The Fitnah of Our Time


In the Name of Allaah the Most Compassionate Most Merciful

There is no doubt that this period of ours is a period of Fitnah – of all types – communal or individual.

The communal one goes to the spread of heretical beliefs and views among the Muslims. Our era is that of fake people parading themselves as the champions of Islam thus earning a bad reputation for Islam.

An example of such people are those who have courted ideologies such as Jihaadiyyah, Harakiyyah, Hizbiyyah, and host of other heresies.

For instance, the fitnah the people of Boko Haram have caused for the Muslims in this part of the world will remain indelible for many generations to come. No doubt, the people under that ideology have taken a cue from the self-appointed international ‘warriors’ of Islam being led by the now demised Osama b. Laden of the infamous, al-Qaeda, and the dwindling al-Baghdaadi’s ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.’

Today, a Muslim is seen as a potential trouble maker. If he wants to pass any airport in the world, he is looked upon as a killer who is not safe to travel with especially if he is the type that wears the Islamically recommended beards, or she is in a conspicuous garb of Islam such as the Jilbaab and the Niqaab.

No doubt, there are local groups, steeped in party fanaticism, that openly call to these heretical practices that have put the Muslims on a pitiful pedestal. Names of such groups are just too numerous to mention. But the sad reality is that, many Muslim youths subscribe to them. What is correct Islam and what is otherwise is very scarce to ascertain today. Muslims just wallow in profound ignorance they think is absolute guidance.

The takfeerees, those who excommunicate the Muslims from the fold of Islam because of alleged ‘un-Islamic’ practices such as the use of spoon, eating free range cattle, etc., is a good example to cite here. Those who align with the Muslim Brotherhood – that believes Islam should be subsumed in the intricacies of the 21st century such as democracy, that preaches supplanting the Muslim rulers all over the world with those upon their ideology – is another example.

The Tableeghis, who wander around the place preaching ignorance which they call pristine Islam, is another fitnah the Muslims are facing.

Only Allaah knows the number of Muslims caught in the webs of these callings that are far away from the original teachings of Islam.

Another face of fitnah is when there is wanton confusion in a Muslim community due to a spread of civil strife or a heretical thought such that the otherwise knowledgeable ones begin to slip back. An example of that is this usual call to rebelling against the legitimate Muslim rulers. An example of that occurred during the time of AbdulMalik when Ibn Al-Ash’ath rebelled against him and many knowledgeable ones in the society caved in to his rebellion. The aftermath of the rebellion that was severely put out by Governor al-Hajjaaj bn Yuusuf left no pleasant news to read. Many scholars of the Deen went with the strife; notable among them was the illustrious student of Ibn Abbaas, Sa’eed b. Jubair.

When there occurs a fitnah, the matter often becomes confusing. The nature of fitnah is that when it occurs the intelligent ones will become incapacitated from defending the less intelligent as Shaykhul-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah said.

In all ways, the Messenger of Allaah – sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam – forbade from participating in Fitan.

Abu Daawud recorded: On the authority of Abu Musa Al-Imâm Ahmad (Allâh’s mercy on him) was describing the people of desires: ‘They are different types in the Book; opposers to the Book; unanimous in opposing the Book. They speak (freely) about doubtful matters confounding the ignoramuses among the masses therewith.’ [Al-Aadaab Ash-Shar’iyyah 1/209]

Al-Imâm Ahmad (Allâh’s mercy on him) also said: ‘…do not fight in a tribulation; stay put in your house. This is what the scholars of all the regions have agreed upon.’ [Ibn Jauzi’s Manaaqib Al-Imâm Ahmad 166]

Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah (Allâh’s mercy on him) said: ‘The Prophet (sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam) forbade from fighting during tribulation. That therefore is from the fundamentals of Sunnah; that is the position of the people of Sunnah and Hadith; so also the scholars of Madînah, its jurists and others.’ [Al-Istiqaamah: 1/32].

The communal fitnah among the Muslims also comes in this picture: where the Muslims, especially the youths, get enmeshed in jurisprudential and methodical misunderstandings between the reputable scholars of Islam, local and abroad. We said reputable scholars because it is not every person’s parading himself a scholar that is a scholar. A clear example of that is the case of that fellow spewing rubbish about the Sunnah and its people at Markaz Agege. Such a fellow need not be spared, he has to be intellectually subdued; intellectually, we said, because that is the only option we are left with.

As for the individual fitnah battling the Muslims, this comes to lust for mundane things that can occur to a Muslim in his or her Islamic life.

There have been several cases of otherwise upright Muslims – male and female – becoming bad at a point in their lives. Many used to be ‘firebrand’ Muslims while on campus but when they graduated they became lowly.

There is no doubt that the beginning of the journey to the Sunnah used to be very volatile, that is, the new embracers of the Sunnah would be vibrant, hyper-active, non-comprising, and so on. They are always noticeable and identifiable because of their superfluous disposition to the Sunnah. You would see one of them not overlooking the minutest type of the Prophetic practices such as interpreting the Izaar (loin cloth) to mean women wrappers only and not minding to wearing them to any place such as lecture halls! You would see one of them wearing tattered cloths about saying that is the real ‘badhaadhah (abstemiousness) the Messenger of Allaah – sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam – referred to as part of Eemaan! You would also see one of them placing the siwak (tooth stick) on the right lobe of his ears saying one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlahu alahyi wa sallam – used to do that.

While they might not be totally wrong in many of those dispositions (though they were sometimes), they would however take the Muslims by surprise when all of a sudden you would see them later in life, some very quickly, some gradually, relapsing to evil practices that go against the teachings of Islam. Like meeting one of them in the bank as a bank official, or one of them becoming a notorious local politician or otherwise. If a previously niqaab wearing lady, you would find her on the national TV anchoring a soap opera.

The backsliding can take many sad and pitiful forms. We ask Allaah for safety. We ask Allaah for safety. The supplication is made twice because a Muslim needs much of such supplications in his life. By Allaah, one of those people that got a pretentious nickname of Saabe (a reference to someone like a Companion of the Messenger of Allaah – sallaallaahu alahyi wa sallam) for himself later became a bank worker using skin bleachers, and he is a man!

We ask Allaah for safety and steadfastness.

At this point, nobody should ever think he is immune from backsliding for the souls of all the slaves are between the Fingers of Ar-Rahmaan, He changes them as He wills.

Our prayer however is that whenever we want to relax from our ‘over-activeness’, we do so into the Sunnah.

The Messenger of Allaah – sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam – has said:

فَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ عَابِدٍ شِرَّةً وَلِكُلِّ شِرَّةٍ فَتْرَةً فَإِمَّا إِلَى سُنَّةٍ وَإِمَّا إِلَى بِدْعَةٍ فَمَنْ كَانَتْ فَتْرَتُهُ إِلَى سُنَّةٍ فَقَدْ اهْتَدَى وَمَنْ كَانَتْ فَتْرَتُهُ إِلَى غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ فَقَدْ هَلَكَ

‘Every worshipper has his point of activeness, and every point of activeness has a point of relax, either to the Sunnah or to the Bid’ah. Whoever’s point of relax is to the Sunnah is guided, and whoever’s point of relax is to other than that is destroyed.’ [Recorded by Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan. Al-Albaanee mentioned it Sifatus-Salaah].

Very unfortunate therefore that many Muslims have relaxed into kufr such as democratic politics. Some into sheer disbelief, like those who because of women forsook Islam saying the Muslim women are not cooperating. Likewise there are some Muslims in the academia today who have become atheists knowingly or unknowingly. And sadly, there are some one-time Sunnah preachers who are today marabouts that make magic and fetish for some I-want-to-get-rich-quick fellows.

The examples above are indications of sudden turnarounds meanwhile it used to be an inherent problem which many people might not notice. Some people embraced the Sunnah for reasons other than Islam. There are some quarters whereby not professing the Sunnah is socially unacceptable thus many people because of fear of social opprobrium would reluctantly accept the Sunnah.

Allaah the Mighty refers to such people when He said:

وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَى شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ

And when they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe," but when they are alone with their Shayâtin (devils - polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: "Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking." [Al-Baqarah: 14].

Thus when you see someone snapping pictures while he was known to abhor the act before, then know that he has been faking the Muslims all along, he thinks it is time he makes himself known.

One of the individual types of fitnah is courting a ruler. Many people don’t see anything wrong in this. Therefore many of the Sunnah-professing brothers are afflicted.

The Messenger of Allaah – Sallaahu alahyi wa sallam – has said: "..... Whoever goes after the ruler will put himself to trial." [Sunan Abee Daawud no 2859, Musnad Ahmad no 3352, 8619 and 9390 and Al-Mujtabah no 4311]. This comes at the end of another narration:

"... The nearer one goes to a ruler, the farther he keeps away from Allah." [Musnad Ahmad no 8169 and Sunan Abee Daawud. Al-Albaanee said in at-Targheeb no 2240: Imām Ahmad mentioned it with two chains, the narrators of one them are authentic.

And with the same reporters:

"....whoever comes to the door of the Sultan, he will suffer a fitnah (that is, he will be corrupted) [Sunan at-Tirmidhee no 2358, Al-Albaanee graded it authentic].

Abdur-Rahmaan Mubārakufūree said:

(Visiting a ruler) without a necessity or demand for his visitation will fall into the fitnah: If he (the ruler) grants him what he visited him for.... (in this case). He has risked his deen. But, if he doesn't grant him, he has risked his dunya. [Tuhfatul Ahwadhee 6/533].

Al-Mundhhir said:

"...Whosoever visits a ruler and flatters him, he (the person) had fallen into Fitnah. But whoever does not flatter him, (but rather) admonishes him, commands him good and prohibits him from evil, his visitation is (one of) the best jihad"[At Tuhfah 6/533, Aunul Ma'būd p.1218 and Ad-Dhaakheerah 33/173].

[This aspect of visiting the rulers has been courtesy of the work of Al-Akh, Dhikrullaah Adebayo, Abu Sahl, on the matter].

Thus fitnah is of varying types. We seek refuge in Allaah from its smallest and most prominent.

The article is an excerpt from a broader article written for a Muslim students' magazine.

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