Empires of Faith

Chapter 12: Command and Governance

2 Ramadan, 1663

Zubayr ibn Abdul-Hakim strolled through the camp of his army. It was nearing sunset and the troops had just returned from another successful bout against the enemy army. Some 60 soldiers were lost in the efforts, but it was worth it pushing the Kwaadi further down south. Soon enough, they would be expelled from the entire Arabian Peninsula.

As it were, the Arabian Peninsula happened to be the stronghold of the Muslim forces. It was not only the birthplace of the religion ages ago, but also the spark of the resistance against Kwaade’s evils. After the Great Wars had passed, there were hardly any Muslim nations remaining on the Earth. The only ones who suffered more in terms of numbers were the Christians, since they fought most of the wars among themselves. Still, the Muslims were scattered and disunited; an easy target for Kwaade to wipe out when he started his assault on religion itself.

Many of the minority religions of the world had already been wiped out through the mass destruction of their homelands. Then Kwaade turned his genocidal ambitions against the people of the Eastern Continent. Nation after nation, the people fell in multitudes and religion was quickly becoming extinct. Kwaade conquered and he killed; he bribed and he bought until the people came to his way in droves. As he moved on to the west, he faced his first major struggle.

Initially, there had hardly been any notice taken from the Muslims who weren’t directly affected by the assaults. Kwaade had taken down the Buddhists and the Hindus, the Jews and even a number of Muslim lands. But it wasn’t until Kwaade made a near successful push to conquer Medina -the city of The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) – that the different Muslim groups finally put their differences aside and fought in a united force. Kwaade suffered an overwhelming defeat in the region and his forces withdrew all the way down to the lower parts of Yemen. This set the course for a fierce unified resistance against Kwaade’s secularist tyranny. Throughout the remaining parts of the world, Muslims and Christians took up arms to defend themselves and regain lost territories and resources. War had come again.

Zubayr held his silver helmet and black turban beneath his muscular arm as he walked on through his camp. His bald head enjoyed the tingling sensation of the breezy mountain air. The tiny pebbles crunched beneath his booted feet as he walked the dusty path down the aisles of tents. His heavy, brown armor was covered in blood and his black clothes beneath were soaked in sweat. Cuts and scrapes riddled his toffee-colored face. He stroked his patchy beard as he surveyed the wounded soldiers.

Without a word, he turned and went into his own tent. He sat his helmet down and removed his armor before taking off the sweat drenched shirt beneath it. He let out a sigh of relief, having been finally free of the heavy and confining armor. Fighting while fasting was difficult; fighting while fasting and also enduring extreme heat was a true test of might.

Just then he felt a breeze of wind on his back and turned to see an older woman had entered his tent. She was one of the army’s medics, and had come to report the status of some of the more seriously wounded soldiers. When she gazed upon Zubayr’s scarred and bruised up body, she was speechless. Deep wounds and cuts were riddled all over his torso and even a few on his arms and shoulders. She shook her head in pity as she turned away.

He was still but a young boy in her eyes. She had known him since he was a little toddler, swinging a wooden stick and playing pretend warrior with her nephew Zayd, who was also his so-called “blade-brother.” Now here he was, a full grown man, having lived through hardships and been molded into a fierce warrior. She could hardly believe her eyes.

“Ahem,” Zubayr said, breaking the silence and giving her a quizzical look.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized, lowering her gaze to the ground. “Please forgive my intrusion.”

“It’s alright Aunty Aziza,” Zubayr spoke respectfully to his elder. “What is it that you have come for?” he asked as he reached for a thin white cloak to cover himself with.

“I have the official reports on the troops.”

“Ah, yes. I have just completed a visual check-up myself. Still, what is your opinion on the matter? Are any of them critical?”

“There were two more brothers who passed away, and their father is also near death.”

“Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’un*.” Zubayr lowered his head. Two more huh? he thought to himself. May Allah grant them peace and accept their worthy sacrifice.

“There are twenty-three more injured men whom I recommend you keep from fighting in any further battles for at least three weeks. All of the others should be fine with a day or two of resting In Shaa Allah.”

“Good, good. What of Abdur-Rashid? How is he faring?”

“Currently he is resting, but Alhamdulillah he has made a quick recovery and is now ready to resume command if you will allow it.”

“Of course, of course. This mission was assigned to Abdur-Rashid in the first place; I came to reinforce him and was merely his stand-in after he had become incapacitated from the previous battle. If he is well enough to carry on and resume command as you say, then I hold no objections to that. Tell him I wish to speak with him when he awakens.”

