All praise be to Allah who revealed His Divine Book, and perfected by it His favours. The Most Noble, The Most Generous. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone, Who prescribed Rahmah upon Himself. And I testify that Muhammad is the slave and Final Messenger of Allah, sent as a Mercy to all that exists.
When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came out of the Cave of Hira, having just had his first experience of Quranic revelation through Jibreel (‘alayhis salam). He rushed to his beloved wife, sayyida Khadijah (radiallahu ‘anha), saying to her “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”
The attribute of helping those in need and being generous – were from the earliest hallmarks of Islam, and the natural traits of our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
O Muslims, what we are witnessing today, and in the days and weeks gone by, in the newspapers and on our screens is some of the greatest devastations of our generation: millions of refugees on end fleeing from their cities and their homes, seeking sanctuary, seeking their security and peace.
These are people who don’t stability and have no idea what is to come; waiting to hear the outcome of their application which they will lodge, waiting for a decision. Imagine the unpredictability, the uncertainty, feeling so vulnerable, being almost in state of limbo – while you know no-one and have no-one and own nothing. Perhaps it is a minor reflection of the fate that presents itself for the one lacking good deeds on the Day of Resurrection. The fate that can be averted by helping those in need now.
The Noble Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught us: “Whosoever relieves from a Believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the Hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the Hereafter.”
25,771 people applied for asylum in the UK in the year to end June 2015. There will be many more to come. The vast majority are Muslim and come from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq. No one can deny the Muslim factor existing in the ‘problem’/crisis – and the Muslim community will need to be part of the solution.
These are countries in which we will have family and connections through blood and through faith/iman. In a different time, that might have been anyone of us, would it not?
There are many difference reason which have caused them to flee their homeland. But what unites most of them after their iman, is their desperate need.
Our brothers and sisters arrive with their children in a state of neediness and desperation. Let us remember that even if they weren’t so hard up, they have the right of the guest. This is a further dimension of responsibility that we owe to those who have arrived and those soon to come. They arrive as guests, and some as neighbours – mandating the duty of hospitality.
Let us consider the sublime mannerisms shown by the Father of the Prophets, Ibrahim, (‘alayhis salam), given in the Qur’an for all to consider. When the Angels entered his house, while he was unaware of them being messengers from his Lord, he had the finest possible food he could offer and presented them with a young and fat calf, roasted upon heated stone. Even the smaller etiquettes mattered to him; greeting the guests with a warmer and more welcoming greeting than the one they had initiated with as a mark of hospitality, even though he did not know them or recognise them.
Which greeting will we be intending to offer to the visitors and guests on our shores?
Until it is clear whether the families in our localities will be staying or going – they are in actuality visitors. And we should bear in mind the seldom spoken of right that belongs to the guests in Islam.
The Prophet, (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), addressed his command of honouring the guest to those who are Believers in Allah and the Last Day, almost as if an indicator of one’s true faith, is treating the guests who are to arrive with hospitality and generosity.
The right of the guests was clarified so emphatically such as to say, as occurs in the narration of ‘Uqbah bin. ‘Āmir (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) narrated in Sahīh al-Bukhāri: We said, “O Messenger of Allah, you have sent us out, and we are to stay with a people who do not host and entertain us, so what do you think about that?” The Messenger of Allah replied, “If you stay with a people and they entertain you properly as they should, then accept it. If they don’t do that, then take from them the right of the guest, which they must give.”
Remember this is the right of a ‘regular’ guest – who hasn’t had their lives shattered through displacement.
It is sadly all too common, even within the Muslim community, perhaps specifically within it, for us to sometimes devalue the need and desperation of the people in need who have fled their homes to come to these shores.
Perhaps the Muslim community forgot that it was none other than the Prophet Ibrahim (‘alayhis salam) who had to emigrate with his son Isma’eel and his mother. Was it not also the Prophet Loot (‘alayhis salam) who had to flee from his home? In fact, it was also none other than our own Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who was from the Muhajireen who had had to migrate,
The gravity of being driven out of one’s home – seeking to protect one’s Deen, life and children is indicated in the Qur’an, with Allah, Majestic and Exalted, equating being driven out of one’s home with being killed. If that’s not clear, then just stop and think for a moment at your instinctive aversion to attempts on your life or of any of your near and dear and understand that being driven from one’s home is, in the Qur’an being juxtaposed to precisely that:
“And if We had decreed upon them, “Kill yourselves” or “Leave your homes,” they would not have done it, except for a few of them. But if they had done what they were instructed, it would have been better for them and a firmer position [for them in faith].”
When Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said as he left Makkah: “ ..you are the most beloved land to Allah, and the Messenger of Allah, and had your people not forced me out of you, I would never have left you.”
With the current trends often seen in quarters of some communities today, one cannot help wonder what sort of response would these emigrants of old have received?
The Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) upon settling in Madina, set up the institution of Mu’aakhaah – a fraternity for support with each emigrating person and migrant family paired or buddied up with a local family that would be there to support them. This was something practical set up to establish the bonds of brotherhood/sisterhood in a way that would be beyond the mere lip service we so often see being paid to causes nowadays. And it bred the brotherhood mandated by Islam manifested by the service and support initiated by the people of Madina.
Consequently the Muslims who were in Madina during the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) life prior to the migration, and who welcomed the emigrants – went on to be given their very name of “Ansar” – The Helpers, as an accolade and special honorific title by Allah. They were to be mentioned in the Qur’an and are verses to be recited until the Day of Judgement.
This was due to their service and support offered to the needy Muhajireen who were taking refuge with them and settling amongst them. This title was conferred upon them by none other than Allah “Allah was indeed pleased with the Muhajireen and Ansar.”
But why, you might wonder?
Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah) offers us an insight into this question. In his Sahih compilation, he dedicated a full Book to the Virtues of The Ansar – setting out their status and highlighting their merits.
“The sign of faith (iman) is to love the Ansar; and the sign (ayah) of nifaq (hypocrisy in faith) is to dislike the Ansar” said the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He also said: “None will love them except a true Believer (Mu’min) and no one will hate them except a ‘hypocrite in faith’.” Once he remarked: “Had it not been for the act of migration – I would have wished to be from the Ansar”
What could it be that earned them such an elevated rank in the sight of Allah?
It was their Eethaar – giving preference and priority for the needs of the emigrants taking refuge with them, over their own personal needs.
Let’s look at an example of this.
Remember, the time when a man came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). And so the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sent a messenger to his wives (to bring something for that man to eat) but they said that they had nothing except water. At that point Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) turned to the people around him and said, “Who will take him or entertain him as a guest?” An Ansar man said, “I.” And so he took him to his wife and said to her, “Let’s generously entertain the guest of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ” She said, “We have got nothing except the food of our children.” He said, “Prepare your meal, light your lamp and try and put the kids to sleep if they ask for supper.” So she prepared her meal, lit her lamp and made her children sleep, and then stood up pretending to mend her lamp, but she put it off. Then both of them pretended to be eating when they really went to bed hungry themselves. In the morning the Ansari went to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) who informed them of Allah being pleased with them. Then Allah revealed the verse: “But they give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from covetousness, such are they who will be successful.” (59.9)
The Sahabah understood that their assets were there to buy them the pleasure of Allah through serving others, even giving them preference over themselves often.
Brothers and Sisters, if we are unable to give these brothers and sisters seeking asylum preference over ourselves, surely we can be part of the solution by offering help through Zakat and Sadaqah?
Help them to become self-sufficient
The aim has to be to help those resettling here to become stable and independent, hopefully contributing individuals who can with time and support regain the dignity of standing on their own two feet. Asylum seekers may need voluntary experience and access to training; refugees on other hand, who are able to legally work, may need to secure employment. Why can we not consider giving them the relevant opportunities to help make them self-sufficient?
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Ansar said (to the Prophet), “Please divide the date-palm trees between us and them (i.e. emigrants).” The Prophet said, “No.” The Ansar said, “Let them (i.e. the emigrants) do the labour for us in the gardens and share the date-fruits with us.” The emigrants said, “We accepted this.”
Brothers and sisters, seeking asylum in the UK is a long and difficult process. During this time applicants are vulnerable and reliant on state support, which for most is just £5 per day. How many of us can survive on for more than a few days?
With proposed reforms such as stricter asylum application timescales and proposals to remove the right to appeal when benefits are refused, the situation is getting tougher for asylum seekers.
Regardless of whether they are eventually successful in being awarded refugee status or not, they remain our responsibility as a UK Muslim community.
In this climate especially, the Believer, conscious of his or her moral duty to his Creator and to the creation must stop and ask themselves what is the Islamic response to this crisis. What role should the Muslim be playing to help heal such deep wounds?
It has been said that we will be asked certain questions as we stand before Allah on the Day of Reckoning and that our replies are constructed by the life we choose to lead in this world.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’
‘My Lord, How could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was sick and you didn’t visit him? If you had visited him you would have found Me there.’
Then Allah will say, ‘Son of Adam, I needed food but you did not feed Me.’
‘My Lord, How could I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds?’
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was hungry but you did not feed him? If you had fed him you would have found its reward with Me.’
‘Son of Adam, I was thirsty, but you did not give Me something to drink.’
‘My Lord, How could I give a drink when You are the Lord of the worlds?’
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was thirsty but you did not give him a drink? If you had given him a drink, you would have found its reward with Me.’ (Al-Bukhari)
You can be part of the solution by getting involved locally to make a difference.