Fitan – The Criterion

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

This is text of khutbah delivered on Friday, 26 Apr 2024. If you prefer to listen to it:

Allāh Glory be to Him said,

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

الٓمٓ • أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوٓا۟ أَن يَقُولُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ • وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ

(Surah al-Ankaboot 29:1-3) 1

Allāh Glory be to Him gave us this life with a purpose. The purpose is to spend this life in accordance with his commandments and prevent ourselves from his prohibitions. The very reason of creation of this life is to test us who amongst us do righteous deeds.

ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلْمَوْتَ وَٱلْحَيَوٰةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed

(Surah al-Mulk 67:2) 2

For this, Allāh Glory be to Him tests us in different ways. These fitan, tests, trials, tribulations are in various forms. He tests us with good and with bad.

Allāh Glory be to Him said

كُلُّ نَفْسٍۢ ذَآئِقَةُ ٱلْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِٱلشَّرِّ وَٱلْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةًۭ ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.

(Surah al-Anbiya 21:35) 3

Ibn Abbas may Allāh be pleased with him said with regards to this ayah

it means, with difficulties and with times of prosperity, with health and sickness, with richness and poverty, with lawful and unlawful, obedience and sin, with guidance and misguidance.

(And to Us you will be returned.) means, and We will reward you according to your deeds.

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer) 4

Allāh Glory be to Him said

أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوٓا۟ أَن يَقُولُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried?

(Surah al-Ankaboot 29:2) 5

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ

But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allāh will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.

(Surah al-Ankaboot 29:3) 6

When gold is purified, it is burnt with high intensity. The impure part comes to the top and the pure gold melts down. Thats how you separate pure gold from its purity. The process of separating out the hypocrites from the believers is similar.

In the same context, Allāh Glory be to Him said

وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَ

And Allāh will surely make evident those who believe, and He will surely make evident the hypocrites.

(Surah al-Ankaboot 29:11) 7

Oh Muslims, do not be impressed with someone who is defiently disobedient to Allāh while he is better than you in terms of this worldly life. Those who, whenever they're tested with something, they fail every single time. Allāh Glory be to Him said about the hypocrites

فَلَا تُعْجِبْكَ أَمْوَٰلُهُمْ وَلَآ أَوْلَـٰدُهُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُم بِهَا فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَتَزْهَقَ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَهُمْ كَـٰفِرُونَ

So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allāh only intends to punish them through these things in this worldly life, then their souls will depart while they are disbelievers.

(Surah al-Tawbah 9:55) 8

This is not to say that those who are rich are automatically hypocrites, No! thats not the case. My point is, if you see someone who is constantly disobeying Allāh, whenever he is tested with a fitnah, he fails, do not be impressed from them. In fact, we, the muslims are extremely blessed to have clear guidelines from the Noble Qurʾān

Allāh Glory be to Him said elsewhere

وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِۦٓ أَزْوَٰجًۭا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌۭ وَأَبْقَىٰ

Do not let your eyes crave what We have allowed some of them to enjoy, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring.

(Surah Ta-ha 20:131) 9

Allāh tests those who he loves, and this is evident from the Qur'an, sayings of our beloved ﷺ, and lives of all the Prophets. Including those who we would think lived a luxurious life, like Dawood ﷺ and Soleiman ﷺ. They both were kings and prophets. However, we tend to ignore the parts where their tests are mentioned.

Allāh Glory be to Him said about Suleiman ﷺ, and this is before he was given all that what he had, from controlling the wind to controlling the jinn, animals and humans. Allāh Glory be to Him said

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا سُلَيْمَـٰنَ

And indeed, We tested Suleiman

(Surah Sad 38:34) 10

and This is the point where he made this du'a, asking to be given a kingdom such as had never been given to anyone before him, and his repentance and his duaa, both were accepted. This was only after he was tested.

Similarly, we have story of Ayyub ﷺ who was tested with severe tests, he was healthy, extremely rich and had many children, he was well off in worldly terms. All of that had been taken away until he ended up shunned by his relatives and even strangers, with the exception of his wife. His personal life was affected, his social life was affected, his economical life was affected. This happened to him, not for 1 month, not for 1 year but it was for nearly 18 years. He was tested, and everytime he was tested, he was patient. This continued to happen until, the Lord of the World, Allāh Glory be to Him, who knows the hidden and the apparent, who knows even the deep thoughts that have not surfaced our brain yet. He Glory be to Him certified him to be patient. Ayyub ﷺ became a symbol of patience.

Allāh Glory be to Him

إِنَّا وَجَدْنَـٰهُ صَابِرًۭا ۚ نِّعْمَ ٱلْعَبْدُ ۖ

Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant.

(Surah Sad 38:44) 11

All of this happens, after the fitan. These fitan are the criterions with which the scum is separated from the gold. The hypocrites are made evident.

