Preaching: Between Politeness and Harshness

I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. 

Each time you tell people what they WANT to hear, they flock toward you and love and praise you. However, if you dare to tell them what they NEED to hear, they term you judgemental and having holier than thou attutide. This is a classical case of devil's deception.

None of us is perfect but our imperfection should not be an obstacle to speaking and defending the truth even when we are guilty. Many times, I have personally written articles addressing my own mistakes based on the principle of speak the truth even if it be against yourself.

True concern, kindest of words, highest form of care was shown by the Prophet ﷺ towards people, yet they called him abusive names and subjected him and his people to social boycott, economic depravity and eventually a geographical warfare because he told them what they needed to hear, he called them to Tauheed.

Is there a kinder way and wiser manner in calling to the truth when Allaah quotes the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) as saying and doing, "And, by Allaah, I shall plot a plan to destroy your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.' So he broke them into pieces....." Q21:57-58

Similarly, Prophet Musa (AS) is also quoted as saying, "And look at your god (idol) to which you have been devoted. We will certainly burn it and scatter its particles into the sea." Q20: 97.

Today's 21st centruy Muslim will say you are abusive, harsh and deprived of wisdom.

When Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was preaching to Nimrod, at a time, Nimrod resorted to logic but even at that he was disgracefully defeated because Allaah, the Most High, always aid and support the believers who stand and speak for the Tauheed. As was mentioned in Qur'an 2:258

The Prophet ﷺ said: "Certainly, a person should not allow the veneration of the people to keep him from speaking the truth when he sees it or witnesses it. Verily, to speak the truth or to remind of a great matter does not take one any closer to his appointed time (death) nor does it keep one from any provisions (which has been decreed)" This hadith has been recorded by Ahmad in his Musnad, at-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah. Shaykh Hilali said it is Sahih in Eeqaadh.

One of the compilers of the commentary on Arab'una An-Nawawi stated that:

"He who wants to forbid evil or order good should have the fear of Allaah only in his heart. He should not fear the people. If he starts to fear the people, and forgets that everything is by the Will of Allaah and forgets that if he acts for Allaah's sake, Allaah will protect him, Then he will become very hesitant in his eradicating of evil. Indeed, he may even give it up completely.

By fearing the people, a person is, in reality, just belittling himself. They are just humans like himself. They have no real power over him. The only real power is with Allaah."

The overall goal is to change and rectify one's behavior. One is not trying to harm or injure others. Hence, the following steps have been recommended by scholars...

First, one should make the person realize that he is committing an evil either directly or indirectly. Persuade the wrong doer until he accepts the advice. Many times the sinner is not aware of the sin or even the gravity of the sin. If this proves effective no need to move on.

If the above prove ineffective, then the second step should be followed. This is where the person is warned and advised about his action. He is reminded of Allaah and made to fear Allaah due to the action that he is committing.

If the above is not effective (private admonition and Hikma using Qur'an and Sunnah) then move to the third step and that is HARSH speech. However, before moving to this step one must weigh the implications and must be certain that he is doing it only for Allaah's sake.

Notably, the general approach is one of kindness and polite speech. When Allaah directed Musa (AS) and Harun (AS) to go tongue great tyrant Pharaoh, He stated, "Go both of you to Pharaoh, verily, he has transgressed. And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allaah."

For some people, kindness and polite admonition have no effect whatsoever. They will be moved or affected if they are dealt with in a harsh and hard manner. Allaah commanded "Let no pity withhold you in their case (those guilty of fornication), in a prescribed punishment of Allaah" Q24:2

Ibn Taymiyah wrote that Satan has misled many people. Satan has convinced many people to accept other's sins in the name of love and mercy that fill a person's heart and emotions. For this reason, many of them lose their sense of honor and jealousy for the sake of Allaah. They think that by not being harsh upon such sins, they are being merciful to mankind and dealing with them politely. Actually, this is nothing but compromising one's religion as well as lack of faith and conviction." Daqaaiq al-Tafseer al-Jaami' li Tafseer al-Imam ibn Taymiyah.

Fadhl-llaahi in 'Min Sifaat al-Daiyah: Al-Leen wa al-Rifq' stated: "When opposition or ridicule of the call to Islam or what is right appears, one may have to take a harsher approach. In the face of such opposition and arrogance, kindness and politeness may have no effect."

An apt example to illustrate this is the following verses of the Qur'an 

"(Ibrahim) said, 'Do you then worship besides Allaah things that can neither profit you nor harm you? Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allaah. Have you then no sense?" Q21:66-67. Please those promoting gentility, is this soft or harsh admonition?

Allaah, the Most High, says: "O Prophet, strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them." Q9:73. This is concerning those who oppose the truth and openly ridicule what is correct.

Hence, it is not always merry go round and feel cool Islam. 

"O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allaah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allaah, and never fear the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allaah which He bestows on Whom He wills. And Allaah is All-Sufficient for His creature's needs, All-Knower." Qur'an 5:54.

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