Many ahadith of our Prophet (sal Allahu alihi wasallam) will help us define our position and the nature of the times to which we belong. An understanding of this historical context may in turn enable us to chalk out the appropriate path and course of action for ourselves. Some of these adadith are quoted below:
A time will come when nations and communities will pounce upon you as extremely hungry people fall on meal-laden table, to eat. A person asked will this situation come about because of the paucity of our numbers? The prophet (SAW) replied, "No, in numbers you will be enormous but you will be like unto froth floating on the surface of flood-waters. Allah will cast away all feelings of fear and awe towards you from the breasts of your enemies and put wahn in your own hearts." "What is wahn? O Messenger of Allah?", someone asked. The Prophet said, "it is love of the world and fear of death. (Abu Dawood, Bihaqui)
A time of trial and tribulation will follow like unto a pitch-dark night (so confusing and excruciating) that a person will begin the day in belief and end it in disbelief. (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)
There are times in store for you when to be patient will be as difficult as to hold burning fire in the palm of one's hand. (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
When public affairs are entrusted to the undeserving and the incompetent, wait for the doomsday. (Bukhari)
The love of the world, to which the first of the above-quoted ahadith refers, means such a blinding infatuation with the world which makes one impervious to all values except that of worldly gain and profit. Such an infatuation, when practised at a large scale, turns all values topsy-turvy. An individual whose religion is worldly gain at any cost, cannot have an identity or a stable character. Consequently he is always unpredictable; he will be one thing in the morning, quite another in the evening, as considerations of profit dictate. A group or community of such individuals has been aptly compared with the weightless scum sailing on the surface of floodwaters. When communities like these choose their leaders and rulers, they consciously or unconsciously select people according to the criteria determined by their ethical vision. As a rule incompetent and undeserving people are chosen. Competence and merit has not always been respected in history and the annals are replete with heart-rending complaints of sensitive men of merit ignored in their day. Witness Hafiz:
Asp-i tazi shudeh majrooh be-zere palan
Touqi-i zarreen hameh der garden-i khar mee binem
The best breed of the Arabian steed is bruises all over under the packsaddle
While donkeys are adorned with necklaces of gold.
Tired with all these, for restful death I cry:
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimmed in jollity.
But previously such injustice was an exception, slowly and gradually it may become the rule. The last quoted hadith says that when it becomes the rule, wait for the doomsday.