The month of Ramadhan is indeed a month of blessing in which the Muslim seeks to gain nearness and the immense reward from Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala). It is also a month in which many lessons can be drawn from Islamic history. During this month the Muslims fought many battles thereby expanding the mercy of Islam into new lands and also repelling the aggressors that invaded the Islamic lands to restore the protection and authority of Islam and the Muslims. One such famous battle was the Battle of Ain Jaloot in 658 Hijri against the Tartar invasion, which is considered as one of the greatest victories in the annals of human history. Considering the current predicament of the Muslims in Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Indonesia, Bosnia, Chechnya – indeed the Muslims all over the world, there are many comparisons and key lessons that can be learnt from this famous battle.
Overview of the Battle
Towards the end of 656 Hijri the Tatars launched one of their largest assaults on the land of the Islamic Khilafah, resulting in the seizure of the Khilafah capital, Baghdad, the killing of the Khalifah Mu’atasim Billah, and the occupation of three quarters of Islamic land. Heading towards Egypt and Morocco, the last stronghold of the Muslims, the Tartars sent a threatening letter to the Ameer of Egypt, Mahmoud Saifudeen Qutuz, which included the following statement, "We have demolished the land, orphaned the children, tortured the people and slain them, made their honoured despised and their leader a captive. Do you think that you can escape from us? After a while you will know what's coming to you..." Due to the Muslims weakness and low morale, it was thought that such a threat would suffice in breaking any resistance from the Muslims. However, Qutuz had a different reply. He killed the Tatarian delegation and left their corpses hanging in his capital, lifting his soldiers and people's spirit on the one hand, and putting down his enemy's and that of their spies and loyalists on the other hand.
This raised the spirit of the Muslims and simultaneously shocked the tartars for they realised they were facing a leader unlike those they had previously encountered.
Qutuz rallied the Muslims to prepare for the inevitable battle that would occur. Under his leadership, Muslims were rallied upon Iman, unity and the necessary weapons of steel to confront the enemy. He sought the help of Governors and Scholars alike to unify, stand for the defense of Islam and focus the efforts of the Muslims towards the liberation of the Islamic lands.
Then it was time to engage the enemy on the battlefield at Ain Jaloot on the Friday 25th Ramadhan 658. Qutuz led the Muslims into the battle, which initially swayed towards the Tartars. Observing this, Qutuz climbed on a rock, throwing his helmet away, shouting "Wa Islamah. Wa Islamah.” Urging the army to keep firm and fight Allah's enemies. The frustrated leaders of the army looked towards that voice to see their leader's flushed face, hitting angrily with his sword and engaging the enemy. Qutuz's courage stunned his leaders who promptly followed his footsteps, lifting the morality of the Muslim army. Soon, the battle shifted in favour of the Muslims, until the Tatarian army was shattered and fled from the battle. Victory was for Islam and the Muslims. As for the Tartars, when they realised their incursion and dominance in the Islamic East was fading and that Muslims regained their power, they escaped towards their homeland, which eased Qutuz's efforts to liberate all of Shaam in a few weeks.
Such a decisive victory for the Muslims under a sincere leadership, at a time when they were weak and overpowered by the enemy draws many comparisons with the situation of the Muslims today:
Comparison 1 – Treachery of the Rulers
The ability of the Tartars to have achieved from the beginning such a crushing blow against the Muslims, taking the capital of the Khilafah, killing those sincere to the Deen and then taking hold over two-thirds of Islamic land resulted from the treachery of Al-‘Alkami. Al-‘Alkami was the minister to Khaleefah Mu’atasim Billah. He tricked Mu’atasim to make peace with the Tartars whilst at the same time conducting secret correspondence with the Tatars, promising them to halt any resistance against them providing that they appoint him as Khaleefah and allow him to establish his own state in Baghdad. This treachery led to the death of Mu’atasim and the sincere governors and scholars who went to negotiate with the Tartars only to be killed. It also led to the death of Al-‘Alkami at the hands of the Tartars, for their promises to him meant nothing.
Compare the treachery of Al-‘Alkami to that of the rulers over the Muslims today. The Muslims are being tricked into making peace with Israel through the actions of the rulers, many of whom have publicly already made their peace, like Mubarak of Egypt, Abdullah of Jordan and Arafat of Palestine. The result of this treachery is the continual existence of Israel and the betrayal and bloodshed of the Muslims in Palestine who live as oppressed prisoners under Israeli rule. What did these leaders get in return from the enemy? Bankrupt economies, social deprivation, absence of political will, the perpetual fear of Israeli aggression and a Muslim Ummah that has recognized their treachery and work to remove them from power. As for the example of Musharraf, he attempted to convince the Muslims of Pakistan the benefits of allowing America to bomb the Muslims in Afghanistan for economic benefit, the easing of sanctions and a say in the formation of a new government in Afghanistan. What did Musharraf get in return for his services to America? The economic benefits promised by America are insignificant in dealing with the total debt that Pakistan is servicing and linked to the harsh structural adjustment policies of the IMF that seek to place the vital economic resources in the hands of private foreign investors and institutions whilst placing further hardship upon the Muslims of Pakistan. Politically, Musharraf was ‘shocked’ to discover that the Northern Alliance had entered Kabul with the permission of America, though America had agreed to halt the Northern Alliance advance into Kabul until it had consulted with the Pakistani leadership.
