Ramadan in lockdown has been an unexpected mix of being both bizarre and unique. It has definitely left us yearning for the things which were otherwise integral to this blessed month, year in, year out. One of these blessings is our mosques. We miss the post-iftar rush to get to tarawih; a spiritual nourishment we so eagerly await for every year, as well as the eclectic atmosphere of brotherhood in and around these community hubs. Our empty mosques, in turn have been impatiently waiting for the call to prayer to be made within them and the rows of believers to line up before Allah ﷻ.
Ramadan is usually the time in which our mosques receive the majority of the funds for their upkeep. As we may have come across, many of the mosques have instead been reaching out online for support and, Alhamdulillah, as a community there has been strong support- because as Muslims we see and believe in the importance of these institutions.
Our noble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who actively partook in building Madinah’s first mosque with his blessed hands, taught us of their role, etiquettes and importance. Could we then, ever imagine the Prophet ﷺ not supporting a mosque? During his time, that’s exactly what happened!
Sowing the Seeds of Division
The decisive victory for the Muslims at Badr saw a turning point for the newly formed Islamic state in Madinah. The Muslims living in Madinah became its dominant force, whereby even those external to the state (that were previously opposed to Islam) accepted it, though they continued to foster disbelief within.
There were, however, those in Madinah who openly showed their disbelief and stopped at nothing to harm the Muslims. One of these men was Abu Amir Ar-Rahib – a revered chieftain of the tribe of Khazraj. After the battle of Badr, Abu Amir took leave for Makkah and became a key ally to the Quraysh. During the preparation for the battle of Uhud, it was he who took the initiative to dig trenches on the battlefield, with the Prophet ﷺ later falling into one of the trenches – sustaining injuries and breaking his blessed tooth.
After the conclusion of the battle of Uhud, Abu Aamir fled to the Roman emperor Heraclius to garner further support for his war against the Prophet ﷺ, and was promised the help he desired. He wrote to his support base among the hypocrites, promising to bring an army to destroy the Prophet ﷺ and his companions whilst ordering them to build a base – a hub in which they could conjure up and organise their future activity.
Upon this request the hypocrites began constructing a mosque right next to Masjid Quba, finishing the building before the expedition to Tabuk. They asked the Prophet ﷺ to pray in the newly built mosque, knowing that this will give legitimacy to their new institution. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ agreed to do so, when he was to return from Tabuk.
The Treachery Unfolds
When only a day’s journey separated the Prophet ﷺ from Madinah, Allah ﷻ revealed verses containing news about Masjid Ad-Dirar (the mosque of harm).
وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِرْصَادًا لِّمَنْ حَارَبَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ مِن قَبْلُ ۚ وَلَيَحْلِفُنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ
And [there are] those [hypocrites] who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers and as a station for whoever had warred against Allah and His Messenger before. And they will surely swear, “We intended only the best.” And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars. [At-Tawbah: 107]
لَا تَقُمْ فِيهِ أَبَدًا ۚ لَّمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَن تَقُومَ فِيهِ ۚ فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَن يَتَطَهَّرُوا ۚ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ
Do not stand [for prayer] within it – ever. A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allah loves those who purify themselves. [At-Tawbah: 108]
أَفَمَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيَانَهُ عَلَىٰ تَقْوَىٰ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٍ خَيْرٌ أَم مَّنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيَانَهُ عَلَىٰ شَفَا جُرُفٍ هَارٍ فَانْهَارَ بِهِ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
Then is one who laid the foundation of his building on righteousness [with fear] from Allah and [seeking] His approval better or one who laid the foundation of his building on the edge of a bank about to collapse, so it collapsed with him into the fire of Hell? And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. [At-Tawbah: 109]
Allah ﷻ informs the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about the harmful intent of the hypocrites; he ﷺ was commanded not to pray in Masjid Ad-Dirar – whose foundations were built on kufr, and whose purpose was to propagate disbelief and sow seeds of division amongst the Muslims.
Nationalism – a Foundation of Kufr
Can this building – with its fickle and kufr foundations – built on a cliff-edge above Jahannam and ever-ready to collapse into the fire, be equal to the building which is built upon the robust foundation of taqwa, enjoying the blessings and approval of Allah ﷻ? Indeed, the two could never be equal!
