The Bani Isra’il and the Muslim Ummah
[Lecture on the Occasion of Eid at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama rendered by Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Manzoor Nu’mani (rahimahullah)]
Translated by Maulana Zaheer Ishaq
My respected brothers and elders, on this occasion I want to make mention of something which I feel is of utmost importance. Therefore, listen attentively.
Those of you who are briefly acquainted with the subject matter of Qur’an either by studying the translation or by participating in the gatherings of tafsir of the Qur’an will know that from time to time, mention is made of the Bani Israil. The Qur’an Majeed is not a book of history, neither is it a story book, but rather it is a book of guidance. Making mention of the incident of the Bani Israil so often is also for this very purpose.
Who were the Bani Israil? Understand it in this manner that they were the Muslims of that era, who not only believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam), but were of their progeny as well. Hadhrat Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) had a son, Hadhrat Ishaq (alayhis salaam), and Hadhrat Ishaq (alayhis salaam) had a son, Hadhrat Yaqub (alayhis salaam) whose title was Isra’il. Yaqub (alayhis salaam)’s progeny are therefore called the Bani Isra’il (Children of Isra’il).
There were a people who believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). They believed in Ibrahim (alayhis salaam), Ishaq (alayhis salaam), Yaqub (alayhis salaam). During the time of Nabi ﷺ the Bani Isra’il were divided into two groups, those who did not believe in ‘Isa (alayhis salaam), but opposed him although they believed in the Prophets before him. The second group were those who believed in ‘Isa (alayhis salaam). When the Qur’an speaks of Bani Isra’il, reference is made to both these groups. In reality there were of one lineage. Understand their condition that they were like today’s Muslims. We know today’s Muslims accept the Qur’an as Allah’s book and Nabi ﷺ as the final Prophet. Similarly the Bani Isra’il used to believe in the divine book of their time, and in the Prophets of their time. However their condition deteriorated more or less like how we Muslims have deteriorated today.
This was their general condition – as is our general condition. It was not such that during the time of Nabi ﷺ, not even one person amongst them was not on the straight path. In many places in the Qur’an it has been mentioned clearly that amongst the People of the book – the Bani Israil also there were many pious and upright individuals also, as it appears in the Qur’an:
That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. And when they listen to what has been revealed to the Messenger (Nabi ﷺ) you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say, “Our Lord! We believe, so write us down among the witnesses”. [Surah Maidah: 82-83]
In this ayah, mention has been made regarding the Christians of Ethiopia that amongst them there were such upright scholars and pious people in whom there was no pride. Furthermore, Allah Ta’ala mentions their condition that when they listen to the ayat of the Qur’an, they immediately recognize the truth and tears flow from their eyes and they supplicate to Allah Ta’ala saying: “O our Lord! We bring Iman, therefore count us amongst those who testify to the truth.”
Nevertheless, from amongst the People of the book – Bani Israil there were also such individuals who were pious, sincere and brought true Iman but as far as the general masses are concerned, there condition was just as I have mentioned.
In a Hadith, Nabi ﷺ mentioned:
The gist of this hadith is that before the advent of Nabi ﷺ, Allah Ta’ala looked at the entire creation from east to west, north to south, Arab to Non-Arab. Everyone’s lives were totally disliked by Allah Ta’ala, hence making them deserving of Allah’s anger except for the few individuals from the people of the book – Bani Isra’il who were good, upright people, whom Allah Ta’ala was pleased with.
At another juncture in the Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala says:
And (remember) when we took a covenant from the Bani Israil, (saying): Worship none but Allah (alone) and be dutiful and good to parents, and to relatives, and ro orphans and the poor, and speak good to people, and perform Salah and give Zakah. Then you turned away, except a few of you, while you showing aversion. [Surah Baqarah: 83]
In this ayah, Allah Ta’ala makes mention of those major commands which He commanded the Bani Israil with, such as Tawhid (the belief in the Oneness of Allah Ta’ala), to be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, to fulfil the rights of the needy. He also told them to talk kindly to all human kind without exception, to establish Salah (prayer) and to give Zakah.
