Assalamualaikum Sheikh. I wanted some clarity on an ongoing debate unfolding especially on social media with regards to the messages of praise being showered upon the leadership in New Zealand in light of their handling of the Christchurch tragedy. Some are disputing this practice as incorrect based on past actions and statements of the same leadership.
باسم الله، والحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وعلى آله وصحبه ومن والاه…
Wa’alaykums Salaam, waRahmatullahi, waBarakaatuh –
May Allah bless you for writing in.
Islam, Alhamdulillah, is a religion of balance, with all guidance being firmly upon that which constitutes the ‘middle way’.
Allah Almighty says in His book (2: 143):
“Thus We have made a just nation (upon the middle way, with no extremes), that you be witnesses over mankind, and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you”.
Imam alBaghawi, (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), narrated in his commentary of this verse, that al-Kalbi said: ‘Wasatan’ means the followers of the middle religion; one that represents a middle path between exaggeration and negligence, because both are blameworthy in the matter of religion” (Sourse: Tafseer alBaghawi (1/122).
Ibn Al-Qayyim, (may Allah shower His mercy on him), said, “Verily, the Sharia is founded upon wisdom and welfare for the servants in this life and the afterlife. In its entirety it is justice, mercy, benefit, and wisdom. Every matter which abandons justice for tyranny, mercy for cruelty, benefit for corruption, and wisdom for foolishness is not a part of the Sharia even if it was introduced therein by an interpretation.” (Source: I’laam al-Muwaqqi’een 3/11).
In light of this introduction; the following points offer guidance in relation to your query:
1. Allah Almighty uses different people as a means for one another, sometimes Muslims, sometimes non-Muslims, and sometimes Muslims and non-Muslims together. This is a universal law that has existed since ever with regards to mankind, especially given that Allah Almighty has placed us in inter-dependent communities.
2. It is from the values of Islam to acknowledge the praiseworthy actions of others towards us. In fact, Islam has commanded us towards being just, and this includes showing gratitude and recognising kindness, and has made it a means of appropriately showing gratitude to Allah Almighty, even if the assistance and praiseworthy act stemmed from a non-Muslim.
Allah Almighty says in His book (5:8):
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.”.
Accordingly, the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said in an authentic narration:
“He has not thanked Allah who has not thanked the people.” (Source: Sunan Abi Dawood 4811).
3. Acknowledgement of someone’s kind action towards us, or of their good qualities, does not necessitate endorsement of the person (Waaqif – واقف), but rather an endorsement and recognition of their kindness alone (Mawqif – موقف). One does not necessarily necessitate the other.
In fact staying the praiseworthy qualities of people of other faiths is not strange to Islam, as we find in the following authentic narration:
Al-Mustawrid reported: He said in front of Amr ibn al-‘As that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “The Hour will be established while the Romans are the majority of people.” Amr said, “Be careful what you say.” He said, “I have said what I heard from the Messenger of Allah.” Amr said, “If the Prophet said that, indeed, there are four good qualities in them: they are the most forbearing of people in tribulation, they are the quickest to recover after a calamity, they are the most eager to return after a retreat, and they are good to the poor, the orphan, and the vulnerable. Their fifth quality is good and beautiful: they are the best at stopping the oppression of their kings.” (Source: Saheeh Muslim 2898).
4. A Muslim who acknowledges the kindness of others towards him/her will be rewarded appropriately for their actions, as doing so is from following the instructions of the final Messenger (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and from good character.
The Messenger (Sallallahu Alyahi Wasallam) said in an acceptable narration:
“Whoever is given a favor should repay it, but if you cannot find anything, then make a supplication for the one who favored you so that he knows you have repaid him”.
(Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 216).
And in an authentic narration, He (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Nothing is heavier upon the scale of the believer on the Day of Resurrection than his good character. Verily, Allah hates the vulgar, obscene person.” (Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2002).
Finally, it is important to always realise that wisdom is the best provision of a believer. The Messenger (Sallallahu Alyhi Wasallam) said in an acceptable narration:
“The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer. Wherever he finds it, then he is most deserving of it.” (Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2687).
In light of this; My teacher, Sheikh Ja’far Idris advises, as narrated to me via his son, Sheikh Yusuf Idris, that it is important for Muslims (in Muslim minorities) not to behave with the presiding leadership as opposition parties behave with each other, whereby the entire focus is settled upon the mistakes and errors of those in charge.
This advice is pertinent, as the ‘middle way’ truly entails calling out harmful errors, if any, with the appropiate manners; as well as acknowledgement of all goodness and benefit, when they are carried out.
Also; the Muslim ummah (nation) is a nation of pro-activeness, and not reactiveness. Yes, there may be times when a reaction is needed, but being reactive should not be the norm of our modus-operandi.
Thus, at this time, rather than being reactive, and reminding those who spoke negatively about immigration in the past, for example; we should be pro-active, and acknowledge their new statement of “They are us!” and support them doing everything required with the media and the establishment to ensure the meanings of that statement lives on and becomes the status-quo. For transformative change to happen; we must be part of the solution.
Finally, In light of the Christchurch tragedy; the New Zealand leadership did not have to open parliament raising the name and words of Allah Almighty. They did not have to broadcast the athaan, and the entire Jumuah proceedings on their national radio and TV channel. They did not have to announce a national effort related to the headscarf. They did not have to run an emergency effort to culturally educate their security personnel about Islamic phrases and religious sensitivities. They did not have to quote the prophetic tradition in their public address, etc.
These actions are worthy of acknowledgement, and because of them; we should share a heartfelt gratitude for them, in our quest to praise and thank Allah Almighty.
And Allah knows best.