The Monotheistic Call (Da’wah to Tawheed) of the Prophets, and its Categories―and a Refutation of Whatever Opposes it

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In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy.

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds – and may the salutations of peace, praise and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet Muhammad, the seal of the Messengers; and likewise upon whoever holds fast to his Sunnah and traverses upon his methodology until the Last Day.

To proceed [1]:

The ‘aqeedah (beliefs) is the foundation upon which nations are built. The goodness of a nation and its strength is directly connected to the soundness of its ‘aqeedah and the correctness of its ideology. To further that cause, there came to these nations the messages of the Prophets (عليهم السلام) inviting them to rectification of their beliefs, so that every Messenger would invite first and foremost to this:

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

“We had certainly sent Noah to his people, and he said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (Al-A’rāf: 59)

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلَالَةُ ۚ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ

“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, saying, “Worship Allah and avoid the false deities.” And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom misguidance was deservedly decreed. So travel through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.” (An-Nahl: 36)

This was because Allah, the Most Perfect and Most High, created the beings for His worship alone without partners, as He said:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhāriyāt: 56)

Allah has the sole right of worship and His creation are duty-bound to worship Him alone.

عَنْ مُعَاذٍ، قَالَ أَنَا رَدِيفُ النَّبِيِّ، صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ ‏”‏ يَا مُعَاذُ ‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ مِثْلَهُ ثَلاَثًا ‏”‏ هَلْ تَدْرِي مَا حَقُّ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْعِبَادِ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهُ وَلاَ يُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ‏”‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ سَارَ سَاعَةً فَقَالَ ‏”‏ يَا مُعَاذُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ هَلْ تَدْرِي مَا حَقُّ الْعِبَادِ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِذَا فَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ أَنْ لاَ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ ‏

Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal (رضي الله عنه) said:

While I was a riding on a riding beast with the Prophet (عليه الصلاة و السلام) he said, to me: “O Mu’ādh!” I replied, “Here I am, at your service!” He repeated this call three times and then said, “Do you know what Allah’s right on His slaves is?” I replied, “No.” He said, “Allah’s right on His slaves is that they should worship Him alone and should not join partners in worship with Him.” He said, “O Mu’ādh!” I replied,“Here I am, at you service.” He said, “Do you know what the right of Allah’s slaves is upon Allah: If they do worship Him Alone and join none in His worship, He will not punish them.” (Bukhāri 6267; Muslim 30)

So this right is the first of all the rights without exception; nothing precedes it, and no one’s right comes before it. It comes before even the rights of parents:

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents.” (Al-Isrā, 23)

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُم مِّنْ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ

“Say: Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. He commands that you do not associate anything with Him in worship, and to parents, you must show good treatment, and do not kill your children out of fear of poverty…” (Al-An’ām, 151)

So this right precedes all other rights and duties. For this reason, it is the foundation upon which all the other regulations of Religion are built. If we look at the life of the Prophet (عليه الصلاة و السلام) we see that he spent the initial thirteen years of his Messengership in Makkah calling the people to a purely monotheistic belief and to reject polytheism in all its forms. And most of the Qur’ān consists of verses that reiterate this monotheistic belief and negate polytheism and its pathways. Furthermore, Allah has obligated upon each and every worshipper to utter a firm covenant in all their prayers:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

“It is You we worship and You whom we ask for help.” (Al-Fātihah, 5)

This is a mighty right and duty that is called Tawheed al-‘Ibādah (to single out Allah with worship) or Tawheed al-Ilāhiyyah (to single out Allah with godship), or Tawheed at-Talab wal-Qasd (to single out Allah alone when seeking and intending) – these different titles refer to the same monotheistic duty of worshipping Allah alone to the exclusion of all else. And this Tawheed is established in the innate nature of humans:

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ إِلاَّ وَهُوَ عَلَى الْمِلَّةِ

“Every new-born is born on the religion of Islam” (Muslim 2658)

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ، كَمَا تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ

Abu Hurairah, narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“Every child is born with an innate nature [to worship none but Allah] but his parents convert him to Judaism or to Christianity or to Magianism; just as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?” (Bukhāri, 1358)

Ibn Shihāb Az-Zuhri (d.124H) said:

يُصَلَّى عَلَى كُلِّ مَوْلُودٍ مُتَوَفًّى وَإِنْ كَانَ لِغَيَّةٍ، مِنْ أَجْلِ أَنَّهُ وُلِدَ عَلَى فِطْرَةِ الإِسْلاَمِ، يَدَّعِي أَبَوَاهُ الإِسْلاَمَ أَوْ أَبُوهُ خَاصَّةً، وَإِنْ كَانَتْ أُمُّهُ عَلَى غَيْرِ الإِسْلاَمِ

“The funeral prayer should be offered for every child even if he were the son of a prostitute because he was born with a true innate faith in Islam [to worship none but Allah alone]. If his parents are Muslims, particularly the father, even if his mother were a non-Muslim.” (Bukhāri 1358)

So a child is led to misguidance and to leave his monotheistic innate nature due to cultivation that opposes this innate disposition.

