Silent Ulama – The Cause of the Universal Punishment on the Ummah

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“And, fear such a fitnah (punishment/calamity) which will not apprehend only the transgressors among you. And, know that, verily, Allah is most stern in punishment.”

In this Qur’aanic verse Allah Ta’ala issues a severe warning to the learned and pious members of a nation. They are warned of the disaster of severe punishment which will not be restricted to the transgressors who are the initial cause of the calamity. The divine punishment which will be unleashed as a consequence of transgression gone overboard, will overtake even the Ulama and the Sulaha in the community.

Explaining the rationale for the universal punishment, Hakimul Ummat, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Bayaanul Qur’aan:

“Just as self-reformation is incumbent, so too is it Waajib within the con-fines of one’s means to strive for the reformation of others by way of Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy Anil Munkar (Commanding virtue and prohibiting vice), whether by hand (i.e. by force) or by tongue or by abstention from association (with the transgressors) or by abhorrence within the heart, and this is the very last and weakest stage. The consequence of acquiescence (which leads to abstention from Amr Bil Ma’roof) is that the calamity of the evil (which others commit) will not be restricted to only the actual sinners, but will over-take even those (Ulama and Sulaha) who had abandoned Amr Bil Ma’roof.”

Since abstention from Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy anil Munkar without valid reason is mudaahanat (hypocrisy) which causes the abstainers to acquiesce with the flagrant transgressors, thus displaying flagrant disregard for the prohibitions of Allah Ta’ala, they too are guilty of major sins, hence the universal punishment which befalls even the silent Ulama and Sulaha is justified despite their sincerity and acts of virtue. Allah Ta’ala abhors mudaahanat.

In Sharhus Sunnah, Imaam Baghawi (rahmatullah alayh) narrated a Hadith from Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) and Hadhrat Aishah Siddeeqah (radhiyallahu anha) in which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Allah Ta’ala will not inflict His punishment on the entire community on account of the sins of a few. However, when the sins become prevalent and are flagrantly committed, and people despite having the ability do not prevent the transgression, then Allah’s punishment will engulf the whole community.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) also said that when Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy Anil Munkar is abandoned, then Allah Ta’ala will appoint such tyrants over us who will neither respect our seniors nor show mercy to our little ones. When such calamities befall us, the pious in the community will supplicate to Allah Ta’ala, but their duas will not be answered. That is because they had all acquiesced with the flagrant transgressors in the perpetration of their sins.

For the Ulama to abstain from sin and transgression is not enough. It is their Waajib obligation to guide and admonish the Muslim community, and to the best of their ability to prevent Muslims from wanton disobedience.


However, in the present era, the Ulama not only have abandoned Amr Bil Ma’roof, but are in fact flagrantly indulging in explicit haraam deeds and vice. Their transgression is worse than the sins of the masses because they (the Ulama) are justifying their evil and by distortion of the Qur’aan and Hadith, they follow in the footsteps of the Ulama of Bani Israaeel who used to legalize the prohibitions of Allah Ta’ala. This attitude of the Ulama is the surest sign of the impending universal (aam) punishment which is looming in front of us.

Allah Ta’ala revealed to His Nabi, Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhis salaam) that He would soon be destroying with His punishment a city of 100,000 people among whom were 40,000 Sulaha whose good deeds were like the hasanaat (deeds of virtue) of the Ambiya. Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhis salaam), greatly surprised, supplicated:

“O Allah! That the punishment befalling the transgressors is understandable. But why shall even such pious persons be punished?”

Allah Ta’ala informed His Nabi that the reason for the Sulaha being punished along with the transgressors is their mudaahanat. They had abandoned Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy Anil Munkar. They socialized and fraternized with the fussaaq (persistent sinners) and fujjaar (open sinners). They would freely mingle with them and when invited for meals, they would join the sinners. Their desensitization rendered them partners in the transgression of the flagrant sinners, hence the universal punishment.

The silent Ulama and Sulaha should have mercy on themselves and on the errant community, and this mercy they can show by means of vociferous and vigorous Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy Anil Munkar. As long as the Ulama discharge this Waajib obligation, Insha’Allah, the universal punishment – the fitnah mentioned in the aayat – will be averted.

The Ulama are supposed to be the Representatives of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the defenders of the Shariah. It is therefore their incumbent duty to proclaim the Haqq and admonish the community. They should not fear if the smiles of people disappear and if monetary contributions for their Deeni projects are withheld as a consequence of Amr Bil Ma’roof.

Yes, those ulama-e-soo’ who misappropriate the contributions and consume fire by lining their pockets with funds contributed for Deeni Projects cannot be expected to execute the sacred task of Amr Bil Ma’roof. But, there are many sincere Ulama who have adopted deafening silence in the face of flagrant fisq and fujoor on the basis of some misconceived idea of ‘hikmat’ which more appropriately should be termed dubious diplomacy which is a lesson whispered into their hearts by Shaitaan.

As much as we all are pained to observe and hear of the atrocities which the kuffaar are committing on entire Muslim populations, and as much as we cry and supplicate to Allah Ta’ala for succour, we know that what is transpiring is the decree of Allah’s Athaab (divine punishment). Only Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) and Inaabat (to turn with total obedience to Allah Ta’ala) are the solution for the perennial calamities which are besetting Muslims the world over.”

[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]

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