As you may have already realized, these are the fundamental principles and teachings on which emphasis was placed in the teachings of every Nabi and divine book of Allah Ta’ala. The fundamental teachimgs of the Qur’an and the Shari’ah which Nabi ﷺ brought are the very same. The Bani Israil also received these basic teachings, but what happened thereafter?? Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says:
Thereafter (after a few days) you turned away from these fundamental teachings except for a few individuals from amongst you. [Surah Baqarah: 83]
The Qur’an did not say that you, in general rejected and became renegades (to leave your religion and opt for another), but the Qur’an mentions that your general condition became such that you had no connection left with these teachings whilst you did not verbally falsify or reject. This was the condition of your general masses, though amongst you there were few individuals who were not involved in this general deterioration.
The Qur’an has also emphasised, along with these fundamental principles, that the Bani Israil should not kill one another unjustly, nor should they exile one another from their homes without a good reason. Thereafter the Qur’an clearly mentions that just as they turned away from the fundamental principles, they in exactly the same manner turned away from the other special commands from Allah Ta’ala. However, they practiced on a small portion of the special commands of Allah Ta’ala, in which they saw some personal or national benefit and overlooked the vast majority of Allah’s commands. The Qur’an has drawn a picture of this misconduct of theirs in the following words:
Has your condition become such that you obey some of Allah’s commands and reject others. [Surah Baqarah: 85]
In other words, you treat some commands of Allah Ta’ala as a Mu’min (believer) would treat them and with others you treat the commands as a Kafir (disbeliever) would treat them.
You and I should ponder deeply. Allah Ta’ala regards those commands which are practiced upon as ‘Iman’ (belief) and those commands which are not practiced as Kufr (disbelief). In other words, not practicing upon Allah’s commands is tantamount to Kufr (disbelief) even though a person verbally says he believes. From this we understand what the real Iman is upon in which Allah Ta’ala’s promises are based and what is that actually Kufr upon which Allah Ta’ala severe punishment are based in this world and the hereafter.
The Qur’an informs the Bani Israil of the severe punishment of this behaviour of theirs. Allah Azza Wa Jal says:
Then what is the recompense of those who do among you, except disgrace in the life of this world and on the day of resurrection they shall be condemned to the most grievous torment. And Allah Ta’ala is not unaware of what you do. [Surah Baqarah:85]
That nation whose condition is such that majority of its followers practice on some commands of Allah Ta’ala and breaks most commands, what can its end result be except that in this world it will be afflicted with perpetual disgrace. Thereafter, their matter will not be completed but rather on the Day of Resurrection they will face an extremely severe punishment.
Now I wish to tell you that after mentioning the condition of Bani Israil and being informed of their history, in reality a mirror has been placed in front of us and as if we have been told that keep on assessing your condition in this mirror and understand well that before you there was a nation who like you were the Muslims of their era and believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). For a few days they thread on the correct path and Allah’s mercies and blessings enshrouded them.
However, gradually their condition became such that the majority practically turned away from most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. As a result according to the law of Allah Ta’ala all mercies and blessings were snatched away and disgrace and humiliation took their place.
Therefore understand this well that the day your general condition becomes like the Bani Israil, your end result will be exactly the same as theirs. What was the Bani Israil’s end result? At other junctures in the Qur’an much more details are mentioned. At one place Allah Ta’ala says:
So, when the promise came of the first of the two, we sent against you slaves of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost part of your homes. And it was a promise fulfilled.
In this Ayah, Allah Ta’ala clearly states that when the Bani Israil violated the commandments of Allah Ta’ala and chose the path of evil and corruption, we placed over them some of our powerful slaves. Who were these powerful slaves? They were not some pious, Allah fearing people but rather the worst of the disbelievers and arrogant people. However sometimes when a person wants to punish and diagrace someone, then the bhangis (scavengers) are called to beat him up, in order to disgrace him.
The Qur’an tells us that when the Bani Israil, who were the children of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) broke the commands of Allah Ta’ala and started living according to their desires and passions, Allah placed such disbelievers over them, who were oppressive, unjust, hard hearted and merciless. What did these unjust disbelievers do to the Bani Israil? The Qur’an tells us that city after city, village after village and town after town was completely and totally destroyed. They looted houses, set fire to them, killed, murdered and butchered people. Not only that but it is also recorded in the history of the Bani Israil that the oppressors took the copies of the book of Allah (Taurat) and burnt it in front of their eyes. So besides losing wealth and property, their Deen and spirituality was also destroyed.
