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Saturday, January 29, 2011

YES..., DO AS I SAY....



We have been taught in the past that it is degrading to do what you preach against. An admonisher should be the first to practice what he preaches. A medical doctor is to cure himself first from an ailment before he tries to prescribe an antidote against the same sickness to his patients. In like manner, one should eschew what he enjoins others to avoid. But a close study of some verses in the Glorious Qur’an shows that wrongdoers should forbid one another the iniquities they commit.
Abu ‘Ubaidah said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ‘The Children of Israel fell into decline because a man among them would see his brother committing a sin, and prohibit him from it. When he sees him the next day, what he saw him doing yesterday would not prevent him from eating, drinking or associating with him. So Allah pitted the hearts of some of them against others, and revealed the following verses about them: ‘Curses were pronounced on those among the Children of Israel who rejected faith by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary: because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses. Nor did they (usually) forbid one another the iniquities which they committed: evil indeed were the deeds which they did.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon, continued reading until he reached: ‘If only they had believed in Allah, in the Prophet, and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them for friends and protectors, but most of them are rebellious wrongdoers.’ He said: ‘And Allah’s Prophet, peace and blessings be upon, was reclining, so he sat up and said: ‘No! Not until you take the hand of the wrongdoer and incline him toward the truth.’ (Jaami’ At-Tirmidhee, vol. 5, p. 361, no. 3048)
The verses quoted in the above hadeeth are from Surah al-Maa’idah, verses 78 to 81. These wrongdoers ‘did not forbid one another the iniquities which they committed,’ (as we see in verse 79). The verb used is yata naa hauna, which, unlike yanhauna, has a two-way traffic effect; forbid one another – you forbid me from what I do wrong, and I forbid you from your iniquity. The former verb also implies a frequent and constant action whereas the latter merely implies a continuous process.
So, ‘they did not forbid one another the iniquities which they committed’ shows that they were guilty of three things: (1) they sinned; (2) they committed the sin openly; (3) they didn’t forbid one another from committing it.
For you to be guilty of not forbidding somebody from doing evil, you must have seen them commit it in the open. If you do not see what they did you will not be accused of not calling them to order. So, they sinned openly. Those overpowered by their iniquities are to take cover under Allah’s screen, avoid sinning in public, and seek forgiveness for their sins. The Shariah would run its due course on anybody that displays the dark pages of their deeds in public. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ‘All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those of Mujaahireen (those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people)’. An example of such disclosure is that a person commits a sin at night, and though Allah screens it from the public, nobody saw him sinning, then he comes out in the morning, and says, ‘O so-and-so, I did such-and-such evil deed yesterday,’ though he spent his night screened by his Lord, (his sin concealed from the public), and in the morning he removes Allah’s screen from himself,’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 8, hadeeth 095)
Whoever is afflicted with committing a sin, commits it in secret, and is full of remorse afterwards, and does not speak about it; the door of repentance is open to such a person. Whoever is covered by Allah in this world would be screened by Him on the Day of Judgement. Whoever Allah exposes here on earth their iniquities would be laid bare for all to see in the Hereafter.
Speaking against evil is everybody’s concern – the good and the bad among us; is the duty of the saints as well as the sinners among us. On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah, may blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, say, ‘Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.’ (Hadeeth 34 of An-Nawawi’s collection of 40 Hadeeth)
Wrongdoers must be called to order by all so as to safeguard the society from disintegrating. When Allah’s retribution comes, as a consequence of the sin of some of us, it does not differentiate between the wicked and the godly. The Prophet, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said, “The similitude of a person who obeys Allah’s commandments and one who violates them is that of a people who drew lots for seats in a ship. Some of them got seats in the upper deck, and some in the lower deck of the ship. Whenever the occupants of the lower deck needed water they had to ascend to the upper deck of the ship, and in the process disturbing the people there. So, they said, ‘Let us make a hole in (our) lower deck of the ship to access water more easily, and sparing our colleagues on the upper deck of further distress by our need for water.’ If their fellow travellers on the upper deck did not prevent them from making the hole, the ship will sink, and all of them will perish. But if they did not allow them to do what they intended all the people on the ship would be saved.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 3, no. 673
The above similitude of a ship with upper and lower deck could only come from one who received inspiration of his Lord. The Prophet, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, did not travel by sea throughout his lifetime. How he came to possess such knowledge of the structure of a ship in the desert is a marvel! Also, in a book published by the Islamic Education Trust (IET) in June, 1994,which was a transcript of a lecture by Gary Miller who said: “Some years ago, the story came to us in Toronto about a man who was in the merchant marine and made his living on the sea. A Muslim gave him a translation of the Qur’an to read. The merchant marine knew nothing about the history of Islam but was interested in reading the Qur’an. When he finished reading it, he brought it back to the Muslim and asked, ‘This Muhammad was he a sailor?’ He was impressed at how accurately the Qur’an describes a storm on the sea. When he was told, ‘No, as a matter of fact, Muhammad lived in the desert,’ that was enough for him. He embraced Islam on the spot. He was impressed with the Qur’an’s description because he had been in a storm on the sea, and he knew that whoever had written that description had also been in a storm on the sea. The description of ‘a wave, over it a wave, over it clouds’ (Surah an-Nuur, 24:40) was not what someone imagining a storm on the sea to be like would have written; rather, it was written by someone who knew what a storm on the sea was like.  This is one example of how the Qur’an is not tied to a certain place and time. Certainly, the scientific ideas expressed in it also do not seem to originate from the desert fourteen centuries ago.’
