FROM THE FRONT LINE OF STRUGGLE
3 Muharram 1427 A.H. 2 February , 2006 C.E.
Communiqué #2 to the Believers
PROTECTING THE UMMAH FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT, BY STOPPING THE WAS-WAS!!!
By Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd
“The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe ”
Recent events should cause members of the Ummah of Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in America, to give careful consideration as to our vulnerability as a Muslim people, to infiltration by Satanic agents. We must continuously safeguard ourselves from the agents of COINTELPRO 21st CENTURY - informants and agent provocateurs who work to derail the righteous, law-abiding activity of Muslims struggling for self-determination, freedom, justice, and equality in the land.
But we must also safeguard ourselves from the effects of Satanic activity in our midst, in the form of was-was (Satanically-inspired whispering), in all of its various forms. A series of e-mails recently circulated by a certain Muslim cyber-journalist, have fallen into this category. The journalist’s rantings exacerbated his previous slander against Imam Siraj Wahhaj; a popular, nationally respected Muslim leader.
The recent e-mails took the cyber-journalist’s spurious accusations to a new low, as he spewed venom at Imam Wahhaj, disrespecting him as a brother in Islam, and as a Muslim leader. Further, the list of those attacked via this inter-net fitna began to expand, as the writer, previously regarded amongst some in the Ummah as a voice advocating justice, began to attack others who publicly oppose his views and method of spreading them.
During a time when Muslims are being attacked from without, and lies and innuendos against their leaders and activists are being spread by the forces of repression, careful consideration and thorough reflection upon the standard of the religion of Al-Islām with regards to safeguarding the sanctity of the Muslims (i.e. our honor and reputation as individuals and as a people ), must take place in both our public and private discourse.
Allāh The Exalted, Glory be to Him, has said “The Believers are a single Brotherhood” (49:10) , and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in an authentic narration, said “…Do not undercut one another. But be you instead brothers, O servants of Allāh …A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim…He Neither lies to him nor holds him in contempt. Taqwa is right here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for a Muslim is sacred: his blood, his property, his honor”. (Muslim)
Words are powerful instruments that can convey us to heaven or hell, based upon how we use them. Almighty Allāh (Glory be to Him) has said “Do you not see how Allāh sets forth a parable? A good word is like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and whose branches (reach) to the sky… and the parable of an evil word is like that of an evil tree. It is pulled up by the root. It is pulled up by the root from the surface of the earth. It cannot be stable…” (Q 14:24,26)
As Imam Ghazzali (May Allāh reward him with Paradise) related under his written warning against “flaws of the tongue”, Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “ A servant (of Allāh) may say a word, because of which he may fall into the Fire (a distance that is) more than that which is between the East and the West.”
Thus, having been warned against reckless speech and its consequences in this life and the here-after, the Muslims who value their souls and seek to please their Lord must take heed. Likewise, the Muslim masses must be vigilant against the heedless. Whether such offenders are motivated by malicious intent, plagued by ignorance of the Deen, or just rebellious because they are following their own impulse instead of Allāh, the result is the same –erosion of brotherhood and sisterhood and the unity of the Muslims.
One of the Qur’anic attributes of Shaitān (Satan), is that of Al-Was-Was (“the Whisperer of evil). Allāh commands us in His Book (the Qur’ān) to seek refuge in Him, from this particular manifestation or characteristic of the Devil. He says:
“Say I seek refuge in the Lord God of mankind, The Divine Sovereign of mankind, The God of mankind, from the mischief and harm of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after the whisper). (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind, amongst Jinn and Men.” (Q 114: 1-6)
As scholarly commentators of the Qur’ān have observed, this sūra highlights “the necessity of seeking Allah’s protection from internal factors, which might affect an individual”. In truth, none can protect humanity but Allāh, Who is their Lord, Sovereign, and God, whether they bear witness to it or not. His protection lies with obedience to His commands.
So having warned us in His Book that Satan is our clear and avowed enemy, whom we should treat as an enemy (Q 12:5, 100, 17:53, 18:50, 20:117, 25:29, 35:5, 36:60, 43:62), our Lord, Sovereign and God identifies an aspect of our enemy’s modus operandi (method of operation) , by which he seeks to bring about the destruction of man in general, and the believers in particular.
