Home / Analysis / The Parallels between the Syrian Massacre and Surah Al-Burooj Part 1

The Parallels between the Syrian Massacre and Surah Al-Burooj Part 1

The story of “the boy and the king” is indeed one of the most beautiful stories to have ever been told. This isn’t the place to delve into the depths of its happenings but can broadly be described as a holistic story of Da’wah. It began in the pre-Islamic state of the community, to the all-out embracement of Tawhid and eventual persecution which of course is a natural necessity of true belief. Indeed, this is one of the countless beauties of Islam, in that we are not obliged to work without precedent. Rather, the Most Wise has left us with the practical experiences of the past for us to learn from and use it as our blue print in our reformist endeavours.

In summary, the story pertains to a community that was governed by a king who thought godhood of his petty self. Having taken a magician as his close advisor, the narration seems to suggest that sorcery was how he subjugated the community. The magician was growing old and suggested to the king that a young boy should be summoned to learn from him sorcery before his expected demise.

A boy was nominated and would thence visit the magician regularly. The boy came to learn of a worshipper and would spend secret hours with him as well, learning from his fountains of wisdom, fountains which the boy grew fonder of by the day. His newly acquired and much preferred knowledge caused him to eventually reject sorcery and reach stages of righteousness where he’d cure the blind and other types of ailments by the permission of Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala).

The King catches wind of the news which by now has spread across the city like wildfire as per the miracles of this young individual and at his request, the boy, worshipper and a close associate of the king were all assembled before him. The latter two, having embraced Islam, consequently threatened with murder and defiantly refusing to denounce their belief, were hideously sawn into two pieces before the very eyes of the young boy. The boy was threatened similarly but stood firmer than mountains.

At the king’s behest, the boy was thus shackled and escorted away where two separate attempts were made to put an end to his life, both times witnessing the death of his persecutors and the casual return of the boy to the king. Struck by frustration at the constant disappearance of his guards and reappearance of the boy, the king finds himself unsure of how to deal with him. The boy clarifies, saying: “You will not be able to kill me till you gather the community, withdraw a bow from my quiver and release it, saying: ‘In the name of Allah, the Lord of the boy’” The king does just that; The residents of the city are assembled, an arrow is fired in the name of Allah and the boy, having received the arrow to his temple, passes away.

Moved by what they’ve just observed, the city roars with sentiment and awe, professing their belief “in the Lord of the boy”. The king’s worst nightmare has just become reality. How does he deal with the matter? He commands that trenches are to be dug, set ablaze and those who refuse to denounce their faith are to be cast inside. The narration ends with the mention of a woman who hesitated to fall inside, but the baby in her arms miraculously speaks and strengthens her heart with words of patience before they are both pushed inside as well.

On a daily basis, we are hearing of the systematic slaughtering of 50, 100, 200 or more children, women and men at the edge of a Syrian governmental blade. Far from this being speculation, the perpetrators have been foolish enough to film themselves and audacious enough to share their crimes to the world. Fire, ditches and saws are therefore not the techniques of the past but are the resort of every oppressive regime that has ever and will ever exist. In the 21st century, history repeats itself at the hands of Bashar’s tyranny as his soldiers dig the same ditches, and burn and bury alive all those who refuse to take Bashar as their Lord, those who insist on submitting to the Lord of the boy alone.

An oft-repeated inquiry is: “Why? What fuels this hatred which the Shia inspired Syrian government – backed ideologically and militarily by Iran and Hezbollah – is showing to its people?” Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala) summarises the reasons in one generic and universal ‘ayah in Surat al-Burooj, a Surah where Allah comments (according to one opinion) on the people of the ditch and its perpetrators, an ‘ayah which applies today just as much as it applied yesterday. For the reason why the believers were burnt in the ditches is the exact same reason why the Muslims of Syria today are being annihilated. What is this reason? Let us take a look at the ‘ayaat right from the beginning of the Surah.

