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We drowned first. Then he did.

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For the past few months, heart-wrenching images have been reaching us in succession. Images of corpses which the waves of the sea had carried to the shores of land after their attempts to escape the barrel bombs of Bashar and the savagery of his men, failed in the middle of the ocean. We would not have known this had the shores of Libya, Turkey, Greece and other countries not complained to us.

The last of these images was one that shocked the world. A child who had not reached the age of one lying face down on the shores of Turkey after the boat which he and his family were in capsized. He however is just one of 3,000 who met the exact same fate in the Mediterranean just this year.

After seeing such an image, one is naturally compelled to relive those harrowing final moments of loneliness and fear as his mother bade farewell to her child on sea. One finds himself wondering:

“How must she have felt?”

“Did she suffocate first?”

“Or did she see her child die before her?”

Only a few moments into this thought and you are entirely lost in emotion and tears begin to hemorrhage uncontrollably. As you continue to contemplate however, tears cease and sorrow is gradually replaced with frustration and powerlessness. It is at this point that the blaming begins.

Whether it is the Muslim governments who have remained silent, the sluggishness of the UN in intervening, the double-standards of the West or anything else, we will raise the fingers of blame upon seeing such images, and many a times, very rightly as well.

The Qur’anic approach however, is starkly different. Whilst every party which was identified above may in fact be blameworthy and answerable, in the face of every calamity, the Qur’ān turns our attention to something altogether different, a matter which is most certainly not a cliché of a topic but the root cause behind every tribulation as identified by the Creator Himself.

Also read: How I saw the Seashore Child

Read the following āyāt which speak of the afflictions that befall the Muslims and please take note of the recurring theme every single time.

Allāh says,

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى أُمَمٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ

“We sent messengers to many nations before you and We seized them with extreme poverty and loss in health so that they might turn to us in repentance.” [1]

Allāh says,

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْعَذَابِ فَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَمَا يَتَضَرَّعُونَ

“And We had gripped them with suffering as a warning, but they did not surrender to their Lord, nor did they humbly supplicate.” [2]

وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

“And whatever affliction befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned.” [3]

أَوَلَا يَرَوْنَ أَنَّهُمْ يُفْتَنُونَ فِي كُلِّ عَامٍ مَرَّةً أَوْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ لَا يَتُوبُونَ وَلَا هُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

“Do they not see that they are put in trial once or twice every year yet they do not turn in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson from it?” [4]

Allāh says,

وَبَلَوْنَاهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And we tested them with blessings and misfortunes so that they may turn in repentance” [5]

Allāh says,

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea because of what the hands of men have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may turn in repentance.” [6]

Allāh says,

وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَى دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And We will make them taste of the nearer punishment (of this world) before the greater punishment (of the Hereafter) so that they may turn in repentance.” [7]

Allāh says,

وَلَقَدْ أَهْلَكْنَا مَا حَوْلَكُمْ مِنَ الْقُرَى وَصَرَّفْنَا الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And We destroyed the towns which are around you, and We have shown them the signs in various ways so that they might turn in repentance.” [8]

Allāh says,

وَمَا نُرِيهِمْ مِنْ آيَةٍ إِلَّا هِيَ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ أُخْتِهَا وَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْعَذَابِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And there was not a sign which We showed them except that it was greater than the sign before it! And We seized them with affliction so that perhaps they might turn in repentance.” [9]

After identifying the illnesses, Allāh prescribes the exact same cure.

Allāh wants us to repent.

The customers of Shisha lounges are laden with Muslims, the shortfalls towards the five daily prayers, the addiction to pornography and private messaging between strangers of the opposite sex is at an all-time high, the Hijāb—as prescribed by the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and practiced by the female companions—is rapidly deteriorating and the justifications which free one’s self from guilt are unprecedented. Those who actively enjoin good and forbid evil are few whilst those who do are labelled as patronising, self-righteous and intrusive to one’s “freedom”.

Not for one moment are my words an attempt to carry out the capital punishment upon our beloved Ummah but an attempt to raise awareness that my sins and yours actively devastate the wellbeing of the Muslims across the board for little do we realise that we had drowned many years before the children of Syria.

Ponder over the situation of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) the night before the battle of Badr, for can there be a calamity worse than unexpected war?

