Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

August 25, 2000

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WHEN CORRUPTION DOMINATES

As-selâmu alaikum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..

Dear Brothers and Sisters, may Allah's peace, mercy and abundance be with you.

Today a friend of mine gave me a hadith book as a gift. It is a book compiled by a great scholar. I would like to read three ahadith from the chapter titled "Thawâbul-'amalis-sàliha 'inda fasadiz-zaman -- The rewards of righteous deeds at a time when corruption dominates." The ahadith will be about doing good deeds and being a good servant to Allah at a time people are negligent of their religious duties and indulge in unlawful deeds.

a. Good Servitude During the Time of Mischief

The first hadith was narrated by Ma'qil ibn-i Yesâr RA. It is included in the collections of Imam Muslim. The Prophet said:

(Al-ibâdatu fil-harji kahijratin ileyya) "The worship during the time of harj is like immigration to me."

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Here harj means turmoil and killing. Imagine a time in which religious feelings, religious life, religious knowledge are mixed with the traditions and customs of the society, and mischief and turmoil are rampant. During such a time, good servitude to Allah is similar to the emigration to the Prophet Muhammad SAS.

During the time of the Prophet, there was the emigration of Muslims from Makkah al Mukarramah to Madinah al Munawwarah. Muslims were ordered by Allah to follow him and gather around him. If they did not emigrate they themselves would be held responsible for the unfulfilled duties due to oppression from the pagans. Muslims were recommended to move to places that they would have freedom to practice what they believed.

After the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet said, "The physical emigration has ended. Now the spiritual emigration continues. It is an emigration from the wrong deeds and ill behaviors to good deeds."

Throughout the history, time to time Muslims were subjected to mistreatment just like they were mistreated during the early years of Islam. There were times that the tortures were more severe than those early Muslims suffered. If a Muslim is prevented from being a good servant to Allah, if there is oppression towards the practicing Muslims, then Muslims could immigrate into countries where they can have more freedom. For instance, there are many Muslims in Turkey who emigrated from Yugoslavia and Bulgaria in the past. They are known as "muhajir" because they left those countries to escape from the oppression and to have more freedom to practice Islam.

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You can imagine the time of the Prophet. Close your eyes and imagine the early years of Islam. Imagine the hardship and consider immigrating into Madinah. Imagine how difficult yet how nice it would be to take a place near the Prophet. The Prophet is describing the value of the good servitude during a time of turmoil and mischief by comparing it to the immigration to himself.

The moral of the hadith is that a Muslim may face difficult times in life which is a test for all. There are examples such as Kashmir, Balkans, Caucauses, Kosovo, Bosnia, and other places. Muslims living in these locations are facing difficulties. No matter how intense the difficulty is, a Muslim has to be a good servant and observant of all of the duties and responsibilities. This life is a test, and martyrdom may be in a person's destiny. One never knows what is in a test. The hardship may be in our test, yet we have to maintain good servitude towards Allah. We have to carry out our duties, do good work, avoid the evil, stay away from anything that may lead to sin. If the society is corrupted, we should not follow the society. We should follow the orders of Allah in all circumstances. Living a virtuous life in a corrupt society is as rewarding as immigration to the Prophet SAS.

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May Allah strengthen our belief and give us the perseverance to carry out our religious responsibilities. May He give us success in tests. May He save us from failing to lead a virtuous life due to some physical and spiritual storms, earthquakes, hardship and oppression. May He keep us on His path.

The Prophet prayed often:

(Allahumma a-innâ alâ adâ-i dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni ibadatik) "Our Lord, help us in remembering Your name, thanking You, and fulfilling good servitude to You." We must pray the same way. May He place us among those who are well in remembering Allah, thanking and worshipping Him.

b. Rewards for Holding onto the Sunnah

The second hadith for today's discourse was narrated by Abu Hurayrah. It is among the collections of Tabarânî. The Prophet said:

(Man tamassaka min sunnatî 'inda fasâda ummeti) "If a person holds onto my Sunnah when corruption is rampant among my Ummah, (falahû ajru shahîd) he will receive the rewards of a martyr.

