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Posted By Topic: Abandon the people or not? (important guidelines and clarifications around this issue)

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25-11-2008 @ 8:48 PM    Notify Admin about this post
Abul-'Abbaas Moosaa ibn John Richardson (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Posts: 1280
Joined: Sep 2002
I came across a hadith from Bukhari.. and i wanted to know how to reconcile between acting on the end part of this hadith and betwen the many other ahadeeth about muslim unity and sticking to the Jamaat and not leaving the Jamaat (not even by a little bit).

The Hadith is:

Narrated by Abu-Sa'id al-Khud'ri (radi'allahu anhu) that somebody asked, "O Messenger of Allah! Who is the best among the people?"

Allah's Messenger sal'allahu alaihi wa sallam, replied, "A believer who strives his utmost in Allahs' cause with his life and property."

They asked, "Who is next?"

He (sal'allahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, "A believer who stays in one of the mountain valleys worshipping Allah and leaving the people secure from his mischief."

Reported by Bukhari.

There are some believers who might want to avoid causing harm to the muslims and feel that it is better if they move away from the fitnah or anything that can irritate them and cause them to 'lash-out' or use 'foul language' or express 'bad manners', etc.

Avoiding people would ensure that they can't be unpleasant to anyone (especially any other believer).

But this may mean that they move away from the single united jamaat of the muslims... and loosing out on seeking knowledge (which is required before acts of worship can be performed)... and possibly other issues, so should he still move to somewhere where he can worship Allah and where he can leave the people 'secure from his mischief'?

How would we reconcile between this hadith and the many others about sticking to the single united body of the muslim (the Jamaah)?

The scholars mention that the texts of this issue are to be understood to be relative to two different scenarios:

[1] When (at least some of) the people can be taught and corrected and the person facing their harms brings them benefit, while the harms he faces are bearable.  In this case, he remains patient and stays with the people, bearing their harms and trying to guide them and correct them.

[2] When the people have gone so astray that they do not benefit at all from reminders and admonitions, while they harm or even kill those who advise them, or force them to change their correct positions and follow falsehood.  Basically: when fitnah has OVERTAKEN them (not just in the presence of some fitnah).

One can add to this second category when a person himself is very harmful to the people and not helpful, so his presence leads to excessive harm, killing, spread of deviance and disobedience, etc.  It is better for him to stay away from the people and save them from his harm.  And if a person had the sincerity to recognize that he is excessively harmful to the people and stay away from them, there is a great reward for him.  However, this is after he has exhausted all ways of reforming himself so that he will not harm the people.

An example would be someone who habitually spreads rumors or lies, tries to turn the people against their scholars or leaders, or invites them to acts of disobedience with him often.  Such a person must fear Allaah and make tawbah, seeking His Assistance, and then seeking advice and assistance from His helpful servants, taking all steps to replace his harmful behavior with good constructive behavior.  Then there would be no need to abandon the people.  ONE MUST NOT BE HASTY IN JUDGING HIMSELF THAT HE MUST STAY AWAY FROM THE PEOPLE!  It could be Shaytaan's plan to lead him away from the people who could help in correcting his problems!  He must consult those known for their knowledge and sincerity before believing that staying away from the Muslims is for him.  

So the texts that praise someone who abandons the people (the story of Ibraaheem, the people of the cave in Soorah al-Kahf, the hadeeth mentioned by the questioner and similar narrations) are specific to the second scenario, and not the general way of the Muslim in his interactions.

And the texts that praise patient people who teach, advise, and rectify are for the first scenario, while the Muslims all remain together physically.  This is the more common case in general and in our time (in my opinion).

So here are some words from one of the best of the people of knowledge, one who bore the people's harms for decades, struggled in the path of da'wah with a lifelong jihaad full of advice, rectification, guidance, and patience  - one whose death still brings tears to eyes all over the world - al-Imaam ar-Rabbaanee, the great jurist and exemplary scholar:  Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen - may Allaah have Mercy on him - :

Know that the best situation for the believer is to mix with the people and bear their harms patiently.  Such a person is better than the believer who does not mix with the people or bear their harms.

However, in some cases staying away from the people is better than mixing with them.  For example, when a man fears fitnah for himself, like when someone lives in a land where the people require him to deviate from his religion or invite to religious deviance.  Or he may see such a great amount of disobedience there and fear that he himself my give in to some illicit behavior or other bad things.  In such a case, staying away from the people is better for him.

For this reason people have been ordered to make hijrah from the lands of polytheism to the lands of Islaam, and from the lands of disobedience to the lands of obedience.

Similarly is the case when the people in a certain time have changed (for the worse).  About such a case, it is authentically reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) that he said, "There is about to be a time when the best property a man can own will be some sheep that he watches over in the mountain passes and pastures, fleeing from fitan (trials) to keep his religion intact."

So this is the way to understand the issue categorically - Staying away from the people is better when there is evil and fitnah in mixing with them.  Otherwise, the base ruling is that it is better to mix with the people, ordering them with good, forbidding them from evil, calling them to the truth, and teaching the people the Sunnah.  This is better.

However, if he is unable to patient when fitnah has become plentiful, then staying away is better, even if he was to worship Allaah by himself at a mountain top or in the crevice of a valley somewhere.

Source: The shaykh's explanation of Riyaadh as-Saaliheen (3/509-510, Madaar al-Watan printing, 1425)

And Allaah knows best.

Moosaa ibn John Richardson

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25-11-2008 @ 9:05 PM    Notify Admin about this post
Abul-'Abbaas Moosaa ibn John Richardson (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Posts: 1280
Joined: Sep 2002
And you may know an example of someone who has left the company of the Muslims, claiming that he wants to save them from his harm, yet he mixes with the disbelievers and indulges himself in their lifestyle, befriending them with good manners and keeping good ties with them, in a way that he claims he is incapable of doing around the Muslims!!

Such a person is not praiseworthy at all, since he has not kept away from the people to save them from his harm, he has only lied to himself about his own disobedience and confused himself to the point that he just mixes with other people who will never help him rectify his issues.

Moosaa ibn John Richardson

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08-09-2009 @ 6:00 AM    Notify Admin about this post
unspecified ساجد (Mumbai (India))
Posts: 2031
Joined: Jul 2005
Here are excerpts from a couple of fatwas of Permanent Commitee of Fatwa on similar topic.

Q: What is the appropriate limit of al-Wala' wal-Bara' (loyalty and disassociation for allah's Sake) as regards Muslims who commit sins such as singing, shaving the beard, smoking, snuffing, Isbal (lengthening and trailing clothing below the ankles), etc.? Must we boycott them if they do not respond to advice?

A: It is not permissible to deal with those who commit sins in public unless you aim at counseling them, knowing that your advice will affect them positively. They should be loved in proportion to the strength of their belief in Allah, and they should be resented in proportion to the seriousness of their sins. If they do not accept the advice, they should be abandoned according to Shari`ah (Islamic law) until they repent to Allah.

Q: I have some relatives who do not order their wives and daughters to wear Hijab (veil). Their men and women intermix and shake hands with one another. How can I visit these relatives, as Allah has obligated, while they are in this condition? Is it permissible to stop visiting them?

A: You should visit your relatives and advise them against the evil deeds they commit; perhaps they will repent to Allah.

However, if they refuse to listen to you, boycott them, deeming that this is an effective remedy. But if it is not, continue to visit and advise them while abhorring the evils they do.

If you fear they will negatively affect you or your children, do not visit them to avoid Fitnah (temptation).


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