The effects of sin upon Individuals and upon Society
All praise is due to Allah the One in whose hands is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. Sovereignty and praise belong to Him and He is a witness over all things. He possesses wisdom in His affairs, in His law and ability. He does as He wishes and judges as He likes and I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone having no partner and that He is the Protector, the Praised.
I also bear witness that Muhammad (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), is His slave and Messenger, seal of the Prophets, their leader and chief of the believers, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and upon his family, upon his Companions and those who follow them in righteousness until the last day.
To proceed - Verily Allah, the Most High, spoke clearly of the completeness of His power, the perfection of His wisdom and that the command and legislation are for Him alone and that He is the Ruler over His servants as He wishes in regards to security, fear, prosperity, severity, ability, anxiety, deficiency, abundance, etc.
"All that are in the heavens and the earth entreat Him. Every day He is upon some task." [al-Qur'aan 55:29]
So for Allah, the Most High, in His creation there are affairs for which he exercises Judgment, which is sometimes necessitated by His wisdom and His Graciousness, and sometimes by His Wisdom and Justice, and your Lord does not oppress anyone.
"We did not wrong them, but they themselves were unjust." [al-Qur'aan 44:76]
O Muslims, indeed we believe in Allah and His divine decree; indeed having faith in the divine decree of Allah is one of the pillars of belief. We believe that which benefits us from goodness and prosperity, it is from the favour of Allah upon us. It is an obligation upon us to thank the benefactor and patron of this favour by returning to his obedience, abstaining from what He has forbidden and doing what He has commanded. Verily if we stand in obedience to Allah, then we are those that are thankful for His favours and thus are deserving of what Allah has promised us and conferred upon us from an increase of this favour.
"And whatsoever blessing you have, it is from Allah ... " [al-Qur'aan 16:53]
And Allah, the Most High, says:
"And when your Lord proclaimed: 'If you are thankful I will increase you. But if you are ungrateful, My torment shall be severe." [al-Qur'aan 14:7]
O Muslims, indeed we who are in this kingdom, we live, and all praise is due to Allah, in safety and prosperity, but this safety and security will not stay forever except by obedience to Allah, the Most High, and until we stand in obedience to Allah, until we command the good and forbid the evil, until we help those who command the good and forbid the evil, because these people who command the good and forbid the evil are the standpoint of the Ummah. They are the ones who drive away the causes for penalty and punishment, so it is upon us to help them and to be amongst their ranks, it is also upon us, if they make a mistake, to realise the mistake and to warn them from it and to guide them to that within which there is guidance, not that we make an excuse in what they have made a mistake in as a cause of removing them and pushing them away on this basis, indeed this custom is not good.
O Muslims, indeed whatever befalls the people from harm or constraint be it monetary or from a position of trust, be it upon the individual or the society, then certainly it is because of their sins and their neglect of the commands of Allah and their forgetfulness of the law of Allah and their seeking of judgment amongst the people, without the law of Allah, the One who created the creation and is more merciful to them than their mothers and father and is more knowledgeable about their affairs than they are.
O Muslims, I return to this sentence because of its importance and because of the avoidance that many of the people show to it. Certainly I say (again), indeed whatever befalls the people from harm or constraint be it monetary or from a position of trust, be it upon the individual or the society, then certainly it is because of their sins and their neglect of the commands of Allah and their forgetfulness of the law of Allah and their seeking of judgment amongst the people, without the law of Allah, the One who created the creation and is more merciful to them than their mothers and father and is more knowledgeable about their affairs than they are. Allah, the Most High, says that clearly in His Book so that we become clear on the matter.
Allah, the Most High, says:
"Whatever misfortune befalls you, is for what your own hands have earned, and He pardons much." [al-Qur'aan 42:30]
Whatever has come to us from good favours and security, then it is from Allah. It is He who bestowed it upon us from the beginning to its end. He is the One who conferred benefit upon us and we have become steadfast because of Him. He is the One who conferred benefit upon us and bestowed it amply upon us.
As for what has befallen us from those things which are evil, from drought, fear and things of this nature that afflict us, then that is from ourselves, we are the reasons for it, we, the ones who have oppressed ourselves and have brought it upon ourselves in ruin and destruction.
O Mankind, verily there are many from the people today who ascribe the difficulties that they are facing (whether they are monetary, economic or political security issues) to material, political or monetary reasons or to limiting factors. There is no doubt that this is from the shallowness of their understanding and the weakness of their faith as well as their heedlessness on the contemplation of the Book of Allah and the Prophetic traditions.
O Muslims, O Believers in Allah and His Messenger, Indeed the basis of these reasons are religious. Reasons for these difficulties are greater, mightier and more severe in their effects than material reasons, but it is possible that the material reasons are placed as an intermediary.
