What the Passive Aim to Do Among the Muslims?
One of the primary dangers caused by passivity is the condition which those who advocate it strive to foster among Muslims. The covert message which those who give priority to their own interests over the Muslims' and that of Islam strive to convey, with their acts and opinions, particularly to those who are weak in character, is something for which Muslims of conscience must be careful. To understand the meaning of this message, one needs to make a thorough examination of the character traits and mentality of the advocates of passivity, for they may be using Allah's name only to further their own interests, falsely assuming that they can build their agenda on this false piety. In consequence, after becoming aware of the detrimental results of the indoctrination efforts of the passive, it is of vital importance that Muslims remain attentive to such attempts and take the necessary measures. People of such deviance also lived in our Prophet's (saas) time, and not only did they not avoid fight but also made every effort to hinder Muslims from striving in Allah's way. Allah informs us about these people as follows:
Allah knows the obstructers among you and those who say to their brothers, "Come to us," and who only come to fight a very little. (Surat al-Ahzab, 18)
The most telling characteristic of this character, as described in many verses, is the tendency to ardently avoid the struggle carried out against disbelieving ideologies, and also to hinder other believers from engaging in such an effort. Both by their manner of speaking and attitudes, such people try to belittle the importance of the intellectual struggle, and distract the attention of the believers from it. Rather than involving themselves in this intellectual struggle, they prefer to "lag behind." They maintain that they will face loss if they strive for Allah's cause, or show zeal and enthusiasm. They only collaborate with the Muslims if they believe it is in their own interest. However, the struggle undertaken by Muslims against the ideologies of those who have no faith in Allah and the Hereafter, and are far from the morality of Islam, to summon them to the right way, and to defeat their deviant ideologies on an intellectual basis, has a long history. Such an intellectual struggle is best exemplified among the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an.
For one who believes in Allah's existence and unity, and who is conscious that he will be held accountable for his deeds on the Day of Judgment, it is truly a great responsibility for him to communicate these facts to other people. Some, out of ignorance, or still others, out of misinformation, do not live by the morality expounded in the Qur'an, which explains essentially why bribery, corruption, immorality, and so on, become normal ways of life for many people. As well, Muslims in many parts of the world suffer from various problems and tribulations. There are Muslim women and men who are subjected to violence only because they say "Our Lord is Allah." There are innocent children who become the victims of bullets, or thousands of Muslims who suffer desperate conditions in refugee camps. What is incumbent, in light of such misery, is to immediately extend a helping hand, not only to Muslims, but also to all those who are in need. Though, all these problems demand long-term solutions. When we consider the fact that these problems arise from the implementation and practice of irreligious ideologies, it becomes obvious that the solution lies in the immediate proliferation of the Qur'an's morality. One verse reads:
What reason could you have for not fighting in the way of Allah—for those men, women and children who are oppressed and say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!"? (Surat an-Nisa', 75)
This being the case, if people who are passive attempt to provoke believers into lethargy, to hinder them from taking part in the very important intellectual struggle, or instill in those of weak-character the false notion that this struggle is unimportant, then they must be considered as a very serious threat. For these reasons, it is necessary to expose their methods, both overt and covert. Against their misleading insinuations, their laziness and ineptitude, the best response is to nurture positivity in oneself and in other Muslims, and to work with zeal, enthusiasm and goodwill. The command stated in the verse, "… spur on the believers" (Surat an-Nisa', 84) expresses an important responsibility upon the believers, which will be one of the most effective hindrances against the wicked machinations of the people in question.
In the following pages we will analyze the real aims of those who prefer to remain passive.
They Want to Disseminate Their Deviant
Interpretation of Religion Throughout the Society
Those who strive to mislead the believers into passivity are afflicted with a deviant understanding of religion, one which is entirely removed from the morality in the Qur'an. A telling attribute of this understanding is their tendency to observe some commands of the religion but disregard others. That is, as the verse, "Among the people there is one who worships Allah right on the edge." (Surat al-Hajj, 11) maintains, they do not have true faith. Consequently, they fail to fully live by the commands of the religion.
In every instant of their lives, the sincere Muslims live by that which Allah describes in the Qur'an. From their understanding of the necessity of the cleanliness of the food they prefer, to the love and respect they show to other believers, to their loyalty and selflessness, they share a common moral code and lifestyle that consists of hundreds of attributes unique to believers. Though a true believer can make mistakes, he nevertheless aims to perfect all of these values, without exception. However, those who advocate passivity assert that one can still be a Muslim without living by all the commands of the religion as Allah describes in the Qur'an. Due to this deviant belief, which is utterly incompatible with the Qur'an, they are devoid of many of the attributes unique to the sincere believers.
