When we think of oppression, we usually think of war-torn countries, evil dictators and corrupt governments. While all of these are true, and doing something and spreading awareness about it are certainly noble causes, we usually forget to look at the one thing that we can actually make an immediate difference to – ourselves.
Maybe we’re thinking – me committing oppression? No way!
But we need to realize that…
Not paying back the money we owe is zulm.
Not returning something that we borrow is zulm.
Not fulfilling an amanah towards others is zulm.
‘Disappearing’ for a period of time from our work without consent is zulm.
Revealing someone else’s secret is zulm.
Backbiting people, slandering them, and spreading tales about them is zulm.
Degrading people is zulm.
Disrespecting our parents is zulm.
Cheating on one’s spouse is zulm.
Behaving loudly in one’s neighbourhood is zulm.
Withholding sustenance from one’s pets is zulm.
All of these, and more, are a form of oppression.
And the greatest form of zulm is to commit shirk.
[Zulm] literally means to put something in a place that it does not belong, to misplace rights. So if a person withholds a right from their spouse / family / community – a right that has been mandated by Allah SWT – even if there is no screaming or yelling involved, it is still a form of zulm. It also means that everytime we sin, we’re actually committing a form of oppression upon ourselves, because we’re not giving ourselves our due right, because we’re exposing ourselves to Allah’s punishment.
This reality is super important to know, because the consequences of committing zulm are severe on one’s happiness now and in the Hereafter. People who commit zulm will lose TWO very major blessings of Allah: His Love, and His Guidance. Allah SWT says:
وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
“And Allah does not love the Zalimun.” [Ali Imran 3:57]
وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَہۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
“And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun.” [Al-Baqarah 2:258]
We sacrifice BOTH the Love of Allah and His Guidance if we do zulm.
Let that sink in.
We sacrifice BOTH of Allah’s Love and Guidance.
Subhanallah. If we lose these two Divine blessings, then how can we ever function? Zulm forms such a shell on a person’s heart, that it causes that person to lose the Love of Allah as well as losing the capacity to receive Guidance.
Even the noblest of mankind feared doing zulm towards others. Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin, RA said that Rasulallah ﷺ never went out of their house without raising his eyes to the sky and said:
“Allahumma, I seek refuge in You lest I stray or be led astray,
or slip or made to slip,
or cause injustice (towards others) or suffer injustice,
or do wrong or have wrong done to me.”
[Sunan Abi Dawud]
If he ﷺ used to be so afraid of doing injustice, then where does this leave us?
So I remind myself and then others: Do not consciously wrong ourselves through shirk or committing sins. We are all human, we’re bound to make mistakes, but CONSCIOUSLY committing sins is of a different level. Stay away from those seemingly ‘innocent’ paths that will eventually lead us to sinning.
Do not consciously harm anyone and any creation of Allah. Get out of that situation. If your circle of friends are backbiting someone, do not sit with them. If you see someone being cruel towards animals, stop them. If you’re one of those people who abuse their spouse, then let it be known that you have trespassed a major boundary in our Deen, for Allah SWT says in a hadith Qudsi:
“O My slaves,
I have made zulm [oppression] unlawful for Me and unlawful for you,
so do not commit oppression against one another…”
One of the main takeaway lessons from this hadith Qudsi is this: Allah SWT is so good to us, we should therefore be good to one another. He SWT has made oppression forbidden upon Himself, then who are you to oppress another slave of Allah?
And lastly, always ask the protection of Allah SWT from committing zulm just like how Rasulallah ﷺ did. We seek refuge with Allah SWT from oppressing anyone, and being oppressed by others, and may He SWT help us be just in all of our affairs. May Allah SWT help those who are oppressed all around the world and bring an end to the tyranny of their oppressors.