Allah (subhanahu wa taala) says in the impeccable book, the Quran:
This verse tells us and warns us undoubtedly, unmistakably and unequivocally that Islam is the righteous path. It tells us of the one and only straight path for our hopes and dreams for this world and for the afterlife to be realized. This divine decree is a guide that determines our outwardly apparent behaviors, our internal dispositions, our intentions and our direction.
In this age of doubts, suspicions and misgivings, we, as Muslims, believe in this truth and hold fast onto the creed, deed and morality-related aspects of the religion that is the one and only in the presence of Allah. We know that only through doing so may we achieve happiness in this world and the afterlife. This is our duty to ourselves, our Muslim brothers and all of humanity.
The fact that Islam is the one true path designates us Muslims with the charge of spreading this truth across the entire world and to the entirety of humanity. The name of this charge is mentioned in our infallible book, the Qur’an itself: “al-amr bi-l-maʿrūf wa-n-nahy ʿani-l-munkar.”1 In other words, “directing others towards the truth that Allah (subhanahu wa taala) dictates, which Rasulallah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) teaches and to which he leads by example while preventing people from making mistakes and committing sins, which Allah forbids.”
From our own body to our hearth and home and eventually, to the entire face of the earth, this duty whose call we answer with all our drive, effort and endeavor is commonly called “i’lai kalimatullah”; that is, exalting and establishing the rule of Almighty Allah’s will and that of his message. Any legitimate action can be defined as “i’la-yi kalimatullah” that involves learning about and teaching Islam, spreading it across the world with triumphs, defending it from attacks and acts of aggression, propagating literary titles and works of Islam for future generations and communicating them to all of humanity via communication tools.
Just as we, the mu’minun, stretch out our helping hand to the needy, the oppressed, the hungry and the thirsty, so do we offer our helping hand in the form of tabligh in the face of the greatest hunger of all; ignorance and absence of iman. For this reason, our fourteen-century long history is filled with service to Allah and service to do good. Our futuhat (plural of fath) are nothing but a fulfillment of the duty of i’la-yi kalimatullah. The crude and uncultured among us and outside of us mistaking fath (pronounced fet-h with the last sound being the Arabic letter Hha, a sound similar to ”h” made by constricting throat muscles at the beginning of the sound. You can listen to the pronunciation here) for occupation and exploitation can be ascribed to no reason other than being entirely alien to its truth.
Fath isn’t an act of conquering and taking over a region in order to seize its authority and its resources or to shut it down and isolate it. On the contrary, fath, as the lexical meaning suggests, means to open up; that is, opening up a path to the divine truth, peace and serenity. Those who claim our futuhat to be mere conquests and occupations need only take a look at how Al-Quds, which is known today as Jerusalem, fared under our care and guardianship and what became of it afterward. As a sacred site for three religions, this holy city was a safe haven and a place of peace for Muslims and non-muslims alike under our fath whereas, after our rule, it fast became the epicenter of a crisis that never lacked blood and tears. Just the history of Al-Quds alone sends a stark and unequivocal message to the whole world that Islam is the one true path. It speaks volumes about the truth of fath and its nature.
The focal point of the essence and substance of fath is the human heart. That’s why Muslims offer up aman (safety/asylum) or iman before resorting to warfare. This is ensued by a lesson in truth to familiarize them with. Nobody can be forced or be subjected to force due to their beliefs, the things they hold sacred, their names or their traditions. The fact that Islam is the one true path is shown by example, by being a living example. It is because of this that the nations in the Balkans were able to preserve their cultural heritage and reestablish their states as easily as the did once the Ottoman state withdrew from the region. This aspect of fath is not something that we choose but rather a moral value imprinted on us by the Qur’an al-Karim and Rasulallah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).
Thanks to this moral value, wherever our religion shone like a beacon on this earth, those lands have become a safe haven for different religions, languages and sects. Those whose minds are muddled by the abusive, exploitative Western “morality” that is prominent today cannot comprehend the code of jihad that requires Muslims to protect the old, the children, the women and the non-combatants and refrain from inflicting any damage to nature, the soil, the water and the places of worship.
The claims by certain local and foreign orientalist authors in the last several centuries that Islamic conquests have an ingrained motive at their core to force people to change their religions by the sword are nothing but a reversal of historical truths. It is imperative to underline the fact that even the smallest minorities under Muslims’ rule have maintained their ethnicity, language and religion to this day. In stark contrast, countries that came under the rule of the Western colonialism for no more than half a century have been at the heart of major massacres and their local beliefs and cultural heritages have been subjected to grave and ruinous loss. These systematic eliminations and devastations continue even today without relent or an end in sight.
The fact that the conquests that we define as futuhat swept across three continents in a short period during the time of the Companions of Rasulallah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and the Tabi’in and that people entered into the fold of Islam and were blessed with the honor of being Muslims in masses only has to do with the aspect of fath that we have mentioned thus far. Having been formed of islands in remote oceans, Indonesia and Malaysia were not conquered by soldiers but guided to hidayah (the true, straight path) by Muslim merchants. Even this fact alone serves as a lesson and a significant point to reflect on. This fath is but a manifestation of the good tidings that Allah (subhanahu wa taala) gave to Rasulallah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in the surah al-Nasr. These good tidings are given in translation as below:
“When the victory of Allah has come and the conquest,
And you see the people entering into the religion of Allah in multitudes,
Then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him.
Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance.”
For Muslims bringing victory to Islam against massive armies with small numbers, winning against those at the height of power when seemingly weak and incapable and achieving victory for Islam in distant lands with a handful of heralds, the joyful news in the following verses is their guiding light:
“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.” (Ali ‘Imran, 139)
“It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion. And sufficient is Allah as Witness.” (Fath, 28)
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are ruthless to the unbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.” (Fath, 29)
We would like to close with a congratulation on the reinstatement of the Hagia Sophia mosque, a trust left behind by those who were honored with the prophetic tidings of “What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!” May Allah (subhanahu wa taala) hold us fast upon the path of his religion. May He honor us with i’la-yi kalimatullah and keep us far away from disgrace.
With His tawfiq and inayah…
1. “Encouraging or instructing the good and preventing the bad.” ↩