How Do They Aim to Demoralize Muslims?
Those who try to demoralize Muslims resort, either furtively or overtly, to that same particular methods, through which, they assume, they can break Muslims' resolve and enthusiasm. As we read in the Qur'an, such people will not cease in their efforts to mislead the believers from the right path:
… They will not stop fighting you until they make you revert from your religion, if they are able. (Surat al-Baqara, 217)
In the following pages, we will deal with some of the stratagems employed by these people. However, in order to do so, we need to keep in mind one important point. Whether through efforts that are covert or perceptible, by Allah's will, they will never succeed in demoralizing the Muslims. These people, who cannot, for some reason or other, fully grasp that it is Allah Who predestines everything, also fail to understand that they cannot accomplish anything unless otherwise willed by Allah. In addition, they are oblivious of the fact that Allah protects the believers, and that He will make them successful. Moreover, they falsely assume that none recognizes their true intent. Allah informs us that He will with certainty expose the mischief of those with sickness in their hearts:
That is because they followed what angers Allah and hated what is pleasing to Him. So He made their actions come to nothing. Or did those with sickness in their hearts imagine that Allah would not expose their malevolence? (Surah Muhammad, 28-29)
They Aim to Divert the Muslims by Involving Them in Futile Pursuits
Time, for a believer, is very dear; he strives to spend every moment of his life to earn Allah's consent. Throughout his life, there are many responsibilities a believer must fulfill; attaining a more profound faith and strengthening it, attaining moral perfection of which he is capable, making an effort to communicate the Qur'an's morality, carrying out the intellectual struggle against those ideologies hostile to religion, extending a helping hand to those in need, and continuously engaging in other good deeds. In other words, believers have to refrain from all sorts of vain works that will potentially impede their efforts. Our Lord has referred to this quality of the believers as follows:
[Believers are] those who keep away from what is vain. (Surat al-Muminun, 3)
In another verse, Allah relates that believers turn away from all futile pursuits as follows:
When they hear vain talk they turn away from it and say, "We have our mission and you have your mission. Peace be upon you. We do not desire the company of the ignorant."
(Surat al-Qasas, 55)
Those who try to demoralize the Muslims aim to waste the time of the believers by keeping them occupied with vain and worthless tasks, so as to draw their attention away from their higher responsibilities. By introducing matters that distract believers from the remembrance of Allah, and that they are answerable to Him in the Hereafter, they aim to preoccupy the believers. The Qur'an mentions this vice of the advocates of passivity in the following verse:
But there are some people who trade in distracting tales to misguide people from Allah's way knowing nothing about it and to make a mockery of it. Such people will have a humiliating punishment. (Surah Luqman, 6)
These people tend to initiate meaningless discussions, that by no means are of benefit to the Muslims; they prefer to talk about matters that makes reference instead to the transient values of this world, rather than issues that, by Allah's will, are instrumental in strengthening the believers' faith (the signs of creation, for instance). Recent trends in fashion, popular songs, cars, holiday destinations etc. is what their talks mostly consist of, because it is the lifestyle of the ignorant they yearn for. Of course Muslims also talk about these matters, and are interested in certain social activities. However, in doing so, they never forget the temporary nature of the life of this world. Aware that Allah creates the finest clothing, best cars or the most beautiful holiday resorts, they are grateful to Allah, if He so grants them these. Conscious that everything that they see of beauty around them are but products of His grace, they turn to Allah alone and render thanks to Him for all the good that He grants.