The disunity of the Ummah was an issue of vital importance; demonstrated by the Prophet’s immediate sending of the Sahabah to destroy Masjid Ad-Dirar. What then, would his ﷺ response to the condition of the Ummah today – carved, divided and pitted against one another through over fifty different nation-states?
The nation-state model is one built upon the idea that you can unite people solely based upon the land in which they were born/reside in. A shallow means of identity and binding. It was founded by the European nations and has ironically failed these very nations that arrogantly imposed it upon the world.
The idea of nationalism has given rise to increasing far-right and populist movements. The global superpower of today saw Donald Trump build his whole 2015 presidential campaign on this weak foundation: MAGA (Make America Great Again). In 2016, we saw the Brexit referendum unravel in the UK, rooted in both racist and xenophobic campaigns, clearly exposing the deep divide within British society.
Essentially a rat race to compete for power and resources, nationalism places an individualistic and benefit-driven lens to each state on the global arena. The current coronavirus pandemic has only further exposed the cracks in this fractured foundation. Instead of a responsible and accountable outlook on the value of human life, China delays its news of a virus to the world – for fear of its nation being shamed and the political ramifications it could have on the global stage. Instead of a global effort to help one another against the fatal nature of this virus, America’s redirecting of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those working on the front-lines was accused by Germany of modern-day piracy and opened a debacle on international trading rules. Thus diverting the issue from that of the welfare of humanity, to which nation is able to enforce more political prowess to obtain the goods! German companies which developed tests for COVID-19 days after its genome was published and subsequently offered these to other nations, were met with refusal – as it risks this nation gaining more political points than the others in the rat race!
The clear reality before us begs the question – if the very manufacturers of this world order are falling apart, why then do we subscribe to the nation-state model as Muslims? An idea built upon the weak and crumbling foundations of kufr, made clear by the innumerable examples of the Muslim plight only getting worse year upon year!
A Cancerous Plague
What follows is but a small insight into the huge list of ongoing daily atrocities caused by this plaguing political model.
Two boats carrying 500 Rohingya Muslim refugees desperately left the Bangladeshi refugee camp to flee from the dire conditions in the camp. Both boats were rejected at the Malaysian border and were not allowed to re-dock at Bangladesh, left out in the high seas to perish.
In Palestine, the Muslims have been facing lockdown for decades. They have been living with curfews, travel restrictions and brutal occupation by the illegal Zionist entity. In the fatal climate of COVID-19, rather than value human life, in even its slightest form, the Zionists entity continues to oppress the Muslims, even spitting on Palestinian cars in a conscious effort to try and inflict the coronavirus upon Muslims!
In keeping up with the news of our Ummah in India, the end of 2019 saw the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which would render countless Muslims both stateless and at the mercy of violent Hindu mobs. With attacks now rising due to shallow rumours of Muslim Indians spreading the coronavirus, a 30-year-old pregnant Rizwana Khatun was beaten and told to clean up her own blood off the street. She was rushed to the hospital only to be turned away -and she miscarried her unborn.
How are such tragic circumstances even allowed to occur? How are a group of people just flung aside and carelessly disregarded by others? It is by nothing other than the cancerous plague that is nationalism. The rulers of the Muslim world shamelessly continue to legitimise the arbitrary borders carved by the colonialists to sow seeds of division between the Ummah. Political problems are seen through the lens of either a national problem/one of national interest, or are simply cast aside as irrelevant.
The Muslims in Rohingya thus become a ‘’Burmese problem’’, the plight of Muslims in Palestine a ‘’Palestinian problem’’ and the suffering in Kashmir an ‘’Indian problem’’ – with every Muslim problem becoming shackled to the confines of these artificial borders.
Taqwa – a Foundation of Iman
What is the only alternative out of such heartbreaking tragedy? The replacement of these weak foundations, with a robust, singular foundation built upon taqwa. When the Prophet ﷺ migrated to Madinah, he ﷺ had the difficult task of unifying the Muhajirun of Makkah with the Ansar of Madinah, alongside having to maintain the newly formed bonds of brotherhood between the Ansari tribes. It is well known that the Aws and Khazraj were at war for a century before Islam; fighting over the most trivial of matters.
