25. FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE COMPANIONS
It is evident from Islamic history that the Companions had to endure over 20 years of hardship before obtaining victory. Scholars have summarised the following elements which the Companions inculcated in themselves in order to gain victory.
1. Patience towards the conditions that Allah ordained. We have to be patient and contented with every condition that Allah has given. While we know this principle, we usually blame and complain every time an adverse condition hits us. Remember that no condition occurs without the command of Allah, even if someone has wronged you. This incident was already written before it happened, and could not have occurred without Allah’s will. If we understand who is in control and running the show, we will return the situation to Allah and deal with such situation in line with what Allah wants. The Companions passed this first pillar. They were patient over the hardship and the situation that they didn’t like.
2. Surrender and submission: surrender and submission to the situation even if you dislike it. The Companions believed in Allah’s promise rather than their own perception. What their eyes saw was a lie, and what Allah promises was true. Whereas today, we believe what our eyes see and we disregard Allah’s promise entirely. A mu’min, will completely surrender and submit to whatever qadr he is subjected to, and will believe that the promise of Allah is coming. This makes him belong to Allah, and not to the condition.
3. Tawakkul ‘ala Allah. This means the sole and utter reliance on Allah alone to the exclusion of all else. Allah sometimes puts you in a corner and deprives you of all means, to see which way you will turn. If rebellion is the reaction, the hardship increases until the rebellion is subdued. In today’s context, we see hardship increasing on the ummah around the globe for the simple reason that instead of relying on Allah, the ummah stubbornly persists in being rebellious to Him.
During the conquest of Jerusalem, one of the stipulated conditions by the patriarch of the city was that the key to the city was to be surrendered only to Umar ibn Khattab RA. Umar RA travelled there with his assistant, each of them taking turns to ride their horse (some reports mentioned a camel). When they entered the city gates, Umar RA was walking in the mud while his assistant was riding the animal. He was not concerned about how he appeared to the shocked crowd and said: “We were very disgraced, and Allah elevated us with Islam. And if we try to gain dignity without Islam, Allah will disgrace us.”
Hence this is an urgent message for each individual: wife, husband and the ummah as a collective: If we try to gain dignity elevation or victory but not with Allah and for Allah, we will be disgraced. There are so many everyday examples we can identify. A woman enslaves herself to a man, a man enslaves himself to a woman, and the mother is enslaved to her children. Men and women are no longer serving Allah. Women are in such deep servitude to their children that they cannot even focus on salah. Their real devotion, love, anxiety, routine and time has been usurped by their children and all else, including Allah, is pushed down the chain of priority.
4. Remembrance of Allah: The Companions gained victory by remembering Allah, through zikr, supplications and reading the Qur’an. Every time they were stuck in a situation, they went back to Allah and begged Allah by doing zikr, reading the Qur’an and making du’a. That was the key to their victory.
For example during the conquest of Egypt, Umar RA dispatched two letters to Amr ibn Al Aas RA. He expressed surprise at the latter’s long drawn efforts which had continued for years but without success and said:
“The only reason for this is because you people have started to do things differently and have developed love for this world just as your enemy has. Allah assists people only when their intentions are sincere. I am sending four persons to you and am informing you that as far as I know, each of them is worth a thousand others, unless they are also affected by that which affects others. When this letter reaches you, I want you to address the people, to encourage them to fight the enemy, to be steadfast and to correct their intentions. Keep these four ahead of all the others and command the army to attack the enemy all at once like a single person. The attack should take place just after midday on Friday because this is the time when Allah’s mercy descends and du’as are accepted. Everyone should cry before Allah and beg His assistance against the enemy.”
Can you imagine any modern day ruler suggesting such tactics? It would be seen as an act of lunacy. Amr ibn Al Aas RA did as commanded, read the letter to his army and commanded everyone to perform wudhu. They performed two rakaat of prayer, and begged Allah for assistance. True enough, Allah granted them victory and Egypt was conquered.
All the victory was achieved after the Companions stopped looking at dunia. Dunia was so insignificant to them. Today, what is our essence? It is dunia, it consumes our hearts and souls and seeps from every pore. Whereas the companions’ essence was iman, love of jannah, the love of Allah and the love of elevation in the name of Allah. May Allah grant us these qualities, ameen.