With the subjects they refer to and the manner they employ in doing so, those who strive to demoralize the Muslims ignore the Day of Judgment, and act as if this life will never end. In this way, they believe, Muslims will also indulge in worldly affairs. However, this scheme can never prove efficacious, for one of the attributes of believers is, as our Lord informs us in the Qur'an, to turn away from vain issues. By the inspiration of his conscience, a sincere believer immediately discriminates between vain and useful works, and takes measure accordingly. We are informed in the Qur'an that Paradise, the believers' true destination, is a place entirely purified of vain and immoral talk:
They shall not hear therein any vain words nor lying. (Surat an-Naba, 35)
They will not hear any prattling there—nothing but "Peace." (Surah Maryam, 62)
People of faith, who prepare themselves for Paradise throughout their lives, always act with this knowledge in mind; they are not deceived by the life of this world, or give in to idle talk. Another fact they continually keep in mind is that Allah will render unsuccessful the efforts of those who aim to impede the believers from Allah's way. One verse reads:
As for those who disbelieve and bar others from the way of Allah, Allah will make their actions go astray. (Surah Muhammad, 1)
They Aim to Render the Muslims Vulnerable by Hindering Them from Taking Appropriate Measures
The intellectual struggle between the faithful and the disbelievers has existed throughout history. The Qur'an informs us that, while struggling to communicate Allah's message, the prophets and their followers have always been subjected to slander, arrests, exile and even murder. The life of our Prophet (saas) and his followers is an important example of such a struggle. When summoning the disbelievers of Mecca to believe in Allah, our Prophet (saas) was threatened with assassination, faced vile accusations on the part of the disbelievers and, as a result of these pressures, was forced to emigrate to Medina.
Those who lived in our Prophet's (saas) time, and strove to demoralize the Muslims, by their behavior and manner of speaking, tried to hinder the believers from adopting necessary measures. They made no preparations whatsoever to support the Prophet (saas) and the other believers. On the contrary, they attempted to misinform the believers about the true nature of the dilemma they faced. As Allah made explicit in the verse, "If they had really desired to go forth, they would have made proper preparations for it..." (Surat at-Tawba, 46), these people, whose real intention was to avoid struggle, intended to suggest that there was no such situation that demanded preparation, in order both to break believers' morale and to render them vulnerable.
Taking precautionary measures and being prepared for every sort of condition is one of the attributes unique to believers. Because, when they approach any task, they consider all possibilities likely to cause them harm, either to themselves and to their communities, and consider all necessary precautions, without procrastinating to implement them. Those who attempt to demoralize the Muslims, however, try to hinder the believers from taking these precautions, by misleading them or influencing them by their corrupted mentalities. One method they may employ is to present some who have not sincerely embraced the morality of religion as trustworthy, and thus, expose the believers to compromising situations.
According to the corrupt beliefs of the passive, one can be regarded as a believer merely for saying, "I believe." This is, however, incorrect. Surely, such a phrase is significant, but it has also to be reinforced by one's outlook and behavior, as it is necessary that his words be sincere. In a verse in reference to desert Arabs, "… You do not believe. Say rather, "We have become Muslim," for belief has not yet entered into your hearts." (Surat al-Hujurat, 14), our Lord indicates that one cannot embrace faith only by saying, "I believe." Furthermore, Allah states that He will surely test the believers, and that they would not be let off so easily as to just say "We believe":
Do people imagine that they will be left to say, "We believe," and will not be tested? (Surat al-‘Ankabut, 2)
A sincere believer reveals his piety and the profoundness of his faith though his careful attention to what is lawful and unlawful, as prescribed by the religion, his obedience to all commands related in the Qur'an, his commitment, patience, trust and submission to Allah, his loyalty, faith in destiny, gratitude and modesty. On the contrary, the passive base their thinking on entirely other criteria. The foremost among these criteria are their own personal interests. They will gladly consider one from whom they can derive some benefit as a believer, even though this person shows none of the above-mentioned traits. Furthermore, they attempt to impose this opinion on the other Muslims. They have their own criteria for determining goodness and badness. According to these invalid criteria, they may deem someone "promising," in terms of the benefits he will provide them in the future, as a "good person," without considering his level of morality. On the other hand, they may readily say someone is corrupt, simply because that person is an impediment to their own future gain. For this reason, they see no reason why they should not make friends with or protect those who do not observe Allah's limits.
For instance, they do not admit that someone who says "he is Muslim," but gambles, or someone who says he has faith, but fails to observe his prayers, is on the wrong path. They do not believe that one who establishes his prayers, but is in pursuit of illicit gain, or someone who fasts, but fails to help those in need and is greedy for material goods, are errant. Rather, they try to defend such people. A person may well fail to embrace or show forth the morality expounded in the Qur'an in its true sense, because of lack of knowledge, or because he or she fails to exercise her conscience. But, once he or she is properly reminded, he will reform himself. A sincere person abandons his mistaken perspective or practices as soon as he sees the right. What is meant here are not those who are sincere and make mistakes. Those who are defended by the passive are those who do not comply with what is right, although they know it, or those who do not change their way of thinking, although they have a good comprehension of Allah's commands, but claim that they are Muslims.
