Among the stories Allah Ta’ala tells us about Bani Israil are examples of good done by their Prophets and others, and examples of their mistakes. Shortly after their escape from the Pharoah, as they traveled with Prophet Musa and his brother Harun, Allah brought them to a city and commanded them to enter it, and occupy.
يَا قَوْمِ ادْخُلُوا الْأَرْضَ الْمُقَدَّسَةَ الَّتِي كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَرْتَدُّوا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنقَلِبُوا خَاسِرِينَ
O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.”
قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّ فِيهَا قَوْمًا جَبَّارِينَ وَإِنَّا لَن نَّدْخُلَهَا حَتَّىٰ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا فَإِن يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا فَإِنَّا دَاخِلُونَ
They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.”
قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمَا ادْخُلُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْبَابَ فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمُوهُ فَإِنَّكُمْ غَالِبُونَ ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favor, “Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.”
قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّا لَن نَّدْخُلَهَا أَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوا فِيهَا ۖ فَاذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلَا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُونَ
They said, “O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.”
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لَا أَمْلِكُ إِلَّا نَفْسِي وَأَخِي ۖ فَافْرُقْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِينَ
[Moses] said, “My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people.”
قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ ۛ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً ۛ يَتِيهُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ فَلَا تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِينَ
[ Allah ] said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.”
They refused to do what Allah commanded them, replying to Musa a.s. that he should go and make the effort to seize the city without them. As a result of this refusal to make effort and sacrifice, Allah left them wandering homeless for 40 years.
Muslims today are also refusing to confront the environment. After centuries of having given up the da’wa of Islam, their mission among humanity, and civic duty, they have become a people who only want to sit listening to enjoyable talks. Volunteerism among Muslim men is deplorable; you can’t get a Muslim man to spend a couple hours a week to work for his community !
Humanity faces serious challenges. Our economic and political systems have grown stale and corrupt. Our existence depends on ravaging the earth for resources, leaving nothing for the future. The quest for global dominance by misguided and ruthless powers has spread the fire of never-ending war. People are suffering, and children are hopeless.
Given that the Sunnah of Allah (the way in which He deals with people) does not change, what result can we expect when the Muslims of today commit the mistake of Bani Israil and refuse to confront the problems and challenges we see right in front of our eyes ? As they sit in their shops, homes, and even their masajid, Firaun is pressing forward toward universal dominance and widespread destruction.
This is not to say that our intellectual and spiritual endeavors in the mosque are not needed. But we have other duties beyond the threshold. And we are running out of time; each day, the corruption becomes more deeply rooted in our societies, and we are leaving our children in a hopeless state. The problems only become worse, the enemies become stronger, and the common people grow less capable of problem-solving.
The opportunities for forward action are countless. Throughout the world and within each locality, there are numerous organizations already established to promote responsible citizenship. Environmental, social, political, and economic activist groups are plenty. They are good people who actually have the courage and commitment to stand up for what’s right. Muslims should definitely be there. Otherwise, our accounting with Allah will be a severe matter, and Allah’s Sunnah for those who don’t press forward is that He will bring the battle to you !
FAITH ⋅ COURAGE ⋅ COMMITMENT