The Levant (Shaam) .. Its virtues and its history
Sheikh Saalih aal Taalib
February 24, 2012 ~ Rabi al Awwal 2, 1433
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All praise be to Allah. All praise be to Allah, the one whose commands change the conditions. He rotates the days, so how many a country was judged against, then was changed. And how many a group dominated and thought their domination was everlasting, then they slipped and passed away and its kingdom passed away. I praise my Lord – Glorified is He – and I praise him and thank him and I seek His repentance and forgiveness. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, The Great, The Exalted. He gives respite without neglect. And He is severe (in) insidiousness, Great in warning. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, the noblest of messengers and the most complete of men. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be on him and salutations on his companions and family.
Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad – peace be upon him – and the worst of affairs are the newly invented, and every newly invented thing is a bid’ah (innovation), and every innovation is a misguidance.
Then verily the best advice: (is) the advice of the fearing of Allah – The Exalted. “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger – peace be upon him – he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. saviour from Hell and entry into Paradise).” [Ahzaab; Verse 70-71]
When Allah spread out the earth and caused the hand of the creation over the creatures, He made in it lands and spread on it humans. Then He chose from these lands, lands, and from humans, humans. “And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses.” [Qasas; Verse 68]. So it was Makkah and the Mashaa’ir (Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafah) and the purest of the pure (Madeenah), and the birthmark of them was the land of Shaam.
And He chose from humans, His prophets and messengers, and He decreed for the land of Shaam a great portion of them. He made its land the route of the prophets and the descent of revelation from the sky. It is the land of gathering and resurrection. And when Allah will send the Messiah, son of Maryam at the end of times, he will not descend except in it, at the eastern, white minaret of Damascus, (as is) narrated by Muslim.
Blessedness for Shaam! The angels of the Most Gracious spread their wings over it. Surely it is a land that Allah has blessed through the texts of the Book and the Sunnah. For it is the wet-nurse of Islam and its nurse-maid; and its capital for a long period of time. Many governments of Islam ruled on its land and many companions (sahaba) and scholars of the Muslims are buried in it.
How many (tears) of the eyes of worshippers were shed on its soil, and (how many) brigades of Jihaad were summoned in its shadows, and (how much of) ink flowed on its notebooks with knowledge and (how much of) the blood of martyrs flowed on its soil: companions and chosen ones and sincere friends. And the rule rotated in it (through) kings and sultans, increasing majesty in majesty and honour in honour.
The crusader movement that flocked to it for 200 years was defeated on its hills, (of which) the number of soldiers in it was close to the (number of) citizens of the entire land of Shaam.
When the civilization of Islam is considered, Shaam is mentioned; and when knowledge, virtue and conquests are mentioned, Shaam is mentioned. It is the land of prophets and the refuge of the sincere friends. And the prophet – peace be upon him – did not visit a land outside the Arabian Peninsula except the land of Shaam.
And at the end of time, when there will be a great massacre, the tent of the Muslims and the unison of their banners will be in the land of a fertile oasis, in which is the city said to be: Damascus, and it will be the best place for people to live in on that day, as Tabarani narrated from the saying of the prophet – peace be upon him.
And surely the companions– may Allah be pleased with them – had grasped the supplication of the prophet – peace be upon him -: “O Allah bless us in our Shaam, O Allah bless us in our Shaam” [Narrated by Bukhari].
And his saying – peace be upon him – “If the people of Shaam are corrupted then there is no good in you. There will always be a group of my nation that will be victorious, and they will not be harmed by those who seek to humiliate them until the hour comes.” [Narrated by Tirmidhi].
They (companions) did not remain after his – peace be upon him – demise, except a few of them. Their hearts turned to the land that Allah had blessed and (that) the messenger of Allah advised about. Then the banners of victory fluttered towards it (Shaam), and the brigades of Jihaad flapped in its cradles, and features of light ruled it, and Islam spread its robe over Shaam. The vanguards of faith extending it, being led by Khalid bin Waleed, Abu Ubaidah bin Jarraah, Shurahbeel bin Hasanah, Amr bin Aas, Diraar bin Azwar and with them was a thousand companions, 100 of whom had witnessed Badr. And the noble companions were successors to it (Shaam).
Waleed bin Muslim said: “10 000 eyes that saw the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – entered Shaam.”
