Bismillahir rahmanir rahim,
I’m now halfway through my winter break and biiznillah, I travelled to Andalucia, Spain for 8 days and went to FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) Winter Conference the weekend right after. This year, the conference was held at Keele University, located near Stoke-On-Trent.
When I wanted to register for the conference, I was hesitant, mainly because I would’ve just gotten back from Spain the day before it starts and thought that it would be too exhausting. But I decided to register anyway since I know my spirit was in desperate need to be boosted. So I reminded myself of the intention of my doing all this, and then bismillah, bought all the tickets needed to go there. When I was on my way there – even when I was in the middle of the event – I still hadn’t had a clue of why I was attending it. So I kept renewing my intention and making dua,
“Oh Allah, I do this just for you. I came here only for you. I don’t know what good this will bring to me, but you know me better than I know myself. Teach me of the great knowledge you own, ya Allah.”
My days in Spain taught me a lot of things. Mainly of the further understanding of the history of the Muslim world. I never bothered to understand history before, especially when it’s just so boringly taught in secondary schools *I had really awesome history teachers but the whole syllabus being too factual and the system being too exam-oriented wouldn’t catch anyone’s interest. It was only after my trip to Turkey last spring that I realised the importance of history: that it makes up who we are and what’s happening in the world around us, and that it teaches us how to work our way from the present to something that we can predict in the future. Learning history is so powerful given that you live by the spirit of it. I regretted the days when I never truly learn by heart the history taught at school. But, I believe it’s never too late to start anything.
|At the archeological site of Medinat Azzahra|
So, post-Turkey, I decided to buy Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constantinople 1453 and have a read at it. I couldn’t understand a thing. There’s just too much background to everything and I had too little knowledge of the Ottoman empire in Istanbul, let alone the background of the Muslim kingdom in general. I bought another book on Crusades, hoping it would shine some light on it but, that too came to a dead end. I didn't even know where things are in the globe. How did I expect that I could make sense of the spread of these movements? So I dropped my pursuit of understanding history and ventured into other things instead (and refocus on my studies!).
Then that trip to Spain happened. The spirit was rekindled. I was thirsty to know of the details at every corner, especially because the Muslim Spain empire lasted for so long that it links a lot of points in history.
|One of the pillars in Alhambra, Granada|
It even feels so connected to today’s modern world! It was only through the history of Andalucia that I can finally make sense of the inheritance of Islam through these years i.e. why there were different khilafah empires at different times, how the Muslim population nowadays are spread out as how they are, how Europe is now so synonym to being the land of Christians, and just so much more. I was enthused by the knowledge that I gained yet I wondered what I could do with it. As someone who finds pleasure in gathering more and more knowledge, these questions bothered me.
Why do you really want to know this?
Is it just for the fun of putting the pieces of the puzzle of history together?
Or is it because you want to make use of it to create a better future?
There’s this authentic hadith that describes the 5 phases of the final ummah, with each one subsequently leading to the other (of which you can listen to a rather nice explanation here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84mD-whEfxw)
1. The time of the Prophethood
2. The time of khilafah which follows upon the prophetic methodology
3. The time of biting kingship (monarchy, lasts for so long)
4. The time of tyrannical kingship (forceful, military)
5. The time of khilafah which again follows the prophetic methodology
After telling of these 5 phases, Rasulullah s.a.w was silent. As a believer that lives by the shahadah (there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), it is a must for me and other Muslims to believe in this prophecy. I came across this hadith a long time ago and amazingly, every single time I reviewed it, my understanding of the hadith developed deeper and deeper.
What is agreed upon by scholars is that we are currently living in the fourth phase of the hadith and nobody knows when the fifth phase is going to come. The fact that it’s already written in Lauh Mahfuz and there’s nothing we can do to change it (unless Allah wills it) makes it thought-provoking. My thoughts of this hadith progressed from
“Oh okay. God knows when that fifth phase would happen. We’ll see if it’s going to be in my lifetime or not,” to
“I wish I could see how that fifth phase would be like. Wouldn’t that be nice,” to
“I want to be part of the fifth phase but how?” then finally to
“For goodness sake, can’t you see Sofina? Everyone is working towards making the fifth phase happen. You can foresee with your own bare eyes that it is already approaching that time. Islam doesn’t need you to make it happen. It’s going to happen anyway, with or without you. If you don’t do anything now, then you’re definitely going to miss out!”
So coming back to the story of Spain. Now that I’ve witnessed the history of the third phase and learned how it links with the fourth phase that we’re in, I just know that I need to start working so that I can be part of the people who are the soldiers of Allah that helped implant Islam back on the face of the Earth. At least when I’m done with this world and return to my Creator, I can say “Oh Allah, this is what I did for your deen, may you be pleased.”
