The Conditional Promise: When Will Allah’s Help Come?
That Muslim social and political well-being is the result of sure faith and obedience to God, and not visa-versa, is borne out by the Qur’an in many a verse. Whilst analysing the verse, God will surely help those who help Him, [22:40] Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin al-Shanqiti (d.1393H/1972CE), the highly acclaimed Mauritanian scholar of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) and Quranic exegesis (tafsir), wrote:
‘God said, when expounding on those to whom He swore He would help – for He is the One to give aid and victory: Those who, if We give them power in the earth, establish the prayer and pay the zakat, and enjoin good and forbid evil. [22:41] …
‘In God’s words, Those who, if We grant them power in the earth, is evidence that there is no promise of help from God except by establishing prayer and paying the zakat, and enjoining good and forbidding evil. It is those to whom God shall grant power in the earth and through whom He will establish His word.
‘But those who do not establish prayer or pay the zakat, nor enjoin good or forbid evil, have no such promise of help from Him. For they are neither of His party, and nor of His allies who have the promise of His help. Rather, they are the party of Satan and his allies. So if they were to expect God’s help and the fulfillment of His promise to them, their example would be like that of a hired worker who refuses to do the job which he was hired for, yet still expects to get paid! Whoever deems such an affair reasonable, is surely devoid of intelligence.’1
Some points to consider from the above:
1. In order to attract divine help, a conscious change must be made from committing sins and acts of disobedience to God, to one of obedience to Him: God never changes the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves. [13:28] Could it get any more explicit!
2. The rule by which God runs the affairs of the cosmos – the sunan al-kawniyyah – is: disobedience begets calamity and humiliation: And whatever calamity befalls you is for what your own hands have earned. But He pardons much. [42:30] The Qur’an declares in another verse: Corruption has appeared on land and in the sea for what men’s hands have earned. [30:41] Elsewhere: When a disaster befell you, although you inflicted a loss twice as heavy, you exclaimed: ‘Whose fault was that?’ Say: ‘It is from your ownselves.’ [3:165]
3. That God’s promise of aid to the ummah is made conditional on obedience to Him: without satisfying this condition, we will continue to wallow in a state of humiliation and ignominy. Consider the following hadith: ‘When you deal in ‘inah,2 hold on to the tails of cows, content yourself with farming and abandon striving [in the path of God], God will cover you all with humiliation and will not lift it from you, until you return to your religion.’ [Abu Dawud, no.3462]
4. This, in turn, demands an active struggle: a struggle against our nafs; with society’s moral ills; and against those who desire that the divine light be extinguished. Priority must be given to those matters that the Sacred Law deems to be a personal obligation (fard al-‘ayn) and then a communal obligation (fard al-kifayah), over issues that are not obligations.
5. That numbers isn’t the key, but quality of hearts is: And on the day of Hunayn, when you basked in your great numbers, but it availed you nothing. [9:25] Huge numbers will be of little use, if this multitude of hearts are riddled with sins, devoid of sincerity, lack the courage of their convictions, will not make sacrifices for their faith, and are filled with an inordinate love of worldliness and consumerism. The Prophet, peace be upon him, warned: ‘Nations will soon summon each other to attack you, like [hungry] diners invite one another to eat from a platter of food.’ A person asked: Is it because we will be few in number that day, O Messenger of God? He replied: ‘Rather, you will be plenty in number, but you shall be [as insignificant] as the foam on the ocean. And God will remove from the hearts of your enemies fear of you, and shall cast into your hearts weakness.’ People asked: What is the weakness, O Messenger of God? He said: ‘Love of this world and hatred of death.’ [Abu Dawud, no.4297]
Thus God never changes the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves enjoins on us, not some external moral reform that is fixated on a few manifestations of outward piety and morality, but instead an inward transformation – a realignment of the soul – which reflects a genuine purity of the heart. Some mistakenly see in this a call to quietism, while in reality it is a position of empowerment. For as we work on our inner world, keeping an eye on the obligations and responsibilities we have in the outer world, we will see the promise of God come to fruition in the human saga.
1. Adwa’ al-Bayan (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1996), 5:481-2.
2. ‘Inah transaction: To sell a commodity for a price to be paid at a later date, and then buy it back immediately for a lower price to be paid on the spot. The net result of this is to circumvent the shari‘ah so as to loan money on interest (riba). Cf. Ibn ‘Uthaymin, Sharh al-Mumti‘ (Saudi Arabia: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2004), 8:210-11.