They do not fully commit themselves to the deeds they take up; they do them simply not to stand out among the Muslims. It is rare to see them show forth the attributes of moral perfection, such as unconditional obedience to Allah and His messenger, modesty, sincerity, the profound love and respect felt for believers, loyalty, self-sacrifice, devotion and so on. For instance, they find it hard to make self-sacrifices, one of the true attributes of believers, for it demands renouncing one's own interests but giving priority to those of others. For those who have little fear of Allah, or who are totally devoid of it, it is difficult, and even distressing. For this reason, if they are required to perform a self-sacrifice, they do the minimum they can, and only for show. These people do not exercise their conscience as sincere believers do, but live self-centeredly. When their life is compared to that of a sincere believer, who conforms to the guidance of his conscience at all times—from the most trivial to the most important—their condition is deficient.
The criterion for a person of faith is Allah's consent. The purpose of the passive people, however, is to deceive others without detriment to their own interests. Merely to be seen as a religious person, who pays attention to a number of responsibilities, is sufficient for such people. To this end, they may fulfill their salat (prayers), fast, give alms to the needy from time to time, or comply with other social obligations. However, they at no time participate in the intellectual struggle for the sake of Allah, and avoid activities that require them to exercise their wisdom and insight.
They devote themselves to deriving the maximum benefit by exerting the minimum effort. They also promote this type of thinking of theirs to others around them. Undoubtedly, what they consider as benefit is truly trivial. Rather, one who is willing to engage in good deeds for Allah's sake conducts himself with conscience. Allah informs us that those who think it of benefit to themselves to deceive others, and take advantage of them, are in a great self-delusion. Our Lord says:
They think they deceive Allah and those who believe. They deceive no one but themselves but they are not aware of it. (Surat al-Baqara, 9)
The sincere believers, on the other hand, devote all their resources to spread the moral perfection described in the Qur'an. One of the most significant criteria of sincere faith and obedience to the messenger is one's zeal, enthusiasm and ability to render self-sacrifices. Aware that pleasing Allah is the real goal, Muslims are guided by their conscience; they exercise their conscience in their jobs or schools, when shopping, eating or chatting. This careful attention enhances their wisdom, compassion, mercifulness and modesty. They continually put their trust in Allah, and pay attention to the needs of others. It is, on the contrary, very rare to recognize these features in those who are indolent in their embrace of the morality explained in the Qur'an. Their choices are often based on personal preferences rather than their conscience.
They Aim to Wreak the Muslims' Strength and Demoralize Them
One of the primary aims of those who are hypocritical in character, though living amongst the Muslims, is to damage the religion and harm the Muslims. In compliance with the verse, "… their scheming will not harm you in any way. Allah encompasses what they do." (Surah Al ‘Imran, 120), even though they can never harm the believers, they nevertheless expend every effort to do so.
Their engaging continually in good deeds is an important feature of the believers. With the hope of attaining Paradise and earning Allah's consent, believers embark on a good task immediately after completing another. Those who try to demoralize the believers, on the other hand, procrastinate as long as they can, hoping to impede the Muslims. By taking their time, and thus being distracting, they assume they can at least delay the good deeds in which the believers engage. At first sight, it may seem that this procrastination may prove a loss of time for believers and thereby accomplish the intended aim of such people. However the truth is otherwise when considered in light of the Qur'an. For the faithful, it is the intended purpose of a deed which is important, rather than its method. In other words, because a believer expends effort only to earn Allah's consent, by Allah's will, he still earns rewards while he tries to remove the impediments set on his way by the passive. In the Hereafter, also, he hopes to attain the best of rewards from Allah.
In order that they may take their time and promote lethargy among the Muslims, passive people aim to involve Muslims in their own issues. For this reason, they often bring their personal problems, most of which are artificially contrived, to the attention of believers. They distract the believers' attention with their immorality, attitudes that are incompatible with the Qur'an, and heedlessness. They strive to retard the progress of the believers' efforts through various means. Feigning ignorance of the issues they actually understand, pretending not to hear, wasting time by harping on needless details when working on an urgent project, idling hours away, and being unenthusiastic, represent some of their methods. They put forward many excuses, and postpone the completion of a task that needs immediate attention, and spend time on projects of secondary importance. They repeat the same question, as if they did not know the answer, or when they are asked to do something, they demand explanation several times over. The purpose underlying all these forms of behavior is to exhaust the believers' time, postpone the completion of good deeds, and set a bad example to others who have sickness in their hearts.
