By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
14 July 2016
The Quran tells us (4:79):
Whatever good befalls you, it is from God: and whatever ill befalls you is from yourself.
Elsewhere, the Quran says (42:30):
Whatever misfortune befalls you is of your own doing—God forgives much—
From this we learn that God has made this world in such a way that every person/group must face the consequences of his/its own actions. Whenever you confront a problem, you should search for its cause, not outside, but, rather, within yourself. This cause is always internal, located inside you.
Two examples from the time of the Prophet of Islam clearly illustrate this point. One is related to the defeat Muslims faced in the Battle of Uhud, in the year 625 C.E. and the other to the heavy losses that Muslims incurred in the Battle of Hunayn, in the year 630 C.E. The Quran refers to these battles, and in both cases it places the entire responsibility for whatever happened on Muslims themselves, rather than calling for protests against those who were opposed to them—the Quraysh of Makkah.
With regard to the Battle of Uhud, the Quran (3:152) relates that the Muslims’ weakness owed to their internal differences and their not obeying their central command. It tells us that this is what made them face defeat at the hands of their opponents in this battle. Similarly, the Quran (9:25) relates with regard to the Battle of Hunayn that the losses that Muslims faced was because of their pride. Here, too, the cause was identified within the Muslims themselves, rather than without.
In both these cases, it might have been possible to place the entire blame for whatever happened wholly on the Quraysh instead and to say bad things about them. But when, in the Quran God commented on these events, He placed the entire blame on the Muslims alone.
This fact stands as an eternal testimony to how Muslims should think in similar situations: instead of identifying the conspiracies of others, they should engage in introspection. Removing their own weaknesses, they should try to move ahead. This is the way to succeed.
To further clarify this point, it is instructive to reflect on the following letter sent by Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (d. 644 C.E.), regarded as the fifth Pious Caliph of the Muslims, to a subordinate officer, Mansur ibn Ghalib, whom he had sent on a military campaign against some opponents. He advised Mansur to remain established in God-consciousness, because, he wrote, the fear of God is the best form of preparation, the most successful way and the strongest power. The best way to save oneself from one’s enemies, he explained, is to save oneself from sin, because sin is even more dangerous than the wiles of the enemy. Victory over opponents owes to the latter’s sinfulness, even if they are more numerous and better in terms of preparation. If the Caliph’s army, which was smaller than its opponents, were also to fall prey to sinfulness, they would not be able to gain victory over their opponents. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz advised Mansur to fear his own sins even more than he feared anyone’s enmity.
The fact is that this world is God’s world, not man’s world. In this world, one has power only over one’s self. In reality, no individual or community has any power over any other individual or community.
This means that in this world whenever you get anything, you actually get it from God, even if it appears to reach you through somebody else. Similarly, whenever something is taken away from you, it is actually taken away by God, even if it appears that there is a person behind the loss you have incurred. An intelligent person is one who in both situations turns to God.
In the face of the treatment that some Muslims face today in some places, they typically respond in just one way: by screaming and protesting against what they brand as ‘oppressor’ people. This is a completely un-Islamic approach and method. When everything that happens is from God, then, undoubtedly, whatever Muslims are facing is also from God. This is why the only way to respond to this situation is for Muslims to turn to God. They should try to find out what errors they have made with regard to God because of which they are facing this punishment. In this way, they can rectify their mistakes, and once again make themselves eligible to receive God’s blessings.
If stones begin to rain upon you from above and you start looking below to find out where they are coming from, you will never succeed in saving yourself from being hurt by them!