and some others
and some others
Amr ibn Abasa as-Sulami’s Islam
(may Allah be pleased with him)
and some of the Benefits and Jurisprudence of this Hadith
on Tauheed, Victory, and Salat
the Mercy of Allah, the one and only LORD and GOD,
“…There is no god (or deity or being worthy of worship) except God,
We worship Him with sincere devotion in religion,
even though the disbelievers loathe it.”
(Part of authentic supplication of the Messenger of Allah
Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him)
[Revised Expanded Version 1427H./ 2006CE ]
Table of Contents
for viewing only, and not for publication or distribution by any means.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
إن الحمد لله نحمده ونستعينه ونستغفره ونعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا من يهده الله فلا مضل له ومن يضلل فلا هادى له , وأشهد أن لا اله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله.
يا أيها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وانتم مسلمون . يا أيها الناس اتقوا ربكم الذى خلقكم من نفس واحدة وخلق منها زوجها وبث منهما رجالا كثيرا ونساءا واتقوا الله الذى تسائلون به والأرحام إن الله كان عليكم رقيبا. يا ايها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم اعمالكم ويغفرلكم ذنوبكم ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما . أما بعد : فإن أصدق الحديث كلام الله وخير الهدى هدى محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم
وشر الأمور محدثاتها وكل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة فى النار
In the name of Allah Most Beneficent Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah; we praise Him and we beseech Him for help and we ask for His protection and we seek refuge in Allah from the wickedness of our souls, and from the evil (and evil consequences) of our deeds; whomsoever Allah guides, there is none who can lead him astray, and whom Allah finds in error, there is none to guide him; and I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. “O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah (fear Allah) with the care which is due to Him and do not die unless you are Muslims (submitting to Him).” [3:102] “O people! Be careful of your duty to your Lord (fear your Lord) Who created you from a single being and of the same created its mate; and spread from these two many men and women; and be careful of your duty to Allah by whom you demand one of another your rights and to the ties of relationship; surely Allah watches over you.” [4:1] “O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah (fear Allah) and speak the right word; He would correct your deeds, and forgive you your faults; and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he indeed achieves a mighty success.” [33:70, 71]
Proceeding: the best Speech is the Speech of Allah, and the best guidance is the Guidance of the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and the worst affairs are those that are innovated (deviancies), ever y innovated affair is astray, and all that is astray is (eventually) going to the hellfire.”
This booklet before the reader is an exposition concerning the narration about the story of the Islam of Amr ibn Abasah ibn Khalid as-Sulami, may Allah be pleased with him. Many people know the stories of the acceptance of Islam of many of the other famous companions, like Khadejah, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Zaid ibn Haritha, Bilal, Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, Abu Dharr, Hamzah, and many others, may Allah be please with them and all the companions of the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his family.
I became amazed when I found that many did not know the story of Islam of Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, or even had ever heard of him, even thought this story is in the collection of traditions of Imam Muslim in his Authentic (Sahih) collection and that it contains many crucial points of Islamic monotheism (Tauheed) and jurisprudence (Fiqh). I myself had not heard about the tradition and only happened upon it latter in my search for beneficial Islamic knowledge through personal reading of the beneficial book: [الدررالسنية في الأجوبة النجدية] ‘Durar as-Siniyyah fi al-Ajwabat an-Najdiyyah’ and the book: [مفيد المستفيد في كفر تارك التوحيد] ‘Mufeed al-Mustafeed fi Kufr Tarik at-Tauheed.’
I was immediately and totally startled at its profound significance in Islamic teachings. ‘How did I not hear of this before? I asked myself. I then decided to research and write this booklet before you, although I took quite a while before I actually completed my intention.
This hadith of Amr ibn Abasah may Allah be pleased with him mentioned in full below is even more important when we realize the fact that the Messenger of Allah may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said:
“Islam initiated as something strange and alien, and it would revert to its old position of being strange alien, so good tidings for the strangers.” (Reported by Muslim, at-Tirmidthi, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad and others).
In some sound versions of this narration the Messenger r answered their question as to who were these strangers (ghuraba`) by saying:
“الذين يصلحون إذا فسد الناس”
“Those who correct themselves (and others) even when the people are corrupted.”
“أناس صالحون في أناس سوء كثير من يعصيهم أكثر ممن يطيعهم”
“Good and righteous people among a multitude of evil people who disobey them more than obey them.”
” نزاع من القبائل.”
“Individuals (taken from) among the tribes.”
These strangers of the early times have similar characteristics with the strangers of latter times. All Muslims are keen to study their characteristic and take lessons for our own development as servants of Allah seeking his Guidance, Pleasure and Mercy.
Another Hadith informs us about the dearness of Muslims to Allah compared to the vast majority of disbelievers on earth. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
عن عبدالله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال: كنا مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في قبة، فقال: أ ترضون ان تكونوا ربع اهل الجنة؟ قلنا: نعم. قال: اترضون ان تكونوا ثلث اهل الجنة ؟ قلنا نعم قال: اترضون ان تكونوا شطر اهل الجنة ؟ قلنا: نعم قال: والذي نفس محمد بيده إني لأرجو ان تكونوا نصف اهل الجنة، وذلك ان الجنة لا يدخلها الا نفس مسلمة، وما انتم في اهل الشرك إلا كالشعرة البيضاء في جلد الثور الاسود، او كالشعرة السوداء في جلد الثور الاحمر”
“While we were in the company of the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, in a tent, he said: ‘Would it please you to be one fourth of the people of paradise? We said: Yes. He said: Would it please you to be one third of the people of paradise? We said: Yes. He said: Would it please you to be one half of the people of paradise? We said: ‘Yes’. Thereupon he said: I hope that you will be one half of the people of paradise, for none will enter paradise but a Muslim soul, and you people, in comparison to the people who associate others in worship with Allah, are like a white hair on the skin of a black ox, or a black hair on the skin of a red ox.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
Abu Salman Deya ud-Deen Eberle
who seeks the favor and mercy of his Lord, Allah, the Most Great and Majestic
> The Hadith (narrative tradition) of ‘Amr ibn ‘Abasa’s Islam from Imam Muslim’s book of Authentic Traditions
Amr ibn Abasah ibn Khalid as-Sulami, may Allah be pleased with him, was from Bani Sulaim of the Mudar Tribe who was one of the first people to accept Islam. Ibn Sa’ad reports in the book ‘Tabaqaat’ that Amr said about himself that he was, for a while, one/forth of Islam. It is reported by Hakim that Amr ibn Abasa used to say:
و كان عمرو بن عبسة رضي اللـه عنه يقول: “لقد رأيتني وأنا ربع الإسلام” رواه الحاكم و صححه و وافقه الذهبي
“It is that you would have seen me when I was on forth of Islam.” [Reported by Hakim who declared it sound, with adh-Dhahabi concurring]
This would seem to mean the only other Muslims at the time of his acceptance were Abu Bakr and Bilal, may Allah be pleased with them, and the Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. We know that the wife of the Prophet, Khadeja may Allah be pleased with her, and Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, and Zaid the freed slave of the Prophet, and those of Quraish that Abi Bakr called to Islam, also accepted Islam very early and most probably before. Thus we can understand, as Ibn Katheer says in the book Badaiyan wa Nahaiyah (3/31), that Amr ibn Abasah most probably mentioned this as according his knowledge of those who had accepted Islam before him since in this time of great persecutions one may have accepted Islam and not known of the Islam of others due to the severe repercussions of Islamic faith.
