Why we need the Haram Police
Let’s face it – we’re all sick of the Haram Police.
You know those guys that come along when you’re out and about just enjoying your time, and all of the sudden decide to tell you that whatever you’re doing is Haram.
Now, a lot has been said and rightfully so about the Haram police, whether it’s about their arrogance, aggression or the fact that many of them come across as self-righteous as though they are better than those they are advising. That’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to talk about the fact that we actually need the Haram police. Yes, I said it, we need the Haram Police, and it’s about time we start appreciating them.
Now when I say this I’m not talking about the rude, arrogant, self-righteous Haram police, that you’re probably thinking about. I’m talking about the need of having a group of people of good character who are knowledgeable and courageous enough to do the not-so-popular job of advising us right from wrong and enjoining the good and forbidding evil.
You see, such people are important – and it’s about time we stop writing such people off. Especially when Allah praises such people in the Quran.
And while many of us would love to believe that our sins are nobody else’s business and we’re only harming ourselves and only God can judge me, therefore everyone else should back off. That’s simply not true.
The fact of the matter is, our sins, whether we admit it or not, do well and truly affect those around us, and advising them to stop sinning, is not just to save them from harm but more importantly to save ourselves.
How do I know this? Let me explain by way of an analogy given by none other than Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself.
Imagine you are on a ship with an upper deck and lower deck with people occupying both floors. Now imagine for a second, that those in the lower deck have a wild idea to attain water by busting a hole in the bottom of the ship. It’s a stupid decision, I know. But what if those in the upper deck were to leave them alone? The fact is the cracks at the bottom of the ship will eventually lead to everyone being harmed and of course drowning. Regardless of whether or not they partook in the stupid decision.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allah and that of the man who transgresses them is like the people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them : ‘If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.’ If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe”.
And likewise, such as the example of those who sin in this life. While we may think that such sins don’t affect us, or aren’t any of our business. The fact is public sins, especially those which we can all agree on are clear-cut sinful – when they are performed in public and we do nothing about it – we are all thus exposed to harm, and we will be held accountable by Allah if we don’t do anything to stop them.
In fact, Allah in the Quran mentions that one of the reasons Bani Isra’il were cursed, was for their inability to advise their wrongdoers to stop their actions.
لُعِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَىٰ لِسَانِ دَاوُودَ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا وَّكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ
Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed.
كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَن مُّنكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ
They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing?
In another verse, Allah states:
لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ
Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided.
At first glance, this verse gives the impression that the actions of those around us won’t affect us so as long as we’ve been guided.
But when Abu Bakr Radi ‘Allahu Anhu heard this verse, he says no, you’ve got it misunderstood. For he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say in reference to this verse.
That “If the people see evil and they do not prohibit it, I fear Allah the Almighty will encompass them in His punishment”.
Musnad Ahmad (Sahih).
It’s scary, but this is the reality at the end of the day.
The Prophet ﷺ also stated in another narration:
والذي نفسي بيده لتأمرن بالمعروف، ولتنهون عن المنكر، أو ليوشكن الله أن يبعث عليكم عقابًا منه، ثم تدعونه فلا يستجاب لكم”
“By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted”.
Sunan Al-Tirmidhi (Hassan)
A clear-cut warning on the need of having people to enjoin good and forbid evil.
So while yes, we do have a problem with a branch of the Haram Police that are arrogant, self righteous and down right void of knowledge, at the end of the day we do need a group of people to do the job of advising others and of course in a manner that befits the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ with mercy, compassion and wisdom.
So the next time you think that the random friend advising you needs to mind his own business when you’re openly sinning in public, the fact of the matter is, public sins are our business because they affect each and everyone single one of us.