الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي جعل لكل شيء أجلا مسمّى، وجعل فيه تذكرة لمن يخشى،نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر
We have discussed extremism at an exoteric level extensively for the past two weeks, but extremism also manifests itself at an esoteric level, and by that I mean at an inward level, at the level of belief. This form of extremism is as prevalent and as damaging and destructive as the outward forms, for it is the inward that shapes the outward.
Just as exoteric extremism reared its head early and frequently in the history of this great umma, so too did its esoteric brother. The first baatiniyya sects appeared in the time of the Salaf and since that time have proliferated so that now there are dozens of them.
Sometimes this esoteric deviation is so extreme that it takes a person out of Islam, such as the Druze and Naasiriyya, sometimes it merely takes people right to the edge. But, in every case it is pernicious in the extreme. And sometimes the most dangerous esoteric deviations are those which seem the most harmless and innocent, those that seem almost mainstream. Such as mild perennialism, or mahdism, which we could also refer to as ‘end of days-ism’. That is, the belief that we are witness to the final days of this world, and that nothing is left for us except to wait for the Mahdi and prepare for his arrival. This belief is based on the signs described by the Messenger of Allah.
The study of the literature relating to these signs is not harmful in itself, nor is being aware of the world around you and the striking similarities between events unfolding and events described and prophesied. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah spoke of them extensively, and was even asked about them by Jibril in the famous hadith that sets out and describes the bases for our deen – Islam, Iman and Ihsan. But there was a purpose behind the emphasis he placed on these signs, and that was to hammer home to us the immediacy of our lives, and make us realise that this permanence we see around us is an illusion. If we can see the evidence that this world around us is reaching the end of its life cycle, then the realisation of the reality of our own mortality and fragility comes to the fore, and we start to appreciate the value of the finite moments that make our lives. Thus is the primary importance of these signs, and they are indeed plentiful and clear to see.
But the danger is that they consume you, and you start to believe that almost everything you see is a sign. Your interpretation of world events becomes so coloured, that every event you see starts to fit into this narrative you have constructed – the wars and fighting in various lands such as Turkey, Iraq and Syria are those that herald the end of days, as are the prevalence of riba and zina in every country and land. The expanding deserts, the earthquakes and floods in every part of the world. The injustice and corruption you see is the universal dhulm described by the Messenger of Allah that immediately precedes the coming of the Mahdi, and so on and so forth. No major event happens but that it is a sign, and you start to become fatalistic. And there are few diseases worse than fatalism – it engenders total paralysis and powerlessness, inertia and indolence. You start to believe that you have reached that moment in history when events become set in stone and things start to follow their inevitable course. Things are as they are meant to be and there is nothing that we can do, or indeed should do, to change them. We cannot remove the corruption, people tell themselves, for that is not our job in these troubled times, that is a job assigned to the man who will soon come to lead us back from the brink and restore justice and equity. For does not the Prophet said,
المهدي مني أجلى الجبهة أقنى الأنف يملأ الأرض قسطا وعدلا كما ملئت ظلما وجورا يملك سبع سنين
“The Mahdi is from me. He has a bald forehead and an aquiline nose. He will fill the earth with equity and justice, as it had been filled with injustice and crime. He will rule seven years.” Only he can truly establish the deen in this age, they say, any other attempts are doomed to failure. So why waste your time – our time is too valuable to be wasted. There are a number of errors to this form of thinking, some readily apparent and others not so apparent.
The first is with regard to the coming of the Mahdi. Now while the sheer number of narrated hadith on this matter suggest that this is a certainty, almost none of those hadith reach the level of being hasan, let alone sahih. Ibn Khaldun, the famous alim and historiographer, analyses a large number of these hadith in his Muqadimmah in the section entitled,
في أمر الفاطمي وما يذهب إليه الناس في شأنه وكشف الغطاء عن ذلك
“The Fatimid: The opinions of the people about him and the truth about the matter.” In this section, he expresses reservations about these hadith, showing that there is considerable doubt concerning the majority of their isnads, And, as a result, he and many others have not considered believing in the coming of the Mahdi to be an obligatory part of our Aqida – it is not one of the matters that if a person denies it, he falls outside of the deen. For essential tenets of faith may only be established by adilla qat‘iyya (decisive proofs), and decisive proofs come from one of two sources – the Quran or hadiths that are both sahih and mutawatir. The Mahdi is nowhere mentioned in the Quran, and as for the hadith, the number of them that may be considered authentic are far too few for them to be considered mutawatir.