So the Prophet ﷺ demonstrated how to unite different sections of this society. He ﷺ paired one Ansari with one Muhajir, so that they were able to support each other. So much so, that Allah ﷻ even revealed verses regarding the Muhajir and Ansar (later abrogated) inheriting from one other, to consolidate for us how the bonds of Islam are stronger than those even of blood. The Ansar openly embraced their new brothers, sharing their properties and wealth with the Muhajirun . The fickle basis of identity based on tribes or geography – which caused decades of grief – was flung aside for one based upon: La-ilaaha-illAllah Muhammadur-Rasulullah, paving the path for a solid and unified structure for centuries to come.
The Prophet ﷺ didn’t leave the issue of Muslim unity for individuals to desire on their own, rather it was implemented practically by the state of Madinah in its constitution. The Madinah Charter defined for us the oneness of Muslims as a single body to the exclusion of all others and legislated that as believers we should be supporters of each other and not be supporters of the disbelievers, turning against each other in the process. As much as we still hold an unbreakable affinity to our Ummah today, we see that the destruction of the Islamic Khilafah state axed this solid foundation in its political manifestation, allowing for today’s hardship and tragedy to occur.
There is also an apt reminder for us, from when the Prophet ﷺ reprimanded the Ansar when they were almost divided.
One day, a Jew sat in an assembly of mixed people which belonged to the Aws and Khazraj and told a young boy to recite some poetry to them, reminding them of the wars they had fought against each other – until they took up arms and aligned to fight against each other.
The Prophet ﷺ went and stood between the Aws and Khazraj, exclaiming “Oh Muslims! You fight because of the call of pagan ignorance, even though I am still in your midst, and Allah has honoured you with Islam by means of which He severed from you the whole matter of pagan ignorance and united your hearts. Will you then revert to that which you used to do when you were disbelievers? Allah! Allah!” He ﷺ then recited from Surah Ale-Imran.
وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favour of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favour, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided. [Ali-Imran: 103]
The Need for Political Unity
Allah ﷻ commanded us to be united. Hence unity is not optional, rather both an obligation and a means of salvation. As Allah ﷻ describes the reality of Muslims when they are divided, to that of being on the brink of a pit of fire, indicating the impermissible nature of acting as such.
The pristine results of this robust foundation of taqwa, are seen through thirteen centuries of living as one unitary and solid structure. The very nations that are today drowning in division and turmoil, collectively prospered and served as a beacon for humanity under the shade of the Khilafah system of rule. Capitalism on the other hand is merely two centuries old, yet bears the ugly cracks of nationalism on full display. A world of nations constantly deceiving, looting and competing with one another – only to continue sinking into further weakness and decline.
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا ۖ وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
The example of those who take allies other than Allah is like that of the spider who takes a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew [Al-Furqan: 41]
Historically, we can see how Muslims didn’t Islam as a deen for Arabs alone, rather they held onto it and carried it to the world. The very fact that we see today an accumulation of varying ethnicities and backgrounds – bears testimony to Muslims carrying the deen of Islam from their lands, to others. Tariq bin Ziyad, who was of a Berber background, didn’t see Spain’s affairs as a Spanish problem, but rather saw it as a people that needed Islam. He understood Islam came as a mercy to mankind, not a mercy to one part of mankind over the other! Likewise, when we see the intolerable situation that the Muslims of Rohingya, Palestine or Kashmir face, we should know firmly that all their hardships – without favour, bias or exception – are Muslim hardships for the whole of the Muslim Ummah to take on as their own.
In Ramadan, the blessed month of taqwa – a month where we are conscious of fulfilling all the obligations Allah ﷻ has placed on our shoulders – we must rush to fulfil the obligation of ridding the Muslims of this weak foundation and unifying the Muslim Ummah under its solid foundation. Just like Prophet Muhammad ﷺ destroyed Masjid Ad-Dirar because it was built to cause disunity, we must work towards destroying all the institutions that cause the disunity of Muslims today.
Let us be clear – believing in the weak foundations of nation-states is the inheritance of the kuffar. Whereas we, as believers in Allah ﷻ and His Rasool ﷺ, are the inheritors of the foundations of taqwa. We must thus strive to rebuild a way of life built upon these solid foundations. A system which can deal with the challenges of humanity. One which does not falter to the whims and desires of human beings. One which places human needs, not economic gain central to its decision making. One whose politics is about looking after people’s affairs, not political expediency and carving a career.
The building which stands tall upon this solid foundation is nothing other than the Khilafah Rashidah. A “building” which functions according to the rules and guidance of Allah ﷻ, and one which is secured by His approval and pleasure.