Imam Muslim, in the Book of Prayer and Chapter on the “Islam of Amr ibn Abasa, may Allah be pleased with him” reports the narration of Amr ibn Abasa as-Sulami, may Allah be pleased with him, who said:
روى الامام مسلم في صحيحه [في باب إسلام عمرو بن عبسة] قال: حدثني أحمد بن جعفر المعقري. حدثنا النضر بن محمد. حدثنا عكرمة بن عمار. حدثنا شداد بن عبدالله، أبو عمار، ويحيى بن أبي كثير عن أبي أمامة (قال عكرمة: ولقي شداد أبا أمامة وواثلة. وصحب أنسا إلى الشام. وأثنى عليه فضلا وخيراعن أبي أمامة قال، قال عمرو بن عبسة السلمي
قَالَ عَمْرُو بْنُ عَبَسَةَ السُّلَمِيُّ: «كُنْتُ وَأَنَا فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ أَظُنُّ أَنَّ النَّاسَ عَلَى ضَلالَةٍ، وَأَنَّهُمْ لَيْسُوا عَلَى شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَعْبُدُونَ الأَوْثَانَ، فَسَمِعْتُ بِرَجُلٍ بِمَكَّةَ يُخْبِرُ أَخْبَاراً، فَقَعَدْتُ عَلَى رَاحِلَتِي فَقَدِمْتُ عَلَيْهِ فَإِذَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مُسْتَخْفِيًا جُرَءَاءُ عَلَيْهِ قَوْمُهُ، فَتَلَطَّفْتُ حَتَّى دَخَلْتُ عَلَيْهِ بِمَكَّةَ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ: مَا أَنْتَ؟ قَالَ: أَنَا نَبِيٌّ، فَقُلْتُ: وَمَا نَبِيٌّ؟ قَالَ: أَرْسَلَنِي اللَّهُ، فَقُلْتُ: وَبِأَيِّ شَيْءٍ أَرْسَلَكَ؟ قَالَ: أَرْسَلَنِي بِصِلَةِ الأَرْحَامِ وَكَسْرِ الأَوْثَانِ وَأَنْ يُوَحَّدَ اللَّهُ لا يُشْرَكُ بِهِ شَيْءٌ، قُلْتُ لَهُ: فَمَنْ مَعَكَ عَلَى هَذَا؟ قَالَ: حُرٌّ وَعَبْدٌ، قَالَ: وَمَعَهُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَبُو بَكْرٍ وَبِلالٌ مِمَّنْ آمَنَ بِهِ فَقُلْتُ: إِنِّي مُتَّبِعُكَ، قَالَ: إِنَّكَ لا تَسْتَطِيعُ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَكَ هَذَا، أَلا تَرَى حَالِي وَحَالَ النَّاسِ؟ وَلَكِنِ ارْجِعْ إِلَى أَهْلِكَ فَإِذَا سَمِعْتَ بِي قَدْ ظَهَرْتُ فَأْتِنِي، قَالَ: فَذَهَبْتُ إِلَى أَهْلِي وَقَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْمَدِينَةَ وَكُنْتُ فِي أَهْلِي، فَجَعَلْتُ أَتَخَبَّرُ الأَخْبَارَ وَأَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ حِينَ قَدِمَ الْمَدِينَةَ حَتَّى قَدِمَ عَلَيَّ نَفَرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ يَثْرِبَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةَ فَقُلْتُ: مَا فَعَلَ هَذَا الرَّجُلُ الَّذِي قَدِمَ الْمَدِينَةَ؟ فَقَالُوا: النَّاسُ إِلَيْهِ سِرَاعٌ وَقَدْ أَرَادَ قَوْمُهُ قَتْلَهُ فَلَمْ يَسْتَطِيعُوا ذَلِكَ، فَقَدِمْتُ الْمَدِينَةَ فَدَخَلْتُ عَلَيْهِ فَقُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَتَعْرِفُنِي؟ قَالَ: نَعَمْ، أَنْتَ الَّذِي لَقِيتَنِي بِمَكَّةَ، قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: بَلَى فَقُلْتُ: يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ أَخْبِرْنِي عَمَّا عَلَّمَكَ اللَّهُ وَأَجْهَلُهُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الصَّلاةِ قَالَ: صَلِّ صَلاةَ الصُّبْحِ ثُمَّ أَقْصِرْ عَنِ الصَّلاةِ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ حَتَّى تَرْتَفِعَ، فَإِنَّهَا تَطْلُعُ حِينَ تَطْلُعُ بَيْنَ قَرْنَيْ شَيْطَانٍ وَحِينَئِذٍ يَسْجُدُ لَهَا الْكُفَّارُ، ثُمَّ صَلِّ فَإِنَّ الصَّلاةَ مَشْهُودَةٌ مَحْضُورَةٌ حَتَّى يَسْتَقِلَّ الظِّلُّ بِالرُّمْحِ، ثُمَّ أَقْصِرْ عَنِ الصَّلاةِ فَإِنَّ حِينَئِذٍ تُسْجَرُ جَهَنَّمُ، فَإِذَا أَقْبَلَ الْفَيْءُ فَصَلِّ فَإِنَّ الصَّلاةَ مَشْهُودَةٌ مَحْضُورَةٌ حَتَّى تُصَلِّيَ الْعَصْرَ، ثُمَّ أَقْصِرْ عَنِ الصَّلاةِ حَتَّى تَغْرُبَ الشَّمْسُ فَإِنَّهَا تَغْرُبُ بَيْنَ قَرْنَيْ شَيْطَانٍ وَحِينَئِذٍ يَسْجُدُ لَهَا الْكُفَّارُ. قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ فَالْوُضُوءَ حَدِّثْنِي عَنْهُ قَالَ: مَا مِنْكُمْ رَجُلٌ يُقَرِّبُ وَضُوءَهُ فَيَتَمَضْمَضُ وَيَسْتَنْشِقُ فَيَنْتَثِرُ إِلا خَرَّتْ خَطَايَا وَجْهِهِ وَفِيهِ وَخَيَاشِيمِهِ، ثُمَّ إِذَا غَسَلَ وَجْهَهُ كَمَا أَمَرَهُ اللَّهُ إِلا خَرَّتْ خَطَايَا وَجْهِهِ مِنْ أَطْرَافِ لِحْيَتِهِ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، ثُمَّ يَغْسِلُ يَدَيْهِ إِلَى الْمِرْفَقَيْنِ إِلا خَرَّتْ خَطَايَا يَدَيْهِ مِنْ أَنَامِلِهِ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، ثُمَّ يَمْسَحُ رَأْسَهُ إِلا خَرَّتْ خَطَايَا رَأْسِهِ مِنْ أَطْرَافِ شَعْرِهِ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، ثُمَّ يَغْسِلُ قَدَمَيْهِ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ إِلا خَرَّتْ خَطَايَا رِجْلَيْهِ مِنْ أَنَامِلِهِ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، فَإِنْ هُوَ قَامَ فَصَلَّى فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ وَمَجَّدَهُ بِالَّذِي هُوَ لَهُ أَهْلٌ وَفَرَّغَ قَلْبَهُ لِلَّهِ إِلا انْصَرَفَ مِنْ خَطِيئَتِهِ كَهَيْئَتِهِ يَوْمَ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ.
فَحَدَّثَ عَمْرُو بْنُ عَبَسَةَ بِهَذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَبَا أُمَامَةَ صَاحِبَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ لَهُ أَبُو أُمَامَةَ: يَا عَمْرَو بْنَ عَبَسَةَ انْظُرْ مَا تَقُولُ فِي مَقَامٍ وَاحِدٍ يُعْطَى هَذَا الرَّجُلُ؟ فَقَالَ عَمْرٌو: يَا أَبَا أُمَامَةَ لَقَدْ كَبِرَتْ سِنِّي وَرَقَّ عَظْمِي وَاقْتَرَبَ أَجَلِي وَمَا بِي حَاجَةٌ أَنْ أَكْذِبَ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَلا عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ لَوْ لَمْ أَسْمَعْهُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِلا مَرَّةً أَوْ
[294 [(832) مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاثًا حَتَّى عَدَّ سَبْعَ مَرَّاتٍ مَا حَدَّثْتُ بِهِ أَبَداً، وَلَكِنِّي سَمِعْتُهُ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ» [مسلم رقم
“I was in the state of the Ignorance (before embracing Islam) and I used to think that the people were in error and they were not on anything (which may be called the right path) and they worshipped the idols. Meanwhile I heard of a man in Mecca who was giving news (on the basis of his prophetic knowledge, so I rode my riding animal and went to him. The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) was at that time hiding since his people had made life extremely hard for him through persecution. In order to see him I entered Mecca discreetly and carefully (and thus managed) and go to him, and I said to him: Who are you? He said: I am a Prophet (of Allah). I asked: Who is a Prophet? He said: I have been sent by Allah (as a Messenger). I asked: What is that which you have been sent with? He said: I have been sent to (command that we) join ties of relationship (with kindness and affection), break the idols, proclaim and practice the oneness of Allah (yuwahidu = tauheed) and not to associate with Him any other partners (shirk). I said: Who is with you in this (affair)? He said: A free man and a slave. [The sub-narrator said: Abu Bakr and Bilal were there with him among those who had embraced Islam by that time.] I said: I am following you. He said: You are not be able to in these days (of persecution). Don’t you see the condition under which I and (my) people are living? You better go back to your people and when you hear that I have been granted victory and dominance, come to me. So I went to my family. I was in my home when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) came to Medina. I was among my people and used to seek news and ask people when he arrived in Medina. Then a group of people belonging to Yathrib (Medina) came. I said (to them): How is that person getting on who has come to Medina? They said: The people are hastening to him, while his people (the polytheists and the idolaters of Mecca) planned to kill him, but they could not do so. I came to Medina (on hearing this news) and went to him and said: Messenger of Allah, do you recognize me? He said: Yes, you are the same man who met me at Mecca. I said: It is so. And I said: Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me that which Allah has taught you and which I do not know, tell me about the prayer. He said: Observe the dawn prayer, then stop praying when the sun is rising till it Is fully up, for when it rises it comes up between the horns of Satan, and the unbelievers prostrate themselves to it at that time. Then pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended (by angels) till the shadow becomes about the length of a lance; then cease prayer, for at that time Hell is heated up. Then when the shadow moves forward, pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended by angels, till you pray the afternoon prayer, then cease prayer till the sun sets, for it sets between the horns of devil, and at that time the unbelievers prostrate themselves before it. I said: Apostle of Allah, tell me about ablution also. He said: None of you who uses water for ablution and rinses his mouth, snuffs up water and blows it, but the sins of his face, and his mouth and his nostrils fall out. When he washes his face, as Allah has commanded him, the sins of his face fall out from the end of his beard with water. Then (when) he washes his forearms up to the elbows, the sins of his arms fall out along with water from his finger-tips. And when he wipes his head, the sins of his head fall out from the points of his hair along with water. And (when) he washes his feet up to the ankles, the sins of his feet fall out from his toes along with water. And if he stands to pray and praises Allah, lauds Him and glorifies Him with what becomes Him and shows wholehearted devotion to Allah, his sins would depart leaving him (as innocent) as he was on the day his mother bore him. Amr ibn Abasa narrated this hadith to Abu Umama, a Companion of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), and Abu Umama said to him: ‘Amr ibn Abasa, think what you are saying that such (a great reward) is given to a man at one place (only in the act of ablution and prayer). Upon this ‘Amr said: Abu Umama, I have grown old and my bones have become weak and I am at the door of death; what impetus is there for me to attribute a lie to Allah and the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? Had I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) once, twice, or three times (even seven times), I would have never narrated it, but I have heard it from him on occasions more than these.” [End of quote from Sahih Muslim: Book 4/ no. 1812, and note that this is a new translation different from those in publication].
