(c) Muhammad Haniff Hassan, May 2002
The ummah today is often too quick to judge or label others in every instances. The irony is that they are themselves quick to react when judged or labeled by others.
A lesson can be learnt from the story of Prophets Musa and Harun. Prophet Harun was entrusted by Prophet Musa to guide the Israelites while he went to Mount Sinai to receive revelations from Allah taala.
Unfortunately a large number of the Israelites went back to their pagan practices worshiping a golden calf instead of Allah. When Prophet Harun reminded them of the teachings of Prophet Musa, his reminders fell to deaf ears. Prophet Harun chose to tolerate the disbelievers while awaiting the return of Prophet Musa.
Prophet Musa was justifiably angry looking at the state of his people upon his return. He asked Prophet Harun, “ What held you back when you saw them going astray? Why did you not fight this corruption?”
In his reply Prophet Harun said,”O son of my mother! Seize me not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I fear lest you should say ‘You have caused a division among the children of Israel, and you have not respected my word!” Refer the above story to Taha : 77 – 94.
The above incident holds a wealth of lessons for us in our dakwah activites.
1. It is best to seek clarifications when faced with an unpleasant situation rather than to immediately judge or direct your anger on another person.
2. Why did Prophet Harun allow the pagan practices to continue? Was he a coward? Why didn’t he punish the disbelievers or wage war against them just as Abu Bakar r.a. did in fighting the apostates?
In response to Prophet Musa’s query, Prophet Harun explained that he wanted to avoid being accused of causing a rift within the Israelites. Hence, he deliberately waited for Prophet Musa’s return so that he (Prophet Musa) was able to witness the situation for himself and decide on further course of actions. This intention was to avoid any misunderstandings between himself and Prophet Musa.
Drastic actions at that point in time would have been counter productive to the development of a bigger objective. This was unlike the situation during the time of Abu Bakr ra where he was forced to take drastic actions by fighting the apostates.
3. From this incident it is also evident that one should not be labeled a coward, collaborator, a person who fails in his dakwah responsibilities or one who sells his faith for the small price of this world just because one remains silent about an issue, do not deliver the truth or remain passive in the presence of wrong doings.
4. Sometimes it is necessary to leave a ma’ruf in order to avoid a bigger catastrophe. By being silent one might in fact avoid a bigger problems.
While we’re not trying to justify being passive, it is important that we do not judge a person with negative labels and perceptions simply because the person does not take any actions when there are injustices happening.
No doubt, a person who speaks the truth with wisdom is better than one who chooses to remain silent. Nonetheless that is the beauty of Islam that it is flexible enough to suit people of different levels of capabilities and lifestyles.
As Muslims, we can choose between two ruling – azimah (original) and rukhsah (leniency) – without fear that person who chooses rukhsah will be ridiculed.
An example is the story of the family of Ammar bin Yassir. Ammar and his mother were persecuted for their faith in Islam. Ammar chose to save his life by pretending to ridicule Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. His mother on the other hand defended her faith to her last breath. Despite taking the rukhsah ruling, Ammar was never labeled a coward. Nor was his mother branded stupid for holding on to her principles – leading to her own death. In Islam both situations are permissible within their own context.
Unfortunately, today we are too busy in making judgments and assumptions of others. We question those who refuse to speak out or label opinions of others, which are inconsistent with our own, without understanding the context within which others make their decisions.
It is not our intention to trivialise the responsibilities of Muslims in reminding and advising their brethrens from being led astray. Nevertheless we should be clear that reminders and advice is different from labeling and making judgements on others. This should be obvious to any sane human beings. In giving advise it is imperative that we avoid sarcasm.
We should remember that Allah will not question us on what others did or didn’t do or what they said or didn’t say. Instead the burden will be on us to account for what we did or didn’t do as well as what we said and didn’t say.