The renowned classical Mufassir (scholar of exegesis or commentary) of the Qur’ān, Ibn Kathīr (May Allāh reward him with Paradise), says of Allāh’s Words, “From the evil mischief and harm (sharr) of the Whisperer (of Evil)…” : “ Satan entices people to commit sins as he makes evil attractive to men. Only Allāh can grant protection from the evil of Shaitān (Satan).
According to a hadīth, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said ‘Everyone of you has a close companion from the jinn (Shayatīn – devils, demons)’ . The Companions asked, ‘Even you?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, but Allah has granted me protection against him’. ”
Further, in affirmation of Allāh’s Words, “… (the same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind”, the Prophet (pbuh) has stated in various authentic Ahadīth, “Satan flows inside of the human being like blood”, and “Satan puts his hand unto the heart of man.” These statements make it clear that no human being is exempt from the influence of the Devil, therefore we must all guard ourselves against our enemy.
We are taught in Al-Islam that Satan relays his commands to his minions – who are the demons, the jinn shayateen, who are so close to human beings. Satanically influenced people who engage in mischief-making (fasad) are themselves called devils or demon (shayatīn), by Allāh (Q 2:14). What are their methods of fasad? They are gheeba (back-biting and slander), laghw (vain talk) humaza (scandal- mongering, gossip, and the public broadcasting of rumors and lies), and the like. Our God mentions each of these things in His Book by name, and commands the believers to eschew these activities.
Allāh says of back-biting : “…Nor speak ill of each other behind your backs.” (Q 49:12), and “ Woe (hell) to every backbiter “ (Q 104:1), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) once told a believer who spoke ill of another in his absence, “Pick your teeth”. The man responded , “Why? I haven’t eaten any meat.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “You have eaten your brother’s flesh.”
Allāh says of slander: “ Woe (hell) to every slanderer” (Q 104:1) , “…Do not slander yourselves” (Q 49:11) and His Messenger (peace be upon him) upon admonishing the believers against backbiting was asked, “What if what we said is true?” He stated “If what you said is true it is still back-biting. If what you said is false, it is slander.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’i)
He says of gossip: “You carried with your tongues and uttered with your mouths what you did not know. You may have thought it (the act of gossip) trivial , but in the sight of Allah it was a grave offense. When you heard it, why didn’t you say ‘It’s not right for us to speak of this. Allah forbid. This is monstrous slander!” (Q 24:15-17) , and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “The one who spreads gossip which he has overheard, will not enter The Garden.” ((Bukhārī and Muslim)
Further he says of suspicion: “O you who believe! Avoid (indulging in) much suspicion; truly some suspicion is a sin. (Q 49:12), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Avoid suspicion, for airing suspicion is the most lying form of speech.” (Bukhārī)
Our Lord says of scandal mongering, and the public broadcasting of unsubstantiated rumors: “ …For such men are wicked transgressors” (Q 24:4) , and “When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they divulge it. If they had only referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have tested it from them (direct). Were it not for the Grace and Mercy of Allah unto you, all but a few of your would have followed Satan.” (Q 4:83), and “Shall I tell you upon whom the devils descend? They descend on every lying sinner. They pour hear-say vanities into their ears, but most of them are liars.” (Q 26:221-22) , and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “The most evil among Allāh’s slaves are those who go about spreading gossip, dividing those who love each other, and desiring to defame those who are innocent.” (Ahmad)
Yet, in spite of the fact that we Muslims have been warned against the gravity of these sins by our Lord, Sovereign and God, we find in our midst too much of this type of activity. The problem is present amongst both leadership and “rank and file” Muslims, those calling themselves Salafīs or Sufīs, Sunnis or Shi’a or otherwise, religious conservatives or “progressives”, political activists who fancy themselves advocate voices for justice, as well as the unfortunately apolitical; and those claming or considered to be knowledgeable in religion, and those who are ignorant. The same disease of Satanic infection of the heart seems to exist everywhere in the Ummah, and its symptoms are manifest. The result is discord, disunity, and rancor in the ranks of the Muslims. Hatred instead of love, scorn and ridicule instead of compassion, and weakness instead of strength is our communal plague.
