By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
All praise is due to Allah, the All-Knowing Creator. He created humans and He is the most knowledgeable of them, and nothing of their affairs is hidden from Him. We praise Him for guiding and selecting us to be Muslims, and we are grateful to Him for what He has given and bestowed upon us. Allah selects from the Prophets whomever He wills, chooses from the angels whom He wills, favours from the Ummah whom He wills, and elevates individuals as He wills. No one can overturn His decree, no one can alter His judgment, and He is not questioned about what He does, exalted in His loftiness.
Dear brothers and sisters! As you are all aware, serious criticisms, rage and anger have trailed the sacking of some Governors in the country by the Court of Appeal, triggering different reactions in Nigeria.
The sacking of Plateau state Governor was the third experience of the opposition in four days.
Many people raised the alarm that there was a plot to overturn the will of the people as expressed during the general elections.
And many respected Nigerians alleged that there was a design by some politicians to cripple democracy, overthrow the democratic rights of Nigerians, suppress the Rule of Law and downgrade our nation to a fiefdom run by the whims of a cabal.
These recent court rulings leading to the sacking of opposition governors have gotten Nigerians talking as they pointed to some politicians from the ruling party as the mastermind.
Respected brothers and sisters! We sincerely called on our revered and respected President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call the judges of the Court of Appeal to order over the controversial judgements recently delivered on some elections across the nation which were a national disgrace.
The President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must intervene in order to restore public confidence in the judiciary and democracy in general, and in order to avoid the deterioration of security in the country.
We wish to use this sermon as a citizens, to call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call our judges to order; they need to be reminded that the judiciary is still the last hope of the common man.
We also wish to remind our President that the international community and the whole world are watching while the judiciary is making pronouncements that appear to make a mockery of the process of justice and democracy.
The votes of millions of Nigerians cannot be thrown away using nonsense and useless legal semantics or technicalities.
Some judicial decisions by some election petition tribunals and appeal courts judges are unacceptable and need to be stopped now.
We also called on the respected National Judicial Council (NJC) to review the recent tribunal and appeal court judgments on many elections to ensure that the right thing is done.
We also called on all the Nigerians to unite, devoid of religious, regional and ethnic affiliations, toward the growth, development and progress of our beloved country, because only a united force could fight the injustice and oppression together.
We also advised our religious leaders to pay attention to building good morals in society rather than delving into politics and hiding under the guise of spirituality.
May Allah The Almighty help our country, ameen.
Dear brothers and sisters! Narrated Qays Bin Abi Hazm, may Allah be pleased with him, who said:
“I heard Abubakar, may Allah be pleased with him, say, ‘Oh you people! I hear you reciting this Qur’anic verse: “Oh you who believe! Worry about your own selves. If you follow the right guidance, no harm can come to you from those who are in error.” [Qur’an, 5:105] But I heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) say: ‘Indeed when people see an oppressor but do not prevent him from doing evil, it is likely that Allah will punish all of them.”
Respected servants of Allah! In the above Hadith Abubakar (RA) was reminding the people that Allah is not saying that we should be silent in the face of oppression and injustice. He therefore went on to mention what the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in this regard; the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is the one through whom we learn the true meaning of the Qur’an, and naturally his life practice (Sunnah) is the explanation (tafsir).
Whilst it may at first seem as though there is a contradiction between the statement of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the Qur’anic verse, Allah is in fact talking about those people who have already exhausted their options in trying to change others around them. They become saddened by their inability to correct the wrong in society, and it is because of this that Allah has said that no harm will come from those who are in error.
These people feel paralysed by their lack of success in stopping oppression and injustice, similar to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) who felt great empathy towards his people and was saddened over the fate of the people around him. Allah talks about this nature of His Messenger (Peace be upon him) in Surah al-Kahf, 18:6:
“Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, and out of sorrow.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) even described himself as being like a man who’s trying to catch flies as they are jumping into the fire; meaning to say that he was so saddened by people around him and he was trying to ‘rescue’ them all from a fiery fate but it was not always possible.
What we take from this is that Abubakar, may Allah be pleased with him, was saying that the Qur’anic verse from Surah al-Ma’idah can not be used as an excuse for complacency or laziness towards speaking out against injustice and oppression. Another point to be aware of is that if his own generation was misinterpreting the Qur’anic verse over 1400 years ago, we must exercise even more caution in understanding and implementing the noble Qur’an.