> Some of the Many Benefits and Lessons from this Hadith
> On Seeking Knowledge for Benefit
This story shows us that when a moral and astute person observes falsehood, ignorance, and evilness around him, he avoid this all and seeks knowledge, the truth and the good. Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of those moral and astute persons, upon the “Fitra” which makes him incline naturally to truth and good and away from falsehood and evil. This “Fitra” inspired in him a natural hatred of the ugly situation of idolatry and polytheism around him, and a burning desire to learn how to change the situation and find truth and benefit. The desire to learn cannot be imposed from outside: it must be inspired from within the person, even though a skillful teacher may help to nurture it. To remove his ignorance and gain insight, Amr journeyed by camel into hostile territory with all its dangers and hardships. Once he had heard about ‘a man in Mecca who was giving news’ he hurried to investigate and confirm the news, not relying on second hand accounts and the false propaganda of the Quraish tribe against the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.
Any society in which idolatry and polytheism is dominant is an ideologically and morally bankrupt society, without sure foundation, without substance. This state of decadence eventually will collapse from internal contradictions and conflicts even though it may persist for a while by the manipulations of the ruling class to perpetuate their interests. The people of such a society live empty and futile existences of idol worship, idolatry and paganism, superstition, and by the testimony of all human history, various forms of transgressions, injustice, foolishness, selfishness and hedonism, and all the debauchery and brute materialism which comes from such a society built upon idolism. The dominate group or class of people of ignorance and evil ways, who have been accustomed to privileges and luxuries, persecute anybody who threatens the status quo of their domination. For the Arabs at the time of the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, this privileged group was the influential wealthy people of the Qurash tribe of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula. In this adverse situation it is natural that the people of truth start only as a small group and take time to grow and prosper. Unswerving truth, independence, courage and patience in the face of oppression are rare qualities among peoples accustomed to submission to their own desires and the dominance of one group over others.
> On Nabi (Prophet) and Rasool (Messenger)
Muhammad ibn Abdullah of the Arab Quraish tribe, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, is both Nabi (Prophet) and Rasool (Messenger), which means he received from Allah the Almighty divine revelation and prophecy, and moreover a mission from Allah to act upon revelation and prophecy to fulfill that mission. He was commissioned and sent from Allah for the salvation of mankind as a mercy for them. The successful accomplishment of any mission takes time, a series of steps and a program to execute the mission. The exceptional wisdom, patience and mercy of the Prophet for his followers and for the success of the mission and for all mankind, lead him to wisely not rush into a confrontation with the henchmen and gangs of the brutal persecutors who only act upon the signals from the powers that be – those that give orders and have the real political and economic power. Some enthusiastic youths may wish to rush into such a confrontation, to boldly proclaim and force the mission in front of the powers that be and their gangs, as in the famous tradition about the Islam of the companion Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, as will be mentioned in full below
> On Tauheed and Shahadah
Here a crucial issue of Islamic jurisprudence arises about the proclamation of the Shahadah (testimony) of the Kalimat-al-Tauheed (word of monotheism): to testify that “LA ILAHA ILLALLAH” [‘there is no god (or deity or being worthy of worship) except Allah.’] We do not find the actual words of the Shahadah in this narration of the story Amr ibn Abasa as-Sulami’s Islam, even thought we know that the words are required to become a Muslim. It cannot be that he did not say this proclamation. Any doubt about this is unwarranted and a clear mistake since many proofs prove that Amr did say the Shahadah, the Kalimat-al-Tauheed “LA ILAHA ILLALLAH. ”
This can be proven by the verse of the Qur`an wherein Allah the Almighty and Majestic informs us:
(( وما ارسلنا من قبلك من رسول إلا نوحي اليه أنه لا إله إلا أنا فاعبدون))
“And We did not send a messenger before you, except that We revealed to him that LA ILAHA ILLA ANA (ALLAH) [there is no deity worthy of worship except Me (Allah)], so worship Me.” (Anbiya`a 21:25) This shows that all of the Messengers of Allah received this word and that they worshiped Allah and called their communities and nations to Allah. Indeed as we know from countless proofs of the Qur`an and Sunnah, their primary mission was to practice and call the people to the practice of “LA ILAHA ILLALLAH.”
We have the verse universally warning against the great sin of polytheism and idolatry (Shirk), informing us that this message was sent to all the messengers of Allah, wherein Allah the Almighty and Majestic says:
((ولقد أوحي اليك والي الذين من قبلك لئن أشركت ليحبطن عملك ولتكونن من الخاسرين ))
“And ask those of Our messengers whom we sent before you, ‘Did we make other deities to be worshipped besides Allah?” [az-Zukhruf (43/45]
We also find the following comprehensive verse:
((وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ))
“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tagoout (all false deities, and whoever is pleased with the false worship).Then of them, were some whom Allah guided, and of them, were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth). (Qur’ân surat-al-Nahl 16:36)”
The message of all the Prophets of Allah started with the command to worship Allah, and warned against Shirk, as mentioned repeatedly in the Qur`an. For instance when He related the first words of their message saying:
((يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُواْ اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـهٍ غَيْرُهُ))
“O my people, worship Allah! You have no other god but Him.” (al-A’araaf 7:59, 65, 73, 85]
These verses above, and many others, prove conclusively that the first and foremost teaching is about these words of the Shahadah and their meanings and import. Thus it cannot be the case except that the first and primary teachings taught to Amr may Allah be pleased with him, was about this statement of monotheism and its essential meanings.
This can also be proved generally by the Hadith of Abdullah ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, when the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal may Allah be pleased with him to Yemen. Ibn Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with them, narrates:
وَعَنِ ابنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ r لَمَّا بَعَثَ مُعَاذَاً إِلَى اليَمَنِ قَالَ لَهُ: (إِنَّكَ تَأْتِي قَوْمَاً مِنْ أَهْلِ الكِتَابِ ، فَلْيَكُنْ أَوَّلُ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ شَهَادَةَ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ فَإِنْ هُمْ أَطَاعُوكَ لِذَلِكَ، فَأَعْلِمْهُمْ أَنَّ اللهَ افْتَرَضَ عَلَيْهِمْ خَمْسَ صَلَواتٍ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ، فَإِنْ هُمْ أَطَاعُوكَ لِذَلِكَ: فَأَعْلِمْهُمْ أَنَّ اللهَ افْتَرَضَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُؤْخَذُ مِنْ أَغْنِيَائِهِمْ فَتُرَدُّ عَلَى فُقَرَائِهِمْ، فَإِنْ هُمْ أَطَاعُوكَ لِذَلِكَ فَإِيَّاكَ وَكَرَائِمَ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ، وَاتَّقِ دَعْوَةَ المَظْلُومِ، فَإِنَّهُ لَيْسَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ اللهِ حِجَابٌ) [أَخْرِجَاهُ. وفي روايات اخرى نجد الفاظ متقاربة المعنى: 1… فليكن أول ما تدعوهم إلى أن يوحدوا الله تعالى، فإذا عرفوا ذلك… 2…فليكن أول ما تدعوهم إليه عبادة الله عز وجل فإذا عرفوا الله فأخبرهم…3 …فادعهم إلى شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله وأني رسول الله، فإن هم أطاعوا لذلك فأعلمنهم…4 …فليكن أول ما تدعوهم إليه عبادة الله عز وجل، فإذا عرفوا الله فأخبرهم … 5…إلى أن يعبدوا الله…. رواه البخارى (1395)، ومسـلم (31)، والنسائى (5/3)، وإبن ماجة (1783)، (1/568)، والدارمى (1662)، (1/318)، وأحمد (233/1)، و رواية التوحيد في البخارى (7372) و مسلم (79).]
“When the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, sent Mu`adth to Yemen, he commended him: ‘You will come upon people of the Scripture, so let your first act be to call them to witness that there is no god except Allah if they obey you in this, inform them that Allah has made it a duty for them to offer prayer (Salat) five times a day. If they obey you in this, then inform them that Allah has laid upon them the duty of charity (Zakat) to be levied from their rich and distributed to their poor. If they obey you in this, then by careful not to take the best of their properties (as payment of Zakat), and safeguard yourself against the supplication of who has suffered injustice because there is no veil between his supplication and Allah.” Related by both al-Bukhari and Muslim and many others, and in other versions of this tradition we find significant variations which all carry the same general meaning: 1) “to actualize ‘Tauheed’ of Allah;” 2) “to believe in Allah;” 3) “to know Allah;” 4) “to worship Allah;” 5) “to testify that ‘LA ILAHA ILLALLAH.’”
This Hadith makes it very clear that Tauheed (monotheism), Iman (faith), ‘Ilm-billahi (knowledge of Allah), worship of Allah ((Ibaditi-llahi) and the Shahdah (testimony, witness) of ‘LA ILAHA ILLALLAH’ are the first obligatory duties of a Muslim, and the first thing to be called to and taught about Islam since all else is built upon it.