"Corruption has appeared on land and in the sea for what men's hands have earned, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, that they may return." [al-Qur'aan 30:41]
O Mankind, O Muslims, O people of Muhammad (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), Be thankful of the favour of Allah upon you. Indeed you, O people of Muhammad, are the best of peoples and the most noble of them to Allah. Indeed Allah did not place the punishment of this nation upon it's sins and wrong-doings as were the punishments of the nations that came before. He did not bring about a destruction for the Ummah as what transpired with the people of 'Ad when they were destroyed by a ferocious raging wind, that he subjected them with for a grueling seven nights and eight days, in which you the people fell down demented as if they are the devastated stumps of palm trees- look around, do you think there is anyone left from amongst them?
He did not bring about a punishment similar to that of Thamud, those people that were taken by the loud piercing scream and mighty tremors. Not like the punishment of the people of Lot, those to whom Allah sent upon stones from the sky and Allah turned their houses upside-down.
O Muslims, indeed Allah with His wisdom and His mercy for this nation has placed their penalties upon their wrong-doings and sins in order that they should impose penalties upon each other.
Allah, the Most High, has said:
"Say: 'He is Able to send torment upon you from above you or from beneath your feet, or to bewilder you with dissension and make you taste the violence of one another. See how We display the signs so that they may understand.' " [al-Qur'aan 6:65]
And certainly al-Hafidh Ibn Kathir mentioned in his commentary on the Qur'aan numerous narrations in connection with this verse. From these narrations is what Imam al-Bukhari authenticated on the authority of Jabir ibn 'Abdillah, may Allah be pleased with them both, where it is reported that when this verse was revealed, the Prophet (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), said:
"I seek refuge in Your Face."
And what has been authenticated by Imam Muslim on the authority of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas, may Allah be pleased with him, who said:
"We were accompanying the Prophet (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), until we passed by the Masjid of Bani Mu'awiyah. So the Prophet entered the Masjid and prayed two rak'at, and we prayed with him. Then he said something in secret to his Lord, the Most High, for a long time. Then he said:
"I asked my Lord for three things; I asked Him that He should not destroy my nation by a flood, so He granted me that and I asked Him not to destroy my nation by a drought as what transpired with the people of the Pharoah so He granted me that, and I asked Him that they did not fight one another, which He has refused to me."
And on the authority of Jabir ibn al-Urut, may Allah be pleased with him:
"I came before the Prophet, peace be upon him, at night and we prayed until it was close to the time of the morning prayer, so the Prophet, peace be upon him, ended his prayer. I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, certainly you have prayed this night a prayer that which I have not seen you pray the like of.' The Messenger of Allah (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), said:
"The reason for that is because it was a prayer between desire and fear. I asked my Lord, the Most High, in the prayer for three qualities for which He gave me two and denied me one. I asked my Lord that He not destroy us in the way He destroyed the previous generations and so He granted me that, and I asked my Lord that He not cause us to be overcome by an enemy so He granted me that. Then I asked my Lord, the Most High, that He not make us into factions and that he not make us inflict harm upon each other but he did not grant this to me." [Reported by Ahmad, Nisa'i and at-Tirmidhi]
O Muslims, indeed you believe in these verses and you believe in these narrations. Those which have been authenticated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), so why do you not contemplate on them? Why do you not contemplate on them? Why do you not ascribe these difficulties, those which arise, to the laxness in your worship so that you may return to your Lord and save yourselves from the causes of disastrous annihilation?
So fear Allah and look to your affairs and seek repentance from your Lord. Rectify your journey to Him and know that these punishments that come down to you O people and these trials that befall you are indeed from your own souls and your sins, so bring forward for every punishment, repentance and a return to Allah and seek refuge with Allah, the Most High, from the trials. Material trials that are with people, with killing, with injury with frightening and with money, with deficiency and destruction. And the religious trials that are in the heart with misconceptions, desires that block the nation from Allah's religion and distance it from the success of it's predecessors and blow it to the Fire, for indeed the trial of the hearts is mightier and greater and with a more evil result that the worldly trials because if the worldly trials were to befall someone, there would be no loss except that of this world and the world will eventually waste away sooner or later, as for the religious trials then with it is the loss in this life and the hereafter.
" ... The real losers will be those who lose themselves and their housefolk on the Day of Arising. That will be the manifest loss." [al-Qur'aan 39:15]
From a speech delivered by Shaykh Saleh al Uthaymeen (rahimahullah)
Edited by Br. Abd' al Fattah ('Abu Rawaahah) for the Tayyibun Institute