Eyes, after the purity of Madeenah, saw the sight of Shaam. Not surprisingly, for the prophet – peace be upon him – chose it for his companions, and advised his most loyal of companions regarding it. He – peace be upon him – said: “You will be split up into groups of armies. An army will be in Shaam, an army in Yemen and an army in Iraq.” Ibn Hawlah – may Allah be pleased with him – said: “Choose for me O messenger of Allah if I’m around to witness that. So he said: “You must join Shaam, for it is the chosen land of Allah in His earth. In it the chosen ones among His servants shall have protection. Otherwise, go to Yemen but be prepared to drink from still water. For Allah has given me a guarantee concerning Shaam and its people.” [Narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawood].
And Shaam became the capital of Islam. The first kingdoms of Islam and the most just kings of Islam were established in it. The light of knowledge radiated from it. And the robe of justice was spread out in it. And the values of truth and freedom were spread in it. The Muslims there portrayed the most wonderful examples in good neighbouring and noble dealings with others.
And the Muslims protected the custody of the people of religions, and they left their sects and places of worship for them, so the people lived in peace and security, free in their land and beliefs. And Shaam partook of the blessings of justice, and its life was comfortable, and its sustenance was great, so much so that Umar bin Abdul Aziz said, while he was sitting on its throne: “Scatter the grain on the tops of mountains so that it will not be said: The birds are hungry in the land of the Muslims.”
And the armies of Tartar were defeated on its hills, and the light of Islam was elevated in it and gained victory, so much so that a questioner asked Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allah have mercy on him -: “Is the status of Shaam due to its manifestation of Islam better or that of Makkah and Madeenah?”
Then a long time passed, and the days changed. And with the rising of the ones who rose to its rule, its condition changed, then Shaam was not the Shaam that promises. Its vegetation withered, and its flowers shriveled, and the life of its people narrowed, and security demised from its meadows, and the enemies cut off a part of its land. And there were still scholars and pious (people) in the land of Shaam. Some left their homes and were separated from their countries, expelled. They were met with the hand of oppression and transgression. Their eyes flow with tears. And most of the strangers are not kind to their people and homes. And they see on the screens, places of their lands that they know. They had memories and sorrows there. The airplanes are bombing them and the cannons are demolishing them.
O Muslims: Shaam is the heritage of the conquerors i.e. the companions and those who follow them; and a trust of the ancestors of the Muslims for the descendants. Its history is inspirational and its current situation is sad, and its people have patience of whose tales are long. Perhaps their patience can be interpreted towards goodness.
And surely we are in a time in which we are summoning that majesty and that old history to take a stand against two hollow wounds in the land of Shaam; two bleeding bloods that the Islamic nation suffers from. Both wounds are moist, and too the sickles are affecting them: The wound of Palestine, and the wound of Syria, and between them there are scars here and there. And these are days of tests and trials.
O Muslims: How is a person in these days able to exceed the massacres of values in our beloved Shaam and he sees treachery of the near (ones), and betrayal of the far (ones), and disloyalty of the shepherd for his flock. The capabilities of the nation and its achievements are employed for its suppression and humiliation; and its weapons which are (usually) used to drive off the danger of the enemy returned on the jugular veins of the citizens, slaughtering and chopping. The Islamic nation is crushed for the sake of the interests of individuals who don’t care about it (even) for a day. Surely the covered has been uncovered, and the slogans have worked up the feelings, and it is clear that sometimes the enemy that is beyond the borders is more merciful than the enemy that is within the borders.
Women and children not armed even with a stone, the missiles of treachery are scattered on the stones of their homes; and their bodies are shattered under the mess. You see arms amputated and bodies buried below the rubble of the houses; in pictures portraying the capability of the lack of humanity and the like thereof of the perpetrators, and the lack of character and nobility in their actions. The blood of the Shaamis are flowing (like) the flowing of the Tigris and Euphrates, not on (the hands) of an apparent enemy, but on the hands of an imposter, an Arab Renaissance and the guardianship of the Arabs about whom no excuse can tolerate and no justification can conceal.
O Noble Shaamis: Your weapons have honour, so do not dirty them by attaining your brethren with them. And your strength is a pride for the Arabs, so do not tackle your people with it. And make your weapons for your family a protector; and for your land a defender. There is no excuse for you in front of Allah and history that you return the barrels of guns against your chests, and some of you taste the wrong of others. “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him and a great punishment is prepared for him.” [Nisaa; Verse 93]. Unify the ranks, join the speech, and seek help from Allah and be patient.
Servants of Allah: Verily the virtue of Shaam and its existence is the inlet of Islam which makes it necessary for the Muslims to call to aiding its people and driving off oppression from them and removing injustice from them. And surely the prophet – peace be upon him – made the reformation of Shaam the criterion for the reformation of the entire Islamic nation. Therefore, it is necessary on the Muslims – all the Muslims – to drive off as much as they can so that the hand of corruption does not change the beautiful face of Shaam, and it remains as its history, faith, knowledge, civilization and light, no hungry birds in it as Umar wanted; and no people fear in it; loyal to the companion conquerors and the glorious scholars who put the soil of Shaam under their heads for the last sleep in this world; and standing efficiently on its rights that were gifted by the Arabs and Muslims.
