Friday Sermon: The Supplication of the Oppressed

By Babatunde Jose

O you who believe, be persistently standing firm for Allah, as witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, for that is nearer to righteousness. Fear Allah, for Allah is aware of what you do. (Quran 5:8)

One of the purposes of revealed religions is to protect the natural rights of man, being the vicegerent of God, their inalienable rights to life which is sacred and sacrosanct, and their freedom from oppression. Though, religion per see cannot guarantee its occurrence, it is incumbent on religious leaders as custodians of the faith to speak out against such transgressions against the sacred rights of man. In Islam, violating these rights for any reason without a just cause is a major sin and is a betrayal of the Muslim Umma. Not only does it violate Allah’s injunction but also the traditions of the Holy Prophet. This is also true of other religions which in historical past have sided with the people when their rights were being abridged or trampled upon.

One reason we should be fearful of committing oppression is that God will always answer the supplication of an oppressed person. In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we should never oppress those under us. This is not limited to interpersonal relationship but between leaders and followers, and between government and the governed. It is a sacred injunction laid down by God.

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, said: Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for it ascends to Allah as if it were a flare.  al-Mustadrak ‘alá al-Ṣaḥīḥayn 81,

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah said: The supplications of three are never turned back: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed is raised above the clouds by Allah, the gates of heaven open for it and the Lord says: By My might, I will surely help you in due time. Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3598,

If we commit an act of injustice against someone, that person has a free supplication they can use against us. Will they ask Allah to punish us? Will they supplicate for evil against us? When we oppress them, we are turning ourselves over to their mercy, and oppressed people are not often interested in compassion or forgiveness for their oppressors.

The supplication of an oppressed person is always answered even if that person is an unbeliever or a sinner. Justice and the fulfillment of human rights are to be enjoyed by all people regardless of their religion.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, even if he is an unbeliever, for there is nothing to veil it.  Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 12549,

A person’s religion or personal sins, then, are no excuse to unjustly harm them in any way. Islam exalts justice as a universal value through which human beings must relate to one another and forbids the oppression of all people.

Allah said: Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith

and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He

instructs you that ye may receive admonition. (Quran 16:90)

See also Quran 5:8. which confirms that the unbelief of the unbeliever does not prevent him from enjoying divine justice.  Tafsir Al-Qurtubī 6/110

The strength of the community is in its care for the natural rights of everyone including the feeble, the wicked, and the hated. Justice is the true metric by which Allah supports or rejects a community. If our community is weak, then we must critically examine our failure to fulfill justice. This speaks to our present ‘state of the nation’. Are we being just to the poor, and downtrodden? Are we being fair in our dispensation of justice? Are we being equitable in our distribution of resources and in the authoritative allocation of values and resources? Is there social, economic, and political equality? Is the system encouraging oppression of some at the expense of another? Is the dispensation of justice equitable or one law for the favored and another for the voiceless?

Ibn Taymiyyah said: It is said that Allah allows the just state to remain even if it is led by unbelievers, but Allah will not allow the oppressive state to remain even if it is led by believers. And it is said that the world will endure with justice and unbelief, but it will not endure with oppression and belief. alAmr bil Ma’rūf

Allah will always answer the supplication of the oppressed even if the oppressed person is an unbeliever or sinner. Justice is a universal right for all people.

On the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (PBOH) said: “Three supplications are answered: supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveler and the supplication of the parent for his child.”

It is said that the Prophet once posted Mu’aadh ibn Jabal to Yemen as governor. Before he left, the Prophet called him and advised him thus: “…and beware the supplication of the oppressed, for surely there is no barrier between it and Allah.” Bukhari, Muslim.

Beware of subjecting yourself to the punishments of Allah in this life and the next (due to oppression).

It is also said that the supplication of parents for their children is answered even if the parents supplicate for good or bad. This is sufficient reason for the child to be obedient towards the parents, just as Allah commanded in His statements:

“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.’” (Quran 17:24) See also (Quran 46:15)

It is essentially a plea to God that our transgressions be overlooked, that divine mercy be bestowed upon us, that social justice be restored despite our iniquities, that wrongs be righted, and that righteousness reign once again in our lands, so that the destitute may no longer be in need, the young may be educated, the animals’ purpose fulfilled, rain restored, and bounties poured forth. It is a plea to be freed from the aggression of foreigners in lands over which they have no right—a plea much needed in our modern world, rampant as it is with invasions and territorial occupations.

Barka Juma’at and happy weekend


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