Saturday, November 14, 2009

Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong.3

Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong
Ibn Taimiyyah

17. What Are "Good Works"?

In the final analysis, enjoining right and forbidding wrong is one of the most obligatory of actions and one of the best and most praiseworthy acts. Allah said:

“And He will test you, which of you are best in actions.” [Al-Mulk, 67: 2]

Al-Fadhil ibn Ayadh (A great Makkan scholar of the second century) said about the "good actions" mentioned in this ayat:

(i.e.) the most sincere and the most correct: Verily any action if it is done in complete sincerity, but is not correct, it is rejected, and if it is completely correct, but is not done with total sincerity, it is rejected. Only that which is done with complete sincerity to Allah and correctness according to Allah's law is acceptable. The sincere action is that which is purely for the sake of Allah, and the correct action that which is in the tradition (Sunnah).

It is a requirement of righteous deeds that they be done solely for the Face of Allah ta'ala, for Allah does not accept any actions except for those with which His Face alone was sought. This is as in the sahih hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:

"Allah ta'ala says: I am the partner least in need of any partner. Whenever someone does an act, partly for me and partly for an imagined partner, I am completely free of that action, and it is wholly for the partner which was associated with me."

This is the essence of Tawhid which is the basis of Islam. It is the deen of Allah with which He sent all of the Prophets. For its sake, He created the creation, and it is His right over all of His slaves: that they worship Him alone, and not associate with Him anything.

The righteous deeds which Allah and His Prophet have enjoined are simply obedience. Every act of obedience is a righteous deed, and it is the work dictated by the syari’ah and the Sunnah. They are everything which has been enjoined upon us either as obligations or as commendable acts. This then is righteous deeds (Al-'amal As-Salih), and it is what is good (Hassan), and it is righteousness (Al-Birr), and it is all that is good (Al-khair). Its opposite is disobedience (Ma’siyah), and corrupt action (Al-'amal Al-faasid), bad deeds (As-Sayyi’aat), rebellion (Al-fujuur), oppression (Adh-dhulm), and transgression (Al-Baghyu).

Every action must contain two things: intention, and execution (action). Thus, the Prophet said:

"The most truthful names are Harith (i.e. he who tills the earth) and Hammaam (one who ever sets objectives and seeks their fulfilment)."

Everyone is a tiller and a seeker of objectives he has actions, and he has intentions. However, the only praiseworthy intention which Allah accepts and rewards is the intentions of doing an action solely for the sake of Allah.

The praiseworthy deed is the righteous deed, and it is the deed with which we have been ordered. For this reason, Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to say in his do’a:

"O, Allah makes all of my deeds righteous, and makes all of them purely for your Face, and do not make therein any share at all for anyone else."

This being the case for all righteous deeds, it is also the case for enjoining right and forbidding wrong, and it is necessary for it to be so (i.e. the act of ordering or forbidding must be good and praiseworthy which as we have seen means that it is correct and solely for the sake of Allah, is obedience to Allah, and is done for no ulterior motive.) This is in reference to the one who enjoins and forbids others.

18. Action is Not Possible except with Knowledge and Understanding.

There can be no righteous deed in the absence of knowledge (‘ilm) and understanding of the law (Fiqh), as 'Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (the grandson of 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, and a righteous Khalifah) used to say:

"Whoever worships Allah without knowledge corrupts more than he benefits."

And, as in the statement of Mu'adh ibn Jabal (a companion of the Prophet):

"Knowledge is the imam of action, and action is a corollary to it."

This is obvious: intentions and actions which are not based on knowledge are ignorance and going astray, and following of hawaa, as we have said before. This is the difference between the people of Jahiliyah, and the people of Islam. Thus, knowledge of the Ma'ruf and the Munkar are absolute necessities as are the ability to distinguish between them, and knowledge of the condition of those to be ordered and forbidden is also essential.

For optimum benefit, enjoining and forbidding should be performed on the Straight Path. The Straight Path is the shortest route, and the one which leads to the attainment of the sought-after goal.

