On the Hijri anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Muhammad II Al Faith (#ConquestofIstanbul, #Constantinople), we review the role of Iron in armies. The specially designed large Iron canons of his time had an important role in the siege and conquest of Constantinople on 20th Jumada Al Awwal. Sultan Muhammad Al Fatih, whose army the Messenger of Allah (swt) commented as وَلَنِعْمَ الْجَيْشُ» » ‘the best army’ put to use Iron to build the greatest canon of their time to overwhelm the greatest fort of their time thus fulfilling the first part of the prophecy, bidnillah, fall of Constantinople starting the establishment of Islam in Europe.
When Allah (swt) created the world an abode for humankind, He made provisions in it to lead our life the way He (swt) pleases. He established us on the earth and made for us all livelihood in it, in order to lead our life with ease and comfort. Allah (swt) says, وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ قَلِيلاً مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ “And certainly We have established you in the earth and made in it means of livelihood for you; little you give thanks” [7:10]
Amongst the means of livelihood, some plays a vital role to lead our life more precisely. One of those is the use of metals. Ornaments we wear, currency with which we trade, tools we make use of, weapons with which we fight for the sake of Allah, modern industries through which we had progressed to a great extent, all saw the use of metals imminently. If the use of metals were not known, humankind would have been in the Stone Age without any further development in terms of worldly material progress (madaniyya). Ages of Copper, Bronze, Iron, and recent industrialization were all witnessed by man only when use of metals was known to him. This is with respect to the materialistic use of metals.
With respect to the strength of metals, nations who possessed the strongest metal had dominated other nations. Consequently, discoveries of each metal and its extraction technologies were vital to the armies of the nations in warfare. Nations with Iron making technology dominated over the nations which possessed Bronze, a much inferior metal than Iron in terms of strength. Soldiers of Allah used these strength in helping the messengers and in making the Deen of Allah dominate. Prophet Dawood (pbuh) was taught the use of metal, with which he earned rizq and protected the soldiers from war injuries with the use of coat mail.
Here are some observations pertaining to use of metals and their knowledge to mankind, that indicate how this knowledge is more significant in order to reflect upon the roles and responsibilities of our armies with the use of metals:
Iron is the Strongest Metal:
Most of the metals needed for tools and weaponry occurred in the forms of minerals or compounds called ores. Metals like gold and silver though available as native, since being too soft to make tools, were restricted to adornments and jewelry alone. In case of Copper, though being rare as native, it could be hardened by hammering or forging and was therefore useful as a tool. This led to the rise of the Copper Age, where tools were made from copper for cultivation and other uses. However, since copper is relatively soft, it had little value as a weapon. But what made the nations to advance in terms of weaponry was the extraction of copper from its ores and alloying it with tin metal to form bronze metal, which possessed much greater strength to use it as weapons. This led to the birth of Bronze Age. Then the knowledge that Iron could be taken by heating ores with presence of charcoal in the bloomeries and strengthening it by hammering made the greatest impact on weaponry of ancient civilizations. This hammered Iron is of greater strength than bronze. Nations who possessed the Iron technology in their warfare assured the victories mundanely due to its strength over the nations who did not. Unlike Bronze, which required the use of relatively rare Tin to manufacture, common and widely available Iron ores and its ability to produce enormous quantities of reliable weapons cheaply, added the advantages. Consequently it was undeniably important for ancient civilizations to replace their bronze weapons into Iron. This led to the development of Iron Age. At this time, nations were almost at constant wars and they produced prototypes of every weapon that was developed for the next three thousand years until the discovery of gunpowder.
