SubhanAllah! AllahuAkbar! We are living in times when we are witnessing the apparent betrayal in the name of so called maslehat.
We are witnessing the believers and the innocent beings being oppressed just because they say our Rabb is One, just because they believe in Kalima Tawheed. We are clearly witnessing how the people, the people of power, the people of authority are sitting like as-habul ukhdud (people of the trench, ditch) who sat and enjoyed the burning plight of the believers as mentioned in Surah Al Buruj.
We are witnessing horrors beyond words. Sometimes when we smile, we feel like we are a hypocrite to even smile when the other part of the ummah is put on burning pyre.
At such devastating, traumatic times we feel like helpless, but we need to understand that we have to take our strength from Allah Al-Qawiyy (The Source of strength), from His words, His Kalaam – Holy Qur’an about which
Allah سبحانه و تعالى says in Surah Al Buruj –
بَلْ هُوَ قُرْءَانٌۭ مَّجِيدٌۭ ٢١
In fact, this is a glorious Qur’an,
In desperate and dark times, we need Qur’an to seek guidance, which is the glorious light which will guide us about what to do, and how to proceed.
We know if Allah سبحانه و تعالى has said something in Qur’an, then it is more than sufficient, but when Allah سبحانه و تعالى takes an oath then it indicates an emphasis, severity and graveness of the subject that will be mentioned. Surah Al Buruj starts with several oaths like the oath of the sky full of constellations, the judgement day, and the witness and the witnessed (وَشَاهِدٍۢ وَمَشْهُودٍۢ ).
After taking oath, Allah Ash-Shaheed (The Ultimate Witness) is condemning the makers of the ditch, who had thrown the believers into the ditch full of fire just because they used to believe in Allah, in monotheism!
SubhanAllah! Sometimes it feels like this Surah is directly addressing our reality, where we are witnessing the believers (especially in occupied Palestine) being thrown into the genocidal ditch dug by the oppressors, just because they believe in one Allah. Similarly, we are also witnessing how the so called international humanitarian organisations, OIC, the rulers in Muslim countries (who have key geo-strategic position like Suez Canal and resources at their side) are witnessing the genocide like the people who sat around the ditch, and watched as spectators the believers being thrown into the burning ditches and trenches.
If we read the tafseer of this Surah, we find the historical context of this incident being the story of the young boy, the king and the monk. Just to give a glimpse of the story, here is a short summary taken from the Tafsir ibn Kathir.
Among the people who came before us (before our ummah), there was once a king who had a sorcerer, and when that sorcerer became old, he said to the king, “I have become old and my time is nearly over, so please send me a boy whom I can teach magic.” So, he sent him a boy and the sorcerer taught him magic. Whenever the boy went to the sorcerer, he sat with a monk on the way, who was on monotheistic belief, the boy used to listen to his speech.
Some time passed by, then a huge terrible creature appeared on the road, and the people were unable to pass by. The boy said, “Today I shall know whether the sorcerer is better or the monk is better.” So, he took a stone and said, “O Allah! If the deeds and actions of the monk are liked by You better than those of the sorcerer, then kill this creature so that the people can cross (the road).” Then he struck it with a stone, killing it and the people passed by on the road.The boy came to the monk and informed him about it. The monk said to him, “O my son! Today you are better than I, and you have achieved what I see! You will be put to trial. And in case you are put to trial, do not inform (them) about me.”
The boy used to treat the people suffering from congenital blindness, leprosy, and other diseases by Allah’s will. There was a courtier of the king who had become blind and he heard about the boy. He came and brought a number of gifts for the boy and said, “All these gifts are for you on the condition that you cure me.” The boy said, “I do not cure anybody; it is only Allah who cures people. So, if you believe in Allah and supplicate to Him, He will cure you.” So, he believed in and supplicated to Allah, and Allah cured him.