While creating difficulties for the believers, these people also want others in Muslim society to behave as themselves. They try to lure them into inactivity. Some, of weak-character, who are negatively influenced by their indolence, may intend to cause difficulties for the believers and take up their time. Failing to assess that which happens around them in light of the Qur'an, they find nothing wrong with the negativity of those who try to demoralize the believers. On the contrary, they may find it even reasonable to act as they do. However, the intentions and efforts of those who have become passive, and those who are influenced by them, can in no way bring any harm to the religion. On the contrary, it is good for the religion. Both the presence and activities of such people add to the zeal of true believers, make them more committed to their cause, and thereby make them successful. As is said in the Qur'an, it is impossible that those who deviate from the right path cause harm to the guided:
You who believe! You are only responsible for yourselves. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided. All of you will return to Allah and He will inform you about what you were doing. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 105)
Clearly, one of the worst important delusions these people are guilty of is their failure to see that those around them recognize them for who they are. Believers easily discern such people, for the Qur'an provides a detailed account of their character and attitudes, so take the most careful precautions against them. In compliance with the following verse, "Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice." (Surat an-Nisa', 58), when it comes to the trusts, they only give them to those who are capable of safeguarding them, and never impart important tasks to those who are passive. However, due to their lack of wisdom, the passive consider this as a result of their cleverness and are pleased. Because their goal is not earning Allah's pleasure, they consider it as a benefit to not have to work. It is, though, a great loss to them. Moreover, little do they know that, they do not actually demoralize the Muslims, and these evil efforts of theirs benefit the believers, since it renders them highly vigilant and experienced in recognizing specific types of human characters. Muslims persist in admonishing them, and try to hinder them from engaging in such evil, because it is incumbent upon them. Allah has charged believers with the task of enjoining the good, forbidding the wrong, and reminding of the truth.
They Exercise an Evil Influence on Those of Poor Faith
Another effect caused by those who have chosen indolence in living by the Qur'an's morality, is to take those of poor faith under their influence, and draw them to their side. But, these people, who are guided by Satan, can only negatively influence those who adopt a similar depraved morality. They can have no influence whatsoever on true Muslims. This is a fact Allah proclaims in the Qur'an, that He protects sincere believers from the deceptive suggestions of Satan and those who follow him:
He said, "My Lord, because You misled me, I will make things on the Earth seem good to them and I will mislead them all, every one of them, except Your slaves among them who are sincere." (Surat al-Hijr, 39-40)
Though, those who are hypocritical, those with sickness in their hearts, or of poor faith, may be influenced by such methods of indoctrination. The passive give forth certain signs: Their failure to complete their tasks in time, their lack of zeal and enthusiasm in engaging in the intellectual struggle, their failure to remember Allah, their avoidance of self-sacrifice and effort, their laziness, preference for easy tasks, their shallow perspective, their dull and soulless appearance, their lacking the zeal and joy that derives from piety, and their unkemptness, are among these signs. Through this deviance, they aim to mislead others into idleness, indoctrinate them into the same thinking, thereby demoralizing as many as possible. The passive, recognizing the weak-willed from their comportment and their manner of speaking, concentrate their efforts first on these people. They select those they think share the same attitudes, convey to them covert messages, which they falsely believe will go unrecognized, and communicate with them through a deceptive language.
Doing something that is indulgent, instead of engaging in work that will benefit Muslims, is a form of behavior that suggests: "There is no sense in expending so much effort; this is how I enjoy myself, you can also do as I do." Being selfish, instead of making self-sacrifices, keeping the best of everything for oneself and disregarding others' needs, conveys the message; "always think of yourself before others." Contrary to a respectful and humble manner, employing disrespect and mockery means "this is how you humiliate others and prove yourself to be superior." However, contrary to this misguided thinking, self-sacrifice, honesty or modesty ensures a life that is peaceful and content. The lifestyle advocated by those who are not sensitive to the subtleties of the religion, on the other hand, in contrary to the morality of believers.
