AL-WAHN, A DEADLY DISEASE
From Nidaa’ul Islam Magazine, Vol. 9 March 2002
On the authority of Thawbaan , the Prophet said: “The People will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their food.” Someone asked, “Will that be because of our small numbers at that time?” He replied, “No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be froth and scum like that carried down by a torrent (of water), and Allah will take the fear of you from the breasts (hearts) of your enemy and cast al-wahn into your hearts.” Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is al-wahn?” He replied, “Love of the world and dislike of death.” [An authentic hadith recorded by Abu Dawud and Ahmad]
In attempting to contemplate on the meaning of the Prophet’s words in the above hadith (and indeed on any of his noble sayings), one quickly comes to appreciate the Prophet’s statement: “I have been given words which are concise, but comprehensive in meaning” [Bukhaari and Muslim]. The Messenger was blessed with the profound ability to utter several words which whole volumes could then be written about.
In this striking hadith, the Prophet describes the situation of the Muslims with great accuracy, and also prescribes a remedy for the ailment. “The People will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their food.”
What is extraordinary in this hadith, is that the Prophet conjures up vivid images in the listener’s mind about the scenario. Here, the Ummah (the Muslim nation) is first likened to some seemingly tasty food surrounded by a group of hungry diners. But these people need to share, and thus, the food must be divided into portions corresponding to the status of each ‘guest’.
Shortly after the fall of the Khilafah (Caliphate), the Muslim world was divided into many different states by the European powers, with each of them eyeing the rich resources that Allah has blessed the Muslims with. Colonisation and corruption shortly followed in those lands, and the seeds of tyrannical, despot regimes were planted. Now, with the Ummah divided and each government primarily concerned with its own interests, the enemies of Islam are free to attack each region like wild animals attack their prey – Palestime, Iraq, Chachnya and now Afghanistan.
Someone asked, “Will that be because of our small numbers at that time?” He replied, “No, you will be numerous at that time…” This is yet more evidence that in Islam, numbers are of little significance. The Muslims were victorious: at the Battle of Badr, where the disbelievers outnumbered the Muslims three to one. They were also victorious at Yarmuk, where the Romans outnumbered the Muslims seventy to one. The current situation is quite the opposite. The Muslim population is more than a billion and is rapidly growing. Yet, these phenomenal numbers are of little consequence when the masses of the population are essentially slaves to the West, herded mindlessly like cattle according to the whims of their masters.
“…but you will be froth and scum like that carried down by a torrent (of water)” Here is another image! This extraordinary description carries heavy meaning beneath its exterior if one considers the characteristics of the “froth and scum”.
Firstly, the froth overlies the water beneath, suggesting a sense of pride and self-confidence. Secondly, the froth is almost weightless and with little substance, such that the slightest breeze can destroy it. Thus, the pride and self-confidence is ill founded and in reality, should not exist. It is only a product of self-delusion. Thirdly, the foam and scum is not in control of its path – that is, the role of the water flowing beneath. All it does is happily flow along to its destination while intoxicated with its imaginary position.
“…and Allah will take the fear of you from the breasts (hearts) of your enemy and cast al-wahn into your hearts.” There were days when the forces of the Muslims were dreaded by all those who opposed them, when people from all over the world would travel to to the lands of the Muslims to receive education, and when Arabic was the language of success. These days are all but gone. Muslims and Islam are generally looked down upon. Why? The Prophet said it is because of Wahn. Technically, it means a dull lifelessness and enervation. However, the Prophet explains what this word really means: Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is al-wahn?” He replied, “Love of the world and dislike of death.”
Thus, the problem and the solution have been identified. After the bombardment from capitalist and socialist ideologies, the Muslim world became too materialistic, desperately pursuing the rewards and pleasures of this world, with little remembrance of the Hereafter. The Prophet said (in another hadith): “Keep much in remembrance of death, which is the destroyer of pleasure.” [Tirmidhi]
Allah said: “Say: ‘Short is the enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter is the best for those who do right. And you will never be dealt with unjustly in the very least. Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high.” [An-Nisaa, 4:77-78]
Imam Ahmad records from Abu Dardaa as saying: “If only you knew what you will certainly see upn your death, you would never eat again a single bite out of a craving appetite, and you would never again drink an extra sip of water for the pleasure of unquenchable and insatiable thirst.”
Once Muslims realise that the death is not the end, but the beginning, thereafter with ultimate justice and either excruciating torment or blissful reward, our situation will surely change. Until then, Allah says: “Verily, Allah will never change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.” [Ar-Ra’d, 13:11]