In light of recent political events in Yemen and other countries, Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) clarifies the Prophetic perspective on how to deal with tribulations.
Habib Umar delivered the lecture in Dar al-Mustafa on 9th Jumada al-Akhirah 1436 / 29th March 2015 and it was attended by students of forty two nationalities. In it Habib Umar gave general guidelines as well as specific advice for those currently studying in Tarim. What follows is a summary of the main points.
We must clarify to every individual, young and old, the methodology which we must follow and the foundations upon which it is built. We need to realise the true meaning of coming together in this blessed place under the banner of the Prophetic Call. This dictates that we realise our duty and responsibility and how we deal with events that take place on the earth.
The Reality of Recent Tribulations
Among those events are the attacks that several nations have launched against certain groups in Yemen. The majority of those involved in this conflict have power and worldly aims as their main motives and this is what has driven them to take up arms. The people who are involved in these struggles have no desire to make the Word of Allah transcendent. They have no desire to establish the Sunnah of Muhammad. They are not motivated by mercy and compassion for the weak and for orphans. Their Lord knows best what their intentions are. None of those who threw themselves into these struggles in various places attained any good out of it. I believe that they would all say that had they seen what has now happened they would have acted differently. But most people have not looked carefully at the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ. Had they done so, they would have taken a different path from the beginning.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ informed us of the tribulations that would befall his Ummah at the end of time. The events we are now witnessing are like a link in a chain most of which has passed and only a little of which remains. These tribulations will take their course in the places and ways that have been decreed for them. They will not increase or decrease except in the case where Allah permits certain actions or supplications to have an effect. In reality the affair has been sealed – “the pens have been lifted and the ink has dried.”
He informed us that the most severe tribulations would come to pave the way for the victory that Allah will give him once again and for the raising of His banners. Relief will come from Allah and the triumph of truth and guidance in a way that people would not be able to imagine.
Those who will be harmed most by these tribulations will be those who deliberately get involved and throw themselves into the conflict and will thus have the greatest responsibility. They will be asked why they got involved, for whom, in what way and whether they have proof from Allah for what they are doing. As for those who suffer harm despite not deliberately getting involved they are potentially martyrs in Allah’s sight and will not have lost anything.
These days will pass and we await the days in which Allah pours His generosity upon us and upon the Muslims. This region (Hadramawt) will remain, with Allah’s permission, in a state of well-being, but we ask Allah to show His gentleness to our brethren in Sana`a, Aden, and all areas of Yemen and all areas of the world.
The Prophet ﷺ, the one entrusted with guiding mankind, told us how to deal with tribulations when they arise. He said that:
“The one who exposes himself to them will be caught up in them.”
He said that in these times the one lying on his side is better than the one sitting; the one sitting is better than the one standing; the one standing is better than the one walking and the one walking is better than the one running. Did he convey the message or not? He definitely conveyed the message ﷺ. One of the Companions asked the Prophet ﷺ which side he should take if the Muslims were divided into different groups. He said to him:
“Distance yourself from all these groups.”
