A comment on my article on the abuse of Muslim woman
Assalamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullah Hadhrat,
You addressed an excellent point, which concerns me for a long time now. Maybe you can help me further expand my thoughts on it. Whenever Muslims are faced with any type of criticism, we witness too often that the first reaction is complete denial. Rather than acknowledging that the global Muslim community are really plagued by serious issues. Often we hear in our communities defensive arguments like “When a Muslim does a crime Islam is blamed and when a Jew/Christian does the same his religion is not made an issue.” There definitely exist people in whos interest it is to portray Islam in a bad and evil way and install hatred for Islam and Muslims, but is this situation not (partially) also our fault? Muslims today after committing most heinous crimes, take the cheap letout of abusing Islam to defend themselves and their crime. This trend according to my limited observations is only common amongst lay Muslims – not Jews or Christians.
I wish we as a Muslim community could rise up to the challenge and tell the rest of the world, that we are able to sort out the black sheep amongst us ourselves. We are not in need of their false understanding of liberty and freedom to solve our own issues. Maulana, so what was the way the Ummah used to sort out the black sheep amongst them in the past? I really wish you can further elaborate on this point…
Wa ‘alaykumus salām wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuhu
Although the problem you refer to is collectively found in the global Muslim community, ultimately every collective problem has individual roots. If Muslims individually refuse to acknowledge their errors – which is the first step in repentance – such an attitude will obviously reflect on a collective basis. If one chooses to look at matters the other way around, and say that it is a top to down problem, that having leaders with such an attitude problem will reflect upon the community, I would reply that leaders do not come out of a void. The community produces the scholars and leaders. I have witnessed people of knowledge placing far greater emphasis on their home values and traditions (which might even be good values) to a far greater extent than what they place on the commands of Allāh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم . Then there are issues of ego and human weakness which we all suffer from and which lead to the current discussion. Perhaps this quality of being honest when wrong is a quality Muslims should consider when choosing their leaders. Thus it still boils down to individuals choosing the right or wrong paths.
In response to your question on how Muslims acted in the past, the fact is that Muslims have acted correctly in this regard and also incorrectly. Obviously I cannot mention great details, so shall suffice with the examples of those whom we should follow.
Since the dawn of time
There have always been personalities and leaders who have erred. Some immediately admitted their errors; whilst others vilified and opposed those who spoke the truth. This is not just in our recent history, but since the dawn of time. The first to rebel against Allāh was Satan when he refused the command to bow to our father, Ādam عليه السلام . The door to repentance was not closed. Yet Satan showed an example which our leaders and community still follow – justify the wrong!
قال أنا خير منه خلقتني من نار وخلقته من طين
He said, “I am better than [Ādam]. You created me from fire and You created him from earth.” [al-A‘rāf]
It is our father, Ādam عليه السلام who showed us the correct example of what to do when we commit a mistake. We admit it!!!
قالا ربنا ظلمنا أنفسنا وإن لم تغفر لنا وترحمنا لنكونن من الخاسرين
[Ādam and his wife] said, “O our Cherishing-Lord! We have certainly wronged ourselves. If You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we shall surely be amongst the losers.” [al-A‘rāf]
Which example do the Muslims follow? Self-justification or admission of wrong?
(A slight diversion – neither the Qurān nor even the Christian scriptures mention what Ādam عليه السلام ate. The myth of the apple was popularised in European art. This is just another example of our mental subservience).
For the Qurān to give us a single example should suffice. Yet the point is emphasised not just in commands to repent, but through several examples of the pure Prophets. These elevated personalities committed no sin. Yet even upon uttering a word or acting in a way less to their station, they immediately turned to Allāh in repentance. For example, Nūḥ عليه السلام interceding for his disbeliever son when all the disbelievers had been condemned and Yūnus عليه السلام leaving the people of Nineveh without explicit instruction from Allāh.
The greatest Prophet
The biography of Muḥammad صلى الله عليه و سلم shows an example to the Muslims of a leader who is not shy to declare that his decision might not have been the best. For example, he was advised that there was a better placement for the Muslim camp at Badr than what he had commanded. Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم agreed and changed his decision. Similarly his inviting the chiefs of Quraysh to Islām, when an ordinary Muslim sought his attention was no wrong deed, but ‘Abdullāh bin Umm Maktūm رضى الله عنه had far greater status in the sight of Allāh and Allāh revealed ‘Abasa.
It is only the arrogant, who do not admit to mistakes, that will think that these incidents detract from the status of Muḥammad صلى الله عليه و سلم . They are blind to the fact that his humility in admitting when there was a better option to his first choice, only adds to his status and to him being the perfect paragon for all mankind.
He also taught us to help others when wrong.
عن أنس قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : " انصر أخاك ظالما أو مظلوما " . قيل : يا رسول الله ، هذا نصرته مظلوما ، فكيف أنصره ظالما؟ قال : " تمنعه من الظلم ، فذاك نصرك إياه "
Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed.”
“O Messenger of Allāh,” someone asked, “He is to be helped when oppressed, but how do I help him when he is an oppressor?”
He replied, “Prevent him from oppression. That indeed is your help to him.” [al-Bukhārī]
‘Umar رضى الله عنه commanded that a woman be stoned to death and ‘Alī رضى الله عنه advised him that that decision was wrong. ‘Umar رضى الله عنه did not react the way we do, but remarked, “If not for ‘Alī, ‘Umar would surely have been destroyed.” This incident does not prove him a weak leader as the Rawāfiḍ would like us to believe, but shows him to be a human leader, capable of erring, but also humble enough to rectify himself as per the example he learnt from his master صلى الله عليه و سلم . Note also his use of the word, “destroyed.” He openly admitted that his hereafter could have been destroyed, and his appreciation to another Muslim who pointed out his error.
I do not know of any similar incident in history to the following incident of Mu‘āwiyah رضى الله عنه . During the final days of a truce with the Byzantines, he began advancing towards their territory with the intention of attacking as soon as the truce expired. Enemy territory was thus captured. An old man rebuked him that the march, even without attacking troops, was a violation of the word of the Muslims. Mu‘āwiyah رضى الله عنه immediately admitted his error in interpretation and ordered a withdrawal, abandoning all the territory which had been acquired.
A Rāfiḍī once “cursed” me, “You will be resurrected in the company of ‘Uthmān and Mu‘āwiyah.” I ask every reader to say Āmīn to that “curse”.
I do not see a change happening in the near future to the arrogant leadership Muslims live under. What we can do is adopt the attitude taught in the Qurān and Sunnah and which the pious inculcated in their lives.