The rank of a martyr in the hereafter is very high. The moment his blood is spilled on the ground, his place in Paradise will be shown to him. A martyr will be saved from the hardship of the Day of Judgement and torments in the hereafter.

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You may wonder how a person receives such rewards without participating in a battle and loosing blood. It is possible that the corruption dominates the society. People, including Muslims, could follow their whims and Satan, they could neglect their prescribed worship. Thus they could indulge in sin. May Allah forbid, yet it is possible as we witness in our time. During such a time, a person can follow the Sunnah of the Prophet and stay away from the sin and wrong deeds. The Prophet lived an exemplary life for us; he had the best words and the best behavior. He is the best person to follow. Holding onto his Sunnah will save a person and bring him happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

The first advice to a Muslim is to hold onto the Qur'an; the second one, to hold onto the Sunnah of the Prophet. The Qur'an is the word of Allah; the Sunnah of the Prophet is the application of Qur'an in life. That is why it is necessary to follow the Sunnah for a person who wants to follow Qur'an and lead a life in accordance with Qur'an. If anything else contradicting the Sunnah is established by third persons, it is called bid'ah. there is a hadith stating "Every bid'ah is a corruption, and every person who establishes a corruption goes to Hell." In another hadith the Prophet said, "The people of bid'ah are the dogs of Hell."

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The moral of the hadith is that there is only one path for the Muslims to reach the salvation: It is the path of the Prophet.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, when you study the Sunnah of the Prophet in hadith books, you realize how well the Prophet explained the details of life. A Muslim who holds onto the Sunnah of the Prophet becomes a good Muslim regardless of the country he lives in be it Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Europe or America. On the other hand, if a Muslim distances himself from the Sunnah, indulges in bid'ah, and starts following profane paths, then he becomes a hard-hearted, brutal, merciless person. He no longer discerns the halal and haram. He becomes very selfish and opportunist. All kinds of evil originate from him.

The Prophet also taught us how to behave when we are troubled. The All-Knowing, the Lord of the Universe, has informed the Prophet about events to take place in future, and the Prophet conveyed this information to his Ummah. One can find many authentic hadith about events to take place.

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In this hadith the Prophet indirectly stated that there will be a time that the Ummah will undergo corruption. There are other ahadith that consoled the companions: "Do not feel sad, for there will be a time that you will dominate over the palaces of Chosroes and Caesar, i.e., you will rule the lands belonging to Sasanids and Byzantium." It actually happened. He had said that the flag of the Muslim state would reach beyond the oceans. That happened, too. From the North Africa, the flag reached Andulusia and Europe. The islands of Malta and Sicily, parts of Italy and Switzerland, and half of France were ruled by Muslims. During the time of conquests by Arabs, mujahids established an Islamic state in Andulusia. Their remains, palaces, mosques and alike have been visited by tourists in Spain.

Islam has spread all over the world. The Prophet informed us about this, yet he also informed that there will be a corruption among the Muslim Ummah. As a true prophet, he did not withhold the truth from his Ummah; he stated that corruption will dominate the Ummah.

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Let us have a look at those so-called Islamic countries. I have been to many of them including, Sudan, Libya, Bosnia, Middle Asia, Pakistan, and many others. I am from Turkey, so I know it well. I am sure you are familiar with these countries. Are the Muslims in these countries comply with the description of a Muslim in the Qur'an and in the ahadith? How do they compare?

There are, of course, some righteous people in every country. One may have to search for them. How do they maintain their physical and spiritual purity? There are also countless people who are corrupted. A so-called Islamic country has no difference from a non-Muslim country.

Now is the time of the corruption pointed by the Prophet. The Muslim Ummah used to be good, well mannered. Islam had branded every walks of life. Now, the profanity is so rampant that many evil acts are carried out in public. Our beloved Prophet has pointed to this time and emphasized the importance of following the Sunnah. "During such a time, one who holds onto my Sunnah will receive the rewards of a shahîd.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, it does not really matter were we live or how the society is. Be it in America, Australia or in Europe, regardless of how people around us live, we must follow the Sunnah of the Prophet. We can start with getting an authentic hadith book and start reading it. Then we apply what we learn from the book. Anybody can do this. Yet, a better way would be getting together with other Muslims who have a good knowledge of Islam and who practice Islam. Then, it will be easier to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet because there are many blessings of togetherness and congregation.

c. You Worry about Yourself!