The People of Truthfulness
In times of tribulation, Allah singles out truthful people who honour their covenant with Allah. They are not shaken by the events that take place. They are guided by the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and their hearts are filled with trust in Allah, reliance upon Him, hope in Him and fear of Him. Allah describes them as follows:
Those that convey Allah’s messages and fear Him and fear none other than Allah. Allah suffices as a Reckoner 
Those to whom men said: “The enemy have gathered against you, so fear them!” But this only increased their faith, and they said: “Allah is sufficient for us! He is the best Guardian!” So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah and no harm touched them. They attained the good pleasure of Allah and Allah possesses immense bounty 
Those who possess these attributes regardless of the time in which they live attain high stations and live in a state of safety and tranquillity. Allah says:
When the believers saw the Confederates they said: “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us. Allah and His Messenger have spoken the truth.” It only increased them in faith and submission (to Allah). Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah. Some of them have died and some are waiting. They have never changed their determination in the least. Allah may then reward the truthful for their truthfulness and punish the hypocrites if He wills or relent toward them 
We follow the path which the Prophet ﷺlaid out for us and the way of the people of truthfulness. This has been the correct way throughout our history. It is not something which we have invented. This was the way of the Prophetic Household, the Companions, the Followers and all those that came after them. It was the way of Zayn al-`Abidin `Ali bin al-Husayn, Hasan al-Basri, Sa`id bin al-Musayyib, Sa`id bin Jubayr, al-Harith al-Muhasibi, Abu Talib al-Makki, Imam al-Ghazali, al-Junayd bin Muhammad and Imam `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani. It was the way of al-Muhajir, Ahmad bin `Isa and all his forefathers. It was the way of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam Muhammad bin `Ali Ba `Alawi and it was the way of my father and my teachers. From them I took the path and from them I received the understanding of the Book and the Sunnah, the understanding of our duty in life, the purpose for which Allah created us and how we prepare to return to Him, our connection to Muhammad and our duty in dealing with every event that occurs.
The way of the people of truthfulness was to avoid tribulations. They fulfilled their obligations in doing that which is clearly good and avoided anything in which the Devil had a hand. This is the path they took and we follow in their footsteps by Allah’s permission.
We consider the work which we are involved a form of jihad to which no-one may raise any objection. It consists of working with truthfulness and sincerity towards attaining the three objectives of attaining knowledge, acting upon it and calling people to Allah on an individual level, a family level and a community level in whatever time, place or situation we find ourselves. Our leader in this is the soul of Muhammad ﷺ, his clear Sunnah and the way of his Companions and those who follow them in excellence. We have chosen this form of jihad in the way of Allah. We refuse to get involved in any affair unless it is completely good and completely clear and only if we will be free from being subordinate to any group and safe from the meddling of the Devil. If we have any doubt then we return to the advice of the Prophet ﷺ:
“Leave that which causes you doubt in favour of that that which does not cause you doubt.”
This is our advice to those who will listen. As for those who do not wish to listen we will not declare anyone a disbeliever (kafir), someone who associates partners with Allah (mushrik) or an innovator. We will not struggle against anyone, abuse anyone, or look for support from anyone. We do not fear evil from anyone. Let them busy themselves with the conclusions which their intellects have caused them to arrive at. We are concerned with conveying the message of Allah and His Messenger and fulfilling our responsibility in the way that Allah loves. Allah says to our Master ﷺ:
We have been taught to respond to our Most Generous Lord by saying:
If You punish them, they are Your slaves and if You forgive them You are the Mighty, the Wise 
He who follows me is of me; while he who disobeys me.. You are Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful .
These are the teachings we have inherited from the previous Prophets.
Praise be to Allah for the fact that you have no Muslim blood on your hands. May He also cleanse your hearts and your minds so that you are not taken to account for any blood that has been spilt, or any person whose honour has been violated or for putting fear in the heart of any believer. Likewise guard your tongues. You have not physically entered any battle but you may be taken to account for what you say. Someone may say: “So and so deserved to be killed,” and he may then be taken to account for his part in killing him.
Allah knows best what people’s intentions are. We cannot judge people’s intentions. Our role is only to teach people and not to control them. Our leader did not control anyone so how can we? Allah says:
You are not their controller.
The Prophet ﷺtaught us to say in the morning and evening:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الَّذِي لا يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيءٌ في الأَرْضِ ولا فِي السَّمَاءِ وهْوَ السَّميعُ العَلِيمُ
“In the Name of Allah. Nothing in the heavens and earth may harm the one who mentions His name. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
“Nothing in the heavens and earth..” Do you know what that means? You read this in the morning and evening. Are you a believer or a disbeliever? Are you sincere or are you a hypocrite?
Allah shows us what our methodology should be in the face of adversity:
If you have steadfastness (sabr) and taqwa their schemes will never harm you.
Say: “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Protector. In Allah let the believers place their trust.” Say: “Are you waiting for anything to befall us except one of two glorious things?” 