One frequently encounters such people in societies of ignorance. These people do not reject the religion outright, despite the fact that they do not comply with its commands as they ought to. They establish their prayers, or fast now and then, and say that they do not mean any ill-intent, yet when it comes to observing Allah's commands, they find nothing wrong in disregarding many of them. From time to time, they will commit unlawful acts, and claim that Allah will forgive them because they have good intentions. At times missing prayers, regularly failing to observe morning prayers, gambling, taking interest when one feels it is compulsory, or failing to fast on certain days although they do not have a legitimate excuse, such as health problems, are all acceptable to them. These transgressions, which stem from a corrupt mentality, are not compatible with the Qur'anic morality. Nevertheless, they are very confident of their thinking, and maintain that it is habits they have inherited from their forefathers, and that they are merely following these traditions. This thinking is related in the Qur'an as follows:
When they are told, "Follow what Allah has sent down to you," They say, "We are following what we found our fathers doing." What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided! (Surat al-Baqara, 170)
Their rejection of the true religion communicated by prophets, on the basis that they are incompatible with their own customs and unfounded beliefs, is the most deviant aspect of their thinking. Maintaining that this is what they inherited from their forefathers, they persist in their indecency, even claiming that it is what has Allah revealed to them (Surat al-A‘raf, 28). They insist that it is merely the way of their forefathers, and is just, and reject following the path they were summoned to by the prophets (Surat al-A‘raf, 70).
Although they know, according to their own conscience, that the religion communicated to them by the prophets is right and just, they persist in their indecency, asserting that they "never heard anything like this among our earlier forefathers" (Surat al-Qasas, 36). For this reason, although they claim that they are Muslims, they oppose the sincere Muslims. They neither live by the religion revealed by Allah, nor want others to do so. To this end, they strive to demoralize the Muslims through various methods. We may refer to these people as "Muslims against Muslims."
Against sincere Muslims, advocates of passivity collaborate with those who call themselves Muslims, for, just as the advocates of passivity, they do not openly make known that they reject the religion; they abide partially by its principles, so as to certify their supposed faith. As well, the existence of such a condition is also a good opportunity for them to camouflage their immorality. Ultimately, they strive to propagate this perverted perspective among the Muslims.
As we said earlier, the intellectual struggle carried out against anti-religious ideologies is one of the most important responsibilities upon the believers. Because the advocates of passivity will even accept one who is far from the Qur'an's morality as a "friend," such a condition is not affirmed by them to exist.
Indeed, our Lord informs us of the real intent of those who claim they are Muslims though they have no faith. They are those who say, "We are Muslims," when they meet the Muslims "but then when they go apart with their satans, they say, "We are really with you. We were only mocking" (Surat al-Baqara, 14). It is clear that the believers must never trust such hypocrites, for they will seem friends to the believers, as long as they do not feel their interests are in detriment. Though, once they feel their personal interests are at stake, they turn their backs on the believers, even as far as hatching plots against them. This is similar evil to that of the unbelievers, who lived in the time of our Prophet (saas); some of the unbelievers in Mecca took every opportunity to violate the conditions of the agreement they concluded with our Prophet (saas). One verse reads:
How indeed! For if they get the upper hand over you, they will respect neither kinship nor treaty. They please you with their mouths but their hearts belie their words. Most of them are deviators. (Surat at-Tawba, 8)
The true aim of those who try to please the believers with their words, while resisting the true religion in their hearts, is revealed "once a matter is resolved upon." One verse reads; "Once the matter is resolved upon, being true to Allah would be better for them" (Surah Muhammad, 21). Those who do not fear Allah, in the way He should be feared, those who fail to comprehend that they will be called to give account of their deeds on the Day of Judgment, make themselves known in such instances. Consequently, it is easy for the sincere believers to recognize them. Although the advocates of passivity try to defend these people, who are much like themselves, maintaining that they are truly sincere but have failed to live according to the religion because of a lack of proper knowledge of it, the believers know the truth. That is because, these people do not live by the true religion, and not because they lack knowledge, but because they reject it. As one would expect, the believers approach with caution these people, who reveal their morality and true mentality through the way they behave, and therefore do not feel an inner love and respect for them. The ones who try to demoralize the Muslims are those who harbor love for they who do not observe Allah's limits, who do not live by the Qur'anic morality, and who are not eager to follow the true religion. From the Qur'an, we know that Muslims never show affection towards those who are opposed to Allah and His messenger:
You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having love for anyone who opposes Allah and His messenger, though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their kindred. Allah has inscribed faith upon such people's hearts and will reinforce them with a Soul from Him and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. Such people are the party of Allah. Truly it is the party of Allah who are successful.
(Surat al- Mujadala, 22)
They Aim to Demoralize the Believers Through the Unbelievers
As we mentioned above, those who are not eager to adopt the Qur'an's morality, and strive to demoralize the Muslims, are happy to ally themselves with those who do not live by the Qur'an's morality. However, this is a friendship they usually try to keep hidden from the believers. When this friendship is suspected, they find excuses to explain to the Muslims, saying that it is not a true friendship, and that they are with these people only for some practical purpose. Allah informs us that their habit is to lie in the following manner:
Do you not see those who have turned to people with whom Allah is angry? They belong neither to you nor to them. And they swear to falsehood and do so knowingly.
(Surat al- Mujadala, 14)
In social situations, the believers may have relations with people of different beliefs, all of whom they treat kindly. This there is nothing wrong with. However, they show true love and respect only to those of faith. The sole friend, guardian and helper of the believers is Allah, His messenger and the believers who are sincere in their devotion to Allah. One verse reads:
Your friend is only Allah and His messenger and those who believe: those who perform prayer and pay alms, and bow. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 55)
Those with a sickness in their hearts, however, "turn away completely" when they are summoned to Allah and His messenger (Surat an-Nisa', 61). Rather than maintaining friendship with the messenger and the believers, they feel closer to unbelievers. Behind this fondness there exists various devious intents. As we learn from these verses, these people are those who have not determined whose side they are on. When with the believers, they long to participate in the activities of the disbelievers. They never abandon their relationships with the unbelievers because they always keep in mind that they will someday turn their back on the believers. Another reason is that they lack resolve. It is obvious that one who believes sincerely will never think of living apart from the believers.
Indeed, Allah reveals these people's indecisiveness in the following verse:
They vacillate between the two—not joining these or joining those. (Surat an-Nisa', 143)
Another reason why these people feel anxious is that they collaborate secretly with the unbelievers in fomenting plots against believers. In this way, they assume that they can harm the believers and impede their intellectual struggle. The hypocrites, who lived in the time of our Prophet (saas), and erected another mosque from where to plot against believers with the help of the unbelievers, is an example of this. The relevant verse reads:
As for those who have set up a mosque, causing harm and out of disbelief, to create division between the believers, and in readiness for those who previously made war on Allah and His messenger, they will swear, "We only desired the best." But Allah bears witness that they are truly liars. (Surat at-Tawba, 107)
As the above verse also maintains, another telling attribute of these people is their claim to mean no harm. However, their purpose is just the contrary. It is obvious that one who truly "desires the best" follows the path of Allah and His messenger. Aware that the promise of Allah and His messenger is true, believers take only other believers into their confidence. However, though also leading their lives with believers, those who are the subject of this book secretly maintain warm relations with unbelievers, failing to grasp that nothing is hidden from Allah. They never come to understand that Allah knows every detail of their secret plans, even their inner-most thoughts. While they conduct their secret discussion with their co-conspirators, Allah witnesses every moment, and the angels record everything they do:
They try to conceal themselves from people, but they cannot conceal themselves from Allah. He is with them when they spend the night saying things which are not pleasing to Him. Allah encompasses everything they do. (Surat an-Nisa', 108)
Or do they imagine that We do not hear their secrets and their private talk? On the contrary Our messengers are right there with them writing it down! (Surat az-Zukhruf, 80)
We need to remember that the love and curiosity they show for the unbelievers, rather than for the believers, will likely cause them great regret in the Hereafter. These are the false bonds that lead one to stray from the straight path, leaving him ultimately in the lurch. Those who stubbornly refuse recognizing this fact will confess their regret on the Day of Judgment, but there will then be no opportunity for them to return and make up for their misdeeds.