“ Was-wa-ing” is as Allah has described it, “an evil mischief” that does harm in this life and the next. During the time of the Prophet (pbuh), the Jewish enemies of Islam, sought to deflate the revolutionary rise of Al-Islam by exploiting the intrinsic weaknesses of the Ummah. The method they used was the sowing of division in Muslim ranks.
Two tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj had been enemies in the days before their acceptance of Al-Islām, and the former had defeated the latter. One day, a hypocrite hiding in the Muslim ranks initiated a was-was campaign amongst those believers, stirring up memories of their previous antagonism, rekindling old feelings of hatred and pride, and extolling the virtues of the past glory of one, the humiliation of the other, and the possibility for a reversal of fortune through renewed conflict.
The Prophet (pbuh) learned of this subterfuge, rushed to the scene of the attempted Satanically inspired maneuver, and using the power of persuasive speech he reminded them of the favor of Allāh upon them in bringing them into the faith they loved (Q 3: ). He emphasized their obligation to unity, brotherhood, and love for the sake of Allāh. He preached eloquently and with such impassioned delivery, that eventually tears began to run down the faces of the Muslim brothers from both tribes. They embraced each other and survived the crises caused by incitement from within their own ranks.
Further, historically speaking, this tactic of “divide and conquer” is Pharonic in nature. As Allah says in His Book: “Truly Phraoah exalted himself in the land, and broke its people up into divisions, oppressing a small group among them. Their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females, for he was indeed a maker of mischief. (Q 28:4)
A modern example of this in America, affecting Muslims and others, was initiated through COINTELPRO. Seeking to derail the revolutionary uprising of the masses that occurred in the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s, the American government’s COvert INTELligence PROgram, under the supervision of F.B.I. director and American hero J. Edgar Hoover, sought to destroy the Movement for civil and human rights, and the Struggle for freedom of the oppressed American masses, by exploiting their weaknesses and causing division in their ranks.
Required reading for every American regardless of their religion or politics, should be the book THE COINTELPRO PAPERS: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States . When the recent inter-net fasad took place, this writer responded to it publicly. Privately, I contacted the author of those e-mails, and suggested to him a moratorium on public jousting.
Further, I recommended the above book to him, and sincerely encouraged him to “read it from cover to cover”. Finally I expressed my openness to us getting together and talking afterwards, in the spirit of reconciliation and understanding. A day or two later, the individual broadcast his most sinful and vitriolic public attack yet, upon a Muslim leader of proven integrity. In so doing he fell right into the Satanic tactics of the agents of repression in the land – even though he had been warned of them publicly and privately.
Often times when speaking of the repression of the Movement and Struggle of the 60s and 70s, much attention is paid to overt acts such as the political assassinations of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton (a leader in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), the persecution and incarceration of H. “Rap” Brown then, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin now, and the like. Little attention is given to what was ultimately the most destructive actions directed against American citizens as a whole –the covert intelligence operations of the federal government.
According to Churchill & Wall, these “ops” consisted of “…the secret, systematic and sometimes savage use of force and fraud, by all levels of government, to sabotage progressive political activity supposedly protected by the U.S. constitution. They reveal on-going, country-wide CIA-style action – infiltration, psychological warfare, legal harassment, and violence –against a very broad range of domestic dissidents.”
The purpose of COINTELPRO was to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the civil rights, black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, anti-war and student movements of the 1960s, because in the eyes of a paranoid, repressive, and ultimately criminally led government (as exemplified by the impeachment of Vice President Spiro Agnew, the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and the arrest and imprisonment of various cabinet members in the Watergate scandal), these citizens exercising their legal, Constitutionally protected rights, were a “national security threat”.
The FBI used a variety of psychological warfare tactics and operations. They included smear campaigns designed to defame and discredit leaders and organizations, and distort their public image. This was done overtly through anonymous letters and bogus publications, false criminal charges, and elaborate “sting” operations . The number of high profile political assassinations of the peoples’ leaders, was surpassed by innumerable assassinations of their character.