19. Compassion, Patience and Forbearance Are Required In Enjoining Right.

These things must be done with compassion. The Prophet SAW said:

"Compassion does not enter into anything without beautifying it, and is not removed from anything without making it ugly." [Muslim and others]

And, he SAW said:

"O, Aishah: Verily Allah is Compassionate, and He love compassion. He gives based on compassion that which is not given based on force, and is not given based on any other cause." [Muslim and others]

At the same time, the practitioner of enjoining right and forbidding wrong must be forbearing and patient in the face of adversity and persecution. Persecution must, of necessity, confront the true practitioner of enjoining right. If he is not patient, forbearing and wise in the face of this, he will cause more corruption than reform. Allah tells us of Luqman saying to his son:

“And enjoin all that is right, and forbid all that is wrong, and be patient in the face of that which afflicts you, verily, that is the most upright of positions.” [Luqman, 31:17].

Thus, Allah ordered His prophets, and they are the imam’s of enjoining right and forbidding wrong, to have patience, just as He ordered the seal of the Prophets Muhammad SAW. The order to have patience came along with the order to deliver the message of Islam. When the Prophet SAW was first ordered to deliver the message to the people, Allah sent Surah Al-Muddathir , which followed after the revelation of the first five verses of Surah Iqra' which announced the beginning of the Prophethood. Allah said in Al-Muddathir:

“O, you covered in a blanket * Stand up and warn * And praise the greatness of your Lord * And purify your garments * And keep yourself well away from false gods and other forms of foolishness * And do not do all of this hoping for gain or payment * And for the sake of your Lord maintain patience.” [Al-Muddathir, 74:1-7].

Allah began these seven ayat, with which He commissioned the Prophet SAW to deliver the message to His creation, by ordering the Prophet to warn, and concluded them with the order to have patience. Warning people of Allah's punishment is of course enjoining them to do right and forbidding them the doing of wrong, so we see that patience is obligatory after undertaking the enjoining of right. In this vein, Allah said:

“And be patient for the decree of your Lord, verily you are in our Eyes” [Al-Tur, 52:48]
“And be patient with that which they say, and remove yourself from them in a gracious manner.” [Al-Muzzammil, 73:10]

“And so be patient, as the firmly-intentioned prophets were patient.” [Al-Ahqaf, 46:35].
“So be patient for the decree of your Lord, and do not be as the man in the Whale (i.e. Jonah)” [Al-Qalam, 68: 48]

“And be patient, and your patience is none other than by the leave of Allah.” [Al-Nahl, 16:127].
“And have patience since; verily Allah does neglect the reward of the good-doers.” [Hud, 11:115].

Thus, three things are absolutely essential: knowledge, compassion, and patience. Knowledge is required before enjoining right and forbidding wrong, compassion is required during its practice, and patience is required after it. This separation is not to negate the fact that these three qualities need to be present at all times. This is similar to a statement narrated from the early generations of scholars and which has been attributed by some to the Prophet. Abu Ya'la mentioned it in his book entitled Al-Mu'tamad as follows:

"None should enjoin right and forbid wrong except one who is knowledgeable in that which he enjoins, knowledgeable in that which he forbids, compassionate in that which he enjoins, compassionate in that which he forbids, forbearing in that which he enjoins, and forbearing in that which he forbids."

20. The Difficulty of These Requirements.

Make no mistake about it, these requirements of enjoining right and forbidding wrong introduce a high degree of difficulty into the situation for many people. Thus some imagine that the obligation has fallen from his shoulders because of some lack in its prerequisites, and so he neglects it. This may harm him more than he would have been harmed by ordering and forbidding in spite of his lacks or deficiencies in one or more of these requirements, or it may harm him less. Failing to carry out the obligation of enjoining right is disobedience to Allah, and committing what Allah has forbidden therein is also disobedience. One who flees from one act of disobedience to another is like one who seeks refuge from the frying pan by jumping into the fire, or like one who flees from one false religion to another, where the second one may be more evil than the first, or it may be less evil, and they may be equally evil. This is the same in the case of the one who neglects his obligations in enjoining right and forbidding wrong and the one who practices enjoining right, but transgresses and disobeys Allah therein. The sin of the first one may be greater than the second, or of the second one may be greater than the first, or they may be equally great.

