STORY 16  – “1996: From Communism to Hajj”

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By  Waleed Basyouni (Ph.D)

Vice-President AlMaghrib Institute


In the Hajj of 1996 Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen did what he did every year. He either visited a group of the Hujjaj (pilgrims) as they arrived at Jeddah waiting for their papers to be processed or he would go to visit a group in Mina after they settled there.


That year he went to visit and welcomed them at Jeddah inside the HAJJ CENTER by the Airport.


He was with a group of students of knowledge and my friend Shaykh Ahmad Al-Hamdan who would later narrate the story.


They come across a group of Hujjaj most of whom were elderly with beautiful full growing well-groomed smooth white beards.


The shaykh asked where the group was from?


He was informed that they were from a country which used to be part of the Soviet Union. The Shaykh said let us talk to them and they found one of the Saudi organizers (Mutawif) spoke their language but you could tell his command of the language was not good and then all of the sudden a young man came and volunteered to translate and immediately you could see the difference between the two from how the people responded to the translation.


Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen gave a great reminder about Tawheed and how Hajj establishes the concept of complete obedience and submission to Allah which is the essence of Islam.


After the shaykh finished, the young man asked the shaykh about his name as his voice sounded familiar.


The Shaykh replied I am Mohammad Alsaleh Al’Uthaymeen , the man’s mouth dropped!


He said Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen?! The Shaykh with a big smile said yes Mohammad ibn saleh Al’Uthaymeen.


The man said Shaykh , can I please tell the group who you are? The Shaykh said of course you can.


Everyone was surprised by the man’s reaction but the surprise became bigger when he informed the group about who the speaker was. They were so shocked they had tears mixed with smiles, it was an amazing moment.

Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in their holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali

Sh. Ahmad Alhamdan asked the translator what was going on?


The translator said, all these men are Shaykh’s students, during the Soviet time they used to gather in secrecy at homes and caves to study the shaykh’s book and lectures. If they were captured by the government at that time they could have faced the capital punishment.


They never thought they would meet him in Makkah. The shaykh said Alhumdulilah and welcomed them to Makkah and wished them an accepted Hajj mabroor.


✤ There are many reflections I have about this amazing story:


► Reflection 1:

One of Allah’s blessings and early reward for your good deeds is that Allah allows you to see the outcome of your good deeds in this life itself. I am sure we are very happy when we witness the results of our hard work, if it is a child who is righteous and successful, or a student or an organization you built or a team you put together….


It feels great to see your efforts have an impact, but can you imagine how great you will truly feel on the day of Judgment when you see the success of your own self, being saved from Hellfire and winning Allah’s Mercy and Jannat Al na’eem?! When you see mountains of rewards in your record as a result of your support to an organization or donation you gave to a masjid or a student of knowledge you sponsored or a life that you saved or a soul you guided. May Allah preserve all our good deeds and help us to do more.


► Reflection 2:

The Soviet Union did everything they could to prevent Muslims from learning and practicing their Deen, but look where both ended up! The Soviet Union as a country is no more and Islam is growing stronger. We should always rely on Allah and trust Him and His plan more than trusting ourselves or fearing any enemy. You need to do your part, hold onto what you can, and the outcome will always be righteous.

Hajar and the story of Hajj Rites

► Reflection 3:

One of the things that I love about our scholars is that they were looking to benefit people not for fame or calculated moves that would benefit them financially or politically or elevate their status. Rather, the Shaykh used to go and speak at random places and visit groups only seeking the reward of Allah. Even though I know many groups of government high officials or students of knowledge or business men would love for the Shaykh to spend even 10 minutes with them. I think today we need to give more to the community that cannot give us back through publicity or financial reward . The inner-city masjids, MSAs, the small towns, Da’wah tables …etc


► Reflection 4:

Nothing should stop you from learning and preserving the Deen of Allah. With all the difficulties those brothers had growing up under the Soviet regime they did not stop learning and practicing Islam, they had no access to knowledge, they did not speak the language, there were no scholars, it was a crime to gather for learning or praying together that could lead to jail or even death.


Yet, all of this did not stop and hinder them and when the time came and the Union broke apart, they were ready to lead their community and teach them the Deen they preserved over the years.


What is our excuse today? May Allah forbid, if we ever were in such a situation, what would happen if we couldn’t remove the ignorance from ourselves and preserve the Sunnah and the way of Mohammad ﷺ in the times of ease what will be the case in the times of hardship. I thank and pray for each one of you out there who is learning Islam and contributing to its preservation.


► Reflection 5:

You do not know how far your words and work will travel, the Shaykh never thought he would have students from that part of the world thousands of miles away. I hope this will inspire us to act and ask Allah to bless our work and knowledge.


► Reflection 6:

The most important thing we need to teach and remind the Muslims about is Tawheed, because it is the essence of our religion and the foundation that everything else is built on. Today unfortunately many of our lectures, classes, conferences, social media posts for weeks and months even in many cases years go by without a single reminder of Tawheed and Focus on basics.


If we do not build a strong foundation our Iman will not grow and go higher.


Finally, on that day when Shaykh Ibn Uthymeen found out that his classes were being translated and taught in that far country and the praising of his knowledge by everyone there only made him more grateful to Allah and humbler with people.


And that is what knowledge should do to us as well. When Allah raises our status in this world we should become more humble and more down to Earth so that Allah can further raise our status in the heavens above.


Theses are my thoughts and reflections and I am looking forward to reading yours. Thank you for reading my stories and sharing them with others.



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