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The Quran’s Position on Apathy Towards Evil – Sa’ad Al-Faqih


[Dr. Sa’ad Al-Faqih] Among the questions as well, the old and new question. Old, from the days of the Companions, in which there is a misunderstanding of Allah’s words ((O you who believe! Take care of your souls; he who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way; to Allah is your return, of all (of you), so He will inform you of what you did.)) Many people take this to mean, “Take care of your souls,” so, don’t care about others. Some even distort the verse, reading it as “take care of yourselves, and don’t care about others.”

There are those that say, “Shut up, leave the creation to the Creator.” These are myths, and not part of Islamic legislation or religion, nor the saying of the Prophet or the Companions or the Tabi’een (successors of the Companions). “Leave the creation to the Creator.” These are superstitions and devilish tricks in order to escape one’s responsibility. As for Allah’s words, ((O you who believe! Take care of your souls; he who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way;)) Firstly, “Take care of your souls” doesn’t mean “Mind your own selves.” ((Take care of your souls)) means, “Stick to your selves.” “Straighten your selves.” “Your selves” here is like what is called “verbal noun,” like, “Underneath you the book”, which means, “Take the book.” Verbal noun. “underneath you,” meaning, “under you.” The literal meaning of “underneath you the book,” “underneath you the book.” But, in reality, “underneath you the book” means “take the book.” So, ((Take care of your souls)) means “Stick to your selves,” Strive with your selves, control them, and make them stay upright in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah and the commandments of Allah. ((he who errs cannot hurt you)), when? ((when you are on the right way;))

Whoever goes astray will hurt you, if you yourself are not guided. And, part of being guided is that you enjoin good and forbid evil, you strive to remove injustice, you strive to remove corruption. If you don’t strive to remove injustice, you are not guided. You did not apply the commandment of Allah and you did not forbid what he forbade. So, you will be harmed by those that have gone astray, whether it be a personal harm or a general harm as a result of divine punishment. That’s why Abu Bakr said in response to those that misunderstood this, “You read this verse and misapply it, ((O you who believe! Take care of your souls; he who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way;))” Abu Bakr said, “I heard the Prophet (pbuh) say, “When a people witness evil and do not forbid it, it is likely that Allah will punish them all.” So, this is the understanding of Abu Bakr. The understanding of Abu Bakr is the right understanding.

You won’t be spared by giving free rein to the oppressor or corrupt, the ones who practice their corruption and transgression openly, allowing repression and injustice and tyranny, and you don’t take action under the pretense that ((He who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way;)) Enjoining good and forbidding evil is part of being guided. Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Allah said, ((take care of your souls;)), meaning stick to them, and come forth toward them, and part of the interests of the soul to adhere to commandments and prohibitions, and part of the commandments and prohibitions is the enjoining of good and forbidding of evil.

And, when Allah says, ((he who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way;)), and being on the right way is achieved – this is Ibn Taymiyyah’s words – when Allah is obeyed, and injunctions are followed in terms of commandments and prohibitions and other things. Then, he mentioned 5 benefits, among which he said that the person undertakes enjoining good and forbidding evil, as this falls under the meaning of ((Take care of your souls;)) and His word, ((when you are on the right way;)) A last question, Is what applies to nations applies also to individuals? Yes, many cosmic laws apply to individuals. I don’t want to go into detail, because it’s a separate topic in its own right. Allah-willing, if we have the opportunity, we will address it in another session.

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