I ask Allāh Glory be to Him to grant us tawfeeq and allow us to be patient when we are tested. For indeed, if we claim to be believers, we will be tested as proven from the ayah I mentioned earlier. We do not ask Allāh to test us. We should never ask Allāh to test us. For you might be in a good state of emaan when you are asking for it, however, you might be in a weak state of emaan when you are tested.

A sincere Muslim would ask; how can he protect himself from the fitan? Because remember! the fitan do not knock at the door before they come! It can be an instant health issue, loss of wealth or children.

Qurʾān gives us solution for these types of tests.

Allāh Glory be to Him said

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,

(Surah al-Baqarah 2:155) 12

ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allāh, and indeed to Him we will return."

(Surah al-Baqarah 2:156) 13

Whenever you are hit with an affliction, immediately, your first reaction should be إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ

The second way to protect yourself from the fitan is; Do not say "if I had done so and so, it would not have happened" or "had i taken this prevention, I would have not had this loss" etc.

Prophet ﷺ said

وإنْ أَصَابَكَ شَيءٌ، فلا تَقُلْ: لو أَنِّي فَعَلْتُ كانَ كَذَا وَكَذَا، وَلَكِنْ قُلْ: قَدَرُ اللهِ وَما شَاءَ فَعَلَ؛ فإنَّ (لو) تَفْتَحُ عَمَلَ الشَّيْطَانِ.

If you are afflicted with something, do not say "if I had done so and so" rather say "قدر الله وما شاء" (its destiny by Allāh and He does what He wills). For the word "IF" opens the doors for shaytaan

(Sahih Muslim) 14

Patience is best when any of these trials come, you don't have any other choice. But there is one blessing that you and I have, if fitan relates to that blessing, even the patience is not enough.

The biggest blessing you and I have is not our lifestyle or wealth or family. The greatest blessing every Muslim has, is his religion, his beliefs, his aqeedah, his emaan. For this life is short. Even if I compare this life to the day of judgement alone, its insignificant. The day of judgement alone is 50,000 years long. This is why, the most wise on the day of judgement will say about the length of this life we remained in this world

إِن لَّبِثْتُمْ إِلَّا يَوْمًۭا

You remained not but one day.

(Surah Ta-ha 20:104) 15

This life is only for sowing your seeds for the fruits you will reap eternally in the hereafter. Those seeds are your deeds and the fruits are your reward in form of jannah or jahannam, نسأل الله السلامة والعافية

Prophet ﷺ said

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ "‏ بادروا بالأعمال فتناً كقطع الليل المظلم يصبح الرجل مؤمنا ويمسي كافراً ويمسي مؤمنا ويصبح كافراً، يبيع دينه بعرض من الدنيا

Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by fitan, trials which would be like a part of the dark night. A man would be a believer in the morning and turn to disbelief in the evening, or he would be a believer in the evening and turn disbeliever in the morning, and would sell his religion for worldly goods.

(Sahih Muslim) 16

There is no doubt, we are living in the times of fitan. People have abandoned seeking knowledge of Islam. And when they are ready, they turn to social media, platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter. Then they get impressed with eloquent speakers who are ignorant of the correct understanding of Islam. They have guts to speak about the book of Allāh, the sunnah of our beloved ﷺ and the deen of Allāh, giving fataawa right left and center. And because they are able to express their thoughts well, Muslims get impressed with them. Slowly, the doubts creep in to their hearts. Then they live their life either with these doubts or they end up leaving Islam altogether. نسأل الله السلامة والعافية

We need to be extremely careful who we take our knowledge from. Do not be impressed with someone who is eloquent in speech. You need to see if he is a person of correct aqeedah, correct beliefs and correct understanding.

وعن عمران بن حصين قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم - " إن أخوف ما أخاف عليكم بعدي كل منافق عليم اللسان "

‘Imran ibn Husayn may Allāh be pleased with him reported: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “The thing I fear for you the most after me, every hypocrites with a knowledgeable tongue.”

(Ibn Hibban, At-Tabaarani)

Abdullah bin Umar may Allāh be pleased with him narrated

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما أَنَّهُ قَدِمَ رَجُلاَنِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ، فَخَطَبَا، فَعَجِبَ النَّاسُ لِبَيَانِهِمَا، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ﷺ إِنَّ مِنَ الْبَيَانِ لَسِحْرًا

Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches On that Allāh's Apostle ﷺ said. Some eloquent speech is as effective as magic.'

(Sahih al-Bukhari) 17

In this ḥadīth, there are 2 strong emphasis. The first إن is emphasis itself, meaning verily or indeed and the second is LAAM in لسحرا. This is known as LAAM TAAKEED, a laam that is added to a term to put emphasis in that term.

