We should know that the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) was sent by Allaah to the whole of mankind, to explain and to make clear to them all that which is good and brings one closer to Allaah; and also to explain to them all that is evil and would distance a person from Allaah. The reason for this being, that life - with all its variety, colours and manifestations - is built upon two important matters: - Firstly: Knowing the good - in order to follow it. Secondly: Knowing the evil - in order to keep away from it.
So, for example, in the matter of Tawheed of Allaah (to single out Allaah alone for worship) - the crux of Islaam - it is built eemaan (faith) in Allaah and the rejection of shirk , kufr  and taaghoot . Eemaan in Allaah is good, whilst belief in at-taaghoot is evil. Thus, it is a must to recognise that which is good in order to follow it, whilst knowing also that which is evil so as to keep away from it. Likewise, in the matter of da’wah (calling) to Allaah, which is built upon commanding the good (ma’roof) and forbidding the evil (munkar). To command the ma’roof is good and is to be followed, whilst munkar is evil and is to be shunned. Likewise, in ittibaa’ (following of) the prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), which is built upon following his Sunnah and turning away from bida’ (religious innovations). Sunnah is good and is to be followed, whilst bida’ is evil and is to be shunned.
Events to Befall this Ummah
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) informed us of events which will befall this Ummah (i.e. Muslim peoples), some of these narrations speak of good for this Ummah - indicating also that the future, power and honour is for the Muslims; and that they will be established in the land. Other narrations warn us against those evil matters, that which would distance us from Allaah - the Most High - and make us weak in front of the nations. We will discuss some of these narrations which mention the two types of weaknesses.
First Type of Weakness Explained
The first of these narrations is that of Thawbaan - (رضي الله عنه) - the freed slave of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم). He related that the Messenger of Allaah said:
“The nations are about to call each other and set upon you, just as diners set upon food.”
It was said: “Will it be because of our small number that day?”
He said: “Rather, on that day you will be many, but you will be like foam, like the foam on the river. And Allaah will remove the fear of you from the hearts of your enemies and will throw wahn (weakness) into your hearts.”
Someone said: “O Messenger of Allaah! What is wahn?”
He said: “Love of the world and the hatred for death.” [Saheeh: Related by Aboo Dawood (no.4297), Ibn ’Asaakir in Taareekh Dimashq (2/97/8) and others. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.958).]
This hadeeth explains the first form of weakness, which has befallen the Ummah in all corners of the world, as being a result of inclination to this world, love of it, and being preoccupied with it, whilst turning away from the Hereafter, being distant from it and hatred of death. Hatred of death is a sign of loving this world, since the one who loves this world, hates death. Since, with death, comes the meeting with Allaah - the Most Perfect.
Some Benefits of this Hadeeth
From the hadeeth we can conclude the following:
 That the disbelievers attentively observe the Muslim Ummah and study their condition, when they see a weakness they strike at it and if they see a barrier, they destroy it. When they see that the Ummah cannot defend itself, they do not show mercy, since they are the enemies of Allaah. So they hate the Muslims because they (the Muslims) call to the worship and obedience of Allaah.
 The Muslim lands possess many riches, being sources of goods and blessings. This is why the enemies of Allaah desire these lands and try to conquer them.
 The Ummah has reached a level where it cannot defend its honour, riches nor wealth from its conquering enemies.
 The disbelievers have divided the conquered lands of the Muslims between themselves, just like diners when gathered around their dish - what do they do? Each of them take their portion until he is full; and he will not be content with that which is in his plate, except with that which fills. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), warned us about this fact - the cutting up of the Muslim lands, for he said:
“You will form different armies, an army in Greater Syria (Shaam), an army in ’Iraaq and an army in Yemen.”
I asked: “Which one shall I be with O Messenger of Allaah?”
He said: “I advise you with the (army) of Shaam and whoever refuses then let him join the Yemen and beware. For indeed Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - has guaranteed Shaam and its people for me.” [Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (5/33), Aboo Daawood (1/388), al-Haakim (4/510) - from ’Abdullah ibn Hawaalah (رضي الله عنه). Shaikh al-Albaanee authenticated it in Takhreej Ahaadeeth Fadaa’il ush-Shaam (no.2).]