21. Disobedience to Allah Causes Difficulty, Obedience Causes Ease.

One thing which is clearly established from the signs which Allah has shown us between the horizons and in our selves, and with which He has born witness in His book -- is that disobedience is a cause of calamities and difficulties. The evil of calamities and punishments comes from the evil of one’s actions. Also, obedience is a cause of plenty and eases. The doing of good of the slave is a reason for the doing of good by Allah to him. Allah said:

“And whatever calamity befalls you, it is according to that which your own hands have earned - and Allah forgives much.” [Ash-Shura, 42: 30]

“Whatever good comes to you is from Allah, and whatever evil comes to you is from yourself.” [An-Nisaa’, 4:79]

“Verily, those of you who turned their backs on the day when the two armies met, the Shaytan caused them to slip up because of some of what they had earned. Allah has forgiven them.” [Al-‘Imran, 3:155]

“So, is it that when some calamity strikes you (in war), though you have previously inflicted a calamity twice its magnitude, you ask: Why is this? Say: It is from your own selves.” [Al-‘Imran, 3:165]

“Or He may cause them to stop moving altogether (i.e. ships at sea) because of that which they have earned, and He forgives much.” [Ash-Shura, 42:34]

“And if they are afflicted with some calamity because of that which their own hands have sent forth, verily man is ever ungrateful, faithless” [Ash-Shura, 42:48]

“Allah is not about to punish them while you are amongst them, and He is not about to punish them while they (i.e. some among them) seek His forgiveness.” [Al-Anfal, 8:33]

22. Allah's Punishment of the Previous Nations for Their Disobedience.

Allah has informed us of his punishment of the previous nations for their wickedness such as the people of Nuh , and 'Aad , Thamud , the people of Lut , the people of the city of Madyan , and the people of Fir’awn (Pharaohs) in this world, and He has informed us of the punishments which await them in the next world. Thus, the believer who had been hiding his belief from the people of Fir'aun said, as Allah tells us in the Qur'an:

“O, my people, verily I fear for you something like the days of the nations who came before, something like the punishment which befell the people of Nuh, ‘Aad, Thamud, and those who came after them. Allah does not intend any oppression of His slaves. And O, my people, verily I fear for you the day of calling to one another, on that day you will turn your backs and run in fear, and there will be none who can protect you from Allah. Whosoever Allah sends astray has no one whatsoever who can guide him.” [Ghafir, 40:30-33]

And Allah said in another ayat about the punishment in this world:

“Such is the punishment, and the punishment in the next world is greater, if only they knew.” [Al-Qalam, 68; 33]

“We will punish them twice, and then they will be returned to a mighty torment.” [Al-Tawbah, 9:101]

“We will give them a taste of the minor punishment before the greater punishment, that they might turn back (i.e. to what is right)” [Al-Sajdah, 32:21]

“So, watch for day when the sky will come with a distinct smoke. It covers the people; this is a painful punishment. Our Lord! Relieve us of this torment. Verily, we are believers. How will that (i.e. removing their torment) cause them to remember and believe when a Messenger has already come to them with clear signs? And they turned away from him saying: "...taught by others" and "...afflicted by jinn". Verily, we will remove the punishment from them a little, and verily, they will go right back. On that day when we will strike out the greatest of blows, verily our vengeance will be complete. [Al-Dukhan, 44:10-16]

23. Punishment of the Evil-Doers in This World And The Next.

Thus, in many of ayat containing warnings for those who disobey Allah, Allah mentions His punishment of the evil-doers in this world as well as the punishment which He has prepared for them in the next life. In other verses, He mentions only the punishments of the next life, because its punishment is much greater, and its reward is much greater, and it is the place of permanence. So, when the punishments of this world are mentioned, they are secondary to the mentioning of the punishments of the next life, as in the following story of Yusuf (peace be upon him):