The fact that ‘LA ILAHA ILLALLAH’ is the first obligation is proved also by the particular Hadith about the Islam of the companion Abu Dtharr, may Allah be pleased with him. Al-Bukhari reports on the authority of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them:
قال البخاري اسلام أبي ذر حدثنا عمرو بن عباس حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن مهدي عن المثنى عن أبي حمزة عن ابن عباس قال لما بلغ أبا ذر رضي اللـه عنه مبعث رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال لأخيه اركب إلى هذا الوادي فاعلم لي علم هذا الرجل الذي يزعم أنه نبي يأتيه الخبر من السماء فاسمع من قوله ثم ائتني فانطلق الآخر حتى قدمه وسمع من كلامه ثم رجع إلى أبي ذر فقال له رأيته يأمر بمكارم الأخلاق وكلاما ما هو بالشعر فقال ما شفيتني مما أردت فتزود وحمل شنة فيها ماء حتى قدم مكة فاتى المسجد فالتمس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولا يعرفه وكره أن يسأل عنه حتى أدركه بعض الليل اضطجع فرآه علي فعرف أنه غريب فلما رآه تبعه ولم يسأل واحد منهما صاحبه عن شيء حتى أصبح ثم احتمل قربته وزاده إلى المسجد وظل ذلك اليوم ولا يراه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم حتى أمسى فعاد إلى مضجعه فمر به علي فقال أما آن للرجل يعلم منزله فاقامه فذهب به معه لا يسأل واحد منهما صاحبه عن شيء حتى إذا كان يوم الثالث فعاد علي مثل ذلك فاقام معه فقال ألا تحدثني بالذي أقدمك قال إن أعطيتني عهدا وميثاقا لترشدني فعلت ففعل فأخبره قال فانه حق وأنه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فاذا أصبحت فاتبعني فاني إن رأيت شيئا أخاف عليك قمت كأني أريق الماء وإن مضيت فاتبعني حتى تدخل مدخلي ففعل فانطلق يقفوه حتى دخل على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ودخل معه فسمع من قوله وأسلم مكانه فقال له النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ارجع إلى قومك فاخبرهم حتى يأتيك أمري فقال والذي بعثك بالحق لاصرخن بها بين ظهرانيهم فخرج حتى أتى المسجد فنادى باعلا صوته اشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله ثم قام فضربوه حتى اضجعوه فاتى العباس فاكب عليه فقال ويلكم ألستم تعلمون أنه من غفار وأن طريق تجارتكم إلى الشام فانقذه منهم ثم عاد من الغد بمثلها فضربوه وثاروا اليه [هذا لفظ البخاري وقد جاء اسلامه مبسوطا في صحيح مسلم] فاكب العباس عليه
Ibn Abbas narrates, may Allah be pleased with them: “When the news of the advent of the Prophet reached Abu Dthar, may Allah be pleased with him, he said to his brother, “Ride to this valley and bring me the news of this man (i.e. the Prophet) who claims to be a Prophet receiving information from the Heaven. Listen to him and then come to me.” His brother set out till he met the Prophet and listened to his speech and returned to Abu Dthar and said to him, “I have seen him exhorting people to virtues and his speech was not like poetry.” Abu Dthar said, “You have not satisfied me as to what I wanted.” So, he took his journey-food and a water-skin full of water and set out till he reached Mecca, where he went to the Mosque looking for the Prophet, whom he did not know, and he would not like to ask someone about him. So, a portion of the night had passed when ‘Ali saw him and realized that he was a stranger. Abu Dthar followed him (to his house), but neither of them asked the other about anything till it was morning, when he carried his water-skin and food and went to the Mosque. He spent that day without being observed by the Prophet till it was night, when he returned to his sleeping place. ‘Ali again passed by him and said, “Hasn’t the man (i.e. Abu Dthar) recognized his dwelling place yet?” So, ‘Ali let him get up and took him (to his house), but neither of them asked the other about anything, till it was the third day when ‘Ali had the same experience with him and Abu Dhar again stayed with him. ‘Ali then asked, “Won’t you tell me what has brought you here?” He replied, “If you give me a promise and a convention that you will guide me, then I will tell you.” When ‘Ali did, Abu Dthar informed him (of his purpose). ‘Ali said, “It is the Truth, and he (i.e. Muhammad) is the Apostle of Allah. So when the morning comes, follow me, and if I should perceive any danger threatening you, I will give you a hint by pretending to go to the relieve myself. If I carried on walking, follow me till you enter the place that I will enter.” Abu Dthar agreed and followed ‘Ali till he entered the place of the Prophet and Abu Dthar entered with him. He then listened to the speech of the Prophet and embraced Islam on that very spot. The Prophet said to him, “Go back to your people and inform them (of this religion) till you receive my (further) orders.” Abu Dthar said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I will proclaim my conversion to Islam publicly amongst them (i.e. infidels).” He went out till he reached the Mosque and announced as loudly as possible, “I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.” The people then got up and beat him till they knocked him down. Al-Abbas came and threw himself over him (to protect him) saying, Woe to you! Don’t you know that he is from (the tribe of) Ghifar and there is the route (road) to your merchants towards Sham (i.e. through the place where this tribe dwells)?” Thus he saved him from them. Abu Dhar did the same on the next day and the people beat him again and Al-‘Abbas drew himself over him (to save him as before). [al-Bukhari ,Vol. 4, Book 56, No. 724]
Thus the specific narrations of Amr’s Islam and of Abu Dthar’s Islam both show that the Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him from Allah, knew with certainty, even in that early stage under severe and brutal persecutions, that in time this word of ‘LA ILAHA ILLALLAH’ will become dominate and supreme.
The foundation of all Islam is contained in these four points which the Messenger, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, taught Amr, may Allah be pleased with him:
1) enjoining the family ties and bonds;
2) destruction of the symbols of idolatry in ones heart, household and environment;
3) belief and practice of Tauheed (Islamic monotheism);
4) the sincere practice of Tauheed includes avoiding completely the worship and association of others with Allah (shirk), including all the deities and demigods that were predominate in the pagan Arab era.
Thus we see two positive ‘affirmative action’ agendas and two negative ‘defensive action’ agendas. Both are ‘pro-active’ in our modern language and jargon, engaging the situation and confronted the circumstances with boldness. Keeping and protecting family ties and bonds, and the belief and practice of Tauheed (Islamic monotheism) are the two positive affirmative aspect of the mission. The destruction of the symbols of idolatry, and the complete avoidance of ‘Shirk’ (the worship and association of others with Allah) including avoiding all the deities and demigods are the two negative defensive action aspects of the mission.
Linguistically this Hadith is very important since it contains the actual word Tauheed, meaning Islamic monotheism, although not in the gerund form “Tauheed”
[توحيد] but in declination of the gerund as “wa ann yuwahhada Allah” [ وأَنْ يُوَحَّدَ اللَّهُ ] meaning to make Allah one in belief, faith and practice of worship.
Another proof of the primacy of Tauheed, beyond what has been mentioned above, is that the sincere practice of Tauheed is to be taught before everything else even salat (prayer) as we find conclusively in this hadith. This is derived from the fact that Amr remained all those years with what the Messenger peace be upon him, taught him, which apparently did not include the details of Salat (prayer) since the first thing he asks about when he finally comes to Madinah is Salat saying: “Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me that which Allah has taught you and which I do not know, tell me about the prayer,” which shows conclusively that he did not know the necessary details about Salat.
>On Patience in Obedience of the Messenger r and Waiting for Victory during times of Weakness and Persecution
From the hadith above of Abu Dtharr, may Allah be pleased with him, we clearly see that the Messenger asked Abu Dtharr to refrain from exposing himself to the wrath of the Quraish’s persecution, ascertaining that that there is no need to unnecessarily expose himself and others to harm. As the narration of Abu Jamra in Bukhari following this narration says: “He said to me, ‘O Abu Dthar! Keep your conversion as a secret and return to your locality. When you hear of our dominance return to us.” I said, ‘By Him Who has sent you with the Truth, I will announce my conversion to Islam publicly amongst them (the polytheists).’” Abu Dthar himself in another narration of the Hadith on his acceptance of Islam indicates that he had a need in himself to publicly proclaim with brash boldness, the word of Tauheed to the polytheists of Mecca. Strictly speaking Abu Dtharr, may Allah forgive him, did a form of disobedience to the Prophet in his courageous foray into the midst of the Qurash with the testimony of ‘LA ILAHA ILL-A-LLAH’ and their severe beating of him upon hearing these words. We know he only intended good and the elevation of Allah the Almighty over the false idols of the Quraish polytheists, nevertheless his good intentions could have resulted in repercussions of brutality and violence against all the companions in their state of vulnerability and weakness and even the Prophet himself, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.
Amr ibn Abasah, on the other hand, may Allah be pleased with him and Abi Dthar, obeyed strictly the Prophet may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him by going to his people directly and waiting for the news of the ascendancy of the Prophet and Islam. Everything has a more proper time and place, as this Hadith clearly teaches. It is amazing that we find that many Muslims remember and repeat the story of Abu Dthar, may Allah be pleased with him, while often they are totally ignorant about or rarely mention the story of Amr ibn Abasah, may Allah be pleased with him, with all its important lessons of obedience and patience. Even when the wisdom of obedience and patience is not apparent and we deem that some hasty rash behavior is best, we should heed the advise of those wiser, elder and more experienced that us. Patience with proper planning and execution of plans is more successful than hasty rash behavior in attaining the desired goal of all Muslims: final victory, conquest and dominance of Allah’s true and just religion over the tyrannies that harm mankind and cause immense suffering.
> On Destroying Idols
This Hadith proves that the order to destroy the idols and the symbols of idol worship was directed to those new in Islam, even before the details of prayer. The actual breaking of the idols, a supreme political action, was accomplished only after final military control of Mecca, which did not take place until the conquest of Mecca around 20 years after the Messenger may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him spoke these words and taught Amr these basics of Islam. The Holy Sanctuary of the Masjid al-Haram with the Honorable Ka’ba – the ultimate symbol of monotheism and unity of all believers in Allah since it had been built by Ibrahim and Isma`il, peace be upon them, as the first house dedicated solely to the worship of Allah – had become desecrated by the pagan Arabs with 360 different pagan idols in its precincts. The Messenger may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him entered Mecca after the conquest and began destroying these vile idols one by one while reciting the verse:
َقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا))))
“And Say: ‘Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely! Falsehood is ever bound to vanish.’” [17:81.
Bukhari and others report:
عن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال: دخل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مكة وحول الكعبة ثلاثمائة وستون نصباً — وفي رواية صنماً– فجعل يطعنها بعود في يده ، وجعل يقول (جاء الحق وزهق الباطل الآية).
“The Prophet of Allah entered Mecca and around the Ka’ba were 360 alters (and in a narration ‘idols’) and he struck them with a rod he had in his hand and said: ‘Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely! Falsehood is ever bound to vanish.’”
The significance lesson of this here is in the timing of this action. The Hadith proves that the destruction of idols and the symbols of false worship is associated with one’s ability and the benefit of that destruction. Thus it is not necessary to immediately destroy the idols when one does not have power and when one realizes that they will only be rebuilt and that the worship of other than Allah will not be subdued, which will not fulfill the goal of their destruction. Breaking idols is a way of absolving oneself from the worship of idols, and it is known that this necessitate intense hatred of the idols, all forms of the idol worship, and those that worship the idols. This is the way of Abraham the father of the Arabs line of the Quraish tribe when he said to his sons:
((وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الأَصْنَامَ))
“And (remember) when Ibrahim said: “O my Lord! Make this city (Makkah) one of peace and security, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.” [14/35].
Allah also says of His Messenger Ibrahim, peace be upon him:
(( قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَاء مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاء أَبَدًا حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ …))
“Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever, until you believe in Allah Alone…” [60/4]
The point of emphasis here is that not only love of Allah and his Messengers and the believers is necessary in the religion of Allah, but hatred of the idols and the evil idol worship and of those who promote and perpetuate this evil is also a necessary part of Allah’s religion.
The Prophet sent Khalid ibn Waleed, Amr ibn ‘Aas, Jareer and others of his companions, may Allah be pleased with them, to destroy the idols of the Arab pagan tribes only after his victory in Makkah. The traditions of their expeditions are well known. Not only were idols destroyed but other objects of worship like raised graves and the mausoleums also, as the tradition of Ali ibn Abi Talib may Allah be pleased with him, when he sent Abul-Hayyaj al-Asadi on a mission:
((أَلا أَبْعَثُكَ عَلَى مَا بَعَثَنِي عَلَيْهِ رَسُولُ اللهِ r ؟ أَلاَّ تَدَعَ صُورَةً إِلاَّ طَمَسْتَهَا، ولا قَبْرَاً مُشْرِفَاً إِلاَّ سَوَّيْتَهُ))
“Shouldn’t I commission you with what the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, commissioned me with? Do not leave a picture but that you blot it out, and do leave a raised grave but that you level it.” [Reported by Muslim].
We find that the second coming of Jesus will be one of uncompromising wrath upon those that took Jesus as their god to be worshipped other than the one and only God – Allah – as in the tradition of Abu Hurairah may Allah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, peace and blessing be upon him:
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم “والذي نفسي بيده ليوشكن أن ينزل فيكم ابن مريم حكما عدلا , فيكسر الصليب , ويقتل الخنزير , ويضع الجزية ويفيض المال حتى لا يقبله أحد”
“In Whose hands the soul of Muhammad (resides), it will be soon that the son of Mary will descend among you as a just ruler, and he will break the crosses, and kill the pigs, and not accept the poll tax (upon the people of the Scripture), and money will becomes so abundant (in his era) that no one will accept it.” [Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim and others]
The cross is the idol of the Christians and their symbol par excellence of worshiping Jesus as the Son of God, one of their holy trinity.
It is informative to note that Khalid bin Waleed’s, first act as military commander, out of many of his outstanding and daring military exploits, was a tactical retreat to save the precious lives of the companions in the expedition of Mu`tah in the 8th year of Hijra when the three leaders that had been appointed by the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him were all martyred in the battle and Khalid took the lead, may Allah be pleased with him. Praiseworthy valor is by the intelligence and benefit of a deed and not just bravery. As it is explained in the renowned book of biography ‘Raheeq al-Makhtoom’ about Mu`tah: “The honour was unanimously granted to Khalid bin Al-Waleed, a skilled brave fighter and an outstanding strategist. It was reported by Al-Bukhari that he used nine swords that broke while he was relentlessly and courageously fighting the enemies of Islam. He, however, realizing the grave situation the Muslims were in, began to follow a different course of encounter, revealing the super strategy-maker, that Khalid was rightly called. He reshuffled the right and left flanks of the Muslim army and introduced forward a division from the rear in order to cast fear into the hearts of the Byzantine by deluding them that fresh reinforcements had arrived. The Muslims engaged with the enemies in sporadic skirmishes but gradually and judiciously retreating in a fully organized and well-planned withdrawal.”
> On the Promise of eventual Victory, Conquest, and Dominance
During the persecution and torture of the Muslims in Makkah, Khabab ibn Arat, may Allah be pleased with him, a Muslim slave in the hands of the Makkan polytheists who would inflict severe torture upon him, said:
وعن خباب بن الأرت قال شكونا إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو متوسد بردة في ظل الكعبة وقد لقينا من المشركين شدة فقلنا الا تدعو الله فقعد وهو محمر وجهه وقال: “كان الرجل فيمن كان قبلكم يحفر له في الأرض فيجعل فيه فيجاء بمنشار فيوضع فوق رأسه فيشق باثنين فما يصده ذلك عن دينه والله ليتمن هذا الأمر حتى يسير الراكب من صنعاء إلى حضرموت لا يخاف إلا الله أو الذئب على غنمه ولكنكم تستعجلون.” [ رواه البخاري و غيره]
“We went to the Messenger of Allah who was sitting in the shade of the Ka’ba and complained about the brutality (of the torture we were suffering). We requested from the Messenger of Allah to pray to Allah (for our help and salvation and against these persecutors). He sat red in the face and said: “Some of the people before us were made to lie in a ditch and would be cut in two with saws but this did not make him forsake religion. Surely Allah will perfect this religion (and make it dominant). A day will come when a rider will travel alone from San’a (in mountainous part of Yemen) to Hadramawt (in the southern part of Yemen) fearing nothing but Allah (whom is rightfully feared) and wolves who may attack the sheep and goats. However, you show impatience and undue haste.” In another narration Habbab concluded: By Allah, what God’s Messenger predicted that day, has all come true. I have personally witnessed it all. [al-Bukhari, Abu Da`ood].
There are many verses and traditions about the eventual victory, conquest, dominance and sovereignty of Islam and the Muslims, and this is an essential article of faith of all Muslims even if the believers become distressed by the persecutions they suffer at the hands of the transgressors and tyrants, and some weak of those that cal themselves Muslims deny it.
As Allah the Exalted says:
(( أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّهِ أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ))
“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” [2/214].
Allah the Exalted said: says:
(( إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ وَتِلْكَ الأيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنكُمْ شُهَدَاء وَاللّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ))
“If a wound (and killing) has touched you, be sure a similar wound (and killing) has touched the others. And We give days (some good and some otherwise) to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the wrong doers.” [3/140].
The promise of Allah in many verses and traditions is sure and of no doubt: His religion of Islam will reign supreme over all the religions that man innovates for himself for the exploitation of some over others. Allah says:
((هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ))
“It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it supreme (and superior) over all religions even though the polytheists and idolaters hate (it).” [ 9/33, 61/9]
> On Salat (Prayer) and Wudu` (Ablution)
There are numerous benefits derived from this Hadith on Salat (prayer) and Wudu (ablution) the first of which are the importance of knowing the exact times of the five obligatory prayer as explained in this Hadith. To make prayer in the proper time is a precondition for a correct acceptable Salat since once the time goes the prayer in only made then by way of expiation of the sin of missing the prescribed time.
The Hadith includes the command not to imitate the idol worshippers who prostate to the Sun whereas actually they are prostrating to the Satan the one who initiates and calls to all idolatry and evil as other verses and traditions confirm.
After explaining the times of prayer the Prophet may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him explains the manner of Wudu` (ablution) and its virtues for the forgiveness of sins of each part of the body, since ablution is also a pre-condition of prayer as in the Hadith: “No Prayer is accepted without purification, and no charity is accepted from earnings made from impermissible sources.” (Muslim)
The Messenger may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him emphasizes the importance of sincerity in prayer “And if he stands to pray and praises Allah, lauds Him and glorifies Him with what becomes Him and shows wholehearted devotion to Allah, his sins would depart leaving him (as innocent) as he was on the day his mother bore him.” Here the idiomatic expression may also be translated as ‘make empty ones heart’ meaning to clear it from worldly thoughts and make it purely for Allah’s remembrance, praise and glorification.
The fact that a Muslim prays to Allah at specified times in utmost ability of sincerity is a great mercy of Allah on man to help them remember the bounties of Allah, to refrain from evil thoughts, words and deeds, and to keep their hearts upon His remembrance. As Allah says
الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ))))
“Those who believe and whose hearts find tranquility in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility.”[13/28].
> On Forgiveness and Mercy of Allah is ultimate goal of a Muslim in all deeds
This Hadith informs us about the most basic requirements. It then moves to the goal and the highest objective of worship when accomplished with complete peace of heart and tranquility: complete forgiveness of sins “leaving him (as innocent) as he was on the day his mother bore him.” This, by grace and blessed promise of Allah, is their ultimate aim, and the scholars mention this is the aim of all believers in Allah’s creation from the beginning of time to the end of time as Allah says:
((إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا * لِيُعَذِّبَ اللَّهُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ وَيَتُوبَ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا))
“Truly, We did offer alAmanah (the trust, moral responsibility of all the duties which Allah has ordained) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). So that Allah will punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the men and women who are the polytheists and idolaters. And Allah will pardon (accept the repentance of) the true believers men and women. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [33/72-73]
Summery of the some Benefits and Lessons from this Hadith include:
Glory be to you Oh Allah and all praises and there is no god except You (Oh Allah) I seek that you forgive me and return to you in repentance.