Eventually these abuses came to light, congressional hearings were held (convened by Senator Frank Church, D., Idaho), and even though the abuses of the federal government were only partially reviewed, the damage to the FBI’s image was such, that COINTEL-PRO was officially discontinued . This is important to know because in reality, COINTELPRO was not eliminated, it was just upgraded and adjusted. Now in the post- September 11th world, it has been adapted to the political climate of the 21st Century. The passing of the U.S.A.Patriot Act allowed the transformation of COINTELPRO, a covert program, into what might be called OINTELPRO (for Overt INTELligence PROgram).
A key element of COINTELPRO ops was the fomenting of division within the Movement and Struggle. Using a variety of tactics, the FBI took advantage of friction and hostilities between groups and within groups, and between leaders of different groups, to widen splits and divisions within their ranks. Yesterday they accomplished this with anonymous letters and inflammatory cartoons. Today it is accomplished via the internet. Yesterday’s targets are still targets today. However with the emergence of Islam on the national and global stages, Muslims have become prime targets –not just the terrorists among us globally, but all who oppose the status quo, and many who do not.
In the African American community, the conflict within the Nation of Islam around El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (resulting in his martyrdom, may Allah reward him with Paradise, and the death of many Muslims, in a covert war with members of the F.O.I. that lasted into the late 70s), and that on the West Coast between the Black Panther Party and the U.S. organization (resulting in the death of Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and Jon Huggins) are well-documented examples of these “divide and conquer” tactics. In these instances and others, character assassination set the stage for the actual murder of leaders under the cover of fractional conflict.
Again, this writer advised the cyber-journalist of this reality and appealed to him to stop contributing to an atmosphere that would make such a thing possible in the Ummah in America in this day and time. My naseehaa (sincere advice) was ignored.
To repeat, external attacks upon those who would foment societal change are but one level or dimension of organizational or communal disruption. Tactics intended to cause feuds and bloodshed from within groups are another, perhaps more effective means of the same. Is character assassination of our leaders (or followers) from within more desirable than without? Is slander superior to back-biting? Is scandal-mongering better than gossip? What does it matter if the Satanically inspired from the Muslims do the work of the Kuffar? It’s all wrong!
Recognizing this, Muslims must see it as imperative that we safeguard the Ummah from internal strife and conflict, by practicing the adab (etiquette, manners) of our faith. We are commanded by Allah and His Messenger to guard our tongues as a matter of religion. We are commanded to talk to and with each other, instead of about each other (e.g. The mischief-making journalist has never attempted to sit with Imam Siraj and talk with him), or else to be quiet. We are commanded to refrain from back-biting, slander, gossip, scandal-mongering, the spreading of rumors, and other such vain-talk.
We are promised success in this life and the next if we obey these commandments. We are promised divine chastisement if we disobey. Allah says “The believers will be successful..who refrain from vain talk” (Q 23:3) , and “Waylun (woe, hell) to the scandal-mongerers” (Q 104:1). Every Muslim, regardless of his or her dislike, opposition, or anger towards another believer, must think three times before violating this particular set of commands by Allah and His Messenger.
Shaitān, who is the enemy of every human being, makes it attractive to them- to us- to eat the flesh of our brothers and sisters; to prefer supposition to fact in determining the truth of accusations against those whom we dislike for whatever reason, and to insult them . All such talk is evil and beckons unto the flames of hell. Whatever disagreements or gripes we have with each other as human beings and as Muslims, must be addressed in a manner that is pleasing to Allah. To do so strengthens our bonds of faith and fortifies the ranks of the Islamic cause. To neglect the adab weakens brotherhood and sisterhood, and decimates the Muslim ranks.
Muslims who practice the discipline of holding their tongues and safeguarding the sanctity of the believers should be embraced. Those who do not should be reminded, admonished, and then embraced if they submit to nasīhā (sincere advice and guidance, the best of which comes from the Words of Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him), and shunned if they do not.
