FRIDAY DISCOURSE

AKRA FM February 25, 2000

Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

WHEN ALLAH WISHES WELL FOR A NATION

As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh!

My dear audience, may Allah's peace, mercy and abundance be with you. May He give you and your loved ones all the good and happiness in this world and in the Hereafter.

I would like to read three ahadith, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad. These ahadith indicate how a nation will prosper.

a. Abundance of Scholars

The first hadith is reported by Ibn-i Omar (RA) and recorded in the collections of Daylamî. Here is the text of the hadith:

RE. 28/3 (Ŭdhâ erâdallàhi biqawmin khayran kath-thara fuqahà-ehum, wa aqalle juhhâlehum, fa-idhâ tekellemel-faqîhu wajada a'wânan, wa idhâ tekellemel-jâhilu quhir; wa idhâ erâde biqawmin sherran kath-thara juhhâlehum wa eqalle fuqahâehum fa-idhâ tekellemel-jâhilu wajada a'wânan, wa idhâ tekellemel faqîhu quhir.) Sadaqa rasûlullàh, fî mâ qàl, aw kemâ qàl.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad stated "(Ŭdhâ erâdallàhi biqawmin khayran) when Allah wishes well for a nation, (kath-thara fuqahà-ehum) He will increase the number of religious scholars among them." These scholars will be well informed on all religious issues and Islamic jurisprudence.

There is also another report of the the same hadith which has the word "akthara" instead of "kath-thara." "Akthara" means "He increases" while "kath-thara "means "He increases very much." In either case, the number of true scholars will be increased. "(Wa aqalle juhhâlehum) and He will decrease the number of uneducated and ignorant." This is the grace of Allah. The increase in the number of the scholars and the decrease in the number of uneducated people are blessings from Allah for a nation to prosper. "In such a society, (fa-idhâ tekellemel-faqîhu wajada a'wânan) when a well-versed scholar speaks, he will be well received and supported. His words will be respected and taken." Of course there will be the uneducated and ignorant in the same society; "(wa idhâ tekellemel-jâhilu) when the ignorant speaks on an issue, (quhira) it will be silenced and ignored." The ignorant will pose no harm to the society. Nevertheless, people who has no information about an issue should not make any statements on the issue.

On the other hand, "(wa idhâ erâde biqawmin sharran) when Allah gets angry at a nation and wants misery for them, (kath-thara juhhâlehum) He will increase the number of the ignorant, (wa eqalle fuqahâehum) and decrease the number of scholars." How does their number get decreased? They may pass away or the interest in the religious sciences and seeking religious knowledge diminishes. There may also be wars in which scholars die. In such as nation, "(fa-idhâ tekellemel-jâhilu) when the ignorant speaks, (wajada a'wânan) he will find supporters. His words will be well received and taken. (Wa idhâ tekellemel faqîhu) when the scholar sees the wrongdoings and falsehood and speaks, (quhira) he will be silenced and forced to keep quiet. Consequently, when the ignorance dominates a nation, that nation is doomed to be wiped out of the face of the earth--May Allah forbid such a situation.

It has happened throughout the history just like that. Take, for example, the development and spread of Seljuks. They set up Madrasas all over the country. The Nizamiya Madrasas produced very important scholars. Another example is the Ottomans. It is the result of the "torch" lit by the great Sufi masters including Mawlana Jalaled-dîn-i Rumî, Ahmed Yasawî, and Haji Baktash Wali. They planted the seeds of the trees, and the fruits were harvested later on. The success of Ottomans originates from the work of such blessed and great scholars, and from the respect they received from the society. When the Ottomans conquered a city, they build schools and madrasas there right away, and started educating people and producing new scholars. That is how they were the most advanced nation in science and technology. They were so powerful that they were victorious over the united forces of the enemies.

The Ottoman Sultan, Muhammad the Conqueror, was a genius. The tools and the techniques he used to conquer Istanbul were extraordinary and important. His approach for success and his personality were exemplary. He had been praised by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): "Verily, Istanbul will be conquered. How nice to be a part of that army, and how nice to be a commander of that army." He truly deserved such an appraisal.

In the beginning, Ottomans were such a nation in which scholars received great respect and reverence. They had a strong influence on the rulers. Later on the scholars were pushed to the side, the viziers and other statesmen started ruling on their own. The scholars received maltreatment, and the ignorant started to dominate. This led to the downfall of the great Ottoman State. Without hard work for advancement, a nation will not be able to keep its position.

