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There is a Hadith reported in Bukhari, in the chapter of partnership narrated by Nu'man bin Basheer (ra) that the prophet (saw) said, "The example of the one who stands for the Deen of Allah and the one who has left it are like the people in a boat, some of whom occupy the upper deck and some occupy the lower deck. Whenever those in the lower deck need water, they have to go to the upper deck to retrieve it. So some of them said, ‘why don't we make a hole in our deck so we do not harm the people of the upper deck?' If the people do not stop them, they will all fall and be failures, but if they stop them they will all be saved" This Hadith has also been reported in another narration that the prophet (saw) said, "The example of the one who stands for the Hudud of Allah and the one who compromises the Hudud of Allah ..." It is Saheeh and has many narrations. The prophet (saw) has given us this parable explaining the reality of people in the society that they are living in and their role in it. The Hadith mentions the fact that people in any society must live together and put up with each other, that each people have needs that need to be fulfilled such as the need of the people of the lower deck to take water. The example of the ship is like people in a society where some people wish to engage in bad deeds by making a hole in bottom of the ship and this Hadith explained that the people of the upper deck Must either do their duty and stop them or if they ignore them and the crisis, then destruction will face everybody. So the Hadith teaches us that there is no society free from Munkar and corruption and each corrupted person justifies their corruption by any argument, whether by claiming it is relieving others of hardship or that it is ‘freedom' or ‘modernity'. Therefore the people in that society must prevent them from their corruption and save everybody from the anger of Allah and if they fail to do so the anger of Allah and punishment will reach everyone. Allah (swt) says "And fear an affliction which may not smite only those of you in particular who are unjust; and know that Allah is severe in requiting (evil)." [EMQ Anfaal: 25] The Hadith says that there are people who want to stand to the Hudud of Allah and some people who want to compromise it. The prophet (saw) said, "If the people see an oppressor and do not stop him, the punishment will reach all of them"
So changing the Munkar must have very strong words, it requires "rejecting and exposing from all directions and changing with the hand" Lessons from this Hadith This Hadith teaches us many Ahkam, Usul, Aqaa'id and topics of Fiqh. Linguistically: 1) Linguistically, "Al Qa'im hududillah" is among the most beautiful terms. It refers to those who forbid the evil and are the safeguard of the earth, 2) Then the Hadith says "the example of people who commit evil" referring to those who disobey Allah and cause Fitnah for others, 3) And he (saw) mentions "akhez bil yadd" that they must stop them by their hands. That is metaphoric, stressing that the action must be stopped and refuted from every angle with no room left to justify it. In Usul ul Fiqh: 4) From the Usuli point of view, this Hadith teaches us the science of Qiyaas, the juristic analogy. Qiyaas is "to attribute the rule of an old matter to a new matter if they share the same divine reason". This Hadith teaches us the analogy made by the prophet (saw) between society and the boat. Indeed the science of analogy is based on this parable and other Ahadith like this. For example, Umar ibn Khattab said to the prophet (saw), "Today I did a serious thing; I kissed while I was fasting." The prophet (saw) said, "What if you rinsed your mouth with water while you were fasting?" he said "that will not affect my fasting" So the prophet (saw) explained to Umar using an analogy that kissing does not invalidate the fast in the way that rinsing your mouth with water does not invalidate the fast. 5) We can also learn a general principle (Qaa'idah Kulliyah) that is derived from this Hadith, that "Any harm must be removed." 6) We also learn from this Hadith the principle that "we must bear a lesser harm if it will prevent a greater harm In this example of the boat, we see that the people of the upper deck are always harmed by the people of the lower deck but when removing that harm leads to making a hole and destroying them all, they must bear the harm of going to the upper deck for water
7) Another two principles derived from this principle are that the "harm cannot be removed by harm.""the harm cannot be removed by something similar." Just as a Munkar cannot be removed by another Munkar. Or that 8) We also learn that although people could be harmed, they can also bear it in order to prevent harm coming to other people. From this we learn the principle that "If two harms coincide with each other, we will consider which is a greater harm and remove it" i.e. we will choose the easier of the two harms and bear it and remove the greater of the two because the stronger and greater harm must be prevented by the lesser of the two harms. In the Fiqh: 9) We also learn a number of Ahkam, such as that it is obligatory to command good and forbid evil in the society where we live. We are all sailing and we cannot let people cause harm upon others whether by drilling holes in our ship, by opening night clubs, selling drugs and alcohol or other Munkaraat. They must be stopped. Allah (swt) says, "And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these it is that shall be successful." [EMQ 3:104] Abu Sa'eed al Khudree narrated that the prophet (saw) said, "Whoever saw a Munkar, let him change it by his hand and if he cannot then by his tongue and if he cannot then with his heart and that is the weakest of Imaan" [Muslim] There is a consensus that to forbid the Munkar is Fardh and the only one who disputes it is the Shi'ah Raafidhah. Changing the Munkar by the hand is Fardh al Kifaayah, it is obliged upon all the people until one or some of them change it and then they are all blameless. However if none of them did it, they will all be sinful. Commanding good is to command the good that is absent (i.e. that people are not doing) Forbidding Munkar is to forbid the Munkar that is present (i.e. that people are doing). So we cannot just come out speaking about everything, we need to focus on what people are doing. However, changing the Munkar by the heart is to hate the Munkar and to hate the people of the Munkar, i.e. to hate the Deen of ‘freedom', to hate ‘democracy', ‘secularism' etc and to hate the people who believe in and promote these false religions. This form of changing the Munkar is Fardh 'ayn upon everybody 10) We also learn Ahkam of trade; that people are allowed to share ownership of a property. 11) We learn that it is permissible for different people to live on two floors, one on top of the other