Allah says:

“By the heavens which holds the big stars. And [by] the promised Day. And [by] the witness and what is witnessed”[1]

In these opening three ‘aayaat, The Almighty takes three consecutive oaths as to draw the attention of the reader to the weight of what is about to be said. He then says:

“Cursed were the people of the Ditch! Of fire fed with fuel. When they sat by it (fire). And they were witness to what they were doing against the believers”[2]

Just as the criminals of yesterday sat around the fire watching the believers roast, videos today are reaching us of the Imams of Masajid being lowered into ditches and covered with soil till the sound of the Shahadah emanating from their pure mouths are muted.[3] Woeful scenes have also reached us of that pitiful Muslim woman, amongst many, who’d been detained and her persecutor, much like a possessed beast, lashes her as he films himself with utmost gratification and sadistic pleasure.[4]

Indeed, “When they sat by it (fire). And they were witness to what they were doing against the believers”

But the question which is still lingering: “Why the cutthroat animosity? Surely the Syrian people must have committed an atrocity to deserve extinction!” Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala) goes on to say in response of this question:

“And they find no fault in them except that they believed in Allah, the All-Mighty, Worthy of all Praise!”[5]

This is the unequivocal answer. The issues which separate the regime from its people do not pertain to lineage, financial disputes, racism or even a lack of space in the country. For they have shared the same land for years, their lineage is one and belong to the same ethnicity. The difference returns to none other than ‘Aqeedah. The regime is of a “Nusayri” ideology, a deviant sect which appeared in the third century (AH), named after Mohammad Ibnu Nusayr, a self-professed prophet who promulgated extremist Shi’a beliefs which deify Ali Ibnu Ali Taalib (may Allah be pleased with him).

Traditionally speaking, they were referred to as “An-Nusayriyyah” but at present are more commonly referred to as the “Alawiyyah”/“Alawite” sect out of deceptive and forged affiliation with Ali Ibnu Abi Taalib. Syria mustn’t become another Sunni stronghold and the Shia of Iran and Lebanon will do all what they can to prevent this from happening, even if it means that Sunni blood continues to haemorrhage.

Praise be however to Allah, The Overseer, who is witness to their crimes. As a matter of fact, ponder over the sheer number of times that the term “witness” is made mention of in the opening ‘aayaat of Surah Al-Burooj.

In ‘Ayah 3, Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala) says: “And [by] the witness and what is witnessed”

In ‘Ayah 7, Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala) says: “And they were witness to what they were doing against the believers”

In ‘Ayah 9, Allah (Subhaana wa Ta’ala) says: “To Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! And Allah is Witness over everything”

Far from this being a coincidence, this is – and Allah knows best – a subtle reminder that whenever the hypocrites and enemies of Allah display relentless aggression towards the believers, beware of being pushed into thinking that Allah’s postponement of His revenge equates to His unawareness, exalted be He from that. Rather, He is witness to the crimes of the ostensible ‘peaceful/passive’ Buddhists of Burma, the Awami League of Bangladesh and the Alawites of Syria. To reiterate this meaning, Allah cuts all doubt with the knife of certainty as per His vengeance for the believers two ‘Aayat down the line, saying:

“Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women and then do not turn in repentance (to Allah), then they will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire”[6]

But isn’t the ‘torment of the burning fire’ the same as the ‘torment of Hell’? They are different. The former pertains to their punishment in the next world. As per the latter, it is in reference to their punishment in this world, as the Arabic proverb goes “AlJazaa’u min jinsil ‘amal” / “As you sow, so shall you reap”. Just as the Shia-inspired/ backed dictatorship of Syria sows the seeds of horror for its people, their harvest will be the same, for them and their assistants.

For this reason, in the ‘Ayah above – Ayah 8 – where Allah states that it is ‘Aqeedah which fuels their hatred towards the believers, the ‘Ayah is concluded with the mention of Allah’s name “Al-Azeez” / “The All-Mighty”. This majestic name of Allah is notably used here to comfort the hearts of the believers in that the ‘Might’ of Allah necessitates that He will not leave His enemies to walk freely after having persecuted His slaves.



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[1] al-Quran 85:1-3

[2] al-Quran 85:4-7

[3] This clip contains scenes that are very disturbing. Viewers discretion advised. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_fN6Un28Mc

[4] This clip contains scenes that are very disturbing. Viewers discretion advised.

[5] al-Quran 85:8

[6] al-Quran 85:10

About Ustādh Ali Hammuda

Ustadh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is an educator and writer on Islam. He is of Palestinian origin but was brought up in the UK and although an architect/planner by profession, he currently works with Al-Manar (Cardiff) as the English Islamic programmes officer. Ali is known as the author of various books including 'Origins of the Mosque of Cordoba' and 'The End of Times', and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country. He is a regular writer on Islamic issues to a wide audience.


  1. Jzk khair, really needed this reminder. May Allah swt grant you and your family success in this life and the next. Ameen.

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