الحمد لله رب العالمين الذي بعونه تتم الصالحات
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله المصطفى الأمين وآ له وصحبه ومن أتبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين
All praises for Allah who by His aid are all good deeds completed, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger Muhammad the Trustworthy One and his family and companions and those that follow them and their way until the Day of Judgment
اللهم صلّ على محمد وعلى آل محمد كما صليت على إبراهيم وعلى آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد وبارك على محمد وعلى آل محمد كما باركت على إبراهيم وعلى آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد
O Allah may the prayer (for all good) be upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as you have given your prayer (for all good) upon Ibraheem and the family of Ibraheem, – Verily you are Praiseworthy, Glorious. And bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as you have Ibraheem and the family of Ibraheem – Verily you are Praiseworthy, Glorious.
…If I have been correct in the words above then the praise is for Allah and His messenger only, who are the source of all Truth,, and if I have made any mistake then it is from me and the Shaitaan, and Allah and His Messenger are absolved and free of it. We ask Allah, the Most Gracious and Merciful, to accept our good deeds and forgive our misdeeds, only He, the Exalted, is al-Qareeb (the Near One) al-Mujeeb (the Acceptor). May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, and upon his family, his companions and his followers until the Last Day…
as George Soros famously said:
“Financial markets have a very safe way of predicting the future. They cause it.”
Interesting articles below on crisis of destructive parasitic capitalism of 0.01 % superrich in “financial markets”
Destructive Power of the Financial Markets
some highlights in BOLD
see especially in red
Graphic: The US financial industry
Speculators are betting against the euro, banks are taking incalculable risks and the markets are in turmoil. Three years after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the financial industry has become a threat to the global economy again. Governments missed the chance to regulate the industry, and another crash is just a matter of time. By SPIEGEL Staff.
The enemy looks friendly and unpretentious. With his scuffed shoes and thinning gray hair, John Taylor resembles an elderly sociology professor. Books line the dark, floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves in his office in Manhattan, alongside a bust of Theodore Roosevelt and an antique telescope. Taylor is the chairman and CEO of FX Concepts, a hedge fund that specializes in currency speculation. It’s the largest hedge fund of its kind worldwide, which is why Taylor is held partly responsible for the crash of the euro. Critics accuse Taylor and others like him of having exacerbated the government crisis in Greece and accelerated the collapse in Ireland. People like Taylor are “like a pack of wolves” that seeks to tear entire countries to pieces, said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg. For that reason, they should be fought “without mercy,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy raged. Andrew Cuomo, the former attorney general and current governor of New York, once likened short-sellers to “looters after a hurricane.” The German tabloid newspaper Bild sharply criticized Taylor on its website, writing: “This man is betting against the euro.” If that is what he is doing, he is certainly successful. While Greece is threatened with bankruptcy, Taylor is listed among the world’s 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers. A well-read man, Taylor likes to philosophize about the Congress of Vienna and the Treaties of Rome. But is this man really out to speculate the euro to death? And does he have Greece on his conscience? Taylor grimaces and sighs. He was expecting these questions. “The big problem is that in some cases these politicians are looking for the easy way out and want to blame somebody else and say speculators are taking Europe apart, taking the euro down and ruining the prosperity of our country,” he says, characterizing such charges against hedge fund managers as “nonsense.” “My capital isn’t the capital of the Rothschilds,” he says, insisting that he is working with the “capital of the people,” and that his goal is to protect and increase this capital. Taylor points out that no one from any of the German pension funds that invest their money with him has ever called him on the phone to tell him not to bet against the euro.
Markets Control Politicians
Taylor’s arguments echo those of everyone in the financial industry — the executives, the bankers and the big fund managers. They all insist that they are not responsible for the crisis in the euro zone and the turbulence in the financial markets, and that their actions are purely rational and in the interest of their investors. The truth is that the financial markets are controlling the politicians. If Sarkozy interrupts his vacation, the markets interpret his sudden return as a sign that the situation there is worse than they thought — and promptly set their sights on the country. And if there is an argument between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, then the markets target Italy, because they doubt that the Italian government is serious about introducing austerity measures. The markets take advantage of every weakness and every rumor to speculate against one country after the next. In doing so, they aggravate the crisis. Once a country has become the subject of rumors and speculation, other investors become nervous. Fearing further price declines, pension funds and insurance companies also start selling stocks and bonds. In the end, fear nurtures fear and a panic ensues. Stock markets are currently in turmoil. Even the most experienced equity traders cannot remember a time when prices fluctuated as widely from day to day — and often even within a single day — as they have in recent weeks. The German stock index, the DAX, fell by 5.8 percent last Thursday and lost another 2.2 percent the next day. There is no calm in sight for the global economy. Sharp declines on the stock market and crises have become an everyday reality. This raises the question of why the financial markets are so erratic. They have developed into a permanent threat to the global economy. But what can be done to avert this risk? It cannot be a coincidence that the number and scope of disruptions have increased with the expansion of the financial industry. The Asian financial crisis in the 1990s was followed by the bursting of the Internet bubble at the turn of the millennium. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, the financial world suddenly found itself on the brink of collapse. Now that the euro is at risk, and millions of people are afraid of their currency collapsing. A number of countries, including the United States, are groaning under debt burdens that run into the trillions.
Incalculable Risk Naturally the financial industry — all those who trade in securities, currencies, money and the products derived from them, known as derivatives — is not responsible for all the crises in the global economy. Politicians also share some of the blame, for having accumulated too much debt and given the banks too much leeway. But without the destructive power of the banks, hedge funds and other investment companies, the world would not be where it is today — at the edge of an abyss. The financial industry grew rapidly, as did the sums of money with which its players speculated on the prices of stocks, commodities and government bonds. The products they developed to turn money into even more money became more and more complex. At the same time, the risks they were willing to accept became incalculable. The sector’s high salaries tend to attract the best and brightest university graduates. The members of this youthful elite don’t devise new products that make people’s lives better, nor do they found new companies that further progress. Instead, these young financial wizards invest a great deal of money and effort to develop sophisticated financial products, the sole purpose of which is to generate more profit for both their employers and, ultimately, for themselves — sometimes at the expense of other market players or even their customers. Many things that happen on Wall Street and in London’s financial district are “socially useless,” says Lord Adair Turner, chairman of Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA). The values that are created there are often not real or of any use to society, Turner adds. Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, once remarked that the only truly useful financial innovation in the past 20 years is the cash machine. Once upon a time, the sole purpose of banks was to supply the economy with money. They were service providers, sources of energy for the economy, so to speak, but nothing more. But now the financial industry has largely disconnected itself from the manufacturing economy, transforming its role from subservient to dominant in the process. The potential upshot of this shift became evident less than three years ago. The banks had excessively foisted mortgages on Americans without paying much attention to their customers’ ability to repay these loans. They packaged the risks into new financial products and sold them on. But apparently very few people understood how these products actually worked. When the subprime bubble finally burst, it dragged down the entire financial industry with it. The major financial firms found themselves on the brink of bankruptcy and were forced to appeal to the government for help.
Lost Opportunity The assistance was provided, but a historic opportunity was squandered in the process. None of the powerful banks was broken up, and only a few of the dangerous financial products were banned. With the central banks lending money at low rates, speculation could continue. The financial industry recovered quickly as a result, and now it is just as powerful as it was before the crisis — and just as dangerous, for both the economy and society as a whole. Even passionate advocates of the market economy are now questioning how an economic system that functioned so well for so long could spin dangerously out of control. In a hard-hitting opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph on July 30, British journalist Charles Moore sharply criticized the banks for keeping profits while passing on losses to taxpayers. “The banks only ‘come home’ when they have run out of our money,” he wrote. “Then our governments give them more.” Moore asks himself whether the left, with its criticism of the capitalist system, might actually be right. The prominent German journalist Frank Schirrmacher, expounding on Moore’s commentary in the Sunday edition of the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote that a decade of economic policies based on loosely regulated financial markets is proving to be the “most successful” way to make the left-wing critique of free-market capitalism, which had fallen out of favor, popular again. Western societies have seldom been more divided, and never have income disparities been as great as they are today. In no other industry can someone get rich as quickly as in the financial industry, where investment bankers divide up a large share of the profits among themselves and hedge-fund managers earn annual incomes in the millions — and sometimes even in the billions. At the same time, the markets are constantly demanding higher returns. Those who do not meet their expectations are punished with declines in the price of their stock and higher borrowing costs. Companies, forced to adjust to these requirements, keep wages down and their workforces at a minimum. These differences are especially glaring in London, Europe’s most important financial center. Bankers live in the lap of luxury in the city’s exclusive neighborhoods, while poor neighborhoods are home to people who have abandoned all hope. Many observers see this disparity and loss of hope as one of the causes of the recent unrest.