All praise be to Allah – everything that is awaiting us is good for us.
Every Muslim has the ability to give advice, teach others and help those in need so they should do what they can sincerely for Allah’s sake. This is their duty regarding their concern for the affairs of the Muslims. They are thus safe from being part of the problems confronting the Ummah or causing more problems.
Specific Advice for those Living and Studying in Tarim
Many of you in this place knew nothing about what was going on until a family member from outside Tarim contacted you after seeing what has been happening on the news or when some of your governments requested that their citizens return home. It is fitting that you have only heard about it from outside Tarim because naturally people outside Tarim are affected by the media, whose mission is to shake and scare people and spread false rumours and in doing so serve the Devil. People have become completely captivated by the media.
May Allah reward those countries that wish to protect their citizens. This is what they believe to be correct and it is natural that they be worried. The whole arena in which they operate is based upon fear and worry and they only have a small portion of faith and tranquillity. If they feel that it is in the interests of their citizens to return home and if they have provided means of transport, may Allah reward them. Families are naturally affected by these events and this is excusable. They are not excused, however, from doing their duty.
Thus if someone wishes to leave, we will not prevent them and if someone wishes to stay, we will not prevent them. However, these days of tribulation will pass and meanwhile we will be amongst the safest of people on the face of the earth. We will be in a state of complete tranquillity due to the fact that we receive special protection and care from Allah. Neither our food supply, nor our safety nor our tranquillity will be affected.
Had we known that any harm would come to any one of you in your religion or your worldly affairs, we would order you and request you to leave. This, however, will not happen by Allah’s will. Even if some harm were to befall us and we told people to leave then those who are completely truthful would say:
“I do not prefer myself over you.”
Let each one of you decide how we deal with these events and how he speaks to his relatives at home. He cannot, however, change his path in fulfilling his obligation in this life due to these events. We must convince our relatives that our path is correct, but we are not content for a student, a teacher or a worker to remain here if his parents are not content with that. We must give each person the rights that are due to them. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ turned away someone who wished to perform jihad with him due to the fact that his parents were not content for him to do so. He said to him:
“Your struggle is with them.”
If someone is truthful, Allah will enable him to convince his parents to allow him to stay.
Your concern for the affairs of the Muslims should be expressed in your supplications and pleading with Allah and your presence of heart when you remember Him. Do not waste your time following events in the news. You have a role to perform. Your focus should be on the Qur’an and the Sunnah and your studies: whether it be fiqh, tafsir, hadith or grammar. Let your hearts be present in your studies for this is your provision for your meeting with Allah. This is what you are involved in now. None of you are in government and are thus responsible for the decisions governments makes.
O Lord, it is Muslim houses, Muslim airports and Muslim property that are being destroyed! It is Muslim honour that is being violated! It is Muslim blood that is being spilt! It is Muslim women and children that are being frightened! What is the cause of this? O Allah, save the Muslims and remove the tribulations that have befallen them. Your enemy and his followers have divided the Muslims so unite them, O Lord, by Your power and the station of Your Beloved Muhammad.
Let us and our loved ones be with Your Beloved in this life, at death, in the Barzakh, on the Day of Judgement and in the Abode of Honour. Allow them to see him, to kiss his hand, to be with him, to be in the same row as him, to follow him and to receive his care and compassion. I take refuge in the light of Your countenance that anyone who is connected to us, has attended our gatherings or received knowledge from us be separated from him ﷺ . Let us gaze at his face and let he be the one who gives us to drink from the Pool along with `Ali and may Fatimah be pleased by this. The raising of voices in supplication in places of worship causes tribulations to be lifted. This gathering is more effective than whole squadrons of fighter planes. May Allah save the Muslims whatever school or group they belong to. May He guide everyone that says la ilaha ill’Allah.
Go forth with Allah’s protection, with your path illuminated and complete tranquillity. Be truthful with your Lord and work together for His sake. May we be among those who are accepted by Him. All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.