Many careless people, who are under the influence of their selves, think, without awareness, their misery as happiness. Because they are unaware of their fall and defects, they do not endeavor to correct them.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says:
“By no means, I swear by Allah, you must enjoin what is good and prohibit what is evil, prevent the wrongdoer, bend him into conformity with what is right, and restrict him to what is right. Or Allah causes your hearts resemble to those of sinners as He cursed them.”(Abū Dawūd, Kitāb al-Malahim, 17/4336)
Just as loving Allah and the things that is loved by Him, abstaining from the things that is disliked by Him is a condition of a sound belief similarly, not showing hate and opposition to wrong and false actions in the same extent showing love and affection to good deeds is a manifestation of weakness and deficiency of faith. It is stated in a saying of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Whoever loves for the sake of Allah and hates for the sake of Allah; gives for the sake of Allah and abstain from giving for the sake of Allah brings his faith to perfection.”(Tirmidhī, Ṣifat al-Qiyamah, 60)
Therefore a mature believer organizes not just his thoughts but also his feelings according to the contentment of Allah the Almighty. When he loves something, he loves it for the sake of Allah; and when he dislikes something, he dislikes it just for the sake of Allah. The measure for his feelings is “the conformity with the contentment of Allah.”
Abdullah b. Abbas addresses us many centuries ago:
“Love whatever you love for the sake of Allah; Leave whatever you leave for the sake of Allah; you should know that this is the way to attain Allah’s contentment. Otherwise, a person would not get the proper benefit from his prayers, fasting, pilgrimage etc. Unfortunately contemporary people are very much inclined to this world. Their love and hate is just for worldly benefits…”
WHEN THE SENSITIVITY OF FAITH IS LOST
When the intuition to look for Allah’s contentment in respect to love and hate is lost, a person becomes a toy in the hands of his inner self. He puts worldly interests before the in the matters of faith. Then he begins to take wrong and false deeds lightly thinking that he is showing tolerance; he does not step in to stop them considering that interference would hurt their relationship. Such an action is not only a great harm to himself/herself but also to the person whom he tolerates for the misdoing.
In fact Sufyan al-Thawrī expresses that:
“When someone makes a mistake, and if the one who claims to be his brother does not kindly warn him, you should know that his love is not for the sake of Allah. If it was for the sake of Allah, he would warn that disobedient servant of Allah with a proper language.”
Selfish tolerance shown to those who are on the wrong path cause the spreading of sins in the society. These sins then begin to be viewed as normal and are carelessly committed by the members of the society. The sons of Israel’s decline began after they had made concessions in fear of losing their benefits.
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) informs us in this regard as follows:
“In the early days, sons of Israel used to tell someone whom they saw committing a sin:
They used to warn him saying that “Look my friend! Fear Allah and stop committing such a sin. Because, this is not lawful to you.” The very next day when they saw the same person in the same manner (they think about their interests), they would not warn him in order to sit and eat with him. Then Allah the Almighty mingled their hearts together.”
The Prophet (pbuh) was leaning against something when he was saying these words. He immediately straightened up and completed his words as follows:
“By no means, I swear by Allah, you must enjoin what is good and prohibit what is evil, prevent the wrongdoer, bend him into conformity with what is right, and restrict him to what is right. Or Allah will mingle your hearts together and curse you as He cursed them.”(Abū Dawūd, Kitāb al-Malahim, 17/4336)
THE WEAK POINT OF MUSLIMS:
Concessions made because of worldly benefits weaken the faith. Today many concessions, which put faith into danger, are made without measuring worldly and religious matters on the basis of the Qur’ān and Sunnah. However, what is worst is that many careless people, who are under the influence of their selves, think, without awareness, their misery as happiness. Because they are unaware of their fall and defects, they do not feel the need to correct themselves.
Degeneration of our society, because of global cultural occupation, unfortunately have brought along many applications which are contrary to the spirit of Islam. The most important stages of life are mixed with unislamic practices and Satan has been made a partner to them. However, Allah the Almighty’s following expression about Satan, who was repelled by Allah, is such an important warning for human beings:
“And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children, and hold out promises to them; and the Shaitan makes not promises to them but to deceive:”(17; 64)
In fact many Muslims forget their religion in the most important ceremonies of their lives, such as weddings, circumcision, funerals, etc. On the contrary these festivities are supposed to be the most significant moments of life when Muslims remember their religion and behave according to their Islamic identity. Because religion is not something just peculiar to certain moments of life, but it should be a life style which penetrates into all aspects of life. Therefore it cannot be something followed at times and abandoned in other times.
Instead living our lives according to pure Islamic principles, wrapping up the most important moments of our lives with unislamic practices is an inelegant behavior which looks like dropping a piece of filth into a glass of pure water and making the whole glass undrinkable.
In the old time, wedding and circumcision ceremonies used to be held in the mosques or gardens, and hymns and chapters from the Qur’ān used to be recited in these ceremonies. Poor and wealthy were invited to them without any discrimination. After having the treats, prayers used to be made. Especially the poor and needy were invited and people were benefited from their prayers for their happiness in both worlds; because people were very careful about the following prophetic warning: “The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited.” (Bukharī, Nikāh, 72) Thus everybody would have a spiritual and tranquil ceremony.
Whereas today many of those who are wealthy enough are in a competition of showing their material means, and they perform their ceremonies in luxurious hotels and restaurants which are simply prohibited to the poor. Only a certain elite group is invited to these ceremonies; open buffets and rich variety of treats encourage gluttony and extravagance. Some of them even offer alcoholic drinks, which are absolutely prohibited in Islam, and they are carelessly consumed as if they are allowed in such ceremonies. Many pretend-to-be-pious and observing parents tolerate their children’s ceremonies offering alcoholic beverages, dancers, and full of many other unislamic behaviors; thus they contradict with the requirements of their faith.
The contents of the advices made to the brides have also begun to change today. Parents used to tell their daughters:
“You are leaving this house in a white bridal dress and you should leave your husband’s house in a white shroud.” Thus parents used to advice them fidelity and devotion to their husbands and warm up their daughter’s heart to her new home. They also used advice their daughter patience for the unexpected surprises of her family. Thus they would promote a healthy and strong social fabric; whereas unfortunately today parents are giving their children as if friendly advices saying:
“Do not let yourself become overpowered; if your husband tells you one thing, do not be defeated and respond to him with twice as much.” Thus they are negatively conditioned and filled with prejudices from the first day of their marriage. Of course it is not hard to guess what kind of advices is given to the grooms.
We should not forget that the reasons of increase in the rate of divorces, dissensions, fights, psychological problems needs to be sought among the spiritual degeneration of modern day. It should not be forgotten that every apparent cause has a hidden cause behind it.
Even funeral ceremonies, one of the meaningful moments of life, have become scenes of power shows. People have begun to feel pride from the attendance of powerful members of their society to their funerals. Publishing thank-you notes in the daily newspapers for the names of the significant attendees of the funeral is something against the spirit of the funerals.
In addition to this, instead of helping the needy on behalf of the deceased and getting the poor’s prayer for him, people have begun to follow a Christian custom and send wreathes to the funeral ceremonies; whereas believers should go to the funerals to attain Allah’s contentment. They should pray for the goodness of the deceased, distribute charity on behalf of him, and pay their respect for their fellow brother/sister. In fact the Prophet (pbuh) would encourage his companions to visit funeral homes and share their brothers and sisters’ sorrow as follows: “has any one of you gone to a funeral today?”
Today some people attend funeral ceremonies just to be seen at the ceremony and to protect their esteem. This is why people usually attend to funerals of the wealthy instead of poor and needy people’s ceremonies.
Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, where diseases of worldliness and materialism penetrated into every segment of the society, some people are accustomed to evaluate everything from a materialistic point of view. They measure human dignity with their rank and wealth. In a way, wedding and circumcision ceremonies and funerals are the places to test this view; whereas for a believing Muslim, protecting his faith, piety, and good manners should be the measure for human dignity.
Fondness and addiction to luxury, unislamic behaviors presented at the wedding, circumcision and funeral ceremonies, extravagance, violating the rights of others, etc. are all negative effects of foreign cultures on our society. In our Islamic culture, there is no place for such extreme behaviors.
REACTION OF FAITH
One of the characteristics of the believers is that they are an accelerator to goodness and a break to evil. In other words just as promoting goodness and commanding right, preventing evil and forbidding wrong is also a requirement of faith.
For instance a believer who is invited to a place where sins are openly committed should refuse such an invitation no matter who the inviter is. The warning in the following verse is very clear:
“Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, and who keep aloof from what is vain.” (23; 1-3)
Believers are ordered in this verse to stay away from what is vain; therefore it is impossible to imagine believers accepting invitations to go to the places where sins are committed. If a believer faces such a situation, he should refuse it and properly warn the inviter. If the inviter addresses the believer with the following common and stereotypical statements: “We should not waste our times and impose ourselves with such things in this modern age. You need to listen to me and forget these meaningless rules.” Such statements are so dangerous that it may cause someone to lose his faith. A believer can never accept this way of thinking and always shows his opposition to it; since believers are the witnesses of Allah the Almighty as it is stated in the following verse:
“And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you…”(2; 143)
Another example is about going into stores for shopping, where alcoholic drinks are sold. A sincere believer must leave such stores immediately and make the owner of such a store realize that he is losing customers because of selling alcoholic drinks. And similar reactions must be shown against all kinds of sins.
Because showing our dislike for a wrong action may leave positive effects on the soul of the person who committed that action. And it is hoped that this may lead him to righteousness and goodness and cause his salvation in the Hereafter.
However tolerating the violation of Divine laws may lead sinners to see their actions normal. They may even begin to feel pride of their sins.
It should also be mentioned that not showing any reaction against the violation of the laws of our Lord, while doing big protests and hunger strikes for little amounts of worldly gains, is just a manifestation of weakness of faith.
THE DISEASE OF IMITATION
Another issue which puts our faith in danger is trying to resemble to unbelievers or sinners and the disease of imitating their life styles. Corruption in the foundation of faith and most of intellectual and moral degeneration begin with imitation. Imitation eventually becomes a habit. Then similarity in the appearance turns into intellectual resemblance; and intellectual resemblance converts into unity of hearts. This is why the Prophet (pbuh) says that:
“He who tries to be like any people is one of them.”(Abū Dawūd, Kitāb al-Libās, 4/4031)
Just like the wrongness of resembling the unbelievers in respect to religious symbols, resembling them in respect to worldly matters is certainly not free from error.
Inclination to imitation is more or less found in the nature of human beings. Today we observe a serious corruption in the ethical structure of the Muslim society. Because bad examples are much more than the good examples in our society, today we have to be more careful about the disease of imitation. Millions of people waste their times by watching political debates and sports competitions just because of the imitation disease. This also has other significant but unnoticed manifestations:
For instance, young Muslims, who wear t-shirts with inappropriate pictures or foreign advertisements, go to mosques. Because they are not warned by other Muslims, they are not even aware of their mistakes. Believers seem to have forgotten their characteristics depicted in the following verse: “And there may spring from you a nation who invite to goodness, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency.” (3; 104) Whereas forbidding and preventing what is wrong and enjoining goodness with nice and effective words is obligatory upon all believers. This is stated in the following verse:
“These are they of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts; therefore turn aside from them and admonish them, and speak to them effectual words concerning themselves.”(4; 63)
Since not resembling unbelievers is one of the most significant requirements of protecting Muslim identity and dignity, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered his followers to fast on the 10th day of Muharram together with a day before or after it or all there days. The reason for adding a day or two days to the fasting on the 10th of Muharram was because of opposing the practice of Jews. In other words he (pbuh) ordered us not to resemble them even in the matters of worship.
If the feeling of hate for the sake of Allah dies away in our hearts, we slowly begin to imitate the carnal life styles of unbelievers and resemble them. If we compare our faith to a piece of rope, fibers of the rope will certainly begin to break one by one when the feeling of opposition for the sake of Allah weakens in our hearts.
Ottomans lived together with people from many different religions, languages, and races for centuries; however they always kept their Muslim identity, dignity, and tradition alive. Let alone resembling the unbelievers, they carefully represented their religion and affected the unbelievers by living in accordance with the principles of Islam. Muslim customs became widespread among the unbelievers.
Unfortunately today, as a result of Muslims’ economic decline, we have begun to permit many customs alien to our own culture into our lives. Resemblance to unbelievers in their clothes, ceremonies, festivals, holidays etc. has begun to increase rapidly.
Winds of fashion have taken believers under their destructive influence. It is essential for a wise believer not to incline them. On the contrary he should support every effort to revive our own culture and stand up against such destructive trends.
Style of our clothing, decoration of our houses, the way we live our lives etc. must be in accordance with the principles of Islam. In this respect, Omar’s (r.a) warning to the soldiers of the Muslim army, who were going to Azerbaijan and Dagestan, not to imitate the customs of the polytheist people is a remarkable example for us.
DIALOGUE WITH NON-MUSLIMS
In order to understand the terms tolerance and dialogue correctly, first we need to know Islamic perception of human beings. Islam inculcates its followers to see all human beings as the creation of Allah the Almighty. In this regard it is not important whether they are believers or not. Islam commands believers to be careful about protecting the rights of those who are not honored with the guidance of Islam. The pact signed by the Prophet (pbuh) with the Jewish residents of Medina is a typical example in this matter.
Therefore there is no problem about signing pacts with unbelievers about the rights of the citizens and interests of the society as long as no concession is given about the matters of religion.
Islam also preaches mercy and compassion in human relationship. Ya’la’ b. Murrah says that:
“I have attended many expeditions with the Prophet (pbuh). Whenever the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw a human corpse on his way, he would order him to be buried without asking whether he was a believer or not.”(Hakim, I, 526/1374)
One day a funeral procession passed before the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He (pbuh) immediately stood up. Companions told him:
“O Messenger of Allah, it was a Jewish funeral.”
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said:
“Is he not a human being?”(Bukhari, Janaiz, 50)
Islam orders to be very careful about the rights of the unbelievers. How nicely the following orders of the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II to his soldiers depict this reality: he told his soldiers on the day they conquered Istanbul that:
“…Do not touch those who ask your mercy. Do not touch women, children, old and sick…”
Not even the name of the declaration of human rights was known at that time, Sultan Mehmed II manifested such an exemplary tolerance. When the Patriarch of Istanbul heard Sultan Mehmed’s orders, he thankfully fell on his knees before him. Sultan raised the patriarch up, and told him:
“In our religion, prostrating in front of people is forbidden. Please stand up. I give you and all the other Christian residents of Istanbul your rights. From now on, do not be afraid of me about your lives and your freedom.”
Because of the justice and tolerance, Ottomans were able to keep Balkans in peace and tranquility even though they were outnumbered by the non-Muslims. This behavior caused for many unbelievers to find the right path. It is stated in a verse:
“And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit.”(29; 46)
Again Muslim families, which were sent to Kosovo and Bosnia, became good representatives of Islamic values by living in accordance with the meaning of above mentioned and similar verses. Thus they became the cause for the guidance of many unbelievers.
Again it does not matter whether injustice and oppression have been committed against believers or unbelievers; it is a heavy burden in the Hereafter. In this respect the account about that the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II went to a court with an unbelieving architect and the verdict was against him is a perfect example of distribution of rights in Islam.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF DIALOG WITH NON-MUSLIMS
The entire world is the target for conveying the message of Islam. The Messenger of Allah sent envoys to the leaders of the neighboring countries and established a dialog with them. The Companions (may Allah be please with them), on the other hand, went to farthest places to convey the message of Islam.
With the advanced technological means of modern society, it is a great responsibility of the believers to respond the unjust allegations and defamations against Islam and to explain people that Islam is not a religion of terrorism. Teaching people that the Prophet’s 23-year-long life of prophethood was full of examples with struggle against terror and blood feuds is also very important. Education requires a certain extent of dialogue. We should pay attention to the following principles in our dialogs with non-Muslims:
We should not forget that Islam is the true religion in the sight of Allah. Even though Judaism and Christianity were heavenly religions in their essence, unfortunately they have been corrupted in time. As a result of these corruptions, Christianity has begun to believe in trinity, while Judaism has begun to indoctrinate its followers with anthropomorphic perception of god. Only Islam is the true religion of tawhid, protecting the belief in the oneness and uniqueness of Allah. This is why there is no way to unite Islam and other religions.
Another important issue is to protect sincerity. Dialogue between Moses (a.s) and Pharaoh is given as an example for this in the Qur’an. Moses (a.s) goes to Pharaoh and talks with him with a soft language. However Moses (a.s) never gives a concession from the limits of Islam. As a result of his sincerity, Pharaoh’s magicians risked their lives and accepted the message of Islam.
Islam preaches the usage of lawful methods in order to reach lawful goals. We cannot attain lawful goals through unlawful means. This is one of the sensitivities of Islam. The 23-year-life of the Prophet (pbuh) is the best example of this fact. He never resorted to a method disapproved by Allah the Almighty.
One of the best examples of this was manifested during the Battle of Badr. As it is known, the number of polytheist was three times more than Muslims. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh), Ali and Abu Lubabah were going to Badr riding the same camel by turn. When they reached Harrat-ul-Wabara (a place four miles from Medina) a man met them who was known for his valor and courage. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) were pleased to see him. The Messenger of Allah asked him:
“Did you come with us?”
“No, I did not; but you are the son of our sister and you are also our neighbor. I have come so that I may follow you and get a share from the booty.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked again:
“Do you believe in Allah and His Apostle?”
He said: No.The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Go back, we do not need help from a polytheist.”
The man insisted saying that:
“I am known for my bravery in the battles. What would you say if I fight with you in return for some booty without accepting Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied:
“Go back. we do not need help from a polytheist. First accept Islam then come and fight with us.” The polytheist finally converted into Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) asked him as he had asked previously:
“Do you believe in Allah and His Apostle?”
The man said: Yes.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to him: Then come along with us.” (See Muslim, Jihād, 150)
In short, we should not make any concessions that will damage our religion in our dialogue with non-Muslims. We should not forget that small concessions may destroy our faith. This is stated in the following verses:
“Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah….”(4; 80)
“O you who believe! be not forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger, and be careful of (your duty to)Allah; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”(49; 1)
On the other hand, we should not also forget that concessions are the weakness of the person who has given them not the whole Muslim society. We should avoid from defaming the entire Muslim society because of an individual weaknesses.
May Allah bless our hearts with such nice attributes!
Dear Lord! Make us love faith and fill our hearts with the blessing of faith. Make us hate from disbelief and sins; show us the way to abstain from them. Help us to join those who are accelerators for goodness and obstacles for evil.