The path of Haqq (truth) generally has certain characteristics associated with it which points to its veracity and validity. It is a common notion for some of us to think or believe that the position and orientation of truth tends to fall wherever there is consensus among the people while the position of Batil (falsehood) is only believed by the minority. In this article, we will attempt to address this idea and investigate the following question: Is there a direct correlation between the position of truth in relation to the number of its followers, and if so, what are the proofs and evidence in the Holy Quran, prophetic tradition, and historical facts to support that conclusion?
In Surat Al Asr, Allah (SWT) says: I swear by the time, Verily Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do good, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience. In this verse, Allah (SWT) swears and declares that the default status of all mankind will be in misguidance and the majority will go astray, with the exception of those who will be treading the right path. Exceptions are usually seen as being the minority, and hence based on this verse we are given direct knowledge that one of the signs of the path of truth is that only a minority of people will follow that path. Logically speaking, if that one straight path was a path dominated by the majority of a nation, then would there really be a need for Allah (SWT) to point out this exception? The fact that Allah (SWT) highlights this minority indicates that we as humans and specifically as Muslims have to exert extra effort to be cautious and investigate to make sure that we are indeed treading the right course because that path will not be the common or most obvious path to us.
Furthermore, in Surat Al An’aam, [6:116], Allah (SWT) says: “And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah’s way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie.” Again, following the majority is not the direction of Allah (SWT) and does not indicate the location of truth. Along the same lines, Verse 10:36 states: “And most of them do not follow (anything) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail aught against the truth; surely Allah is cognizant of what they do.” It is a fact that when all the prophets and messengers were sent to their people to convey the message of God, there was immense struggle to gain supporters and it was always only a handful who embraced the faith compared to the majority. The example of Prophet Nuh demonstrates that he spent hundreds of years inviting his people to the faith, however very little supporters believed in him. In fact, this should not be surprising because Allah (SWT) informs the Seal of Prophets: “And most men will not believe though you desire it eagerly.” [12:103]
If we study the course and trend in history, we will find that the position of truth is indeed almost always embraced by a small minority of believers who are often among the poor, the needy, and the unfortunate. The story of Taloot (David) who faced the tyrant Jaloot (Golaith) conveys to us that the number of adherents believing in David and who did not drink from the stream as he instructed were few in number. In fact, Allah (SWT) presents this story in the Quran and highlights that the party of good can gain victory over the party of evil, even if they are much few in number with the help of Allah (SWT) so long as the believers have patience and steadfastness on that path. “When Talut set forth with the armies, he said: “Allah will test you at the stream: if any drinks of its water, He goes not with my army: Only those who taste not of it go with me: A mere sip out of the hand is excused.” But they all drank of it, except a few. When they crossed the river – He and the faithful ones with him, they said: “This day we cannot cope with Jalut and his forces.” But those who were convinced that they must meet Allah, said: “How oft, by Allah’s will, Hath a small force vanquished a big one? Allah is with those who steadfastly persevere.” [2:249]
The Battle of Badr which took place two years after Migration was the first large-scale engagement between the two forces of Muslims versus polytheists. The Prophet (SA) set out with 313 Muslim fighters to face many thousands in the opposing army. There was no equal in number and logic dictated that the small army of the Prophet (SA) will face defeat, but the miracle of Allah (SWT) manifested itself in bringing victory to the Muslims. Allah says about Battle of Badr, “There has already been for you a Sign in the two armies that met (in combat): One was fighting in the cause of Allah, the other resisting Allah, whom they saw as twice their number, clearly, with their very eyes. And Allah strengthens with His aid whom He pleases; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.” [3:13]
In the Tragedy of Karbala, the number of supporters who defended Imam Husain (AS) on the day of Ashura were about 72 only, who faced an estimated number of 100,000 men from Yazid’s corrupt army. Who was on the path of truth and who were fighting in support of falsehood? There is no doubt that Imam Husain who is the grandson of the Holy Prophet and the divine spiritual guide of his time was representing the position of truth with a minority of sincere believers as they faced multitudes of so-called Muslims who were weak in faith and who chose to support the idols of corruption out of fear and greed for monetary gain. Would it be fair for any sane mind to conclude based on the high number of supports in Yazid’s army that the truth lies with him?
In conclusion, the true adherents to the Straight Path (Sirat Al Mustaqeem) are a small minority similar to strangers living in this world. The degree of alienation varies from time to time, place to place, people to people for Muslims are a minority compared to the inhabitants of Earth, and believers are a minority among Muslims. Those of knowledge are few among the believers and those defending the Prophet’s Sunnah are even fewer! With respect to this, the Prophet (SA) said, “Verily, my community among communities is like a white hair on a black bull”. (Bukhari) It is logical in that the path of truth is not a path of easiness or comfort, and treading that path requires sacrifice, submission, and humility by its follower. The nature of mankind is to resist change that goes against its one’s own zone of comfort and personal inclinations, and man is typically hesitant to follow a religion or school of thought which requires patience and perseverance in order to uphold the truth. Hence, it is not surprising that there is immense reward from Allah (SWT) for those who embrace the faith and uphold its pure principles, even if there are thorns and needles in that divine path.
Author: Jerrmein Abu Shahba
Jerrmein Abu Shahba, originally from Egypt and guided by the grace of Allah (SWT) to the truth path of AhlulBayt (AS), obtained her bachelors degree in Biology and masters in Chemistry at Rutgers State University. Jerrmein is actively involved in Islamic projects and helps organizes annual youth camps with the goal of spreading the pure message of the holy Household. She contributed as a writer for the Islamic Insights and Voice of Unity magazines, volunteers as an editor for the Islam.org website, and translates Islamic literature including the latest translations of books authored by her father, titled The Final Conclusion – Your Journey to Certainty and The World Finally Speaks at Karbala Tribunals.