Answered by Shaykh Bassem Itani
What is the wisdom behind the weakness and humiliation that the Umma (Muslim community) is experiencing these days
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and the best of blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, and companions;
May Allah protect you and reward you for seeking guidance!
The wisdom of Allah is manifested in this entire universe. We realize some of His wisdom in this world after future information is revealed to us that we were previously unaware of. As time passes and a believing person gains more knowledge, the manifestations of divine wisdom in Allah’s creation and the events that occur become more apparent. Therefore, understanding Allah’s wisdom is linked to knowledge and the passage of time. No matter how extensive a person’s knowledge becomes, it remains incomplete. Allah (Most High) says,
“(…) and you (O humanity) have been given but little knowledge.” [Quran, 17:85]
Limits of Human Knowledge
So, the comprehension of wisdom is limited by the limits of human knowledge and is inherently deficient. No one knows the complete, comprehensive, and perfect wisdom of Allah except Allah Himself, as His knowledge encompasses everything. Allah (Most High) says,
“And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise” [Quran, 4:111]
He is attributed by absolute wisdom and has named Himself “Al-Hakim” (The Wise). A person cannot grasp the totality of Allah’s wisdom but can perceive some aspects of His wisdom that He has revealed to His creation in this worldly life. These will be revealed manifold in the hereafter, in the abode of certainty, far exceeding what was hidden from them of divine wisdom in this world.
Free from Vanity
Every event in this universe does not lack wisdom, whether we realize it or not. This is the belief of the believer, the absolute faith in the wisdom of Allah. The absence of wisdom in any event would imply futility in the universe, and Allah is absolutely exalted above such futility. Allah (Most High) says,
“Did you then think that We had created you without purpose, and that you would never be returned to Us? Exalted is Allah, the True King! There is no god (worthy of worship) except Him, the Lord of the Honourable Throne.” [Quran, 23:115-116]
Allah has made the manifestations of His wisdom evident through laws that are apparent in this world through events like illness and health, death and life, war and peace, defeat and victory, injustice and justice, evil and good, and others. These are the laws of Allah on His earth, established as trials for creation, whether on the level of individuals, groups, societies, peoples, nations, or civilizations. Whoever understands these laws grasps much of the wisdom of Allah in this transient world. Allah (Most High) says,
“We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure—who say, when struck by a disaster, ‘Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will (all) return.’ They are the ones who will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy. And it is they who are (rightly) guided.” [Quran, 2:155-157]
Rise and Fall
Nations experience weakness and humiliation just as they experience strength and resurgence. Allah has created causes for both rise and strength as well as for weakness, collapse, and humiliation.
If we see a student in school, if he strives, succeeds, and if he plays, gets distracted, and wastes his time, he fails and falls. Similarly, if a nation practices the causes of rise and success, it will rise, and if it practices the causes of weakness and failure, it will fall and collapse. Allah, the Exalted, says,
”Whatever affliction befalls you is because of what your own hands have committed. And He pardons much.” [Quran, 42:30]
What is happening in terms of weakness and humiliation is a manifestation of Allah’s sunna (way) in the struggle between good and evil, and justice and injustice, and the continuous conflict between them in this world. Allah (Most High) says,
“Had Allah not repelled a group of people by (the might of) another, corruption would have dominated the earth, but Allah is Gracious to all.” [Quran, 2:251]
Oppressor and their Consequences
The oppressor on earth, whether an individual, a group, a government, or a state, represents evil. Allah extends to him and gives him opportunity after opportunity to abandon his oppression and tyranny. But he thinks he might escape and survive with his tyranny and strength, thinking this world will remain for him, forgetting that Allah grants him respite, and when He seizes him, he cannot escape. Allah, the Exalted, says:
“We will gradually draw them to destruction in ways they cannot comprehend. I (only) delay their end for a while, but My planning is flawless.” [Quran, 7:182-183]
We may see some oppressors meet miserable ends in this world, and in the hereafter, their misery is even greater. Look at the story of Pharaoh with Moses – peace be upon him – in the Holy Quran, and observe how their ends and outcomes were. And derive from it the wisdom of Allah (Most High), as He says,
“So We seized him and his soldiers, casting them into the sea. See then what was the end of the wrongdoers!” [Quran, 28:40]
The final image is the profound wisdom in the end of the oppressors.
