From the book: Maariful Quran
By: Maulana Muhammed Shafi Usmani
Volume 4, Page 493
Surah Taubah, Commentary of Verse 122
The essential duty of Alim after he acquires the knowledge of Din
Holy Qur’an has put the essential duty of an Alim (Islamic Scholar) in one single sentence: “so that they may warn their people (against the disobedience of Allah).” At this place as well, it is worth attention that the sentence has identified “the warning of a people” as a duty of the Alim. The Arabic word: (indhar) is usually translated into English as warning in the sense of putting the fear of something into someone, though it still does not convey the ultimate sense in full. The truth of the matter is that such warning or putting the fear of what must be avoided can take many forms. For instance, one may warn against an enemy, thief, robber or some beast or poisonous creeper. Secondly, there is the kind of warning a father would give, out of his affection and concern for his children, against things that hurt, like the fire, poisonous insects and unhealthy food. This is based on love, and on the desire to protect which has a special tone and temper, totally different from the former.
Indhar is the name of warning given in that manner and with that motive. Therefore, prophets and messengers of Allah have been given the title of (nadhir: one who warns) and this duty of warning people assigned to the Alim is really nothing but a part of the legacy left by prophets which, according to the binding authority of Hadith, the Alim inherits.
At this point, we may also wish to consider that the blessed prophets are known by two appellations: Bashir and Nadhir. You already know the meaning of nadhir (warner) from the preceding discussion. Bashir means one who gives basharah, that is, good news or glad tidings. It is a part of the mission of blessed prophets that they give glad tidings to those who act righteously. Though, at this place too, what has been mentioned is Indhar or warning explicitly, yet, other textual imperatives show that it is also the duty of an Alim that he should give good news of rewards too for those who do good deeds. Now that the mention of indhar (warning) has been considered sufficient at this place has its reason. Actually, it indicates that man is charged with two things. One: that he elects to do what is beneficial for him in this world and in the world to come. Two: that he avoids doing things likely to bring harm to him. People of learning and people of wisdom both agree that the latter of the two has the higher priority. In the terminology of Muslim jurists, this is known as ‘bringing benefit’ and ‘repelling harm’ and the latter has been given precedence to the former. In addition to that, when harm is repelled, it serves the purpose of bringing benefit in its own way, because if someone abandons what is beneficial and necessary for him, it brings harm. Given this situation, whoever makes the effort to stay safe from the harmful effects of bad deeds, will also make the effort not to abandon what one must do necessarily.
From here we also learn the main reason why religious sermons and acts of dawah generally remain ineffective in our time. We have seen a glimpse of the cardinal etiquette (Adab-e-Dil) of indhar or warning, as given above. Contemporary sermons and acts of dawah seem to miss the manners, something that would exude care, concern, attachment, mercy and the earnest wish to give out what is really good for the listeners, not only in words but through the style of address and the empathy of tone and diction as well. It would be wonderful if the addressee comes to believe that the things the speaker is saying do not aim at disgracing him or settling scores against him, in fact, this person is telling me what he thinks is good and beneficial for me just out of love. If the tabligh we do today or the dawah we carry to correct people who violate commandments of the Shariah were to adopt this pattern of behavior, it is absolutely certain that it will bring forth at least one immediate response: the addressees will not be apprehensive, irritated, dogmatic or obstinate about our submission. They would not worry about confronting us. Everyone would, rather, become attuned to himself and start sorting out his own doings and thinking about what was going to happen to him. And if this effort continues, the time is to come, sooner or later, when such a person will be even willing to accept what had been presented before him. The second outcome of this attitude is that it will not, at least, generate mutual hatred and altercation, something which holds contemporary Muslims in its grips.
In the end, by saying: (that they may be cautious), it was also indicated that the duty of an Alim was not simply limited to putting the fear of Allah’s punishment in the hearts of people. Instead, he also has to watch and assess the extent and measure of the effect generated by his tabligh and dawah. May be it did not work the first time. If so, let him do it again and again, until he sees its result: with his own eyes, which means that his people have become cautious and have started staying away from sins. Allah knows best.