‘The Inability of Economists to Correctly Interpret the World’And still, says Heiner Flassbeck, chief economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, “the time doesn’t seem ripe, and the crisis wasn’t severe enough, to grant — in defiance of the neoliberal zeitgeist — economic policy clear primacy over speculation-prone markets and to systematically restrict the financial industry to its function as a service provider to the real economy.”Flassbeck believes that the crises in the globalized economy have “a common root, namely the inability of economists to correctly interpret the world.” Because financial markets function in a completely different way from markets for goods, Flassbeck argues, they should never be left to their own devices. Of all people, it was an academic specializing in literary studies who managed to most accurately analyze the insanity of the financial markets and the impotence of economists. With his short 2010 book “Das Gespenst des Kapitals” (“The Specter of Capital”), Joseph Vogl wrote a closet bestseller that, despite being a tough read, attracted attention far beyond the arts section of newspapers — including among economists. His theory is that crises are not some kind of occupational hazard in the financial system. Instead, Vogl argues, it is the system itself that inevitably leads to new crises. Vogl is sitting in his office at Berlin’s Humboldt University, where he has a view of the Berlin Cathedral. He is dressed completely in black and is chain-smoking. Black-and-white photos on the wall depict his role models from Paris in the late 1960s: the philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and, holding a megaphone, Michel Foucault. Vogl was teaching at Princeton University when Lehman Brothers collapsed. He knew nothing about financial markets, and yet he was fascinated by the “confusing empiricism,” which had so little to do with theory. According to economic theory, the invisible hand of the market always leads to equilibrium, as Adam Smith wrote in his classic 1776 work “The Wealth of Nations,” which Vogl refers to as the “Bible of economists.” The same theory is still taught in universities today.
Tendency Toward Excess But the theory also tells us that today’s excesses in the financial markets should never have occurred. This leads Vogl to conjecture that “by no means does the capitalist economy behave the way it’s supposed to.” While the theory tends to be based on the economics of a village market, completely different circumstances apply in the financial markets, where both goods and expectations are being traded, and where speculative transactions are used to hedge against other speculative transactions. Vogl describes the principle as follows: “Someone who doesn’t have a product, and neither expects to have it nor will have it, sells this product to someone who also neither expects nor wants to have it, and in reality does not receive it.” This type of market will always have a tendency toward excess — in either direction. Paul Woolley holds the same view, but from a different perspective. He is intimately familiar with the financial markets, after having made millions working in the London financial district. He spent four years with the deeply traditional Barings Bank, which was eventually destroyed by a minor English trader in Singapore. He later worked for the American fund manager GSO, which specializes in making very rich people even richer. In Woolley’s experience, the idea that financial markets are efficient is erroneous. “All players in the financial markets behave rationally from their own perspective, but the outcome of this process can be disastrous for mankind,” he says. Woolley, 71, still wears a pinstriped suit, tie and white shirt, but now he works in a small office stuffed to the gills with academic studies at the renowned London School of Economics. Woolley donated 4 million pounds (€3.5 million) to the elite university and funded its Paul Woolley Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality. His goal is to prove how dangerous the financial markets are. “It’s like a tumor that keeps growing,” he says. According to Woolley, there is no justification for the fact that this industry brings in more than 40 percent of all US corporate profits and pays the highest salaries in good years, while in bad years it is bailed out by taxpayers.
‘Destroying Society’ In recent months, Woolley has spoken before the investment committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to major US fund managers at Harvard Law School. He is able to present his academic theories in the language of the market. And the turmoil on the markets is now so great that people are listening to this revolutionary in a pinstriped suit. The former fund manager had his light-bulb moment when, in 2000, the dot-com bubble burst. Woolley had repeatedly told his clients, which included many of the world’s major asset managers, that small, money-losing tech stocks would not always be valued in the billions on the market. But his warnings fell on deaf ears, and GMO’s clients withdrew 40 percent of their money when the company stopped investing in technology securities. Woolley has observed the same phenomenon again and again. “The herd runs behind a trend until a crash occurs.” Society, he says, also pays a high price for this behavior. “The financial industry is doing a pretty good job of destroying society,” says Woolley. Many of his former colleagues, he adds, have a guilty conscience because “they can’t believe that the financial industry is still getting away with it.” He feels that bankers have a strong incentive to design products to be as complex and non-transparent as possible. These products enable them to earn returns upwards of 25 percent, because customers simply do not understand the extent to which they are being had. Structured mortgage-backed securities, the risks of which even their creators no longer understood in the end, as well as credit default swaps, which allow investors to bet on the bankruptcies of entire countries, are only the best-known examples. The more activity there is in the markets, the higher the fluctuations and the greater the potential profits. There is little that the traders at investment banks and hedge funds fear more than a boring market, one in which the economy is humming along nicely and the prices show little movement. The conditions that are reassuring to managers and employees in the real economy often lead to depression in the financial sector. Two weeks ago, the share price of Société Générale, a major French bank, fell by 14 percent, after the British newspaper Daily Mail had reported the previous day on alleged problems at the bank. Even though the bank promptly denied the veracity of the report, the rumor had been set in motion. Apparently no one cared whether or not it was true. It was later rumored that journalists at the British paper had taken a piece of summer fiction printed in the French newspaper Le Monde, about a breakup of the euro zone and troubles at Société Générale in 2012, to be the truth — which the Daily Mail promptly denied.
Too Complex For Humans This story seems almost antiquated, because share prices are usually set by computers nowadays. When Deutsche Börse decided to move from Frankfurt to the nearby town of Eschborn, the town saw a rapid increase in the demand for air-conditioned basement space, where so-called high-frequency traders, as well as banks, set up their state-of-the-art supercomputers. These computers are programmed to independently buy or sell stocks at intervals down to the millisecond, which enables them to react to the latest trends in the market. Whoever has the fastest connection to the market stands the best chance of taking advantage of a critical millisecond and thus reacting to a price signal ahead of the competition. The computers are far more efficient than any human trader, because they can process hundreds of pieces of information per second. At the same time, such programs can also amplify — or even trigger — a crash. On May 6, 2010, prices on Wall Street plunged by almost 10 percent within a few minutes. To this day, no one knows exactly what caused the so-called Flash Crash. Because this sort of thing happens with growing frequency, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has imposed a waiting period on computers in emergency situations. If the price of a stock has dropped by 10 percent within five minutes, trading is temporarily halted, allowing the human players to consider whether there is in fact a real reason for the sharp decline. Woolley believes that this regulation is insufficient. He is calling for a strict ban on high-frequency trading, which, in his view, has no social value whatsoever. Computers have long set the tone in foreign currency trading. The currency markets are now too complex for humans to manage alone. “We realized that you couldn’t really manage this with the human thought process, it was too difficult, there were too many variables,” says New York hedge fund manager Taylor. Many of his roughly 60 employees are IT experts, mathematicians and engineers. They feed massive volumes of data into the computers, including figures on the gross domestic product of countries, interest rates, commodities prices and inflation rates. “The only thing the computers can’t handle are political developments, that is why we have me as Chief Investment Officer,” says Taylor, although he points out that the money ultimately follows the instructions that are spat out by the computers. But even Taylor isn’t entirely convinced of the myth of purely rational markets that obey nothing but the logic of numbers. For example, says Taylor, he is “sure” that legendary speculator George Soros is “plotting against the euro.” Although Soros denied such accusations in an interview with SPIEGEL last week, he also said: “Financial markets have a very safe way of predicting the future. They cause it.” The 81-year-old is one of the founders of the hedge fund industry. In the early 1990s, he suddenly became the quintessential unscrupulous speculator, one who takes advantage of even the tiniest weakness in the system without regard to the consequences. He borrowed 10 billion British pounds, then sold them on, triggering a wave of speculation that meant the Bank of England could no longer maintain the pound’s fixed exchange rates against the other currencies in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The pound had to be devalued and withdraw from the ERM. Soros was able to buy back the sum of money he had borrowed from the bank at a lower exchange rate. It was a bet that earned him more than $1 billion (€700 million).
Rushing Like Lemmings Toward the Abyss Normally individual speculators like Soros and Taylor cannot move the market to such a significant degree on their own. But they can establish a trend that others then follow. Investors adhere to a herd mentality and, like lemmings, they are prepared to rush headlong toward an abyss, provided a few individuals are heading in that direction with sufficient determination. As a result of the crisis, some of these speculation funds have become even larger and more powerful, with a number of smaller competitors being forced out of the business. Customers tend to prefer investing their money with bigger players, believing this to be the safer choice. For example, the hedge fund headed by John Paulson, currently the world’s most successful speculator, has grown to roughly $30 billion in assets in the last two years. This enables Paulson to place bets of ever-increasing size. Paulson was largely unknown only a few years ago, until he bet a large sum of money on the collapse of the American mortgage market. Investment banks like Goldman Sachs created customized securities specially for Paulson that were based on subprime mortgages. They then sold the securities to investors who believed that their value was stable — and lost billions as a result. Paulson, on the other hand, profited. He earned close to $4 billion in 2007. Hedge funds often work hand-in-hand with investment banks, and banks often behave like hedge funds. The boundaries between the two kinds of institutions are fluid. Some critics already see Deutsche Bank, for example, as an enormous hedge fund rather than a normal bank. Deutsche Bank is the top global player in foreign currency trading, with a market share of 16 percent of the global trade in dollars, francs, yen and euros. This is a high-volume business that generates little in the way of profits. But the bank uses its knowledge of demand for the currencies to design complex and therefore lucrative hedging strategies for its customers, which also usually puts Deutsche Bank on the winning side of the equation.