Additionally, Tawheed is the true origins of the World and polytheism is an incursion and an invasion against the origin of creation. Allah, the Most High, stated:

كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ

“Mankind was of one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed.” (Al-Baqarah: 213)

وَمَا كَانَ النَّاسُ إِلَّا أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَاخْتَلَفُوا

“And mankind was not but one community [united in religion], but [then] they differed.” (Yoonus: 19)

Ibn Abbās (رضي الله عنهما): “Between Ādam (عليه السلام) and Nooh (عليه السلام) there were ten generations – all of them upon the true Religion.” (Tasfeer Ibn Katheer 1/251, saheeh) Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 752H) stated: “This is the correct saying concerning this verse.” The first time polytheism took hold upon earth was amongst the people to whom Nooh (عليه السلام) was sent when they exaggerated the status of some righteous men after their deaths; and when invited to rectification by the Prophet Nooh, they arrogantly turned away saying to each other:

وَقَالُوا لَا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلَا سُوَاعًا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا

“And they said, ‘Never leave your gods! And never leave Wadd or Suwā’ or Yaghooth and Ya’ooq and Nasr.'” (Nooh: 23)

Al-Bukhāri reports in his Saheeh (no. 442):

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ صَارَتِ الأَوْثَانُ الَّتِي كَانَتْ فِي قَوْمِ نُوحٍ فِي الْعَرَبِ بَعْدُ، أَمَّا وُدٌّ كَانَتْ لِكَلْبٍ بِدَوْمَةِ الْجَنْدَلِ، وَأَمَّا سُوَاعٌ كَانَتْ لِهُذَيْلٍ، وَأَمَّا يَغُوثُ فَكَانَتْ لِمُرَادٍ ثُمَّ لِبَنِي غُطَيْفٍ بِالْجُرُفِ عِنْدَ سَبَا، وَأَمَّا يَعُوقُ فَكَانَتْ لِهَمْدَانَ، وَأَمَّا نَسْرٌ فَكَانَتْ لِحِمْيَرَ، لآلِ ذِي الْكَلاَعِ‏.‏ أَسْمَاءُ رِجَالٍ صَالِحِينَ مِنْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ، فَلَمَّا هَلَكُوا أَوْحَى الشَّيْطَانُ إِلَى قَوْمِهِمْ أَنِ انْصِبُوا إِلَى مَجَالِسِهِمُ الَّتِي كَانُوا يَجْلِسُونَ أَنْصَابًا، وَسَمُّوهَا بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ فَفَعَلُوا فَلَمْ تُعْبَدْ حَتَّى إِذَا هَلَكَ أُولَئِكَ وَتَنَسَّخَ الْعِلْمُ عُبِدَتْ

Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنهما) said:

“All the idols which were worshipped by the people of Nooh (عليه السلام) were worshipped by the Arabs later on. As for the idol Wadd, it was worshipped by the tribe of Kalb at Dawmatul-Jandal; Suwā` was the idol of the tribe of Hudhail; Yaghooth was the idol of the tribe of Murād, then the tribe of Ghutaif at Al-Jurf near Sabā; Ya`ooq was the idol of Hamdān; and Nasr was the idol of Himyar, the tribe of Dhil-Kalā`. These were the names of some pious men of the people of Nooh; and when they died Shaitān inspired their people to place statues of these men at the places where they used to sit, and to name these statues by their names. The people did so, but the statues were not worshipped until those people who erected them had died and the origin of the idols had become obscure, whereupon people began worshipping them.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) stated:

“More than one from the scholars of the Salaf stated: When these righteous men died, the people started gathering around and sitting at their graves. Then they made images of them and statues – then after a long time had passed by, then started worshipping them.” (Ighāthatul-Luhfān 2/202)

He also said:

“Shaitān deceived them and played with the polytheists in the worshipping of idols.

So he called a group of them to revere and honour the deceased, such that they made statues based upon the forms and images of the deceased persons, as occurred with the people of Nooh (عليه السلام) – and this is the reason behind the idolatry of most of the general-folk of the polytheists.

As for specific groups amongst the polytheists, then they made their idols upon the forms of certain stars that they claimed have an effect upon this world. They made for them temples of worship, and custodians, customs and acts of worship for them. And these practices have not ceased in the world from ancient times until now. And the origin of this ideology lies with the polytheists of As-Sābi’ah – and they were the people in the time of Ibrāheem (عليه السلام) whom he argued with concerning the falsehood of their idolatrous practices and he tore apart their arguments with his profound knowledge and broke their deities with his hands – then they called for him to be burned alive.

Another group took the moon as an idol claiming that it had the right to be worshipped and that it controlled the lower world.

Then there is a group that worships fire, and they are the Magians. They make for the fire many temples, and they stand up in worship for it, and appoint custodians, and invent incantations and do not allow it to die out even for a single moment.

Yet another group worships water claiming that water is the source of everything; by way of it every birth takes place, and every development, growth, purification and building.

There is also a group that worships animals; those who worship horses, another worshipping cows.

A group that worships human-beings, dead or alive;

Another group that worships Jinn;

Another worships trees;

Another worships the Angels.”

So from the narration of Ibn `Abbās (رضي الله عنهما) in his explanation of the reasons that led to the introduction of polytheism amongst the people of Nooh (عليه السلام), we come to the following conclusions:

Firstly: The danger of hanging pictures of living beings upon walls and erecting statues in gathering places and in village or town squares. This leads people to alter their mere veneration of the statues to the worship of them and believing that these statues can bring benefit and ward off evil from them just as occurred with the people in the time of Nooh (عليه السلام).

Secondly: The continued efforts of the Shaitān to misguide the children of Ādam (عليه السلام) and his scheming against them. He approaches them by taking advantage of their emotions and claims that he is encouraging them with good acts. So when he saw amongst the people of Nooh (عليه السلام) their longing and love for their pious men that had died, he enticed them into exaggerated acts of devotion such that he convinced them to build and erect statues in their gathering places as symbols of their veneration and love. His aim in all of this was to take them away from the correct and straight path of guidance.

Thirdly: Shaitān does not look at short term goals and immediate results in the present generation when he plants his corruption. Rather he looks generations ahead. He knew it was not possible for him to entice the people of Nooh (عليه السلام) into polytheistic practices in the immediate generation, so he plotted for generations to come.