“In this way we empowered Yusuf in the earth, he moves therein wherever he pleases. We will not negate the reward of those who do good, and the reward of the next life is better for those who believe, and used to fear Allah.” [Yusuf, 12:56-57]

“And so Allah gave them the reward of this life, and the best of rewards for the next life.” [Al-‘Imran, 3:148]

“And those who migrated for the sake of Allah after they had been oppressed, we will establish them in the earth in a goodly fashion, and the reward of the next life is greater, if they only knew. Those who have patience, and depend fully on their Lord.” [Al-Nahl, 16: 41-42]

Allah said about Ibrahim (upon him be peace) in another ayat:

“And we gave him his reward in this life, and verily he is among the righteous in the next life.” [Al-Nahl, 16:122]

As for what Allah has mentioned about the punishment of this life and the next, we can look to Surah An-Nazi’at in which He said:

“By those (angels) who violently tear out (the souls of the wicked at death). And by those who gently draw out (the souls of the righteous at death)” [An-Nazi’at, 79:1-2]

And then, in the same Surah, Allah said:

“On that day when the great trembling and quaking occurs (upon the first sounding of the Horn, which signals Allah's putting to death of all creation). Which is followed by another, similar (the second sounding of the Horn, which signals the bringing to life of the whole creation)” [An-Nazi’at, 79:7]

In which He mentioned the day of Qiyamah in general, and then He said:

“Has the story of Musa reached you? When his Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa. (Saying) Go to Fir'aun, for verily he has transgressed. And say to him: Do you have any desire to be purified? And that I should guide you to your Lord so that you should fear Him? Then Musa showed him the Great Sign. But Fir'aun rejected and disobeyed. Then he turned away, striving hard (against the truth) .Then he collected his forces, and made a proclamation. Saying: I am your lord, most high. So Allah destroyed him, and made an example of him in the hereafter, and in this life. Verily in this there is an instructive warning for those who fear Allah.” [An-Nazi’at, 79:15-26]

Then, Allah mentioned the place of beginning, and the place of return in detail saying:

“Are you more difficult to create or the heavens? Allah has constructed them. He raised high the canopy, and gave it order and perfection. ... And so, when the great overwhelming event arrives (i.e. Qiyamah). On that day, man will remember all that he used to strive for. And hell-fire will be made plainly visible for all who see. Then, as for the one who transgressed. And preferred the life of this world. Verily (for such) the fire is the final abode. And as for those who had fear of their standing before their Lord, and forbid themselves the dictates of their hawaa .Verily the Garden (of Paradise) is their final abode.” [An-Naba’, 79: 27-28, 34-41]

Also, in Surah al-Muzzammil, Allah mentions His own statement:

“And leave me with those who deny the truth, who possess the good things of this life, and leave them for a short time * Verily, we have fetters (to bind them) and fire (to burn them) * And food that chokes, and a painful punishment * One day, the earth and the mountains will tremble and quake, and the mountains will be like a heap of sand poured out and flowing down * Verily, we have sent to you a Prophet as a witness over you, just as we sent to Fir’awn a Prophet * But Fir’awn disobeyed the Prophet, so we seized him with a heavy punishment.” [Al-Muzzammil, 73:11-16]

Also, in Surah Al-Haqqah, Allah mentions the stories of the disbelieving nations such as Thamud, ‘Aad, and Fir’awn, and then says:

“When a single blast is sounded on the Horn * and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed to powder at a single stroke.” [Al-Haqqah, 69:13-14]

Then, in verses 15-37 Allah describes the people of heaven and hell, and their condition on the day of Qiyamah and after.

In Surah Al-Qalam, Allah mentions the story of the owners of the garden (i.e. farm) who conspired to withhold the rights of the poor from them and was punished by the destruction of their crop. Then Allah says:

“Such is the punishment, and the punishment of the hereafter is of greater magnitude, if they only knew.” [Al-Qalam, 68:33]

Again, in Surah At-Taghabun, Allah says:

“Didn't the news reach you of those who rejected faith before? They tasted the results of their actions, and for them is a painful punishment. That was because Messengers used to come to them with clear signs, but they said: "Should mere human beings guide us?" So they rejected faith, and turned away. And Allah is in no need. Allah is free of all needs, worthy of all praise. The disbelievers imagine that they will not be raised up (for judgement) Say: Yes, by my Lord, you will be raised up, then you will be informed of all that you did, and that is very easy for Allah.” [Al-Taghabun, 64:5-7]

Allah has mentioned the condition of those who oppose and disobey the prophets, as well as the threatened punishments which await them in the hereafter in many chapters of the Qur’an. Among them: Qaf, Al-Qamar, Al-Mu’min, As-Sajdah, Az-Zukhruf, Ad-Dukhan, and many others.

24. Promises and Threats of Punishment Were the First Part Of Revelation.

Tawhid, promises of rewards, and threats of punishments were the first things to be revealed of the Qur'an. In Sahih Bukhari, Yusuf ibn Mahak narrates:

"I was at Aisha's, the Mother of the believers may Allah be pleased with her, when an Iraqi came to her and said: "Which shroud is best?" Aisha said: "Woe to you, what harms you?" He said: "O, mother of the believers, show me your mus-haf " Aisha said: "Why?" He said: "In order that I may arrange and order the Qur'an according to it, for it is being read with no particular order." Aisha said: "What is the harm to you whichever of it you read first? Verily, the first of it to be revealed was a surah among the short surahs in which is mentioned heaven and hell. After the people came to submission (Islam), the halal and the haram were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed were "Do not drink intoxicants" they would have said: "We will never leave our intoxicants." And if the first thing to be revealed were "Do not commit fornication and adultery.” they would have said: "We will never leave fornication." Verily, the following verse was revealed to Muhammad in Makkah while I was a young girl playing: [No, the hour of judgement is more grievous and more bitter (i.e. than any hardships a Muslim may find in the path of Allah in this life)], and the chapters of Al-Baqarah and An-Nisa’ (which contain extensive rulings on the halal and the haram) were only revealed while I was with him SAW as his wife." Then Aisha took our mus-haf and dictated to him the verses of the chapter."

25. Differences about Enjoining and Forbidding Are The Cause Of Division.

Kufur, corruption, and disobedience are the cause of evil and strife. A person or group may fall into sin and disobedience. Then another group keeps quiet, and does not fulfil their obligation of enjoining right and forbidding wrong, and that becomes a sin of theirs. And another group enjoins and forbids, but in a manner forbidden by Allah, and that becomes a sin of theirs. The end result is division, difference, strife, and evil. This is one of the greatest sources of evil and chaos in all times, former and present. This is because man is by nature dhaloom (ever given to criminality), and jahool (ever given to ignorance and foolishness). [See Al-Jinn, 72:33.] This criminality or oppression, and this foolishness are of different types. The oppression and foolishness of the first person or group (i.e. the one committing the original disobedience of Allah) is of one type, while the oppression and foolishness of the second and third groups (those who knew and kept quiet, and those who enjoined and forbid in a manner not allowed by Islam) is of other types.

Anyone who contemplates the strife and chaos which afflicts the Muslims will see that this is indeed their reason. All of the confusion which occurs between the rulers of the Ummah, and its scholars, and those who follow them among the common people has this as its root cause. Also in this category are the various causes of going astray: hawaa in both religious and worldly matters, innovation (bid’ah) in religion, and depravity in this life. These things are general, and afflict the entire human race, because of the element in them of criminality and foolishness. Thus, some of the people sin by oppressing themselves (i.e. by any disobedience to Allah) or others by committing fornication or homosexuality or drinking intoxicants, or economic crimes such as betraying of trusts, stealing, taking people’s property by intimidation, and other such crimes.

See: Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong.1
See: Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong.2
See: Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong.4
See: Enjoining the Right and Forbidding the Wrong.5

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