The NY Times has published leaked government documents revealing how Chinese leader, Xi Jinping said “show absolutely no mercy” in the detention of millions of Muslims who are held in concentration camps in East Turkestan and forced to renounce their religion.
The miraculous nature of the Holy Qur’an means its message is universal and its stories continue to provide lessons today for those who contemplate and have intellect. لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ‘There is instruction in their stories for people of intelligence.’ (Yusuf, 12:111)
One such example is the chapter of Al-Buruj (towering constellations) in which Allah (Most High) narrates a story of a tyrant in history similar to Xi Jinping who punished the believers simply because they wouldn’t convert to his religion. The tyrant King and his entourage (‘the makers of the trench’) dug a trench and lit a great fire within it. The believers were then thrown in and burnt alive. The full story is related to us by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and can be read in Sahih Muslim. The parallels between this incident and what is happening to Muslims in China are such, that it’s as if Al-Buruj was revealed concerning them!
The chapter starts with Allah swearing an oath: وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ ‘By the sky with its towering constellations’. Al-Buruj are the stars and planets and its well known that the traditional Chinese calendar is based on a set of complex calculations derived from the movements of these celestial bodies. Yet despite studying these constellations in intricate detail they fail to recognise the signs of the Creator.
Allah then swears: وَالْيَوْمِ الْمَوْعُودِ ‘by the promised Day’, i.e. the day of judgement linking the creation of these constellations to Allah, the Creator and that no one can escape account on this day because He says وَشَاهِدٍ وَمَشْهُودٍ ‘by the Witness and that which is witnessed’. As Sayyid Qutb mentions in his tafsir, ‘On that day all deeds and creatures are exposed and witnessed. Everybody becomes a witness. Everything becomes known as there is no cover to hide anything from beholding eyes.’
The chapter then proceeds to describe the tyranny of أَصْحَابُ الأُخْدُودِ ‘the makers of the trench’ and as is happening in China, وَمَا نَقَمُوا مِنْهُمْ إِلاَّ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيدِ ‘Their only grievance against them was their faith in Allah, the Mighty, the Praiseworthy’.
These oppressors are then threatened with punishment even though Allah in His infinite mercy leaves the door open for them to repent and give up their oppression, إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَتَنُوا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَتُوبُوا فَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ الْحَرِيقِ ‘For those who persecute believing men and women, and do not repent afterwards, there will be the torment of Hell and burning.’
Good news is then given to the believers who suffer in such calamities that they will triumph, إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْكَبِيرُ ‘But for those who believe and do good deeds there will be Gardens graced with flowing streams: that is the great triumph.’
Finally, Allah reminds us of the stories of Pharaoh and Thamud narrated elsewhere in the Qur’an as an example of what happens to the tyrants. هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْجُنُودِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَثَمُودَ بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي تَكْذِيبٍ وَاللَّهُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِمْ مُحِيطٌ ‘Have you [not] heard the stories of the forces of Pharaoh and Thamud? Yet still the disbelievers persist in denial. Allah surrounds them all.’
Xi Jinping, the modern day Pharaoh, and his people who build dazzling skyscrapers like the Thamud before them did carving houses out of rocks in the valley – وَثَمُودَ الَّذِينَ جَابُوا الصَّخْرَ بِالْوَادِ All were crushed by Allah, and the believers inherited their lands confining their civilisations to the dustbin of history with nothing to show except some crumbling structures in the desert.
The chapter finishes with بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ فيِ لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ ‘This is truly a glorious Qur’an [written] on a preserved Tablet’ meaning the Qur’an and Islam cannot be destroyed by torture, concentration camps and massacres. The camps in East Turkestan will be liberated soon insha’Allah by a rightly guided Caliphate upon the method of the Prophethood and there is nothing the Chinese can do to stop this.
إِنَّ بَطْشَ رَبِّكَ لَشَدِيدٌ إِنَّهُ هُوَ يُبْدِئُ وَيُعِيدُ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الْوَدُود ذُو الْعَرْشِ الْمَجِيدُ فَعَّالٌ لِمَا يُرِيدُ
[Prophet], your Lord’s punishment is truly stern––it is He who brings people to life, and will restore them to life again––and He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Loving. The Glorious Lord of the Throne, He does whatever He wills.
By the sky with its towering constellations, by the promised Day, by the Witness and that which is witnessed, damned were the makers of the trench, the makers of the fuel-stoked fire! They sat down to watch what they were doing to the believers. Their only grievance against them was their faith in God, the Mighty, the Praiseworthy, to whom all control over the heavens and earth belongs: God is witness over all things.
For those who persecute believing men and women, and do not repent afterwards, there will be the torment of Hell and burning. But for those who believe and do good deeds there will be Gardens graced with flowing streams: that is the great triumph. [Prophet], your Lord’s punishment is truly stern––it is He who brings people to life, and will restore them to life again––and He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Loving. The Glorious Lord of the Throne, He does whatever He will. Have you [not] heard the stories of the forces of Pharaoh and Thamud? Yet still the disbelievers persist in denial. God surrounds them all.
This is truly a glorious Qur’an [written] on a preserved Tablet.
(Translation by MAS Abdel-Haleem)