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The Flood Took Them By Surprise by Tariq Mehanna

A new article written by Tarek:

The flood took them by surprise.

Lacking foresight, they used to mock him as he worked on his unfinished ship. But because he knew what was coming, he’d simply look up & reply: {“If you mock me, I likewise mock you.”} (11:38)

In the end, {“only a few believed with him.”} (11:40) Even his wife turned on him, destined to drown with everyone else. Humanity survives today descended entirely from him.

Prophet Nuh was a one-man ummah.

But there were others, as {“indeed, Ibrahim was an ummah…”} (16:120) Ibrahim symbolized the dawn of a new era in the history of Tawhid. He propagated it with an aggression unmatched by any before him: {“And that was My hujjah which I gave Ibrahim. I elevate the ranks of whom I wish…”} (6:83) A hujjah is “that by which one rebuts an adversary in a litigation, dispute, or altercation; an argument; a proof; an evidence.” Each time he confronted someone with a hujjah, they hated him for it. In fact, besides his wife & nephew, Ibrahim for years remained the sole Muslim on the planet. He further shocked & offended Babylonian society by physically smashing their idols to bits – knowing full well that they’d try to kill him for it.

What Ibrahim did was bigger than himself. Tawhid survives today descended entirely from him.

Thousands of years later, with again nearly no Muslims left on the planet, a man leaned against the Ka’bah Ibrahim had built and evoked the memory of Ibrahim’s stand while making his own: “O Quraysh! I swear by Allah that none of you follows the din of Ibrahim except me.” Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nufayl continued: “O Allah, if I knew how You want to be worshipped, I’d worship You that way. But I don’t,” and he then prostrated on his hands. They expelled him from Makkah. He decided to travel to Mawsil, where he’d dreamed of meeting others who rejected the tawaghit of the times and chose to follow Ibrahim. Instead, he was advised to return to Makkah to await the appearance of the final Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Zayd complied, only to be subsequently attacked & killed upon his return. Just as Ibrahim was an ummah, the Prophet likewise said that Zayd “will be resurrected as an ummah unto himself.”

Ibn Rajab wrote that “if one worships & obeys Allah and pursues His pleasure in life through an act whose effects are naturally detested, he should know that such effects aren’t detested by Allah. Rather, He loves them because they result from His obedience & the pursuit of His pleasure. He informed us of this to soothe our hearts so that we don’t detest what we experience in this life.”

He also informed us of exactly what it is He wants: {“Allah wants to affirm the truth through His words…”} (8:7)

And He informed us that He does this perpetually: {“He affirms the truth through His words…”} (10:82) As al-Qurtubi explained, this means that “He makes it clear.”

And He informed us that this clarity sometimes emerges through brief confrontations in which nearly every Muslim protagonist is wiped out by the antagonist. {“The truth became manifest”} (7:118) in the split second it took Musa to overcome the magicians, leading them to convert before Fir’awn captured them all, amputated their hands & legs, and crucified them on tree trunks (20:71). On another tree trunk, in another time & place, the truth become manifest in the split second it took an arrow to pierce a young boy’s skull, leading every onlooker to convert before their king had them shoved into flaming pits to be burned alive. That we’re even aware of these true stories & others proves that not even death can contain the power of a hujjah, as Yusuf al-‘Uyayri wrote that “victory can take the form of a hujjah & clear proof… A victorious concept doesn’t stop with the person upholding it. Rather, it transcends to others, even if he himself dies. What matters is that the hujjah is conveyed & convinces others, even if its original upholder is physically helpless.”

The Prophet himself learned while helpless in Makkah that whether he lived to personally witness victory was irrelevant because his job was to convey the hujjah: {“Whether I show you some of what I promised them or cause you to die, your duty is only to convey…”} (13:40) He lived long enough to establish a state, but he died when it was still confined to limited territory. He set the mawaqit for pilgrims, but they were future pilgrims who weren’t yet Muslims. Why? Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr wrote that “it was Allah’s Messenger who set the miqat for the people of ‘Iraq as Dhat ‘Irq & ‘Aqiq, just as he set Juhfah for the people of Sham. At the time, both Sham & ‘Iraq were lands of kufr. But he set the mawaqit for their peoples because he knew that Allah would eventually open Sham, ‘Iraq, and other territories to his ummah. Neither Sham nor ‘Iraq were conquered in their entirety until the rule of ‘Umar.”

In another book, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr related that Allah’s Messenger once asked Suraqah bin Malik: “How would you feel wearing the bracelets of Kisra?” Years later, after both the Prophet & Abu Bakr had died and ‘Iraq was conquered, Kisra’s bracelets & treasures were brought to ‘Umar. He called Suraqah over and placed the treasures on his head. Suraqah had long hair at the time. He then told him: “Raise your hands,” and placed bracelets on each one. ‘Umar then said: “Allahu Akbar. Praise be to Allah Who snatched these from Kisra bin Hurmuz, who used to tell people “I am your lord,” and instead granted them to a bedouin named Suraqah bin Malik…”

So not even Abu Bakr lived to see this dream fulfilled. But he was the one who made the dream possible, as ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam said that “the Ummah can sometimes consist of a single person who makes a stand by which Allah saves this din – just as Abu Bakr made a stand in the days of Riddah, and Ahmad bin Hambal made a stand the day the Earth shook from the innovated belief that the Qur’an is created, thereby saving the entire Ummah.”

