The Starting Point
All praise and thanks is due to Allah and may salaat and salaam be upon the Messenger of Allah and upon his family, companions and supporters as well as all those who adhere to his Sunnah until the Day of Resurrection, ameen.
In this article we address a trend among some Muslims to emphasize the aspect of harshness towards other Muslims when correcting them or warning others against them. There are admittedly circumstances that warrant being tough and hard, and many of the articles alluded to make those circumstances clear, however due to their emphasis on that aspect, harshness has become the starting point and is resorted to very quickly by some as opposed to being something employed after all else has actually been tried in an attempt to guide others to the correct path. Let it be clear that we are limiting this discussion to relationships between the common Muslims.
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The fact is that we have too often experienced that those who apply harshness while claiming to adhere to the way of the salaf, leap to conclusions and tactics based upon statements of scholars without always first looking closely at the circumstances of the individuals they apply that harshness towards. Moreover, although claiming to want to correct and guide others, we find that they often never use the approach of kindness or courtesy of actual personal contact or generosity such as a call or a visit or a friendly meeting to deal with the issue in question. Instead we have found Muslims being hastily judged as innovators and then getting vilified publicly and privately, boycotted, warned against, rumor spread about, wrong suppositions made about inward motivations, the bearing of false witness, and even personal correspondence sent around the world justifying harshness towards them all in the name of protecting the “da’wah”. We find this regrettable and in some cases reprehensible because it is being put forth as the way of salaf and moreover the Sunnah of our noble and generous Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa salaam).
Many relationships have been damaged and suspicion sewn due to the harsh approach. We therefore find it prudent to present evidences from the Qur’aan and the authentic hadeeth first that clearly establish that the starting point when dealing with Muslims, even if astray or in error, is gentleness and kindness to what some may consider a fault. This, as opposed to rapidly seeking to find fault in or condemning other Muslims whom Allah may have already forgiven or who seek His forgiveness.
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Also keep in mind that the error, sin or deviation in question is often only in the perception of others when it may not in fact be the absolute case according to shariah. More dangerous is that the drive to lambaste or condemn often stems from what amounts to a difference of opinion on a given matter where there is indeed room to differ. When a position is taken that is not in agreement with that of one’s preferred scholar or student of knowledge, then it is assumed that some deviation or ill-motive is afoot! Undoubtedly when expressing opinions one must take care to stay as closely to the principles and tenets of Islam and utilize solid evidence. Great scholars have differed and still do on many matters of the religion yet they do not always raise those differences to the level of loyalty and disassociation nor make them a cause of enmity and disrespect as we do!
If a sister who wears proper hijaab so much as opens her mouth to encourage her sisters to fear Allah and wear the hijaab according to the conditions laid out by the scholars of Islam, bringing evidence of those conditions from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and doing so in the nicest non-condemning way, she is still liable to be backbitten and called a fanatic! The same when a brother who does not shave his beard and who wears clothing that clearly identifies him as a Muslim bothers to point out any matter to those that feel threatened by that, they will quickly label him extreme and harsh no matter how soft, tactful or patient he is when doing so! They may even call him names publicly to turn people away from him. We have even heard of charges of assault made against decent brothers when they did nothing of the kind just because the person being corrected was afraid and trying to deflect from his own errors and misguided speech or actions. Some good and sincere da’ees have faced getting ostracized from certain mosques and even received physical threats!
The true Muslim is sincere towards Allah his Book, His Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and to the leaders and the masses of the Muslims as is stated in the hadeeth:
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said,
“Religion is sincerity.”
We asked, ‘To Whom?’
He said, “To Allah (by obeying Him attributing to Him what He deserves and performing jihaad for His sake); to His Book (by reading it, understanding it and applying it to one’s daily life); to His Prophet (by respecting him greatly and fighting on his behalf both in his lifetime and after his death, and by following his sunnah); to the rulers of the Muslims (by helping them in their task of leading Muslims to the right path and alerting them if they are heedless); and to their common folk (by being merciful towards them).
[Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
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In the hadeeth quoted above, we see that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) summed up Islam in one word, naseehah, showing that sincerity is the central foundation of the faith. For without sincerity a man’s faith is invalid and his Islam is worthless. This is the meaning of the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
“None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.”
[Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
This is impossible to achieve unless one loves one’s brother with all sincerity. No doubt this level of love for one’s brother is very difficult to attain, but it is not impossible as long as one is constantly aware that liking for one’s brother what one likes for oneself is one of the conditions of faith, and that religion is sincerity. Indeed it is the natural attitude of the sincere Muslim who truly understands Islam”.
Abu Hurairah (radiallahu ‘anhu) used to say: The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees any fault in him he corrects it. [Al-Bukhaari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad]
Abu Hurairah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) reports from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
“The believer is the mirror of his brother. The believer is the brother of a believer: he protects him from ruin and guards his back.”
[Al-Bukhaari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad]
“A man should help his brother whether he is a wrong-doer or is wronged. If he is a wrong-doer then he should stop him, and if he is wronged he should defend him.”
“The true Muslim does not forsake his brother, whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged. Islam teaches him to like for his brother what he likes for himself: as long as he would not like for himself to be a wrongdoer or to do wrong, then he would not like this for his brother either. So if his brother is wronged, he stands by him, supports him and defends him, and if he is a wrongdoer he stands by him and stops him from doing wrong. This is indeed true sincerity and true kindness. These are two qualities that distinguish the true Muslim at any time and in any place.”
Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said,
“Allah is Forbearer (Rafeeq) and loves forbearance (rifq) in all matters.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: Mildness also brings human beings closer to one another, and on this count, Allah likes it very much.
Allah, the Exalted, says:
“…who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (3:134)
“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don’t punish them).” (7:199)
MAKING PEACE AMONG PEOPLE:
Allah, the Exalted, says:
“There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah’s Cause), or Ma`ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind.” (4:114)
“…and making peace is better.” (4:128)
“So fear Allah and adjust all matters of difference among you.” (8:1)
“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers.” (49:10)
Abu Hurairah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said,
“A Muslim is a brother to a Muslim. He should neither deceive him nor lie to him, nor leave him without assistance. Everything belonging to a Muslim is inviolable for a Muslim; his honor, his blood and property. Piety is here (and he pointed out to his chest thrice). It is enough for a Muslim to commit evil by despising his Muslim brother.”