Posted by: Dawud Israel | January 22, 2010

Politics of Exclusion and Inclusion in Islam

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

Religion creates the issue of exclusion. So how did the revelation of Islam deal with people who felt left out one way or another?

The following quotations (from Tafsir ibn Kathir) will shed some light on this topic. But a caveat to start: Consider all the trials and difficulties the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam faced and realize that no one was more included than him in humanity, as being the best of humanity, and yet no one was more excluded from humanity, ridiculed from the early days of Islam to today. This then is one of the many unique signs of Prophethood- the relating of God to Man.

Notice how Allah deals with the believers with Justice but also with Mercy- if He was Just only, we’d be destroyed, but with His Mercy He shows us and sets up the spirit of Islam so as to use mercy, generosity, compassion and leniency as the ultimate Islamic panacea.

72 Sects

I will briefly mention this since this explanation on this hadith because this hadith is almost like a super-hadith- it is very common and is used to exclude many people from Islam and has been used by every cult or deviant group throughout Muslim history. This hadith can mean one can enters Jahannam and then still enter Jannah after a purification. No, this hadith mainly refers to those who are purified in this world and will enter Jannah without ever entering Jahannam. This hadith is then to indicate the reward for the exceptionally pious, NOT to indicate the eternal punishment for those who make mistakes. The common narration is 73 sects of which 72 will be in Hell, 1 will be in Jannah, while another narration mentioned by Shaykh Hamza indicates 72 will be in Heaven except for 1 will be in Hell. So contemplate on that and you see how great Allah’s mercy is.

Jannah

-Imam Ahmad narrated a Hadith that contains good news for every believer that his soul will be wandering in Paradise, as well, eating from its fruits, enjoying its delights and happiness and tasting the honor that Allah has prepared in it for him. This Hadith has a unique, authentic chain of narration that includes three of the Four Imams. Imam Ahmad narrated this Hadith from Muhammad bin Idris Ash-Shafi`i who narrated it from Malik bin Anas Al-Asbuhi, from Az-Zuhri, from `Abdur-Rahman bin Ka`b bin Malik that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«نَسَمَةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ طَائِرٌ يَعْلُقُ فِي شَجَرِ الْجَنَّـةِ حَتَّى يَرْجِعَهُ اللهُ إِلى جَسَدِهِ يَوْمَ يَبْعَثُه»

(The soul of the believer becomes a bird that feeds on the trees of Paradise, until Allah sends him back to his body when He resurrects him.)

This hadith is significant because this reward is well-known among Muslims specifically for martyrs, but this hadith with a strong chain indicates it will be enjoyed by all Muslims. The following 2 hadith are from a talk from Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad worth noting:

– Shafa’ati bi ahlil kabair minal ummati (My intercession is for the sinners of my community) i.e. Muslims
– Shafa’ati bi akhthari man fil ardh min khajarin wa mudhar (My intercession will be for the majority of the people of Earth hadith) This hadith can mean non-Muslims as well, and the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s Intercession is accepted by God.

Have-nots

-Al-Bukhari recorded that Usamah bin Zayd said that Allah’s Messenger rode a donkey with a saddle covered by a velvet sheet and let Usamah ride behind him (on the donkey). The Prophet wanted to visit Sa`d bin `Ubadah in Bani Al-Harith bin Al-Khazraj, and this occurred before the battle of Badr. The Prophet passed by a gathering in which `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul was sitting, before `Abdullah bin Ubayy became Muslim. That gathering was made up of various Muslims as well as Mushriks, who worshipped the idols, and some Jews. `Abdullah bin Rawahah was sitting in that gathering. When the Prophet reached `Abdullah bin Ubayy, the donkey caused some sand to fall on the group. Then, `Abdullah bin Ubayy covered his nose with his robe and said, `Do not fill us with sand.’ The Messenger of Allah greeted the gathering with Salam, called them to Allah and recited some of the Qur’an to them. `Abdullah bin Ubayy said, `O fellow! No other speech is better than what you said, if it was true! However, do not bother us in our gatherings. Go back to your place and whoever came to you, narrate your stories to him.’ `Abdullah bin Rawahah said, `Rather, O Messenger of Allah! Attend our gatherings for we like that.’ The Muslims, Mushriks and Jews then cursed each other, and they almost fought with each other. The Prophet tried to calm them down, until they finally settled. The Prophet rode his donkey and went to Sa`d bin `Ubadah, saying, `O Sa`d! Have you heard what Abu Hubbab said (meaning `Abdullah bin Ubayy) He said such and such things. ‘ Sa`d said, `O Messenger of Allah! Forgive and pardon him. By Allah, Who sent down the Book to you, Allah brought us the truth that you came with at a time when the people of this city almost appointed him king. When Allah changed all that with the truth that He gave you, he choked on it, and this is the reason behind the behavior you saw from him.’ The Messenger of Allah forgave him. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah and his Companions used to forgive the Mushriks and the People of the Scriptures, just as Allah commanded them, and they used to tolerate the harm that they suffered. Allah said,

[وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ أَذًى كَثِيراً]

(and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah;) [3:186], and,

Death is for ALL

-Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ used to say, “Death is better for every believer. Death is better for every disbeliever, and those who do not believe me should read Allah’s statements,

[وَمَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لِّلأَبْرَارِ]

(and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar), and,

[وَلاَ يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَنَّمَا نُمْلِى لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لاًّنفُسِهِمْ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِى لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُواْ إِثْمَاً وَلَهْمُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ ]

(And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgraceful torment.) [3:178].”

