Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enjoining the Good

I am, at present, in the last stages of a Bayyinah course on the Qur'an (103). I of course think it's a wonderful course... but then I've never met a course on the Qur'an I didn't like. The course covers so much that is pertinent to Muslims on an individual and social level (all from the Qur'an), I wish more people were able to take it. But for now I'd only like to share a few reflections.

First, some background: we started with four passages in the Qur'an (Surat al-`Asr, Ayat al-Birr, Surah Luqman 12-19, and Surah Fussilat 31-36) to describe mankind's salvation as depending upon four points. In short, the points are belief, (in Allah, messengers, and the Hereafter) manifested by intentional righteous deeds, amounting to encouraging the right, while staying steadfast on patience.

When it comes to tawaasaw bil haqq or enjoining the good, we spent time talking about jihad and da'wah. And using three passages in the Qur'an, we examined the characteristics of three types of Muslims. The passages are first, Surah 61, called As-Saff, which describes a true and well-developed believer; the second is Surah 62, called Al-Jumu'ah, about the average, everyday believer; and the third is Surah 63, called Al-Munafiqoon, which is obviously about the hypocrites.

I know if you look back over my 3-part series on Da'wah, you'll see that hypocrites are listed with the non-Muslims among people to receive da'wah. And now they are listed among the Muslims. It's an interesting difference but the classification seems to me to be correct in both cases. Because you can't call a person a munafiq, and for sure the munafiq would seem to be among the Muslims in the first place. So when you're enjoining the good, encouraging the Muslims (i.e., instead of calling non-Muslims), you will then be talking to the hypocrites as well, even though you might not immediately know them as such.

If you read Surat al-Munafiqoon, you notice that the hypocrites make excuses and try to divert people from the way of Allah. Then we see that the hypocrites have a pleasing appearance--they might make the first row of fajr every morning, for instance, keep a nicely trimmed beard or wear a jilbab. At the same time, they always feel under attack. This surah describes the hypocrites as being arrogant and evasive when reminded of Allah--when called to seek forgiveness from Allah is what it mentions, but couldn't that also mean, evasive when asked to come listen to lectures, or halaqas, or salaat? Just some thoughts.

If we look to the previous chapter, we see the characteristics of the average, everyday believing Muslim, whom we might be trying to remind of Allah. First we see a comparison to the Children of Israel who were given knowledge--but without acting on it, it becomes the example of a donkey carrying volumes of books on its back. Muslims I think should really look at this example--because it's talking about Muslims, and it's a good example for all those debates about fiqh issues, for instance. But in this surah we read about Jumu'ah prayer, which is a time to remind the people about Allah--and isn't that ultimately the point, to remind people of their obligations to Allah? And that remembrance is through salaat, through the Qur'an--and what is the purpose of the khutbah anyway, if not remembrance of Allah? So we should be developing khateebs who can deliver sermons that will wake up the people and encourage them in the religion. Oh yeah... tawaasaw bil haqq!

And the other surah, the first one I mentioned, is number 61, Surat As-Saff, which describes the believers standing in rows, and there are basically two times believers would be standing in rows, right? Firstly in the salaat, and secondly in battle. In rows as a collective body is how the Muslims should be, even when it comes to jihad (i.e., no "sneak attacks," right?) We see in this surah an example from the Jews and from the Christians who refused the proofs of their messengers (Musa and Isa respectively). And then Allah promises to the believers a double reward--a reward if they are killed, and that is the Garden, and a reward if they live, which is victory!

May Allah make us among the believers who love Him, love His Messenger, and striving in His Cause.


Anonymous said...

There are two levels of nifaq (hypocrisy):

1) Hypocrisy in belief (nifaq `aqadi)

This is for one to display belief, while concealing disbelief--one is a disbeliever at heart, but only pretends, outwardly, to believe. This is the hypocrisy that is kufr. [Jassas, Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur'an, 1.37; Khadimi/Barkawi, al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa, 3.236-238]

This is not the same, in any way, to someone who is weak in their faith or practice. It is also distinct from innovation (bid`a) in belief.

2. Hypocrisy in action (nifaq `amali)

This is someone who makes false claims in their outward practice; someone whose deeds consistently contradict his words and claims. [Khadimi/Barkawi, al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa, 3.236-238]

This is the hypocrisy mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) when he said, "The signs of a hypocrite are three: if they speak, they lie; if they promise, they break their promise; and if they are trusted, they do not fulfill their trust." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Such a person is a sinful believer. They are are to be given sincere counsel (nasiha), and corrected when they err, with the love, kindness, and mercy that are at the very essence of the Prophetic example. May Allah's blessings and peace be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, his folk, companions, and followers.

Why call them hypocrites? Isn't it harsh and judgmental?

The question may arise: why would such people be called hypocrites? The hadith commentators explained that this is because their actions--such as lying, reneging on promises, and non-fulfillment of trusts--resemble those of true hypocrites, and not those of with true faith, for true faith entails being true in word and deed. [Khadimi/Barkawi, al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa, 3.236-238]

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him, his folk, and companions) said, "Say: I believe in Allah. Then, be upright." [Muslim, Tirmidhi, and others]

The Prophet's calling them hypocrites was for a deep wisdom and benefit, and its motivation was his love and genuine concern for them: because of the faith latent in them, and their recognition of the truth, fairness, and sincerity of his words, they would be moved to leave such odious traits.

However, it is noteworthy that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) didn't specify individuals as being hypocrites; rather, he mentioned their traits.

Sayyidi Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi points out that this is a key lesson from the way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in correcting others: you stick to the issues, in as positive and indirect a way as possible, rather than the person themselves; you do so seeking good and benefit for them, not merely out of a desire to condemn; and you correct them in a way that is likely to inspire them to the good. The good is only good when done in a good way. [Nabulsi, al-Hadiqa al-Nadiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]

Amy said...

As-salaamu alaikum

I'm really glad you posted this comment. It's so useful, it could be a post somewhere--is it, by the way?

This is the second time I made a post about hypocrisy and really I'm glad to be set right on the matter. I didn't mean to imply at all that there is any benefit in accusing people of hypocrisy or calling them that.

I think it is definitely useful, however, to be aware of the signs of hypocrisy and not to notice it in others so much as to observe it within ourselves.

If that was not clear in my post, it's my fault. May Allah reward you for correcting me.

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