Jumuah lecture on Friday 30 November 2018 (22 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1440) by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town

Lecture 4 in the series: 


In our series of discussions about the political ethics and morality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) we divided this discussion into 2 important parts, namely internal politics and external politics. We discussed in detail about the various very important characteristics and attributes of internal politics and political approaches of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

In the earlier discussions, we discussed 4 very important aspects regarding the political ethics of Rasulullah (SAWA), for which you can refer to the previous 3 lectures in this series:

1. Establishing justice amongst the people (lecture 1)

2. Being truthful and trustworthy (lecture 2)

3. Delivering on your promises (lecture 3)

4. Being compassionate and merciful (lecture 3)


The final attribute will be the subject of today’s discussion, and that is the issue of sabr (perseverance) in the Seerah and political ethics of Rasulullah (SAWA). As a leader, he showed amazing patience and perseverance in his social engagement with the masses. He showed an amazing quality of maintaining focus towards the purpose of his governance in society, which was for people to uphold social justice.

This issue of patience and perseverance is so essential, so much so, that Almighty Allah (SWT) advised our beloved Rasul (SAWA) at least 19 times in the Holy Quran to maintain sabr. An example is in verse 35 of Surah Ahqaf (chapter 46):

فَاصْبِرْ كَمَا صَبَرَ أُولُو الْعَزْمِ مِنَ الرُّسُلِ وَلَا تَسْتَعْجِلْ لَهُمْ

“Therefore patiently persevere, as did (all) messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the (Unbelievers).”

This demonstrates how important this quality was in the political leadership and Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), as it was with the Prophets (a.s) before him.

Again, I am repeating for the past few weeks, that we are not talking about the individual Seerah of Rasulullah (SAWA). We are focusing heavily on his political and social Seerah, and it is here again that this very, very important quality of Sabr comes to the fore.


In the Battle of Uhud, one of the Mushriqeen assaulted our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and as a result some of his teeth were broken from this incident. The companions (Sahaba) were naturally very upset about what had transpired here. So they came close to Rasulullah (SAWA) to express their hurt and they feel very insulted by him having been assaulted. 

They asked Rasulullah (SAWA) why does he not curse them for the crime they have committed, so that Almighty Allah (SWT) can bring upon his punishment on them. Very interesting is the response from Rasulullah (SAWA), when he says that he was not sent to this earth as someone who is cursing, abusing and using vulgar language. This needs to be engraved in gold and placed at the forefront of our conscience!

Rasulullah (SAWA) makes it abundantly clear that this is not his purpose! He continues to explain that he was send by Almighty Allah (SWT) to this earth for 2 main objectives:

a. To enlighten the minds and remove the darkness of ignorance; and

b. To be merciful and compassionate

These are the few very important characteristics of Rasulullah (SAWA) which we discussed in this series, when it comes to his internal political ethics:

1. Establishing justice amongst the people (lecture 1)

2. Being truthful and trustworthy (lecture 2)

3. Delivering on your promises (lecture 3)

4. Being compassionate and merciful (lecture 3)

5. Sabr – patience and perseverance (lecture 4 ie. this discussion)


I would now like to move to the second part in the discussion about the politics ethics of Rasulullah (SAWA), and that is his external political agenda. This is about his relationship with non-Muslims and enemies as well. 

As noted above, those 5 important qualities which we discussed relate to his internal politics as a political and social leader and his interaction with his own people in that very ideal state of Madina. 

Now we enter into the discussion about the principle points in the political strategy of Rasulullah (SAWA) in his interaction with the non-Muslims.

If you remember, in the internal politics of Rasulullah (SAWA), we discussed repeatedly in the preceding lectures about how the Holy Quran very importantly introduces him as a Prophet of mercy, inclusivity, forgiveness, transparency, compassion and acceptance. These were the qualities of Rasulullah (SAWA) in his individual capacity as well as his interaction with his people as the leader.

These qualities also flourished when it came to his interaction with the enemies and non-Muslims, as it was reflected in his actions and character, as recorded in the annals of history. However, very important to note that when it came to his relationship with the people outside of his nation (Ummah), his principle position was at no time compromised by his extraordinary merciful and compassionate nature. 


We discussed in the preceding lectures that his firm conviction left no room for ambiguity. We discussed in his internal political ethics, that he was very strict in his establishment of justice, but when it came to his relationship with outsiders, we see that this non-compromising position on principles was more clearly emphasized. 

As the Holy Quran explains, he is the mercy unto all of creation and there is absolutely no doubt about this. We will delve deeper into this discussion in the next lecture. However, aside from this, he is clearly a strong, firm leader who is not ready to compromise on principles and not ready to submit to the enemies.

The Holy Quran explains this very important principle in verse 57 of Surah Anfaal (chapter 8):

فَإِمَّا تَثْقَفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْحَرْبِ فَشَرِّدْ بِهِمْ مَنْ خَلْفَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

“Therefore if you overtake them in fighting, then scatter by (making an example of) them those who are in their rear, that they may be mindful.”

This verse explains to Rasulullah (SAWA) that when he confronts the enemies, he should treat them in a manner that will be a lesson they will never forget, and that those behind them should be admonished.