The Equity of Women

-Allah said,

[فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ]

(So their Lord accepted of them), answered their invocation. Sa`id bin Mansur recorded that Salamah, a man from the family of Umm Salamah said, “Umm Salamah said, `O Messenger of Allah! Allah does not mention women in connection with Hijrah (Migration).’ Allah sent down the Ayah,

[فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّى لاَ أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنْكُمْ مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى]

(So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), “Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female.)

The Ansar say that Umm Salamah was the first woman to migrate to them.” Al-Hakim collected this Hadith in his Mustadrak, and said, “It is Sahih according to the criteria of Al-Bukhari but they [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] did not collect it”.

Allah’s statement,

[أَنِّى لاَ أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنْكُمْ مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى]

(“Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female,) explains the type of answer Allah gave them, stating that no deed of any person is ever lost with Him. Rather, He will completely reward each person for his or her good deeds. Allah’s statement,

[بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ]

(You are (members) one of another) means, you are all equal in relation to gaining My reward.

Every dispute will be brought before Allah

-Ibn Abi Hatim, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Ibn Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “When the Ayah

[ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ ]

(Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord.) was revealed, Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, `O Messenger of Allah, will we repeat our disputes’ He said,

«نَعَم»

(Yes.) He (Az-Zubayr) said, `This is a very serious matter.”’ Ahmad recorded from Az-Zubayr bin Al-`Awwam, may Allah be pleased with him, that when this Surah was revealed to the Messenger of Allah :

[إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُمْ مَّيِّتُونَ – ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ ]

(Verily, you will die, and verily, they (too) will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord.) Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “O Messenger of Allah, will the sins that we committed against others in this world be repeated for us” He said,

«نَعَمْ، لَيُكَرَّرَنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ حَتْى يُؤَدَّى إِلَى كُلِّ ذِي حَقَ حَقُّه»

(Yes, they will be repeated until everyone who is entitled will have his rights restored to him. ) Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “By Allah, it is a very serious matter.” It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who said “Hasan Sahih.” `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

[ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ ]

(Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord.) means, the truthful one will dispute with the liar, the oppressed will dispute with the oppressor, the one who is guided will dispute with the one who is misguided and the weak will dispute with the arrogant. Ibn Mandah recorded in Kitab Ar-Ruh that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The people will dispute on the Day of Resurrection, to the extent that the soul will dispute with the body. The soul will say to the body, `You did such and such,’ and the body will say to the soul, `You told me to do it and you tempted me.’ Then Allah will send an angel to judge between them, and he will say, `You two are like a man who cannot walk but can see, and a man who cannot see but can walk.’ They went into a garden and the one who could not walk said to the one who was blind, `I see fruit there, but I cannot reach it.’ The blind man said, `Climb on me and get it.’ So he climbed on him and got it. So which of them is the wrongdoer They will say, `Both of them.’ The angel will say to them, `You have passed judgement against yourselves.’ The body was a means of transportation for the soul.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “This Ayah was revealed and we did not know what it was revealed about:

[ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ ]

(Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord.)” He said, “We said, what will we dispute about There is no dispute between us and the People of the Book, so what will we dispute about Until the Fitnah occurred.” Then Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “This is what our Lord promised us we would dispute about.” This was recorded by An-Nasa’i.

Conclusion

It is of interest because with the life of the Prophet salalahu alayhi wasalam we see God Himself dealing with how people feel left out or excluded. And yet at some level, there needs to be an acceptance of this exclusion. In fact, it is of significance that the pious prefer difficulty and exclusion, like the blind man who could’ve been cured by the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam’s) dua, yet instead chose to endure patiently for the reward of Jannah.

In reading above narratoins there is an interaction between Justice, as we perceive it, and how Islam conceives Justice including within it Mercy. Allah commands Muslim to “adli wa’l ihsan- Justice and Excellence,” excellence which is implied as mercy and sincerity and acting generously with an awareness of the inequities of the world. We should take this into account because Allah is al-Adl (the Just) and yet He is also the Creator of Justice. So if the Creator of Justice is encouraging us to be merciful in how we look at the world with its fairness and unfairness- then how much more important is it?

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

All quotations taken from Tafsir ibn Kathir: tafsir.com


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