A question was posed to al-Imām Ibn Bāz (رحمه الله), asking:1 What is the obligation upon the Muslim scholars with regards to facing the trials and calamities that have befallen the Islamic world?
Whatever of good reaches you, it is from Allāh, and whatever of evil befalls you, it is from yourself.
From that which there is no doubt about is that sins, and being far removed from the correct Islamic ʿaqīdah (beliefs) – in both sayings and actions – are from the greatest reasons for bringing about crisis and calamities that have befallen the Muslims. Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – said:
مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ ۚ
“Whatever of good reaches you, it is from Allāh, and whatever of evil befalls you, it is from yourself.”
Allāh – the Most Perfect, the Most High – also said:
وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ ﴿٣٠﴾
“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. Yet He pardons much.”
So Allāh is Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful to His servants, sending to them clear signs and warnings, in order that they may turn back to Him in tawbah (sincere repentance) and that He may forgive them. So when a person turns to Allāh and draws closer to Him by an arm’s length, then Allāh draws closer to him by two arms length. For indeed Allāh – the Most High – loves those of His servants who turn to Him in tawbah (sincere repentance) and is happy with that, whilst He, the Majestic, Most High, remains absolutely self-sufficient of His servants. The obedience of the obedient ones does not benefit Him, nor do the sins of the sinful ones harm Him. Rather, He is Most Kind, Ever Merciful to His servants. And He grants them the ability to do acts of obedience and to leave acts of disobedience. So these crisis and calamities are none other than a warning to His servants, in that they should turn back to Allāh in repentance and obedience, and He informs them of this by way of testing them. Allāh – the Most High – said:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ ﴿١٥٥﴾
“And certainly We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruit. But give glad tidings to those who have ṣabr (patience); those who, when afflicted with a calamity, say: Indeed to Allāh we belong, and to Him we shall return. They are those for whom are the ṣaláwāt (blessings and forgiveness) from their Lord, and His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.”
And Allāh – the One free from all defects – said:
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿٤١﴾
“Evil has appeared upon the land and the sea, because of what the hands of men have earned. That Allāh may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return to Allāh in repentance.”
And Allāh – the Most High – said:
وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿٣٥﴾
“And We shall test you by way of evil and good, and to Us you will return.”
And Allāh – the Most Perfect – said:
وَبَلَوْنَاهُم بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿١٦٨﴾
“And We tested them with good blessing and evil calamities, in order that they may return to the obedience of Allāh.”
And there are many other āyāt with similar meanings.
So the obligation upon the leaders of the Muslims – the Scholars, rulers, and other than them – is to have concern for the various afflictions and calamities that occur, and to remind and admonish the people, and to explain to them what they have fallen into. Also, those in authority – from the Scholars and rulers – should set a good example of righteous conduct, and should discuss the reasons as to why Allāh is angered and gives retribution; and they should seek to cure this with tawbah (repentance), istighfār (seeking Allāh’s forgiveness) and correcting their affairs. The rest of the Ummah will then follow them in this, since the guidance of the Scholars, and the wisdom of the rulers – and both being correct and upright – has one of the greatest effects with regards to the fulfillment of responsibilities. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Each of you is a guardian, and is responsible for those whom he is in charge of. So the ruler is the guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family and is a guardian for those under his care; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s home and is responsible for those under her care; a servant is the guardian of his master’s wealth and is responsible for what is under his care. So each one of you is a guardian for what is under his care. So each one of you is a guardian and is responsible for what he is entrusted with.”2
However, when the Muslims become accustomed to sinning and being contented with it, and those who wield authority and power do not try to prevent them, then the anger of Allāh will quickly descend upon the Ummah. And when His anger occurs, and His punishment takes place, then it covers both the sinful and obedient, and the protection of Allāh is sought from this. About this Allāh – the Most High – said:
وَاتَّقُوا فِتْنَةً لَّا تُصِيبَنَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنكُمْ خَاصَّةً ﴿٢٥﴾
“And beware of the fitnah (trial and discord) that does not affect in particular only those amongst you who are wrong-doers.”
Likewise, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When the people see an evil, and they do not try to change it, then Allāh will cover them all with punishment from Himself.”3 Allāh – the Most Perfect – said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۗ ﴿١١﴾
“Indeed Allāh will not change the condition of a people until they change the condition of themselves.”
So the Scholars will be thoroughly questioned in front of Allāh with regards to them giving knowledge and guidance to the people, and explaining to them what is correct and what is wrong, and also clarifying the beneficial from the harmful.
So we ask Allāh that He favours all the Muslims and grants them the ability to be ability to be obedient to their Lord, and to cling to the guidance of their Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ), and that He grants their leaders the ability to fulfill their duties, and that He reaches their Scholars the ways of guidance , so that this all may traverse its path and direct the Ummah to it, and that He guides the misguided Muslims and corrects their affairs. Indeed He is the Guardian over this, and the one having power to do this.