Friday Khutbah (Sermons) : With the Hisbah, We Were the Best of Nations

Friday Khutbah (Sermons) : With the Hisbah (guarding against infringements) We Were the Best of Nations
– by Imam Al-Haramain, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz-as-Sudais
Makkah al-Mukarramah; Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab

The Transcript:

Part – 1

Praise be to Allah, Who honoured this Ummah and made it the best nation evolved for humankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. I praise Him, may He be exalted, and thank Him for His bountiful blessings. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, Who decreed superiority and prosperity for those who call to good and righteousness. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and His Messenger, the standard bearer of Da’wah, Jihad and striving. May Allah send blessings and peace upon him and upon his Family and Companions who followed his way and walked in his footsteps, and those who follow them in truth so long as morning and evening alternate.

To Proceed:

O Muslims, belief in Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala), calling others to Him, being sincere, cooperating in righteousness and piety, advising one another to adhere to the truth and patience, spreading goodness and virtue among people, combating evil, immorality and corruption, and eradicating them from society are among the most important characteristics of the Ummah (nation) – the Ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) – by means of which it attained superiority over all other nations.

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says:

“You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. And had the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Al-Fasiqun (disobedient to Allah – and rebellious against Allah’s Command).” [Quran 3:110]

Hence, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is the mainstay of this religion, the greatest mission of the Prophets and Messengers and of the righteous. Some scholars go so far as to describe it as the sixth pillar of Islam. This is because this principle encompasses the great benefits, virtues and the interests that are served by it both in this world and in the Hereafter, and neglecting it may result in becoming entrenched in falsehood, the spread of corruption and prevalence of sin, which is what incurs the wrath of Allah and hastens the punishment for individuals and nations.

O Muslim Ummah, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is a sign of faith, and abandoning it is a sign of hypocrisy.

“The hypocrites, men and women, are from one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and they close their hands [from giving (spending in Allah’s Cause) alms, etc.]. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Quran 9:67]

“The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden);…” [Quran 9:71]

They are among the greatest means of victory against the enemy and of gaining power and strength in the land.

Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) says:

“Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order for Iqamat-as-Salat. [i.e. to perform the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) (the males in mosques)], to pay the Zakat and they enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Quran as the law of their country in all the spheres of life]. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures).” [Quran 22:40-41]

They are the means of salvation and the guarantee of prosperity.

Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) says:

“So when they forgot the remindings that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” [Quran 7:165]

To sum up, they are among the best of righteous deeds, the most important of obligatory duties, and the most binding of responsibilities. This is supported by the texts of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.

Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) says:

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” [Quran 3:104]

Imam Muslim narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (radhiAllahu anha) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) say:

“Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and 1f he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” According to another version: “Beyond that there is not even faith the size of a mustard seed.” [Saheeh Muslim, 49]

At-Tirmidhi and others narrated from Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan (radhiAllahu anha) that the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you shall certainly enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, or soon Allah will send against you a punishment from Him, then you will call upon Him and He will not respond to you.” [Narrated by Ahmad, 5/388; at-Tirmidhi, 2169]

It was narrated that Ibn Mas’ood (radhiAllahu anha) said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“The first signs of decline that appeared among the Children of Israel was when one man would meet another and say: ‘O So and so, fear Allah and give up what you are doing, for it is not permissible for you.’ Then he would meet him the following day and that did not prevent him from eating with him, drinking with him and sitting with him. When they did that, Allah hardened their hearts equally.”

Then he said:

“Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawud (David) and ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evil-doing, sins, polytheism, disbelief, etc.) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do. You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Auliya’ (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them, for that (reason) Allah’s Wrath fell upon them and in torment they will abide. And had they believed in Allah, and in the Prophet (Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam)) and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them (the disbelievers) as Auliya’ (protectors and helpers), but many of them are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Quran 5:78-81]

Then he said:

“No, by Allah, you must enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and stop the evildoer, and compel him to conform with what is right and restrict him to what is right, otherwise Allah will harden your hearts equally then He will curse you as He cursed them.” [Narrated by Ahmad, 1/391; Abu Dawood, 4336; at-Tirmidhi, 3047]

O brothers in faith, what do you think if the one who is afflicted with a chronic disease in part of his body were to neglect it? Wouldn’t the disease spread to the rest of his body? Then it would be difficult to treat it and it would be unlikely to heal. The same applies to evil, O slaves of Allah. If it appears and is left alone and not changed, then soon people get used to it and find it unobjectionable, at which point it becomes difficult to change it and remove it. Then the evils and immorality become widespread and the ship of the Ummah will sink.

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) gave an eloquent likeness of this when he said:

“The one who adheres to the limits of Allah and the one who transgresses them are like people who drew lots for their berths on a ship. Some of them got berths in the upper part of it and some of them in the lower part. When those who were in the lower part wanted water, they would pass by those who were above them. So they said: If we make a hole in our part of the ship, then we will not have to disturb those who are above us. If they left them to do what they wanted, all of them would be doomed, but if they took measures to stop them, all of them would be saved.” [Narrated by Ahmad, 4/268; al-Bukhaari, 2493; from Lhe Hadeeth of an-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (radhiAllahu anha)]

O Muslims, the scholars of Islam have discussed the importance of this great Islamic principle.

Al-Ghazaali (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is the mainstay of this religion, and it is the mission with which Allah sent all the Prophets. If it is neglected and ignored, and it is not learned and put into practice, then the teachings of Prophethood would no longer be followed and religious teachings would be diminished; people would begin to drift away and misguidance, ignorance and corruption would become widespread. The hole would grow bigger, the country would be ruined and the people would be doomed, and no one would realise the extent of that doom except on the Day of Judgement.” [Ihya’ ‘Uloom ad-Deen, 2/306]

Shaykh al-Islam lbn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is that with which Allah sent down His Book, the message with which He sent His Messengers; it is part of the religion.” [Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 28/121]

Imam an-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“It is an important principle without which the affairs of the Ummah cannot be sound. […] The one who seeks the Hereafter and strives to attain the pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) must pay attention to it, for its benefits are great.” [Sharh Saheeh Muslim by an-Nawawi, 2/24]

O brothers in Islam, al-Ma’roof (what is good) is that which Islam enjoins. This includes everything enjoined by Allah and His Messenger of beliefs, words and actions, such as faith, Islamic teachings and practice, righteous deeds, virtuous attitudes and so on. Al-Munkar (what is bad) is everything that Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, the most abhorrent and serious of which are objectionable beliefs, matters that have been introduced into the religion (innovation), and major sins. May Allah protect us and you from them.

O Ummah of Islam, O best of nations ever raised up for humankind, the duty to enjoin what is good and forbid what is bad is not limited to one particular individual or organisation. Rather, it is the duty of every Muslim, which each one should do according to his ability, position and status. However, the burden upon the decision-makers – people in authority, scholars, prominent people, specialists and Daa’iyahs (callers to Islam) – is not like the burden of others. The father is responsible for his family and children; the teacher is responsible in his field; the employee is responsible in his department; the businessman is responsible in his marketplace, and so on. Each is standing at a border, guarding Islam; each shepherd is responsible for his flock.

The true Muslim, wherever he goes, benefits others because he is a member of the body of this Ummah; he has his position and his duties towards it. He is required to interact with his community, feeling its pain and being active in its environment to spread good and righteousness, and to ward off evil and corruption.

O Ummah of Muhammad, O best of nations ever raised up for humankind, there is no way to stand up to these challenges and resist conspiracies except by adhering strongly to the immutable truths, principles and foundations to which the glory of this Ummah, and its happiness in this world and after death, are connected.

In addition to that, there must also be proper handling of new developments and changes. The core of all these fixed principles is adhering to this important duty, which is the most fundamental and strongest foundation which, if the Ummah adheres to it, it will gain power and prevail, and it will be victorious.

It is the essence of this religion, by means of which the Ummah attained a position of superiority over all others.

What the Muslims must do is enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. However, it is essential that the people who do this should be people who possess gentleness, knowledge, forbearance, mercy and wisdom, so that their efforts will have a positive impact, far removed from harsh rebukes.

As a matter of fact, those who have undertaken the role of Hisbah (guarding against infringements) – may Allah guide and support them – are striving their utmost. They should be commended and encouraged with financial and moral support, and people should stop exaggerating about their mistakes.

Those who work in this field are among the best of this Ummah – that is what we think, but we cannot confirm that someone is good, and Allah knows best. The field of al-Hisbah (guarding against infringements) is the crowning honour of this Ummah and the most important element of its mission, one of the main features of its civilization. It is a safety valve, by Allah’s leave, that protects it from ideological misconceptions and moral deviance. The Islamic state cannot do without it.

“Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order for Iqamat-as-Salat. [i.e. to perform the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) (the males in mosques)], to pay the Zakat and they enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Quran as the law of their country in all the spheres of life]. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures).” [Quran 22:41]

Enjoining good and forbidding evil is the lifebelt of the Ummah. Those who undertake this role – may Allah bless them and protect them – are men who care deeply for the Ummah and are disturbed by the presence of evils in their communities. They are enthusiastically and conscientiously striving hard to remove those evils, so as to protect the morality of the Ummah and preserve its wellbeing in terms of beliefs, thought and behaviour, so that the elements of its power will remain.

They are beacons of guidance and lamps of light who are striving with wisdom and enthusiasm to put right what people have corrupted. They are callers to the religion of Allah and guardians of the faith. How much trouble and difficulties they go through to carry out this tough mission! It is no wonder some insignificant people try to create trouble for them, because they stand up to their whims and desires and seek to put a halt to temptation and immorality. It is faith and a sense of concern (Gheerah) that motivate them. By Allah, what great men they are! May Allah bless their deeds and efforts, and multiply their rewards.

Allah, besides Whom there is no other god, is our witness that we love them and pray for them, because of the heavy burden they are carrying as they strive to block the sources of evil in the Ummah. They guard the weak points in society lest crime and immorality sneak in under cover of “personal freedom” or false “progress” or rotten “civilization”.

It is the duty of the entire Ummah to support the idea of Hisbah (guarding against infringements), for the weakening or disappearance of this concept, and the neglect of learning it and acting upon it, are a warning sign of serious trouble and grave harm for the entire Ummah. The one who examines the state of the Muslim world today will realize what a blessing Allah has bestowed upon the land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries – may Allah protect it – and how much attention they have paid to this important matter. Taking care of the matter of Hisbah is a crowning achievement for this nation, which set up an independent department and leadership to take care of it. These efforts are worthy of praise and commendation, something which no fair-minded person can deny. This is something that should be highlighted and not overlooked. We hope that the Muslims will cooperate in this matter and that there will be more support from the righteous people within the Ummah, for there is a great deal of evil and the efforts of those who seek to sabotage the Ummah are ongoing; there is no let up in the introduction of evils into our society. And Allah says:

“Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).” [Quran 13:11]

Let us fear Allah, O slaves of Allah, and let each of us carry out this duty himself, to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. Let us cooperate to fulfill this great principle; let us unite against those who want to create rifts in our Ummah by spreading evil and corruption. Let us base our actions on sincerity, wisdom, compassion, kindness, deliberation and mercy; these are the most prominent characteristics that the one who wants to undertake this mission must acquire, because they are callers to goodness, mercy, care and compassion towards their Muslim brothers, and they are motivated by concern for the religion of Allah. Whoever is like that deserves to be encouraged, helped, honoured and given financial and moral support.

O best of nations ever raised up for humankind, if this principle is neglected and its carpet rolled up, if its supporters become few and its banner is lowered, if it is no longer learned and acted upon, then this guidance and ignorance will become widespread, the country will become corrupted and the people will be doomed. Anyone who looks at what has happened to contemporary societies will be deeply saddened by the spread of haraam actions and indescribable evils that have impacted many fields, including beliefs, laws, morality and academia. All of this has led to a weakening of protective zeal for women and honour being transgressed. Destructive and deviant principles have become widespread and corrupt men and women have gained influence. Do not even ask about that which is broadcast on satellite channels and the Internet. lt begs the question:

Where is Islamic pride and honour? Where is religious zeal? Indeed, where is sound human nature, chivalry and true manhood? Have they been taken away from our hearts and diminished in our souls? If evil becomes overwhelming and corruption becomes widespread, and is not changed, then the punishment will reach the righteous and the evildoer alike. It was narrated that Jaabir (radhiAllahu anha) said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) inspired Jibreel (alayhis salaam) to turn such and such a city upside down with its people. He said: ‘O Lord, among them is Your slave So-and-so, who never disobeyed You for an instant.’ He said: ‘Turn it upside down with him and with them, for the colour of his face did not change at all for My sake at any time [i.e., he was not dismayed by evil].'” [Narrated by at-Tabaraani in al-Awsat, 7661; al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan, 7595 (7189 Indian Edition)]

It was narrated that the Mother of the Believers, Zaynab hint Jahsh (radhiAllahu anhu) said: I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, would we be destroyed when there are righteous people among us?’

He said: “Yes, if evil becomes prevalent.”

Agreed upon. [Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 7059; Muslim, 2880]

Despite all this, there are still on this earth those who guard the limits set by Allah and openly call people to adhere to them. We should not despair of the mercy of Allah; rather we should be optimistic, In Sha’ Allah. Nevertheless, the matter requires more collaboration among the Muslims in order to revive this important principle and spread it in the Muslim world so that good will prevail and spread, and evil will diminish and be defeated.

“And for Allah that is not hard or difficult (i.e. very easy for Allah).” [Quran 14:20, 35:17]

May Allah bless me and you and cause us to benefit from the Holy Quran. May Allah benefit me and you with the Sunnah of the leader of the Messengers. May Allah guide us to His straight path, protect us by His grace from the painful torment, and accept the repentance of us all, for He is the Acceptor of repentance, the Most Merciful.

Part – 2

Praise be to Allah, Lord of Lords and Creator of the means. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, the Almighty, the Giver, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and His Messenger, the best of those who undertook the mission of calling people to Allah and guarding against infringements. May Allah send blessings and peace upon him and upon his Family and Companions, who were men of insight and wisdom, and upon the Taabi’een (generation following the Companions) and those who follow them in guidance until the Day of Judgement.

To Proceed:

Fear Allah, O slaves of Allah, and do what Allah has commanded you of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, for you know of its importance in this religion, the evidence for it, and the stern warning against abandoning or neglecting it. You know to what extent the situation of the Ummah has deteriorated, and the reasons for that, the bad consequences thereof are clear to you, and you have learned how to deal with this problem and the characteristics of those who undertake this task.

Nothing remains now but sincere efforts based on sound principles and wise guidelines, giving up procrastination, fatalism and blaming one another or outsiders for what has happened. If each one of us were to undertake his duties, learn his role and his mission, and cooperate with his brothers, there would be no way that falsehood could spread and corruption would not be so prevalent. However, it is the way of Allah with His creation to test them, in order to show who will strive and work hard, and who will be neglectful and apathetic.

You have a good example in the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), who was most concerned lest the limits set by Allah be transgressed, and was very keen to convey the message of Allah, and who was the most angry if the sacred limits of Allah were transgressed. So follow his example and you will succeed and prosper.

And send blessings and peace – may Allah have mercy on you – upon the guide and the bringer of glad tidings, the lamp bringing light, as the Lord, the Most Kind, the All-Knowing, enjoined you when He said:

“Allah sends His Salat (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy, etc.) on the Prophet (Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam)) and also His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam)), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation i.e. AsSalamu ‘Alaikum).” [Quran 33:56]

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