My respected elders and brothers! Just as was mentioned, you and I need to assess ourselves in front of this mirror of the Bani Israil and take stock of our lives. By means of the final book, the Qur’an and the final Prophet, Nabi ﷺ, those guidlines and commands which we have been given are the very same guidline and commands which the previous nations used to receive by means of every Nabi, among which the very first is Tauhid. What is Tauhid? Tauhid is not only reciting the kalimah with our tongues. Tauhid is actually a reality; a condition and conviction of the heart. Conviction that Allah Ta’ala, who is alone and has no partners, is the only deity and owner of everything and to worship him alone, to have hope only in Him and to fear only Him. To have firm belief that in this entire system of the universe, only Allah’s commands makes everything happen and nothing happens without His command. Death is only in his hands. Life is only in His hands. Sickness is only in His hands. Honour and disgrace is also only in His hands. Hence worship and submission is only for Him and Du’a is to be made only unto him. To submit only to Him and to love only Him. This is Tauhid. To deviate even a little from this cannot be rolerated by Allah Ta’ala. In fact, to turn our attention even for one moment away from Allah to some other being will never be tolerated by Allah. Let alone thinking that some pious living saint or some saint who has left this world can help in any way, whether it will be in that barakah (blessings) will be received through him in my business, or a court case would be won, or I will receive children. So I swear by Allah Azza Wa Jal, this is clear and open shirk (ascribing partners) with Allah Ta’ala.
After Tauhid the most emphasised commands of Allah are Salah and Zakah. Those people who know and understand the tone and language of the Qur’an and know the status these actions hold which Rasulullah explained to the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and which they understood, they will know that without Salah and Zakah a person cannot be a true believer. With whatever amount of sincerity and importance a Muslim will practice on these two commands, accordingly the light of Iman will enter his hearts and effect of Islam will enter his actions. Regarding Salah, understand this also that just to perform Salah and only read it is insufficient. Rather it is also necessary that the effort should be made to perform the best Salah. The inner and outer aspects of our Salah should gain some similarity with the Salah of Nabi. We should find out from the Ulama in our towns how Nabi ﷺ performed Salah, how his ruku, sajdah, qirat was etc. What was the condition of his heart, on what should we contemplate whilst recting Surah Fatihah or whilst reciting tasbeeh in ruku’ or sajdah?
My dear brothers and elders! To make this effort concerning Salah is Fard (compulsory) upon us. If whilst endeavouring to perform Salah correctly and perfectly we pass away then whatever deficiency remains in our Salah, Allah Ta’ala will forgive us. If there is no effort at all to correct and perfect our Salah then we will have to suffer a great loss.
Concerning Zakah, Nabi ﷺ took an oath and said that Zakah will never ever decrease a person’s wealth. Now, on the one hand is the word of Rasulullah ﷺ and on the other hand is Shaytan’s evil whispering to us that if you give Zakah you will be losing so much wealth. Now let us think for ourselves; do we have more conviction in the words of Rasulullah ﷺ or in our greatest enemy Shaytan’s lies and deception.
Therefore respected friends, inform those ulama’ who are close to you regarding your financial condition and ask them whether Zakah is fard (obligatory) on you or not.
Besides Tauhid, Salah and Zakah, there are many other actions which Allah Ta’ala has commanded us to fulfil such as fasting, pilgrimage etc and there are many qualities which Allah Ta’ala has made incumbent upon us to inculcate into our lives such as honesty, self-sacrifice, kindness, advising politely etc. Similarly, there are many evil actions and qualities which we have been commanded to refrain from. To have concern and to make effort to save oneself from these evil actions and qualities is also necessary. In fact at times these become priority. Due to these evil actions and evil qualities, such rust and dirt become comes on the heart of a person that due to it whatever a good actions a person does, it does not have an effect on his heart and soul.
When one does plating of an old utensil, firstly one cleans off the dirt and rust, otherwise the plating will not remain intact. That is why I mentioned that to make an effort to abstain from those actions due to which rust comes on the heart is sometimes even more important.
Before me there are thousands of youth sitting. I appeal to you, O Youth! O reciters of the kalimah of Muhammad ﷺ! The root of all evils in today’s times is the cinema, T.V and V.C.R. Every form of sin is promoted on it and every evil stems from it. For Allah’s sake, make a resolution to specially shun these evils. I say again, O my beloved youth! I appeal to you, take pity on yourselves, today is a blessed day (day of ‘Id). Today, in fact now, make a pact with yourself that you will not even go near these most terrible forms of evil and filth which not only destroys our wealth but also destroys our health and worse than that destroys our spirituality and our Deen.
Believe me, I take an oath and say that when you go towards the T.V., V.C.R or cinema, Allah Ta’ala becomes angry with you, Angels curse you, Nabi’s ﷺ pure soul becomes restless when he receives news about it, that my ummati (my follower) who takes my name, where is he going to!?
Listen to this also my beloved youth! Whatever sins you have committed, have total regret and ask Allah Ta’ala sincerily to forgive you but do not lose hope. Allah Ta’ala is most Merciful, Most Forgiving. Allah Ta’ala’s Mercy overpowers His anger. Never mind forgiving years of sin, a person may be an idolator and disbeliever all his life, yet Allah Ta’ala forgives him also if he sincerily repents. When a servant of Allah Ta’ala commits a sin and asks Allah Ta’ala to forgive him, Allah Ta’ala forgives him. If he repeatedly commits sins and repeatedly asks Allah Ta’ala sincerely to forgive him, Allah Ta’ala forgives him. Allah doesn’t say: “O my slave! You have disobeyed me for too long, now I will not forgive you”. Allah continues forgiving as long as we continue asking sincerely for forgiveness, and not only does Allah forgive but He loves the one who seeks repentance.
Allamah Ibnul Qayyim has given a beautiful example to illustrate this. After explaining Allah Azza Wa Jal’s quality of Mercy and His Compassion and His Kindness with his slaves, he mentioned an incident of a person who was totally deviated, doing all sorts of evil. He once passed a street where a mother had opened the door and kicked her child out of the house. When the child was out of the house, the mother closed the door from inside. The child, crying and sobbing, carried on walking quite far. Then after reaching a certain point, stopped and thought to himself, where do I go from here, who will care for me, who will look after me lile my mother? With these thoughts in mind, with a broken heart, he returned to his own house. The door was closed. He placed his head on the doorstep and laid down till he fell asleep. The mother came, opened the door, and seeing her beloved child asleep in this condition, took pity on him. Her motherly love overpowered her and she started crying. She picked him up and hugged him, carressed him, kissed him and told him: “O son! You have seen now, who is there for you besides me? You hurt me when you chose to lead a life of evil and disobedience. You angered me against my nature. Now listen! You are mine and I am yours. Whatever I have in my possession is only for you.”
My brothers! This eye opening incident which Allamah Ibnul Qayyim has mentioned is not only a lesson for that one person but it is a great lesson for me, you and all the sinners living in the world. The amount of love and compassion a mother has in her bosom for her children, I swear by Allah Ta’ala, Allah has more love and mercy for His bondsmen than that mother.
Therefore I say, don’t become despondent of Allah’s Mercy. Repent to Allah for all the sins we have committed, show regret, but don’t lose hope of receiving Allah’s mercy. Return towards Allah, lower your head at His doorstep and cry over your sins like how a baby cries. Then see how Allah’s doors of mercy open upon us, then see how Allah enshrouds us in His compassion, how He gives us courage and expands our hearts, how He guides us, how He shows us the correct path, in fact He holds our hands and takes us, how Allah delivers us from a life of total disobedience and negligence to salvation.
My respected elders and friends! We should learn a lesson from from the incidents of the Bani Israil which Allah Ta’ala has mentioned to us in the Qur’an Majeed. As long as the Bani Israil fulfilled the commandments of Allah, He kept them with prosperity, peace, tranquility, happiness and honour and he made them examples for others, but when the majority started breaking most of the divine commands, Allah put a merciless and oppressive enemy to rule over them who appallingly disgraced them.
Now, we should reflect upon our condition in this mirror. Is our condition not exactly the same!? Isn’t there corruption? Isn’t our wealth being usurped and looted? Aren’t our homes, shops, Masajids being set alight? This is all a punishment from Allah Ta’ala, because our majority and in general the Ummah is violating most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. Allah did not have any relationship with the Bani Israil who were the progeny of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) nor has Allah Ta’ala any relationship with us – the Ummah of the seal of all Prophets, Nabi ﷺ. What really matters to Allah Ta’ala is our actions and ways and that obedience and worship of ours which is in accordance to the way shown to us by Nabi ﷺ. Is it not true that most of our brothers have violated and disobeyed most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. If it is true and definitely it is true, then ponder, what should we do to rectify our present condition?
