How should the attitude of the believers be against the oppression in the world?

Details of the Question

- How should the attitude of the congregations and tariqahs be in the face of the severe oppression and transgressions in the Muslim countries?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- It does not seem possible for us to enter into details like who said what regarding the issue. Therefore, we will evaluate the issue in the line of the Quran and the Sunnah – to the extent that we know. This evaluation will have clear evidences as much as possible and be in the form of items in summary:

The reason for the problems and way out:

I. The reason for the problems:

Yes, the Islamic world is faced with innumerable problems today. The blood of innocent people that is shed, the downtrodden honors, the towns that are destroyed, the goods that are plundered, the people who are forced to leave their houses, the people who are refugees are all in the Islamic world and the victims are all Muslims.

The heart of every believer who has a sincere zeal originating from his religion, a strong majesty originating from his belief and a compassion originating from the brotherhood of belief toward the ummah of Islam is more wounded than ever.

- Is there not a way out of these misfortunes and disasters that wound our feelings?

Of course, there is. There is a cure for every illness and there is a solution to every problem. Similarly, there is a solution to the misfortunes that hit the Muslims if we diagnose the real reasons for those misfortunes correctly and apply the treatment accordingly.  

We know and should know for sure that the right diagnosis, the right treatment for believers is only possible under the guidance of the Book and the Sunnah.

History shows us that Muslims improved materially and spiritually, and brought peace and tranquility to the humanity with their rule based on justice as long as they adhered to the Book and the Sunnah, and acted in accordance with their religion. They fell into low levels from honorary levels as they kept away from their religion.

Then, we will find out the reasons for the existing problems and solutions to them from those two resources.

“I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere both of them, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise).” (Hakim, 1/172)

As it is indicated in the sound hadith above, turning away from those two resources caused us to follow wrong ways.

- We will ask those resources “What is the reason for this trouble? What is the treatment for it?” The answer they give is as follows:

1)  “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves...” (Aal-i Imran, 3/103) You did not obey the divine order in the verse above.

You left the line of the Quran, which is the rope of Allah, and the Sunnah, which is its real interpretation. You followed the desires of your souls. You abandoned the thought of Islamic brotherhood with your trait of hatred. You took refuge in some devils disguised as humans that you regarded to be close to your ideological desires by accepting them as angels. On the other hand, you tried to demonize your believing brothers who were like angels that you did not regard to be suitable for your ideological desires. When you let Allah’s rope of revelation off, you were scattered like the prayers beads whose thread broke off. Thus, you fell into a miserable and disgraceful situation.

2) “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (an-Nahl, 16/125) Although the divine orders like the ones above existed, you disobeyed them; you seemingly invited people to the true path but you yourselves strayed from the true path.

When you abandoned the criteria of wisdom, you became engaged in unreasonable and illogical things due to the suggestions of some people. You acted in an unbalanced way and was known as a temperamental, worthless nation in the international community. You tried to control guidance and aberration, which are in the hand of Allah only. 

You tried to impose your caprices upon people instead of conveying them the beauties of Islam. You showed your sullen face to people and removed the nice image of Islam instead of showing those who oppose Islam the compassionate and merciful face of Islam.

You were condemned to this misery to suffer some of the consequences of your treason – even if you did it unknowingly –in this world.

3) “Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” (Aal-i Imran, 3/110) You did not obey the divine decree above.

Although you were responsible for doing material and spiritual deeds for the goodness of humanity, you committed bad deeds; you harmed the honor of this benevolent ummah.

As the children of an ummah that based everything on Allah’s consent, that regarded  justice, love, loyalty, self-denial and honesty as their principles – which is also approved by their enemies – , you did just the opposite and faced the problems you have today.

4) As it is known and as it is mentioned in the chapter of al-Quraysh, the importance of “the environment of safety and security” that was realized – for the  sake of the Kaaba – in the environment of polytheism where the polytheists lived, where 360 ​​idols were regarded as deities in Makkah, in the Kaaba is emphasized; it is also emphasized that it is a great boon of Allah.

In this chapter and in many other verses, the importance of safety and security, and acting positively were emphasized but you acted against safety and security. On the contrary, you started to serve those insecure, unreliable, unjust, unethical revolutionists who violated public order unlike your Muslim ancestors who were reliable, trustworthy, just and ethical and who protected the oppressed people.

As a member of a religion that repaired things, you worked together with those who destroyed things. Consequently, you were harmed and destroyed severely.  

5) “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.(an-Nisa, 4/59) The believers are advised by the verse above to do everything based on the Quran and the Sunnah and to settle the issues that they disagree by referring to those two sacred resources.

It is time to meditate seriously on the real reason for the current miserable state of the Muslims who do not act in compliance with order of the verse above.

6) According to a sound hadith narration, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people who invite others to share their dish while eating.”

Someone asked, “Will that be because of our small numbers at that time?”  He said,

“No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent, and Allah will take fear of you from the breasts of your enemy and put wahn (love of the world and fear of death) into your hearts.” (Abu Dawud, h no: 4297)

It is understood from the hadith above that the Muslims began to love the life of the world rather than the life of the hereafter especially in the last two centuries since they moved away from the line of the Book and the Sunnah. When the love of the world entered their hearts, they began to hate, fear, and worry about death that would separate them from the beloved world they fell in love with.

Because of these fears and anxieties, they did not display the glory of faith and the glory of Islam; in addition, they became worthless in the human society – despite their big number. And their enemies made use of this opportunity and dragged them wherever they wanted like garbage.

Our present misery approves that this hadith is a miracle and teaches us that it is imperative for us to become sincere believers again in order to attain our former dignity.

II. The way out from those problems:

We will refer to those two sacred resources in order to find a way out from the troubles the ummah is faced with.

a) Allah grants special grace to those who have taqwa.  

“O ye who believe! If ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded.” (al-Anfal, 8/29)

The issues to note in the verse above are as follows:

Taqwa means to obey Allah’s orders and prohibitions, to avoid opposing Allah.

Furqan is translated as a “criterion”; it means a foresight that can discriminate between what is right and what is wrong.

Yukaffir means to hide the faults, mistakes in this world (tafsiru Razi), to draw a veil on them.

Yaghfiru means to forgive those faults and mistakes in the hereafter (tafsiru Razi) and to ignore them.

Accordingly, there is only one prerequisite for the Muslims to have a foresight that will enable them to find the right path, to have their mistakes they make in this world hidden, to have their wrong deeds that humiliate them in the eye of people especially their enemies concealed and to have them deleted from the memories of their enemies, and for their sins to be forgiven in the hereafter and hence to be allowed to enter Paradise: To have taqwa determined in the Book and the Sunnah/to obey Allah’s orders and prohibitions.

It is emphasized in the last sentence of the verse that Allah has unbounded grace and is indicated that a little sincerity will bring a lot of rewards.

b) There are three rewards for the people of taqwa.

“And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out.  And for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy. That is the Command of Allah, which He has sent down to you: and if any one fears Allah, He will remove his ills, from him, and will enlarge his reward.” (at-Talaq, 65/2, 4, 5) It is of great significance that “the rewards of fearing Allah” are emphasized one after the other in the verses above.

Each issue that is stated as the reward of obeying Allah’s orders and prohibitions is of vital importance.

Yes. Allah promises those who avoid opposing Him “a way out from their troublesome affairs” in the 2nd verse of the chapter. He promises them “ease in those affairs” in the 4th verse of the chapter. He gives them the glad tidings that their sins will be removed and that they will be given a lot of rewards. 

c) Those who have taqwa will be given private knowledge.

“…So fear Allah; For it is Good that teaches you…” (al-Baqara, 2/282)

It is indicated in the verse above that man will be given some knowledge beyond his abilities and talents in return for obeying Allah.

Those real students of the Quran who have knowledge will be able to discriminate between what is good and what is bad thanks to this granted knowledge, wisdom and foresight. They will not do anything that will harm them.

d) Sincere belief is the guarantee of victory.

“…and it was due from Us to aid those who believed.” (ar-Rum, 30/47)

It is indicated in the verse above that Allah’s aid is for those who believe.

A sound consciousness of belief necessitates acting upon Allah’s consent, the divine orders sent by revelation and wisdom in the circle of causes. After taking necessary measures based on the lessons he takes from the Quran and the Sunnah within the circle of causes created by Allah with various wisdoms, a sincere believer takes refuge in Allah’s endless power and mercy, trusts in Him and relies on Him.

e) He who relies on wisdom with his mind and on mercy with his heart wins.

A person who obeys the system of causes, which is a manifestation of Allah’s name Hakim (the Perfectly Wise) but who also trusts in His endless mercy will never lose.  

“…and consult them (your friends) in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Aal-i Imran, 3/159)

Since consultation is mentioned before trust (tawakkul) in the verse above, it is indicated that trust is a phase after causes because consultation is a cause.

Allah is enough for those who act in accordance with causes, which are parts of Allah’s laws that are in effect in the universe, and trust in Him after that.  