‘Alī (radiyAllāhu ‘anhu) said,

مَا كَانَ فِينَا فَارِسٌ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ غَيْرُ الْمِقْدَادِ وَلَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنَا وَمَا فِينَا إِلَّا نَائِمٌ إِلَّا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَحْتَ شَجَرَةٍ يُصَلِّي وَيَبْكِي حَتَّى أَصْبَحَ

“There was not a single horseman amidst the Muslim camp with the exception of Miqdād. I can recall how we were the night before battle, every single one of us was fast asleep with the exception of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He was sitting under a tree, praying and weeping until the morning of battle.” [10]

This is precisely what Allāh wants to see from His slaves in the face of every trauma. Tears, sacrifice, serious self-accountability and change. Whilst worldly preparations are incumbent en-route to the dealing with our plight as Muslims, Allah subhānahu wa ta’ālā has told us where these preparations are to begin and how they must end: with worldwide repentance and genuine turning to Allāh once and for all.

“What habits must I drop?”

“What habits must I acquire?”

“What relationships must I sever?”

“What relationships must I make?”

“How do I protect myself from being mediocre Muslim?”

“What will the project which I present to Allāh on the Day of Standing be?”

His body did not drown only after we’d allowed worldly preoccupations to drown us. Water did not fill his young lungs only after we’d filled our ears, eyes and hearts with that which displeases Allah. So what is the way forward?

فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا

“Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves?” [11]

O Allāh, pardon me and the readers, and make our repentance a contribution to the rescuing of the Muslims.

Some actions points to consider:

1. Email your MP sharing your disappointment over the UK Government’s handling of the Refugee Crisis via the campaign set up by 38 Degrees here

2. Sign the UK parliamentary petition, currently reaching 170,000 signatures, to accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK. Add your signature here 

3. Join the AVAAZ.org campaign currently going viral. Click here

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Al-Qur’an, Surah 6, Ayah 42

[2] Al-Qur’an, Surah 23, Ayah 76

[3] Al-Qur’an, Surah 42, Ayah 30

[4] Al-Qur’an, Surah 9, Ayah 126

[5] Al-Qur’an, Surah 7, Ayah 168

[6] Al-Qur’an, Surah 30, Ayah 41

[7] Al-Qur’an, Surah 32, Ayah 21

[8] Al-Qur’an, Surah 46, Ayah 27

[9] Al-Qur’an, Surah 43, Ayah 48

[10] Musnad Ahmad

[11] Al-Qur’an, Surah 6, Ayah 43

About Shaykh Ali Hammuda

Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.


  1. Glory of Islam

    Everyone see this as wakeup call when we meet our Lord. Actually look in the mirror.

    But in reality it’s long before we ABONDONED THE QURAN-

    The story of Suleyman AS and the queen of Sheba

  2. Bilal Ibn Saeed Ahmad

    To say that the muslim governments are not doing anything is incorrect, whether this is based on misinformation or some other agenda is a contentious topic for another day, however, I feel it is a must for those who possess some facts –that they should enlighten the masses.

    As soon as refugees from Syria have started entering into Europe we started hearing complains especially from some Muslims about how “the ummah is divided”, “we are now at the mercy of Europe”, “Saudi Arabia is doing nothing”, “shame on the gulf states”, “the Ummah is not standing up for each other”. All of these complains I am afraid to say are based on sensationalism.

