The Duty of the Scholars to Prohibit and Warn Against Evil: al-Shawkaani & al-Sa’di

In part of surah al-Maa’idah Allah criticizes a number of characteristics of the Jews, and then says:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why don’t the rabbis and religious scholars forbid them from saying what is sinful and devouring what is unlawful? How wretched is what they have been making. [5:63]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani comments on this in his tafsir by writing:

 ثم وبخ علماءهم في تركهم لنهيهم فقال : لبئس ما كانوا يصنعون وهذا فيه زيادة على قوله : ( لبئس ما كانوا يعملون ) ؛ لأن العمل لا يبلغ درجة الصنع حتى يتدرب فيه صاحبه ، ولهذا تقول العرب : سيف صنيع إذا جود عامله عمله ، فالصنع هو العمل الجيد لا مطلق العمل  ـ

So Allah rebukes their scholars for neglecting their duty to forbid their people from sins.

Then Allah says:

لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

How wretched is what they have been yasna’oon [making]

and this is something more emphatic than if He had said

لبئس ما كان يعملون

How wretched is what they have been y’amaloon [doing]

because mere “doing” does not reach the level of “making” until the person involved has received a sufficient level of training and expertise. This is why in the Arabic language, one says

سيف صنيع

sanee’ [finely-crafted] sword

when its maker has embellished his work. So the word sana’ [making] is well-done work; it cannot be used to describe just any work.

فوبخ سبحانه الخاصة ، وهم العلماء التاركون للأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر بما هو أغلظ وأشد من توبيخ فاعل المعاصي

So Allah is reprimanding one group in particular – that is, the scholars who have abandoned their duty to command the good and forbid evil. And here Allah is reprimanding them in a harsher and more severe manner than the reprimand given to one who commits acts of disobedience himself.

فليفتح العلماء لهذه الآية مسامعهم ويفرجوا لها عن قلوبهم ، فإنها قد جاءت بما فيه البيان الشافي لهم بأن كفهم عن المعاصي مع ترك إنكارهم على أهلها لا يسمن ولا يغني من جوع ، بل هم أشد حالا وأعظم وبالا من العصاة

So let the scholars open their ears to this ayah and let it shake their hearts! For it has brought them a clear notice that restraining themselves from falling into acts of disobedience while abandoning their duty to forbid their people from evil will neither bring about any good for them, nor will it prevent them from loss. On the contrary, they are in a worse condition than the sinners!

فرحم الله عالما قام بما أوجبه الله عليه من فريضة الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر فهو أعظم ما افترضه الله عليه وأوجب ما أوجب عليه النهوض به

So may Allah grant mercy to the scholar who fulfills the obligation to enjoin good and forbid evil which Allah has placed on him, for this is the most important thing which Allah has commanded him and the most binding duty which he has been commissioned to complete.

اللهم اجعلنا من عبادك الصالحين الآمرين بالمعروف الناهين عن المنكر الذين لا يخافون فيك لومة لائم ، وأعنا على ذلك وقونا عليه ويسره لنا وانصرنا على من تعدى حدودك وظلم عبادك إنه لا ناصر لنا سواك ، ولا مستعان غيرك ، يا مالك يوم الدين ، إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين . ـ

O Allah! Make us among your righteous slaves who command good and forbid evil! Those whose do not fear  blame from any critics for doing so! Help us to do so, and fortify us in that! Facilitate it for us, and aid us against those who trespass Your limits and wrong Your servants! Indeed, there is no one to aid us other than You, and there is no one else from whom we can seek aid other than You! O Master of the Day of Recompense, You alone do we worship and You alone do we ask for help!

[Fath al-Qadeer pg. 382]

And sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di also explained this ayah in similar terms by writing:

هلا ينهاهم العلماء المتصدون لنفع الناس، الذين من الله عليهم بالعلم والحكمة -عن المعاصي التي تصدر منهم، ليزول ما عندهم من الجهل، وتقوم حجة الله عليهم، فإن العلماء عليهم أمر الناس ونهيهم، وأن يبينوا لهم الطريق الشرعي، ويرغبونهم في الخير ويرهبونهم من الشر ( لبئس ما كانوا يعملون )

Why don’t those scholars who are concerned for the good of the people – those whom Allah has blessed with knowledge and wisdom – prevent the people from the acts of disobedience which they commit, in order to remove the ignorance that these people have and to establish Allah’s proof against them?

For the scholars are charged with commanding the people with good and forbidding them from evil, and with explaining the correct legislated path to them, as well as with encouraging them to do good and inciting fear in them against doing evil.

لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

How wretched is what they have been practicing. [5:63]

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 262]

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

See also: A Frightening Ayah for the Leaders and Scholars: Tafsir al-Tabari

See also: “O you who have believed, look after your own souls”: Tafsir al-Sa’di & al-Shinqitee

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Duty of the Scholars to Prohibit and Warn Against Evil: al-Shawkaani & al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: The Consequences of Not Forbidding Wrongdoing: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: A Frightening Ayah for the Leaders and Scholars: Tafsir al-Tabari | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “O you who have believed, look after your own souls”: Tafsir al-Sa’di & al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.