“…And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (at-Talaq, 65/3)

This fact is underlined in the verse above.

f) Allah has made a promise to those who support His religion

“O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly.” (Muhammad, 47/7)

It is stated in the verse above that Allah’s promise is always valid.

III. Muslims’ Degree of Responsibility

It is clear that not all Muslims are equally responsible in the face of every problem. When we analyze the issue within the framework of the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah, we see the following:

1) There is no responsibility “that is beyond man’s power” in Islam.

“When you see a mischief, change it with your hands if you can; but if not, try with your tongue; if it does not work either, disapprove it with your heart. It is the weakest level of belief.” (Muslim, Iman, 78; Tirmidhi, Fitan, 11; Ibn Majah, Fitan, 20)

As it is understood from the hadith above, the responsibility of a person about opposing a bad deed and oppression differs based on his power.  

It is necessary for those who have the material power to intervene with their hands, those who cannot do it to oppose with their tongues/words and those who cannot do it to disapprove it with their hearts and not to support it.

According to the Islamic scholars who interpret the hadith to intervene in a bad deed with the hand is the duty of the people with authority, that is, the state, the police; to correct, to oppose something with the tongue is the duty of the scholars; to disapprove it with the heart is the duty of others.

As Hudhayfa puts it, the people who do not do any of them are like “living dead”. (see Ghazali, Ihya, Beirut, nd., 2/311)

Similarly, those who are responsible for enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil are the sane believers who have reached the age of puberty and who are strong. Those who are insane, children, unbelievers and weak are not authorized to do it. (Ghazali, Ihya, 2/312)

2) Islam orders defense, not attack.

"Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.” (al-Anfal, 8/60)

It is possible to see it clearly in the verse above.

Material preparation is necessary to defend the physical structure of the Islamic world. That believers are ordered to prepare horses, which were the most powerful element of war at that time, in the verses aims to defend and protect the physical structure of the Islamic land against possible attacks

The Islamic ummah is ordered to prepare the necessary strength in compliance with the conditions in every era by the following sentence in the verse:  “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power”.

The use of the concept “strength”, which is a comprehensive word, instead of one or several devices is a gleam of miracle that shows the peak of eloquence and the universal position of the Quran beyond time and space. For, the concept “strength” includes all kinds of material and spiritual preparations for the forms of struggle that are valid in every era from the Era of Bliss to the Day of Judgment.

It is at least fard al-kifayah for the Islamic world to obtain conventional, nuclear and similar weapons that are used on land in the sea and in the air, which are the most efficient weapons of this age, and to establish armed forces.

In addition, what is more important is that it is fard al-ayn to learn the exact sciences of the age along with religious sciences.

Those who enter the field of science with ignorance are bound to be disgraced and humiliated as much as those who enter the battlefield of tanks with swords.

Doubtlessly, it is more necessary to learn the religion of Islam and to make preparations in the field of knowledge in order to protect the spiritual structure (the Ahl as-Sunnah creed in the line of the Quran and the Sunnah) of the Islamic land.

As a matter of fact, the following is taught in the school of the Prophet:

“…The messenger rehearses unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom…” (Aal-i Imran, 3/164)

2) According to Imam Ghazali it is an important duty to correct or to stop something bad in individual or social field. However, the responsibility dimension of this duty is considered according to the following four situations

a) It is not wajib for a person who does not have the power to prevent a bad deed with his hands and who knows that he cannot prevent it and that he will even be beaten if he attempts to do so; it can even become haram for him based on the situation.

b) It is wajib for a person who knows that he has the power to stop a bad deed by his deeds or words and that he will not face any problem or torture to try to stop that bad deed.

c) It is not wajib but mustahab – since it shows a principle of Islam – for a believer who knows that he will not face any problem or torture when he intervenes in a bad deed actually or verbally but that he cannot stop it.

d) It is not wajib but mustahab for a person who knows that he can prevent the bad deed but that he will also be harmed while trying to stop it. (see Ghazali, Ihya, 2/319)

What matters is not to cause a similar or worse deed while removing a bad deed, that is, “the cure must not be worse than the ailment”. 

We see that in some places some Muslims kill an enemy whom they catch alone in order to satisfy their feeling of revenge but they cause thirty believers to be killed after that. You cannot justify those wrong attitudes and deeds with the consciousness of belief, the conscience of Islam and the scales of the mind. 

3) No matter what power is behind the incidents that take place in the Islamic world today, the subcontractors that are in the foreground are always the believers. There is no need to explain that wars between Muslims are haram.

