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The Witness

Shifa Mustapha

“Thus We have made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves….”

(Quran, 2:143)

We have come to a place in this Earth’s history where the deeds and misdeeds of terrorists and tyrants alike are bringing wave after wave of repercussions which are threatening to overwhelm mankind. This is also impacting upon even the staunchest of Muslims. Is this, then, the dreadful era about which it has been prophesied? Is it possible that we are entering into the last stage before the coming of the Day of Qiyama? Regardless of whether this is so, or not, what is the position of we Muslims? What is required of us as an Ummah justly balanced and witnesses over the nations?

The Situation as it stands

From the general point of view of the non-Muslim who has, since childhood, heard no good thing about Muslims and Islam; who has been subjected to falsified history on one hand, and movies in which Muslims are the evil ones on the other; who has attended a Christian church, or another place of worship, in which the Prophet Muhammad (s), Islam, and Muslims have all been portrayed as enemies of God and mankind; it is as if everything fearful has come true. The nightmare has materialised! What next will these evil people do to destroy all that is good and acceptable in the world!

Can we blame any of these people for not knowing the truth of Islam when all they know is untruth; for shunning Muslims; for wanting to see an end to us under these appalling current conditions?

This, of course, is exactly that to which the years of propaganda have been leading. The manipulations and the almost-continuous focus upon Islam, particularly since the end of the Cold War, as the religion which breeds hatred and terror, have worked extraordinarily well. However, may Allah be praised, there are those who look past the fear, even past the wrong-doings of Muslims, having an innate sense of justice which prevents them from blanket-acceptance of anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic rhetoric. This is surely a gift to them, and to us, from Allah. However, it is not enough to just acknowledge that this is a gift from Allah without taking responsibility for our own actions and inactions which may well have added to the confusion. We have to look deeply into these, as well as into our thoughts, and our very souls. We have to know what is just; what is unjust; what is Islamic; what is un-Islamic, for unless we do this we have no ground upon which to stand, and what is worse, we may well become the stumblingblocks to those who are searching for Truth.

Religion of the Sword?

This then brings us to another point: What of the Muslims? How have they responded to the propaganda and the terror which is now being generated and enhanced to propagate division? Sometimes as I look around I think that perhaps those non-Muslim purveyors of lies have even convinced some of the Muslims that this is how it should be! Have we, or at least some of us, I wonder, swallowed the propaganda ourselves! Do we believe that it is not only right to stand up for Islam, but a Divine right to demand that the whole world accept Islam as the only religion and Law - the alternative being that if this is not accepted, Muslims, by Divine Decree, have to blow all other peoples to Kingdom Come, seeing that all have become civilised and graduated from using mere swords?

May Allah upon Whom our souls depend grant us protection from such as would bring down this evil upon mankind! Is it not the reported saying of the Witness, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), in Al-Bukhari:

“By Allah, he does not believe; By Allah, he does not believe; By Allah, he does not believe!” It was said, “Who is that O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.”

Let us not nit-pick about this - the whole world is our neighbour - not just Muslims! The Holy Prophet (s) considered that all were his neighbours, and this may be noted in his just and generous treatment of all people including Jews, Christians, pagans. For centuries Islam has been burdened with the calumnies of those who would see the end of this great Religion of Allah. The spirit of the crusades permeated every area of Christian Europe, and from thence to the colonies was taken the message “Islam is the enemy of God and of mankind ”. However, as time went by people began to see for themselves, in the actions of Muslims - those who were living witnesses to the world - that the religion of Islam was indeed a mercy for mankind, and this great Message spread, and peoples and nations around the globe embraced it.

This was not hidden from those who had intellectual honesty, and many non-Muslims have written the truth of the matter. One example of this was a Professor Bevan in his work, Cambridge Mediaeval History:

“The accounts of Mohammad and Islam which were published in Europe before the beginning of the 19th century are now to be regarded as literary curiosities.”

Gibbon wrote:

“A pernicious tenet has been imputed to the Mohammadans, the duty of extirpating all the religions by the sword.”

He went further to say that this charge of ignorance and bigotry is refuted by the Qur’an, by the history of the Musalman conquerors and by their public and legal toleration of Christian worship, with the greatest success of Muhammad’s (s) life being sheer moral force without the stroke of the sword.