The Day when a wrongdoer will bite his hands and say, "Alas for me! If only I had gone the way of the messenger! Alas for me! If only I had not taken so-and-so for a friend! He led me astray from the Reminder after it came to me." Satan always leaves man in the lurch.
(Surat al-Furqan, 27-29)
They Strive to Divert the Believers by Stirring Up Phony Crises
Apart from preventing Muslims from taking necessary measures against potential threats, those who advocate passivity stir up sham crises, and thereby, cause unnecessary anxiety for the believers.
Another important attribute of these people is their cowardliness and failure to put their trust in Allah. These people, who fail to comprehend the eminence of Allah's authority and His eternal might, also have difficulty attaining a full grasp of the meaning of destiny. They do not see the ultimate perfection in every instant of the divine plan decreed by Allah. The fact is, however, everyone will encounter unforeseen events in the course of his life. He may be treated unjustly, slandered or insulted… Faced with such a situation, a Muslim who trusts in Allah does not forget that everything has been predetermined, and for that reason feels no distress. Aware that this moment is also part of his destiny, as every other moment of his life, he confronts what happens to him with serenity. Furthermore, he may at times experience circumstances that would otherwise be hard to bear for one who fails to put his trust in Allah; he may, for instance, all of a sudden lose all his fortune, or a child, or have to quit his job or schooling, or he might learn that one of his close friends is on his deathbed… Yet, a Muslim never feels distressed in such cases. Aware that Allah encompasses him from all around, and at every moment, he trusts in Him and relies on Him. In such and similar circumstances, he is submissive and obedient to Allah unstintingly. Never forgetting that nothing happens to someone except for what Allah has decreed, he is pleased with what has been predestined for him. In many verses of the Qur'an, Allah informs us that everything a person experiences is recorded in a book, and that nothing happens to him or her except what is recorded in that book. One of these verses is the following:
… You do not engage in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an or do any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on Earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah Yunus, 61)
These people, who do not fear Allah as they should fear Him, feel intense fear instead for other people. This is also stated in the verse; "You are a greater cause of terror in their breasts than Allah! That is because they are people who do not understand" (Surat al-Hashr, 13). For this reason, as the verse, "… They imagine every cry to be against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them." (Surat al-Munafiqun, 4) calls attention, they assume everything to be arranged against them.
From another verse, we understand that they experience fear and anxiety, although they live in a Muslim society:
They swear by Allah that they are of your number, but they are not of your number. Rather, they are people who are scared. (Surat at-Tawba, 56)
By stirring up phony crises and conflicts, they also try to impart the same anxiety upon the Muslims. Even a minor issue may seem grave to them, disregarding the fact that everything is predestined. Through their volatile temperaments, they may also influence others of poor faith. They want especially to impart intense panic and fear, the prevailing feelings they suffer, hoping to create the impression that there really exists such a situation for which there should be fear or panic.
As Allah states in the verse, "… You made trouble for yourselves and hung back and doubted and false hopes deluded you until Allah's command arrived. The Deluder deluded you about Allah." (Surat al-Hadid, 14), they are consumed with doubts. Because they fail to believe with their hearts that Muslims will prevail by Allah's will, they try to create the impression that they are faced with insurmountable problems, by exaggerating those incidents that seem at first sight to represent adversity. Because they consider chaos and conflict as conditions that will diminish Muslims' strength, these they want to instigate among the Muslims, by overstating something that would appear negative, though in fact it is insignificant, as a great tragedy. However, aware that a seemingly adverse situation may ultimately be good, just as apparently favorable situations may be bad, Muslims believe that, no matter how difficult these may seem, all is created by Allah, according to a divine plan. They submit themselves to their destiny, and lead a life purified of all mundane concerns. In compliance with the verse, "… Allah always confounds the schemes of the disbelievers." (Surat al-Anfal, 18) they know that all plots hatched with the aim of misleading them into passivity are doomed to failure.