"If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him." (an-Nisa, 4/93)

It is underlined in the verse above and similar ones that a war between the Muslims is a great loss in both the world (death, destruction) and the hereafter.

"The blood of a Muslim cannot be shed except in three cases: a married person who commits adultery, in qisas (retaliation) for murder, and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Islamic community." (Bukhari, Diyat, 6; Muslim, Qasama 25; Abu Dawud, Hudud, I; Tirmidhi, Hudud, 15)

- We cannot think that the decree about “the person who leaves his religion” has been misused in any era more than this age.

- “When two Muslims fight each other with their swords, both the murderer as well as the murdered one will go to Hell." (Abu Bakra said), “O Messenger of Allah! It is all right for the murderer but why does the murdered one go to Hell?” He said, “Because he wanted and tried to kill his friend too.” (Bukhari, Iman, 22; Riqaq, 31; Fitan, 10; Muslim; Fitan, 14)

According to the explanation in the hadith, one of them deserved Hell because he killed the other believer and the other tried to kill a believer deliberately, which makes a person deserve to go to Hell. According to Islam, both deeds are crimes but those two crimes are not equal. Accordingly, the period of staying in Hell for the murderer and the one who tried to murder will not be the same. If one of them remains there, say, twenty years, the other will stay for six months or a year. (cf Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 13/32-34)

4) It is possible to summarize the views of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, the mujaddid of this age as follows:

a) The environment of peace serves Islam more than the environment of war. The main purpose of the religion of Islam, which lexically means peace, not to kill people and regard them as enemies but to ensure their happiness in the world and in the hereafter. That the basic issues the Quran teaches are principles of belief, justice and worship shows the main purpose of Islam.  

"Make things easy, do not make them hard; give good tidings, do not alienate!" (Bukhari, Jihad, h. no: 1732; Ibn Hajar, 163/69)

It is possible to understand this nice purpose of Islam from the hadith above.

"…Allah granted, besides this (the conquest of Makkah), a speedy victory." It is emphasized in the verse above that the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, which apparently seemed to be against the Muslims, is actually a great victory. In fact, with this treaty, the material swords were abandoned and the spiritual diamond sword of Islam that declares the truth and that consists of knowledge, wisdom and ethical values won the minds and the heart in the environment that was prepared. Those who saw the scientific, mental and humane values of the Quran more closely entered Islam in groups. (see Lem'alar, p. 29)

b) The greatest strength of the Islamic world is in unity and alliance.

The ideal of the unity of Islam is an elixir that gives life to Muslims and that consolidates their brotherhood; it also aims to struggle against the non-Muslims with knowledge and wisdom, and to place human virtues where they deserve to be.

This fact is underlined in the following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi related to the “Muhammadan Unity”:

“The regulation of this unity is the Sunnah of the Prophet and its constitution is the orders and prohibitions of the Shari’ah. Its swords are the firm reasoning. For winning over the civilized is through persuasion not compulsion. To search out for the truth is through love. Enmity was against savageness and bigotry. Its objective is to exalt the word of God. Ninety-nine percent of the Shari’a is concerned with morality, worship, the hereafter, and virtue.” (see Divan-ı Harb-i Örfi, p. 20)

c) Rights, justice, wisdom and love are the main purposes in Islam, which is a religion of peace.

Yes, “Islam is peace and compromise; it does not want quarrel and enmity inside.” (see Sözler, p. 719).

“O unjust man! See now what a great sin is rancor and enmity toward a brother believer! If you were to say that ordinary small stones are more valuable than the Ka‘ba and greater than Mount Uhud, it would be an ugly absurdity. So too, belief which has the value of the Ka‘ba, and Islam which has the splendour of Mount Uhud, as well as other Islamic attributes, demand love and concord; but if you prefer to belief and Islam certain shortcomings which arouse hostility, but in reality are like the small stones you too will be engaging in great injustice, foolishness, and sin."

"The unity of belief necessitates also the unity of hearts, and the oneness of our creed demands the oneness of our society.” (see Mektubat, p. 263-264)

d) “Our enemies are ignorance, poverty, and conflict.”

The determinations made by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi and the cure he proposed about one hundred years ago are still valid today. 

Yes, the three enemies of ours he mentions “ignorance, poverty, conflict” still lay hold of us. It is understood from the statement ​“We will fight these three enemies with the weapons of art, knowledge and unity” that our greatest enemies are among us, not outside.

First, we will get rid of ignorance by studying modern sciences along with religious sciences. Then, we will use the technique and technology of the age, realize industrial revolution and get rid of poverty.

We will also discover the bonds of alliance that connect us and destroy the soldiers of conflict, which are probably our greatest enemy. 