He then said that “history informs us that twenty Muslims from Spain – the Muslims of Andalusia – departed Barcelona for a small piece of territory on the peak of a mountain called Frakshia, close to the French coast. Twenty individuals! They established a fortress atop this mountain, grew in number to a hundred, and gained control over the major ports between France & northern Italy, especially the well-known port of Bernar. They penetrated deep into the lands of the Bayamun, and all the Franks who crossed these ports paid them jizyah. They penetrated into Switzerland until they arrived at the province of Konstanz (which today lies near the Swiss-German border), and ruled over this territory for ninety years – ninety years!”

Finally, “all of this began with just twenty Muslims, ruling central Europe and controlling its major trading ports for nearly a century. Eventually, all of Europe coalesced against this emirate until it fell after ninety years, as I said. On the day they suffered their final defeat, they numbered no more than 1,500 men!”

It was this same number of men estimated to have made a stand in Mawsil – men who found what Zayd had sought when he set foot in the city over fourteen centuries earlier. Yusuf al-‘Uyayri wrote that “though victory can materialize in the form of physical authority & a state, the least that can be said about the Ta’ifah al-Mansurah is that its victory is one of hujjah & clear proof. So it’s always victorious in one way or another despite the Ummah abandoning it and its enemies coalescing against it.”

Indeed, Allah described the ta’ifah of Bani Isra’il which believed in ‘Isa bin Maryam as being {“victorious”} (61:14) even though, as Qatadah explained, this victory took the form of “hujjah & clear proof.” But even this victory can be attained only after you meet a demanding set of conditions, as {“I made some of them leaders guiding by My command when they had patience and were certain in My ayat.”} (32:24) This is because, as Ibn al-Qayyim wrote, “yaqin totally illuminates the heart and cleanses it of all doubt, resentment, sadness, and worry.”

How do you attain yaqin? You attain it when you form an emotional attachment to the Shar’i texts, as as-Sa’di wrote that “they attained the rank of yaqin because they gained proper knowledge rooted in decisive proof. They persistently studied various matters & their many supporting proofs until they finally reached this rank.”

Seven centuries after ‘Isa’s ascent, an elderly Abu Hurayrah was sitting in a masjid in Kufah when a man approached him and asked: “You’re the one who says that he’ll pray with ‘Isa bin Maryam?”

He replied: “O people of ‘Iraq, I knew that you wouldn’t believe me. But this won’t stop me from conveying what I heard from Allah’s Messenger. Allah’s Messenger, the truthful & believed one, told me that “the Dajjal will emerge from the East at a time when people are divided. He’ll reach everywhere on Earth in forty days. During this time, the believers will suffer immensely. Then ‘Isa bin Maryam will descend & lead them in salah. When he raises his head from ruku’, Allah will destroy the Dajjal & those with him.”

As for my saying that it’s the truth, then Allah’s Messenger said: “And it’s the truth.”

As for my saying that I wish to be there, then perhaps I’ll be there despite my white hair, delicate skin, and old age. Perhaps Allah will have mercy on me and I’ll be there to pray with him. Go tell your family what Abu Hurayrah told you.”

Reflect over Abu Hurayrah’s incessant yaqin even in old age. And reflect over the fact that the best men had their yaqin exposed through mere tests of compliance, after which nothing materialized for them – just as those who helped prepare for Tabuk were promised Jannah despite having arrived to find no Romans there, and those who partook in Bay’at ar-Ridwan were “the best people on Earth” and “will never enter the Fire” despite the rumors of ‘Uthman’s death turning out to have been false, and Lut ended up with not a single convert, and Ibrahim’s {“great test”} (37:106) ended at the last second without him slaughtering his son, and Nuh spent nearly a millennium confronting the world with his hujjah with the result that {“only a few believed with him.”} (11:40)

So life is but a brief window of time testing your yaqin, as Allah only {“created death and life to show which of you acts best…”} (67:2) Even if you don’t live long enough to witness its results in this life, and even if those lacking foresight mock you for working on an unfinished ship, they will materialize. One way they’ll materialize is you, as the Prophet said that Allah will ask Nuh on the Day of Resurrection: “Did you convey My message?”

He’ll reply: “Yes, my Lord.”

Allah will then ask Nuh’s people: “Did he convey My message?”

They’ll lie: “No! No Prophet ever came to us.”

Allah will then ask Nuh: “Who will vouch for you?”

Nuh will reply: “Muhammad & his ummah.”

The Prophet continued: “So we’ll then testify that Nuh conveyed the message…”

Written by: Tariq Mehanna Monday, the 27th of Dhu al-Hijjah 1438 (18th of September 2017)

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