there is an age at which young people learn things and accept new ideas; after that a person becomes less likely to accept change and is settled in his or her behaviour. There is, however, an exception to this general rule – and that is if iman establishes itself in the heart of a person. Everything changes and age does not pose an obstacle or difficulty…”
A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bisilláhir rahmánir raheem.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
The popular belief is that if a young person grows up used to doing something, he or she shall grow old doing the same thing and if he or she grows old doing that same thing, he or she will die doing it.
This belief is generally true because there is an age at which young people learn things and accept new ideas; after that a person becomes less likely to accept change and is settled in his or her behaviour. There is, however, an exception to this general rule – and that is if iman establishes itself in the heart of a person. Everything changes and age does not pose an obstacle or difficulty. Examples of course abound but we shall study two examples of a man and a woman whose entire outlook on life in general changed because of their iman. We shall look on some other examples and the effect of Islam and iman on them.
But first the man. He Omar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) who in his days of pre-Islam (Jahilliyeh – religious ignorance) had such an unpredictable mind that he worshipped a god (an idol) made of sweets. One day he felt hungry and ate his idol. It is also related that following the customs of his time, he buried a young daughter of his, alive. His daughter was removing the dust from his beard whilst he was digging her grave…his fatherhood was not even aroused by this! But when Islam appeared and he began to hear verses of the Holy Qur’án being recited a gradual change was put into motion. He related that he was ‘charmed’ by the words of the Holy Qur’án and one day as he was trying to convince himself that these words cannot be more than words of a poet, he overheard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, reciting the verses of Surat Al Haqqah which I recited earlier, saying:
“So, I do call to witness what you see and what you see not that this is verily the word of an honoured messenger. It is not the word of a poet. Little it is you believe.”
Then, he thought to himself: “It must be the word of a soothsayer.”
But the recitation continued:
“Nor is it the word of a soothsayer. Little admonition it is you receive.This is a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.”
Islam and true iman transformed this man. His mind is now free…so much so that he chopped off the tree under which the treaty of (Ai-Hudaybiyeh) was signed lest people, after a while, treated it as something sacred.
And he stands facing the Black Stone in (Al-Kaabah) saying:
“Oh Stone. I kiss you knowing that you neither benefit or cause harm. Had not I seen the Messenger of Allah kiss you, I would never have kissed you.”
Of his mercy, kindness and fear of Allah stories abound; his kindness and generosity to Muslims and non-Muslims, to man and beast is best shown by this saying after he became Khleefah:
“If a mule trips in the land of the Euphrates, Allah would hold me responsible and ask me why I did not make proper pathways.”
Glorified be Allah Who changes the hearts and conditions of men.
And the woman is a well-known poetess named (Al-Khansa’a) who during the period of (Jahilliyeh) lost a half-brother of hers in tribal feuds and she wrote a whole volume of poems mourning her brother (Sakhr). She was so shocked and saddened by his death that she could not imagine life after him and even contemplated suicide as she stated in one of her poems:
“Sunrise reminds me of (Sakhr) and I remember him every sunset”.
“And if it were not for the great number of mourners around me for their brothers, I would have killed myself.”
Needless to say, she survived her brother’s death, married and had four male children. She became a Muslim along with her tribe, and that is when she became a changed person. Her iman made her accompany her four young men (her four sons)on Jihad. On the eve of a decisive battle, she sat with her sons advising them and urging them to discharge their Islamic duty and stand firm against the enemy. Amongst what she said was:
“Oh my sons, you became Muslim by your own free will and emigrated by choice. You know what great rewards Allah has reserved for the Muslims who fight against the unbelievers. The House of Eternal Life is better than the House of the Temporary Life (meaning of this world). Allah, most high, says:
“Oh you who believe, persevere in patience and constancy: vie in such perseverance, strengthen each other and fear Allah that you may prosper.”
“Tomorrow, go to your enemies with discerning and seek assistance and victory from Allah. When the battle is joined, go towards the heart of the enemy and fight off their leaders: you shall attain Eternal Bliss.”
They fought like true believers and whenever any of them was not in the front line with his brothers, he was reminded of what their elderly mother had said. Eventually, all four men were martyred, one after the other.
When the news of their martyrdom reached their mother, she did not mourn the way she mourned her brother. In true tradition of the Believers she said:
“Praise be to Allah who has honoured me with their deaths. I trust that Allah will join me with them in His Mercy.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
What strength did iman place in the arms of the youthful and diminutive Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, that enabled him to challenge the best swordsmen of Quraish who thought no man (let alone a youth) could match their strength or fighting abilities. But, (as Allah says) “It was not you who slew them, it was Allah.”
And should anyone think that this is true of people of old; let us dispel this illusion and relate stories about Believers who lived more recently. Furthermore, history shall reveal stories about other men and women of our present age whose strength and courage startles the enemies.
Most of us know the Libyan hero, Omar Al-Mukhtar, who, armed with a sword or at best, a rifle fought the war machine of the Italian army. Both he and the Believers with him cost the Italian army great losses and many casualties. He kept saying to the occupiers: ” If your canon breaks my sword, your falsehood shall never break my truth.”
When he was finally captured and sentenced to death, he accepted his fate with dignity and honour. Before execution, he was told: “Ask for a pardon, and we shall set you free.” He refused, saying: “If you set me free, I shall fight you again!!”
And just over fifty years ago, there lived a gentle scholar named Abul Kalam A’aZad who stood in the dock of a British court, accused of incitement against British rule. In his defence, he delivered what can only be described as a historic document of thirty-six pages in which he said:
” Yes, I did say the present government is unjust. What was I supposed to say? How is it that I am required not to call things by their true names? I am a Muslim, and as a Muslim, I am obliged to stand against tyranny and to tell the people about it.”
Then he went on to say:
” Tawheed is the basis of Islam, and it’s opposite is shirk, which Muslims detest. And tawheed teaches Muslims that they should only fear Allah and humble themselves to him alone…whoever fears any other, apart from Allah, is mushrik…and shirk and tawheed are never destined to meet.
From beginning to end, Islam is a call for courage and sacrifice. Death for the sake of the truth is not to be feared.
Allah (SWT) says:
“And they fear none but Allah, and sufficient is Allah to call men to account.”
Allah (SWT) also says:
“Is not Allah sufficient for his servant? But they try to frighten you with other gods besides Him. For such as Allah leaves to stray, there can be no guide”
Let the British government know that the Muslim whose Lord has commanded him to welcome death and not keep silent about the truth, is not frightened by the Indian Criminal Law No 124 and that law shall not stop him from being a Muslim and discharging his obligations.
Then he turned to the judge and said:
” As for you, judge, what else can I say to you except what the Believers before me who faced similar conditions said:
“So decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree in matters relating to the life of this world.”(Holy Qura’an)
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!