The Confederates

Arab government allegiance with Israel is nothing new. The hypocrisy and double dealing of Arab governments is a key aspect of Islamic history. So much is this the case, that an entire chapter of the Qur’an was revealed to expose their hypocrisy, and to denounce their double-dealing with the Jewish tribes against the universal monotheist movement under the leadership of the prophet Muhammad (sa). The Qur’an chronicles the defeat of what God calls, "The Confederacy," or Al-Azhab, which is the title of chapter 33 of the Qur’an. It begins, "Oh prophet (Muhammad), fear God and hearken not to the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily God is full of knowledge and wisdom. Rather, follow that which comes to you by inspiration from your Lord. For God is well acquainted with all that you do. And put your trust in God, and enough is God as a disposer of affairs. God has not made for any man two hearts in one body…" (33:1-4).

According to the Qur’anic scholar Abdullah Yusef Ali, this confederacy consisted of the unbelievers in Mecca, the desert Arabs of central Arabia, and the Jews that had been expelled for treachery from Madinah. They were joined by the hypocrites led by Abd Allah Ibn Ubayy, who is the subject of several verses in Chapter 9 of the Qur’an, named "Tawbah." The Qur’an says about the hypocrites that followed Ibn Ubayy, "There are those who put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity to disunite the believers, and in preparation for one who warred against God and his messenger aforetime. They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good, but God declares that they are certainly liars. Never stand thou forth therein. There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety. It is more worthy of thy standing forth for prayers. In it are men, who love to be purified, and God loves those who make themselves pure" (Holy Qur’an 9:107-108).

The Arab and Jewish tribes who made up the Confederacy, believed that by combining their armies they would form a force so large, intimidating, and powerful, that they would easily wipe out the Muslim forces, and end the advance of monotheism forever. Having failed as individual and regional powers to end this movement after many attempts to kill the prophet Muhammad (sa), and also to kill other monotheist prophets, the idolaters united. Their previous failed attempts include attempts to kill Jesus, the murder of Peter and other Christian prophets and luminaries, the persecution of Christians generally, and the killing and persecution of Jews and Arabs who followed Jesus, and Muhammad. This Grand Confederacy, as it was called, sought a final and decisive showdown between the forces of Islam as the movement was named under the prophet Muhammad’s leadership, and the forces of evil. It is worth mentioning here that their assaults on the Muslims were not only military assaults. The Chapter Al-Azhab places lots of emphasis on the use of slander, false accusation and other tactics the Confederates employed in attempts to cause the Muslims to fight among themselves, and none was more potent than the use of women against men. Within this chapter of Qur’an, God gave the Muslims the rules of communal association that are aimed at preventing opportunities for such tactics to be used, and also instructions as to how to overcome such attempts to spread discontent, and distrust within the movement once they arise. Interestingly one of the primary issues addressed in Al-Azhab is the relations between men and women, and especially the separation of men and women, and the hijab. Al-Azhab also introduces the idea of a special etiquette to be followed by Muslim women when they are in contact with men, which includes cautions about tone of voice, and demeanor, all aimed at preventing the misinterpretation of a woman’s actions and intent. In one verse of Al-Azhab, it is made clear that all of the injunctions that came down in respect to these issues have one primary, though not necessarily a unique objective, and that is to purify the growing community of Muslims. It is also implied that one of the primary aims was also to purify the non-prophetic leadership that co-existed with the prophet Muhammad (sa), represented by his wives and family. The Qur’an says, "O prophet, say to thy consorts "If it be that you desire the life of this world and its glitter, then come. I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His messenger and the home of the hereafter, verily Allah has prepared for the well doers among you a great reward." Of course this attitude of self-sacrifice and support for the righteous husband’s mission is the standard of conduct prescribed to all Muslim women. Its revelation in the Chapter Al-Azhab might imply that it is also a prescription for a state of mind to be adopted by the women in the community in preparation for greater challenges. Chapter Al-Azhab establishes the household of Muhammad (sa) as leaders in setting the example of pious family life, and especially in respect to the women of his household who were called the "Mothers" of the movement. The Qur’an says, in Al-Azhab, verse 6, "The prophet (Muhammad) is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers."