Fourthly: We realise the virtue of the pious scholars who act upon what they know. Their presence amongst the people brings about goodness, whilst their absence brings about evil. Shaitān was not able to misguide the masses until the righteous scholars had passed away.

The Types of Tawheed and what is denied by the Polytheists till this day

Monotheistic belief (i.e. Tawheed) in Allah is of two categories:

1. Tawheed of Acquaintance and Affirmation (توحيد المعرفة والاثبات): This affirms one’s acquaintance and belief in the existence of Allah and His Lordship over the whole creation, and affirmation and belief in His Names and Attributes. So this category in essence singles out Allah in His Lordship (توحيد الربوبية), and His Names and Attributes (توحيد الأسماء والصفات).

As for the Monotheistic belief in Lordship (توحيد الربوبية): Then it is to affirm that He is the sole Creator, so He is singled out with that, and with control over all the creation (tadbeer), He is the giver of life and the one who brings death. This category was not disputed by anyone (or hardly anyone) – even the pagans of Makkah would affirm this category and not deny it alongside their polytheistic practices. This is shown by the saying of Allah, the Most High:

قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۚ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُ ۚ فَقُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

“Say, “Who provides for you from the sky and the earth? Who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges and organises every matter?” They will say, “It is Allah,” so say to them, “Then will you not fear Him?” (Yoonus: 31)

There are numerous verses similar to this that make it very clear that the idolators affirmed the monotheistic belief in the Lordship of the one God (in Arabic: Allah). However, it is the second category that they denied and rejected. It is the knowledge, acquaintance and affirmation of the first category that leads to the affirmation of the second category, which is:

2. The Tawheed of Seeking and Intentions (توحيد الطلب  والقصد): This is to single out Allah alone with all forms of worship, divine seeking and intentions. It is the Tawheed of Worship, and the monotheistic belief of singling out Allah alone as the sole God worthy of all worship (توحيد الألوهية أو توحيد العبادة). It encompasses the testimony of faith, the shahādah, which is the utterance that is the key to Paradise: “None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.” (لا إله إلا الله) – this testimony affirms the worship of Allah alone in all its forms and negates the worship of anything besides Him, the Most High. And the meaning of god (ilāh) is one who is worshipped. Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) stated:

العبادة هي اسم جامع لكل ما يحبه الله ويرضاه من الأقوال والأعمال الباطنة والظاهرة

“Worship is a comprehensive term referring to everything that Allah loves and is pleased with of sayings and actions whether hidden or apparent.” He continued:

فالصلاة والزكاة والصيام والحج وصدق الحديث وأداء الأمانة وبر الوالدين وصلة الأرحام والوفاء بالعهود والأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر والجهاد للكفار والمنافقين والإحسان إلى الجار واليتيم والمسكين وابن السبيل والمملوك من الآدميين والبهائم والدعاء والذكر والقراءة وأمثال ذلك من العبادة وكذلك حب الله ورسوله وخشية الله والإنابة إليه وإخلاص الدين له والصبر لحكمه والشكر لنعمه والرضا بقضائه والتوكل عليه والرجاء لرحمته والخوف لعذابه وأمثال ذلك هي من العبادة لله وذلك أن العبادة لله هي الغاية المحبوبة له والمرضية له التي خلق الخلق لها كما قال تعالى: وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالإِنسَ إِلا لِيَعْبُدُونِ[الذاريات:56] وبها أرسل جميع الرسل كما قال نوح لقومه: اعْبُدُواْ اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَهٍ غَيْرُهُ [الأعراف:59]

“So the daily prayers, paying the Zakāh, performing the Hajj, being truthful in speech, fulfilling trusts, being dutiful to parents, maintaining family ties, fulfilling covenants, enjoining the good, forbidding the evil, jihād against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, being good to one’s neighbour, and to the orphan, to the one in need, to the wayfarer, to the servant from the children of Ādam, and to the cattle. It includes remembrance of Allah (dhikr), recitation of the Qur’an, and whatever resembles that from the affairs of worship. Likewise, the love of Allah and His Messenger, awe (khashyah) of Allah and turning to Him repentantly (inābah) – and being sincere in one’s religion for Him; being patient with His ordainment; grateful for His bounties; pleased with His decree; having trust in Him; hoping in His Mercy; fearing His punishment and so on. These are from the affairs of worship – and worship of Allah is the most beloved and pleasing thing to Him for which He created the creatures just as He, the Most High, said: “I did not create the Jinn nor the mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhāriyāt, 56) And it was for this purpose that He sent all the Messengers, just as Nooh (عليه السلام) said to his people: “Worship Allah for you have no deity worthy of worship besides Him.” (Al-A’rāf, 59)” (Majmoo’ al-Fatāwā 10/149)

So whoever utters the testimony that “none has the right to be worshipped except Allah” (لا إله إلا الله) then alongside that he supplicates to other than Allah, and calls upon others besides Allah then he contradicts the meaning of this utterance.

There is no doubt a binding link between the oneness of Allah’s Lordship and the oneness of His worship: belief in His Lordship leads to singling Him out in worship. It is for this reason that the Messengers (عليهم السلام) would call their respective nations to the worship of Allah. They would use the Lordship of Allah as a proof that He alone is therefore worthy of worship:

ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَاعْبُدُوهُ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ

“That is Allah, your Lord; there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him alone. And He is Disposer of all things.” (Al-An’ām, 102)

The Monotheistic Belief in the Sole Worship of Allah and its Great Importance: [2]

Let us now move to the discussion with respect to the Tawheed of worship and its importance due to two reasons:

Firstly: Due to the fact that it is the most important part of the call of the Messengers that is presented to us by the Quran, and because it was the reason behind the continued struggle between the Messengers and their proud and arrogant opposers in every nation they were sent to. And this conflict has not ceased till this day, and perhaps it will continue until the Day of Resurrection and a trial and test for the inheritors of the Messengers as a means of raising their station with Allah.

