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The Forbiddance of Oppression

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It is haram for people to oppress one another.

On the authority of Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from his Lord Almighty that He said:

"O My servants ! I have forbidden zulm (oppression) for Myself, and I have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except those whom I have guided, so seek guidance from Me and I shall guide you. O My servants, all of you are hungry except those whom I have fed, so seek food from Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except those whom I have clothed, so seek clothing from Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you commit sins by day and by night, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness from Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm me, and you will not attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all as pious as the most pious heart of any individual amongst you, then this would not increase My Kingdom an iota. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all as wicked as the most wicked heart of any individual amongst you, then this would not decrease My Kingdom an iota. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all to stand together in one place and ask of Me, and I were to give everyone what he requested, then that would not decrease what I possess, except what is decreased of the ocean when a needle is dipped into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I account for you, and then recompense you for. So he who finds good, let him praise Allah, and he who finds other than that, let him blame no one but himself." (Muslim)

Explanation of the Hadith

It is not permitted for anyone to ask Allah to judge against his adversary except with the Truth.

This hadith is one of the qudsi hadiths where the (peace and blessings be upon him) narrates something from Allah Almighty.

Regarding His statement "I have forbidden zulm (oppression) for Myself, and I have made it forbidden amongst you", some of the 'scholars have said that its meaning is: "it does not befit My Majesty and hence is not possible for Me", as Allah  says in the Qur'an, {But it is not befitting of (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allah) that He should beget a son} (Maryam 19: 92). So zulm is inconceivable in respect of Allah. Some scholars have said regarding this hadith: "It is not permitted for anyone to ask Allah to judge against his adversary except with the Truth, from –Almighty Allah saying: "I have forbidden zulm for Myself", so He does not oppress His servants of His own accord, so how can anyone conceive that He would oppress one of His servants for the sake of another one of His servants?"

And similarly He said: "So do not oppress one another" and this implies that the oppressed will be avenged for the oppression committed against him.

And His statement "all of you are astray except those whom I have guided ... all of you are hungry except those whom I have fed ... all of you are naked except those whom I have clothed" is a reminder of our poverty before Allah, and our inability to bring about good for ourselves and to fend off harm from ourselves, except by the help of Allah.

So let the servant of Allah know that when he sees the traces of these blessings upon himself then this is from the blessing of Allah, and so it is necessary for him to thank Allah  for this. And for everything that he receives in excess of these blessings he should increase in praise and thankfulness of Allah.

Furthermore, Almighty Allah says, "so seek guidance from Me and I shall guide you". This generally informs the man that when he sought guidance from his Master, then He guided him. And even if he received guidance before he asked for it from his Lord, then he still cannot say that he attained guidance by knowledge that he possessed. And similarly the meaning of "all  of you are hungry..." till the end, is that Allah has created all of creation in a state of poverty and need of food. So every one who eats was in a state of hunger until Allah fed him, by sending his rizq (sustenance) to him and perfecting the favors that had been shaped for him. So let not the possessor of wealth think that the sustenance which he holds in his hand and which he has raised to his mouth has been provided to him by anyone other than Allah Almighty. This statement also is an indication of the required manners of the needy - as though He said: "do not seek sustenance from anyone other than Me, for verily all those others from whom you might seek sustenance have themselves been provided for by Myself. So seek sustenance from me and I will provide for you", and similarly for that which follows this.

Man should not consider his actions of obedience and worship of Allah as being the sole result or his own nafs (soul), but rather he should consider them to be the result of the tawfiq (guidance, good fortune) from Allah.

His saying "you commit sins by day and by night" contains a censure against that [sins] which every believer feels ashamed of. For Allah has created the night to be obeyed in, and to be worshipped sincerely in, as the deeds performed in the night are generally safe from riyaa' (ostentation) and hypocrisy. So does not the Believer feel ashamed that he does not spend his nights and days in the obedience of Allah? And also, Allah has created witnesses from amongst mankind too, so what is expected of every intelligent and astute person is that he will obey Allah, and will not openly display disobedience in front of the people. How can it be that a believer would sin whether openly or secretly, for verily Allah has said after that: "and I forgive all sins". In the arabic of this statement are two forms of emphasis which indicate that Allah will forgive all forms of sin. He said this before His order to seek forgiveness from Him, so that no one who has committed a sin may despair of the mercy of Allah, no matter how great that sin may be.

As for His saying "if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you" until the end, it is an indication that the taqwa (piety) of the pious is a mercy granted to them, and that it does not affect or increase the Kingdom of Allah in the least.

As for His statement "... were all to stand together in one place", it is an exhortation to the creation to lay importance upon asking Allah and to seek from Him in all affairs, and not to feel shy or decrease in asking Him, for verily that which is with Allah does not decrease and His treasures are inexhaustible, so let not anyone think that what is with Allah will diminish by His giving, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has explained in another hadith: "Allah's Hand is Full; it is not diminished by His giving all of the day and the night. Have you not seen that your Lord has been giving ever since He created the Heavens and the Earth, and all that has not diminished what is in His Right Hand by the least". Moreover, what is hidden in this is that His Qudra (Power, Ability) is always ready for bestowing favors upon His creation, and it is not possible that He lose the ability to do so, or that He decrease in doing so, or that what He is able to do becomes restricted.

His statement "except what is decreased of the ocean when a needle is dipped into it" is a metaphor, whose purpose is to make understood what we testify for Allah. Its meaning is that what is with Allah does not decrease at all.

As for His saying "it is but your deeds that I account for you, and then recompense you for. So he who finds good, let him praise Allah", it means that man should not consider his actions of obedience and worship of Allah as being the sole result or his own nafs (soul), but rather he should consider them to be the result of the tawfiq (guidance, good fortune) from Allah, and hence he should praise Him for that.

Almighty Allah said "and he who finds other than that" and He did not say "and he who finds evil"; and the meaning of this is therefore "and he who finds anything other than that which is best". Then, such a person should not blame anyone except himself. Allah emphasises this through a nuance in the Arabic language, so that no person may think that there can be anyone else who partly or wholly bears responsibility for his actions.

Summary:

  • Allah never oppresses.
  • It is haram for us to oppress one another.
  • Nobody is guided unless he is guided by Allah.
  • Although the guidance is to be found in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, yet one cannot be guided by them unless Allah turns our hearts to His worship.
  • It is incumbent upon us to seek Allah's guidance.
  • If we sincerely seek Allah's guidance, He will indeed guide us.
  • Sustenance and provision is from Allah alone.
  • We must seek sustenance and provision from Allah only.
  • Allah will give us sustenance and provision if we ask it of Him.
  • All of us are sinful to a greater or lesser extent, i.e., nobody is sinless.
  • Allah forgives all sins except that which He says He does not forgive.
  • None can forgive sins but Allah.
  • It is obligatory to seek Allah's forgiveness for our sins.
  • Nobody can either harm or benefit Allah in the least.
  • Allah's Kingdom is not affected at all by all of mankind and jinn either becoming like the best among them or the worst among them.
  • If Allah were to give everyone what they requested from Him, then it would not decrease what He possesses of treasures and bounties.
  • One will be judged on what he has done, so we must make sure our actions are always acceptable to Allah.
  • Action is part of Iman.
  • We cannot be successful without Allah's guidance, help, protection and mercy, so we should always praise Him for the good that we receive.
  • We have no one to blame but ourselves if we end up in misery due to our bad deeds.
Related Links:
Righteousness Is Good Character
Islam = Belief and Steadfastness
Lend a Helping Hand
Softening the Heart
Ibn Daqiq Al-`Id is a prominent Muslim scholar of the seventh hijir century.

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