“Yes sir. May I go now? I wish to help in the food preparation for iftar*.”

“Yes, you are dismissed.” Aziza exited the tent and Zubayr sat down on the ground. Alhamdulillah, Abdur-Rashid has gotten better, he thought to himself. If he resumes command, I may be free soon to return to the army left behind at the oasis. I pray that Zayd has been managing well enough in command there. I know it must be hard upon his aunt to be here with our army up whilst her nephew is still back there without either of us. Still, it was her choice to come along and provide medical aid to the troops. That family, forever supportive, forever loyal…

Zubayr sighed and looked around. It was growing dark and he knew that at any moment the athan for Maghrib would be called. The last few minutes of the fasting were always the most difficult; being so close to quenching the extreme thirst and yet having to wait. The Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was to hasten the iftar; however, it was a rather tricky Sunnah to follow because of the risk of possibly breaking the fast too early. Despite his rumbling stomach and a dry throat, Zubayr preferred to wait it out until someone else was certain of the timing, then break his fast.

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” the athan sounded outside, settling Zubayr’s internal dispute. He sighed in relief and went out of his tent to the darkening camp. The dark blue clouds battled against the blood red sky as the orange glow of the sun was dispersed. Light gave way to darkness and it was time for the thirst to be quenched. Zubayr quickly walked to the tent from which food and water were being distributed to the fasting soldiers. He had unfortunately been too slow and there was already a line of soldiers in front of him having yet to be served.

Zubayr stood in line waiting patiently as the soldiers moved along steadily. The cooks were handing out three dates per soldier and a small vessel of water; enough food and drink to break the fast and sustain them for prayer, after which the real meals would be passed out. The soldier ahead of Zubayr caught a glimpse of his shadow with his distinct head shape and immediately recognized him. He stepped out of the line to allow Zubayr to cut ahead. “Please, go right ahead,” the man humbly offered. “You are our noble commander.”

“Ya akhi*,” Zubayr began with a warm smile. “I am but the commander of the people, but you are a noble soldier in Allah’s path. I could never prefer myself above you. Keep your spot and I will eat when it is my turn.” The man slowly stepped back in line and Zubayr flashed a pleasant grin as they moved on through the line to get their dates and water.

Kneeling beside the tent, Zubayr held his three dates and a flask of water all in his right. He bit into one of the dates and had a few sips of water, feeling revitalized as the cool liquid flowed down his parched throat. “Dhahaba az-zama’ wa abtalat al-‘urooq wa thabata al-ajr In Shaa Allah*,” he recited to himself, following another act of Sunnah. With a grateful smile, he finished his remaining dates; their soft texture and sweet caramel flavor reminding him of his favorite dates back home. As the iqama was called for the Maghrib prayer, Zubayr took a few more sips of water before closing his vessel. “Alhamdulillah,” he sighed in contentment before standing to go and lead the prayer.


After the Maghrib prayer was complete, the camp was lit up with more lively chatter. The soldiers sat in groups around their campfires, eating and drinking while sharing war stories and tales of their lives back home. Zubayr sat with Abdur-Rashid and a few other men. Holding a plate of spiced chicken and white rice, Zubayr listened intently to Abdur-Rashid going on about one of his many battles.

“So after I knocked that guy down for the third time I was looking for my sword so I can just kill him already,” Abdur-Rashid said in a deep, booming voice as the men around set off in laughter. “I was looking all around for any kind of weapon to just kill this guy. At that point, I was actually more annoyed than I was angry; he was like a buzzing little fly that you just keep swatting at but it comes back repeatedly. Finally, I caught hold of another man running past me and I threw him into the little pest. I took his shield from him and tossed it behind me. He tried to kick me as I walked up over him but I caught hold of his foot and twisted his ankle. Finally, a broken spear head slid over and I picked it up, thinking that I was finally going to get rid of the pest and the new guy. But out the corner of my eye, I saw another one of them coming after me! I turned my back to face him and I nearly dropped my weapon. I was seeing the same insect from before charging at me. I looked to the ground, and there he was; I looked to the oncoming attacker, and there he was. Even the man whose shield I’d thrown looked like him! I started thinking, ‘Subhaan Allah, did I get knocked out? Is this a dream or am I hallucinating?’ Turns out they were just a group of triplets.”

