Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah's Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words) "those before you" ? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups) ? (Muslim)
Avoiding the Grave Mistakes of the Previous Nations
Allah swt sent Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him at a time when many of the people of the previous scripture no longer followed the teachings and example of their Prophets. They belittled and ridiculed their great predecessors and their scholars. They preferred to follow their own vain desires and opinions and assumptions about God rather than what God actually revealed. They claimed to be pious adherent and superior believers yet mocked their scholars and the traditions and teachings of their prophets as outdated. They accepted some of their teachings and commands and rejected others claiming they knew better. They assumed about God without any real knowledge or practice.
Thus we see that most of the people of the previous books of today have taken their religion as nothing but weekend play and amusement. Nothing more than a small part of their culture. They know practically nothing of the teachings and practices of their Prophets and follow very little of what they do know.
Allah swt warned us of the mistakes they made so we know to avoid them. Allah swt condemned some of the people of the book who went so far as to kill their own prophets and scholars with impunity:
Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? but what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life?- and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.
And now tragically in these days of great fitna (tribulation) many Muslims are following the same footsteps of the People of the Book as the Prophet warned. Many Muslims who do not even understand the Shariah abandon and neglect it. They belittle the Muslim scholars and the Sunnah and the ways of the Prophet's Companions and the great scholars of Islam. Just as the People of the Book did before us, they accept some of the teachings of Islam and reject others. They mock those Muslims who hold on to the Sunnah and Shariah and still practice their faith. Allah swt has made it very clear however that either we accept the whole of Islam as practiced by the Prophet and taught by the majority of Muslim scholars or we are not true Muslims:
"There was not a single Prophet among those who were sent before me who did not have apostles and companions who followed his Sunna and obeyed his commands. But afterwards other generations came whose words belied their deeds, and whose deeds were not in accordance with what they commanded others to do. Whoever struggles against them with his hand is a believer. Whoever struggles against them with his tongue is a believer. And whoever struggles against them with his heart is a believer. But when none of these things are done, then not a single mustard's seed weight of faith is present."
The Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him Warned us about these difficult times:
Narrated Irbad bin Sariyah(ra): One day Allah's Messenger sallalau alayhi was sallam delivered us a very eloquent Khutbah on account of which eyes shed tears and hearts became softened. a man said: "O Prophet of Allah, this is as if it were a parting sermon. So advise us. "He (sa'allahu alayhi wassallam) said: "I admonish you to fear Allah, to listen and obey even if a Negro slave is appointed your leader. Because whoever among you shall live after me, will soon see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the examples of the rightly Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold them fast. Beware of new things (in religion) because every heresy is a misguidance." (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)
And yet this is what we see in our times. So called "Muslims" that argue that we should object to the sunnah of the Prophet peace be upon him and his companions. That we need to abandon those aspects of shariah which we do not find convenient or "modern." That we should be like the modern Jews and Christians who gave up their laws; abandon religious prayers and devotion; support fornication, homosexuality, intermixed prayer services, etc. They actually advocate that we follow the ways of the People of the Book who have completely given up their laws, when the Prophet Muhammad peace be Upon him and Allah swt in the Quran warned us to avoid falling into their mistakes and orderd us to stick with the Sunnah and the examples of our pious predecessors. Allah clearly warns that a believer would never dispute with the rulings of his Lord:
33:36 It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
Respecting the Scholars
But alas this is from the signs of the end of times, where the ignroant who reject the teachings of the scholars and the sunnah and shariah would become leaders. The Prophet, peace be upon him, warned us that he lived in a time where the learned were many and the ignorant few and disrespected. But a time would come when the ignorant were many and the scholars were few and disrespected:
Hazzam bin Hakeem narrated from his uncle from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) who said: “You are in a time of many jurisprudents (fuqaha), few speakers, many who give and few who ask; so action in this time is better than knowledge. There will soon come a time of few jurisprudents, many speakers, many who beg and few who give; so knowledge in this time is better than action.”
Anas b. Malik reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: It is from the conditions of the Last Hour that knowledge would be taken away and ignorance would prevail (upon the world), the liquor would be drunk, and adultery would become rampant. (Muslim)
These signs of the hour are exactly what these so called Muslims call for. They abandon 1400 years of Islamic Scholarship and say Niqab, Hijab, Purdah, Hudud, is outdated and oppressive. That men and women should freely mix and be free to dress indecently. Thus they are simultaneously calling for Ignorance and Adultery.
Abu Wa'il reported: I was sitting with 'Abdullah and Abu Musa that they reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: Prior to the Last Hour, there would be a time when knowledge would be taken away, and ignorance would take its place and there would be bloodshed on a large scale. (Muslim)
'Abdullah b. 'Amr b. al-'As reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to the ignorant as their, leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray. (Muslim)
And such is what we tragically see in our time. Those most ignorant and who have not studied properly and live off their vain assumptions are those who people often turn to. And thus they are astray and lead others astray.