I left Spain with the question: how?
|Part of Alhambra seen from Albaizin|
It’s funny because this was the exact same question that was on my mind (of which I bugged other people into thinking about it as well) as we had our trip to Turkey. Over the summer, I thought I’ve resolved it but as I got back from Spain, the question popped back again, demanding a more precise answer this time.
As I was attending the FOSIS conference, this question kept ringing in my head to the point that I was bugging my close friends with it. At the same time, I was attentive of everything that was happening in the conference. The event was wonderful mashaAllah but the one message I believe Allah wanted me to take home is:
Indeed, Islam is going to rise back up real soon. Real real soon.
If it’s not within everyone’s knowledge, FOSIS is the overseeing body responsible of supporting the Islamic societies (ISOCs) in universities all over Britain. In this conference, besides giving insightful talks and beneficial workshops to the members of isocs (or simply, Muslim youths), FOSIS also connects directly with isocs by discussing relevant issues faced by isocs, how to help isocs overcome their struggle, etc. And the connection doesn’t just work one way. Isocs are also able to help improve FOSIS by putting front what they think is lacking/slacking in the body, ask questions to clarify things, and give suggestions on things that could be improved. FOSIS committee themselves held a session where they put everything on the table of what they’ve done through half of the term of their holding the post for the sake of transparency and accountability. Furthermore, FOSIS is deeply involved with NUS (National Union of Students – United Kingdom) which politically connects with the government, and FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisation) which gather together Muslim youths throughout Europe. Simply put, this makes FOSIS a legit both national and international body.
Coming from Malaysia, I was jaw-dropped to see such professionalism in the whole organisation of Muslim students. All this while I thought FOSIS is run by people in their 40s but no, these people are basically my age (I don’t think any of them who runs the things directly has actually reached their 30s) and they’ve done such phenomenal things. The fact that they can unite Muslim students nationwide firmly is in of itself amazing but, internationally? Mind-blowing, dude. There’s this brother who said that he’s connecting with another brother in Istanbul and they’re planning of putting together something big. That’s like one end of Europe to another man! As I listened to the things he said, suddenly the whole of Muslim empire that once stretched from Spain to China is flashing right before my eyes. If that isn’t unity, I don’t know what is.
A few years back, often, when I hear about the issues related to the ummah, my reaction would be the same as many other people “We’re not united. How can we react when we’re not united?” and always there would be a tinge of hopelessness in it as I don’t see anyone doing anything about it and I myself don’t think I can’t do anything about it. Even until now, whilst the Muslims community in Malaysia are fighting over trivial things, here in Britain, they just put it flat on your face, “We’ve got bigger things to think about.” They still have trivial issues that keep popping up and they still try to tackle them but they don’t get bogged down solving that particular issue. They may think that they keep falling into that trap but believe me, from the way they work, you can tell that they see a bigger picture, and they have a set goal to achieve.
In my eyes, what they’ve accomplished so far is a huge success. And seeing how they work, there would be much bigger success in the future inshaAllah. I may not have stayed in my country’s system for long to really understand its behaviour but what I admire about these people the most is that everyone keeps reminding everyone of the words of Allah, their priorities, and their position as the slaves of Allah. And that even though they ask one another of each other’s ethnicity (they're really diverse!), they never put weight onto any of that as they see each other as brothers/sisters in Islam more. The common ground is Islam so it doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or brown or yellow or red or blue or green, born-Muslims or reverts, as long as you’re a Muslim, they’ll take care of you. I also truly love it that they really mean it when they say
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re all here for the sake of Allah, inshaAllah”
“May Allah Azza Wajal accept from us”
“MashaAllah, we’ve accomplished…………alhamdulillah”
*although to be fair, some of them do speak Arabic but still, some of them don’t and they still know what they’re saying
So as I’ve witnessed such a movement after attending the event, I was really hit that that fifth phase in the hadith mentioned is really going to happen sooner or later. What huge loss I would be in if I choose to be just an observer from afar and let everyone else do the work of upholding Islam. As clearly said in the Quran,
“....So race to (all that is) good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth (for judgement) all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” (2:148)
Imagine on the Day of Judgement, you see someone you know be held accountable for all the goods that you witnessed they’d done and you could’ve had the chance to be part of it but you didn’t, then you were left on your own, with no “complete race” to present to your Lord. Nauzubillahi min zalik.
"It’s either we make history, or we become history"
– Soldiers of Allah (rap group from Los Angeles)