Whatever happens in the world, ponder, can it happen without the command of Allah? Can anything happen in this world because of somebody’s control, somebody’s power or someone’s intention besides Allah’s? Thereafter ponder over the fact that if Allah Ta’ala decides something, is there anyone who can change that decision? No! Never!
Nobody can change the decision made by Allah Ta’ala, nor can anyone even challenge it. May Allah bestow us with true Iman upon this reality that whatever happens to individuals or nations only happens by the decision of Allah, Allah’s treatment neither with individuals nor with nations is without a system. Any nation who obeys the commands of Allah Ta’ala and follows the way of life which is beloved to Allah Ta’ala will be deserving of Allah’s excellent treatment in this world and in the hereafter.
Therefore friends! Today, during this blessed day, make this decision, make this promise to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, that Insha Allah, I will inculcate every command of Allah in my life and I will make a concerted effort to revive and establish every command of Allah in the entire Ummah.
I do not want to go into intricacies. The basic commands which were given to the Bani Israil are the foundation of that way of life which is pleasing to Allah. Tauhid, Salah, Zakah, kindness to parents, relatives, orphans and the needy and speaking kindly and being kind to all humankind, these are the basic commands which, if practised upon, the temperment of practicing on the whole of Deen will be inculcated. Therefore make a firm intention to fulfill these commands and make an effort and give sacrifice to establish the entire Deen in the entire ummah using this umumi (general) effort.
Alhamdulillah, we are in a time when this umumi (general) effort is taking place in the entire world. If it is done in the correct way, according to the proper principles, keeping in mind the importance of Du’a, then Insha Allah, by means of this effort once again, the direction of the minds, hearts and temperament of this Ummah will be rectified and the inclination to discard Allah’s commands will be terminated. Then Allah Ta’ala will make the decisions of good conditions prevailing and then whatever effort will be made, its results will turn out positive and effective.
My brothers! What I intended to say, Allah Ta’ala made me say. May Allah make me, you and all the Muslims to practice, so that on the day of Qiyamah, I am not taken to task due to the sin of not practicing on what I preach and so that you do not become from amongst those who who will be taken to task for listening to the talks of Deen, yet not changing our lives.
Now, let us from our hearts, turn our attention to Allah Ta’ala, and make Du’a with this firm conviction that Allah is All-Seeing and Omnipresent. Allah Ta’ala countless angels are present. The Masjid’s atmosphere is filled with these angels. We would be able to see them if we possessed ‘real eyes’. Now in the presence of these angels, make them bear witness that we are making a pact we Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.
O Allah! We are Your slaves, present in front of You. We bear witness with our hearts and tongues that there is none worthy of worship besides You, everything is only in Your hands and we bear witness that Muhammad ﷺ is your true Nabi. We have accepted his Deen. We believe in You and in Your Nabi. O Allah! Enlighten our hearts with the Nur (light) of Iman. Do not deprieve anyone of us. O Allah! Grant all those present here the reality of Imaan, these elders, these youth, these beloved ones, these brothers. Bless each one of us with perfect Imaan. O Allah! We confess that our lives until now, most of it has passed in disobeying your commandments. From head to toe, outwardly and inwardly, our entire bodies were used in disobeying your commands. O Allah! We are seeking forgiveness, forgive us, we are repenting, accept our repentance.
On this auspicious day, in this auspicious gathering we all make a firm intention to shun sin and not to disobey You anymore. O Allah! Accept our intentions, and make it firm and sincere. Shaytan and our carnal desires and the ones who drive us to sin. Help us against these two enemies. Without Your help we cannot overpower the. O Allah! Make Deen prevalent. Whoever is involved in the efforts of Deen in whichever way, they are concerned about Deen, O Allah!, accept their efforts and concern. O Allah! Help them and enable them to work in the correct way, protect them from all types of trails, and protect them from Shaytan and their carnal desires.
O Allah! Take pity on us, make a decision of mercy to descend upon us, nobody can alter Your decision. Save us from the Firs of Jahannum and merely out of Your kindness grant us Jannah (Paradise). O Allah! Protect us from negligence. Make us not unmindful of our Aakhirah, Jannah, Jahannam (hell), the grave, the day of resurrection. Have mercy upon us during every stage of the Hereafter.
O Allah! Do not deal with us according to what we deserve according to our evil actions. O Allah! Deal with us according to Your kindness and Mercy.