    Let us look at some stats of facts:
    1) Indeed Those Who Should Have Been Receiving Refugees:
    When refugees run they run to the nearest place that is safe and spacious. Syria does not have border with any of these countries being accused of not taking refugees.
    Syria has border with Turkey, a Muslim country. Turkey has taken in more Syrian refugee than 10 times the number of APPLICATION the whole 28 European countries has received from refugees in 3 years. Turkey hosts 1.6 million refugees, which amounts to 2.4 per cent of the population. This fact is even from a western body, Amnesty International.
    Another neighboring Muslim country with border with Syria is Iraq. Despite being war torn, thanks to George Bush, Iraq hosts 225,373 registered refugees from Syria. Lebanon, another neighbour, hosts 1.1 million refugees registered with UNHCR, which amounts to around 26 per cent of the country’s population. And note that Lebanon is so small, Syria is 18 times bigger than lebanon.
    Jordan, another Muslim Neighbour, hosts 618,615 registered refugees, which amounts to 9.8 per cent of the population.
    Egypt, despite political instability has taken 142,543 registered syrian refugees.
    2) Those who could not have been helping
    * NONE of the countries being accused of not allowing refugees in has a border with Syria.
    * Jordan is receiving refugees and you have to pass through Jordan before getting to Saudi. Despite this, according to Nabil Othman, acting regional representative to the gulf region at the United Nation’s Refugee Agency, there are already half a million Syrians staying in Saudi NOT as refugees but as residents. The families of this half a million people have been allowed to enter Saudi and those from the half a million that were visiting have been allowed to prolong their stay. Added to this Saudi Arabia has sent 387 million pounds in relief to Syria. Yes, we can encourage them to do more, but to say they must do a particular kind of relief is funny.
    * United Arab Emirates that is still being accused of “not taking refugee” is not only after Jordan, it is after Saudi Arabia! And wait for this, the Emirate has been paying to equip and maintain refugee camps in other countries close to Syria. Matter of fact UAE funds 30% of the health needs of Syrian refugees living in two camps in Jordan, establishes it’s own refugee camps in Jordan, and in 2014, the UAE donated 15 million dollars to UNRWA Food Assistance Programme in Syria. In 5 years the UAE has spent 708 million dollars helping refugees from Muslim countries. They are not doing anything indeed!
    * Bahrain, another accuse who “have not open it’s doors to Syrian refugee”, is 244 times smaller than Syria! Syria had 22 million people, the total population of Bahrain is just over 1 million people, what door do we want them to open??? No, they have done what is wiser by funding camps close to Syria with huge sums. This same argument goes for Qatar that has put in 157 million pounds in support but is 16 times smaller than Syria hence opening it’s doors for refugee is just silly. Not only is Bahrain sponsoring camps, they are setting up schools to help thousands of Syrian children with education.
    3) As for entering Europe, it is just another place the displaced people can run to. Before Europe they ran to African countries like Egypt and Sudan so what is new? People who are at the middle of a war run into safe places and they should not be mocked for that neither should we act like those who are already helping are doing nothing.
    NB: no one is saying MORE cannot be done or should not be quietly asked for. We are saying the sensationalism of “Muslims are not helping themselves” should stop. The Muslim countries are doing a lot and they can do more and should be encouraged to do more.

  3. asalam aleikum .. ..JazakaAllah khair for this reminder and lesson for much needed reflection so man strives to improve his relationship with Allah. To brother Adam above this is what the article intended not to support any extremism….

  4. I was also saddened by the thousands of rohinga refugees who drowned trying to escape persecution and torture. They were without food, drink and clothes with very few countries offering help. luckily for the Syrians the Christian west not the Muslim Middle East is giving them asylum.

  5. Salaams it is true that repentance is necessary. But the greatest calamity of the Muslim ummah is they deserted the Imamat of Imam Ali a.s. and from then onwards till today they are following the Taghoot,like Aale Saud.Until Mulsims hold the Rope of Allah again, these calamities will continue, till the Zuhoor of Imam Mahdi a.s.This is the Realtiy and The Truth whether you like it or not.

  6. The family were from Kobane. They were fleeing Islamic supremacists. Islamic supremacists had murdered many of their family members.
    So how can this author, who purports to be a man of God, use this tragedy as an excuse to spout Islamic supremacist propaganda?

  7. The smiles and laughter of toddler Aylan are no more
    His lifeless body washed up on the Mediterranean shore
    The worlds collective humanity compromised
    In the wake of a community demonised

    Children and mothers pass under razor barbed wire
    Even as the grey suits build the walls still even higher
    Carted off on trains like cattle
    Just as they thought they had escaped the battle

    Carted off to refugee camps
    To enclosed spaces notorious for rising damp
    With all the connotations of a concentration camp
    Of a bygone fascist era

    The worlds collective humanity compromised
    In the wake of a community vilified
    The smiles and laughter of toddler Aylan are no more
    His lifeless body washed up on the Mediterranean shore

  8. It can be a way of blessing rather than punishment for the victim will be compensated and those punIshed that did nt assist

  9. raheen sayyed

    This is the best piece ever written.
    May Allah make this reminder of urs to be your key to attain Jannah al Ala.

    JazakAllahu khair

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