 That the disbelievers do not fear the Muslims. At the time of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) when the disbelievers heard that the Prophet was preparing to engage them in battle, they would become fearful and turn on their heels. This is what happened at the battle of Tabook. At this battle, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) traveled a months journey to fight the Romans, when they heard of the Messenger of Allaah's, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), approach they fled. So the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said:
“I have been given five (things) which no one else before me has been given. I have been aided with fear - a distance of one month's traveling ... ” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (1/436) and Muslim (5/3-4) from Jaabir ibn ’Abdullah (رضي الله عنه)]
Allaah - the Most High - states:
“Soon We shall cast terror into the hearts of the disbelievers, for that, they made Shirk, for which He had sent no authority.” [Soorah Aal-’Imraan 3:151]
Indeed, fear is a weapon, which Allaah implants in the hearts of His enemies. This is why the strength of the Muslims, is not in their great numbers - weapons or wealth - but it is in their ’aqeedah (belief) and their adhering to it. For today there are plenty of Muslims, but they are like foam, like the foam carried by the waves. And their riches are many but cannot be for them. Rather, it has become the possession of their enemies. For example: The Muslims today approximate over one billion and they grow in number everyday. However, at the same time they are the weakest of nations in every country they are in, being persecuted - why?
Because they have become like foam, like the foam on the waves. Also, the lands of the Muslims possess many riches and minerals, but where does it all end up? With the disbelievers in Europe or America, or it goes to the Jews of Palestine. The Muslim oil constitutes approximately one third of the world’s reserves, but the Muslims are the poorest of people - why?
Because they do not possess anything from their Deen (religion), except a name. So they call to it, but all their riches now belong to their enemies.
Second Type of Weakness
The second form of weakness which illustrates the condition of the Muslims today is their being far from the Sunnah (example) of the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم), and being far away from the correct manhaj (methodology), in a state of innovation.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) has informed us of this in the hadeeth of Hudayfah (رضي الله عنه) in which he said:
“The people used to ask the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) about the good, and I used to ask him about the evil out of fear that it would reach me. So I asked:”
“O Messenger of Allaah, we were living in ignorance and evil, then Allaah brought this good to us. So will there be any evil after this good?”
He replied: “Yes.”
I then asked: “Will there be any good after this evil?”
He replied: “Yes, but it will be tainted.”
So I asked: “What will be its taint?”
He replied: “A people who guide others to other than my way, you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others.”
I further enquired: “Then is there any evil after this good?”
He said: “Yes! Callers at the gates of Hell - whoever responds to their call, they will be thrown into the fire.”
I then said: “O Messenger of Allaah! Describe them to us.”
He said: “They will be from our people and speak our language.”
I asked: “So what do you order me to do if that reaches me?”
He said: “Stick to the Jamaa’ah (the united body) of the Muslims and their Imaam (ruler).”
I further asked: “What if they have neither Jamaa’ah or an Imaam?”
He said: “Then keep away from all those sects, even if you have to bite upon the roots of a tree, until death reaches you whilst you are in that state.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.7084) and Muslim (no.1847)]
A Brief Explanation
(you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others.) Meaning: You will accept the Sunnah from them and reject the bid’ah from them.
(Yes! Callers at the gates of Hell.) Meaning: Callers inviting to the various deviated schools of thought which will lead their followers to the Hellfire.
(whoever responds to their call, they will be thrown into the fire.) Meaning: Whoever obeys the callers of innovation and misguidance then his end will be the fire, because the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) has said:
“Every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the fire.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.7084) and Muslim (no.1847)]
So the innovation is in the fire along with its companion. Whoever obeys the callers of innovation will be led to the Fire and whosoever obeys the callers of Sunnah will be led to Paradise.
(Stick to the Jamaa’ah of the Muslims and their Imaam.) Meaning: Stick to the Islaamic Empire if they have one. So you migrate to it, live amongst the Muslims, and do not remain in the lands of the disbelievers. And you give the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) to the leader of the Muslims - if they have one.
(I asked: What if they neither have a Jamaa’ah or an Imaam?) Meaning: Like today
(Then keep away from all those sects.) Meaning: Keep away from the callers of misguidance and (religious) innovation, neither being of them, nor aiding or supporting them.