Further, Allah says:
“If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel; make peace between them, But if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then all of you fight against the one who transgresses, until he complies with the command of Allah. But if he complies, then make peace between them with justice and be fair: For Allah loves those who are fair (and just). The believers are but a single Brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers. And fear Allah, that you may receive Mercy.” (Q 49:9-10)
Peace amongst the believers is a sacred thing, and violation of that peace is a serious matter. It is so serious that Allah commands reconciliation of differences , and does not tolerate those who defy Him and act contrary to the interests of unity and respect within the Community. He also makes it clear that the believers should not tolerate it either.
In conclusion, Every Muslim must protect our Ummah from internal destruction by :
1. Remembering Allāh, and reminding those who forget for the moment because of the whisper of Shaitān,and thus engage in sinful speech, to remember our God, Whose Messenger, peace be upon him, said “ The difference between the one who remembers his Lord and the one who doesn’t, is like the difference between the living and the dead. ” (Bukhārī)
2. Fear Allah , as He has stated “Fear me if you are believers.”(Q 3:175) , and Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon ) said, “Fear Allāh wherever you are. And follow a bad deed with a good deed And it will wipe it out. And act towards people with good behaviour. “ (At-Tirmidhi)
3. Guarding our tongues and ears (The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever guards what is between his lips (meaning the tongue), I will guarantee him Paradise.” (Bukhārī) Seek refuge in Allāh from being of those who fail to guard their tongues, and beg His forgiveness if we are or have been of them.
4. Seeking refuge in Allāh aloud, whenever harām speech is directed towards us, no matter if in conversation, via the inter-net, in print, or however the poisonous speech is transmitted, for such speech spreads evil influence. “If a suggestion from Satan attacks your mind, seek refuge in Allāh: Verily He hears and knows (all things). Verily those who fear Allāh, when an evil thought from Satan attacks them, remember Allāh…” (Q 7: 200-201)
5. Beware of the mufsidūn (mischief-makers) , who engage in ghība (back-biting) laghw (vain talk) , humaza, and lumazah (scandal- mongering, slander, gossip, and public broadcasting of rumors and lies), and those who are Dhul-Wajhain (i.e. two-faced – “coming to some people with one face, and to others with another face”), for they are our internal enemies.
Allāh mentions each of these vile activities in His Book by name, and commands the believers to avoid them completely. Allāh (Glory be to Him) has commanded “And do not pay attention to any despicable man, ready with (false) words, a slanderer, going about with hurtful falsehoods, stopping all good, exceeding all bounds (and) deep in sin.” (Q 68: 10-12)
6. After admonishing them, shunning those who continue to engage in such speech, and refusing to give voice or ear to them. As Allāh (Glory be to Him) has commanded, “Be steadfast in the face of what they say, and cut yourself off from them –but courteously.” (Q 73:9)
7. Rendering unto the Muslims, all of us, those rights protective of our sanctity. Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Everything of a Muslim is sacred to another Muslim, his blood, his property, and his honor.” (Muslim)
8. Defend the honor of Muslims who are the subjects of haraam (forbidden) speech, as Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) declared, “If anyone defends his brother who is slandered in his absence, it will be (his) due from Allāh to set him free from the Fire”. (Ahmad), and “If anyone defends his brother’s honor in this world, Allāh will shield his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (At-Tirmihi)
9. Restrain our anger, and seek to practice degrees of forgiveness, as Allāh (Glory be to Him) defines the believers as those who “…forgive even when they are angry” (Q 42:37), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “…Don’t be angry” ((Bukhārī) , meaning “control it”.
10. Strive for excellence in character. As Allāh (Glory be to Him) asks in His Book Al- Qur’ān, “Is he, then, to whom the evil of his deeds is made fair-seeming, so that he considers it as good (equal to one who is rightly guided)? Verily, Allāh sends astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills.” (Q 35:8) . Then the best of human beings (peace be upon him) said “The best of you are those who are the best in character.”
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was standing with the Companions (May Allāh be pleased with them, when a wind brought a terrible stench their way. Allāh ‘s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Do you know what that foul odor is ? It is the odor of those who backbite the believers. ” (Ahmad) It is time for us to cleanse the Ummah of the stench of was-was, and to shun those who pollute the environment in the Muslim community with foul speech and dishonorable bearing. Allah has said that the believers are the best of people. Isn’t it time we started acting like it?