If a matter is not an absolute certainty, then there is no way we should be basing our entire worldview on it. We are not saying you should not believe that a man know as the Mahdi, from the family of the Prophet and bearing his name, will come, for the preponderance of sources indicate that he will. Rather, we are saying, do not place so much emphasis on his coming, do not let your belief in his imminent arrival shape your approach to life and the practice of the deen of Allah. For whether or not he does come in your lifetime is a matter that is outside of your hands and beyond your control. And even if he does come, he will not be a Prophet nor will he bring anything new to our deen, for the deen in its entirety was brought to us by the Messenger of Allah. And there is no aspect of the deen that is dependent upon him nor requires his presence before it can be fulfilled properly. There is no part of the deen that cannot be done now. There is no reason to put things to one side or on the back burner until he arrives, no justification to passively wait for him. And yet that is what we find people doing, and not just the Shia for their deviance is known to us, but many, apparently in the mainstream, to whom we look for succour, guidance and advice. Such people have succumbed to this fatalistic thinking and actively and passively encourage other less learned Muslims to do the same. And so seductive is this way of thinking that they have made massive headway. In recent weeks, I have even received whatsapps and emails from people I thought safe from such thinking, promoting and supporting the predictions of various different esoterically-inclined shaykhs and alims, men who like to quote the weak hadith, found throughout the books of the Shi‘a,
أفضل العبادة انتظار الفرج
“The best form of ibada is waiting for relief/salvation.” One of them said, some years ago, “We do not accept that God be disobeyed, and that the Nation be tormented, and that the flag of Satan continue to be raised for one, two, or four more years, nor for one day more. Therefore, every morning we say, ‘Tonight he will appear,’ and every night we say, ‘Tomorrow he will appear.’” In other words, he is voicing the opinion that only his appearance can combat such disobedience, nothing else. He is saying that our only hope of salvation and victory for the deen lies with the coming of this saviour, and we must direct all of our energy towards preparing for him and making dua for his arrival.
So seductive is this way of thinking that calls to establish aspects of the deen can often fall on deaf ears. A number of years ago, I was speaking to a small group of Muslim students of the deen, attempting to explain to them the usurious nature of paper money and how it was therefore incumbent upon us to seek and start to use alternatives. Their response? One of them said, “The Prophet made it clear that the proliferation of riba will be one of the signs of the end of time, saying,
بين يدي الساعة يظهر الربا والزنى والخمر
‘Riba, fornication and alcohol will become rife in the time immediately preceding the Final Hour.’ And at the end of time we know that kufr will remain uppermost in the land until the Mahdi comes and brings victory to the deen and prosperity to the Muslims. So there is nothing we can do.” This was a truly shocking response, and unfortunately a much more widely-held view than we are prepared to accept. Effectively, this young man washed his hands of all responsibility for a large proportion of his actions. Effectively, he declared this umma bereft of hope until such time as a saviour emerges, but there is only one source of mercy and success and it is not a created human being. It is our Lord, and it is in Him that our hopes must be placed. Allah says,
لاَ تَقْنَطُواْ مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللهِ
the translation of which is, “Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah.” None of us know with any certainty whether the age in which we live is the one described. Allah says,
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ رَبِّي لَا يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ثَقُلَتْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَا تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلَّا بَغْتَةً يَسْأَلُونَكَ كَأَنَّكَ حَفِيٌّ عَنْهَا قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
the translation of which is, “They will ask you about the Hour: when is it due? Say: ‘Knowledge of it rests with my Lord alone. He alone will reveal it at its proper time. It hangs heavy in the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except suddenly.’ They will ask you as if you had full knowledge of it. Say: ‘Knowledge of it rests with Allah alone. But most people do not know.’” We are not the first people to suspect that the events happening around us are the harbingers of the Hour, but the passing of time proved those past peoples wrong. Those who believed the invasion of the Mongols to be one of the great signs, or the fall of Constantinople. And the passing of time may well prove us wrong, regardless of the predictions of certain scholars and shaykhs in our age. They have no infallible knowledge of the matter, not even the Messengers of Allah claimed to know with certainty the exact moment the Hour would fall. The only certainty we have is that our Lord has the power and He helps those who help Him, those who turn to Him and embrace His deen, those who strive with every sinew of their being to obey His commands and avoid His prohibitions at every step of the way. If the Muslims of the past had succumbed to these predictions and put the implementation of the deen on hold, none of us would be here today. We have that same duty of care to ourselves and the future generations.
