The middle course in relation to sinners is to regard them as believers despite their iniquities, and not to cast them out of the fold of Islam as renegades. Kufr (disbelief) and nifaaq (hypocrisy) mentioned in some texts – like fighting a believer (Sahih Al-Bukhary) and to judge by what Allah has not revealed (al-Maa’idah, 5:44) are catalogued as kufr; and lying, breaking of promise, betraying of covenant, or impudence and abusiveness during a quarrel are described as nifaaq – the culprits in these cases should be sheltered within the Hadeeth which says: “Whoever prays the way we do, faces our qilblah, and eats of our slaughtered animals is a Muslim, and is under the protection of Allah and His Apostle. Therefore, do not betray Allah by betraying those who are under His protection”. (Sahih Al-Bukhary) Sinners, doubtless, but they are, in the middle course of Islam, Muslims, provided they do not belie the message brought by Muhammad, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, or make lawful what Allah has forbidden.
Except where it involves shirk, sin, no matter how great, is not disbelief. The middle course in Islam, as regards sin, stands between laxity and extremity, hoping for the righteous among the mu’mineen that Allah will pardon them for their zunub and admit them into Aljannah by His Mercy; as for the sinners, including those who indulge in al-Kabaa’ir (major sins), it seeks forgiveness for them without raising their hopes or putting them in despair of Allah’s Grace. Indulgence in al-Kabaa’ir will not consign the sinners to an everlasting sojourn in Hell even where they die in iniquity before taubah, but affirming Allah’s Tauheed. They are under Allah’s Providence; He may forgive and relent towards them out of His Benevolence, (an-Nisaa, 4:116); or He may chastise them and then transfer them to Aljannah out of His Rahmah or through the intercession of His righteous servants.
To our leaders, the middle course is that we hearken and obey them in what does not constitute disobedience to the Creator; no rebellion or revolt against them; we neither plot to uproot their government nor make du’aa against them even when they are inequitable. As long as leaders remain within the limits imposed by Allah they are entitled to our fealty because in obedience to them there is obedience to Allah Almighty. “Whosoever obeys me,” said the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, “obeys Allah; and he who disobeys me, disobeys Allah; and whosoever obeys the Ameer (leader), in fact, obeys me; and who disobeys the Ameer, in fact, disobeys me”. (Al-Bukhary and Muslim). In another Hadeeth, he said, “Listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave whose head is like a raisin”, “maimed and disabled” (Sahih Muslim) “is placed in authority over you”. (Sahih Al-Bukhary). Also in the two Sahihs, Al-Bukhary and Muslim is another enjoinment: “It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen (to the ruler) and obey whether he likes it or not, except when he is ordered to do a sinful thing, in that case, there is no obligation to listen or to obey”.
Huzaifah bn Yamaan, may Allah be pleased with him, said that people were more inclined to ask the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, concerning the good, but as for him, he chose to inquire more about evil for fear of being overtaken by it. He asked if another evil would come after that of the period of ignorance. The Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, affirmed, in answer to the question, that “There will appear “Dakhan”, a vile band who will flout at my Sunnah and evade my guidance. You will behold them and disapprove of their actions”. Another evil, after this, “will be summoners on the entrance of Hell, and whoever answers their call shall be plunged in it”. These summoners to Hell, the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said “..will belong to us and speak our language”. The best a Muslim will do when they witness the advent of this evil is to stick to “the group of Muslims and their Leader”, in the absence of which one should avoid “all those different sects” (Al-Bukhary and Muslim).
In another tradition, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, admonished the sahabah, as if in a farewell sermon: “I counsel you to fear Allah (may He be glorified) and to give absolute obedience even if a slave becomes your leader. Verily, he among you who lives (long) will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Rashidite Caliphs – cling to them stubbornly…” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhy).
And finally on leadership, Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, related that the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever perceives anything that they dislike in their leader, they should be indulgent; as whoever deserts the main Muslim body even by a handspan will die the death of the time of ignorance”. (Sahih Al-Bukhary)
The middle course in the interaction among Muslims is through helping one another, not in sin and transgression but, in righteousness and Taqwa (Al-Maa’idah, 5:2). “Help your brother,” said the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, “whether he is an oppressor or is oppressed”. A man inquired: “O Messenger of Allah! I will help him when he is oppressed, but how can I help him when he is an oppressor”? He, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, “You can keep him from committing oppression. That will be your help to him”.
Allah has described the believers as “protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (At-Taubah, 9:71). In this connection, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said, “The similitude of the believers, in their mutual tenderness, compassion and sympathy, is that of one body. When one of the limbs suffers (any hurt), the whole body responds to it with insomnia and fever”; “…like (the bricks) of a building, each strengthens the other”. (Al-Bukhary and Muslim). It is on the basis of this comradeship that Allah adjured the faithful “to hold firmly to His Rope” and “not to be divided among” themselves (Aali ‘Imraan, 3:103); and that hablullaah, (the Rope of Allah), is the Glorious Qur’an. “In it is the chronicle of what happened before you, the information about what comes after you, and the judgement for what happens between you. It is, without jest, the Criterion (of right and wrong). Whoever … abandons it, Allah crushes them, and whoever seeks guidance from other than it has strayed from the even way…. Whoever speaks in accordance to its contents has uttered the truth…” (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhy).
There are quite a number of traditions where the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam underscored the essence of unity among the Ummah and avoidance of division. In a Hadeeth reported in Sahih Muslim he, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Verily, Allah likes three things and disapproves of three thingfor you. He likes that you worship Him Alone, associating no partners unto Him (in worship), and that you hold fast to the Rope of Allah and not to be divided among yourselves, and that you give good counsel to the leaders that Allah has given authority over you. He disapproves of irrelevant talk, excessive questioning and the squandering of wealth”.
The middle course in relating to non-Muslims is to demarcate those that are friendly with the Muslims from the ones that are not, especially those that waged war against the Muslims, who plundered and pillaged their substance, as well as committed genocide and desecrated holy places. But those who are peace-loving among non-Muslims, Islam’s middle course encourages Muslims to consort with them in ways that will engender mutual respect and understanding. “Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo ! Allah loveth the just dealers”. (Mumtahanah, 60:8).
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