*Above Photo: A Moment In And Out of Time, at http://www.petersanders.com
Asalam o Alaikum Abu Aaliyah,
I just need some clarification on inah transaction. Does that mean one sell today on the future price but buy today on todays price? and it is halal?
‘Inah and the issue of trading on the futures market are two distinct matters with two separate rulings.
As for ‘inah, I gave a brief definition of it in the footnote. But let me now take the opportunity of giving a concrete example. This may help to partly clarify your query.
‘Inah seems to have come about, or so say many of the scholars, in order to get around the prohibition of lending money on interest. Thus, let us say that Bilal wishes to borrow £1000 for six months from Rafiq. But Rafiq, regrettably, is ready to loan the money, but wants £1200 back at the end of the period. This, obviously, is riba. So what Rafiq suggests is the following:
He sells Bilal a laptop for £1200, the payment of which can be deferred for six months. So Bilal takes possession of the laptop (which he doesn’t really need or want). Then immediately, Rafiq buys the laptop back from Bilal for £1000 cash on the spot. The net result is that Bilal has the £1000 cash he needs, but owes Rafiq £1200 to be paid back in six months.
Outwardly, the two separate transactions are legally valid in the shari’ah. But when combined as a whole, one sees that it is just a legal device or “trick” to circumvent the prohibition of the lender getting extra money back on his loan: which is clearly riba.
Although a few jurists allow such a transaction – provided one’s intention is not to gain interest, the majority hold that the sole purpose for such an odd transaction is to skirt around the prohibition of riba; and thus they deem the transaction haram. [Cf. al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, n.d.), no.514.]
As for futures exchange, which involves buying specific quantities of a commodity at a specified price, with delivery set at some future date, this violates more than one shari’ah rule of buying and selling. However, one should consult a qualified mufti for the specific legal ruling on the different types and aspects of futures transactions.
And Allah knows best.
Jazakallah, thanks for the great insight sir. Much appreciated.
The Abu Dawad hadith of the Prophets (pbuh) forewarning is seriously scary
in truth. Jazakallahu khair for the insight ustaad.
Allow me to share some thoughts.
Good governance emanates from good civil society – not the other way round. That was a conclusion that Rachid Ghannouchi came to after reflecting on the Sira’s Mecca-Medina paradigm. So I remember reading in Azzam Tamimi’s political biography of the man.
‘Inah is a case in point. Law – implemented by a state – is used unethically. The Caliphist’s obsession over legalism harms him. Love is the spring of good law. Love is the natural order of the cosmos: love and devotion to the divine will.
The beauty of nature owes to this devotion to the divine will. Natural law is love. We recognise an act of good as beautiful. Love is the fruit of trust and loyalty. Trust and loyalty come from the fulfilment of obligations, responsibilities and rights over one another.
We build civil society through ensuring the rights of others to stay alive in a reasonable condition is fulfilled. We build good governance when virtue becomes habit: law becomes mere formality.
That’s how I see the Muslamics taking over the UK. When Generation Rent reach their 70s and can no longer work to pay for their flat shares, we will witness the rise of what the media will dub ‘gilded homelessness.’
Our streets will be filled with rough sleepers with iPhones (or their equivalent in 40 years time). The homeless problem becomes endemic. However, the 5-6 offsprings sired by each of our pious Muslamic peers will come to the rescue of these people, having established a parallel welfare system through zakat.
By that time the Tory mantra of ‘poor people are poor because they choose to be poor’ will have become orthodoxy, but only the Muslamics resisted it. They will show how devotion to the natural order of the cosmos was our secret weapon. Then, like in the story of Yusuf, the public will make the Muslamics in charge of running the country.
Yet I am troubled by the Sheikh’s observation. Zakat and hisbah require authority to enforce. How can he make divine assistance of political aspirations conditional on fulfilling two acts that require a political authority in the first place to enforce?
You might be interested in this book, Abu Aaliyah, “Caliphate Redefined
The Mystical Turn in Ottoman Political Thought” by Hüseyin Yılmaz (Princeton 2018).
Thanks for sharing, Talha. There’s a lot to take in here, and much to mull over. Some of your thoughts are very poetically expressed. Haven’t read “Muslamics” for a while. And yes, I’ll certainly try to read the book, Allah-willing. Appreciate the recommendation.
As for zakat and hisbah, I understood their “establishment” to mean at the personal level, in order to draw down divine help for rectifying society collectively.
And Allah knows best.