Q:– How to Bring Reform
Ans:- According to a hadith, the Prophet said: “He who amongst you sees something wrong (munkar) should try to change it with the help of his hand; and if he does not have the capacity to do so, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he has not strength enough to do so, then he should abhor it in his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.”
There are three points to be noted in this hadith. First, here munkar means something which goes against the laws of nature. Second, one must have the capacity to change or rectify this wrong. If a person does not possess the capacity to bring about change, then it is not at all incumbent on him to hastily take steps to change what he sees. Often people jump into the situation in which they see some wrong. Instead of bringing about positive change, their actions lead to counterproductive results in terms of generating hatred and violence. Such actions in the name of rectifying a wrong are undoubtedly against Islam and are a misinterpretation of this hadith. Many Muslims are engaged in protests, violence and demonstrations against certain wrongs they see in their society. However, their actions have caused further deterioration of the situation rather than replacing it with something better. These steps, which yield negative result, have certainly no justification in the above hadith. Third, some Muslims who see certain wrongs, rise to take immediate steps—they jump into the situation. On the contrary, the action required by the above hadith should be based on thinking, planning and consultations. This is so that one’s actions can yield a positive result. However, often people just read reports in newspapers and without carrying out investigation into it, jump to change what they perceive as wrong. This is not of any use and one must abstain from it. One must take steps to change what one sees as wrong only if one can produce positive result and substitute the present situation with what is better.
If one does not have the capacity to rectify the wrong one sees through one’s actions, then the second option is to condemn it with words. Even here one should not simply start delivering speeches on loudspeakers. One must determine the result of one’s speeches. If it causes people to become provoked and angry, leading them to develop hatred for others, then one should not speak. The condition which applies to one who sets out to rectify the wrong through one’s actions also applies to one who seeks to change it through words. Here too one must investigate and study the matter before speaking. If one speaks against violence by condemning only members of another community while ignoring one’s own community which had initiated the conflict, then this is incorrect. One has to follow certain principles when one wants to change a situation through one’s words. One must first conduct an objective analysis of the situation to find out who actually erred. Also one should speak out of well-wishing for others, not out of hate or anger. If something angers a person, he should first pacify his sentiments. If he begins to speak while he is angry, he would add fuel to fire. One should speak only if matters can get reformed through his speaking. Letting out fiery rhetoric through loudspeakers which provokes one’s listeners to become violent is entirely un-Islamic.
If one does not have the capacity to speak and change the state of affairs, then he should abhor it in his heart. The hadith says that this is the weakest of faith. This part of the hadith has not been most misunderstood. People interpret this part of the hadith as: ‘If one sees something wrong, but cannot do anything about and only regards it as wrong in his heart, then this is the weakest form of faith.’ But this is an incorrect interpretation. The right interpretation is that weakness of faith is that a person possesses the capacity to do something or say something about the wrong he sees, but does not do any of these. In spite of having the capacity to do or say, he only considers it wrong in his heart and moves on. Such a person can do something to change things but becomes indifferent to safeguard his interests. Weak faith, therefore, is to have the ability to change things with one’s actions or words, but to not do anything. Such a person remains engaged in his work or family, and regards a wrong as wrong only in his heart. This is what is meant by weakness of faith in the above hadith.
If a person actually does not have the capacity to do or say anything, then he should consider it wrong in his heart. This is different from the case of one who has the capacity to do or say something, but does not do anything. A person who really does not have the capacity to change the situation with his actions or words, should consider it wrong in his heart. But the matter does not end here. Such a person, if he is sincere and has the sense of accountability, would not stop here. He would pray, consult people and think what he can do to reform matters. He would personally go and meet one whom he thinks is doing wrong and explain things to him in the spirit of well-wishing. This is very much within the capacity of one who cannot openly change things by way of actions or words.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan