During his Caliphate, ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu set out for Ash-Shaam with Abu Ubaydah. On this journey, they came upon a deep creek, which they needed to cross. So ‘Umar took off his sandals and carried them on his shoulders. Then he took the reign of the camel and began plowing through the water. Seeing the khalifah of the Muslims in this state, Abu Ubaydah felt saddened and said, "I fear that the people of the village will think you without honor."
‘Umar replied, "Oh Abu Ubaydah, if only someone less knowledgeable then you made such a statement. We were of the most disgraced of people, and Allah granted us honor with this Islam. Now, whenever we seek honor in other than that which Allah honored us with, Allah shall disgrace us (once again)."
Dear brothers and sisters, we often hear that the victory of Allah is something promised and very near. However, some of us do not really believe in our hearts that Allah will grant victory to Islam. Some of us may think that this victory that Allah speaks about is only for a certain elite group of believers, or that the victory was only for a certain time in history. We must understand that it is not just anyone who is promising this; it is Allah the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth that is promising this. It is not just a promise of the Hereafter, but it is promised in this life as well:
“Indeed, We will grant victory to Our messengers and those who believe in this life of the world and on the Day when the witnesses will stand” [Ghafir 40:51].
We can only hope for victory when we surrender our loyalty to none other than Allah, His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and the believers:
“And whoever is an ally of Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed – indeed the party of Allah will be the victors” [Al-Ma’idah 5:56].
Honor and victory come only from Allah. Whoever seeks it from other than Allah, nothing awaits them but disgrace:
“Give glad tidings to the munaafiqeen [hypocrites] that there is for them a painful punishment – those that take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers / Do, they seek with them 'izzah [honor]? Rather, to Allah indeed belongs all honor” [An-Nisaa’ 4:138-139]
And when someone thinks that this victory and honor that was promised to the righteous is only a delusion, they are in fact recycling the statements of the munaafiqeen before them. Allah recorded their scoffing in the Qur’an:
“And [remember] when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said, "Allah and His Messenger did not promise us anything more than delusion"” [Al-Ahzab 33:12].
Was the promise of victory just a delusion? Let the Qur'an speak to us the outcome of that battle of Al-Ahzab! Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala tells us:
“And Allah repelled those who disbelieved, in their rage, not having accomplished any good. And enough was Allah for the believers in battle, and ever is Allah Powerful and Exalted in Might.” [Al-Ahzab 33:25]
Ibn Katheer said, "Whoever wants a place of honor in this life and the next, let him hold firmly to the obedience of Allah and his goal will be realized.” This is because to Allah belongs this life and the next, and all honor is His. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says:
“Say, O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent” [A’le-Imran 3:26].
King, prince, duke, marquee, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, and knight – these were the names the English used to appropriate nobility amongst themselves. Humans want to be honored in this life and so they set out in search of things that will grant them this honor. Some search for it in money, but when the stock market crashes and they lose everything, they commit suicide or live in humility. Some search for it in degrees, but those same degrees may be their citation for arrogance over others. Some search for it in military might or a leadership position, but when the tables turn on them they become the most humiliated.
Only in the worship of Allah is true honor found because all honor belongs to Allah:
“And to Allah belongs all honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not” [Al-Munafiqun 63:8].
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said concerning the people of sin, "They – even though their riding beasts pitter patter with them atop and their mules carry them ever so gracefully, upon them at all times is the hovering disgrace of sin. Allah shall never allow for those who disobey Him anything more than disgrace."
“And whoever Allah humiliates – for him there is no one to give him honor” [Al-Hajj 22:18].
"He is doing what? Building a boat in the desert?" The people of Nuh alayhis sallam ran out to see if the news was true. Yes indeed! There he was, building a huge boat without a drop of water in site. Allah tells us:
“And he constructed the ark – whenever a group of the eminent of his people passed him they mocked him” [Hud 11:38].
They couldn't help but to ridicule him. "Hey Nuh, you were a prophet yesterday; have you now become a carpenter?"
What happened, dear brothers and sisters, to those devilish people who disbelieved in Allah's Messenger for 950 years? Where are they now? Who was the winner in the end? Certainly, in the end Allah granted a decisive victory to Nuh alayhis sallam. More so, Allah tells His Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam at the conclusion of Nuh's story, how victory will always be for the believers:
“So be patient, indeed, the [best] outcome is [and will always be] for the righteous.” [Hud 11:49].
In their misguided quest for ‘izzah [honor], the Greeks designated a female god whose sole job was to dispense victory and honor. She was a popular subject in their art, usually represented as winged and bearing a wreath or palm branch. The called her Nike. Sadly, many of us may still find remnants of their shirk present today on our shoes.
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
«Indeed this affair [of Islam] shall reach wherever the night and day reach. Allah will not spare a single clay…home except that Allah will cause for Islam to enter it – whether with nobility or with humiliation; nobility that Allah grants with them entering Islam, or humility that Allah places upon them for their kufr.» [Reported by: Al Haithami, Albani].
The narrator of the hadith, Tamim Ad-Daaree radi Allahu anhu said, "Certainly, I saw this in my own family. Those that became Muslim amongst them found prosperity and nobility and honor. And those that turned to kufr found nothing but disgrace, humility and the jizyah tax."
There are different ways in which Allah grants victory to His righteous servants. For example, Allah may grant victory through martyrdom. Allah tells us in the Qur'an to not think that those who were killed in the way of Allah are dead. Nay, they are alive with Allah, well provided for.
Allah may grant victory through the huge success in spreading one's da'wah. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us this in the story of the boy and the king. In the end, the only way the king could kill the boy was to shoot the arrow pronouncing the statement, “In the name of the Lord of this boy.” When he did so, although the boy was martyred, the entire village believed in Allah alone – the Lord of the boy.
Allah may grant victory through the trials that distinguish the believers from the hypocrites. As a sage once said, "All thanks are to Allah who places a hardship on me through which I distinguish my friends from my enemies."
Or victory may come through Allah assisting his servant with clear and decisive arguments. An example of this is how Allah supported Ibrahim alayhis salaam against the tryrant Namrood when he said that he too gives life and death. Ibrahim replied that verily Allah brings the sun from the east and he challenged Namrood to bring it from the west. Namrood was dumbfounded and had no reply.
In conclusion, we all know that RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started this mission of Islam at the Mountain of Safa. After telling his people about Allah and the final Day, Abu Jahl, his own uncle, turned his back on him and said aloud, "May you perish O Muhammad! Is this why you have gathered us?" On his heels he turned and
everyone followed him, leaving our Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam standing alone.
Two decades later, in the farewell Hajj, he, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood on that very same mountain. At this time, the victory of Allah had come true as Allah had promised. All of Makkah was now Muslim, a sea of believers memorizing their Prophet's every move. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood there on Mount Safa, faced the Ka'bah and recited: «There is no god but Allah. Only One. He was true to His promise. He granted victory to His servant, he granted honor and nobility to his army, and the confederates did He alone defeat.» [Reported by: Ahmad].