Dawud (as) used this strength along with his prophethood and authority (kingdom) to support Allah:
Messengers and believers used this strength (i.e. strength of iron) to support the Deen of Allah. One amongst them is Prophet Dawud (pbuh) who was given authority, prophethood and taught whatever Allah (swt) pleased in order to raise the word of Allah. As Allah (swt) says, وَآتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاء “Allah gave him (Dawud) the kingdom (authority), the wisdom (prophethood) and taught him of what He (swt) pleased” [2:251]
The word ‘Wisdom’ here means prophet hood (Tayseer fi Usuli Tafseer). One amongst the things Allah taught Dawud (as) was the use of Iron to make Iron coat mails. Allah (swt) says, وَأَلَنَّا لَهُ الْحَدِيدَ * أَنِ اعْمَلْ سَابِغَاتٍ وَقَدِّرْ فِي السَّرْدِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ “…we have made the iron pliant to him. Saying: “Make full coats of mail and calculate [precisely] the links, and work [all of you] righteousness. Indeed I, of what you do, am seeing.” [34:10–11]
In another verse, Allah (swt) says, وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ صَنْعَةَ لَبُوسٍ لَّكُمْ لِتُحْصِنَكُم مِّن بَأْسِكُمْ فَهَلْ أَنتُمْ شَاكِرُونَ “we have taught him the making of coats of mails for you in order that they protect you from your wars. Will you then be grateful?” [21:80]
Role of Armies:
Defending lands and invading other lands are manifestations of survival instincts which resulting in the formation of armies. Nation states of today hold the same view to build their armies. But Allah (swt) clarified the real purpose for which the army to be built in the following verse, وَلَوْلاَ دَفْعُ اللّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الأَرْضُ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ “And if it were not for Allah checking [some] people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds.” [2:251]
Allah (swt) mentions these words after He (swt) had mentioned of Dawud (as) and his soldiers who defeated Thaluth and his men who corrupted the land. The Eminent Scholar Sheikh Ata Bin Abu Al Rashtah mentions in his tafsir to this verse as, اي وَلَوْلَا فرض القتال في سبيل الله لردع اهل الشرور والفساد “I.e. and if it were not the fighting obliged in the path of Allah to deter the people of harm and corruption, (earth would have been corrupted)” [Tayseer Fi Usuli Tafsir].
Ibn Abbas (ra) said: وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ الْعَدُوَّ بِجُنُودِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ لَغَلَبَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ فَقَتَلُوا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَخَرَّبُوا الْبِلَادَ وَالْمَسَاجِدَ “And if it were not Allah who prevented the enemy with Muslim soldiers, polytheists would have killed the Muslims and destroyed their lands and Mosques” [Tafsir Qurtubi 3/260].
Thus, Allah (swt) clarified the role of armies here, which is to remove corruption in all of its kinds from earth. This is in contradiction to the roles assigned by today’s nation states to their armies, asking them to respect the national borders against the nations who cause corruptions by averting their own people from Islam, kill them and expel them. Rather, they call their armies as a pretext of national security to cooperate with the very nations who cause corruption on earth. As a result, they become corrupters or being part of corruption, instead of removing corruption!
As for removing corruption from the earth, this is done by establishing justice upon it which is only possible by establishing what our Messenger ﷺ has brought with Quran from Allah, as Allah (swt) says, لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ “We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the book and the balance in order that the people establish the justice” [57:25]
No justice can be established with other than what our Messenger ﷺ has brought from Allah (swt), be it secular or monarchical systems. Prophet Dawud (as) established Justice upon the earth with his prophethood, authority and with what he was taught by Allah that included the knowledge of using Iron. We have our Messenger ﷺ who came with clear evidences from Allah (swt), and we have the Book (Quran) to establish Justice upon the earth. Is it not the time for the Muslim Armies, who possess the knowledge of Iron as a military might in their warfare- unlike the common people who only possess its knowledge for their own benefits, to support Allah and his Messenger in his absence by establishing Islam that removes all kind of corruption? Is it not time for the Muslim armies to reflect upon the verse, which directly addresses them and not to the Companions (ra) of the Messenger ﷺ who have already supported the Messenger in his presence? As Allah (swt) says, وَأَنزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ “And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers in the absence. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” [57:25]
Imam Qurtubi says in his commentary of this verse as (بِالْغَيْبِ) أَيْ وَهُمْ لَا يَرَوْنَهُمْ “(in the absence) i.e. those who do not see the messengers” [Tafsir Qurtubi 261/17]
Is it not time for the Muslim armies to reflect upon this verse and support Allah and His Messenger in his absence by giving Nusra to Hizb ut Tahrir to establish Khilafah (Caliphate) upon the method of the Prophethood that will establish justice upon earth with what our Messenger ﷺ brought from Allah!
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُم لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
“O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.” [8:24]
Muhammad ibn Farooq