Pausing in the work for advancement is tantamount to a death sentence for a nation and civilization. Ottomans should have kept the leading edge of the science and technology. They should have stayed in the race for the least. They should have kept an eye on the other nations and speeded up when the other nations seemed to close the gap.

I brought these up so that we may pull ourselves together and learn a lesson from the history and act upon that lesson.

b. The Characteristics of Good and Bad Nations

The second hadith is on the same subject:

RE. 28/4 (Idhâ aradallàhu biqawmin khayran wallâ 'alayhim hulamâ-ehum, wa qadà baynahum ulemâ-uhum, wa ja'alel-mâle fî sumehâihim; wa idhâ arâda bikavmin sharran wallâ 'aleyhim sufehâ-ehum, wa qadà baynahum juhhâluhum, wa je'alel-mâle fî bukhalâ-ihim.)

Daylami relates this hadith from Mehran who was a companion of the Prophet (pbuh). Sheikh Ahmed Ziyauddin Gumush-khanawi, the author of this hadith collection (may Allah be pleased with him), annotated beside this hadith that Mehran had been with the Prophet (pbuh), and that there should not be any doubt about this fact.

"(Idhâ aradallàhu biqawmin khayran)When Allah wishes auspiciousness for a nation, i.e., when He decides to do good for them and wants to reward them because He likes them, (wallâ 'alayhim hulamâ-ehum) He would assign humble, gentle, good-tempered, patient, wise and knowledgeable rulers and administrators for them. (Wa qadà baynahum ulemâ-uhum) when a dispute or a problem arises among them, scholars solve the issue, arrive at a decision and sort out the conflict." With a slightly different pronunciation ("qad-dà" instead of "qadà"), this part of the hadith may also mean, "He appoints their scholars as rulers for them; He decrees this for them." Also, (wa ja'alel-mâle fî sumehâihim) He gives wealth, property and prosperity to the generous."

Thus, when Allah wants to do good for a nation, their rulers become halîm. A halîm person would be humble and gentle; he would not easily get angry. He would be thoughtful and foresighted. If the sages, philosophers and knowledgeable people rule a nation, they make important decisions and have significant influence in the government of state and in the designation of main directions; thus they act like "public-engineers." They never lead them to wrong directions nor take them to adventures.

For example, Hitler took Germany to an adventure and made it destroyed, ruined and divided. What happened to himself is not clear. Did he commit suicide? Was he killed? Germany has recovered again, but Hitler still makes a good example to how harmful a greedy leader can be.

Just on the contrary, in an ideal community, halîm people are in power, and the scholars have the word; thus, they make decisions. They solve conflicts and find solutions to problems, and they are well received. At the same time, the wealth is owned by good people; it is not spent for revelry, extravaganza or debauchery but used in beneficial ways and passed to the needy because it is held by the generous not by the miser or the stingy.

Thus in this hadith, we have seen the main principles for a nation to prosper, to develop and to come up; i.e. rulers should be righteous, those who lead the people should be knowledgeable, power and money should be held by good people. In another hadith, Prophet (pbuh) says:

(Ni'mel-mâlus-sàlih, lir-rajulis-sàlih) how beautiful fits a halal (legitimate) wealth to a good man!

So, what happens if an evil person owns the wealth? What if a mischievous, trifling son inherited a fortune from his father? He would use this property or money for bad purposes, for revelry and lust and would ruin everything. He would ruin himself, his parents, his children and all his family. He would harm the society, too.

Just on the contrary to what is stated above,(wa idhâ arâda bikavmin sharran) if Allah wants to punish a nation, if He decrees bad for them, (wallâ 'aleyhim sufehâ-ehum) He appoints dull and unwise rulers and administrators for them. (Wa qaddà baynahum juhhâluhum) He lets the ignorant make the decisions. If the verb of this sentence is read as "qadà," it then means "the ignorant make the decisions." Of course, they make wrong decisions.

Somebody asked to a person with a title, considering him an authority, "Can I rent my house to a man who follows a different school of thought?" He instantly replied and gave a wrong answer to him. Why did this happen? It did because he is ignorant. Having a degree or being appointed to a high position does not necessarily make a person know everything; this is not the case in practice. He may know something but not everything. But he can't confess he doesn't know; owing to pride and arrogance, he gives erroneous fatwas.

The question was whether a person can rent his house to a man who follows a different school of thought. He replied "No, you can't." Why couldn't he do it? Of course he can! One can rent his property even to a person from another religion. There isn't a religious prohibition for this in the fiqh.

(Wa je'alel-mâle fî bukhalâ-ihim) the wealth, on the other hand, is owned by ignoble and dishonorable people." They don't spend it as required; society doesn't progress and nothing is given for charity.