How these men must have been criticised for their perceived delusions and stupidity! “Only a fool could write any good thing about Islam and Muslims!” The churches were never deluded - they knew the truth of the matter, but as time went on their position softened in that it became a matter of missionising the lost of Islam. “How Bevan, Gibbon and other scholars, who upheld Islam, will now be writhing in their graves!” will be the general consensus. “Now who is right!” will be the triumphant claim of those who have carried on the spirit of the crusades. But Allah is not unknowing, and to Him is the return of all people.

Religions of force

If it is true that there are Muslims who now believe that force will bring about a world swing to Islam, then they are surely deluded! Has not Allah s.w.t. told us:

“If it had been the Lord’s Will, they would all have believed - all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!”

(Quran, 10:99)

Again, in the next ayat (verse), He tells us,

“No soul can believe, except by the Will of Allah, and He will place Doubt on those who will not understand.”

We tend to translate this as being that doubt will be placed upon those souls who do not believe in Islam, but it is also possible, and more reasonable, to see that those who believe in the compulsion of religion may be those upon whom doubt is placed for surely they have no understanding.

Gibbon’s contradiction of the “pernicious tenet” of his time, which was imputed to Muslims, namely that of the extirpation of all other religions by the sword, has arisen with such ferocity that in the Australian Parliament this year, on August 20th, this very subject was commented upon. It was also said by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Mr. Anderson, that this religion of the dark ages should be brought out into the light. I have no doubt whatsoever that the honourable gentleman believes that in so doing, Islam will be dazzled by Christianity and modernity to the point that it will wilt and die. However, it is my belief that if the True Islam were to be brought out into the light for all to see, that many who gazed upon it would find within its teachings the comfort, the guidance and the trustworthiness which is much needed within today’s humanity. I could relate many stories of those who have found answers to their problems; who have overcome drinking and drugs; who have been given a focus which has opened a pathway of learning and respectability never imagined before - simply because Allah has granted them His Mercy in leading them to Islam! May He be praised!

I have written herein against those who claim to be within the ranks of Islam, yet who choose other than Islamic deeds and methods; may I also bring to men’s notice that the same rule applies to the non-Muslim forces. We have seen the US Administration’s stand - namely: “Those who are with us must join us in our wars of aggression - those who refuse are against us!” For those who claim Christianity as their banner, as Mr. Bush has done, it is a very un-Christian, un-Godly road they have chosen, that of pre-emptive war. However this does not prevent them from hailing every so-called victory as coming from God - the spirit of the crusades thus, again allowing great injustice and inhumanity to take place all in the name of Jesus Christ (as). Alas, I see nothing within the actions of the US, or the coalition for that matter, which would bring about change and security for this world, or mankind, regardless of wishful thinking. The underlying tenet is that of the use of force - another form of terrorism which has nothing to do with true Christianity or Godliness.

The Polarisation

Since September 11th 2001, a polarisation appears to be taking place within mankind. This polarisation is not limited to non-Muslims, it is also taking place within the ranks of those of us who profess Islam as their religion. From my own point of view I have to state that from that point in time, nothing previously experienced could compare with the pain which has since been felt. I thought I knew it all - being spat upon and told to “Go home to your country!” during my first days as a Muslim; feeling the hatred within the general community, and the disappointment within family. However, with the passage of time acceptance, though limited, was achieved - not through relenting, but through the practice of Islam and the respect which it generates between people. This was to be rudely shaken when within minutes of the twin towers being hit, the world’s media echoed the White House announcement that this was the work of Muslim Extremists. I would, again, remind all Muslims that as yet no-one has taken responsibility for this un-Islamic crime against civilian humanity. To my mind the questions remain unanswered. Destruction now lay in wait for Muslims, while gain was the outcome for those whose open enmity toward Islam and Muslims has always been well publicised. And Allah knows best!

