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There are saheeh reports about the virtues of Bilaad ash-Shaam (Greater Syria), so why are there so many people in that region who are far away from any religious commitment?

 

Praise
be to Allah

There is a
great deal of sound evidence concerning the virtues of ash-Shaam (Greater
Syria) in the Qur’an and the Sunnah,  such as the verse in which Allah, may
He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“Exalted is
He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-
Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed,
He is the Hearing, the Seeing”


[al-Israa’
17:1]
.

Imam at-Tabari
(may Allah have mercy on him) said:

whose
surroundings We have blessed
” here, Allah, may He be exalted, is saying:
of which We have made the surrounding area blessed for its inhabitants in
their livelihoods, food, tilling and planting. End quote. Tafseer at-Tabari
(14/448).

It was
narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him) said: “O Allah, bless for us our Shaam; O Allah, bless for us our
Yemen.”

They said: O
Messenger of Allah, and our Najd?

He said: “O
Allah, bless for us our Shaam; O Allah, bless for us our Yemen.”

They said: O
Messenger of Allah, and our Najd?

I think he
said the third time: “That is the place of earthquakes and tribulations, and
from it the side of the Shaytaan’s head rises.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari
(7094).

Ibn Rajab
al-Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It should be understood that
the blessing in ash-Shaam includes blessing in both religious and worldly
matters. Hence the land is called holy.

End quote
from Majmoo‘ah Rasaa’il Ibn Rajab (3/224).

This is
something obvious, for Bilaad ash-Shaam is one of the best lands in terms of
provision.

Secondly:

There are
also reports which indicate that faith and goodness are greater in ash-Shaam
than in other lands.

It was
narrated that Abu’d-Dardaa’ said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whilst I was sleeping, I saw the pillar
of the Book being taken from beneath my head, and I thought that it was
being taken away, so I followed it with my gaze, and it was taken to
ash-Shaam. Verily faith, when tribulations come, will be in ash-Shaam.”

Narrated by
Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad (36/62); classed as saheeh by the
commentators on al-Musnad. It was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in
Takhreej Ahaadeeth Fadaa’il ash-Shaam wa Dimashq (p. 13)

Shaykh
al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:


The pillar
of the book and Islam – this refers to something that acts as a support;
what is referred to here is those who learn the Qur’an and adhere to it]


This is
similar to the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him): “The heartland of the believers is ash-Shaam.”


End quote
from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (27/42)

The hadith
“The heartland of the believers is ash-Shaam” was narrated by Imam Ahmad and
classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah
(1935).

It was
narrated that Ibn Hawaalah said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace
of Allah be upon him) said: “This matter will end with you becoming  massed
troops: troops in ash-Shaam, troops in Yemen, and troops in Iraq.”

Ibn Hawaalah
said: Choose for me, O Messenger of Allah, if I should live to see that.

He said:
“You should go to ash-Shaam, for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which He will
gather His chosen slaves. But if you refuse, then go to Yemen and draw water
from your ponds, for Allah has promised me that He will take care of
ash-Shaam and its people.” Narrated by Abu Daawood (2483). Classed as saheeh
by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Daawood (2483).

The reports
concerning this support one another.

That does
not mean that in some periods religious commitment in this land will not be
weak, because the report has to do with time overall. The people of
ash-Shaam are still a fortress for Islam and the Muslims, and this land is
still good and is still producing bearers of knowledge who act upon it and
teach the people about their religion, reviving what has been forgotten or
become distorted of religious teachings. In this land and at the hands of
its people, the greatest military campaigns of the disbelievers against the
land of Islam have been defeated, as happened during the Crusades, and as
happened when the Tatars and their evil were prevented from advancing
further into Muslim territory. In this land, they were defeated, which led
to their decline.

This
goodness will remain among them, if Allah wills, until the end of time,
until Allah, may He be exalted, destroys the Dajjaal and his followers at
their hands, when the Messiah ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam comes down and leads the
believers in the fight against the Dajjaal.

Shaykh
al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) highlighted the distinct
character of the people of ash-Shaam by noting that they will continue to
comply with the commands of Allah until the end of time, and that the
victorious group will remain among them until the end of time. This is
speaking of an ongoing matter that will remain with them, that they will be
numerous and strong.

This
description does not apply to anyone in the Muslim world except the people
of ash-Shaam… knowledge and faith are still present in that land, and
whoever fights in that land to support the faith will be victorious and will
be granted divine help.

End quote
from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (4/449).

 It was
narrated that Abu Umaamah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I said: O
Prophet of Allah, what was the beginning of your affair? He said: “The
prayer of my father Ibraaheem and the glad tidings of ‘Eesaa. My mother
dreamt that there came out of her light by which the palaces of ash-Shaam
were illuminated.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Silsilat
al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah
(1545).

Ibn Katheer
(may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (1/444): The fact
that ash-Shaam is singled out in conjunction with his light indicates that
his religion and his teachings will abide in Bilaad ash-Shaam.

Hence at the
end of time, ash-Shaam and its people will be a stronghold for Islam, and in
that land ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam will come down. End quote.

With regard
to the lack of religious commitment in some eras, this may happen for some
wise purpose that Allah, may He be exalted, wills. But this does not cancel
out the general principle.

In some
hadiths, the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) indicated
that the people of ash-Shaam may become corrupt, and if that happens, then
its impact will affect the entire ummah.

It was
narrated from Mu‘aawiyah ibn Qurrah that his father said: The Messenger of
Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If the people of
ash-Shaam become corrupt, then there is no goodness in you, but a group of
my ummah will remain victorious, not harmed by those who let them down,
until the Hour begins.”

Narrated by
at-Tirmidhi (2192). He said: This is a hasan saheeh hadith,

This is what
we see confirmed in our own era. From the day when the Zionists gained power
over the heart of ash-Shaam, Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and the surrounding
area, and Bilaad ash-Shaam was cut up into small states and its people were
the subject of plots, from that time the Muslims have been in a state of
weakness.

We ask Allah
to rectify the affairs of the Muslims.

And Allah
knows best.