The men laughed as Abdur-Rashid momentarily paused to take a drink of water. They all leaned in closer as he sat the jug down and continued his tale. “So the man came charging in and I was just furious by then. I was so fed up with seeing his ugly face. So as he was coming at me, sword in one hand, shield in the other, I didn’t even care. I had my spear head and I was ready to do some damage. So he swung at me and I caught his blade with my bare hand, I tell you. As the blood began dripping down my hand, I slid in closer and ripped away his shield with my other hand. The look on his face at that moment, man I will never forget. I have never seen a man grow so pale in my life. He nearly fainted before I could even finish him. I gripped the spear head in my right hand and struck it down into his shoulder, then swung it across his neck and kicked him to the ground.”

“Ma Shaa Allah, Ma Shaa Allah,” came a murmur from the growing audience, now consisting of men from nearby campfires as well.

“So I snatched the sword from his lifeless hand and turn to his two doubles,” Abdur-Rashid continued. “At this point they were shaking, asking me if I am even human. I raised up my bleeding hand and show it to them; asking them: ‘do I not bleed the same blood as a you?’ So they looked to each other and turned back to me, saying, ‘we see that you bleed like us, but you feel no pain as we would. Had we Kwaadi known we were to be fighting demons we would never have fought you; had we known of such warriors possessing the ferocity of lions and beasts, we would never have struck against your people. We see now that you are masters of a great strength, how foolish were we to have raised up against you.’ I brought up the sword and looked them in the eyes. ‘It is not that we are demons, nor are we ferocious beasts. We have been made victorious by the will of God, He is the One Whom you Kwaadi have rejected and disbelieved in. Our strength comes from something beyond your comprehension, it is our iman*. Our hearts our strengthened by it and our Lord strengthens our abilities, allowing us to overcome even your armies whilst you outnumber us greatly.’ I gripped my sword tightly, I wanted to make one clean swipe at their heads and be done with them. As a skilled veteran, I had seen many things in battle, with people gaining the upperhand in a matter of seconds. So I was ready to end it. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.”

“What happened, ya akhi,” a man questioned. “What happened?”

Crossing his arms, Abdur-Rashid continued. “The both of them accepted Islam right on the spot. Lowering their heads and shouting in unison, they both told me, ‘we believe in this Lord you speak of. What you have said is nothing but the truth and we believe as you believe!'” Abdur-Rashid looked around to see his astonished audience staring back at him in near disbelief. “It’s true,” he said, uncrossing his arms and taking another sip of water. “They surrendered themselves and I took them captive in order to protect them. When the fighting ceased and all the captives were gathered I released them into the command of the local village chief, under whose watchful eye they’ve remained ever since. I hear they’re in planning to visit Medina and study more on Islam soon.”

“Ma Shaa Allah,” an old man spoke from the audience. “How Allah has favored you. He brings success to Islam through your physical defeat of the enemy and through you spiritual conquering of the enemy so that they come to accept the truth. Ma Shaa Allah, what a hero.” Abdur-Rashid humbly accepted the praise, quietly supplicating to his Lord to make him better than what the people thought of him and to forgive him for any excess they did in praising him.

“Indeed,” Zubayr spoke, patting Abdur-Rashid on the back. “So now brave hero, Alhamdulillah you have made a full recovery from your last battle and are ready to take over as general again. What is your plan from here?”

“The same plan we’ve been on,” Abdur-Rashid said loudly, noticing his growing audience. “We are going to keep fighting and pushing back the Kwaadi until either we are martyred or we expel them completely from the Muslim lands. There is no option for failure. We will be victorious and Islam will reign supreme!”

The last line garnered many supporting shouts from the crowds. The camp lit up with excitement as the soldiers all cheered in shouts of “Allahu Akbar,” and “La ilaha ilallah Muhammadur Rasulullah!” The shouts echoed through the region; not a living creature within the mountain area or the valley below was there except that it heard the calling of the soldiers. Beneath the shining crescent moon, the night was filled with praise of God.


3 Ramadan, 1663

Steel clashed with steel as Zubayr sparred against a few of his fellow soldiers. It was just before noon and he was out to train with them, keeping them in shape during their short break from marching. One soldier came holding his blade underhand and leapt into the air. Zubayr side-stepped him and flipped him onto his back before kicking the blade from his hand. As another man came charging behind him, Zubayr spun around and swept him off the ground before delivering a painful elbow strike to the man’s stomach. Two other men approached Zubayr from opposite sides and he eyed them both. The first man swung high and Zubayr parried with his blade before turning back to dodge the low attack of the other man. He then swung down an attack of his own at the first man but the attack was successfully blocked.

Zubayr spun around while stepping forward and swung at the man’s side. As the steel of the two swords met once again, the second soldier came charging from behind. Zubayr jumped into the air and knocked him to the ground with a powerful kick to the chest. As soon as he landed, Zubayr was back into the air as he horizontally spun over and struck his blade out at the other man’s neck. The man raised his hands and dropped his weapon, admitting defeat.

