Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

With Greetings to His Highness Chairman of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Commission | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We all welcome His Highness Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humayyin, who has assumed the post of chairman of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Commission, as part of the renovation and reform undertaken by the custodian of the two holy mosques.

We are looking forward to seeing the good things promised by his highness the sheikh: pleasant conduct and a noble method of dealing with people as brothers and friends not as opponents and enemies.

His highness the sheikh knows that the sons of society are his sons, their daughters his daughters, and their mothers his mothers. He knows that man is born good and virtuous, that people should be trusted before being mistrusted, that treating people with kindness is better than with highhandedness, that showing discretion towards their weaknesses is more noble than pillorying them, that giving them advice is more honorable than exposing them, and that building trust is more generous than accusation of betrayal and condemnation.

His highness knows also that Almighty God, may His name be exalted, has commanded us to repel evil with that which is best, to be flexible, to speak well, to be kind to people and compassionate to the sinful. Our Messenger, God’s prayers and blessings be upon him, said: “He who shows discretion towards the weakness of a Muslim in this life, will be protected by God in this and in the afterlife.” A man came to the Prophet and told him that he had caught a sinner, the Prophet said: “It would have been better for you to be discreet about what he has done.” The Prophet used to protect those who erred; he would not name them, expose them or injure their feelings, but, instead, he would say: why should some people do this or that.

We are a Muslim society; we do good deeds and bad ones, we may be right and we may make mistakes, we may be right and we may be wrong; God guides our steps so we can reach the top of human perfection, but when Satan sometimes plays up to us, then we descend to the lowest levels of human weakness; we need help to go up and we need help when we stumble; we need somebody to give us advice instead of exposing us, to be discreet to our errors instead of making them public, to help us instead of helping Satan against us.

In Islam we have no inquisition courts that rejoice when a sinner is caught, and are eager to see the disobedient arrested; instead we have institutions of mercy, penitence administration, and councils for reconciliation and forgiveness; we are commanded [by God] to be discreet and to overlook errors if they do not constitute a threat to society, if they are not destructive, and if they do not disturb the peace.

A suspect was brought before the Messenger of God, and the latter gave him the benefit of the doubt and said words to him, which are well known: I have not ordered that people’s abdomens or hearts be opened [to know the truth].

In Islam spying and violation of privacy to get to know secrets are not permitted; instead there is guidance with flexibility, gentle advice-giving.

We, the community of preachers and Hisba [keeping everything in order within the laws of God], do not have whips, swords, sub-machine guns or jails. We have good faith, clean hearts, gentle words, wise guidance. God, may His name be exalted, says: “Thou art not one to manage men’s affairs” [Koranic verse; Al-Ghashiyah, 88:22], and He also says: “Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” [Koranic verse; Yunus, 10:99].

We should not be happy if one of us becomes a victim of his own human weakness, instead, we should regret it, share his tragedy, respect his feelings and beseech God to help him. In fact, God has mentioned human feelings among the believers; He said: “And were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure” [Koranic verse; Al-Nur, 24:21].

Al-Hariri [11th century writer] says: “Who has never done bad deeds, and who is perfect?”

Imam Abu-Hanifah used to have a disturbing, wicked neighbor; it was not possible for Abu-Hanifah to have a good sleep and rest, but he was patient out of respect for neighborliness. One night there was no trace of the voice, chanting, and singing of the wicked neighbor. Abu-Hanifah asked about him, and his neighbors said that he had been sent to jail by the Sultan. Abu-Hanifah put on his clothes, mounted his mule, and went to the Sultan and asked him for clemency, saying: He is my neighbor and the right of good neighborliness applies to him. The neighbor in question returned with Abu-Hanifah and, on their way home, he started crying, saying to Abu-Hanifah: I have harmed you, disturbed your sleep, but you have asked for clemency for me; I pledge to you that I will never do it again. His situation improved and he followed God’s order.

His highness the sheikh is likely to apply the Prophet’s guidance for flexibility, discretion, and for avoiding the condemnation of society, exposing people, and laying their honors open to gossip.

Al-Shafi’i [eighth century jurist] says: Give me advice when we are alone, and spare me advice-giving in the presence of people; giving me advice in the presence of people is a sort of reprimand that I do not want to hear.

May God help you, your highness sheikh [Al-Humayyan], and may He guide your steps, make people benefit from you, and inspire you wisdom.