Increasingly, those seeking to act on the prophetic hadith, ‘Enjoining good and forbidding evil’ are being pushed to sidelines now more than ever. Under the pretense of ‘who are you to judge me? only GOD can’. There are mounting criticisms on those who want to strive and better themselves as well as others.
This brings me on to this post. Do we as muslims have the right to Judge/correct others?
In simple words, yes and no.
Some of us who are associated with Sufi groups choose to stay silent on others, and instead solely focus on themselves. To give weight to their argument, they use misquoted references of leading classical Sufi mentors like Rumi, who is famously known to have said;
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Having said this, there are overwhelming majority of the naïve Sufis, shall we say, who view this as the correct opinion. The groups and people they associate with clearly go to extreme in certain areas to abstain from even raising a finger on someone else. When there is clear evil and corruption playing out in front of their eyes. Their understanding is, as mentioned above, only GOD can judge people and we as humans should be silent and ‘live and let live’. So if, there are clear breaches of Islāmic jurisdictions being broken, new vile and disgusting ideologies are being woven into the Islāmic ethos like, ‘Progressive Muslims’,a twisted group who vouch for Muslim gays, lesbians, and female imams leading mixed congregational prayers. These pseudo Sufi groups and other such ‘new age Islāmic groups’ do not wish to express their views. Nor, do they want to alienate themselves from the public support something which their group needs in order to survive. In fear there will be fitna and a backlash to the group’s ‘honorable’ name. It is amazing to keep in mind the stark difference in our attitudes to that of the companions. If they were told ‘fear Allah and stop this or that, they would immediately stop and do tawbah. Shedding tears of remorse and regret. Whereas in our times, if this is told to people, the response is completely different. ‘you can’t judge me, only GOD can, so mind your own business’, is the mantra of our times. The sad things is, many practicing Muslims who champion themselves as being traditionalists and sufi orientated, also spew out such words. Using spurious ulema like Dr. Akram Nadwi & Hamza yusuf to legalize their stances on being silent when evil is widespread. These spurious ulema have only added more confusions and ‘mysticism’ to tassawuff, mystifying a clear and clean path of ihsan. Creating allusions which shows Sufism as a completely, ‘other worldly’ entity, a field of science which is remote and estranged from the world and its current events. Where adherents of this science live in monastery-like enclosures, in which the only things they do is worship and chanting.
Know that Sufism is far from this. There is nothing ‘mystified about the science of tassawuff. Everything is clear like a warm summer’s afternoon sky! We as Muslims have a moral and an Islāmic duty to correct others when and if we can. This includes voicing our concerns and worries of ulema (scholars) as well. By, doing this, it allows us to act on the prophetic injunctions and to also keep the ulema in check from having a monopoly of control on easily influenced people. Nevertheless, we have to tread a very fine line when it comes to this. We cannot go to either extremes, where as commonly seen on the streets and elsewhere. There is one group who are essentially the ‘haram police’, literally cursing and harming others in hope, they are ‘enjoining good and forbidding evil’. On the flip side of the coin, there is another group like the naïve Sufis and new-age Muslim hippie groups, who stay silent on any and every evil vise on the streets. Something which has the reminiscence of the mid 60’s hippie revolution which swept across America.
The teachings of the awliyah and mashaykh is, to correct oneself and others. Not to leave one for the other. To be a sufi does not in any way shape or form you must stay silent on the egoistic and vile acts growing on a daily basis. Take the recent events happening around the world for instance. Many people, largely those hell-bent, spurious scholars, and people of their ilk. Say people should not be protesting legally for the insults which are thrown at the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) regularly nowadays. Their view is, leave it and let it be. Let the enemies of Islam continue to insult, ridicule and mock the prophet (sallahualihwasalam). Do not protest, or show your remorse to these people. We should show love and compassion towards them!
Showing love and remorse has its place, and LEGALLY protesting also has its place when it is required. We as Muslims cannot be seen as simple push-overs, where anything and everything can be said about the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) and we stay silent. Not even protest legally! Just as the prophet (sallahualihiwaslam) was kind, gentle, merciful and considerate, yet at the same time he was harsh, hard and strong when justice called for it. We must also reflect the same tolerance as muslims
To end, As muslims, we cannot stay silent when other people are committing evil. Whether the person is a Muslim, non-Muslims, scholars, or a average person. we must correct them. When the Islāmic ethics teaches us, we should look the other way when a Muslim commits and sin or evil and not mention it to others. It is only meant to be implemented on a person who has no sphere of influence on others.
However, when there are situations to voice our concerns about a particular scholar, on certain issues, we must, and not shy way from doing so. This is how the ummah until now has avoided being at the peril of the devil. Remember the shuyukhs are human to, so to voice opinions about them is not an unIslamic ethic. IF,it has to be done at all.