Later, the courtier came to the king and sat at the place where he used to sit before. The king said, “Who gave you back your sight” The courtier replied, “My Lord.” The king then said, “I did” The courtier said, “No, my Lord and your Lord – Allah” The king said, “Do you have another Lord beside me” The courtier said, “Yes, your Lord and my Lord is Allah.” The king tortured him and did not stop until he told him about the boy.
So, the boy was brought to the king and he said to him, “O boy! Has your magic reached to the extent that you cure congenital blindness, leprosy and other diseases” He said, “I do not cure anyone. Only Allah can cure.” The king said, “Me” The boy replied, “No.” The king asked, “Do you have another Lord besides me” The boy answered, “My Lord and your Lord is Allah.”
So, he tortured him also until he told about the monk. Then the monk was brought to him and the king said to him, “Abandon your religion.” The monk refused and so the king ordered a saw to be brought which was placed in the middle of his head and he was martyred. Then it was said to the man who used to be blind, “Abandon your religion.” He refused to do so, and so a saw was brought and placed in the middle of his head and he was also martyred. Then the boy was brought and it was said to him,”Abandon your religion.” He refused and so the king ordered his execution but every time he was executed, he used to be saved from the tyranny as he used to supplicate to Allah to save him from them.
The king was highly disappointed witnessing the young boy living, as he considered him as a threat to his lordship.
The young boy informed the king, “You will not be able to kill me until you do as I order you. And if you do as I order you, you will be able to kill me. Gather the people in one elevated place and tie me to the trunk of a tree; then take an arrow from my quiver and say: `In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.’ If you do this, you will be able to kill me.”
So the king gathered all the people, and he shot the arrow by saying, “In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.” The arrow hit the boy in the temple, and the boy placed his hand over the arrow wound and died. The people proclaimed, “We believe in the Lord of the boy!” Then it was said to the king, “Do you see what has happened That which you feared has taken place. By Allah, all the people have believed (in the Lord of the boy).” So he ordered that ditches be dug at the entrances to the roads and it was done, and fires were kindled in them. Then the king said, “Whoever abandons his religion, let him go, and whoever does not, throw him into the fire.” Thousands of believers were thrown into fire.
Lessons for us –
Like that young boy, we should be inquisitive about the truth, and once when we have found it, then we should remain steadfast on it.
We should always remember that even if we are just mere individuals, and not rulers who have a lot on their disposal to liberate, then too as individuals we should never ever belittle our might and power. Here we witnessed in Surah Al Buruj that how a young boy created a public opinion by gathering the whole people on one place, and making them witness the truth, that the king shot the boy by saying, “In the name of the lord of this young boy.” The whole city entered into monotheism, this shows the power of an individual on haqq, the power of public opinion.
As individuals, we should try our best to seek the truth, and work in an organised group to create a public opinion about it. For instance, we know the solution right now is liberation from the shackles of the tyranny, and the liberation can only happen when the whole Ummah, and its resources are united under one righteous ruler who is ruling by Islam which is a complete socio-political-economic system. We need to create public opinion about this. We have witnessed the power of public opinion in this beautiful surah.
One might argue that it was a miracle then. But we need to understand that we too have a miracle with us, The Holy Quran which can literally turn the nations from Zulumaat (darknesses) to Noor (light).
We need to reflect on seerah of the Prophet (pbuh) to witness how the whole public opinion was generated against the oppression.
Despite all the odds, we should always remember that Allah Himself is Ash-Shaheed – The Witness.
He is witnessing all the atrocities, the oppression, the inactions of those who can do everything to stop the oppression but are mute spectators.
Even though if our efforts are producing no apparent results then too we should remember how Allah – The Ultimate Witness has appreciated the ordinary man, mentioned in Surah Yaseen, who came running from the outskirts of the city to witness, and testify the truth of the three messengers who were mocked and belittled. That ordinary man was killed, but Allah Ash-Shaheed (The Witness) has honoured him as shaheed (martyr).
The whole point is – being a witness of truth, and being witnessed by Allah as steadfast on the Truth.