We will try to live in peace. “For, there is badness in enmity. We have no time for enmity.” We will not act alone in the international arena. We will not pry into the affairs that are beyond us. “We will not intervene in the affairs of the government because we do not know the wisdom behind governing." (see Divan-ı Harb-i Örfi, p. 15)

e) During the one party administration before 1950, all Muslims including Said Nursi and his students were oppressed and afflicted severely but he did not resort to benefitting from some political unrest. 

Similarly, when the big states like England and Italy tried to wage war on Turkey, Said Nursi started to pray day and night so that a war would not break out. However, such a war could have caused the overthrow of the government of oppression of that period and could have enabled the Muslims face a more tolerant government, allowing them to feel relieved.

Considering this situation, some people asked Said Nursi why he did not benefit from this situation. He answered them in two ways in his book called “Lem'alar”. We think it will be useful to quote both answers here:

1)  "The last two months there has been a lively political situation in the face of which some attempt should have been made to alleviate conditions both for myself and the brothers with whom I am connected. While there was a strong possibility that this could have been achieved, I attached no importance to the situation, and on the contrary, had an idea in support of ‘the worldly’ who oppress me. A number of people were astonished at this. They said: “What do you think about the policies followed by those at the head of these innovators and in part dissembling people who torment you, so that you do nothing to them?”

A summary of my reply is as follows: The greatest danger facing the people of Islam at this time is their hearts being corrupted and belief harmed through the misguidance that arises from science and philosophy."

"The sole solution for this is light; it is to show light so that their hearts may be reformed and their belief, saved. If one acts with the club of politics and prevails over them, the unbelievers descend to the degree of dissemblers. And dissemblers are worse than unbelievers."

"That is to say, the club cannot heal the heart at this time, for then unbelief enters the heart and is concealed, and is transformed into dissembling. And at this time, a powerless person like myself cannot employ both of them, the club and the light. For this reason I am compelled to embrace the light with all my strength and cannot consider the club of politics whatever form it is in. We are not charged with physical jihad at the moment, whatever that duty demands. Yes, in accordance with a person’s way, a club is necessary to form a barrier against the assaults of the unbelievers or apostates. But we only have two hands. Even if we had a hundred hands, they would be sufficient only for the light. We do not have any other hands with which to hold the club!” (see Lem'alar, p. 104)

2) “Why do you violently oppose war, although, with foreign forces like the British and Italians interfering in the government recently, it would have excited Islamic zeal – the true point of support and source of moral strength of this country’s government – and been a means to an extent of reviving the marks of Islam and repulsing innovations? Why have you offered prayers for its being settled by peaceful means and come out fervently in support of the innovators’ government? Is this not indirect support of innovations?"

"The answer: We want relief, release, happiness, and victory, but not with the sword of the unbelievers. Let their swords be the end of them! We are not in need of any advantage proceeding from them. In fact it is those obstinate Europeans who have set the dissemblers to pester the people of belief, and have raised the atheists. (...)"

"Like the One Powerful Over All Things sweeps and cleans in a minute the atmosphere filled with clouds and shows the shining sun in clear skies, so He may dispel these black, merciless clouds and show the truths of the Shari‘a like the sun, and give them without expense or trouble. We await it from His mercy that He will not sell them to us expensively. May He give intelligence to the heads of those at the top, and belief to their hearts; that would be enough. Then matters would put themselves to rights.(see Lem'alar, s. 104-105)

f) “We are devotees of love; we have no time for enmity.”

"We (as the Islamic ummah) have been included in the congregation of Muhammad (pbuh) since Qalu Bala.  The common ground of our unity is oneness (tawhid). Our vow is belief. Since we believe in one Allah and are in unity, every believer is responsible for elevating the word of Allah. The greatest way of elevating the word of Allah today is improving and developing materially. For, the foreigners crush us under their spiritual oppression with their weapons of science and industry. We will also fight with the weapon of science and art against ignorance, poverty and conflict of ideas, which are the most ferocious enemies of elevating the word of Allah."

"However, we will refer the external jihad to the diamond swords of the firm reasoning of the Shari’ah. (We will use Islam’s clear scientific and mental evidences, not material weapons, in our struggle against the foreigners/non-Muslims.) For winning over the civilized is through persuasion, not through force as though they were savages who understand nothing. We are devotees of love; we do not have time for enmity.” (bk. Hutbe-i Şamiye, s. 88)

We presented them so that “…ears (that should hear the tale and) retain its memory should bear its (lessons) in remembrance.” (al-Haaqqa, 69/12)

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