They Try to Wreak the Enthusiasm of the Believers through Scaremongering
Another characteristic of those who are reluctant to live by religious values, and who strive to mislead the believers into laxity, is their negativity in talking. A person, however, who has well grasped the values of Islam, and incorporated the Qur'anic mentality into his life, never thinks negatively nor despairs of Allah's mercy. This is an important quality of the believers, as stated in the Qur'an:
… Do not despair of solace from Allah. No one despairs of solace from Allah except for people who disbelieve. (Surah Yusuf, 87)
Say: "My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." (Surat az-Zumar, 53)
Hopelessness is a trait peculiar to unbelievers, one which weakens them both materially and spiritually, deprives them of their zeal and enthusiasm, and diverts them into pessimism and malcontent. As well as being sinking into despondency themselves, those who advocate passivity in the religion try also to make other Muslims lose their hope and enthusiasm. However, they are never able to grasp why the Muslims see good in all that happens.
They can never understand that what they view as distressing may have been brought about by Allah for some reason, and therefore, may result in something positive. For this reason, they are always expecting the worst, trying to make the Muslims afraid of others and abandon the intellectual struggle. The Qur'an tells of similar things said in the time of the prophets, to cause Muslims to fall into despair. For example, while our Prophet (saas) was alive, there were those who tried to make the believers lose hope and give up their struggle, by annnouncing that a certain people had gathered against them:
[Believers are] those to whom people said, "The people have gathered against you, so fear them." But that merely increased their faith and they said, "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians." (Surah Al ‘Imran, 173)
We can see in this verse that these people presented themselves as doing the believers a favor, supposedly giving them a friendly warning. But, their main objective was to intimidate the believers, by making them frightened. Though, devout believers would never fall for such a ruse. Because of their faith, they are not influenced by these groundless warnings, as in the quoted verse, but say, in all sincerity "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians." These believers submitted to Allah, and trusted in Him, and, in the following verse, our Lord reveals the wonderful reward He has given them in return for their faith:
So they returned with blessings and bounty from Allah and no evil touched them. They pursued the pleasure of Allah. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 174)
Contrary to what the proponents of passivity think, nothing can harm those who have faith and seek Allah's good pleasure; they are granted blessings by our Lord. One of the main reasons why these people mistakenly believe that the believers are at a disadvantage, is that those who are ignorant of religion are in majority, while devout believers are very few in number. These individuals wrongly think that their being greater in number will be the deciding factor. But, Allah tells us in the Qur'an how wrong their assessment is:
... How many a small force has triumphed over a much greater one by Allah's permission! Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 249)
Such people try to make the believers lose their hope, deterring them from every act of service, by making it seem too burdensome. For example, before carrying out a task for the purpose of disseminating Islamic morality, they insist that no one will appreciate it, therefore claiming there is no need to engage in such an effort. By this, their aim is, first of all, to dampen the zeal of the believers. Or, to impede their efforts in disseminating the moral teachings of the Qur'an, they propose that, instead of reaching as many people as possible, it is enough for believers to advance slowly, and to reach only those in their inner-circle. Their hope is to weigh them down and prevent them from gaining further strength. They put forward these proposals to feign as if they intend only to help the believers or to give them advice. Their real intention, however, is to nip the believers' every action in the bud, hoping to lead them into despair and weaken their determination.
But believers cannot be caused to despair by such deceptive means; on the contrary, they are instead emboldened by them; they realize that it is Allah Who creates everything even though it may appear to be an obstacle. And, for a devout believer, there is no difficulty that cannot be surmounted with the help of Allah, Who it is Who can also bring about that which is good. It is this knowledge that inspires a believer with his unwavering hope, whatever the circumstances. Therefore, he will never be negative in his outlook, and believes that the service he performs will always turn out for the best. Sincere believers, and those who walk in the way of the prophets, are aware that the Lord has promised them assistance towards victory. The Lord has made this promise to those who believe:
Our Word was given before to Our servants, the messengers, that they would certainly be helped. (Surat as-Saffat, 171-172)