Secondly: The most severe, dangerous and difficult deviation that the Muslims are afflicted with in the east of the world and its west is in this aspect – and it affects the majority of the ignorant Muslims as well those who are “educated” and ascribe themselves to knowledge.

So let us begin by presenting the call of the Messengers as a whole and then take a few examples. Allah, the Most High, stated:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ

“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], ‘Worship Allah and avoid the false deities.'” (An-Nahl, 36)

And the Most High said:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ

“And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me.” (Al-Anbiyā, 25)

After mentioning the stories of a group of the Prophets (عليهم السلام), He stated:

إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

“Indeed this, your community, is one community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.” (Al-Anbiyā, 25; Al-Mu’minoon, 52)

Ibn Katheer (d.774) stated: “Mujāhid, Sa’eed Ibn Jubair, Qatādah, Abdur-Rahmān Ibn Zaid Ibn Aslam all stated regarding the saying of Allah:

 إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

‘Indeed this, your ummah, is one ummah, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.’ – so they said: Your religion is one.” (Tasfeer Ibn Katheer 5/365)

And the meaning of these two verses is further explained by the statement of the Messenger Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام)

أَنَا أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ، وَالأَنْبِيَاءُ إِخْوَةٌ لِعَلاَّتٍ، أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ شَتَّى، وَدِينُهُمْ وَاحِدٌ

“I am the closest of the people to Īsā the son of Maryam both in this world and the Hereafter. The Prophets are [like] paternal brothers; their mothers are different but their religion is one.” (Bukhāri 3443; Muslim 43)

So paternal brothers are those whose mothers may differ but their father is one, so the intent here is their faith is one, but the laws they were sent with differed. (See An-Nihāyah fi Ghareebil-Hadeeth of Ibn Atheer (d. 606AH), 3/291)

Allah stated about the Messengers who were the firmest in determination and resolve:

شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ ۚ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ ۚ اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ

“He has ordained for you the same religion He enjoined upon Nooh and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abrāheem and Moosā and Īsā – and that is to establish the Religion, and not to be divided therein. It is difficult for those who associate others with Allah in worship that which you invite them to. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns to Him repentantly.” (Ash-Shoorā, 13)

This is the call of all of the Prophets – and at the head of them are the five Messengers of firm determination and resolve (أولوا العزم). The Prophets numbered one hundred and twenty four thousand and the Messengers numbered three hundred and thirteen [3] – and their methodology in their call to Allah was one – and began from a single starting point which is Tawheed. This is the greatest affair and the most important principle which they conveyed to all mankind throughout the generations, alongside their varying societies, different lands and times.

This is a proof that this is the only path that it is obligatory to proceed upon when inviting the people to the worship of Allah. It is the way laid down by Allah for His Prophets and their sincere and truthful followers. It is not permissible to replace this methodology nor to alter it or to turn away from it.

Examples from the Calls of Some of the Messengers:

Allah, the Most High, has informed us regarding some of the personalities amongst the greater Prophets and how they faced their people. We see that all of them proceeded upon the universal path which Allah laid down for them – and they followed the methodology established for them by Allah. Not a single one of them called to anything that was at variance with that. Allah said about Nooh (عليه السلام):

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

“And We had certainly sent Nooh to his people, [saying], “Indeed, I am to you a clear warner.”

أَن لَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ
“That you do not worship except Allah. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful day.” (Hood, 25-26)

And about Hood (عليه السلام) whom He sent to the ‘Ād tribe:

وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

“And to the tribe of ‘Ād [We sent] their brother Hood. He said, “O my people, worship Allah – you have no deity worthy of worship other than Him. Then will you not fear Him?” (Al-A’rāf, 65)

So this was the call of all the Prophets, all of them upon the same methodology in calling to the oneness of the worship of Allah – and it was with this that they faced their people. And it was due to this call that their people opposed them, except for those whom Allah guided to the truth. Their people would mock them, abuse them, declare them to be liars and poke fun at them:

وَكَمْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن نَّبِيٍّ فِي الْأَوَّلِينَ

“And how many a prophet We sent among the people of ancient times”

وَمَا يَأْتِيهِم مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ

“But there would not come to them a prophet except that they used to ridicule him.” (Az-Zukhruf, 6-7)

There is nothing more severe and hurtful upon lofty believing souls than accusations of lies, mockery and ridicule. They are more severe upon them than being struck by swords, or being imprisoned and being punished. This was expressed by an Arab poet who said: “Being hurt by a close relative is more severe in pain upon the soul than being struck by a sharp sword.”

After the death of his uncle Abu Tālib followed very shortly afterwards by the death of his beloved wife Khadeejah (رضي الله عنها) whilst the Prophet was still in Makkah, and three years before his migration to Madeenah, the Quraish increased in their ill-treatment of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), so he decided to travel to the town of Tā’if hoping to invite the Thaqīf tribe to Islam, and maybe they would offer him protection. So he sat with a number of the nobles and leaders of the tribe, and they were three brothers, Abd-Yaleel, Mas’ood, and Habeeb. He invited them to Islam but they refused and ridiculed him. They sent after him slaves and urchins shouting abuse at him until a crowd started after him. Then they pelted him with stones and his blood poured from him till his sandals filled with flowing blood. He left the town having despaired of good from Thaqeef.