They were instructed thusly,

"O consorts of the prophet you are not like any other of the women. If you do fear Allah, be not too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire; but speak you a speech that is just. And stay in your homes, and make not a dazzling display, like that in the times of ignorance. Establish regular prayers, give regular charity, and obey Allah and His messenger. Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless. Recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes of the signs of Allah and His wisdom, for Allah understands the mysteries and is well acquainted with them"

As mentioned earlier this has become the standard of social etiquette enjoined upon all pious Muslim women. It becomes even more essential that we emphasize these rules of social conduct in times of trial.

The relationship between the Grand Confederacy, its defeat, and the idea of purity, and the victory of the Muslim forces is very clear within the Qur’an and especially in Al-Azhab. This relationship is also made very clear in the verse of At Tawbah wherein Allah explains to us another of the tactics employed by the enemies of Islam. Allah said in At-Tawbah that they had created a mosque that would mimic all of the outer qualities of the prophet’s mosque. Its failure would rest in the fact that it could not fake or mimic the internal quality of purity, which is essential for victory. This might also be why the relationships between men and women take on special significance during periods of conflict and challenge to the community. The sexual urge is powerfully compelling, and adultery and fornication, and also sins of lewdness such as homosexuality are among the primary causes of impurity and are leading types of sin within societies. The prophet’s mosque, which is also a metaphor for his community, and also his heart, is pure, while the imposter’s mosque, and the people gathered within it for mischief are not, and because they are not, they will fail.

A person could write volumes on the various meanings, interpretations and applications of Sura Al-Azhab. Yet, we can’t escape the obvious similarities and special meanings of the Chapter as it relates to our present circumstances. The fact that there are hypocrites who are willing to form alliances with the enemies of Islam, and to attempt to establish themselves as the leaders of the ummat, and also authorities over us is not new. The fact that non-Muslims will forge alliances aimed at destroying Islam with these hypocrites is also not new.

The fact that they will employ, along with attempts to assassinate movement leaders, their wives and family members, other tactics, including slander, false accusation and entrapment, sorcery and witchcraft are also not new.

That the role of women is indispensable in maintaining the purity of the Muslim society is not new. The fact that internal and external purification of the society, the institutions, and the individuals who make up Muslim society, and particularly our leadership, is essential for victory, is also not new. We must keep in mind that purification in this sense does not mean purging, which implies judging and eliminating people for not being pure or pure enough by our wicked estimations. As with all things in Islam, the primary emphasis is ones own self, family and household, keeping in mind that the goal is not necessarily to achieve purity, but to pursue purity through taskiyyah. The achievement of true and absolute purity is a victory that can only be granted by the Grace of God. The Qur’an tells us to seek purity through the establishment of the Salat, if not in mosques, then in homes. It teaches us to seek purity by establishing the Zakat and Khums. We must guard our modesty, and avoid sin. Encourage and support righteousness, and speak out against evil and injustice, and discourage wrongdoing. The Qur’an also teaches us that when we sin, and we will, we must hurry to repentance, and not persist in sin out of pride and arrogance. The hadith teach us that God loves the repentant, and when we come walking in humility toward Him seeking His mercy, he comes running towards us to give it. We pray for God’s forgiveness, and thank him for prophets, and Books.

O Prophet (Muhammad) truly we have sent thee as a witness, a bearer of Glad Tidings, and a Warner, and one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a lamp spreading light. Then give the Glad Tidings to the believers that they shall have from Allah a very great bounty. And obey not the behest of the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and heed not their annoyances. Put thy trust in Allah. For enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs. (33: 45-48)

"When the believers saw the Confederate forces they said: "This is what Allah and His messenger promised us, and Allah and His messenger told us what was true. And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience" (33:22).

May Allah guide and protect the community of believers throughout the world, in whatever faiths, or sects they might adhere to. May he unite the righteous, and grant those who desire righteousness purity, and its manifest victory.