One of the major problems of these people is they believe that the teachings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him do not apply in our times and that the West is a better example to follow. But how can one believe in the Prophet of God and yet believe his teachings were limited. Does not the Quran say:
33:21 "Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful example for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah."
The Problems of us making the same mistakes as the people of the book arises because we do not respect, honor, and learn from the scholars who have passed Islam down generation to generation and learned it directly from the Prophet Peace be Upon Him. The Prophet Peace be Upon Him said:
"Whoever belittles the following three persons is not a Muslim but a hypocrite: first, an aged Muslim: second, a scholar (of religion); and third, a just ruler.""I fear particularly for three shortcomings in my followers. First, due to increasing worldly benefits and achievements. they will envy one another; second, discussionof the Holy Qur'an will become so common that even the ignorant will claim that they know the meanings of the Holy Qur'an, although many meanings are such that cannot be understood by anyone except the well versed scholars of that Book, who say: "We have a firm faith in it, and that it is from Allah", so how much more careful should be the common people; third, the religious scholars will be neglected and will not be patronized properly."The Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) also said: "Luqmaan instructed his son in these words: "Keep the company of scholars, and listen attentively to the words of the wise, for therewith Allah revives the dead hearts, just as He revives the dead earth with heavy rains; and the wise alone understand the religion."Allah has warned what is translated as:"Messenger! keep the company of those who pray to Allah every morning and evening, and they desire only His pleasure; and do not turn your eyes from them to the attractions and adornment of the worldly life: and do not follow him whose heart We have turned away from our remembrance, and who follows his desires, and (therefore) he has broken the limits (of true religion)."
Islam is based not on following our own assumptions and desires, but on true knowldge:
12:108 Say thou: "This is my way: I do invite unto Allah,- on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes,- I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah. and never will I join gods with Allah.""
He (swt) says: “And verily guess is no substitute for the truth.” [TMQ 53:28]
And He (swt) said: “They have no (certain) knowledge. They follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not (‘Isa).” [TMQ 4:157]"Do you have Ilm for that which you claim so that you provide us with? You follow nothing but conjecture (Zann)." [TMQ 6:148]"17:36 And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)."
50. "But if they hearken not to thee, know that they only follow their own lusts: and who is more astray than one who follow his own lusts, devoid of guidance from Allah. for Allah guides not people given to wrong-doing."
Identifying a Proper Scholar
The Quran and Hadith very clearly warn against following our vain assumptions and conjecture regarding Islam without studying from proper scholars who have studied under qualified teachers in an unbroken chain to the Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him. How then do we know who is a qualified scholar to learn from? Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanvi explains:
How do we recognize when someone is truly a physician? If he is accredited, completed his residency, people come to him for treatment, and many of them are nursed back to health. Likewise, the signs of a true spiritual shaikh are when he has spent a considerable amount of time with and benefited from a recognized shaikh, and the ulama and people of intelligence think highly of him, come to him in times of need, and feel an increase in love of Allah I and decrease in love of the dunya when sitting in his presence, and the situation of those who sit in his company is continually progressing. When one observes all these signs in a person, he should know that he is worthy of being made a shaikh. He should consider him a panacea for his spiritual ailments and believe that visiting and helping such a person is a great honor. Thus, a complete overview of the characteristics of a shaikh is: He is mutaqqi and pious. He is a follower of the Sunnah, knows a sufficient amount of the knowledge of Deen, remained in the company of a recognized shaikh, the scholars and intelligent peopleare inclined towards him, his company is efficacious, and the murideen are improving in his company
Ordaining Good and Forbidding Evil
Allah swt warns us that the grave mistake that the previous nations fell in was their:
- Disrespect for the Sunnah of their Prophets and the teaching of their scholars
- Accepting only the parts of their faith they found convenient or that was in accordance with their vain desires
- Failing to enjoyn what is good and forbid what is evil
- Preference to please and attempt to get honor from the disbelievers and emulate their ways.
Allah swt says what is translated as:
78. Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawûd (David) and 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allâh and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds.79. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evil doing, sins, polytheism, disbelief, etc.) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do.80. You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Auliyâ' (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them, for that (reason) Allâh's Wrath fell upon them and in torment they will abide.