So, in this time of fitan, refer back to the scholars of Islam. Scholars who explain the Qurʾān and Ḥadīth in light of understanding of sahaba, tabi'uun and atbaa' at-taiuun. The 3 golden generation who Prophet ﷺ praised for their religion.

Be careful who you befriend, for indeed one friend can be a cause of your destruction. One companion, that you sit with, can be a cause of doubts penetrating in to your heart which can lead you to the depths of hellfire.

Allāh Glory be to Him related to us a story of a person who will be in jannah, remembering a companion he had in this world

قَالَ قَآئِلٌۭ مِّنْهُمْ إِنِّى كَانَ لِى قَرِينٌۭ

One of them will say, “I once had a companion ˹in the world˺

يَقُولُ أَءِنَّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلْمُصَدِّقِينَ

who used to ask ˹me˺, ‘Do you actually believe ˹in resurrection˺?

أَءِذَا مِتْنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًۭا وَعِظَـٰمًا أَءِنَّا لَمَدِينُونَ

When we are dead and reduced to dust and bones, will we really be brought to judgment?’”

قَالَ هَلْ أَنتُم مُّطَّلِعُونَ

He will ˹then˺ ask, “Would you care to see ˹his fate˺?”

فَٱطَّلَعَ فَرَءَاهُ فِى سَوَآءِ ٱلْجَحِيمِ

Then he will look and spot him in the midst of the Hellfire.

قَالَ تَٱللَّهِ إِن كِدتَّ لَتُرْدِينِ

He will ˹then˺ say, “By Allāh! You nearly ruined me.

وَلَوْلَا نِعْمَةُ رَبِّى لَكُنتُ مِنَ ٱلْمُحْضَرِينَ

If not for the favor of my Lord, I would have been of those brought in [to Hell].

(Surah as-Saffaat 37:50-57) 18

This person had nearly been ruined because of the companion he had in this duniya.

Allāh Glory be to Him said about the person who would be ruined because of his companionship

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ ٱلظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَـٰلَيْتَنِى ٱتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ ٱلرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًۭا

And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say, "Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way.1

يَـٰوَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِى لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًۭا

Woe to me! I wish I had never taken so-and-so as a close friend.

لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِى عَنِ ٱلذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَآءَنِى ۗ وَكَانَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ لِلْإِنسَـٰنِ خَذُولًۭا

It was he who truly made me stray from the Reminder after it had reached me.” And Satan has always betrayed humanity.

(Surah al-Furqaan 25:27-29) 19

Be careful with who you choose your companions to be.

Prophet ﷺ said

المرء على دين خليله فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل

A man is upon the religion of his close friend, so watch out who you choose your friend to be

(Jami at-Tirmidhi) 20 (Sunan Abu Dawood) 21

I ask Allāh Glory be to Him to grant us hikmah and save us from the fitan.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّنَا نَسْأَلُكَ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَتَرْكَ الْمُنْكَرَاتِ وَحُبَّ الْمَسَاكِينِ وَأَنْ تَغْفِرَ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمَنَا وَإِذَا أَرَدْتَ فِتْنَةَ قَوْمٍ فَتَوَفَّنَا غَيْرَ مَفْتُونِينَ. نَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ وَحُبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّكَ وَحُبَّ عَمَلٍ يُقَرِّبُنَا إِلَى حُبِّكَ

O Allāh, indeed we ask You for the performance of good deeds, the avoidance of evil deeds, love for the needy, and that You forgive us and have mercy on us. And if You decree a trial for a people, cause us to die untested. We ask You for Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of deeds that bring us closer to Your love.

(Jami at-Tirmidhi) 22

  1. ^   Surah al-Ankaboot 29:1-3
  2. ^   Surah al-Mulk 67:2
  3. ^   Surah al-Anbiya 21:35
  4. ^   Tafseer (Ibn Katheer) – Surah al-Anbiya 21:35
  5. ^   Surah al-Ankaboot 29:2
  6. ^   Surah al-Ankaboot 29:3
  7. ^   Surah al-Ankaboot 29:11
  8. ^   Surah al-Tawbah 9:55
  9. ^   Surah Ta-ha 20:131
  10. ^   Surah Sad 38:34
  11. ^   Surah Sad 38:44
  12. ^   Surah al-Baqarah 2:155
  13. ^   Surah al-Baqarah 2:156
  14. ^   Sahih Muslim 2664
  15. ^   Surah Ta-ha 20:104
  16. ^   Sahih Muslim 118
  17. ^   Sahih al-Bukhari 5767
  18. ^   Surah as-Saffaat 37:50-57
  19. ^   Surah al-Furqaan 25:27-29
  20. ^   Jami at-Tirmidhi 2378 (Hasan)
  21. ^   Sunan Abu Dawood 4833 (Hasan [Al-Albani])
  22. ^   Jami at-Tirmidhi 3235 (Hasan)