We may sometimes see some oppressors in this world who seem to have overpowered the believers, killing them, or even burning them. We may not witness the punishment of these oppressors in this life. However, Allah has promised them a severe punishment, a torment of fire, in proportion to the way they tortured the believers. This is clearly seen in the story of the People of the Ditch in Surat al-Buruj. In the Hereafter, we will see the profound wisdom of Allah in what He has prepared for the believers in reward for their patience, trials, and tribulations in their faith. Allah (Most High) says:
“Those who persecute the believing men and women and then do not repent will certainly suffer the punishment of Hell and the torment of burning. Surely those who believe and do good will have Gardens under which rivers flow. That is the greatest triumph.” [Quran, 85:10-11]
Indeed, the nation may go through harsh and difficult circumstances that bring feelings of weakness and humiliation due to its negligence and failure to take the means of revival and strength, such as adhering to the law of Allah Almighty, leveraging scientific superiority, managing finances intelligently, strategic planning, precise execution, and the unity of the nation, which is like one body, among other things. Despite our current situation, the believers remain steadfast on their path, optimistic and hopeful for the victory of Allah (Most High). They do not bend or retreat from their mission or their religion.
Do we not see some of the wisdom of Allah (Most High) in a believing patient who, in his severe illness and pain, seeks remedies for healing, turns to Allah in supplication, and asks Him for immediate and complete recovery? Observe how his supplication to Allah strengthens and how his relationship with Allah intensifies. Look at how his faith was before the illness and how it becomes afterwards! Similarly, in its state of weakness, the nation takes steps for its resurgence, hoping and being optimistic about moving from weakness to strength and empowerment. It implores Allah and returns to Him in true collective repentance through its uprightness, justice, and vocal support for the rights of humans and oppressed peoples. Thus, the wisdom of Allah (Most High) in what befalls the nation in terms of weakness and humiliation these days is manifested. Allah (Most High) says,
“(They are) those who, if established in the land by Us, would perform prayer, pay zakat, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil. And with Allah rests the outcome of all affairs.” [Quran, 22:41]
Finally, I direct you to a very important point: No matter what happens to the nation in terms of weakness and humiliation, it is our duty to remain optimistic and hopeful for the victory of Allah, without being discouraging or speaking negative words that kill the spirit and resolve of the believers. Look at the Messenger of Allah – peace and blessings be upon him – during the Battle of the Trench (Khandaq), in the hardest siege he and his noble companions faced from their wicked enemies, as depicted in the Quran:
“(Remember) when they came at you from above and below, when your eyes could only see the enemy and your hearts jumped into your throats, and you entertained [conflicting] thoughts about Allah. Then and there the believers were put to the test, and were violently shaken.” [Quran, 33:10-11]
When a rock appeared in the trench during their digging, the Messenger of Allah – peace and blessing be upon him – took the pickaxe, saying:
“In the name of Allah,” and struck a blow breaking a third of it, and said: “Allah is the greatest, I have been given the keys of Sham (the Levant), by Allah, I can see its red palaces at this moment.” Then he struck a second time, breaking another third, and said: “Allah is the greatest, I have been given the keys of Persia, by Allah, I can see the white palace of Madain.” Then he struck a third time, saying: “In the name of Allah,” and broke the remainder of the stone, and said: “Allah is the greatest, I have been given the keys of Yemen, by Allah, I can see the gates of Sana‘a from my place at this moment.” [Nasa’i]
This is a great lesson for the Umma from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) on how to remain optimistic in severe crises. And how to have high confidence in the victory of Allah the Almighty? His state (peace and blessings be upon him) while striking with his pickaxe, as if he was saying: “Be patient through this intense siege, rely on your Lord, and be optimistic for you will be victorious. Look towards the promised future, for it is near, not far.” And this indeed became a reality and fact for the companions afterward.
Among the prevailing wisdom in this world, there is no great tribulation for the nation but that it gives birth to a major blessing from the womb of hardships and difficulties.
“Allah’s Will always prevails, but most people do not know.” [Quran, 12:21]
[Shaykh] Bassem Itani