These rulers and their treachery has gained nothing for Islam, the Muslims, neither for themselves – yet they persist in their treachery and Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) says (to the nearest meaning), “As for those who take the Kafir as allies in preference to the believers, do they hope to be honoured by them, when behold all honour (Izza) belongs to Allah alone” (TMQ An-Nisa: 139)
Comparison 2 – Responding to the Threat of the Enemy
The Tartars had sent a chilling reminder to the Muslims about any opposition to their expansion and rule. But though the Muslims were weak and of low morale, Qutuz stood firm upon Islam responding to the threatening letter with an equal threat. His stance to the delegates of the Tartars was to inform them that they were dealing with a people that would not permit the desecration of Islam, its people and its lands. Then he took steps to mobilize his resources to prepare for the battle.
Compare this to when President Bush of America declared that the war of Afghanistan was a war in which countries had to choose sides. To the UN delegates he stated and threatened categorically this choice was, “Either you are with us or against us.” How did the rulers over the Muslims respond to this threat which would mean the desecration of Islam, its people and lands?
Musharraf, Karimov and the Turkish leadership were from those who not only supported America in its threat, but provided the necessary intelligence and logistical support for America to carry out its attack upon the Muslims of Afghanistan. Gaddafi of Libya, Abdullah of Jordan were from those who publicly supported America and even gave their support for the bombing to continue during the month of Ramadhan. Others such as Bashier (Sudan) and Arafat offered their support by compiling a list of ‘suspected terrorists’ in their states and handing them over to the CIA.
The likes of Bashar al-Assad of Syria implicitly gave their support to America by wanting to gain assurance that America’s threat was confined to Afghanistan and did not extend to the Arab states. As for the likes of Saddam Hussein his flaunting opposition to America’s threat cannot be considered in the same ilk as the stance of Qutuz. Qutuz stood upon Islam and his desire to protect Islam whereby Saddam, without the need of America has desecrated Islam, taken the blood of the Muslims and siphoned their resources in Iraq. As for his political stance it is purely for the benefit of his western backers i.e. Britain.
While Qutuz’s response to the Tartars threat raised the spirit of the Muslims and simultaneously shocked the enemy, the response of the rulers of today in similar circumstances has left the Muslim Ummah in despair and simultaneously reassured the Americans about their compliance to her will.
And Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) says (to the nearest meaning), “If you help the cause Allah, Allah will help you and make your foothold firm.”
Comparison 3 – Response of the Scholars
Amongst the many publicly renowned scholars who contributed to the encouraging the Muslims to unify and prepare for the Jihad was the "Shiekh of Scholars" Al-`Izz Bin Abdis-Salam. Aside from responding to this command with vigour rallying the Muslims and using the Mimbar (pulpit) of the masaajid to remind the Muslims of their responsiblities, such was the integrity of Al-‘Izz that even when Qutuz required a fatwah to impose taxes upon the people in order to equip the Muslim army, Al-‘Izz refused until all the wealth of the governors and their leaders was spent.
Compare this with the scholars who have taken the public positions in the Muslim world today, whilst those of sincerity languish in the prisons of the Muslim world. How the scholars taking the public positions have permitted the rulers to partake in such betrayal against Islam and the Muslims in Afghanistan and in their own states. When Prince Nayef, the Saudi Interior Minister said “Nobody has the right to issue a fatwa [religious ruling] calling for a jihad [holy war] and support for the Afghan regime, except the ifta [jurisprudence] council or whoever is assigned by that council to issue a fatwa. All religious scholars agree on this, and jihad is not obligatory unless ordered by the leader of the country,” where were the scholars of the ifta council to declare the Jihad? In America, one such Imam declared the duty of the Muslims in the American army to defend their homeland (America) and attack those who America considers her enemy. How, instead of restraining the just ruler to the truth, they permit the corruption of the unjust rulers who have sought to retain the division of the Muslim lands and the implementation of Kufr upon the heads of the Muslims. In addition they have permitted the rulers to take the wealth through the imposition of harsh and unbearable taxes like in Pakistan with the General Sales Tax (GST) and the raising of VAT in Sudan as a substitute for direct taxes.
It was narrated that by Abi al-A'war As-Silmee (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: "Beware of the doors of the ruler for they have indeed become a source of trouble and humiliation"
And Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) also said, “Shall I inform you of the perfect Scholar?”. The Sahabah replied, “yes.”. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The perfect scholar is the one who does not deprive the people of the Mercy of Allah, does not give them hope of salvation from punishment but neither makes them lose hope of His Mercy, nor discards the Qur’an in favour of something else.”