May Allah (ST) protect us from such bad conditions and let Muslim societies posses such good qualities told above.

c. Guests from Allah

The third hadith is reported by Abî Qursâfa RA and recorded in the collection of Hulwanî and Abush-Shaikh. It is brief; the subject is different, but its wording in the beginning is the same:

RE 28/5 "(Idhâ arâdallàhu biqawmin khayran) when Allah wishes well for a qawm..." Here the word "qawm" does not mean "nation" or a group of people; it means few people or just one person. "...(Ehdâ ilayhim hediyyeted-dayf) Allah sends them guests as gifts." It is considered as gifts because when the host offers good things to the guest, he earns rewards and the blessings of Allah.

"If Allah wishes prosperity for a person, He will send guests as gifts." We can imagine the quests arriving and bringing the blessings with them.

Naturally, some people are generous and they like receiving guests. On the other hand, some people do not like having guests. They say, "Why did they come here?" When they see the guests, they put a sulky face to express their disapproval.

The guest mentioned here is not the one who stops by for a cup of tea. What is meant is the guests who stay overnight or longer, so the host will entertain them providing them accommodation and food. The guest may be a traveler who needs a place to stay where there are no hotels, public baths or restaurants. He will spend the night there, for instance, in the village. People have to invite them to their houses. Some people will not like it and abstain from inviting them to his house. Allah does not like those who do not like receiving guests. If a host offers good things to his guests, Allah will offer the host good things, too. That is what we are going to see in this hadith.

"When Allah wants good things for a person, He sends guests for him." What does the guest do? "(Yanzilu birizqihî) the quest arrives with his sustenance, he brings his sustenance." Why? Almighty Allah is the Sustainer for all, so He sends the sustenance for the guest with him. Isn't He going to provide the sustenance for the guest any way? He just sends it with the guest.

The host would not be aware of the reason for the abundance. For instance, there would be an extraordinary activity in his store resulting in more earnings than the usual. Even before the guest arrives, his sustenance will be in.

I can give many examples from my own life. Sometimes a person has to take care of several people for a limited time. Allah increases his earnings during that period, and when those people depart, his earnings drop immediately. Why is it so? Allah had provided the sustenance for them through the host. Some will not see this fact because it is a mysterious phenomenon. It takes a very special person to see what is happening.

The guest comes with his sustenance. He will not share your sustenance, he will not take the food from your plate or empty your kitchen even if it looks like that. "Sir, I had a sack of flour. They came here and stayed so many days. When they left the sack was empty." I understand, yet Allah will replace it with something more or better. You need not to worry; the guest will come with his sustenance.

(Wa yartahilu wa qad ghafarallàhu li-ahlil manzil.) How would they leave? Here the sentence starts with "wa" is a sentence of "state." "As they leave the place they stayed, they take the sins of the household and the residents away with them." Allah wipes out the misdeeds and the sins of the host and the residents. Allah will shower his mercy on them. They do not really lose anything in the kitchen; their money will not decrease in effect because Allah gives other means to compensate it and sends plenty of sustenance. Because of the guests, the host also enjoys the abundance of the sustenance while the guest stays in the house.

The love and affection is very important in Islam. A Muslim has to love his Muslim brother. He must fulfill the responsibilities towards his Muslim brother. Even though he is not obliged to carryout these duties by law, he should do it to reinforce the love and affection he has for his brother. Every Muslim must pay attention to these chores that would increase the brotherly love. One of these chores is to be a good host for the guest.

Here there are some brothers whom I know well. They grab the guests and invite them to their house. May Allah be pleased with them. Sometimes I pull their legs saying, "You are so selfish!" They are aware of the spiritual benefits of hosting the guest. They know the rewards and they step forward immediately. He has a very firm belief; he knows his home will benefit from the guest.

One who is not aware of this fact will avoid guests, find excuses, tell a lie not to take the guest home. Well now, it is up to him.

Our beloved Prophet, Muhammad the chosen (pbuh), informed us: "Do not worry, the guest will not cause your food, your money and your sustenance to decrease; instead, he will come with his sustenance and become a reason for you to be forgiven. He will take away your misdeeds and sins." How nice it is! While we are in search of ways to receive the grace and forgiveness from Allah, we should bring home guests and earn rewards.

May Allah (SWT) place us among those who are knowledgeable about Islam, who perform rewarding good deeds, and who abstain from misdeeds and bad manners. May our Lord be pleased with all of us and love all of us. May He honor us with His Beauty in His Paradise.

As-salaam alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh.

February 25, 2000 -- Australia.