The third hadith was narrated by Abu Umayya ash-Sha'bânî --may Allah have mercy on him. He said:

(Sa-altu abâ sa'labatal-hushaniyya) "I Asked Abû Sa'leba al-Hushanî, (Yâ abâ sa'labah, kayfa taq?lu fî hâdhihil-âyah: Alaykum anfusakum) 'O Abû Sa'leba, what is meant in this verse: Alaykum anfusakum.'" He inquired about the meaning of a section of a verse in the Qur'an:

(Alaykum anfusakum lâ yadurrukum men dalla izahtadaytum) "You who believe, your souls are in your own care." You worry about yourselves and mind your own responsibilities. "If you are guided on the straight path, those who go astray will not harm you."

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Abu Umayya asked Abû Sa'leba about the meaning of this verse. He responded: (Kamâ wallàhi laqad sa-alta anhâ khabîran) "By Allah, you asked this question to a person who is informed." He continued, (Sa-altu anhâ Rasûlullah SAS) "I asked the same question to the Prophet, and he said: (I'tamirû bil-ma'rûfi wantahû anil-munkari hattâ idhâ ra-ayta: Shuhhan mutà'an, wa hawan muttaba-an, wa dunya mu'saratan, wa i'jâba kulli zî ra'yin bira'yihî; wa alayka binafsika wada' ankal-awâm. Fa-inna min warâikum ayyâman assàbiru fîhinne mislul-qàbidi 'alal-jamri, lil-àmili fîhinna mislu ajri hamsîna rajulan ya'malûna misla 'amalihî.)"

These are the words of the Prophet. This hadith is among the collections of Ibn-i Majah and Tirmidhî. Another great hadith scholar, Abû Dâwud, has additional words in his collections:

(Qîla: Yâ Rasûlallah! Ajru hamsîna rajulen minnâ aw minhum) "He asked, 'O Prophet of Allah, are the rewards of the fifty people from among ourselves or from among them?'" (Qàla: Bal ajru hamsîna minkum) "The Prophet responded: 'the rewards of fifty among you."

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Having determined a frame for the hadith, we can begin explaining the meaning of the hadith. The Prophet said: (I'tamirû bil-ma'rûf) "Ordain what is considered as good by the common sense and by the Sharia. (wantahû anil-munkari) Forbid what is considered as evil by the common sense and by the Sharia." The reference for good and evil has to be the reason and the Sharia. Something abhorred by Sharia may be well accepted in non-Muslim societies.

The Prophet continued: (hattâ idhâ ra-ayta) "[continue ordaining the good and forbidding the evil] until you observe (shuhhan mutà'an) a stinginess that everybody follows, (wa hawan muttaba-an) the desires of the nafs that are met, (wa dunya mu'saratan) that this world preferred over hereafter, (wa i'jâba kulli zî ra'yin bira'yihî) and that everybody follows his or her own opinion."

A person who is to ordain the good and forbid the evil has to be well informed on the Qur'an and Sunnah. He will remind people about their duties and responsibilities. Yet when the society is corrupted, when there is stinginess, when everybody attends to the desires of the nafs, when the hereafter is forgotten, when this world is preferred over the hereafter, when everybody follows his own opinion, there will be no use of reminding people about their responsibilities and duties. The Prophet urged us to continue ordaining the good and forbidding the evil until such a time occurs. He said, "When you observe such a time, then (wa alayka binafsika) you worry about yourself." People will not listen to you when you ordain the good and forbid the evil; they will do whatever they want. They will disobey Allah's orders. At that time, your soul will be under your responsibility. You keep yourself on the right track. (Wa da' ankal-awâm) "Stay away from the common people" because they refused listening to you.

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(Fa-inna min warâikum ayyâman) "Verily, there will be days awaiting for you that (assàbiru fîhinne mislul-qàbidi 'alal-jamri) those who persevere in holding onto Islam will feel like holding glowing fire in their hands." It will be hard to live in total compliance with Islam. (Lil-àmili fîhinna) "Whoever practices Islam during such a time (mislu ajri hamsîna rajulan ya'malûna misla 'amalihî) will be given the rewards of fifty people who do the same deeds." Since it will be difficult to practice Islam, one person will receive fifty times more rewards.