Comparison 4 – Preparation for the Battle
Qutuz gathered the governors, the scholars and the Muslims upon Iman, unity, the preparation to fight and focusing upon the victory of Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) over the enemy. The necessary money was raised towards this objective and the army was mobilized to engage in the battle to defend Islam, its followers and lands and to fight the usurping aggressor.
Compare this with today, how the rulers have prepared the governors, scholars and army for the battle. Musharraf helped the Americans prepare for the battle against the Muslims and deserted the Muslims completely. He instructed the army to prepare to stand on the Afghan-Pakistani border to prevent any Muslims fleeing from Afghanistan to seek refuge in Pakistan rather than stand alongside their Muslims brothers in Afghanistan to fight against the enemy. Musharraf used the army to quell any demonstrations that voiced support for the Jihad in Afghanistan and prohibited the raising of money towards the Jihad. While this was occurring, a unit of the Jordanian army was returning from over a 1500 mile distance UN duty to protect British interests in Sierre Leone and flew over Palestine upon their return, forgetting that Muslims, just 10 metres next door in Palestine were suffering at the hands of Israeli aggression.
Have the rulers forgotten the words of Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) when He (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) says (to the nearest meaning), “Prepare the tethered horses…so that you strike fear in the heart of the enemy” (Al- :) and He (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) says (to the nearest meaning), “O you who believe do not take my enemy and your enemy as allies and protectors…” (Al-Mumtahinah: 1)
Comparison 5 – Calling to Islam at times of Need
During the battle, when initially the Tartars were in ascendancy Qutuz climbed on a rock, throwing his helmet away, shouting "Wa Islamah.. Wa Islamah..", urging the army to keep firm and fight Allah's enemies. This attitude can be seen from the example of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) during the battle of Uhud when he rallied the nine Sahabah (Ridhwan Allahu Alaihim) who were around him by shouting, “Come on! I am the Messenger of Allah,” at such a time when the Qurayshi army had gained the upper hand in the battle and many of the Muslims had become weak and deserted the battle believing that Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had been killed. This was the Iman, passion and love of Islam that that Qutuz wanted to build within the Muslims.
Compare this to the rulers of today. Though the need to rally the Muslims upon Islam and Allah’s (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) help is evident, we find the rulers shouting, “Wa America!! Wa UN!! Wa NATO!!” Arafat and the Arab rulers did not seek to rally the Muslims behind Islam on the matter of Israel. On the contrary Arafat announced that there could be no peace unless America was the broker. Likewise, when Musharraf was put under pressure from America on the matter of Afghanistan, he responded by rallying the Muslims to accept the American demand to use her air bases to launch attacks against Afghanistan.
Do the rulers not remember the duaa’ of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), after he was chased out of Ta’if bleeding from the stones that were thrown at him by the children and slaves and he lamented, “O Allah! To you I complain of my weakness, little resources and lowliness before man. O Most Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak and You are my Lord. To whom would you confide me? To one afar who will misuse me or an enemy to whom You have given dominance over me? If You are not angry with me I do not care Your favour of well-being on me is sufficient for me. I take refuge in the light of your countenance by which the darkness is illuminated and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest Your Anger descends upon me or Your Wrath not Light upon me but come down upon me. It is for You to be satisfied until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except in You.”
Comparison 6 – Impact of the Battle
The direct outcome of this battle was the liberation of the Muslims from the Tatarian rule and their corrupt creed, lifting the spirit and esteem of Muslims, and regaining the strength and position of the Islamic State which stood for centuries defending Islam and Muslims against the spread of Kufr.
Compare today. Look at the Arab-Israeli wars, the Pakistan-Indian wars, Bosnia, Palestine, Gulf Crisis etc…. – the direct outcome has been one of the rulers over the Muslims reinforcing the subjugation of Kufr, destroying the esteem and spirit of the Muslims and betraying Islam and the people. The aftermath of Afghanistan shows the Afghan leaders gathered around with begging bowls at the Bonn conference over the new government for Afghanistan after the blood of Muslims is spilt whilst America sizes up its options to attack another part of the Muslim land in its pursuit of ‘terrorists’.
The battle of Ain Jaloot was a glorious event in the annals of Islamic History and if the comparisons which were made were to evoke a true lesson that we would learn from and tread the path of, it would be the following:
Under the sincere Islamic leadership, the Muslims were unified, gained strength and direction from their weakness, their Iman re-ignited and the prepared armies of the Muslims were unleashed to repel the aggressor, defend the lands and body of the Muslims and return the authority to Islam.
Today we lack this sincere leadership and the Islamic system that would mobilize the resources of the Muslims towards the duty of Islam and the Muslims. Leaders who seek victory for the enemies of Allah, His Messenger and the Muslims lead us.
The blessed month of Ramadhan should not pass without the Muslims recognizing and engaging in the duty to remove these leaderships and their corrupt systems that they implement upon us.
May Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) Help us to complete our fast and obligations and to establish His rule, the Khilafah.
And Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Allah is Great, praise is to Allah, Who has fulfilled His Promise, assisted His servant and defeated the coalition alone.”
By Burhan Hanif