So beware of those who come to you, speaking of the mahdi, and beware of the infectious fatalism that accompanies them. And remember, this is not a deen of waiting, it is a deen of action. Our Lord only brings success and change to those who change themselves.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته. قال الله تعالى في كتابه الكريم إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ لاَّ رَيْبَ فِيهَا
Allah says in his Noble Quran, the translation of which is, “The Hour is coming, of that there is no doubt.” Yes the final hour is coming and yes it is important that we know that – so important in fact that there are many dozens ayats in in the Quran that warn us of it. Every Muslim must be aware of that and every Muslim must believe it. What is not important, however, is knowledge of when it is, for that is not a knowledge that will benefit any of us. Whenever the Prophet was asked about the Hour, he would never reply to the question directly but would instead direct the questioner to the matter that was more important,
مَا أَعْدَدْتَ لَهَا
“What have you prepared for it?” And as we know, the best form of zad/provision for a journey is taqwa. And taqwa is obeying the Commands of Allah and avoiding HIs prohibition – putting as much of his deen into practice as we can. The entire purpose of knowing of the Hour is to spur us on to do more, not to do less because we are aware that things could come to an end for each and every one of us at any moment. The Hour must not find us idle and waiting for some saviour to come and change our situation but rather it must find us doing everything we can to establish the deen of Allah. We are people of action not people of waiting. As Imam al-Junaid said,
“Islam is a struggle without a truce.” In other words, the struggle will continue unabated until the yawm al-Qiyamah, until this world comes to an end. The Prophet said,
إن قامت الساعة وبيد أحدكم فسيلة فليغرسها
“If the Hour comes and finds a sapling in your hand, you should continue to plant it.” This hadith is particularly apt because of the Quranic metaphor of the tree. The tree is is a metaphor for the kalimatun tayyiba, the shahadatayn. In other words, for the deen of Allah. The Prophet said,
إن مَثَل الإيمان كمثل شجرة ثابتةٍ الإيمان عُروقُها والصلاةُ أصلُها والزكاةُ فروعُها والصيامُ أغصانُها والتأذي في الله نباتُها وحسنُ الخُلُقِ ورقُها والكفُّ عن محارم الله ثمرتُها
“The likeness of iman is that of a firmly-rooted tree. Its roots are iman, its trunk is the prayer, its branches are zakat, its twigs are fasting, its foliage is suffering in the way of Allah, its leaves are good character and its fruits are keeping away from what Allah has made unlawful.” So, even at the moment the Hour comes, we must be calling to Allah and establishing His deen. That is a task and a duty, rather, I should say, an honour, that can never be put on hold, no matter the circumstances.
The imminence of the Hour is not a sign for us to make less effort to obey the Commands of Allah because someone is coming who will bring those things about on our behalf, but rather it is a sign for us to do more, because the time in which actions will benefit us will almost be at an end. The hadiths of the Mahdi should have no effect on the way we act on a day-to-day basis and should have no impact on our lives. We must continue to place our trust in Allah and Allah alone and never despair of His Aid or Mercy. We must know that He will never leave this umma alone, never let it be totally humiliated and defeated, but instead has promised us to renew this deen in every century. For the Prophet said,
إن الله يبعث على رأس كل مائة عام من يجدد لهذه الأمة أمر دينها
“Allah sends to this umma at the beginning of each century those who renew the deen.” Renewal, that restoration of the deen in all its magnificence and glory is what we must all be working for. And if and when the Final Hour does come and the Mahdi does appear, those will be the people who gather round him and fight by his side.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.