Surely the ardent intellectuals have called for the interests of the Islamic nation. And the custodian of the two Holy Mosques has raised his voice from the first hour, calling for ruling with truth and justice, and logic, wisdom and intellect, and placing noble public interests before personal interests, sparing the blood of the Muslims and preserving the unity of their ranks and their land, and repelling group and ideological differences, and steadfastness on the positions of religion and character. And he has stood up – may Allah protect him – coming out openly with words of truth and justice with his ardent brothers and friends.
So may Allah fulfill the efforts, and reform the affair, and make the consequences good.
And verily we have hope in the morning (that) enfolds the stifling night, and by which the flowers breathe, and with which the sun of salvation shines. And the hope in Allah is great that the day will return its (Shaam’s) glad tidings. And the sky gives hope when it is obscured.
Perhaps Allah will replace your night (with) morning, and your fear (with) security, and your agony (with) comfort, and make the best of you take charge, and suffice you with the evil of your evil ones. “And Allah has full power and control over His affairs, but most of men know not.” [Yusuf; Verse 21]
May Allah bless me and you in the Great Quraan, and benefit us with what is in it of verses and wise reminders. I say these words of mine, and I seek the forgiveness of Allah – The Exalted – for me and for you.
All praise be to Allah, The Guardian, The Praiseworthy. He creates what He wishes and rules as He pleases. And He is Just, doing what He wishes and ruling as He pleases. In His hand is giving and preventing, and trials and comfort – Glorified is He, Exalted and Holy. His actions and commands do not stray from wisdom, mercy and reformation. And we are His servants, the sons of His male servants, the sons of His female servants. Our past is His command. Our justice is His decree. And He – Glorified is He – is the most wise of judges, and the most merciful of those who show mercy. He does not decree for His friends except that it is the best for them, whether that decree hurts them or pleases them. And for Him is great praised wisdom in everything that occurs to the believers, even though that decree may be apparent trials and evils, for verily in His involvement, there is wisdom and advantages of which only Allah can count. “And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Baqarah; Verse 216]
And when the believers are certain about this reality, and they know aspects of goodness and mercy are in what has afflicted them, their hearts will be filled with steadfastness, patience, hope, and trust in the promise of Allah, and peace regarding His good planning and choices. “It may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” [Nisaa; Verse 19]
Verily, the wounds are hollow, and the calamities are great, and the pain is intense, but the sentiments that this destruction has caused in the Islamic nation are immense. And if Shaam is suffering, then surely the rest of the body of the Islamic nation suffers from fever and sleeplessness, and solidarity manifests among the Muslims, and life cheers up in their one body, and the masajid resound with supplication, and deep emotions in the Islamic nation are stirred up, emotions that were almost wiped out, and that were almost overlooked by the desires of life, and for as long as the enemies of Islam try to anaesthetise them (emotions) with distractions and entertainment – (so) they claim.
And because of it, they have re-awoken and there is raging in the hearts, and it sees the blood of the beloveds flowing on the blessed land of Shaam. And people have returned, a true returning, to the religion. And the truth of the truthful ones has become evident, and the betrayal of the betrayers has manifested, and the confidence of the world in the international organisations has shaken, and it is clear that they do not act except according to their selfish interests. The cries of children and the moans of the injured and oppressed do not affect the hearts of its (organisation’s) owners.
The hearts of the believers are certain about the saying of The True – Glorified is He -: “If Allah helps you, none can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (alone) let the believers put their trust.” [Aal Imraan; Verse 160]
It is narrated that Ali bin Abi Talib – may Allah be pleased with him – sang:
And do not be despondent when a mishap befalls you
For how much, by Allah, of concealed benevolence
And how many eases come after difficulty
Thereby relieving the distress of the grieved heart.
And how many a matter is hurtful at morning
And pleasure comes to you at evening.
When conditions narrow on you on a day
Then depend on The One, The Unique, The Exalted.
O Believers: Surely Allah the Exalted wants us to hold back tears at (the time of) every calamity or mishap; and to wipe away sadness, and to renew repentance, and not to become weak and not to be despondent, and to drive off fate with fate. “So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” [Aal Imraan; Verse 139]
Assembly of Muslims: Verily, knowing the aspects of goodness in these events, and being happy with the decree of Allah – Honoured and Majestic – and submitting to His decree does not mean: indifference and weakness, and being happy with corruption, disgrace and humiliation and not taking the means to victory, honour and nobility, but it strengthens the certainty in the promise of Allah – Glorified is He – and the confidence in His victory and contentment of His decree and planning.