Indeed, the aim of those who are the promoters of passivity is the prevalence of base morality based on selfishness, laziness, pride and perversion, rather than the moral perfection that comprises patience, modesty, submission, diligence and self-sacrifice. Some, who are of poor faith, on the other hand, having been influenced by this indoctrination, assume that there is honor in pride or wisdom in avoiding self-sacrifice. However, those who are truly intelligent and wise are those who can appreciate the glory of Allah, and live by the morality our Lord has commanded. It is Allah Who grants a person the peace and honor he seeks. Those who assume that they can attain peace and happiness by refraining from the morality prescribed by the Qur'an are in a great error. Our Lord gives the news that man can lead an honorable life only by being a Muslim, living by the principles of the true religion as follows:
If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and the Earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin. No indeed! We have given them their Reminder [dignity and honor], but they have turned away from it. (Surat al-Muminun, 71)
On the other hand these people are prone to indulge in profane talk. When they are alone, they talk openly against Muslims, the prophets and Islam. They often criticize Muslims and claim that their rights have been violated by them. They mock sincere Muslims and that which they undertake. While pretending to praise their qualities, they, in actuality, despise them and regard them as inferior. In this way, though appearing to be speaking positively, they, in reality, are harboring negative thoughts. A verse informs us of their mocking of the giving of alms by the Muslims, and other efforts in the way of Allah, as an example of this. Allah informs us about this base morality of the hypocrites, and that those who will truly be subject to mockery are hypocrites themselves:
As for the people who find fault with those believers who give alms spontaneously, and with those who can find nothing to give but their own effort, and deride them, Allah derides them. They will have a painful punishment. (Surat at-Tawba, 79)
Throughout history, there have been people of this character among the believers. Another case, wherein these people share secretive opinions, though never daring to express their true inner-thoughts, is with regard to the messengers. When they are with the messengers, these people pretend to approve of their message. Yet, in secret talks with their fellows, they speak against the messengers. Those who embodied such wickedness were also around at the time of our Prophet (saas), and held secret meetings against him, and hatched plots against him and true believers. However, all such plots were thwarted by Allah, and in compliance with our Lord's command, they will continue in failure into the future. This fact is related in a verse as follows:
Conferring in secret is from Satan, to cause grief to those who believe; but it cannot harm them at all, unless by Allah's permission. So let the believers put their trust in Allah.
(Surat al-Mujadala, 10)
In the time of our Prophet (saas), there existed people of poor faith and hypocrites who resisted against his commands and admonitions, and dared to make disrespectful pronouncements against such admonitions. They pretended to have never heard that which they had been told several times over, and when they were reminded so, they claimed to have never been told such things. And, throughout that time, they continued to make evil oaths. In one verse, Allah warns believers against these people:
They made their oaths into a cloak and barred the way of Allah, so they will have a humiliating punishment. (Surat al-Mujadala, 16)
In another verse Allah commanded our Prophet (saas) with regards to hypocrites as follows:
O messenger! Do not be grieved by those who rush headlong into disbelief among those who say "We believe" with their tongues when their hearts contain no faith. And among the Jews are those who listen to lies, listening to other people who have not come to you, distorting words from their proper meanings, saying, "If you are given this, then take it. If you are not given it, then beware!" If Allah desires misguidance for someone, you cannot help him against Allah in any way. Those are the people whose hearts Allah does not want to purify. They will have disgrace in the world and in the Hereafter they will have a terrible punishment.
(Surat al-Ma'ida, 41)
Employing elaborate and ambiguous language when speaking, and saying, "We meant nothing but good," are of the deceptive tactics often used by hypocrites. They try to cover their hypocrisy through such means and falsely assume that their deviance will go unnoticed. Or, even if it were to be noticed, they believe, they could easily explain it away. Though their disapproval of the messengers' decisions is clearly apprehended by the believers, still they strive to conceal their immorality. In this way, they try to demoralize the Muslims, and impress those of poor faith with their wicked insinuations, and draw them nearer to themselves. However, Allah informs us that these efforts will never prove successful:
Those who disbelieve and obstruct the way of Allah and are entrenched in hostility towards the messenger after the guidance has become clear to them, do not harm Allah in any way and He makes their actions come to nothing. (Surah Muhammad, 32)
They Desire for Ignorance to Take Hold of Muslim Society
Those who aim to lead a life far from the religion, yet among Muslims, harbor a perverted understanding of the religion, far removed from the original religion Allah revealed to mankind. This deviant interpretation of the religion, which includes the observable acts of worship, is entirely stripped of the Qur'an's true morality. However as the verse, "Say: 'My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds'" (Surat al-An‘am, 162) states, every moment of a Muslim's life is lived in accordance with Allah's commands. In other words, the morality of religion permeates a believer's life.
