Virtue, Nobility, and Steadfastness are matters which grab the attention, respect, and admiration of everyone, even one’s opponents. It generates in one’s inner self feelings of reverence, awe, and sometimes even envy towards those who uphold them regardless of the differences between them.

From the Scholars of Islam who demonstrated just that, and whose actions spoke louder than any words can describe, is: al-Shaykh al-Imam Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam (May Allah shower him with Mercy).

It is narrated that Sultan As-Salih Ismail, the Sultan of Damascus, formed an alliance with the Franks Crusaders when he feared for his rule from the Sultan of Egypt, King as-Salih Najm al-Din.

In exchange for their support over Najm al-Din, Sultan As-Salih Ismail handed over to the Crusaders the fortress of Safad and its city, the fortress of Shakif, in addition to other important fortresses. On top of that, he granted them permission to enter Damascus [whenever they wished] and buy from it all the weaponry they may need in their battles against the Muslims.

The Muslims [of Damascus] denounced this action of his, and asked their scholars about the ruling on this matter, so Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam issued a Fatwa forbidding the sale of weaponry to the Franks.

Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam did not stop there; rather he criticized As-Salih Ismail from the top of the Minbar of the Great Mosque of Damascus during the Friday Sermon, and condemned him for that evil action of his.

He stopped all supplications for him in the Sermon, and replaced it with saying:

“O Allah! Grant this Ummah a guiding command, by which Your Allies are strengthened, and Your Enemies are degraded, and in which acts of obedience are commanded and the acts of evil are forbidden”.

اللهم أبرم لهذه الأمة أمرا رشدا تعز فيه وليك وتذل فيه عدوك ويعمل فيه بطاعتك وينهى فيه عن معصيتك

The people followed the Shaykh in his Supplication and the place erupted with their Ta’meen (i.e. saying Ameen).

The Sultan was angered by this and expelled Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam (May Allah shower him with Mercy) from his post. He oppressed the Shaykh -just as the transgressors and traitors of every age do- and then imprisoned or placed him under house arrest.

Even after that, As-Salih Ismail did not feel at ease, for the Shaykh had the support of the Muslim masses.

As-Salih Ismail sent one of his close advisors to the Shaykh and told his advisor: “Give that cloth of mine to the Shaykh, and speak to him in the softest of manners. Ask him to change his stance, and promise him that he will be returned to his post in the best of conditions. If he agrees with you, then bring him to me, but if he refuses, then have him imprisoned in a tent and place it next to mine”.

When the Sultan’s messenger entered upon the Shaykh, he tried to appease him and to talk to him in the softest of manners. He then said to him: “The only thing between you and returning to your post, and returning to what you were upon and much more, is for you to humble yourself to the Sultan and kiss his hand, nothing more”.

The Shaykh said to him:

“You poor soul! By Allah, I would not accept for him to kiss my hands, let alone I kiss his!

It is as if you people are in a valley and I am in a different valley altogether! I Praise Allah who has safeguarded me from that which He has afflicted you with”.

فقال له والله يا مسكين ما أرضاه أن يقبل يدي فضلا أن أقبل يده يا قوم أنتم في واد وأنا في واد والحمد لله الذي عافاني مما ابتلاكم به

The Sultan’s messenger then said: “I have been ordered to either have you accept that which I offered you, or to have you arrested”

So the Shaykh said: “Do as you wish”.

The Shaykh was taken and imprisoned in a tent close to the tent in which the Sultan was staying.

Contemplate upon this statement: (I would not accept for him to kiss my hands, let alone I kiss his!). How much are today’s scholars in need to comprehend this eloquent lesson … Scholars who have chosen to serve and brush themselves against the knees of the oppressors, instead of calling them to guidance. They have thus misguiding themselves and those oppressors whom they wished to please, to the level that left all men of righteousness ashamed, let alone the noble Scholars of virtue.

The narrator adds another incident which indicates the respect and admiration that even the enemies, the Enemies of Islam and the Muslims, had for Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam.

The narrator states:

“One day, the Shaykh was reciting the Quran in his tent, while the Sultan could hear him. At the time, sitting with the Sultan were some of the Kings of the Crusader, plotting and conspiring together.

The Sultan told them: Do you hear the voice of that Shaykh reciting the Quran?

They said: Yes.

He said to them: This [man] is from the biggest [scholars] of the Muslims. I have imprisoned him for denouncing what I did when handing over to you the fortresses of the Muslims. I dismissed him from his preaching post in Damascus because of that, and from all his other positions. I then expelled him, so he arrived at Jerusalem, and renewed his imprisonment for your sakes!

Upon hearing this, the Kings of the Franks said:

“Had he been a Priest, we would have washed his feet with water, and drank that Water!”

Washed his feet … and drank that Water! This reaction and position of the kings of the Franks Crusaders is not surprising, and shows how much they belittled their own agent, Sultan Ismael, and how they looked down upon him. On top of that, it gives an indication of the respect and admiration they had for that Noble Muslim Shaykh and his position.

This was al-Shaykh al-Imam Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus Salaam (May Allah shower him with Mercy), and this was one of his many positions, one which the Scholars of today and the Students of Knowledge, as well as the Muslims in general can learn from, so that we may one day return to our previous glory, for indeed: {Allah will not change the condition of the people, until they change what’s in themselves}.


[1] Adopted by Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem from: ‘Fuqahaa Munadillun’ by Dr. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim p. 231-235.