Now back to the issue under discussion. Muslim scholars say that it is obligatory to confront evil with hand or tongue, according to one’s ability, except if Islam and the Muslims will be exposed to harm in the process; in which case, one has to dislike the evil with their heart. Everybody; the king and his subjects, the rich and the poor; scholars and students; the righteous and the villains; all will do well to join hands in the fight against evil.
Another hadeeth (no: 7) in the An-Nawaawih’s Collection of 40 Hadeeths is ‘On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah, Tameem ibn Aus ad-Daaree (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet, (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), said: ‘Religion is good advice. We said: To whom? He said: To Allah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.’
The ruler can pass edict, laws that could change a bad situation for the better. Actually, Allah uses the ruler as an agent of change in a way that even the Qur’an could not be used. In other words, through leaders, Allah effects positive changes that could not have been easy even with the Qur’an.
Offences and due punishment for the guilty are mentioned in the Qur’an, but on some misdemeanours Allah is silent on their retribution  so that the leaders, guided by the interpretation of the ulemaa, may use their discretion to prescribe appropriate punishment to the erring in proportion to the weight of the deterrent-message they desire to send to would-be offenders.
You are also a leader in your household. Things could be changed positively by using your hand. You toil day and night to fend for your family. Using what Allah has given to purchase provocative raiment for your daughters and wife tantamount to open confrontation with your Lord. If you allow female members of your family to expose their adornment in public and excite their beholders to sin, you are a warrior against Allah in what He has bestowed upon you. Your insolent aversion to Allah’s orders with regards to women’s attire when they go abroad is a declaration of war against the Provider and the Bestower. Therefore, you have to use your authority in averting evil from your household by any means necessary. Your wife and daughter must be properly dressed, when they go out, in accordance with the instructions of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Also, you cannot say: my child is wayward; he does not pray, offer his salah. The Prophet, (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), has advised you to teach him how to pray at the age 7, and to spank him if he doesn’t offer his salah at the age of 10; though he has not attained the age of discernment. If you had obeyed this prophetic advice, proper establishment of prayer would have been instilled into the veins of your progeny; they will never feel comfortable until they offer their salah.
Each one of us is a confronter of evil within the sphere of his control – from heads of government right down to ordinary people. The vice-chancellor can, with support from the university senate, impose a dress code on his campus to save our daughters and sisters from imitating women of lesser virtue of the West in their attire. There will be chaos if members of the Muslim Students’ Society (MSS), for instance, decide to take the law into their own hand, and attempt to impose decent dressing on campus.
Of course, this enforcement of a dress code can only be achieved without causing crisis in a faith-based institution. Righteous Muslims and Christians should be encouraged to establish tertiary institutions where they can insist on a proper dress code for their students without hindrance. Babcock University in Ogun State and Al-Hikmah University in Kwara State are good examples of my suggestion.
Changing evil with the tongue is the responsibility of the ulemaa. They are to expound the text of the Book to the people; what is lawful and what is not; what is permissible and what is not, and so on. In conveying this knowledge the ulemaa should neither be ‘government Malams,’ pronouncing the unlawful as permissible seeking the fleeting comfort of the life of this world, nor trying to please people by telling them what they want to hear. Man desires everything to be lawful. They should declare the right judgement of what people and government are doing of sin and transgression. Avoidance of harm to society takes preference over the attainment of selfish benefit.
Fighting evil with the heart is for those who are unable to exercise the duty of forbidding iniquity by the two means mentioned earlier, i.e. with their hand, and with their tongue. When you see evil being committed in the open we say: O Allah this sin is displeasing unto you. O Allah bear witness that I declare my disavowal of what they do.
Whosoever witnesses an evil act and abhors it, will be as though they have not seen it. Also, whosoever has not witnessed the commission of a sin but was pleased when he heard about it, they are like those who witnessed it. Somebody relates to you about a sin they committed yesterday, and you enjoyed every part of the scene, you are equal with them in sin; it is as if you took part in what happened. You are entitled to an ample share of the punishment, for actions are judged according to their intentions.
Confronting evil in the 3 stages mentioned above shall be done with knowledge, beautiful exhortation and desertion of evil-doers. Bear in your mind, and make it plain by your action that there is no hatred between you and them as persons; it is their deed that you hate. How can you inform a drunkard that alcohol is unlawful, it is the mother of all evils, but you remain seated with him at a rendezvous while he sips his liquor? No! You have to fight evil at an arm’s length.
 It is not a condition that the confronter of evil or a preacher must be sinless or a saint. Evil-doers have to preach to evil-doers. They have to forbid one another the iniquities they do. Participants in a drunkathon should admonish one another to stop the madness.
‘Stop drinking,’ one of them may say, ‘...it’s not good for your health, honour and reputation.’
‘Shut up!’ his colleagues would respond, ‘why are you also drinking?’
‘Yes, I am. Align yourselves with what I’m preaching; stop me from drinking, and I forbid you from same. If you and I restrain ourselves from the wrong we do, we have abstained from liquor; our faith shall be strong; we emerge better Muslims.’
Of course that was the import of the verse ‘they did not forbid one another the iniquities they did...;’ meaning both the forbidder of evil and the one being forbidden from it are guilty of the same sins, but they incur additional sin if the  fail to forbid one another...

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