21 February 2018 CE | 04 Jumada al-Thanni 1439 AH

Hadith Explanation

Defeated Nations

“Allah's Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: 'You will indeed follow the ways of those before you, hand span by hand span, and an arms length after another. Even if they enter into a lizard’s hole, you will follow them.’ We (the Sahaba) asked, ‘Is it the Jews and the Christians?’ He replied, ‘Who else!’” [Bukhari]

We see the fulfillment of this prediction all around us. Muslims imitate non-Muslims in their dress, in the greetings that they use, in the holidays that they celebrate, in their modes of entertainment and even in their definition of right and wrong. It used to happen in the past that defeated nations would start worshipping the gods of their conquerors, believing them to be more powerful and thus responsible for their conquest. Muslims, especially their leaders, seem to be suffering from an inferiority complex at least as powerful as this.

In 637 CE Jerusalem offered a truce, provided that the Khalifa come himself from Madina to sign the treaty. Umar (radi Allahu anhu) set out for Jerusalem with a slave and a camel. The slave and he would take turns riding the camel and they also gave the camel time off from carrying either passenger. When they approached Jerusalem, Umar (radi Allahu anhu) was walking and had to cross through muddy ground, as a result of which his feet and clothes got mud on them. When Umar (radi Allahu anhu) entered Jerusalem, he was holding the rope of his camel leading it and his clothes were patched and muddy.

Abu Ubaidah (radi Allahu anhu), the commander in chief of the Muslim army and himself a very pious man, suggested that he change his clothes so that the people of Jerusalem, accustomed to the pomp and grandeur of kings and emperors, were not dissuaded from handing the keys of Jerusalem over to him. Umar (radi Allahu anhu) hit him hard on the chest and reminded him that they had been a disgraced nation. What had brought them honour and elevated them was Islam; should they seek honour from anything else, they would surely be humiliated again. “The only way for success is the way of the Holy Prophet” he said.

When the people of Jerusalem saw Umar's simplicity they started crying. Another narration states that the books of the Christians foretold 14 patches on the clothes of the person to whom the keys of Jerusalem would be handed. Hazrat Umar's clothes had 14 patches on them.

This is a very important lesson for us. It was Islam that gave Muslims dignity, not entourages, designer suits, name brands, foreign degrees or adopting the sins of the Kuffar. This slavish behaviour of ours has not brought us even an iota of respect. There is nothing but disgrace for us as long as we don’t return to the path trodden by the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).

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