Trials are an elevation, a purification, and an examination. And the martyrs are chosen and selected. “And that (Hereafter) which is with Allah is better and will remain forever.” [Qasas; Verse 60]
Pain gives birth to hope. And to the extent of the intensity of the hardship, the certainty of the closeness of relief is obtained. And know that victory is with patience and relief is with hardship and that with difficulty is ease.
With patience, there is reinforcement from the heavens, “Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety, and the enemy comes rushing at you, your Lord will help you with 5000 angels having marks (of distinction).” [Aal Imraan; Verse 125]
And with patience the harm of the enemies disappears “But if you remain patient and become pious, not the least harm will their cunning do to you.” [Aal Imraan; Verse 120]
And surely Allah has praised the ones who are patient in extreme poverty, disease and at the time of fighting (battles) so He – Glorified is He – said: “Such are the people of the truth and they are the pious.” [Baqarah; Verse 177]
Verily patience is necessary and there’s no substitute for it. Patience is necessary on the effects of the events like pain and anger and hopelessness sometimes and despondency. Patience is necessary and so too is endurance, endurance of the oppressors who try and strive to break the patience of the believers.
And if falsehood insists, forebears and remains on its way, then how much more deserving is it for the people of truth to be intensely persistent and greatly patient. “If you are suffering (hardships) then surely, they (too) are suffering (hardships) as you are suffering, but you have hope from Allah (for the reward i.e. Paradise) that for which they hope not, and Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [Nisaa; Verse 104]
So O people of Shaam! “Seek help in Allah and be patient. Verily, the earth is Allah’s. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills of His slaves, and the (blessed) end is for the pious.” [A’raaf; Verse 128]
Verily Allah – Exalted and Majestic – has surely provided Shaam and its people for His prophet. That which Allah has provided, then there is no forfeiting of it. And surely the description in the Book and Sunnah of blessings is a glad tiding that the period of tribulation and tyranny will not be long in it, because it is a place of blessings, security and faith.
And surely Shaam was the cemetery of the enemies of the Islamic nation and the elders. For in it the crusaders and Tartars were defeated, and in it the Romans were overpowered – as in the Hadeeth of the great slaughter – and in it Dajjaal (anti-Christ) and those who follow him from amongst the Jews will be destroyed. And the prophet – peace be upon him – made the corruption of Shaam a permission for the vanishing of goodness from the Islamic nation, and he made its reformation a glad tiding for the reformation of the affair of the entire Islamic nation. And here it is today, glad tidings are coming and nights filled with hope.
And surely we swear by Allah – Exalted and Majestic – firmly, with full conviction in what our Lord has promised us of the help of His friends and defending them when they take from the means of victory, that hardship and difficulty will never be prolonged on a nation that surrender their needs to Allah and exclaim: O Allah, there is no one for us besides You, O Allah! And Allah – the Exalted – says: “And whoever holds firmly to Allah (i.e. follows Islam – Allah’s religion, and obeys all that Allah has ordered, practically), then he is indeed guided to a Right Path” [Aal Imraan; Verse 101] “And (as for) the believers it was incumbent upon Us to help (them).” [Room; Verse 47] “And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors.” [Saaffaat; Verse 173] “Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause).” [Hajj; Verse 40] “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) in this world’s life and on the Day when the witness will stand forth (i.e. Day of Resurrection)” [Ghafir; Verse 51]
O Muslims: Verily waiting for relief is from amongst the greatest acts of worship. And verily despondency of the mercy of Allah is from amongst the major sins. And the believers should fill their optimistic hearts with the closeness of relief and the conviction of the end of the oppressors. “So make no haste against them; We only count out to them a (limited) number (of the days of the life of this world and delay their term so that they may increase in evil and sins).” [Maryam; Verse 84]
And surely Allah wants for His servants victory and relief greater than they imagine; and stability more everlasting than they are waiting for. “And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” [Talaaq; Verse 3]
This; and send salutations and peace on the chosen prophet and selected messenger.
O Allah send salutations, peace and blessings on your servant and messenger Muhammad and on his good, pure family, and his companions, the fortunate personalities.
O Allah be happy with the guided leaders and rightly-guided khulafaa: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and with all the rest of the companions of your prophet, and those who tread their path and follow their way O Lord of the worlds.
O Allah grant honour to Islam and the Muslims…