Dear brothers and sisters! Today, we consistently are seeing realities of injustice and oppression around us, in our courts, through the media and maybe even in our own lives.
We’re living in this world of technology which has its benefits but more and more of us are realising that we have actually become desensitised to themes of oppression – seeing children in poverty and seeing mothers who are unable to give their children food, good education or civil unrest across the world – because every single day these images strike our eyes and we have become numb to the realities of such things.
Nonetheless, once in a while we often think about the ramifications of widespread oppression and injustice in its various forms, and what it means to have to deal with such injustice and oppression as a Muslim living in the modern world.
Respected brothers and sisters! What constitutes oppression?
The standard definition of oppression can be described as the cruel, or unfair exercise of authority or power, an act or occurrence of oppression, or being made the subject of cruel or unfair demands or restrictions.
This is a clear concept to grasp, although sometimes it can be difficult to identify oppression and injustice in its many forms, from relationships and socio-political scenarios to corruption. For instance, there may be political parties that leverage policies that are excessively restrictive to one group or race.
There are powerful figures and authorities around the world that add to the pressures and suffering of particular subjects due to a plethora of reasons and justifications. Even domestic cases that involve abuse or violence may constitute oppression or injustice.
Islam is often considered to be a religion of peace, good will, understanding, and good faith. However, true followers of Islam will regard fighting back for the sake of honour, justice, and the religion they regard as sacred. The Prophet’s life serves as an example of heroic virtue paired with selfless compassion and love, which is his ideal.
They value bravery, submission, discipline, duty, and a persistent effort to uphold truth and morality using all available resources, including those of the physical, moral, intellectual, and spiritual nature.
They are aware that war is wicked, but they will not hesitate to retaliate if their honour requires it and a just Imam – such as Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was without equal – orders it since they will then be certain that they are not pursuing materialistic goals. Other times, their faith has nothing to do with conflict other than the fact that it will always be governed by its compassionate principles.
On another note, Muslims can be mindful of the oppression and injustice that can be observed around them and whenever possible, fight back against such malicious acts. One can use words and intellect, or push for justice through the legal system if it is feasible. All these practices may be considered as fighting against oppression and injustice.
When injustice and oppression is encountered, it’s normal to feel angry and outraged. We are obviously even more incensed when the injustice is directed at our fellow Muslims. However, occasionally we find Muslims themselves breaking the law.
When injustice and oppression take place so close to home, whether it is in the context of our immediate family, local community, or on a worldwide scale, we often feel rattled and betrayed.
We demand justice and hope that those responsible are brought to justice. When the authorities handle a problem properly, we are fortunate to get closure, but other times justice eludes us, whether due to a trusted institution’s systemic failure or for some other reason.
Sometimes we feel that no matter what happens, true forgiveness can never happen since the offender is so close to us and so highly respected by us. Yet, it is important that we strive for forgiveness and mercy as part of the collection of ideals held so strongly in Islam. Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said:
“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]
Islam was revealed to safeguard all people’s inherent rights, including their unalienable rights to life, property, and freedom. It is a grave sin to violate these rights without justification, and Muslims who assert that the Qur’an and Sunnah support such injustice and oppression are betraying Islam.
The fact that Allah would always respond to the supplication (Du’a) of an oppressed individual is one of the reasons we should be wary of injustice and oppression. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no veil or barrier between it and Allah.” [Bukhari]
It is worth noting that those of us who fear Allah must remember this simple fact that supplication (Du’a) from those we may oppress is indeed potent, and so we should be very mindful of how we treat others. On the other hand, oppressors will have to tend to the many potential wrongdoings they have done in the hereafter.
All of us have a right to justice, but it is important to remember two things while pursuing it: first, we cannot use the pursuit of justice as a justification for breaking the sacred law, and second, true justice in Allah’s eyes goes beyond this world and is ultimately carried out on the Day of Judgement.
While the vast majority of people can be grateful that no one is currently in immediate danger of losing their lives, the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) counsel to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons” (referring to Qabil and Habil) is still applicable when we are harmed. His comments are a reminder to us to act with integrity in all of our dealings and to uphold the sacred law’s precepts no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.