(Even if you have to bite upon the roots of a tree.) Meaning: Adhere to the Sunnah and cling to its foundations. The meaning of this is not remain in your house and abandon the calling to Allaah, nor abandon ordering the good and the prohibiting of evil, since the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said:
“Hold fast to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of my rightly guided caliphs - cling (lit. bite) to it tightly.” [Saheeh: Related by Aboo Dawood (no.4606) and others. It was authenticated by al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar in Takhreej Ahadeeth Mukhtasar Ibnul-Haajib]
And here, in this hadeeth, he has ordered them to cling (lit. bite) to the roots of a tree. So the (roots of a tree) here means the Sunnah.
(Until death reaches you whilst you are in that state.) Meaning: To die in a state of Islaam, as in the saying of Allaah:
“And do not die except as a Muslim.” [Soorah Aal-’Imraan 3:101]
Striking A Balance
The Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam has explained in many other ahaadeeth that clinging to this world, loving it - whilst neglecting the Hereafter and giving a greater share to worldly matters at the expense of the Hereafter - is also from the causes of weakness amongst the Muslims. These narrations do not mean that a Muslim should ignore this world and not work for it, and become dependant upon others. Rather, he should work, in order to attain his sustenance and support himself so that he is not in need of others.
Indeed the words “aakhirah” (Hereafter) and “dunyaa” (this worldly life) appear in the Qur’aan an equal number of times. This is an indication that a Muslim should maintain a balance between this world and the Hereafter, so he performs righteous deeds and seeks the pleasure of Allaah; and he works in this world within the limits of the Sharee’ah (Islaamic Law) to obtain a lawful sustenance, in order to provide for himself and have no need to beg. However, if the balance is not kept, corruption appears. For example, if the Ummah inclines more to worldly matters - forgetting the Hereafter and the meeting with Allaah - it is overcome with weakness and humiliation. If, however, the tendency is in the opposite direction, the Ummah forgets this world and then becomes in need of people - extending its hands towards them submissively. But the Muslim should be distinguished, strong and honourable - as Allaah says in the Qur’aan:
“And to Allaah belongs all honour and to His Prophet and to the believers.” [Soorah Munaafiqoon 63:8]
So the Muslim is obligated to maintain this balance. Therefore, one should be sincere in ones actions, intending with them the face of Allaah and His good pleasure. However, rivalry for this world and love for it weakens the Muslims and debases them.
Rivalry for this World
’Amr ibn Auf al-Ansaaree (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) sent Aboo ’Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah (the trustworthy one of this Ummah) to Bahrain to bring back its Jizyah. The Prophet had made a treaty with the people of Bahrain and had appointed over them al-’Alaa ibn Hadramee. Aboo ’Ubaydah returned with the money. The Ansaar came to hear of his arrival and went to pray al-Fajr with the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم). When the Prophet had finished the prayer he got up and left, so the Ansaar approached him. He smiled and remarked:
“I think you have all heard that Aboo ’Ubaydah has returned with something.”
They replied: “Indeed O Messenger of Allaah.”
He said: “Then be happy and hope for that which pleases you, for by Allaah I do not fear poverty for you, but I fear that this world will be opened up for you, just as it was for those before you. So you will compete with one another for it, as they competed for it; and it will destroy you as it destroyed them.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]
Another hadeeth which shows love of this world is a reason for ruin, is the hadeeth of ’Abdullah ibn ’Umar in which he said: The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said:
"O Muhajiroon!! You may be afflicted with five things. Allaah forbid that you should live to see them.
- If fornication and adultery should become widespread, then you should know that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forefathers never suffered.
- If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods, you should realise that this has never happened without a drought and famine befalling the people and their rulers oppressing them.
- If people should withhold Zakah, you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the sake of the animals, it would never rain again.
- If people should break their covenant with Allaah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allaah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force.
- If the leaders do not rule according to the book of Allaah, you should realise that this has never happened without Allaah making them into groups and making them fight one another."
[Hasan: Related by Ibn Maajah (no.4019) and Aboo Nu’aym in Hilyatul-Awliyaa (8/333-334), from ’Abdullah Ibn ’Umar (رضي الله عنه). It was authenticated by Shaikh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah]
A Brief Explanation
(If fornication and adultery should become widespread, then you should know that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forefathers never suffered.)
