“And, in the Book, We declared to the children of Isra’il: ‘You will surely spread disorder on the earth twice, and you will surely show arrogance, a great arrogance.
So, when came the time appointed for the first of the two, We sent upon you some servants belonging to us having strong aggressive power, who combed through the houses. And it was a promise bound to be fulfilled.
Then We gave you your turn to overpower them, and increased your strength with wealth and sons, and made you greater in number.
If you do good, you will do it for yourselves, and if you do evil, it will be for you, too. Later, when came the time appointed for the second, (We sent others) so that they spoil your faces, and so that they enter into the Mosque as the former ones had entered it the first time and destroy what they overpower, totally.
May be your Lord would bestow mercy upon you. And if you do this again, We shall do that again. And We have made Jahannam a prison for the disbelievers.
[Surah Al-Isra, Verses 4-8]
COMMENTARY BY MUFTI SHAFI (RAHMATULLAHI ALAYHI)
The outcome of the events mentioned above is that Allah Ta’ala had decreed that the Bani Isra’il will be successful, having the best of both worlds, the material and the spiritual, as long as they continue to obey Allah. But, whenever they deviate from the dictates of Faith, they shall be put to disgrace, and that they would be subjected to punishment at the hands of enemies and disbelievers. Then, not only that the enemies will run over them destroying their lives and properties, but it would also happen that their Qiblah, their sacred Baytul-maqdis, will also not remain safe against the onslaught of that enemy. Their disbelieving enemies will barge into the Mosque of Baytul-maqdis and defile and damage it. This too will be a part of the punishment of Bani Isra’il themselves.
The Holy Qur’an has told us about two events relating to them. The first one dates back to the time of Mosaic religious law while the second pertains to the Christian. During both these periods, the Bani Isra’il rebelled against the divine law of the time. In the first case, a disbelieving Magian monarch was made to sit over them, and Baytul-maqdis, who brought great destruction upon them. In the second case, a Roman emperor was set against them who killed and pillaged and made Baytul-maqdis all demolished and rendered desolate. And along with this description, it has also been mentioned that the Bani Isra’il – when, on both occasions, they repented from their misdeeds resolving not to go near them again – Allah Ta’ala reinstated their country, wealth and children.
After having mentioned these two events, Allah Ta’ala declared His Law in such matters by saying: (If you do this again, We shall do that again – 8). This law which means – ‘if you return to disobedience and contumacy, We shall, once again, make a similar penalty and punishment zoom back upon you’ – has been declared as valid right through the last day of Qiyamah. That its addressees were the people of Bani Isra’il who were present during the blessed time of the Holy Prophet serves as a reminder to them. It is being pointed out to them that they should not forget that they were seized by divine punishment twice when they had first opposed the code of Sayyidna Musa, and then the code of Sayyidna Isa.
Now this was the period of the Code of laws brought by the Holy Prophet . This was a period that will continue up to the Last Day. Let them, therefore, realize that the fate of those who chose to be hostile to it will turn out to be no different. Consequently, this was actually happened. These people became hostile to Islam and the religious code of laws brought by the Holy Prophet . When they did that, they were expelled and disgraced at the hands of Muslims, and finally Baytul-maqdis, their Qiblah, too came under Muslim control. However, the only difference was that their past conquering kings had treated them disgracefully and had desecrated their Qiblah too. Now when Muslims took over Baytul-maqdis, they reconstructed the great Mosque of al-Quds ash-Sharif which was lying demolished and desolate for centuries and thereby reinstated the honour and reverence of the Qiblah of prophets.
The Events of Bani Isra’il are a Lesson for Muslims and What Has Happened to Baytul-maqdis in Our Time is a Part of the Same Chain
Obviously, the purpose of narrating these events relating to the Bani Isra’il in the Qur’an and making Muslims listen to them is to let Muslims understand that they are no exceptions to this divine law. Be it this mortal world or the eternal universe of their Faith, their honour and ascendancy, possessions and wealth are inseparably tied with obedience to Allah. Whenever they veer away from their obedience to Allah and the Holy Prophet , their enemies and disbelieving tyrants of all sorts shall be empowered to prevail over them. When this happens, the desecration of their places of worship will also not remain too far.
The calamity of the Jewish usurpation of Baytul-maqdis in our time and the added sacrilege of setting fire to it has thrown the world of Islam into acute anxiety. In reality, it is confirming the Qur’an. Muslims forgot Allah and His Rasul, ignored the life waiting for them in the Hereafter and opted to scrounge for their share in the glamour and grandeur of the mortal world. When they became aliens to the dictates of the Qur’an, and Sunnah, the same divine law stood activated before them.