The mother of the believers ‘Ā’ishah (رضي الله عنها) asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):

هَلْ أَتَى عَلَيْكَ يَوْمٌ كَانَ أَشَدَّ مِنْ يَوْمِ أُحُدٍ

‘Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?” The Messenger (ﷺ) replied:

لَقَدْ لَقِيتُ مِنْ قَوْمِكِ مَا لَقِيتُ، وَكَانَ أَشَدُّ مَا لَقِيتُ مِنْهُمْ يَوْمَ الْعَقَبَةِ، إِذْ عَرَضْتُ نَفْسِي عَلَى ابْنِ عَبْدِ يَالِيلَ بْنِ عَبْدِ كُلاَلٍ، فَلَمْ يُجِبْنِي إِلَى مَا أَرَدْتُ، فَانْطَلَقْتُ وَأَنَا مَهْمُومٌ عَلَى وَجْهِي، فَلَمْ أَسْتَفِقْ إِلاَّ وَأَنَا بِقَرْنِ الثَّعَالِبِ، فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِسَحَابَةٍ قَدْ أَظَلَّتْنِي، فَنَظَرْتُ فَإِذَا فِيهَا جِبْرِيلُ فَنَادَانِي فَقَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ سَمِعَ قَوْلَ قَوْمِكَ لَكَ وَمَا رَدُّوا عَلَيْكَ، وَقَدْ بَعَثَ إِلَيْكَ مَلَكَ الْجِبَالِ لِتَأْمُرَهُ بِمَا شِئْتَ فِيهِمْ، فَنَادَانِي مَلَكُ الْجِبَالِ، فَسَلَّمَ عَلَىَّ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ، فَقَالَ ذَلِكَ فِيمَا شِئْتَ، إِنْ شِئْتَ أَنْ أُطْبِقَ عَلَيْهِمِ الأَخْشَبَيْنِ، فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَلْ أَرْجُو أَنْ يُخْرِجَ اللَّهُ مِنْ أَصْلاَبِهِمْ مَنْ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ وَحْدَهُ لاَ يُشْرِكُ بِهِ شَيْئًا

“Your tribes have afflicted me much, and the worse afflication occurred on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn ‘Abd-Yāleel Ibn ‘Abd-Kulāl and he did not respond as I had hoped. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and I proceeded on, and could not recover till I found myself at Qarn ath-Tha`ālib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Jibreel in it. He called me saying, ‘Allah has heard what your people have said to you, and their reply. Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, “O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will collopse these two mountains (Al-Akhshabain) upon them.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “No. Rather I hope that Allah will bring them offspring who will worship Allah alone, and they will worship none besides Him.” (Bukhāri, 3231)

So from this, we see that the scorn, ridicule and mockery that was heaped upon the Prophets at the hands of the foolish idolators was more severe than other afflictions; even worse than the fierce battles in which lives are lost and the blood of their Companions is shed. On the day of Uhud more than seventy Companions of Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) were martyred. Qatādah said: “We do not know of any tribe amongst the Arabs who lost more martyrs, and will have superiority on the Day of Resurrection than the Ansār.” (Reported by Bukhāri). Amongst those killed were: Mus’ab Ibn `Umair (رضي الله عنه), and Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib the Prophet’s uncle (رضي الله عنه). The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) himself was wounded and his incisor was broken:

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كُسِرَتْ رَبَاعِيَتُهُ يَوْمَ أُحُدٍ وَشُجَّ وَجْهُهُ شَجَّةً فِي جَبْهَتِهِ حَتَّى سَالَ الدَّمُ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ كَيْفَ يُفْلِحُ قَوْمٌ فَعَلُوا هَذَا بِنَبِيِّهِمْ وَهُوَ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَنَزَلَتْ ‏:‏ لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ ‏

Anas (رضي الله عنه) said:

“On the Day of Uhud, the incisors of the Prophet (ﷺ) were broken, and he had a facial wound in the area of the forehead, such that the blood flowed over his face. He said: ‘How can a people that do this to their Prophet ever succeed? While he is only calling them to Allah?’ So the following was revealed: “Not for you is the decision; whether He turns in mercy towards them or punishes them…” (3:128) till the end of the verse.” (At-Tirmidhi 3002, Muslim 1791)

He faced what he faced of harm alongside his Companions at the hands of the hypocrites in Madeenah and before that in Makkah, and at the battle of Badr and other battles. Yet besides all of these afflictions, the severest upon him was what befell him on the day of Tā’if because of the contempt, ridicule and mockery which was unbearable. It are these types of trials that are the hardest for the true believers to bear.

عَنْ مُصْعَبِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ ‏  الأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الأَمْثَلُ فَالأَمْثَلُ فَيُبْتَلَى الرَّجُلُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ دِينُهُ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلاَؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلاَءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الأَرْضِ مَا عَلَيْهِ خَطِيئَةٌ

Mus`ab Ibn `Umayr narrated from his father that a man said: “O Messenger of Allah, which of the people is tried most severely?” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“The Prophets, then those most resembling them, then those most resembling them. A man is tried according to his religion; if he is firm in his religion, then his trials are more severe, and if he is frail in his religion, then he is tried according to the strength of his religion. The servant shall continue to be tried until he is left walking upon the earth without any sins.” (At-Tirmidhi 2398)

So those who are most like them are those who proceed upon their methodology in calling to Allah and in calling to what they called to, and that is the Tawheed of Allah, that He alone is to be singled out with all worship and to reject all forms of polytheism, idolatry and divine devotion (i.e. shirk) to anyone besides Allah. So those who proceed upon this path are bound to suffer harm and trials as were suffered by the Prophets who are their examples. It is for this reason that you see many callers deviating from this difficult methodology and this rugged path. That is because the caller who follows the correct manhaj (methodology) may have to face opposition from his own mother, his own father, his brothers and friends; those whom he loves. He will be opposed by the society which will treat him as an enemy and will seek to mock him and put hardships in his path so as to harm him.