“Come on men,” Zubayr said, wiping sweat from his brow. “You can do better than this. We’ve been out here for almost an hour and not a single one of you has managed to hit me yet. Your goal on the battlefield may be martyrdom but we still want to take out some enemy soldiers first. You men have all been ‘slain’ without a single successful blow.”

“Give them a rest Zubayr,” came a familiar voice. “They’re fasting and it’s quite hot out today. And furthermore, they haven’t been raised up in training by Abu Raihanah like you have.”

“I don’t expect them to deal with the type of training I endured under my father,” Zubayr said, stabbing his word into the ground and walking up to shake Abdur-Rashid’s hand. “I expect them to endure the type of training I dish out myself. Even my sisters could handle this.”

“Is that so?” Abdur-Rashid smirked, raising one eyebrow.

“Most certainly. When my father Abdul-Hakim wasn’t training Zayd and I, we would work with my older sisters. They weren’t afforded the pampered princess lifestyle like some women back home. They had to be tough because before I was born, whenever my dad went away on an army expedition there were no men left at home. It was just them and my mom. All three of them, tough as nails. I’ll bet they could be here fighting in this army and kicking butt too.”

Abdur-Rashid let out a hardy laugh as he imagined Zubayr’s sisters taking down the enemy army. “They sound very…interesting.”

“And unavailable,” Zubayr quickly hissed. “Raihanah’s got a husband, Aadil ibn Usayd, and Asiyah is engaged to be married soon. Besides, you’re already married Abdur-Rashid.”

“The Quran says I can have two or three or four.”

“IF you can deal justly between them, and the Quran also says you will never be able to do perfect justice.”

“Fair enough, I’ll give you that one. But what about you, akhi?”

“What about me?”

“When are you going to get married? I know a certain sister whom you know who has had her eyes on you for a while now and I think she wants you for-”

“Ugh, Sister Aziza?! She’s like my aunt you idiot!”

“I meant for her daughter you hasty idiot!”

“Oh. Wait, you mean Samira? I hardly know a thing about her. She was always hidden away.”

“Maybe so, but you know she comes from a good family, so that removes that worry. And you also know her mom wouldn’t oppose the idea, especially not after all that your family has done for her relatives.”

“Perhaps, but I do not like calling upon past favors done to get something in return; especially not favors that I didn’t personally do myself.”

“Even so, akhi, you really should look into it. I’m advising you sincerely; you may be young now, but you will only get older and older. We won’t be fighting for forever In Shaa Allah; you’ll need to settle down and live a normal life someday.”

“Right,” Zubayr said turning away. “Someday… ” He grabbed his sword and began to walk away, stopping only to turn back and say salaam to Abdur-Rashid.


4 Ramadan, 1663

Zayd Ibn Abdullah splashed cool water on his face. As a fasting person, he was unable to drink any water, but he needed some relief from the desert heat. With water running down his face and dripping from his beard, he kneeled at the edge of the lake, looking at his reflection.

He sighed. This far I’ve come, he thought to himself. And still I’ve gotten nowhere yet. Zayd was the commander of a small Muslim army holding the control of a bountiful oasis. He was given command when the original army he was in split in two, with one group heading south to the mountains for another mission. Zayd’s group was left behind to guard the vital resource from falling into Kwaadi hands.

Over the short time of the army’s encampment, travelers began to settle in the region, feeling safe and protected with the army nearby. A well was built around the oasis and the water was preserved. Within a matter of months the land soon became a small town, consisting of small families living in camel hair tents and tiny mud-brick homes. Zayd watched over the growing town as the respected commander. Still, he felt it wasn’t enough.

Zayd had grown up as the “blade-brother” of Zubayr ibn Abdul-Hakim, and the two joined the army and fought together. Though he was highly skilled in combat like Zubayr, Zayd had always been an underling to his brother. He preferred to use his own intelligence and strategizing to aid Zubayr in his pursuits, following him with hopes of honoring a favor done to his family years before.

Just as well, he also felt deep within himself a desire to match up to Zubayr. Growing up together, the two had a unique relationship in that they cooperated well together, whilst still having an unspoken and unrecognized rivalry. Zubayr had always wanted to Zayd to his full potential, and Zayd merely wanted to measure up to his brother. He wanted to earn Zubayr’s respect and admiration, and for him, that meant following in his ways and being loyal to his family.

As Zayd sat, lost in his thoughts, a man came running from the camp, waving his hands. “Commander Zayd,” the man shouted from the distance. “Commander Zayd, there is word from the homeland!”