A few hundred thousand Jews overcame them. They also inflicted the loss of life and property on them. Worse still is the fate of one of the three greatest mosques of the world according to the religious law of Islam, a mosque that has the distinction of being the Qiblah of all prophets. It was snatched from them and those who took it over had a track record of being the most disgraced people in this world, that is, the Jews.
In addition to that, it is common observation that these people stand nowhere close to Muslims in terms of their numbers, nor do they have some significant superiority over the current collective Muslim holdings of war materials. This also tells us that this event does not really give Jews any niche of honour in the annals of world nations.
However, it does provide punishment for Muslims in return for their disobedience. It clearly shows that everything that came to pass came as the punishment of our own misdeeds. And it also shows that there is no remedy for it except that we should feel ashamed of our misdeeds, make a genuine taubah (repentance), start obeying the commandments of Allah, become true Muslims and shun the great sins of imitating and trusting others. If we were to do just that, insha’Allah, true to the Divine promise, Baytul-maqdis and Palestine shall return to us. But, it is regrettable that the present-day Arab rulers and common Muslims living in Arab lands have yet to be alerted to that reality. They are still relying on foreign assistance while making plans of taking Baytul-maqdis back, something that does not appear to be probable, at least outwardly. Where else shall we lodge our plaint but Allah!
The only weapon system and military hardware with which Baytul-maqdis and Palestine can return to Muslim hands are still there waiting to be picked up – Return to Allah, genuinely and passionately.
Have certitude of Akhirah. Obey the injunctions of the Shari’ah. Stay away from imitating and trusting others in our social and political goals. Finally, let us place our trust in Allah and wage a purely Islamic Jihad as enjoined by the Shari’ah. May Allah Ta’ala give our Arab rulers and other Muslims the ability to answer the challenge effectively.
A Strange Coincidence
Allah Ta’ala has made two places on this Earth to serve as the Qiblah or orientation for those who worship Him, the Baytul-maqdis and the Baytullah. But, the divine law relating to each of them is different. That Baytullah shall be protected and that disbelievers shall never take it over is a security concern that Allah Ta’ala has taken it upon Himself. The Event of the Elephant mentioned in Surah al-Fil (105) of the Holy Qur’an came as its result. When the Christian king of Yaman (Abrahah al-Ashram) invaded Baytullah, Allah Ta’ala destroyed him and his army along with the contingent of elephants he had brought, through birds, much before he could reach Baytullah.
But, this law does not apply in the case of Baytul-maqdis. Instead, as the verses cited above tell us, when Muslims go astray and start indulging in disobedience and sin, this Qiblah will be snatched away from them and it will pass into the control of disbelievers.
“And when We intend to destroy a habitation, We command its affluent people (to do good), then they commit sins therein, and thus the word (of punishment) becomes due against it (habitation) and We annihilate it totally.
And how many a generation We have destroyed after Nuh! And enough is your Lord to know, (and) watch the sins of His servants.” [Surah Al-Isra, 16-17]
Previous verses said that it is the customary practice of Allah Ta’ala that he does not send punishment upon a people until the commandments of Allah reach them through the blessed prophets which they still refuse to obey. Given in the verses cited above is what happens on the other side when the messages of Allah and His Messenger do reach a people and they still show contumacy, then, a mass punishment is sent over them…
Thus it comes to mean: ‘When Allah Ta’ala sends punishment on a certain people, its initial sign is that the number of the reckless rich is increased among them and they, through their spate of sins, become the cause of making the punishment descend upon the entire people.’
The outcome of the first qira’ah is that such affluent people are made the rulers of a people. The outcome of the second qira’ah is that the number of such people is increased in that society. Both versions show that the government of the ‘affluent’ or the abundance of such people in a society is not something to be happy about, rather, is a sign of divine punishment.
Let us recapitulate. When Allah Ta’ala is angry with a people and intends to make a punishment descend upon them, there appears an initial sign of it. People who love to wallow in wealth and power are made the ruling custodians of their affairs, or, even if they do not become their actual political rulers, the number of such people is increased among a people. In both these cases, the result is the same. Drunk with the pleasures they can buy, acquire or appropriate with their affluence and influence, they start caring less for anything else, disobey the will and command of Allah personally as well as lead the trail for others to follow in their footsteps. In consequence, comes the punishment of Allah Ta’ala all over them.
The Influence of the Rich Over a People is a Natural Phenomenon
By particularly mentioning affluent people who use their wealth to pursue a life of luxury, it has been indicated that the masses are naturally affected with the deeds and morals of those rich among them and those who rule over them. When these people get used to misdeeds, the whole nation follows suit and takes to misdeeds (as the only available norm of social survival).
Therefore, those who have been blessed with wealth by Allah Ta’ala should be more concerned with the correction of their deeds and morals – lest they fall into the trap of a luxurious life style, are heedless to self-correction, and make the entire nation go astray because of them. If so, the curse of the misdeeds that issue forth from their nation will fall on them too.