It is due to this that many of the callers divert their attention to other aspects of Islam which do have their place – aspects which are not denied by anyone who truly believes in Allah – except for the fact that these other aspects do not bring the harm that is experienced by those who begin upon the Prophetic methodology and proceed upon it without swerving to the right or the left.

And the majority of the Muslim ummah are willing to gather around these callers who exaggerate other aspects of Islam without laying down the foundations of this tremendous faith nor giving it the importance it deserves. So they exaggerate the plots of the enemies, and busy the people with conspiracies and what is taking place in the parliaments and the palaces; or heighten the affair of those in authority [focussing upon their faults and tyranny] and dethroning them!

In any case, we say to those callers: No matter how much noise you make, and how loud you shout in the name of Islam, you must retrain yourselves because you have left the way prescribed by Allah and you have strayed from the Straight Path upon which the Prophets proceeded in calling to the oneness of Allah and making the Religion purely and sincerely for Him. So no matter how much you speak and raise your voices in the name of Islam, you have deviated from the methodology of the Prophets which was laid down by Allah, the Mighty and Majestic. No matter how much energy you expend and how much you manage to spread your da’wah and your own methodologies, you are still preoccupying yourselves with the means to the exclusion of the goals. Then of what use are the means if they only harm the goal?! And in fact, the means have become the goal. So Tawheed is not important to these callers, nor the ‘aqeedah and nor obedience to Allah. These are mere slogans they chant so as to deceive the masses. Furthermore, the means they utilise to ‘establish Islam’ are innovated philosophies and ideas in contradiction to the commands of Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) – they ascribe these means to Islam, and Islam is free of them. Here are some examples of forbidden innovated means used by the misguidance sects:

  • So some use music, singing and musical concerts as a means of attracting people to Islam; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others use films and acting out dramas; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others rebel against the tyranny of the rulers in the Muslim lands claiming they wish to establish the law of Allah in the land; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others claim that the indiscriminate mass killing of people is only solution to bringing about rectification in the earth; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others call the people to march and demonstrate in the streets of the capital cities in order to bring about change; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others travel the earth for forty days at a time, ignorantly roaming around calling to misguidance and neglect of tawheed; [a method never used by the Prophets]
  • Others claim that the Qur’an needs “updating” and “modernising” – that the Sunnah and the Prophetic way is no longer a viable tradition in the modern age; they turn to Darwinism, astronomy, science, philosophy and removing distinctions between the genders – contradicting the Heavenly revelations at every step!

So each group has its own particular methodology in contradiction to the universal methodology of all the Prophets that was laid down for them by Allah. The politicised sects have made the ‘establishment of rule’ as the goal in itself and have busied the Muslims around this affair. They have turned the means into goals, and then they have innovated and deviated in the means themselves, and they do not establish the Tawheed of Allah:

الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ

“Those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakāh and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of all matters.” (Al-Hajj, 41)

Woe to those callers who stubbornly persist upon the methodologies which they themselves have innovated – those who fight against the methodology of the Prophets in calling to the Tawheed of Allah, beneath dazzling banners and slogans which captivate the simple minded and those ignorant of the methodology and the path of the Prophets of Allah.

The Prophet Nooh (عليه السلام):

He was the second father of mankind and the first Messenger to the people of the earth, and he lived a very long life. He called his people for nine hundred and fifty years to worship Allah alone without becoming weary and without losing interest – he called them day and night, in private gatherings and out in the open:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرْ قَوْمَكَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

“Indeed, We sent Nooh to his people saying, “Warn your people before there comes to them a painful punishment.”

قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

“He said, “O my people, indeed I am to you a clear warner,”

أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَطِيعُونِ

 “So worship Allah, fear Him and obey me.”

يَغْفِرْ لَكُم مِّن ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرْكُمْ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ إِذَا جَاءَ لَا يُؤَخَّرُ ۖ لَوْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins and give you respite for an appointed term. Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you but knew.”

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا

“He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people to truth night and day.”

فَلَمْ يَزِدْهُمْ دُعَائِي إِلَّا فِرَارًا

“But my invitation increased them not except in fleeing [from the truth].”

وَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا

“And indeed, every time I invited them that You may forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears, covered themselves with their garments, persisted, and were arrogant with [great] arrogance.”

ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا

“So then I invited them publicly.”

ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا

“Then I announced to them in public and also counselled them in private.”

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

“And I would say, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever always forgiving.”

يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا

“He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in continuing showers [as a reward].”

وَيُمْدِدْكُم بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا

“And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.”

مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

What is the matter with you, [that you fear not Allah and] you hope not for reward from Him.”

وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا

“While He has created you in different stages [i.e. first Nutfah, then ‘Alaqah and then Mudghah]”

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا

“Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers.” (Nooh: 1-15)

At-Tabaree reported from Qatādah:

“It has reached me that a man would take his son to Nooh and say to him, ‘Beware of this man, do not let him lead you astray for I remember when I was your age, my father brought me to him and warned me against him just as I am warning you.”

So what was the call of this noble Messenger such that Allah has informed us in summary that which lasted and continued for nine hundred and fifty years?! This was a true and earnest call to the oneness of Allah, and to worship Him alone. It was a tireless effort and he used every possible means available to him to convince them of his call. He called them privately and individually, and he called them openly. He encouraged them and warned them; informing them of the promise of good for the obedient and the evil in store for the disobedient. He gave tangible, real and intellectual proofs from the reality of their souls and their lives; and from that which was before them of the heavens and the earth and what is within them of signs and lessons. All of this was of no benefit to them and did not cause them to accept. Rather they persisted in their disbelief and misguidance, and they stubbornly and arrogantly rejected it all.

