Bukhari narrates from Khabbab bin Al-Arat that the Messenger of Allah salallahu alaihi wasallam said:
“By Allah, this religion (i.e. Islam) will prevail till a traveller from Sana’a to Hadhramawt will fear none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep”.
Until those days come the people of Yemen continue to suffer.
- Around 10 000 civilians have died in Yemen because of the escalation of conflict in 2015.
- They live in the poorest of the Gulf Arab states – blockaded from their fabulously oil-rich neighbours by artificial lines drawn on a map.
- No one governs in the people’s interests. Like the rest of the Middle East, they have been ruled by a corrupt elite, who rule for themselves and who represent the regional interests of global powers. Yemen has been in crisis for a long time. It has had historic ties with Britain – and the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh was very much in Britain’s sphere of influence till the uprisings of the Arab spring – which removed him from office, but not his regime. Saleh and his party cunningly switch sides to ally with the Houthi insurgency, despite making war on them in the past – against his old ally Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi (an ex-Sandhurst man), who Britain still recognizes as the president of the country in exile.
- Regional powers, Saudi and Iran, happily sacrifice the blood of innocent Muslims so as to execute their own regional ambitions as well as to fulfil US foreign policy objectives to further root its influence in Yemen. Saudi has even sacrificed paying wages to its workers to fund the killing of Muslims in Yemen.
- The US has long had a dirty hand in Yemen – agitating a north-south schism in the past, then later arguing they were chasing ‘terrorists’ in the region. Around 568-828 men, women and children have been killed by US drone strikes – in which the UK also plays a role. They have been very happy to see their local agents provoke sectarianism in the region.
There are parallels with Syria because in both places the causes of conflict are NOT sectarian, nor caused by Islam.
They are related to the political structures in the region, the historic injustices that they caused, and the interference of global powers – whether the US, UK, Russia or France.
The political structures include the regimes, which lack legitimacy; the nation states, which divide people from the much-needed resources that is their right under Islam; the regional conflicts produced by their national identities.
The historic injustices in Yemen against the Zaidi Muslim minority was the kindling for their uprising, with Iran exploiting that for political not sectarian motives; whereas in Syria it was the historic repression by the Assad regime that triggered the uprising.
So, when will the days of peace and security come? The aforementioned hadith is part of a longer narration that describes the suffering of the early generation of Muslims.
Khabbab bin Al-Arat narrated: We complained to Allah’s Apostle (of the persecution inflicted on us by the mushrikeen) while he was sitting in the shade of the Kaa’ba, leaning over his Burdah (i.e. covering sheet). We said to him, “Would you seek help for us? Would you pray to Allah for us?” He said, “Among the nations before you a (believing) man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that (torture) would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion (i.e. Islam) will prevail till a traveller from Sana’a to Hadhramawt will fear none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty. (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 809)
The establishment of Islam in the form of a righteously guided Khilafah would be the realisation of this. For Islamic rule is not sectarian – the Islamic state is not Sunni or Shia state, but a state that rules by Islam for all its citizens. Its ruling by Islam does not mean it should adopt on creeds and rituals. Rather it will adopt one Islamic opinion for all to follow as the law of the land in those matters that require the intervention of the state for looking after the affairs of society.
Muslims should not fall into the trap of labelling politically motivated conflict as sectarian. It not only falls into the traps of Shaytan that Muslims fight each other – but it distracts from the real causes of the conflicts.
The real source of conflict, aside from the absence of Islam as a way of life in the region, is external interference. Sectarianism is fomented and exploited as a tried and tested ‘divide and rule’ ploy to interfere in Muslim lands. A government who ruled by Islam, to look after the affairs of Muslims must expel all western control and influence in our countries. Islam does not allow the dominance of external powers over Muslim lands. For the best part of one century the regimes in the region have allowed colonial powers to dominate – either directly or by proxy.
Muslims should not be afraid to expose this interference where it is obvious – like the British government allowing arms sales to Saudi so they can kill their Muslim brothers in Yemen, bombing schools and hospitals. Britain arming the Al Saud family is nothing new, and is something for which the Saudi leaders have been handsomely rewarded throughout history.
Moreover, Muslims shouldn’t become complicit in the plotting by welcoming western intervention in the region even when they and their cronies claim that this would make things better. The history of these interventions is that they usually make things worse – a fact some non-Muslims also recognise.
Dr Abdul Wahid is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy, and the Prospect Magazine.