Another example is the following verse, which is verse 58 of Surah Anfaal:

وَإِمَّا تَخَافَنَّ مِنْ قَوْمٍ خِيَانَةً فَانْبِذْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَىٰ سَوَاءٍ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْخَائِنِينَ

“And if you fear treachery on the part of a people, then throw back to them on terms of equality; surely Allah does not love the treacherous.”

This verse explains that if you are fearful of their disloyalty and that they will back-off, then you can also break that agreement.

So, these 2 examples clearly establish the firm nature of Rasulullah (SAWA), to counter-balance his compassion and mercy. The key point to note is that the external politics of Rasulullah (SAWA) is based upon these 2 qualities ie. the universal mercy unto all of creation, while at the same time being firm on matters of principle.

We find some very important Quranic principles in the foreign policy of Rasulullah (SAWA), which became entrenched in Islamic jurisprudence. 

The first principle in the external politics of Rasulullah (SAWA) is the denial or refusal of the domination or superiority of the nonbelievers over the believers. This basic principle in the life of Rasulullah (SAWA) is inspired from the Holy Quran, where we read the last part of verse 141 of Surah Nisa (chapter 4), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

وَلَنْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ سَبِيلًا

“Allah will not give the disbelievers any way (of success) against the believers.”

This is a very big discussion covered by all commentators of the Holy Quran and gets covered in Fiqh as well, because its implications are very far-reaching. 

It is vital to understand that Rasulullah (SAWA) did not advise that we should not have any interaction with non-Muslims, because he entertained such relations too. We certainly can enter into agreements and have relationships with them, but the condition should be that it does not result in any sort of advantage for the disbelievers over the believers. Any contract which comes in conflict with this principle should be nullified.


In Fiqh, we distinguish between primary commandments and secondary commandments. Primary commandments are the straightforward stuff where we are told what to do. Secondary commandments are those which arise due to certain conditions, and when these secondary commandments arise, then the preceding one is abrogated.

Let us understand this through a simple example such as drugs, especially those which are produced from herbs. In principle, they are not Haraam. There is no Quranic verse or Hadith which prevents the usage of herbs. Therefore, this means that the primary command is satisfied. However, the secondary command informs us of the destructive nature of drugs and its negative effects on the communities, which therefore concludes that it is Haraam without any doubt! Therefore, this secondary command overrides the primary command.

Another example is when you sign an agreement. Let us say a Muslim country signs a business deal with a non-Muslim country. In principle, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. So, the primary commandment is fulfilled. However, when you study the details of the deal, which appears to be purely a business deal on the face of it, you realize that this deal is the gateway for them to introduce their influence over the Muslim community and give them dominance and opportunities to control the economy and ultimately enslave us through this trade deal. 

This is where the secondary commandment overrides the primary commandment, rendering this deal to be Haraam (forbidden) because it results in the domination of non-Muslims over the Muslims. 


This is the very important principle we find in the moral character and Seerah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). He was very well aware about the consequences of the deals we enter into, especially those which on face value appear to have nothing wrong with it. 

We see the reality of such deals in our world today, which are good on face value, but the deeper consequences are such that it allows for the outside control and cultural influence. The Islamic world is filled with such examples of how the enemies of Islam have penetrated and exert control through these so-called Halaal deals. Today we see that the result of their infiltration is that economies and financial markets are under their control.

Furthermore, these strategic deals have resulted in the enemies introducing their cultural values onto our societies, such as their anti-Islamic culture of consumerism, extravagance and vulgarity. 

So this is one principle in the external political ethics of Rasulullah (SAWA). The second principle is about the dignity of the Ummah, which is again a Quranic principle we will elaborate upon in the next Jumuah.


During this week, we have the continuous celebrations of the Milad of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as well as the Milad of the 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s). 

This Imam revived the message of Islam and presented it in a structured, academic form which resulted in the establishment of various schools of thought. Therefore, he was regarded as the head of the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) and his students are the heads of different schools of thought, such as Imam Abu Hanifa (r.a), Imam Shafi’i (r.a), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a) and Imam Malik (r.a). They are all direct or indirect students of this great Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s). 

History has recorded that there would be thousands of pens in motion when Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) ascended to the pulpit of Masjidun-Nabi, wanting to capture his knowledge and wisdom. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) is the one who encouraged differences of opinion to flourish in his university.

I would like to elaborate on this special aspect of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s). The institution of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) in Madina is the best example of freedom of expression! He allowed people to think differently, and therefore we see that such a huge variety of people were present in his seminaries. 

This is why the statement by Imam Abu Hanifa (r.a) is so profound, where he says that he would have been banished had it not been for the 2 years that he spent with Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s). This is because Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) allowed students from all different backgrounds in his classes. His classes were not only confined to the likes of Zurara and Abu Baseer etc. 

Would you believe it, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) even accommodated open atheists in his classes?! Amazingly, these people did not feel uncomfortable at all to be part of the academic institution of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s), and felt totally at ease asking questions and debate their points with Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s). More importantly, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) does not issue fatwas of Kufr and Shirk against these atheists in his class, nor does he expel them either.

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) proves in a structured, academic manner where the flaws are with the atheist beliefs and they acknowledge this academic excellence of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).

Let us hope and pray that this spirit of acceptance and accommodation and free thinking should revive.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of the very important period we commemorate every year at this time, and that is the 16 days of activism against the abuse of women and children which is a very, very serious challenge in our society. We will discuss this in greater detail in the forthcoming Jumuah, and in particular, the position of Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) towards this serious challenge.

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