Take a stand against evil. Don’t be a potato

Take a stand against evil. Don't be a potato

Allah mentions the story of Musa and Firaun again and again in different surahs throughout the Quran. In Surat az-Zukhruf, we have the part of the story where Allah Almgihty talks about the relationship between Firaun and his people.

So he [Firaun] fooled his people, and they followed him. They were truly a sinful people.’ [43:54]

Many leaders treat their people like fools

In this ayah we see that it’s a common practice of many leaders – wherever you go, in any century – to treat their people as if they are fools. I remember someone who told me about their training in the army – I won’t mention which country – when their leader told them that when you deal with the subjects, treat them like potatoes in front of you. What is this kind of leadership? Someone else I know, from a different training session, said they were taught to deal with people as the soldiers were gods and people were fodder.

فَاسْتَخَفَّ قَوْمَهُ فَأَطَاعُوهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ

Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him. They were wicked people. [43:54]

The equation is of two parts:
1- from the leader to fool or mislead
2- from the people to obey and follow

Unless you reject the foolishness of the corrupt leaders you will be with them

This was the situation with Firaun: he also dealt with people as if they had no brains. He told them to look at the rivers flowing underneath him and that he was their greatest Lord. Unfortunately, people accept this treatment and even applauded his domination. Which is very similar to our situation these days. We still remember the propaganda about Brexit, that every week we would save an extra £350 million from the EU. This was misleading but people believed it. And they got away with it. What a tragedy! We see many leaders doing the same in the Middle East and in the West. If you do not want to be fooled, then don’t follow such leaders.

Muslims are the best nation

This is why Allah in the Quran gives the Muslims the title of ‘khayra ummah’ – the best nation.

You are the best community ever raised for humanity.’ Why? What makes this ummah the best ummah? Allah says simply, ‘You encourage good, and forbid evil.’ [3:110]

The moment we start to let evil grow, we are no longer the best ummah – we are just like the ones that came before:

They did not forbid one another from doing evil.’ [5:79]

They used to see the evil around them but they did not stop it. And when we do the same, as we fear we will lose our position.

I know some of you are fed up with this term (encouraging good and forbidding evil), because it gets misused a lot. But to tell you the truth, this is the mechanism of protection against corruption in the Ummah.

The mechanism is: when you see something wrong, don’t stay silent. Don’t be passive, be active.

When Firaun was spouting all this rubbish to his people – someone should have stood up and said, ‘No, this is complete nonsense!’

Be reformers, not just righteous people.

Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Shall we be destroyed even though there are righteous people among us?

And he replied, ‘Yes, if evil is dominant.’ [Bukhari]

Even if we have righteous people, awliya and top scholars among us, if evil prevails in the community, Allah will punish the whole community.

However the good news is that Allah says,

‘And your Lord would never destroy a society unjustly while its people were reformers. several occasions he says he will never punish a land while its people are reformers.’ [11:117]

He uses the word muslihoon (reformers) rather than salihoon (righteous). There is a big difference between them. Salihoon are passive, their actions are for themselves, whereas muslihoon are activists – their righteousness is not just in their own circle, it ripples out into the community wherever they go. They promote goodness and stop evil.

Unless we are muslihoon, we will not regain our status as the best Ummah. So let’s train ourselves and our children to be reformers, not potatoes. We need to stand up to evil and say no. We ask Allah to enable us to be among the best Ummah again. Ameen.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Night 13

Transcribed by Hana Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.