Allah Almighty gives us guidance in the Qur’an on how to respond to injustice and oppression. He the Most High said:
“And surely we will try you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruits [of your labour]; but give glad tidings to those who have patience, who, when assailed by adversity, say, ‘Surely we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return.’” [Qur’an, 2: 155-156]
Islam is unique in its teachings of fighting against injustices and oppression while remaining true and gentle in accordance to the religious values. As Muslims, it is important for us to live with a sense of awareness of the wrongdoings of others and to accept that oppression and injustice are part of the series of tests we may encounter. Yet at the same time, it may also be a worthy cause to act against oppression and injustice wherever possible.
Dear brothers and sisters! Know that, Injustice and oppression incurs the anger, wrath and punishment of Allah The Exalted. The following are among the bad consequences of injustice and oppression:
1. Allah The Almighty makes an unjust person suffer all types of torment.
2. Injustice and oppression destroys families, states and nations.
3. An unjust person will be deprived of all forms of the intercession of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
4. Letting unjust people go unpunished corrupts the entire nation or country.
5. Injustice and oppression is a sign of the hardness and darkness of the heart.
6. An unjust person is low and mean in the sight of Allah The Exalted.
7. Injustice and oppression causes one to lose the blessings of Allah The Almighty. The noble Qur’an tells us the story of the man who lost his two gardens because of his injustice: Allah The Almighty says:
“And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, “I do not think that this will perish – ever. And I do not think the Hour will occur. And even if I should be brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this as a return.” [Qur’an, 18:35, 36]
8. Injustice and oppression was the only cause of the destruction of previous kingdoms. Allah The Almighty said:
“So the people that committed wrong were eliminated. And praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [Qur’an, 6:45]
“So We took him [Pharaoh] and his soldiers and threw them into the sea. So see how was the end of the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an, 28: 40]
9. Allah The Almighty also tells us about the people of Prophet Lut (Lot), saying:
“So when Our command came, We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, [which were] marked from your Lord. And Allah’s punishment is not very far from the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an, 11:82, 83]
10. Similarly, Allah The Exalted destroyed the people of Nuh (Noah), Thamud, Aad and the Companions of the Thicket. Allah The Almighty says:
“So each We seized for his sin; and among them were those upon whom We sent a storm of stones, and among them were those who were seized by the blast [from the sky], and among them were those whom We caused the earth to swallow, and among them were those whom We drowned. And Allah would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves.” [Qur’an, 29:40]
11. The remorse of unjust people is useless if it comes too late. Allah the Almighty said:
“And the Day that the unjust [person] will bite at both his hands, [and] say, “Oh, would that I had taken to myself a way along with the Messenger.” [Qur’an, 25:27]
12. Injustice is one of the sins that cause one to be punished in this world and in the Hereafter because it affects others. This is no surprise, as the wronged person humbly and bitterly supplicates against the person who did injustice to him, and Allah The Exalted answers his supplication, saying:
“By My Might and Exaltedness, I shall rescue you, even if it be after some time.”
Hence, fear Allah The Almighty; be just and return the rights to whom they are due, before there comes a day when there will be no repelling.
May Allah grant us the courage to stand up to injustice and oppression, and protect us from causing more harm. Ameen.
We beseech you Allah to show us the way of rightness among those whom You showed, and give us good health among whom You healed, and be our patron like those whom You became their patron, and bliss what You bestowed us, and save us from the traumas that You destined, for You rule in rightness and You are never judged, and he whom You patron shall never be in humiliation and whom You make as enemy shall never be lofted, blessed and dignified are You, and we thank You for what You destined, we ask Your forgiveness and we repent to You, Allah please lead us to the good deeds for no one leads to them but You, please lead us to the good manners for no one leads to them but You, please Allah make us do well in the religion which is our dignity, and make our lives good for it is our living, and make us safe on the day of judgment for it is our final destination, please make the life our supply for all good things and make the death a rest from every evil, our master the Lord of all worlds, please make us with what You have made lawful needless of what You have made unlawful and make us with Your benevolence independent of all, and make our obedience to You turn us away from our disobedience,., please by Your generosity and mercy make the word of rightness and religion high and lead Islam to victory, and make the Muslims dignified in every place on earth..show us Your strength against Your enemies. O Allah..the most generous.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of: Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque; and Late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected]; or +2348038289761.