According to Abu Dâwud's collection, one of the companions of the Prophet asked (Qîla: Yâ Rasûlallah! Ajru hamsîna rajulen minnâ aw minhum) "O Prophet of Allah, are the rewards of the fifty people from among ourselves or from among them?" That is, "Will these rewards be the same as the rewards given to the companions of the Prophet or to the people of their own time?"

We must point out that the companions of the Prophet were special as the Prophet said:

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RE. 280/5 (Khayrul-qurûnî qarnî) "The best of the time periods is my time, and best of the people are my companions, (thummalladhîna yalûnahum) then those who come after them," i.e., Tâbi-'în, (thummalladhîna yalûnahum) "then those who come after them," i.e., Taba-i Tâbi-'în.

It is clearly indicated in the ahadith that the companions are the best Muslims of all times. Nobody else can reach their level because they saw the Prophet with their own eyes and listened to him in person. They received enlightenment and inspiration straight from the Prophet. The companions were aware of their status, so they asked if the rewards of fifty persons mentioned above would be equivalent to the rewards of fifty companions or to the rewards of fifty ordinary people. Upon this inquiry, the Prophet responded: (Bal ajru hamsîna minkum) "The rewards of fifty among you."

My Dear Brothers and Sisters, this is a great news. It means that Muslims who are experiencing a hard time just because they want to practice Islam must be patient. They must not be fooled by the propaganda, sneaky tricks, provocations, and advertisements. When it comes to disobedience to Allah's orders, they should not say, "Everybody else is doing, so could I." A Muslim should not go with the flow of the society; on the contrary, he should follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He has live in compliance with Islam.

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If a person lives in accordance with Islam during such a difficult time, then he will receive the rewards of fifty people among the companions of the Prophet. If he does that, he also receives rewards as though he immigrated into the circles around the Prophet He also receives the rewards as though he lost his life in the path of Allah.

Having heard these guiding ahadith, what do we need to do? First of all, we must learn Islam properly. It is a great blessing from Allah that we have Islam. We could have been totally lost without it. Islam is a great blessing for mankind, and our beloved Prophet is (rahmatan lil-mu'minîn) a great mercy for the believers. The Qur'an is also a great mercy from Allah. Having received all of these blessings, what shall we do?

We must study the Qur'an, get to know the Prophet, learn about his ahadith, and find out what Allah wants of us. We must figure out how we must be in order to receive His love, His blessings and His consent. Our era is the time that everybody has his own opinion and that he is right. Also, every person is trying to convince others to follow his own path. A righteous person, a sage, a knowledgeable person or a person with inner vision can see everything clearly and can tell who is following a wrong path and tell them, yet nobody would listen.

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What shall we do? From now on, we must pay more attention in learning the Qur'an. We must also study the ahadith and follow the Sunnah of the Prophet. We shall try to be a righteous, pure, obedient, worshipping, loving, pious, and loyal servant of Allah.

This life is a test. We can be successful in this test if we try to do these. If we live trying to be a good servant, it will be a joyous meeting when we meet our Lord. It will be a true Shab-i Arus. Naturally, our Lord loves those who love Him. He will be consent with those who seek His consent. He showers His mercy on those who expect it. He admits into His paradise those who want to be admitted. He keeps away from the hellfire those who seek refuge with Him. All of this is stated in ahadith.

May Almighty Allah keep us away from His wrath, His anger, His punishment, His disapproval, and His hellfire. May he admit us among those who receive His mercy. May He make us righteous servants. There is also a state above the righteous: the muslih, i.e., the one who tries to make other people righteous. This means we ought to be more active and serve Islam better.

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We hope that the years to come will be the time of Islam. We should try to be one who introduces Islam to people.

May Allah increase your zeal, your eagerness and energy. May He let you lead a long life in compliance with his consent. May he reward you with paradise in the hereafter. May He give you righteous children, fruitful works and establishments that would continue earning rewards for you even after you leave this world.

Dear Brothers and Sister, peace be with you. As-selâmu alaikum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!

August 25, 2000 --Madinah al Munawwarah

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