Those who are passive, on the other hand, utterly disregard the moral principles that make up the essence of religion, while to some extent fulfilling the observable acts of worship. They base their judgments on this errant thinking, rather than Allah's consent and the Qur'an's morality. They determine events according to the criteria of those ignorant of religion. The condition of such people is described in the Qur'an as follows:
Do they then seek the judgment of the time of ignorance? Who could be better at giving judgment than Allah for people with certainty? (Surat al-Ma'ida, 50)
Because they rely on an errant outlook, rather than the Qur'an, their entire thinking is corrupt. Believers know that the real abode is the Hereafter, and that this life is only temporary, and thus, dedicate all their efforts for Allah's cause. Their purpose is to earn Allah's consent, mercy and Paradise. For this reason, they give importance to things of this world only to the extent they ought to, aspiring above all to the Hereafter. Those who are taken over by passivity, on the other hand, give excessive value to this worldly life.
Those who harbor such ignorance in their hearts, which they want to impart to the Muslims, are overly concerned about mundane matters. For instance, when they become sick, they fail to put their trust in Allah, succumbing instead to excessive fear. Because they are overly concerned about their own selves, the possibility of any harm to their persons or to their interests leads them to over-exaggerated reactions. Diseases frighten them terribly, for they attach too much importance to this world, and are not aware of the ultimate good in every aspect of the divine plan decreed by Allah. They are not relieved even if after being given a clean bill of health by several physicians, for they are consumed with unjustified concerns. For relief, they invest their hopes in medicine and doctors. Of course, one who is sick must receive professional help from experts, and follow the treatment recommended by medical care providers. However, in doing so, he must be aware that neither the most effective medicine, nor the best doctors, can bring about a recovery unless Allah wills, for medicine, health care providers, or technology cannot be effective unless Allah wills so. Aware of the fact that it is Allah Who has ordained diseases as well as their cures, believers put their trust in Allah and are submissive to Him.
The lack of composure and trust in Allah typical of those prone to passivity negatively influences those who have sickness in their hearts. Their doubts and volatile tempers also lead those around them to make foolish comments and show the same lack of trust when faced with similar circumstances. Indeed, the major aim of these people is to foment chaos among the Muslims, and lead the impressionable or those of poor faith into confusion and needless agitation.
Another attribute of those who are lethargic when abiding by the principles of the religion, is the deep admiration they feel for the ways of the ignorant. That which ignorant societies value—property, power and status—also impress them greatly. Moreover, they expend every effort to resemble those who are popular or prestigious; they imitate their way of living, dressing, speaking or social activities. Surely, there is nothing wrong with emulating the good qualities in other people. However, what these people yearn for is not attaining such good qualities, but the mindset of the ignorant. Their outlook is molded on practices of the ignorant. However, the Qur'an makes clear what is right and what is wrong, and what is important or insignificant. However, due to their desires, rather than becoming true Muslims, they aim to acquire those attributes esteemed by ignorant societies.
When referring to an issue, their comments convey the mindset of a person utterly unaware of Allah's existence. Nevertheless, they assume they will gain prestige by adopting the values of the ignorance, which they believe are superior, and wrongly assume that they will also be prestigious among believers. However, sincere believers do not value such worldly criteria. If a person uses his knowledge and education for the cause of Islam, and for the benefit of Muslims, this would surely be a praiseworthy endeavor, that would, by Allah's will, be rewarded in the Hereafter. But, the attributes sought by those who fail to seek Allah's consent, and for which they feel proud, will bring no benefit, either in this world or the one beyond. As the verse also maintains, for a believer, "the best provision is doing your duty" (Surat al-Baqara, 197). In another verse, Allah informs us that the sole criterion is fear of Allah, and the esteem gained in this world is worthless in Allah's sight:
… The noblest among you in Allah's sight is the one of you who best performs his duty. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat, 13)
Believers' respect and love for another person develops in proportion to the other's faith in Allah and heedfulness of Him, for they abide by the Qur'an's morality. They never consider the criteria of ignorance. Only those who do not take the Qur'an as a guide can be influenced by the advocates of passivity, for it is only they who are prone to follow their example and imitate them. Their common attribute is their belief in the implausibility of a life characterized by fear of Allah, sincerity and love for Allah. Of a certainty, such disbelief will only mislead them into a grievous torment.