Website: www.ummahreflections.co.za

Quarterly: Issue No 104

Shawwal 1443 – May 2022

 

REFLECTIONS ON PAST DESTROYED NATIONS

 

All Praise is due to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) and peace and blessing of Allah be upon his beloved Messenger Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

 

All Praise is due to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) and peace and blessing of Allah be upon his beloved Messenger Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

 

Through many messengers and prophets, the message of Allah SWT had been sent to all former nations. However, when they had transgressed and large numbers of them had ridiculed His signs, Allah SWT sent destruction upon them. The factor of time, dates and often locations are not mentioned much in detail in the Qur’an because the focus is on the attitudes and characteristics of those nations - and for us to take lesson as to which of those attitudes and characteristics to avoid.  Allah SWT tells us to reflect upon their stories and fates and don’t be of those who describe the Qur’an as tales of the ancients (Surah 6 Al-An’aam: Verse 25).  We may all know the importance of Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem, the Final Book revealed to mankind by Allah SWT (Glorified be He, the Exalted).  However, we may not necessarily follow the teachings of the Qur’an and follow its role model.  Life on earth can be divided in three parts: the past, the present, and the future. We are often told we should only focus on our present but learning from past mistakes is a very crucial human skill for success.  To remind us of the important lessons taught by each of the significant prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, let us recall some of these lessons for our own benefit.

 

Allah SWT lists the forms of punishment that had descended due to their mocking behaviour and disobedience:

So, each We seized for his sin; and among them were those upon whom We sent a storm of stones, and among them were those who were seized by the blast (from the sky), and among them were those whom We caused the earth to swallow, and among them were those whom We drowned. And Allah would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves.  (Surah 29 Al-Ankaboot: Verse 40)

And Allah SWT said in other verses about the punishment in this world:

Such is the punishment (of this world). And the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they only knew.

(Surah 68 Al-Qalam: Verse 33)

We will punish them twice; (in this world) then they will be returned to a great punishment.

(Surah 9 At-Tawbah: Verse 101)

And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.  (Surah 32 As-Sajdah: Verse 21)

 

Let us take lessons from some of the past nations that were destroyed – as mentioned in the Qur’an.

 

As’haab Al-Feel: (Beware of the dangers of status and envy)

 

Chapter 105 (Surah Al-Feel) in the Quran highlights how Allah SWT safeguarded the city of Makkah from an evil tyrant who wished to bring harm to the land. This is proof that Allah’s House of worship - the Kaabah - will always be under His protection. It also illustrated His promise to Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to protect Makkah as it is the beloved land of Allah and His prophets (AS).

 

The whole Chapter 105 (Surah Al-Feel) talks about the annihilation of Abraha’s army from Sana’a (Yemen).

This incident happened during the period of the birth-year of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Abraha Al-Ashram was the governor of Yemen on behalf of the king of Ethiopia (as Yemen was a part of the Ethiopian kingdom). He (Abrahah) thought to build a house (like the Ka’bah at Makkah) in Sana’a (the capital of Yemen) and call the Arabs to perform the pilgrimage there in Sana‘a instead of the Ka‘bah (Al-Bait Al-Haraam) in Makkah, with the intention of diverting the trade and benefits from Makkah to Yemen. He presented his idea to the king of Ethiopia who agreed to his idea. So, the house (church) was built, and he named it Al-Qullays; there was no church of its like at that time. Then a man from the Quraish tribe of Makkah came there and was infuriated by it, so he relieved his nature (stools and urine) in it, soiled its walls and went away. When Abraha Al-Ashram saw that, he could not control his anger and raised an army to invade Makkah and demolish the Ka’bah. He had in that army thirteen elephants and amongst them was an elephant called Mahmood which was the biggest of them. So that army proceeded and none amongst the Arab tribes that faced them (fought against them) but was killed and defeated, till it approached near Makkah. Then there took place negotiations between Abrahah Al-Ashram and the chief of Makkah (Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim, the grandfather of the Prophet SAW), and it was concluded that Abraha would restore the camels of Abdul Muttalib which he had taken away, and then he (Abraha Al-Ashram) would decide himself as regards the Ka’bah. Abdul Muttalib ordered the men of Makkah to evacuate the city and go to the top of the mountains along with their wives and children in case some harm should come to them from the invading oppressors. Then that army moved towards Makkah till they reached valley Muhassir. While the army was marching towards Makkah, in the middle of the valley, suddenly it was overtaken by flocks of birds, flocks after flocks, air-raiding that army with small stones slightly bigger than a lentil seed. There never fell a stone on a soldier except it dissolved his flesh and burst it into pieces. So, they perished with a destruction. Abraha Al-Ashram fled away while his flesh was bursting into pieces till he died on the way (back to Yemen). Such was the victory bestowed by Allah, (the All-Majestic, All-Powerful) to the people of Makkah and such was the protection provided by Him for His House (Ka’bah in Makkah).   (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Al-Feel).

 

Lessons to be learnt:

1. Allah is merciless when it comes to destroying those who openly declare war on His Signs.

2. The plots of those who plot against Allah are always weak compared to Allah’s Plotting.

3. The armies of Allah cannot be comprehended by human intellect.

4. Those who plot against Allah never meet a good ending.

 

 

The People of A’ad: (How to fight pride)

 

Aad is the name of (the father of) a tribe in the Arabian Peninsula and they were known for their giant and strong built and extravagant buildings (lofty pillars) as described in Surah 89 Al-Fajr:89 Verses :6-8.  The nation of ‘Aad was so intelligent and strong that they can even carve mountains to make them their houses created with beautiful pillars.  This nation started to feel proud of themselves.  The narrations show that the people of ‘Aad were so strong that they uprooted huge trees with their own hands easily. They were big giants, clever and strong people. They were blessed with fertile land and abundant water resources and lived extremely prosperous lives.  Because of their strength and intelligence, this nation started feeling proud of their powers which eventually led to a situation where they forget Allah.  The power and money had made them think that they do not need Allah anymore, and then eventually chose the wrong path.

 

However, they worshipped statues and Prophet Hud AS was sent to them who asked them – as Allah SWT say: 

Do you construct on every elevation a sign, amusing yourselves?  And take for yourselves palaces and fortresses that you might abide eternally?  And when you strike, you strike as tyrants.  So, fear Allah and obey me. 

(Surah 26 Ash-Shu’araa: Verses 128-131)

They thought they had everything they needed: Allah SWT say:  

As for ‘Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, “Who is greater than us in strength?” Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs. 

(Surah 41 Fussilat: Verse 15)

Instead of being humble and thankful to Allah, they not only ignored the Prophet Hud’s message, but they also even challenged the Prophet Hud to bring them the Punishment of Allah. The Prophet Hud AS supplicated: 

He said, “My Lord, support me because they have denied me.” (Allah) said, “After a little, they will surely become regretful.”  

(Surah 23 Al-Mu’minoon: Verses 39-40)

 

Yet, Allah SWT did not punish them straight away; He gave them chance after chance to turn back to Him through drought, famine, calamity and disease.  They still refused.  Allah SWT says:

And when they saw it as a cloud approaching their valleys, they said, "This is a cloud bringing us rain!" Rather, it is that for which you were impatient: a wind, within it a painful punishment.    (Surah 46 Al-Ahkaaf: Verse 24)

 

The city of ‘Aad (Iram city) was then hit by a powerful Tornado that wiped out the People of ‘Aad once and for all. Only Hud (AS) and his people were saved from that.  As Allah SWT says:

And as for 'Aad, they were destroyed by a screaming, violent wind.    (Surah 69 Al-Haaq-qah: Verse 6)

 

Lessons to be learnt:

(1) Prophet Hud AS was an embodiment of sobriety and dignity. Nobility and eminence are apparent in his expressions.  He used to examine the consequences before uttering anything.  He answered his nation’s mockery with tolerance, patience and self-control. Sincerity was his priority. 

When the chosen Messenger of Allah advises anyone, he does not bother about the mockery and ridicule which he is confronted with.  He does not abandon his task by becoming upset and disturbed. He treats his spiritual patients with a lofty character and compassion. The distinguishing feature of his advice is that he does not ask his people for any compensation or reward.

(2) Prophet Hud AS compassionately encouraged his nation to believe in the Oneness of Allah. He reminded them of Allah’s eternal favours, but the wretched people did not heed his advice. The most important reason for this was their ignorant belief that whoever speaks against the belief of their forefathers, will be doomed by the idols. Whichever nation was affected by this destructive belief, treated their guide and prophet in the same way as did the nations of Prophet Hud and Nuh AS.  The enmity and hatred which people normally have for the messengers of Allah is primarily based on the belief that nothing should be said against the age-old traditions of the forefathers regarding idol-worship. The famous Greek physician, Socrates, had to drink the glass of poison because he spoke out against the deities of his people. This disease has always destroyed the spiritual life of nations and proved disastrous for their eternal salvation.

(3) The practice of Hud AS and the other messengers to reply to evil and bitterness with virtue and pleasant speech is an excellent example to follow. However, the preacher must remind the people of Allah’s punishment for their obstinacy and disbelief. He should continuously warn them of the disastrous consequences of their evil conduct.  And also warn them that when a nation collectively oppresses and revolts, Allah’s wrath annihilates them from the surface of the earth. The nations of Prophet Nuh and Hud AS are clear examples of this.

 

The People of Madyan: (Reflect on the source of all good)

 

The people of Madyan, from an area which comprises current greater Syria, were known to be prosperous traders. Yet, they got carried away and were overcome by greed; giving short measures on weighing scales, making goods look better and hiding defects. They turned away from the truth and the Prophet Shu’ayb AS was sent to them. As Allah SWT says:

And to (the people of) Madyan (We sent) their brother Shu’ayb. He said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. So, fulfil the measure and weight and do not deprive people of their due and cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. That is better for you, if you should be believers.”  (Surah 7 Al-A’raaf: Verse 85)

The Prophet Shu’ayb (AS) reminded them there was no personal gain, yet they seized his and his followers’ belongings and drove them out. Then Allah SWT sent His punishment:  

So, the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home (corpses) fallen prone. Those who rejected Shu’ayb became as if they never dwelt there. Those who rejected Shu’ayb were themselves the losers.  (Surah 7 Al-A’raaf: Verses 91-92)

 

Lessons to be learnt:

(1)    Reflect on our earnings; if any part of our work or business is against the rulings of Allah, beg Allah SWT to guide us to other ways. Our wealth becomes impure if we cheat in our business.  We are not allowed to cheat with scale measurements in our businesses and lie to our customers about our products.

(2)    Whenever we engage in any new venture, or when we must make any job or business-related decisions, try to get guidance by doing Istikharah. 

(3)    Educate ourselves on Islamic trading ethics and business etiquettes.

(4)    Ask Allah SWT to forgive us and our offspring and guide us in both buying and selling transactions.

(5)    Do not let money get to our head and prioritize out acts of worship. For example, balance working and praying on time. How many times do we think ‘let us finish this deadline and then pray’?

(6)    Bless our income and expenditures by giving charity. Make giving Sadaqah - however small - a regular habit. For example, from every pay cheque or profit, give an amount to charity.

(7)    Let us truly and sincerely realize that the source of all good (barakah) is from Allah SWT – and no one else.

 

O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.

 

Requesting your duas!

Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa