Muslims are not passive. If something is wrong, it must be fixed!
Are you a passive person? When you see something wrong, do you try to fix it or do you wander on comforting yourself that for sure someone else will fix it? When you’re walking down the street and you see something on the sidewalk and you know that someone might slip on it, do you pick it up, or do you look the other way as if you didn’t see it? When you see someone smoking in a non-smoking area, do you kindly bring the person’s attention to what he’s doing wrong, or do you just cover your nose, or leave the place? When was the last time you participated in a public poll or in lections? Remember the last time you saw someone double parking and you knew that he’s going to cause a traffic jam? Did you go and ask him politely to park somewhere else so that the traffic flow wouldn’t be disturbed? Or did you just say to yourself, “Isn’t there an officer around here to see this?” and then you just walked away? Why are we so passive? Why do we always believe that “someone else will do it”? Why don’t WE take an action? I’ll tell you why: because if it doesn’t directly affect us, then why should we care? Or, “we won’t change the world, so why should we care?” Right? Isn’t that the reason? That’s not the Muslim mentality; that’s not how a Muslim should act. The Muslim community is ONE body; if one organ is not functioning it affects the rest of the body.
Do you think, for example, that as long as you don’t do drugs then you are safe? Think again, because your duty isn’t just to prevent yourself from taking drugs, but to help prevent it on a larger scale as much as you can. How many people are robbed by addicts that are desperate for money to buy drugs? How many people are killed by addicts? Those that were robbed or killed did not do drugs, but it still affected them indirectly. Does this mean that if we see wrong we should get aggressive and force people to do what’s right? Of course not. Our Lord, The All Mighty says, what can be translated as, “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” (TMQ, 16:125). We must maintain the balance between “taking an action” and “being wise and not offending people”.
The Dangers of being passive:
– Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an, what can be translated as, “And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong: and know that Allah is strict in punishment” (TMQ, 8:25). See how Allah the Merciful is warning us that misconduct does not just affect the ones that do it, but has a wider range?
– The Companions asked the Messenger of Allah, “Will we be destroyed even if the righteous ones are amongst us?” Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) replied, “Yes, if corruption increases.” It was also reported that Allah ordered Jibril to destroy a village that had become extremely corrupted, but Jibril asked Allah, “O Allah, in this village is your servant that constantly prays to You.” Allah replied, “Start with him! For his face never changed with disapproval to what had been going on.” Because this righteous man was passive, he too was punished with the sinners.
– Omar ibnul-Khattab said, “If a sin is committed in private, it only harms the one that does it, but if it is committed in public and no one objects and changes it, it will harm everyone!”
– The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “Either you enjoin Good and forbid Evil or else Allah will send His punishment to you, and you will supplicate to Him, but He won’t respond.”
But why does Islam stress so much on taking an action against what’s wrong? The Messenger of Allah (SAWS), the greatest teacher, gave us a great example to demonstrate the importance of this Islamic behavior. “The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allah and that of the man who transgresses them is like the people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper deck. Those who are in its lower deck, when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck. The occupants of the lower deck said to themselves, ‘If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm the ones who are in the upper deck.’ If they leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe.” This example shows us the importance of thinking of our community and the entire ummah as one body. It might seem that such a concept is alien somehow. The reason we might feel that is not because it really is an odd concept, but because we have drifted so far from the spirit of Islam where a person feels responsible for the whole society and we have become rather self-centered.
Examples of those who took an action and weren’t passive:
The believer in the Pharaoh’s family:
Despite the Pharaoh’s severe opposition to the message of Prophet Musa (Moses) (AS) one of the royal family members embraced Islam. Allah says, what can be translated as, “A believer, a man from among the people of Pharaoh, who had concealed his faith, said, ‘Will you slay a man because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah?- when he has indeed come to you with Clear (Signs) from your Lord? And if he be a liar, on him is (the sin of) his lie: but, if he is telling the Truth, then will fall on you something of the (calamity) of which he warns you: Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies!’” (TMQ, 40:28). How did Allah reward this believer’s action? Allah continues, in what can be translated as, “Then Allah saved him from (every) ill that they plotted (against him), but the burnt of the Penalty encompassed on all sides the People of Pharaoh.” (TMQ, 40:45). Allah protected him from all the conspiracies they had planned. Allah does not abandon those who struggle for his cause.
It wasn’t just the Hoopoe that took an action, it was also an ant. When Prophet Solaiman (AS) (Solomon) was marching with his army and was approaching an ant kingdom, an ant jumped into action and called, “O you ants, enter your dwellings so that Sulayman and his hosts would not definitely crush you, (while) they are not aware.” (TMQ, 27:18)[viii]. Solaiman (AS) was impressed by this response from the ant. Allah tells us what can be translated as, “So he smiled broadly, laughing at its speech…” (TMQ, 27:19). Brothers and sisters, if we compared ourselves with this ant, who will turn out to be more passionate and dedicated to the welfare of their fellow beings?
The Companion al-Habbab Ibnul-Munzir (RA)[ix]
This companion demonstrated to us how one could object and at the same time maintain the highest levels of courtesy and politeness. Before the Battle of Badr, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)[x] told the Muslim army to camp in a certain place. Habbab saw that there is a more strategic place that if the Muslim army camped at, would give them an upper hand in the battle. He didn’t say, “Well if the Prophet said so then why should I say otherwise?” He wasn’t passive, and at the same time he wasn’t vulgar or rude. How did Habbab present his opinion that contradicted with the opinion of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS)? He asked, “O Messenger of Allah, is your opinion based on a revelation from Allah, or is it war tactics and strategy?” The Prophet replied, “No, its war tactics and strategy.” Then Habbab proposed, “Then this is not the most strategic place to camp.” Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) accepted his proposal, a proposal that was one of the main factors that led to the victory of the Muslim army in this critical battle.
– A Muslim student in the 21st Century
He lived in a “Muslim country” that was as far as possible from Islam. There wasn’t a single mosque or even a prayer room in any university in the whole country. On the first day of his freshman year he asked around for a mosque or a prayer room and was answered with strange looks as if he was asking how to reach Mars. Finally a janitor told him that there aren’t any, but he could pray in an empty room in the basement. It was a dark humid room with a worn out carpet. The student said, “No, I won’t pray under ground!” He went up in the middle of the campus and cried out the adhan (the call to prayer). People stopped and watched this strange scene. After the adhan he sat for a couple of minutes then got up to pray. First few days he was alone, then, the next week students started to join him because they still had faith in their hearts even though it was buried under layers of worldly distractions. The Dean saw this and was troubled by the fact that the students would make ablution in the bathrooms and walk dripping water until they reach the prayer area, which was outdoors. The image of shoes taken off and scattered next to the students during praying also troubled him. So what did the Dean do? He built a Mosque! Not only that, but all the surrounding Universities knew about it and they too built mosques in each campus. Can you believe that? It all started with one student that refused to be passive and had the courage and dedication to take an action. Now he gets a share of the reward all the students get when they pray in these mosques until this World comes to an end.
Brothers and sisters, no one will clean this mess that we are in except us. If you turn away from it, you’re just leaving it for your children, and it will get worse. If we want our ummah (Muslim nation) back in shape we have to have a positive impact on life, we all have to contribute. Let us stop being passive. Don’t underestimate the impact you could make. If you are sincere in changing yourself and your surroundings then call unto Allah with humbleness and He will assist you, and if He assists you, nothing could go wrong.
Dear Brothers and sisters, our ummah needs every single one of you. Allah (TWT)[xi] said that He won’t change the condition of “a person” until he or she changes “him or herself”. Allah says what can be translated as, “Surely Allah does not change what is in a people until they change what is in themselves…” (TMQ, 13:11). This means that if you decide not to join your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in this transition from defeat to victory and weakness to strength, you will act as an obstacle for them. I’m not pressuring you. I’m just hoping that you will take a step forward. Let the step be as big as you decide, but please, don’t just stand there when the situation of our ummah gets worse every day. Take a step forward. We all need you with us.
[vii] SWT = Suhanahu wa Ta’ala [Glorified and Exalted Be He].
[viii] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur’an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur’an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.
[ix] May Allah be pleased with him
[x] Salla Allah alayhe Wa Salam [All Prayers and Blessings of Allah be upon him]
[xi] Tabaraka Wa Ta`ala [Blessed and Exalted be He].
amr khaled – until they change themselves