A Letter to the Nile

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During the khilaafah (rule) of Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), the Muslims conquered the land of Egypt. Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had appointed Sayyiduna ‘Amr bin ‘Aas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) as the governor over Egypt.

After the Muslims began to rule, when the month of Baoonah (the tenth month in the Coptic calendar) commenced, the people of Egypt approached Sayyiduna ‘Amr bin ‘Aas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and said, “O leader! The Nile has a special ritual that must be performed. Without performing this ritual, the river will not rise (and we will not be able to farm).” Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) asked them, “What is this ritual?” The people answered, “When it is the twelfth night of this month, we go to a young, virgin girl. We then make her parents happy (by remunerating them greatly so they may consent us taking her away), after which we adorn her with the best of jewellery and dress her in the finest of garments. We then cast her into the Nile (as a human sacrifice).”

When Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) heard this, he said, “This ritual cannot be carried out in Islam, as Islam has abrogated and cancelled all customs and rituals of jaahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic era).” The people thus desisted from performing this ritual. However, the remainder of Baoonah passed, as well as the next two months, without the water level of the Nile rising. Eventually, the people resolved to leave the area and move elsewhere.

When Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) saw that the situation had reached this point, he wrote a letter to Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), informing him of the predicament in Egypt. On receiving his letter and reading it, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) sent him the following reply, “You have acted correctly (in refusing to carry out this custom), as Islam has cancelled all rituals and customs from jaahiliyyah.” Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) also wrote a small note, on a separate piece of paper, and included it within the letter. Regarding this note, he instructed Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), “I have sent a note to you, included with your letter. Cast this note into the Nile.”

When Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) received the letter, he took the note and saw that Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had written the following, “From the servant of Allah Ta‘ala, ‘Umar, Ameerul Mu-mineen, to the Nile of Egypt. If your flowing is of your own accord, then you may abstain from rising. However, if it is that Being, who is One and All-Powerful, that causes you to flow, then we ask Him Who is Alone and All-Powerful to make you flow.”

Sayyiduna ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) cast the letter into the Nile one day before Holy Cross Day (a day celebrated by the Christians). At that time all the people had prepared to migrate elsewhere, as they could not live in the region and see to their needs without the water of the Nile. The following morning, when the people awoke, they found that Allah Ta‘ala had caused the level of the Nile to rise by almost seven meters in a single night!

In this manner, Allah Ta‘ala brought an end to that bad custom of human sacrifice for the Nile, and it has never again been practiced till this day.

(Taareekh Ibni ‘Asaakir vol. 44, pg. 337)

Lessons:

1. No matter what difficulty the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) faced, even if it was the difficulty of drought due to the Nile not flooding, they were NEVER prepared to compromise their Deen. They understood that Allah Ta‘ala alone is in control of everything, and His assistance can NEVER be gained through disobeying Him and turning away from Him. Hence, in our current situation, while abiding by the lockdown regulations, we should remain committed to Deen and be loyal to Allah Ta‘ala by being steadfast on the five daily salaah, abstaining from sins, etc.

2. Islam is a complete Deen. Hence, a Muslim will never adopt customs from other cultures, such as birthday parties, nor will he invent his own customs and rituals and try to make them part of Deen.

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