Italy Investigates Deutsche Bank Between April and June, Deutsche Bank’s investment banking profits declined by half, probably because it was simply too quiet in the market. During this time, Deutsche Bank reduced its holdings of government bonds from the ailing euro-zone countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain by 70 percent. Because the bank is also the global leader in bond trading, its risk managers apparently heard the right signals. At the beginning of the year, Deutsche Bank still had €8 billion invested in Italian government bonds. Six months later — shortly before the crisis intensified dramatically — it only had €1 billion worth of Italian bonds. Italian politicians apparently did not see this as a coincidence, and the country’s financial regulator CONSOB is now investigating the matter. Deutsche Bank also managed to get out of Greek government bonds before the crash in that country. Now the bank is helping the Greeks restructure their government debt, in what is the ultimate capitulation of the state in the face of powerful investment banks. The traders at Deutsche Bank are apparently more clued into who holds Greece’s government bonds than the Greeks themselves. Investment banker Anshu Jain, the designated co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, is proud of the fact that he and his traders were responsible for 70 percent of the bank’s total profits in good years, and he remains optimistic for the future. As a consequence of the crisis, the bank is now required to maintain a larger capital reserve for its investment banking division. Nevertheless, Jain said at an analysts’ conference that he expects regulation will lead to a substantial concentration in the business. In the US at least, regulators have more or less prohibited banks from speculating on a large scale for their own accounts since the financial crisis. This so-called proprietary trading was potentially the biggest profit maker for banks, but it also came with the greatest amount of risk. Nevertheless, the business continues to thrive. The proprietary traders became free agents, sometimes with the banks’ investment capital. Now they work as hedge fund managers and, as a result, can now evade all supervision. Investment banks discovered the commodities markets some time ago, hiring traders to specifically focus on the once mundane business of trading in copper, wheat or pork bellies. Deutsche Bank expects a return on equity of 40 percent, which is higher than in any of its other divisions, for its growing trade in such products. Woolley, the former asset manager, is calling for a ban on such transactions. He argues that the financial markets are destroying the relationship between supply and demand, giving producers the wrong price signals and potentially triggering famines.
‘Market of All Markets’ Speculation has always existed in economic history, but never to such an extent as today. The deregulation of the markets and the rise of the financial industry began with the end of Bretton Woods. In 1944, a new system of fixed exchange rates was established at an international conference in the New Hampshire resort town, with the US government agreeing to exchange dollars for gold at any time. Some 40 years ago, on Aug. 15, 1971, then US President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods monetary system. He needed more money that he could cover with gold to finance the Vietnam War. The global economy lost its anchor as a result. In 1972, foreign currency futures were established on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, making it possible for the first time to hedge against the risks associated with foreign currency transactions. This innovation paved the way for all manner of speculation. The financial market, as Berlin-based author Joseph Vogl writes, became “the market of all markets.” There were still many hurdles to be overcome, including legal regulations that prevented the market from unleashing its unrestrained forces. With generous donations to politicians and parties, as well as active lobbying by Wall Street executives, the financial industry was able to make its voice heard in Washington. Over time, the industry was able to rid itself of overly obstructive regulations. In fact, financial supervision was virtually eliminated. Politicians failed to control precisely that sector that is capable of unleashing more destructive force than almost any other industry. The kiss of death came in 1999, under then President Bill Clinton, when the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed. The law dictated a strict separation between commercial and investment banks. Eliminating this separation removed a major barrier and enabled institutions like Citigroup and Bank of America to grow into financial giants. Indeed, many banks became so large and powerful that they are now — to use the famous phrase — too big to fail, meaning that in a crisis they have to be bailed out to prevent their collapse. Many small banks and brokerage firms were swallowed up in the process. From then on, the biggest players set the tone.
Wall Street to Washington The investment banks made a brilliant move in 2004. The European Union had threatened to limit the foreign transactions of major US investment banks if the United States did not tighten its own regulations. This prompted five investment bankers to travel to Washington to exert their influence on the SEC. They proposed that the SEC be given the power to take a closer look at their high-risk positions in the future, but only if, in return, the banks would be required to keep less of their own capital in reserve to offset the risks of their transactions. From then on, the banks were able to expand their business unchecked. The second part of the deal — the SEC’s supervision — was pursued far less energetically. The financial industry had managed to create a belief system which held that what’s good for Wall Street is good for society as a whole. As a result, the sector’s influence on the US economy continued to grow. Between 1973 and 1985, before deregulation began, profits in the US financial sector made up no more than 16 percent of the total profits of all US companies. This industry’s share of total profits increased to 30 percent in the 1990s, and in the last decade it even reached 41 percent. It was no surprise that the myth of efficient financial markets was accepted so uncritically in Washington, given the large number of political players who went there directly from Wall Street. One was the former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, who became treasury secretary under then President George W. Bush in 2006. In 2008, he was called upon to manage the financial crisis, which he had played a hand in triggering in the first place. Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the IMF, characterizes the direct involvement of financial players in the inner workings of the government as a “quiet coup.” The Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is also critical of the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, saying that it leads to a shared worldview that, even despite the crisis, hinders effective reform of the financial system. Such an amalgamation of players is unthinkable in Germany, and yet even there was growing confidence in the power of free financial markets to increase prosperity. In 2004, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party coalition government under then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opened the German market to hedge funds and the expanded trade in speculative derivatives. Jörg Asmussen, who would later become a state secretary in the Finance Ministry, personally lobbied to permit trading in credit derivatives in Germany — the very securities that ultimately triggered the crisis. Then came the crash. Since then, the government has tried to rein in the forces it was partially responsible for unleashing. Asmussen was a member of a group of experts tasked to draft proposals for new regulations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel knows that there is more at stake than the stability of the economy and overcoming a temporary weakness. “This type of crisis cannot be allowed to repeat itself in the foreseeable future,” Merkel said, “otherwise it will be extremely difficult to guarantee political stability, and not only in Germany.” This, she added, is the real challenge, “that anyone who wants to do business in a stable country must be aware of.” Following the near-collapse of the markets, then-German President Horst Köhler characterized the financial markets as a “monster.” And there were plenty of good intentions when it came to taming this monster. “History cannot be allowed to repeat itself,” US President Barack Obama promised after the Lehman bankruptcy, while French President Sarkozy spoke of a historic opportunity to create a new world.
Nothing More than Piecemeal Regulations In fact, the United States and Europe did attempt to constrain the monster that was the financial market. Governments can hardly be accused of not having made a serious effort in this direction, but the project they face is exceedingly difficult. Solo efforts by individual countries are pointless, because the industry is globally interconnected. On the other hand, internationally coordinated solutions are difficult. As a result, the regulations remain nothing more than piecemeal. For the financial industry, new regulations are often little more than a sportsmanlike challenge to search for new tricks with which to circumvent the rules. In their conflict with politicians and regulatory agencies, banks and hedge funds have a clear competitive advantage: They hire the brightest minds in the financial world and pay them millions. The public-sector regulators can hardly compete. Not surprisingly, politicians haven’t done much more than push around a lot of paper until now. The law with which President Obama intends to regulate the financial markets encompasses more than 800 pages. But the US government is only at the beginning of a long process, in which concrete regulations will be derived from the provisions of the new law. Both the Republicans and the banks’ lobbyists can exert their influence on this process to make sure that many of the new regulations are watered down. For instance, the law was intended to completely prohibit banks from engaging in proprietary trading, with which they speculate in the foreign currency, stock and commodities markets. But the legislation contains so many exceptions that business will continue to flourish, in some cases by simply outsourcing trading activities. The United States also wants to force hedge funds to disclose more information about their business. But even though the law doesn’t go into effect until next March, speculator Soros is already demonstrating how it can be circumvented. After buying out the outside investors in his hedge fund, he now intends to conduct business in the future as a so-called family-owned company. Funds that manage the assets of a family are not subject to the new disclosure rules. In Europe, the European Commission has developed a draft of new capital market rules, which includes 165 pages of guidelines and another 500 pages of regulations. Under the proposed rules, banks would be required to keep more capital resources in reserve to protect against risk, and they would only be allowed to borrow up to a certain ratio. These proposals make sense, but the financial industry is already two steps ahead. It has created a world in which the usual rules for exchanges and banks do not apply: the realm of the “shadow banks.” For bankers, this is by no means a world of illegal or semi-legal institutions, despite what the term implies. Hedge funds and private equity firms are known as shadow banks. In the United States, shadow banks have already incurred debts of more than $16 trillion, as compared with $13 trillion among commercial banks.
Regulating ‘Shadow Banks’ Unlikely This poses a huge risk for the financial market. Jochen Sanio, head of Germany’s banking regulatory agency, believes it is highly likely that the next crisis will emanate from this largely unregulated realm of hedge funds and other financial players. Jens Weidmann, the president of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, also cautions against the dangers of shadow banks. But why are they not subject to the same rules as commercial banks? In this case, national egos are what stand in the way of comprehensive financial market reform. Britain, in particular, isn’t keen on keeping too close an eye on hedge funds, because the financial industry is one of the few remaining sectors in which the British are still competitive worldwide. An effective financial market reform would have to treat shadow banks the same way all other banks are treated. This would mean completely banning so-called short selling, which is essentially betting on falling prices. It would also have to improve licensing requirements on new financial instruments and ban some that already exist, because they are designed solely for speculative purposes. It would also involve establishing a number of other rules that would make doing business significantly more difficult for banks, hedge funds and private equity firms. All of these measures would rein in the financial market and put its importance for the economy into perspective. Banks would have to concentrate once again on the role they played prior to the great deregulation of the financial market, namely to organize payment transactions, manage the investments of private customers and companies and finance their business deals with loans. But that seems unlikely. There are too many contradictions and conflicts of interest between the countries involved and governments to allow such a massive change to occur. But the monster cannot be tamed with half-hearted reforms, which is why people who have been involved in the financial world for decades assume that it will strike again soon. When asked whether it is possible to make future crises unlikely, Hilmar Kopper, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank and current chairman of the supervisory board of HSH Nordbank, replies with a simple “no.” According to Kopper, more huge financial bubbles could happen in the future. “I’m frustrated,” says Kopper. “I don’t know how a government is supposed to regulate this.” DIETMAR HAWRANEK, ARMIN MAHLER, CHRISTOPH PAULY, MICHAELA SCHIESSL AND THOMAS SCHULZ Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan