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Sinful people calling others to do what is right

Published: 24/08/2011 12:33:00 PM GMT
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I heard that a person who sins will be punished more harshly for his sins if he exhorts other people to righteousness. Is this true? Is it better for people who fall weak and commit sins to refrain from advising other people to do good?

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Muslims who call others to Islam should try their utmost to live a righteous lives. This makes their message more readily acceptable to those who they call to righteousness.

However, if a Muslim falls short in his own practice, this does not mean that he should neglect calling others to what is right. This is because the duty to call others to what is right is a religious duty in and of itself.

Some people misunderstand some of what they read in the Qur’ân and Sunnah to mean that if their practice is not perfect, they should not call others. One verse that is often misunderstood in this way is where Allah says: “Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture! Then will you not reason?” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 44]

This is a rebuke of people applying double standards. They make no effort to adhere to what is right in their own lives but insist upon right conduct in others. It does not mean that they are sinful or blameworthy because they call others to what is right. The blame is on their failure to do what is right themselves, though they obviously know what is right since they are reciting scripture and calling others to follow what is right.

Then there is the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

A man will be brought on the Day of Judgment and cast into Hell. He will go around in Hell like a donkey in a grinding mill. The denizens of Hell will gather around him and say: “O so-and-so! Didn't you use to enjoin us to what is right and prohibit us from what is wrong? ”

That man will say: “I used to order you to do good but I myself never used to do it, and I used to forbid you from doing wrong while I myself used to do it.” [Sahîh Muslim]

In both of these texts, what the Muslim is being warned against sinful behavior, especially when he knows what is the right thing to do. These texts are not warning us against calling others to what is right. This distinction has been explained by al-Qurtubî, Ibn Kathîr, and many other scholars.

A Muslim has the duty to fulfill his religious obligations and abstain from sin. He also has the duty to call others to righteousness. Failure to perform the first duty optimally does not exempt him from fulfilling the second.

No one is perfect. No one is divinely protected from sin (ma`sûm) except for the Prophet (peace be upon him). If perfection were required from those who call others to righteousness, then there would be no one doing so.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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