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Podcast: How Intimate Can a Couple be Post-Nikkah, but Pre-Marriage? | Yaser Birjas

Question:

I just had my nikkah done with my husband and we are having our rukhsati done soon (in the next few months). The reason for [the] delay is just mainly to prepare for the wedding and  [to] accommodate family members’ schedule [for] the wedding. After the nikkah is it permissible to do all the acts that are permissible between a husband and wife even if the rukhsati hasn’t been done?

Sincerely,
Getting married in my 20s

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    #Islam

    Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

    Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

    He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

    If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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    I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

    3 things changed

    1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

    2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

    3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

    As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

    Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

    1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

    2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

    3) Use the proper names of Allah

    4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

    5) Raise your hand like a beggar

    6) Face the qibla

    7) Be in a state of wudu

    8) Cry

    9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

    10) Ensuring that your food is pure

    11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

    12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

    13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

    14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

    15) Say Amin after making du’a.

    16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

    Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

    He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

    Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

    wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

    lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

    wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

    Translation:

    None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

    Alone, Who has no partner.

    His is the dominion and His is the praise,

    and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

    To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

    1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

    “Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

    2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

    “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

    3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

    4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

         Materials needed

    • Whiteboard
    • Markers
    • A Creative mind
    • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

    5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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    #Islam

    Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

    The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

    Group belonging

    One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

    According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

    1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
    2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
    3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
    4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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    Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth attaches attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

    Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group.

    As Miller points out: 

    Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

    Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

    Identity scholarship

    Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

    Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

    Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

    If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

    Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

    Slip into demagoguery

    When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

    Creating a strawman

    Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

    Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

    Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

    Condescending discrediting

    One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

    Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

    Discrediting due to inexperience

    Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

    Victimization and Victimology

    Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

    ‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

    On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

    If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

    Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

    Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

    Disregarding Nuance

    “Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

    We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

    Scholarly discourse

    Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

    Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

    There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

    There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

    How to have productive discourse

    Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

    Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

    And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

    Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

    Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

    It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

    Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

    “I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

    We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

    It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

    Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

    In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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    Family and Community

    Make Haram Policing Great Again: Time to Bring Back Some Good Ol’ Nahy ‘An Il-Munkar

    “Watch out for the Haram Police!”

    It’s only half a joke – where even just recently the term “haram policing” applied to over-zealous masjid uncles and aunties, and obnoxious wallah bros, it is now the first thing hurled at anyone who dares remind anyone else that Islam does, in fact, consist of certain rules to follow and that there are indeed such things as ‘sins.’ Whether one is talking about LGBTQ issues, hijab, music, or mixed-gender relationships, it is no longer considered acceptable to bring up the fact that Islam itself is a faith that is very much structured based on what is and is not permissible according to our Creator.

    The call to enjoin the good and forbid the evil is repeated throughout the Qur’an, yet the second half of that prescription has been almost completely neglected today. 

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    The consequences of not forbidding evil are clear today, most obviously amongst youth, and especially on social media. Islam itself is seen as a cultural identity marker, with even outward symbols such as hijab seen as almost entirely divorced from the concept of obedience to Allah and instead viewed as a form of identity politics, faux-rebellion, and interpreted “personally” in such a way as to make it spiritually meaningless. Salah itself has become the butt of TikTok jokes; calling out foul language, vulgar music, sexualized behaviour, and more is seen as laughable, because who cares anymore? None of that’s a big deal anymore, after all. 

    An extremely concerning aspect of all of this is not that those who are engaging in these spiritually damaging behaviour are merely ignorant laypeople; rather, is it that those who exhibit signs of some religious literacy, who have the outward signs of some religiosity, who do, in fact, engage in some level of religious learning or dialogue, are actively participating in these behaviours. It’s a matter of people who should know better – who do know better – and yet have chosen not to do better. For some, it may not be a deliberate choice to disobey Allah, but that the understanding of the limits of Allah’s boundaries has been so downplayed and undermined that it barely registers at all in one’s conscious decision-making. So many sinful actions have been normalized, to the extent that even those who would identify themselves as “religious” and “practising” find it difficult to be cognizant of just how seriously wrong those actions are, and what the deeper spiritual implications of those behaviours are. 

    Bad Track Record of Haram Policing

    To be fair, haram policing has not had the best of track records. At its height in the late 90s and early 2000s, there was an overwhelming culture of hyper-criticism, of attacking even the most sincere and well-meaning individuals of deliberately sinning, and a complete and utter lack of empathy and compassion for fellow Muslims. There was no wisdom or tact, even in justified cases, and the result was more than one generation of spiritually crippled Muslims on one side, and burnt out, shamefaced former accusers on the other. Men were not the only perpetrators of haram policing either; women were just as harsh, and downright vicious, between themselves, being lightning-quick to judge, gossip, and slander one another in the name of “forbidding the evil.” The consequences were devastating, and resulted in a sense of betrayal and distrust towards “religious people,” who never had a kind word to say and were swift to criticize others’ perceived lack of faith. 

    The mid-2000s became a time of resentment and kneejerk reactions against anyone who spoke about prohibited actions in Islam, with more emphasis placed on removing all judgement; those who did speak up in a critical manner about concerning behaviours and trends were automatically dismissed as “haraam police.” While the masjid uncles and aunties and wallah bros continued to embody the worst of the haraam police stereotype, the label came to be applied even to those who sincerely and kindly sought to uphold the rulings and regulations of Islam. As a result, more and more public figures in the da’wah scene fell silent over issues deemed to be unpopular or controversial, and which they feared would push people away from the overall da’wah. Those who did try to talk about those topics were accused of “pushing away the youth” and “turning people away from the Deen.” All too often, we see sheer arrogance in response to warning against any sins.

    And when it is said to him, “Fear Allah,” pride in the sin takes hold of him…. (2:206)

    The Messenger of Allah said, “Verily among the greatest of sins in the sight of Allah is for a person to be told, ‘Fear Allah,’ to which he responds, ‘Mind your own business!’” (Sunan Nasa’i)

    Today, we find ourselves in a place where it is seen as dangerous and damaging to the collective faith of the Ummah if one ever dares to speak about those issues from the perspective of Qur’an and Sunnah, rather than the perspective of the (latest version of) secular leftist values. These topics include, but are not limited to, the Islamic rulings on LGBTQ, sexuality, gender, hijab, makeup, music, and mixed-gender relationships. Additionally, issues specifically related to Muslim women’s spirituality are considered completely out-of-bounds for male scholars to discuss. Certainly, there has been too much emotional and cultural baggage taught as “Islam,” but the subsequent problem is that there has been a dearth of female scholarship to address those topics as necessary. There is an echoing silence on these issues, and the lack of strong female leadership has been just as damaging as the previous decades’ harm. 

    In the Qur’an, Allah commands us repeatedly to enjoin the good and forbid the evil – not one without the other, but always in tandem. As Ummatul Wasat, we are meant to follow the middle way, to be just and balanced, and never to veer too strongly towards one extreme or the other. Obviously, as we have seen above, the consequences of falling into either extreme are incredibly detrimental to the spiritual wellbeing of the entire Ummah.

    Allah says:

    Surah Imran

    You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient. (3:110)

    Surah Imran

    The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (9:71)

    O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination. (31:17)

    Clearly, it is not enough to simply “enjoin the good” and leave it at that – indeed, the Qur’an also warns us of what happens to those who blatantly disregard the Divine prohibitions, and to those who passively allowed these sins to take place without making any attempt to warn against them.

    Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.” Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed. They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing. (5:77-79)

    The emphasis on forbidding the evil is so great that it is mentioned in the famous story of the Sabbath-breakers:

    And ask them about the town that was by the sea – when they transgressed in [the matter of] the sabbath – when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient. And when a community among them said, “Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?” they [the advisors] said, “To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him.”

    And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying. (7:163-165)

    “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you must certainly command the good and forbid evil, or else a punishment from Him would soon be sent upon you, after which you would call upon Him yet your supplication (dua) would not be answered.” (Tirmidhi)

    Without actively maintaining the forbidding of evil in our communities, we may very well end up accountable for the sins of our people, even if we ourselves are not committing those sins directly. Without forbidding evil, we are allowing evil to spread in our communities; without enforcing any religious boundaries, we are in fact passively encouraging the transgression of Allah’s boundaries. 

    Neither parents nor du’aat are ready to – or even equipped to – discuss many of the common issues today found on social media and in real life, let alone the even more serious matter of the attitudes driving all of these behaviours. The lack of forbidding evil hasn’t just normalized outward sins, but has allowed the normalization of attitudes and mentalities which poison our fitrah and shred apart our spiritual well-being. This is even worse than just normalizing outward sins – at least if it was just outward sins, while recognizing that they are sinful, there would still be a starting point of understanding Allah’s Laws and acknowledging that one is transgressing them. Instead, we are now in a place where there is complete refusal to accept that Allah’s Prohibitions and Commands have any meaning at all; everything is up to individual interpretation, and anything in the Qur’an can be interpreted away into irrelevance. Sins are, apparently, just another social construct, rather than Divinely punishable actions that have devastating, far-reaching personal and social consequences. 

    It is definitely time to make haram policing great again. (Okay, yes, I said that just to rile you up, dear reader. You have to admit, it’s why you clicked on this article in the first place.) In all seriousness, what we need is to bring back nahy ‘an il-munkar – not in the tactless, harsh, and damaging manner of the 90s, but in the compassionate and firm way that our entire Ummah desperately needs today. 

    Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided. (al-Nahl 16:125)

    The Messenger of Allah said: “Religion is sincerity.” We said, “To whom?” He said, “To Allah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” (Narrated by Muslim, 95)

    Hold On To The Compassion While Forbidding Evil

    The last decade or so has been spent building up compassion and empathy, which is absolutely necessary in da’wah, at every level. There must be an understanding of where people are coming from, what their history and their backgrounds are, and what personal traumas they are struggling with. There should never be a sense of glee in attacking someone personally, or making claims or accusations about someone’s private spiritual state. At the same time, however, the role of those in da’wah is to engage in both general da’wah as well as personal, individualized da’wah – meaning that there is still a requirement to inform and educate the masses about the seriousness of sins, to emphasize the Divine wisdoms behind the prohibitions made clear in Islam, and to push back against the normalization of those sins in the Ummah. It is not enough to have a “feel good” da’wah that turns a blind eye to entire sections of our Deen, nor is it appropriate to have a culture of religious condemnation to the exclusion of all else. Watering down the Deen so that people can feel good about themselves doesn’t help anyone, except Iblis. One can, in fact, be compassionate towards others without encouraging or enabling the transgression of Allah’s limits. 

    A new era of haram policing is required, and it must begin in the home. As parents, we are all shepherds of our flocks; we will be accountable on the Day of Judgment and questioned about what we allowed our children to be exposed to, what we passively and actively permitted, and the ignorance we allowed ourselves instead of putting in the effort to prioritize our childrens’ Akhirah over worldly entertainment and pursuits. Certainly, this doesn’t mean shutting everything down with one’s children and being unduly harsh on them – we parents need to have open communication with our kids, especially to help them understand why rules and regulations are in place. It does, however, mean that we cannot allow ourselves to be guilt-tripped by our kids (which is a very common tactic these days), and to remember that we are meant to be our kids’ parents – not their friends. Sometimes we do have to be the bad guy, in order to ultimately be the good guy on the Day of Judgment. 

    Our Ummah is in a state of global crisis on every level, not just geopolitically, but within our own homes and in our privileged Western Muslim communities. We are in a state of poisoned spirituality, where Muslims who publicly sin for entertainment is not only acceptable, but shared and encouraged; where even mentioning the concept of sins and punishment of the Hereafter turns someone in the target of vicious attacks; where there is little acknowledgement or respect of Allah’s limits and boundaries. “Feel good” faith has severe consequences in the Akhirah, yet too many parents and du’aat have shied away from forbidding the evil alongside with enjoining the good. As a result, we have ended up with generations of adults and youth alike who do not understand the seriousness of the spiritual implications of these normalized sins.

    Allah repeatedly commands us in the Qur’an to enjoin the good and forbid the evil; one cannot be utilized to the exclusion of the other. As individuals, as parents, as religious educators and as leaders in our communities, we must all uphold the obligation of amr bi’l ma’roof and nahy ‘an il-munkar, for the spiritual well-being of our community as a whole.

    Make haram policing great again – to make this Ummah great again.

    And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah ; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing. (2:83)

    Never a Prophet had been sent before me by Allah towards his nation who had not among his people (his) disciples and companions who followed his ways and obeyed his command. Then there came after them their successors who said whatever they did not practise, and practised whatever they were not commanded to do. He who strove against them with his hand was a believer: he who strove against them with his tongue was a believer, and he who strove against them with his heart was a believer and beyond that there is no faith even to the extent of a mustard seed. (Muslim)

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