Meaning: If faahishah (evil actions and sexual iniquity) appears in the Ummah and fornication and adultery increases, then it will be accompanied by many strange diseases not known or experienced by those before, like AIDS and Syphilis. Diseases, which now cause so much fear in Western societies, like America and Europe. Since this faahishah has become widespread in these communities to a well-known degree, rather it is considered a sign of their progression. How can this be a sign of advancement? When the animals in the jungle are ashamed to commit what they do and the bare people in Africa and its forests feel too embarrassed. If nakedness was an evidence of progression, then the naked people of the African jungle would be the most advanced!!
(If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods ... )
Meaning: Giving short measure is now a common thing, and is something unlawful. Allaah destroyed a nation - the people of Shu’aib ’alayhis-salaam - because of this, as they did not show mercy to themselves or to others, so how can Allaah show mercy to them. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said:
“Show mercy to one who is upon the earth, and the One above the Sky will show mercy to you.” [Saheeh: Related by Aboo Dawood (no.4941), at-Tirmidhee (1/350) and others, from ’Abdullah ibn ’Amr (رضي الله عنه). Al-Haafidh al-’Iraaqee authenticated it in al-’Ishaariyaat (1/59)]
(If people should withhold Zakaah, you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the sake of the animals, it would never rain again)
Meaning: if it rains, then it is not because of them or the fact they deserve it, but it is because of the animals - as a mercy for them.
(If people should break their covenant with Allaah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allaah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force)
For example: When the Muslims neglected the obedience to Allaah, He gave the Jews the power and they took Palestine, and when were negligent about that which they were reminded of, Allaah established the Christians over them and they took Spain; and when they were negligent yet again, Allaah put the Christians in control in Bosnia.
(If the leaders do not rule according to the book of Allaah ... )
Meaning: when they no longer implement the Laws of Allaah, the Muslims will then fight and kill each other like what occurs in border disputes and so on.
The Initial Strangeness
Amongst those ahaadeeth which also highlight the second form of weakness - that is, deviating from the guidance of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) - is the hadeeth:
“Islaam started as a stranger and it will return to being a stranger in the same way it started, so Tooba (a tree in paradise) is for the Strangers.” [Related by Muslim (2/175-176) and Ibn Maajah (2/320), from Aboo Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه)]
Initially, Islaam was strange and weak in Makkah, the disbelievers did not know of it. Then people began to believe in Islaam and entered it in great numbers. It then spread, grew stronger and was no longer strange. Now, after its strength and spread, it has returned once again as a stranger as it first started. How can this be, when the Muslims are great in number and their lands are plenty? Because the Muslims no longer understand the Deen, they are far from Islaam - implementing other than the Sunnah of the Prophet
(صلى الله علیه وسلم), committing innovations in worship, whilst they think they are following Islaam. So the correct Islaam, the correct Sunnah, becomes far away from their lives - like a stranger amongst the people, they have no knowledge of it.
How do we understand these ahaadeeth which point out these weaknesses? Do we merely accept them and remain weak, dependant upon the West and remain far from our Deen (religion)? The Prophet did not intend this for us, for he explained to us these things in order for us to flee from them - like a parent who says to his child: ‘Do not go up this road, as there is a wild animal awaiting to eat you if you do!’
So this is a warning from the parent to the child not to take that path. So:-
Firstly: When the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) informed us of these events - which are not from him but from Allaah, as he does not speak of his own desire but it is a revelation inspired to him - it is understood to be a prohibition of taking the path that leads to that.
Secondly: We have to work to repel these weaknesses; to fight them, reject them and not to be pleased with them - since it is an evil which has to be rejected.
Thirdly: We have to acquire knowledge of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the Salafus-Saalih (Pious Predecessors - the first three generations of Muslims) in order to comprehend our state of affairs. However, if we rely on newspapers, magazines and the radio then these media sources belong to the disbelievers, the West. Will they be truthful in their narrations and in their solutions? Do they really want good for the Muslims? Indeed, they do not spread except that which weakens the Muslims and makes them falsely believe in the West. Thus, we must become people who have understanding of the book and the Sunnah to know exactly what our enemies want from us, and Allaah has indeed informed us:
“Never will the Jews and the Christians be satisfied with you, until you follow their way” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:120]
 Shirk: “Associating partners with Allaah in those matters which are particular to Allaah.”
 Kufr: Disbelief, denial and rejection.
 Taaghoot: All that is worshipped other than, or along with, Allaah.