Showing posts with label Prophet (saw). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prophet (saw). Show all posts

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Passport

“One does not sell the land people walk on” 
Crazy Horse, Oglalala Sioux Chieftain, 1875 
The nomads understood the earth was changing. Cold and  drought were making it difficult to survive on the vast steppes. To their East they had heard of a big water and on the West was the sea of dark water. But, there was enough land out their for the tribes. They would go both East and West. The great Aryan migration had begun. Slowly over  hundreds of years, they came to lands in India and Iran, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Germany. The Aryan migration was to change the world many millennia later. 
Even earlier than that, the sons of Hazrat Nuh, Shem; Haam; Japheth had migrated too, into empty lands and filled them with humans. Thus humans had spread through the world. 
The Quran speaks about migration. Indeed, the Islamic calendar started from the migration of the Prophet (saw). In the Islamic perspective, migration can be for religion, for education or to avoid repression. There is freedom to go from a land and no reason to be attached to it. 

“Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to flee for refuge?” (4:97)

So many Prophets, Adam, Ibrahim, Ismael, Musa etc migrated. It is allowed and such sacrifice, if done for religion is greatly honoured. 
Ibn Battuta, left his native Moroccan land at 21. A wander lust and a thirst for knowledge led him for three decades through lands as far East as India. He came home to narrate his many adventures. Thus enriching history and bringing mankind ever closer together.
Humanity for much of history had the freedom of the lands. As Crazy Horse quoted, you cannot own land. Allah (swt) had given this for free, for humanity to use and succeeding generations of humans were just occupiers of the land, to eventually pass on the usage to the next generation.
Sometime after World War 1 came a change in the status of empires. The nation states were born and its first representative the League of Nations was created. Much was changed and one of the first things agreed was to stamp the identity of nation states; thus the Passport was born. Back in the Persian empire days, the Khusro would issue letters of authority to his representatives, when they traveled to other parts. Similarly, Henry Viii issued authorities for his people to travel. But by and large, the Passport was first put into effect around 1920.   
It seemed like a minor intervention, but the Passport and what it implied, has changed the world. The word “immigrant” has been stamped onto our psyche now. In the past large groups of people simply moved lands and no one stopped them. USA, the most iconic country of the last century, is also born out of this very immigration. When the Mayflower from Plymouth sailed across the seas bringing the Pilgrim Fathers, there were no passports or barriers to entry. The Passport is the basic tenet of nation hood and has become the tool of racism, wealth, barriers and has also led to conflicts. Whatever the intention of the League of Nations, it has so transpired, that the simple agreement to institute the Passport almost a 100 years ago, is suspiciously viewed by many as a sinister conspiracy to subjugate the people of humanity.

Just a further related footnote of history. A hundred years ago, much changed very suddenly. The Balfour Declaration was made, creating the vision of Israel; the Caliphate of Muslims was destroyed; USA took its role as the major power; the concept of modern nationhood was established; The Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia; the Jewish people commenced their migration to the Middle East (all done without any Passport!!!); The division of Europe was done leaving the seeds for World War 2. The division of Arabia was done, leaving seeds for the present conflict. The Passport was born; The present day system was institutionalised (banks, stock markets, currencies, insurance companies, transnational organisations, democracy). All within a space of three years history was transformed. So who was the guiding hand? Are we humans so obtuse, that we do not see a pattern here? But, that is a question of a separate story. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Big Heart

Abdullah bin Amr bin Al Aas was one of the first Sahabas to record the Hadith. He is credited with over a thousand Hadith and Abu Huraira swore by his knowledge. In his recordings is one iconic event, which sheds light on this struggle to reach goodness.          
Abdullah bin Amr records that he was one of the most constant in worship; he fasted everyday and said prayers all night. Then one day the Prophet Muhammad (saw) advised him to reduce it to alternate days fasting and a third of the night as prayers. Such were the huge efforts of worship of this man, that he was advised reduction by the Prophet (saw).     
So on a day when prayer was about to take place in Masjid Nabawi, a man walked in after wuduu and the Prophet (saw) mentioned that a Jannati has just walked in. We shall not name the Sahaba, for the name is irrelevant to the essence. The next day, the same Sahaba walked in again and the Prophet (saw) made the same statement. And so it occurred on a third day. Abdullah ibn Amr was present on all three days, and was greatly perturbed, as he considered himself to be the most diligent in practice of the faith in Allah(swt). A man who possessed a learning mind, Abdullah ibn Amr, asked the particular Sahaba, that he wished to live with him for a time to learn from him. That wish was granted.          
In his three days of residence with the Sahaba, Abdullah bin Amr found that the particular Sahaba lived an unexceptional life. He prayed the five prayers at the mosque; did all the daily activities of existence; did nothing wrong; helped others; participated in the community; but also did not do anything overly exceptional. Perturbed and disappointed, Abdullah decided to depart, but before doing so, questioned the Sahaba on his status and why the Prophet (saw) declared him a Jannati. The Sahaba smiled, but refused to shed any light on this conundrum. After much insistence and refusal, Abdullah disappointed departed to his home. As he was leaving the house, his host called him back. Perhaps, out of sympathy he had reconsidered and decided to answer Abdullah.    