They persisted in their adherence to the idols and the futile objects of worship. So the end result of this stubborn persistence was their destruction and devastation in this world, and everlasting torment of Hellfire in the Hereafter.

After all of this, for nearly a thousand years of calling, Allah commended and praised this noble Messenger and approved of his methodology and caused his name to endure and He made it a duty upon the greatest of Messengers, Muhammad (ﷺ) that he should take Nooh (عليه السلام) as an example to follow in da’wah and in his patient perseverance.

So is it befitting for any believer to turn away from this blessed methodology and choose another? And then to seek to attack this divinely established methodology and its callers?!

A further example in the Companions who fled Makkah and migrated to Abyssinia: What did they tell the King of Abyssinia?

When `Amr Ibn al-`Ās and `Abdullāh Ibn Rabee`ah al-Makhzoomee went to An-Najāshee (the Negus), ruler of Abyssinia to speak to him in order to incite him against the Muslims who had migrated to his land. They said: “O King, some of our foolish youth have abandoned their religion and come to your land. They have split away from their own people and have not entered your religion.” So the Najāshee asked the Muslims to explain themselves. Ja`far Ibn Abee Tālib was the one who replied and said:

“O King, we were a people from the people of ignorance who worshipped idols, and we ate non-slaughtered meat and committed foul acts and we cut off family ties, treated our neighbours in an evil manner, and the strong amongst us used to devour the weak. 

So we were upon that until Allah sent a Messenger to us who was from amongst us. We knew his lineage, his truthfulness, his trustworthiness and his chastity. 

So he called us to Allah, that we should single Him out and worship Him alone and renounce everything which we and our forefathers used to worship besides Him, all the stones and idols. He commanded us to speak the truth and to fulfil trusts; to join ties of kinship; to live in a good manner with our neighbours; to avoid forbidden acts and the shedding of blood; he forbade us from foul acts and from falsehood; and he forbade us from unlawfully devouring the wealth of orphans and from falsely accusing chaste women. He ordered us to worship Allah alone and not to worship anything along with Him.

So we attested to his truthfulness and believed him and followed him in that which he came with. So we worshipped Allah alone, and did not worship anything else besides Him; and we made forbidden that which He forbade us, and we made lawful that which He allowed us.

So our own people became enemies to us and tortured us and tormented us to turn back from our religion to the worship of idols, and so that we should allow the filthy practices which we used to allow.

So when they oppressed us, treated us cruelly and made it unbearable for us, and came between us and our religion, we left and came to your land. And we preferred you to others and wished to live in your company – and we hoped that we would not be oppressed while here with you…” (Ahmad in al-Musnad, 1/202, 5/290. Shaikh Rabee’ declared the narration as hasan)

So this was the call of the Prophet of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم). `Amr Ibn `Abasah as-Sulamee (رضي الله عنه) said:

“During the times of pre-Islamic ignorance I used to believe that the people were upon error and falsehood, and they used to worship idols. Then I heard of a man in Makkah who received revelation. So I set out upon my riding beast and came to him. At that time he was in hiding due to oppression of his people. Eventually I worked my way till I gained access to him. So I asked him: “What are you?” He replied: “I am a Prophet.” I asked: “What is a Prophet?” He replied: “Allah has sent me as a Messenger.” So I asked: “And what is it that He has sent you with?” He said: “To order the joining of family ties, to break the idols so that Allah is worshipped alone and nothing is associated in worship along with Him.” I said: “And who is with you upon this affair?” He replied: “A free man and a slave.” And at that time Abu Bakr and Bilāl were with him from those who believed in him.” (Muslim, 493)

The Political and Religious Environment in the time of Moosā (عليه السلام): Oppression and Injustice

Moosā was raised in the palaces of the great tyrant who claimed divinity. Moosā (عليه السلام) knew of the various types of corruption, unbelief, tyranny, injustice and despotism from what he witnessed in the palaces. He saw things that it is difficult to imagine or even think possible. He saw the enslavement of his people, the Children of Isrā’eel, the Muslims – he saw their humiliation, and their women taken as slaves, and the killing of their children, to such an extent that it surpassed any oppression known to humankind. Allah, the Most High, said:

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِّنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

“Verily, Fir’awn (Pharaoh) exalted himself in the land and separated its people into sects, weakening  and oppressing a group (i.e. Children of Isrā’eel) among them, killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the most cruel tyrants.” (Al-Qasas, 4)

The people of Pharaoh were also people of polytheism and idol-worship. So how did Moosā (عليه السلام) begin? Was his call not directed first and foremost to the correction of the beliefs of this idolatrous nation? Or did he begin with a demand for the restoration of the rights of the Children of Isrā’eel, and a struggle to gain rulership and authority from the hands of the tyrant, Pharaoh who claimed divinity for himself?

Indeed the call of Moosā (عليه السلام) was just like the call of his forefathers and his brothers from the earlier Prophets. His Lord instructed him with the principle of Tawheed and chose him to carry His revelation, and to establish worship of Him:

وَأَنَا اخْتَرْتُكَ فَاسْتَمِعْ لِمَا يُوحَىٰ

“And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].”

إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي

“Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.” (Tā Hā, 13-14)

Then He, the Most High, sent Moosā (عليه السلام) to Pharaoh:

اذْهَبْ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ

“Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed all bounds.”

فَقُلْ هَل لَّكَ إِلَىٰ أَن تَزَكَّىٰ

“And say to him: “Would you purify yourself [from the sin of disbelief by becoming a believer]”?”

وَأَهْدِيَكَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشَىٰ

“And that I guide you to your Lord, so you should fear Him?” (An-Nāzi’āt, 17-19)

So Pharaoh rejected the call from Moosā and his brother Hāroon (عليهما السلام). So Moosā manifested the great signs and clear proofs of his Prophethood and the truthfulness of his Messengership. But the despotic tyrant Pharaoh merely increased in his transgression and rejection of the truth:

فَكَذَّبَ وَعَصَىٰ

ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ يَسْعَىٰ

فَحَشَرَ فَنَادَىٰ

فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَىٰ

أَخَذَهُ اللَّهُ نَكَالَ الْآخِرَةِ وَالْأُولَىٰ

“But Pharaoh denied and disobeyed. Then he turned his back, striving [against Allah]. And he gathered his people and called out saying: “I am your lord, most high”. So Allah, seized him with punishment for his last saying [“I am your lord, most high”] and his first transgression [“O chiefs! I know not that you have a god other than I” (see 28:38)]” (An-Nāzi’āt, 21-25)

So what was the sin of Moosā and his people in the view of these criminals? No crime except that they called to the worship of Allah and to remain firm upon that, and to disbelieve in the divinity of Pharaoh and his idols:

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ أَتَذَرُ مُوسَىٰ وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَيَذَرَكَ وَآلِهَتَكَ ۚ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّا فَوْقَهُمْ قَاهِرُونَ

“And the eminent among the people of Pharaoh said,” Will you leave Moses and his people to cause corruption in the land and abandon you and your gods?” [Pharaoh] said, “We will kill their sons and keep their women alive; and indeed, we are subjugators over them.”” (Al-A’rāf, 127)

Then Allah wished to annihilate and destroy Pharaoh and his army and to save Moosā and the Children of Isrā’eel. So the Most High, the Lord of the Worlds, laid down a wise plan for them which contained no revolution, or political upheaval, since the laws laid down for the Prophets and their conduct reject treachery and secret plots and the spilling of blood for the attainment of authority, no matter how lofty the intention. Allah, the Most High, commanded Moosā: “Travel with the Children of Isrā’eel by night and leave the land of Egypt and you will be pursued by Pharaoh and his army. So Pharaoh sent out his men to the various cities to gather his army. He then said: ‘They are only a small band and they have enraged us! And we are well prepared and armed.'” Then Allah continued: “So Pharaoh and his army pursued them and reached them at sunrise. When the two groups saw each other, the people of Moosā said: ‘We have been caught!’ Moosā said: ‘That will not be so, indeed my Lord is with me. He will guide me to the way of deliverance.’ So We said to Moosā: ‘Strike the sea with your staff.’ He did so and it parted. Each side was like a huge mountain. Then We led the army of Pharaoh close to the sea in pursuit. So We saved Moosā and all those with him, and We drowned Pharaoh and those with him in the sea. In this is a clear sign, yet most of them believe not.” (Ash-Shu`arā 52-67)

So these are the means prescribed by the Sharee`ah, used by Moosā (عليه السلام) and those who believed in him from his people. He patiently bore severe hardships and the slaughter of his people. Yet that did not shake their faith, nor upset their belief, nor cause their patient perseverance to falter. So the way to their victory and the destruction of their enemy was the way laid for them by their Lord, which is what we have just read from the words of Allah, the Most High. And it does not contain anything of political machinations, or marches and demonstrations or the establishment of political revolutions.

Then there is a further point: If it were the case that Moosā strove to bring about a political revolution and earnestly sought to seize the reigns of power and to establish the aspired goal of the Prophets [as it is claimed by the revolutionaries and extremists], i.e. the Islamic state, then he would have quickly turned back and returned to Egypt since the ideal opportunity had arisen! Allah had destroyed the Pharaoh and his army and utterly annihilated them – and none remained back in Egypt except women, children and servants. So why did Moosā not seize this tremendous opportunity and establish the divinely inspired state in land of Egypt which Allah described: “How many gardens and springs; And crops and noble sites; And comforts of life wherein they used to take delight! Thus, We caused another people to inherit it all.” (Ad-Dukhān 25-27) And instead Moosā  (عليه السلام) along with the believers went to reside in Sinai desert without any state, any authority or any divinely inspired government?!

Therefore we have to say: Moosā was indeed a noble and great Messenger, and from the strong and firmly resolute; and he carried out his Messengership in the most perfect and complete manner. At his hand, Allah destroyed the despotic tyrant Pharaoh and his army, and with him Allah saved the Children of Isrā’eel, and this is sufficient honour and excellence for him, and sufficient for him is the victory he achieved over the Pharaoh and his people.

[1] This part is based on readings from Muhādarāt fil-‘Aqeedah wad-Da’wah of ‘Allāmah Sālih al-Fawzān, 1/7-12.

[2] This part is based on readings from Manhaj al-Anbiyā fid-Da’wati ilallāhi – feehi Hikmah wal-Aql of ‘Allāmah Rabee’ Ibn Hādee al-Madkhali (with some help from Dawood Abu Talhah’s translation).

[3] A reference to the hadeeth of Abu Dharr reported by Bukhāri in at-Tāreekh al-Kabeer (5447); Ahmad in al-Musnad (5/178,179); and others. There is another chain back to Abu Umāmah that mentions the number of Messengers to be three hundred and thirteen – reported by At-Tabarānee (8/139) and Ibn Hibbān as occurs in al-Mawārid (2085). Ibn Katheer stated: It is upon the conditions of Muslim [in authenticity].

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1 Comment

  1. Assalaamu’alaykum

    Ustaadh, a question.
    Is it true that the ‘aqeedah a servant has is the heaviest thing
    In the scale of good deeds yowmul qiyaamah?

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