhammad (saw) with a nuclear bomb on his head and the person who acts like an animal screaming with no Adab in the streets – both are distorting the message of Muhammad (Saw).

And Allah knows best

Documented by Muhammad Allie Khalfe

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