To the Muslim minorities a great shaking has taken place. It is difficult! Not only do people wish to denigrate you, but at times actual harm is being carried out. No longer do people cry out, “Get back to your country”, but as I have experienced, the call now is, “Get out of my country!” There is a non-too-subtle difference in this alteration in invective. People are being refused services - sometimes openly, as I have experienced, or in such a way that it is useless even to consider bringing anti-discrimination charges. We are going to find even more problems very soon, for insurance brokers have now brought in an anti-terrorism clause which excludes payment for anything which may resemble a terrorist or even an anti-terrorist attack (as has been witnessed with our mosques and in one case by a Muslim business). While many say, we don’t need insurance, there are a great number of our people who rent houses and business venues, who may very well find that no non-Muslim will rent or lease to them because of this clause. Praise be to Allah that His Will cannot be overturned and within His care we may find all our needs.

On the other hand there are huge numbers of Western people turning to Islam. In Denmark I note that a few years ago there were said to be five thousand Danish reverts - last month the charge was made that there were now ten thousand reverts. It is thought that the latter number was fudged to make the Danish population afraid, but even so, Allah is showing us that His Truth will never be hidden. These people are not coming into Islam because of the sword, or explosives, but through the spirit of Islam, the Grace of Allah and the true witness.

Our Choice

Not only do we find a polarisation taking place between Muslim and non-Muslim, but we find it now between Muslim and Muslim. There appear to be three stances being taken today. The first is as we have already mentioned, that of responding to all anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions with war-like activities. Let it be understood, that in this we are not referring to the Qur’an’s, and therefore Allah’s criteria for war, but pre-emptive strikes against men, women and children who are innocent, having nothing to do with the stealing or destruction of our homes or our possessions; who have not forbidden the religion of Islam or its practice in minority situations, even if they themselves do not practice it. The Shariah is quite firm regarding the case of war against aggression, and in the majority of countries and cases, there is simply no basis for such.

In the second instance there are those who feel that this is a time in which we can achieve nothing and for which we have no responsibility, other than to look after ourselves and our families. In a sense I can understand that many do feel that this is the case - it is all too hard! Perhaps it would be better to assimilate or even to look as if we have done so. Otherwise, it is as if we are trying to bail out the sea with a teaspoon for all the good that it is doing! But is that really the case? I see no evidence in the Qur’an or within the traditions which states that we may now forget about our sacred duty to Allah, to Islam, or to mankind. I have not found where it says we may just lay aside our responsibilities; that we are no longer required to uphold the Islamic standard; that we may hide away and come out when all is quiet and safe! What happens if it is never quiet and safe? Does one live in a closet for the rest of one’s days?

Sadly those who feel this way, regardless of the provocations which attend our daily lives, have forgotten that wonderful privilege which Allah has granted us:

“It is He Who hath made you His agents, Inheritors of the Earth; He hath raised you in ranks, some above the others; that He may try you in the gifts He hath given you…”

(Quran, 6:165)

So let us not put aside this great honour, but ask for His Grace to overcome these trials.

To walk the Straight Path without veering is our only option. To take hold of the Rope of Allah is our only hope in these trying times. We must live our lives as Muslims in every sense of the word. May it always be said of us that the beauty, the mercy, the Light of Islam has illuminated our way, for only then may we perform the duty of bringing mercy and illumination to mankind. How many people out there who do not know of Islam are in need of help? How many are searching for something more than this world has offered them. We, as an Ummah, have a tremendous duty to Allah, to each other as Muslims, but also to those upon the Earth. We are to give just witness, never forgetting that we also will be judged. May Prophet Muhammad (s) be our Witness on that day.

May we also be mindful of the prayer of Prophet Ibrahim (as) who is, to us, a beautiful example of one who was a true Believer. He, who in his prayer, and those with him, supplicated:

“Our Lord! Make us not (test and) a trial for the Unbelievers, but forgive us, our Lord! For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

(Quran, 60:4,5)

For those who may say that his position was different and that time has abrogated this prayer, let us look further, for as if to answer those protestations, Allah has revealed in the very next ayat, “There was indeed in them an excellent example for you to follow - for those whose hope is in Allah and in the Last Day. But if any turn away, truly Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all Praise!”

Dear Muslim Ummah your lives and your courage; your steadfastness and your knowledge and upholding of justice and mercy, are all required more than ever at this time. May Allah upon Whom our souls depend, grant us understanding of the very great privilege which He has given us.

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