Those whom Allah condemns from amongst the Children of Israel were condemed for the same actions that many Muslims nowadays are engaged in and which the Prophet Peace be Upon Him warned us about. They used to assume their understanding was superior to that of their scholars and they used to prefer this temporary material world to the eternal hereafter. Thus they openly sinned and did not forbid each other from engaging in haram (prohibited actions). Similarly today if a Muslim speaks out against sins and evil, even other :Muslims" try to stop him, calling him an "extremist." They do not forbid what is evil because they believe in "freedom" even if it is freedom to act in contravention to the commands of Allah. If a practicing Muslim condemns sin they attack him in the name of liberalism, yet if people disrespect Allah and his messenger they stay quiet or even support them! Allah swt explains that this is because they wished to take the disbelievers as friends and protectors in stead of Allah and the Muslims, in order to seek honor, forgetting that honor and success is only found by obeying and submitting to the Creator of the heavens and earth.
33:48 And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and heed not their annoyances, but put thy Trust in Allah. For enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.
The Prophet peace be upon him warned however that Muslims must ordain what is good and forbid evil:
Narrated Abu Tha'labah al-Khushani: Abu Umayyah ash-Sha'balli said: I asked Abu Tha'labah al-Khushani: What is your opinion about the verse "Care for yourselves." He said: I swear by Allah, I asked the one who was well informed about it; I asked the Apostle of Allah (p.b.u.h.) about it. He said: 'No, enjoin one another to do what is good and forbid one another to do what is evil. But when you see niggardliness being obeyed, passion being followed, worldly interests being preferred, everyone being charmed with his [own] opinion, then care for yourself, and leave alone what people in general are doing. For ahead of you are days which will require endurance, in which showing endurance will be like grasping live coals. The one who acts rightly during that period will have the reward of fifty men who act as he does. Another version has: He said (The hearers asked:) Apostle of Allah, the reward of fifty of them? He replied: The reward of fifty of you. [i.e. the companions]
Hadhrat Jareer (radi Allaho anho) has narrated that Hadhrat Mohammad (sallallaho alaihe wasallam) was pleased to say: "When an individual of a community sins, and the community, in spite of its authority over him, does not prevent him from sinning, Allah's punishment descends on them even before death, i.e., He subjects them to various tribulations in this very world."
(3) Hadhrat Anas (radi Allaho anho] has narrated thatHadhrat Mohammad (sallallaho alaihe wasallam) was pleased to say, "The Kalimah La ilaha Illallaho al~ays~benefit these individuals who proclaim it, and keeps away from them woes and troubles, unless, indeed, its rights are ignored." The companions inquired: "What does the ignoring of its rights mean?" Replied the Prophet: "It means that when sins are being committed openly they do not prevent or stop them."
O people, Allah has ordained you to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, lest a time should come whenyou call and He may not respond, you ask for a favor and He may not grant it, and you call for help and He may refuse'.
We must Ordain good and forbid evil despite our own weekness:
Hadhrat Anas (radiallaho anho) relates: "We inquired of the Holy Prophet: O Prophet of Allah, is it right that we should not enjoin virtue unless we practise all the virtues ourselves, and should not forbid the wrongs unless we ourselves completely abstain from them all? 'Nay,' said the Prophet, 'do enjoin others to practise good deeds even though you do not practise all of them, and do forbid evil actions even though you do not abstain from them all'."
It is very clear from these Hadith that when we abandon ordaining good and forbidding evil we will loose the help and support of Allah in this world. People are afraid however from following Shariah and the Sunnah and ordaining good and forbidding evil because the westerners they try to appease may ridicule them. However, no prophet was sent to please everyone. Allah swt explains:
"And We sent down Prophets before you amongst people gone by, and no Prophet came to them but that they ridiculed him."
Islam did not come to please everyone. If people are not happy with what Islam teaches the solution is not to change the teachings of the Prophet peace be upon him to please ignorant. We judge by what Allah and his Messenger taught "Even if the disbelievers hate it" ..."Even if the transgressors hate it"... "Even if the Polytheists hate it." " If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel." (All translations from the Quran)
A Muslim does not sell his faith to please others for those are acts of the hypocrtyes who try to get honor by pleaseing and befriending those who do not respect Islam: "138. To the Hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them (but) a grievous penalty;- 139. Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay,- all honour is with Allah."
Reward and Necessity of Adhering to and Reviving the Sunnah
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect.A great scholar, Imam Ghazali, said: "Any Muslim who dares to take steps to remove the present state of ruin and devastation, endeavours to revive the act of propagation and comes forward to shoulder that I heavy responsibility, will surely rank as the noblest and the most distinguished being among the whole of mankind."It is reported that the Prophet Peace be Upon him said: "Whoever revives my sunnah at the time of the corruption of my ummah will have the reward of 100 martyrs.""Islam began as something strange and it will return once again to something strange so good news [paradise] to the strangers. They are those who revive what people have neglected from my sunnah."
5:54 O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,- lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things.