What is Fitnah?

Alhamdulillah, a few of us from Milton Keynes travelled to Luton yesterday to sit in a class with Shaykh Ibrahim.   For the uninitiated, Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa is the teacher of many of the younger teachers we have had for the monthly Book of Assistance classes.  He is someone who practises what he preaches – and he preaches extremely well.

The topic was “The Way of Truth – The Reign of Abu Bakr Siddiq”, but the main thrust seemed to be Fitnah, its manifestations and how we protect ourselves.  This post won’t be as detailed as I wanted because somehow the notes I made on my phone have vanished – that in itself is a fitnah.

So what is Fitnah?

Al-Azhari said: “The Arabic word fitnah includes meanings of testing and trial. The root is taken from the phrase fatantu al-fiddah wa’l-dhahab (I tested the quality of the silver and gold), meaning I melted the metals to separate the bad from the good.

We generally take Fitnah to mean a test or trial and we can see how that comes about, you are testing the quality of the gold and putting it through trial by fire!

Fitnah in the Quran

The word fitnah appears in many places in the Quran and the meaning can generally come under 11 main headings.

  1. Polytheism (associating partners with Allah)
  2. Disbelief
  3. Tribulation
  4. Persecution
  5. Burning
  6. Killing
  7. Obstructing people from the message
  8. Deviancy
  9. Excuses
  10. Subjugation
  11. Madness

The Shaykh said that the four khulafah ar-rashideen (righteously guided Caliphs) protect against four aspects of fitnah.

Abu Bakr – the fitnah of Faith

Umar – the fitnah of Governance and Power

Uthman – the fitnah of the Dunya i.e. money and possessions

Ali – the fitnah of Knowledge (it has been mentioned that the Prophet (SAW) said, I am the citadel of knowledge and Ali is its door)

Surah al-Kahf

The Shaykh then reminded us about the importance of surah al-Kahf and how it is a protection from Fitnah.  We know about reciting the first ten verses being a protection again the Dajjal, but there are many more benefits.  One of the most important is that whoever recites Surat Al-Kahf on Jummah (from maghrib of Thursday until maghrib on Friday), it will illuminate him with light from one Friday to the next – Narrated by al-Haakim.   From Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, who said: “Whoever reads Soorat al-Kahf on the night of Jumu’ah, will have a light that will stretch between him and the Ancient House (the Ka’bah)

People have tasted this reality and for those who haven’t it is easy to relegate the importance of hadith which talk about the virtues of Surah al-Kahf, but if we believe in the truthfulness of the Prophet (SAW) we need to make an effort to revive this Sunnah of reciting Surah al-Kahf.

There are 4 Major themes in this Surah

1. Fitnah/Trial of Faith –  People of the Cave/ Ashabu Al-Kahf (Verses 9 – 26)
2. Fitnah/Trial of Wealth – The story of the rich and the poor (Verses 32 – 44)
3. Fitnah/Trial of Knowledge – Moses and Al-Khidr (Verses 60–82)
4. Fitnah/Trial of Power – Dhul-Qar-nayn with Yajuj Majuj (Verses 83–98)

There were many take-away messages but the one which really hit home was the importance of reciting Surah al-Kahf on Jummah

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