“The homeland?” Zayd queried as he watched the man run up to him, panting. “My homeland?”

“No, rather the homeland of our Deen,” the man said breathlessly. “The base back in Madinah.”

“What news do you bring?” Zayd stood up before the man.

“It is a letter from the Amir himself!”


“For certain! It was brought by one of his messengers on a white horse, wearing the white ‘amaamah* and jubba* of his messengers. He came bearing a mysterious scroll, asking to speak with the commander of the Muslim forces. I have come just now to retrieve you that you may speak with him.”

“Interesting,” Zayd said, now walking with his hands behind his back. “Did he sound as if he bears good news or bad news?”

“I could not discern his demeanor, it was truly perplexing. The noblemen of Madinah are above my comprehension. Please forgive me.”

“It is fine” Zayd said, still lost in his thoughts about what the news might be. “Come now, let us hurry along; today is Friday and the people will gather soon for Jum’ah*.”

“Yes, of course.” Zayd and the man walked hurriedly through the dusty roads, heading toward the city base, his central tent. At the command center, Zayd spotted a beautiful white horse tied to a post beside it. No doubt it was the messenger’s horse, as he soon spotted a flowing white cloth behind the horse and noticed the flowing tails of a white turban on the head of a man behind the horse.

“As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum, O messenger of the Amir,” Zayd greeted the man. The man came from behind the horse and shook Zayd’s hand before embracing him with a hug. Zayd stood, surprised, but reciprocated the embrace.

“Wa ‘Alaikumus Salam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu*,” the messenger replied the greeting. “And glad tidings to you and your people. I bring you good news from the Amir.”

“Alhamdulillah,” Zayd said, sighing in relief. “Come, step inside my tent, we will talk.” The three men entered into the tent and they sat. Zayd kept his quarters simple, preferring austerity to luxuriousness. There was a small mat made of camel hide spread out on the floor, with a small bale of hay as a leaning place or holding desk for reading. He had a small red mat spread out beside that as a sleeping place, using a small cotton quilt stuffed with wool for a pillow. “Please fetch our guest some water and fruit,” Zayd spoke to his companion. “Or are you fasting though you are a traveler?” he asked the messenger, who nodded in the negative.

The man left the tent and Zayd was left with the messenger. There was silence as Zayd pondered what good news the messenger could have come to deliver. The man returned with a jug of water and a small plate of date-fruits. He sat them before the messenger and requested permission to sit himself. Zayd granted his request.

Sipping from the jug of water, the man eyed Zayd in a mysterious way. He sat the jug down and smiled. “Alhamdulillah the sayings were true,” the messenger spoke. Zayd looked on in curiosity. “Some time ago there was a merchant passing through with his caravan on the way to our town. He was attacked by Kwaadi bandits, and his belongings were stolen. Fearing for his life, he says he came this way and was guarded carefully by your army. Here he says he was dealt with well, his needs were tended to, and he received compensation for his loss. He then came to our land and reported to us that there was an army encampment here, like a small town. He said that the leader is a pious man of fairness and true concern; he said you gave him payment for what was lost because you felt responsible for protecting the people of the nearby land. And when I come now, I see you are everything he said of you: a humble, generous, and caring host who speaks kindly with the people and treats them as best as he can. Ma Shaa Allah.”

“Is this what you have come for?” Zayd asked respectfully but surprised. “Most certainly the merchant’s account is true, and by Allah, if what you say of me is true than I do not need to hear praise or mention of it from anyone, even you. My Lord knows and that is enough for me.”

“No, I have not come to praise you and such. I have come bringing good news. After the merchant came, many others who passed through this camp and did not settle down -as I see others have done- came to the Amir telling him of this place. He was pleased with the news and so he asked more of the affairs of this camp. People came forth telling him it was like a town and you were its governor, a fair and just ruler. Thus he has decided to make it just so.”

“What?” Zayd asked.

The messenger pulled out a scroll and unraveled it. Looking at Zayd and then turning back to the scroll, he began to read aloud. “By order of the Amir, Muhammad ibn Abdul-Muhaymin, this town is hereby recognized as a township of the Muslim Ummah* and Zayd ibn Abdullah has been chosen as the governor and guardian of this town. Henceforth, it will be known by the name of Al-Mahmi, the protected. In union with the rest of the Ummah, the town will receive the benefits of protection from our peoples and resources from our capital. This is the decree of the Amir and is to be carried out posthaste.” The messenger rolled up the scroll and smiled at Zayd. “Following me is a large caravan, consisting of one hundred architects to help build up this city of yours; twenty-five nurses in addition to what your army has; ten learned men to teach Islam to the people; and the cousin of the Amir, Ahmad ibn Abu Mahmud to be your advisor and assistant.”

