The Consequences of Not Forbidding Wrongdoing: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes those among the Jews who disbelieved and received Allah’s curse in surah al-Maa’idah by saying:

كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَن مُّنكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

They used not to forbid one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing. [5:79]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit related to this ayah in the midst of his tafsir of the surrounding passage:

ـ { كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَنْ مُنْكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ } أي: كانوا يفعلون المنكر، ولا ينهى بعضهم بعضا، فيشترك بذلك المباشر، وغيره الذي سكت عن النهي عن المنكر مع قدرته على ذلك. ـ

كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَنْ مُنْكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ

They used not to forbid one another from wrongdoing that they did

meaning: They used to commit wrongdoing but they did not forbid one another from doing that, and thus they were partnered in doing that – both the one who actually did the wrongdoing and the others who remained silent and withheld from forbidding the wrongdoing despite having the ability to do so.

وذلك يدل على تهاونهم بأمر الله، وأن معصيته خفيفة عليهم، فلو كان لديهم تعظيم لربهم لغاروا لمحارمه، ولغضبوا لغضبه، وإنما كان السكوت عن المنكر -مع القدرة- موجبا للعقوبة، لما فيه من المفاسد العظيمة: ـ

This indicates their indifference towards Allah’s commandments and that disobeying Allah was something that they took lightly. For if they had a sense of the greatness of their Lord, they would have been protective of His forbidden limits and they would have been angered by what angers Him. But remaining silent about wrongdoing – despite having the ability – necessitates punishment due to what it entails of serious negative consequences:

منها: أن مجرد السكوت، فعل معصية، وإن لم يباشرها الساكت. فإنه -كما يجب اجتناب المعصية- فإنه يجب الإنكار على من فعل المعصية. ـ

○ Among the negative consequences is: That simply remaining silent is in itself an act of disobedience even if the one remaining silent is not directly taking part in the wrongdoing. For just as it is a must to avoid acts of disobedience, it is likewise a must to disapprove of the one committing the act of disobedience.

ومنها: ما تقدم أنه يدل على التهاون بالمعاصي، وقلة الاكتراث بها. ـ

○ And among the negative consequences is: What has already been mentioned, that this silence indicates that a person takes disobedience lightly and does not give it much concern.

ومنها: أن ذلك يجرئ العصاة والفسقة على الإكثار من المعاصي إذا لم يردعوا عنها، فيزداد الشر، وتعظم المصيبة الدينية والدنيوية، ويكون لهم الشوكة والظهور، ثم بعد ذلك يضعف أهل الخير عن مقاومة أهل الشر، حتى لا يقدرون على ما كانوا يقدرون عليه أوَّلًا. ـ

○ And among the negative consequences is: That the disobedient and sinful ones feel encouraged to increase in their acts of disobedience when they are not prevented from that, and this leads to an increase of evil and a increase in the severity of the consequences – both in terms of the religion and in terms of day-to-day activities. This lack of censoring leads them to become emboldened and more open in their acts of disobedience, and after that the people of good become weaker in comparison to the people of evil, until they are no longer able to do what they used to be able to do before.

ومنها: أن – في ترك الإنكار للمنكر- يندرس العلم، ويكثر الجهل، فإن المعصية- مع تكررها وصدورها من كثير من الأشخاص، وعدم إنكار أهل الدين والعلم لها – يظن أنها ليست بمعصية، وربما ظن الجاهل أنها عبادة مستحسنة، وأي مفسدة أعظم من اعتقاد ما حرَّم الله حلالا؟ وانقلاب الحقائق على النفوس ورؤية الباطل حقا؟” ـ

○ And among the negative consequences is: In leaving off the denouncing of wrongdoing, knowledge is extinguished and ignorance is increased. For when an act of disobedience become normalized and is done by a large number of people without it being denounced by the people of knowledge and the people of the religion, then people will think that this is not actually an act of disobedience. Perhaps the ignorant person will even think that it is an approved form of worship. And what adverse consequence is worse than believing something that Allah has forbidden to be something permissible? What is worse that than reality of things being turned on their head for an individual, such that he sees something false to be the truth?

ومنها: أن السكوت على معصية العاصين، ربما تزينت المعصية في صدور الناس، واقتدى بعضهم ببعض، فالإنسان مولع بالاقتداء بأضرابه وبني جنسه، ومنها ومنها. ـ

○ And among the negative consequences is: Through remaining silent about the sins of the disobedient ones, perhaps these acts of disobedience could become pleasant-seeming in the hearts of the people and so they imitate one another in doing them, for people are drawn to imitate their peers and colleagues.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 266]

See also: Whoever abandons good will be tested with evil: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Story of the Town by the Sea: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Means and Objectives of Calling to Allah: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah…” Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The great blessing of being a guiding leader: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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6 thoughts on “The Consequences of Not Forbidding Wrongdoing: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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