12) We learn that neighbours sharing a building must maintain their relationship in that house and share responsibility for it. 13) We also learn from this Hadith that it is obligatory upon the neighbour to be patient and refrain from harming his neighbour, especially if it is going to lead to a greater harm on both of them. 14) We also learn that someone living beneath others is prohibited from damaging or demolishing his part of the building if it will make the building unstable or unsafe, even though it may be his own property. 15) We learn that the people who deserve punishment in the hereafter are those who do not change the Munkar while they had the capability to do so. That is because the Hadith mentions that, "if they do not prevent them they will all fall and be failures." That is explained by a Hadith narrated by Aisha (ra) that the prophet (saw) saw a dream and then awoke saying, "I saw something strange, there were people in my Ummah that will be lead by a man of Quraysh in the Ka'bah, there will be a landslide that will destroy them all, while among them will be people blind and weak. They will die together and they will be risen on the day of judgement upon their Niyyah." (i.e. they are all punished together in the earth but will have a different reward or punishment on the hereafter because they had different circumstances.) Also a Hadith of Umm Salamah who asked, "are we going to be destroyed while there is among us good people?" he said "yes because the evil has become widespread. They (the good people) will face whatever they (the sinners) face and on the day of judgement, they will get the mercy of Allah" 16) We learn from the Hadith of Safeenah that people who leave commanding good and forbidding evil will be considered partners with the sinners in their crime. 17) We learn that there are some people of Bid'ah and people of Hawaa', who although people might say "give them an excuse" or "they had good intentions", we learn that good intentions are not enough to save you from punishment as the Hadith mentions that the people of the lower deck indeed had a good intention, which was not to harm the people of the upper deck, but that would not save them if they are allowed to sink the ship. 18) We also learn that it is sometimes necessary to make a parable to help people understand who may never understand in any other way no matter how articulate you are.
19) We learn that one of the styles of the Da'wah and preaching from the Sunnah of the prophet (saw) is to make use of parables because the people will enjoy the elaboration and the parable will clarify issues to people and so that they will not become bored. 20) We find that the prophet (saw) made this issue simple for the people to understand and so we learn that the Daa'ee must simplify his words and terminology, not to show off or try to impress people with big words that they will not understand or benefit from. It is narrated that a Bedouin came to the prophet (saw) and asked, "How can my wife have a black boy and his parents were not black?" he (saw) explained that "There could be a red camel from parents that are not red" And so the Messenger (saw) simplified the matter for him by using this parable. 21) We learn also about compromising and caring. Sometimes you may make mudara'ah during your Da'wah, which is not compromising but is being considerate and gentle. This Hadith is clear in condemning any form of compromising the Hudud of Allah but the Daa'ee may sometimes use some soft words to persuade the heart and it is permissible to treat people nicely. The prophet (saw) is the best teacher for this Ummah and all of mankind and he said, "Allah did not send me to make it hard and difficult on the people, he sent me to teach people and make it easy on them" So Islam teaches us how to teach people in an easy way and use the best terms when speaking and explaining things to people. Mu'awiyah narrated, "I was praying with the prophet one day and someone sneezed and so I said "yarhamukallah". The people looked at me in anger, so I said "what happened to you?" they hit their thighs in anger. I never saw a teacher like the prophet (saw), he did not stare at me or hit me or insult me but at the end of the Salah he said, ‘the Salah is not for talking in.'" 22) Another lesson on the Hadith is that we should know about the people that we are inviting so that we can teach them in the best manner. The Hadith describes people who commit the Munkar; others who are silent about it and another people who beautify and justify the Munkar, all are blameworthy. It is narrated by ibn Hibbaan that the "The one who did the Munkar, the one who was silent about it and the one who beautifies it for them ... (are all sinful)" 23) The Hadith of Safeenah teaches us that we can neither have integration (Indimaaj) nor isolation (‘Uzlah). (i) If we integrate with the people who make a hole and join them in their evil, we will be failures and drown all together. (ii) We cannot isolate ourselves either, "minding our own business", worshipping Allah in seclusion while ignoring what
happens in society. If we do so, that will be equally fatal as there will be nobody to stop the people in the lower deck from sinking the ship with all its inhabitants. Rather you must have interaction. You must tell them not to drill a hole or else everyone will sink and be destroyed. The prophet (saw) is our teacher and the best example in our life. Verily there are countless more lessons and benefits that can be derived from this Hadith and we are indeed blessed with such rich texts that are so heavily loaded with knowledge and Fiqh. May Allah give us the strength to practise and implement the lessons of this Hadith and save us from being destroyed with the oppressors and sinners around us.