“Alhamdulillah,” Zayd said, trying to contain his excitement and remain professional. “This is great news. It is quite a burden though; I just pray Allah gives me the strength to manage it all. When are all these people set to join this town of ours?”

“I left with this decree three days before they were to set off, so they should arrive shortly in this town of Al-Mahmi.”

“Jakakallahu Khairun for delivering this wonderful news; may Allah make it something good for us and make us good for it. May He not trial us by this and let our hearts go astray. May He make your journey back safe and easy for you. If there is anything you need, tell me and I will do my best to provide for you In Shaa Allah.”

“Alhamdulillah, I am fine,” the messenger replied, as he got to his feet. “I need only to return to my town as fast as I can.”

“Well has your horse been fed and tended to?”

“No but she will be fine In Shaa Allah, our resting spot is not too far where she will be tired out before then.”

“You mustn’t go yet, lest you place too much a burden on her and she testify against you before our Lord. Stay for a short while, give her rest and I will see to it she is fed and given water to drink before you set out. In the meantime, it is nearly time for Jum’ah to begin; the first athan has been called already. After the prayer, then you may leave. Sound fair?”

“Alhamdulillah. I will stay In Shaa Allah.”

“Excellent. Go and prepare yourself, Jum’ah will begin shortly.” The messenger left, as did Zayd’s first companion. Zayd stood alone in his tent. He changed into a cleaner set of clothes and perfumed himself with attar. Thereafter he placed a brown ghutrah* on his head to match the tannish thobe and pants he was wearing. He oiled and combed his beard as he rehearsed some ayat of Quran in his mind. After he was done getting ready, Zayd heard the second athan being called and he grabbed a wooden staff that he carried for walking sometimes and set out to go address the public at the gathering of Jum’ah.

Outside his tent at a nearby hillside, the people had gathered to attend the Jum’ah gathering. They sat out on a flat land covered in rugs and shaded by tall palm trees. Zayd walked through the aisles of people until he reached a large boulder that he would use as a make-shift pulpit. There he would deliver his sermon. Shading his eyes from the rays of the sun, Zayd looked out over the people. The crowds had grown. He saw in the crowd the familiar faces of his soldiers, as well as new faces of recent settlers- men and women, with children young and older accompanying them. One small girl waved to him with a smile and Zayd smiled back before clearing his throat and beginning his lecture.

“Inalhamdulillaah,” he began, speaking loudly in Arabic. “Nahmaduhu wa nasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu, wa na’oozhu billaahi min shuroori anfusinaa wa min sayittee a’maalinaa. Man yahdihillaahu falaa mudthilla lahu wa man yudhlil falaahaadiyalahu. Wa ashhadu an laa ilaaha ilallah wahdahu la sharika lahu wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu. Fa inna khairal hadeethi kitabullah, wa khairal hadi, hadi muhammadin salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Wa sharral ‘umuri muhdathatuha, wa kulla muhdathtin bid’ah, wa kulla bid’atin dhalaalah wa kulla dhalaalatin finnar. Ammaa ba’d. Qal Allah subhaana wa ta’alaa fil Qurani Kareem, ‘Wal Asr; innal-insanalafee khusr; ilallatheena amanu wa ‘ameelussawleehaatee wa tawaa sowbil haqqi wa tawa sowbis sabr.”

Translating, he continued on. “Verily all praise and thanks are due to Allah. We praise Him, and ask for help and forgiveness from Him. We seek refuge from Allah against the evils of ourselves and our bad deeds. Those who are guided by Allah, no one can mislead them, and those whom He allows to go astray, no one can guide them. And I bear witness that there is no true god but Allah and that He Has no partners; and that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is His slave and Messenger. Then Verily, the most truthful words are the Book of Allah; the Quran. And the best guidance is that of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And the worst things are the newly invented matters (in religion). They are an innovation and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation is in the Hellfire. Furthermore, Allah says in the Noble Quran, ‘By Time. Verily mankind is in loss; except those who believe and do righteous deeds and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.”

Zayd looked out over the people as they listened intently. Some people were hastening to join the gathering. The rows shifted to make space for the men coming in up front, with the women sitting in the back rows leaving a gap between themselves and the men.

Zayd continued. “The surah starts with Allah swearing by time that mankind is in a state of loss or destruction. Al-Asr, or time, is a trust given to mankind by Allah, and the most precious capital of an individual. This time reduces with every passing second, and every moment that passes by is an opportunity gone, used, or abused, never to return. Soon the allotted time will be up and the angel of death will take the soul away from this world.”

Zayd began to sweat as the he himself felt the words he was speaking in his heart. They were a severe warning to the people, but as a sincere believer they were a warning to himself first. “The reckoning on the Day of Judgment will be based upon how we spent our time in this world. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam* said, ‘On that day the feet of the son of Adam (man) will not move until he is questioned about four matters: how he spent his lifetime, how he spent his youth; from where he acquired his wealth and how he spent it, and what he did with his knowledge. This is a hadith reported in Sunan at-Tirmidhi, number 2417.” Zayd sighed.

“Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, ‘there are two blessings that most delude people: free time and health.’ People who are heedless of time and fail to utilize time properly are wasting their lives and squandering the trust, and thus are heading towards destruction. The second part of the surah explains how to utilize time properly so that one can save himself from destruction. The only people who are exempt from the destruction caused by not utilizing time properly are those who fulfill four conditions. The first condition is having faith in the heart, the second condition is manifestation of this faith by doing good deeds, the third condition is exhortation of this truth to others, and the final condition is patience.”

“The condition of utilizing time properly lies in having faith and conviction in the heart. Faith is not a mere thought or belief, free from effect. One cannot escape the destruction without manifesting faith by adjusting conduct in harmony with the Truth. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, ‘faith and good deeds are partners and one is incomplete without the other.’ Good deeds are performing the deeds stipulated in the Quran and Sunnah, like Prayers, Fasting, Zakat*, Hajj*, Charity, kindness to orphans, taking care of parents and a great deal of other things. Good deeds also mean abstaining from all of the forbidden things like dealing in interest, fornication, lying, backbiting, eating impure food, and many other evil deeds which we all know.”

“The third condition is to enjoin this truth upon others. If man had faith and did good deeds, but lived only for himself, he would not fulfill his whole duty. Whatever good man has, especially in moral and spiritual life, he must spread among his brothers and sisters, so that they may see the Truth and stand by it in patient hope and unshaken constancy amidst all the storm and stress of life. Indeed, we are responsible for spreading the truth. We cannot keep any knowledge we attain to ourselves, but we must share the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong with those around us, as we can see in the following example.”

“There is a report that Allah ordered two angels to destroy a city. On reaching there, the angels noticed one of the inhabitants beseeching and supplicating to Allah. One of the angels said to the other: ‘Don’t you see this person supplicating?’ So the other angel replied, ‘yes I do, but Allah’s order has to be executed.’ The first angel told him, ‘Wait, let me ask Allah as to what should be done.’ Praying to Allah, the first angel inquired: ‘In this city there is a person who entreats and beseeches you. Do we still impose the punishment upon the city?’ The answer came from Allah, and what do you think He said? He said, ‘Execute the commandment which has been given to you, for that person has never been upset and distressed for My sake, nor did he show anger over the evil deeds committed by the other people. So kill him first.’ Subhaan Allah! The man, even though a believer himself, he never told the people of the error of their ways so in the end he suffered the punishment along with the evil people.”

Zayd wiped his brow. He could see fear brewing in the peoples’ eyes. The admonition was making an impact. Good. Zayd sighed again, and he continued.

“The fourth and final condition is Patience. The patience referred to is the patience required when encountering the plots, the evils and harms of those who attack others due to their reminding them to do good and forbidding them from evil. The significance of patience in the Islamic way of life can be understood from the fact that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him eternal peace, considered it as half of Faith and as the key to Paradise. The most important truth flowing forth from this surah is that time is much more valuable than any material possession. Time is in fact life. This surah further reveals the real standard of man’s success and failure. A person who does not possess all four of the above-mentioned qualities will remain unsuccessful and be a loser in the end, regardless of whether or not he acquires massive wealth and a large family or is the ruler of some country. However, anyone who has all these four prerequisites is successful and triumphant in the hereafter, even if he has no wealth, friends, or recognition in this world. Paradise and Allah’s Pleasure is the True Success.”

“This surah had such an impact on the companions of the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam that whenever two men from the Companions of the Messenger of Allah used to meet, they would not part until one of them had recited it in its entirety to the other, and one of them had given salaams to the other. This surah is so significant that it has been said by Imam Shafi’i raheemahullah*, ‘if no other surahs had been revealed save for this one, it would have been sufficient as a guide to any man who truly pondered upon it.’ Subhaan Allah, May Allah guide us all and Help us to do good deeds and stay away from the evil desires of our hearts. May He give us strength and patience in dealing with each other as well as the disbelievers and calling them all to the Truth. Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the Fire.”

Zayd sat down on the pulpit, is heart racing. Under his breath he supplicated to his Lord. He sought forgiveness for any misinformation he presented, for any error in his ways, for any hypocrisy in his heart. He prayed for the guidance of himself and all those in attendance. Then he stood, ready to deliver the second, shorter sermon.

“Alhamdulillah,” he continued. “My dear respected brothers and sisters in Islam, today I have received excellent news. Our settlement has been recognized as a town by the authority of the Amir. From this day forth we are known as the town of protection, Al-Mahmi, an extended territory of the Muslim Ummah. Our army is to remain here to protect this town and the Amir has sent architects to build up this town of ours, and scholars to teach us in this town of ours. Alhamdulillah. We must take advantage of this great blessing Allah is giving us and use it to our full advantage. As I’ve said, time is a trust from Allah, and what we do with it decides where we will go in the hereafter. We are in the end of times, and time is thus in a shortage. Every day we see people die, not just in the war, but at home or on a journey; from illness or natural causes; young or old. The Angel of Death does not discriminate. He will not ask for our permission, we are not Prophets. He will not ask us when are we ready. Time is a gift, but it expires, and we can never have certainty when it will do so. So my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, I advise you, do not let your time run out and leave yourself with regrets. As Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala* says in Surah Al-Hashr, ‘O you who believe! Fear Allah and let every soul look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah (i.e. became disobedient to Allah) so then He caused them to forget their ownselves, (let them to forget to do righteous deeds) Those are the defiantly disobedient.’ (59:18-19) This life is the only chance you get to enter into Heaven, so do not waste it and be neglectful. If you waste your time and fail this test, there is only one place waiting and reserved for you. Do not for yourself a seat in the Fires of Hell. Do not abuse time. Strive in the way of Allah, all of you together, so that you may attain piety and be of the successful. May Allah Guide us along the straight path and unite us in the gardens of Heaven. Ameen, thumma* ameen, wa aqeemus salat*.”

Zayd stepped down the pulpit as the people all rose to their feet. He looked over the rows of men behind him, making sure that they were properly aligned, foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder. Thereafter he turned his back and faced toward the boulder. The man who had called the athan earlier now stood in the middle of the first row. Zayd gave him a signal and the man began to call the iqama. When the man finished, Zayd looked back once more to check the rows, then turned back to facing the boulder with his eyes directed towards the ground. Raising his hands to his chest, he called out “Allahu Akbar,” and began leading the people in the Jum’ah prayer.



Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’un: “To Allah we belong and to Him we return.” Usually, this is said when seeing or hearing of death. It can also can be used as a supplication said when searching for something that has been lost.

Iftar: The opening “meal” of fasting. The Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was to break his fast with 3 fresh dates, and if that was unavailable then three dried dates, and if not that then water.

Ya akhi: O my brother

Zhahaba az-zama’ wa abtalat al-‘urooq wa thabata al-ajr In Shaa Allah: Thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is certain if Allah wills

Iman: While there is no existing word to properly translate iman, the best comparison we have is the word “Faith,” and so that is the assumed meaning that most people agree on.

‘Amaamah: Turban

Jubbah: Cloak

Jum’ah: The gathering for the large congregational prayer on Friday, which is preceded by a sermon (called a Khutbah) which is split in two. Attending Jum’ah is an obligation upon every sane Muslim male above the age of puberty, and it is optional for women to attend. Jum’ah is mentioned in the Quran, when Allah says what means: ” O you who believe! When the call to prayer is proclaimed on Friday (the Day of the Gathering), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if you but knew! And when the Prayer is finished, then you may disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint) so that you may prosper.” (62:9-10)

Wa ‘Alaikumus Salam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu: Peace be upon you, and (also) the Mercy of God, and (also) the Blessings of God

Ummah: Nation

Ghutrah: keffiyah, a traditional Arab headdress fashioned from a square, usually cotton, scarf with most baring a distinctive woven check pattern.. It is typically worn by Arab men, as well as some Kurds in arid regions to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well to protect the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand.

Zakat: alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality. It is also a means of purification of one’s wealth.

Hajj: Obligatory Pilgrimage to the Ka’ba in Makkah.

Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam: Roughly translates to peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Raheemahullah: May Allah have Mercy upon him

Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala

Thumma: Again

“Aqeemus Salat”: “Establish prayer.” In this context it is an announcement that the sermon is done and the prayer is about to begin.

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