One of the sins Islam has strongly opposed is gossip – speaking evil about the other behind his or her back, even if it be true. Sheikh Husayn Al-Awaishah has strong words on this trait (excerpt from his book Gossip and Its Adverse Effects on the Muslim Community):
If any of us hear gossip about one of our brothers, we are enjoined to oppose it, and correct the speaker – gently, politely, and with wisdom. This is in accordance with the various ways of changing a bad deed which were described by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), which we should try to do to the best of our ability.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever of you sees an evil deed should change it with his hand [by acting], or if he cannot do that, then with his tongue [by speaking out], or if he cannot do that, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” (Sahih Muslim)
The least of these is opposing the wrong deed in our hearts, which in this case should make us leave the gathering where the gossip is taking place. Let us think about the words of Allah, the meaning of which is:
“When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our Signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, do not sit in the company of those who do wrong.” (Qur’an, 6:68)
“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 49:12)
Let those Muslims who relish gossip beware! The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered those who hear gossip to reject it, but these Muslims are indulging in this pastime with pleasure! Woe to you! Are you not thinking about where you will end up? It is as if you think you were created only for fooling about and committing sins!
Islam is the religion of mercy, tolerance and forgiveness and many other human values. One of the values that Islam has given due attention to is dialogue. Here, I will try to shed some light on dialogue as a noble value in Islam.
Islam sees that dialogue is the golden means to know the other as Allah, praise be to Him, created people of different cultures, natures, languages and faiths and this is stated in the Holy Qur’an, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (Qur’an, 49:13)
But dialogue with the other requires patience, flexibility and open-mindedness which were clearly revealed in Prophet Muhammad’s dialogue with others even if they were idolaters and this is why Allah praises him, “It is part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you have taken a decision put your trust in Allah; for Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Qur’an, 3:159)
Good listening is one of the principles of dialogue in Islam. It was never reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not listen well to anyone. In other words, he was always an attentive listener: he was never reported to interrupt anybody even if the speaker was one of his enemies and he used to say “Have you finished, brother?” This was his way of respecting other people’s rights to express themselves.
Even if this dialogue involves an argument or debate, the Holy Qur’an advises Muslims to do that in a civilized way, “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (Qur’an, 16:125)
The above verse emphasizes that dialogue with the other requires wisdom and common sense, which are basic requirements to convey the teachings and message of Allah. It can be said that Islam stresses that dialogue is the way to communicate with the other.
By: Dr. Khaled Tawfik
[ALLAH’S Quran – 31:14 ] “And (Allah says), “We have enjoined on every human being concerning his parents (to be good to them). His mother is worn and wasted in bearing him and it takes her two years to wean him. And give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me shall be the (ultimate) return (of you all).”
The Prophet (pbuh) has said:
[Bukhari, Book #73, Hadith #1] “Narrated Al-Walid bin ‘Aizar: I heard Abi Amr ‘Ash-Shaibani saying, “The owner of this house.” he pointed to ‘Abdullah’s house, “said, ‘I asked the Prophet ‘Which deed is loved most by Allah?” He replied, ‘To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.’ ” ‘Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet said, “To be good and dutiful to one’s parents,” ‘Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet said, To participate in Jihad for Allah’s Cause.” ‘Abdullah added, “The Prophet narrated to me these three things, and if I had asked more, he would have told me more.”
[Muslim, Book #001, Hadith #0151] “It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud that he observed. I asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) which deed was the best. He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Prayer at its appointed hour. I (again) said: Then what? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Kindness to the parents. I (again) said: Then what? He replied: Earnest endeavour (Jihad) in the cause of Allah. And I would have not ceased asking more questions but out of regard (for his feelings).”
[Muslim, Book #001, Hadith#0158] “It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdur-Rahman b. Abu Bakra that his father said: We were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) that he observed: Should I not inform you about the most grievous of the grave sins? (The Holy Prophet) repeated it three times, and then said: Associating anyone with Allah, disobedience to parents, false testimony or false utterance. The Holy Prophet was reclining, then he sat up, and he repeated it so many times that we wished that he should become silent.”
[Bukhari, Book #83, Hadith #9] “Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet said, “Al-Kaba’ir (the biggest sins) are: To join others (as partners) in worship with Allah, to be undutiful to one’s parents,” or said, “to take a false oath.” (The sub-narrator, Shu’ba is not sure) Mu’adh said: Shu’ba said, “Al-kaba’ir (the biggest sins) are: (1) Joining others as partners in worship with Allah, (2) to take a false oath (3) and to be undutiful to one’s parents,” or said, “to murder (someone unlawfully).”
[Sunan Abudawud, Book #8, Hadith #1448] “Narrated Mu’adh al-Juhani: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone recites the Qur’an and acts according to its contents, on the Day of Judgment his parents will be given to wear a crown whose light is better than the light of the sun in the dwellings of this world if it were among you. So what do you think of him who acts according to his.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book #41, Hadith #5123] “Narrated AbuUsayd Malik ibn Rabi’ah as-Sa’idi: While we were with the Apostle of Allah! (peace_be_upon_him) a man of Banu Salmah came to Him and said: Apostle of Allah is there any kindness left that I can do to my parents after their death? He replied: Yes, you can invoke blessings on them, forgiveness for them, carry out their final instructions after their death, join ties of relationship which are dependent on them, and honor their friends.”
AS an Ummah, it is our responsibility to not only do good and leave evil, but also to encourage and enjoin others to it. Allah said in the Qur’an:
“You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (Qur’an, 3:110)
The status Allah gave Muslims is by virtue of: our acknowledgment of our Creator’s Lordship and His over us that we worship and obey Him alone; enjoining what is right; and forbidding what is wrong. If we lose these virtues, we lose the status. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is a noble deed, though regretfully it has acquired a negative image today.
The focus of this article is, however, on the role women can play in carrying out this duty. It should be known that this is everyone’s job and not restricted to men alone. In fact, women can do a great job in carrying out this religious duty.
As mothers, women are mostly responsible for the upbringing of children. This is where enjoining of good and forbidding of evil starts. Children are normally closer to their mothers, who have a great influence in what children grow up to be.
By virtue of motherhood, women are probably the greatest contributors to the society and the economy. Great mothers not only provide leaders for the next generation but also virtuous intellectuals brought up on strong Islamic principles.
Apart from motherhood, there are several examples of how women in the past carried out this duty. Mother of the believers, Ayesha, ordered her brother, Abdur Rahman Bin Abu Bakr, to correctly make Wudhu (Sahih Muslim, no. 240)
Maymunah threatened one of her male relatives who smelt of alcohol that she would boycott him unless he undertook the Islamic punishment for drinking alcohol (At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra)
when Umm Salamah saw some women turning away beggars, she rebuked them and asked them to give something to the beggars, even if a date. The point to note is that these great women did not hesitate in commanding good and forbidding evil.
Women can forbid evil and enjoin good in their homes, places of work, mosques, and schools. In the past, old women’s advice was rarely ignored unless it was incorrect. According to a narration in Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz As-Sahaba (8/121), an old woman known as Samra Bint Nuhayk Al-Asadiyyah would go to the markets and carry out this as a religious duty (it should be noted that this narration does not have a full chain of narrators).
Elderly people were earlier respected and honored. Imagine the reaction an old woman will get today if she advises a young girl not to throw away food or comments on her dress in a shopping mall! I think we all know the answer.
Conditioning the youth towards good is a pressing need in our times. But it should be done with wisdom and beautiful preaching. Our goal should be to bring them onboard, not to push them overboard. Kind words, patience and positive attitude is the key. How often, just because of our attitude we push people away from good.
More important than attitude is knowledge. One has to know what is right and what is wrong before she tries to propagate it. It may be possible that what one was considering something to be good or bad was in fact influenced from her country’s culture. Learning Islam precedes practicing. Knowledge comes before action.
Last, but definitely not the least, is we must make sure our intention is sincere for the sake of Allah. Worldly motives, prejudice, and desires should stay out of any religious duty. Our worship and good deeds will not be accepted by Allah unless it is for His sake alone.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has mentioned the importance of this duty in the following Hadith: “By the One in Whose hands is my soul, you have to enjoin right and forbid wrong, otherwise Allah will be about to send upon you a punishment from Him, then you would pray to Him but He would not answer you.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
[ALLAH’S Quran – 36:38 ] “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the Decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.”
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) has said:
[Muslim, Book #001, Hadith #0297] “It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything ( unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.”
Allah is the Most Merciful. It is out of His Mercy that He feeds us, provides us and gives us everything we ask for, despite our disobedience to His Commands.
But why does He punish, few may ask. We must know that just as Mercy is Allah’s attribute and Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem are His Beautiful Names, so is Justice His attribute and Al-Adl His Beautiful Name. Allah is the Most Just and He is the Judge.
He punishes His slaves – and He has full right to and He cannot be questioned regarding it – because of their own sins and rejection of Allah’s commandments and blessings. Moreover, He is never unjust or incorrect. He is the Most Perfect and everything He does is without a doubt correct. So, when He punishes He is carrying out justice.
Allah created us to worship Him. He created our life as a test to see who among us are best in deeds. He sent down guidance for us. He told us what is right and what is wrong.
He sent Prophets and Messengers to remind humankind whenever they went astray from the straight path. He revealed to us through Messengers about Himself. He sent enough evidences for humankind to believe in His message and submit to His worship, which are also for our own benefit because Allah is not in need of our worship. It is only we who stand in need of Allah.
Allah promised to reward us from 10 to 700 times more for every good deed we do. Allah answers our prayer when we call Him in distress and need. He removes us out of every difficulty.
Despite all of His countless blessings and favors, if man rejects Allah, refuses to follow the guidance though it is clear to him, and persists on the evil path, then Allah reminds the slave through a series of tests and trials that would surely evoke his inner conscience. When man still does not take heed, then Allah punishes him.
The way Allah measures a person’s evil is also reflective of His mercy. Indeed if He were to punish us for the disobedience and errors we do, though we are slaves to the King of all kings, He would not leave a soul on earth. All would be punished and destroyed. It is out His mercy that a sin is recorded as just one evil deed, while a good deed is recorded with a minimum reward of 10 times that deed.
Moreover, He wipes out that evil deed when we turn in repentance to Him. If we change ourselves and do good deeds, He out His infinite Mercy writes that evil deed down as a good deed for us. Nothing can be compared at all with His Mercy.
Furthermore, He does not punish any slave who has not received the message of Islam. Those who did not receive the message, will be tested on the Day of Judgment, as narrated in an authentic Hadith.
In the end, we must never forget who we are and who Allah is. Allah is our Master and He is All-Powerful. He does what He wishes and there is none who can question Him. But He will most certainly question us – our actions and our deeds.
There is no excuse for human beings. And we hope Allah forgives us and has mercy on us and does not make us among those who are punished. Ameen.