His words should be looked at by all of us who are desirous of good, feel the next world is our real objective and that this world is but a playground test.  
The Sahaba said " I think that the Prophet (saw) has seen my heart. In this heart there is no keena or bughz. I have an open heart. I share all I have and I have no rancour against anyone. I do not envy anyone. I hold no anger against anyone. My heart is like a clean slate". Abdullah bin Amr spontaneously burst out with admiration and said "yes that is the one. So easy to say, but the most difficult thing in the world." 
Truly the Prophet (saw) had seen the deepest part of this mans heart. And set us on a path which can take us to our ultimate destination.      
For my part, I can count on my fingers the times when I have recognised a big heart. Such people are extremely rare. They are open, charming, ready to give their all to everyone. They have no arrogance and they are rarely unhappy. Even when hurt, these people never withdraw their goodwill. They will not complain and do not indulge in gossip or hurt. If they rarely get angry, they shortly will forget it and moreover will apologise if need be. They have no agendas and life is a road which is traveled as an adventure, touching as many lives with tenderness as possible. But at the same time, the belief in Allah is their guiding light and it is demonstrated by goodness to humanity.

If you find such a being, then know that you have discovered gold and do not let this person out of your grasp. We can all testify that there are so few of them around. 
 *Abdullah bin Amr Al Aas wrote Al-Sahifah al-Sadiqah. He carried the banner at Yarmuk, but refused to throw an arrow in Siffin, as he only participated to obey his father, but would not raise his hands against other Muslims. He remained reclusive and non-political all his life.  Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal incorporated the whole of the work of Abdullah ibn Amr in his voluminous book Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From Enemy to Friend – Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl

When Ikrimah looked up at the sky, as the storm raged and called on Allah the one to help, the shades fell from his eyes. Two decades of virulent opposition to the Prophet (saw) turned into belief in Allah. The flashes of Badr, his father’s body undone , the triumph at Uhad as assistant to Khalid bin Waleed, the retreat from Khandaq and his flight from Mecca all cascaded by. What a waste! So let him go back to Mecca and profess the shehadah.

This seminal event was to change history, resulting in hundreds of millions of lives being influenced in these past 1400 years.

On arriving at Mecca, Umm Hakim, his wife, took Ikrimah to the Prophet (saw). Already the Prophet (saw) feeling the momentous event, had told his companions Ikrimah approaches with belief in his heart, so do not revile his father. The meeting was close and Ikrimah asked for forgiveness and promised to devote his life to Islam.

Six years later, the Muslim armies positioned in Yarmuk valley, north of Jerusalem and east of Lake Tiberius, were barely clinging on with their finger nails across a broad front of 7 miles. The Romans outnumbering them - some say 5 to 1- had been pushing them back for four days. Favourable ground and higher numbers had taken toll.

Vahan had decided that today was the day to break the enemy lines and encircle the Arab armies. Heraclius orders were clear, destroy these Arabs and drive them into the desert, so that they never return. A march further south into the Arabian heartland was also conceivable.  Having done a feint on the Arab right, he had forced Khalid bin Waleed to send the reserves into action.  Then, putting together all his strength Vahan focused on the Arab left centre, attacking Yazid’s (not the same one!) divisions. The Muslims outnumbered and without reserves, were spread thin. During this attack, Abu Sufyan and some 100 others lost an eye under a barrage of arrows- also known as Day of the Lost Eyes. Under pressure, the Muslim left centre was in wholesale retreat, the Arab lines were about to break.

Left facing the approaching Roman cavalry was the sole regiment (400 strong) of Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl - great enemy of the Prophet (saw).

The situation is clear. If Ikrimah's men break, the battle is lost and the future is bleak. If they hold, there is hope yet. Not since Badr, has Islam faced such a cataclysmic moment. Ikrimah decides to use the Arab tradition and take baith from all 400. Today, no one will retreat, rather they shall die. The Roman ranks crash against the Arab 400. As the day drags, Vahan intent on victory throws lines after lines on the enemy, only for them to stand firm. Losses are heavy, but the Arab lines hold and as the night falls, a perplexed Vahan withdraws. Lying somewhere in the middle of the carnage is the broken body of Ikrimah, his triumph complete and his debt to the Prophet paid in full. His regiment have achieved shehadat and also forced the Romans to withdraw. Not only the Roman strength has been used up, but the enemy is exhausted and demoralised, they have let victory escape out of their hands.

The rest of story is recorded as a gory day, when the Roman armies in retreat are boxed in and slaughtered and are never able to recover. Khalid bin Waleed’s resounding victory leaves the road open west and north. One of the greatest victories of Islam leads to massive conquests over the next century. Not till Tours – just 18 miles from present day Paris- and some 96 years later were the Muslim armies to be stopped.

Khalid’s maneuverings at Yarmuk are taught even today in various military academies. But in those few hours, Ikrimah and his companions made that success possible, where otherwise defeat stared in the face. Yarmuk changed history and while today European historians using their own logic (rather than facts) try and review numbers, even they agree to the significance of the event.

Above all stands the phenomena of belief, where one man went from being the most persistent enemy to being the saviour of Islam. May Allah accept the sacrifice of Ikrimah and his companions.