O people, take heed of the counsel God gave His friends when He rebuked the rabbis by saying,
“Why do their scholars and rabbis not forbid their sinful talk and consumption of what is forbidden Truly what they have done is evil’ (5:63).
Again God says:
‘Cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary, are those among the Children of Israel who have failed to believe on account of their rebellion and transgression. They did not prevent each other from committing vile and corrupt acts; what they did was abominable!’ (5:78-79).
God blamed and reproached them because they saw with their own eyes the oppressors committing vile and corrupt acts, but did not stop them, out of love for the income they received from them as well as fear of persecution and injury. However, God orders us to fear Him, not men, and He says:
The believing men and women are friends and protectors to each other; they enjoin the good and forbid the evil. (9:71).
We see that in this verse, in the course of enumerating the attributes of the believers, the attributes that indicate mutual affection, solicitude and the desire to guide each other, God begins with enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, considering this the prime duty.
For He knows that if this duty is performed and is established within society, performance of all other duties will follow, from the easiest to the most difficult.
The reason for this is that enjoining the good and forbidding the evil means summoning people to Islam, which is a struggle to establish correct belief in the face of external opposition, while at the same time vindicating the rights of the oppressed; opposing and struggling against oppressors within the community; and endeavouring to ensure that public wealth and the income derived from war are distributed in accordance with the just laws of Islam, and that taxes are collected, levied, and expended in due and proper form.
O scholars, you who are celebrated and enjoy good repute on account of your learning! You have achieved fame in society because of your devotion, the good counsel you impart, and the guidance you dispense. It is on account of God that men venerate and stand in awe of you, so that even the Powerful fear you and feel compelled to rise respectfully before you, and men who are not subject to you and over whom you hold no authority willingly regard themselves as your subordinates and grant you favours they deny themselves.
When the people do not receive their due from the public treasury, you intervene and act with the awesomeness and imperiousness of monarchs and the stature of the great. Have you not earned all these forms of respect and prestige because of men’s hopes that you will implement God’s laws, even though in most instances you have failed to do so?
You have failed to enforce most of the rights you were entrusted to preserve. You have neglected the rights of the oppressed and the lowly, squandered the rights of the weak and the powerless, but pursued assiduously what you regard as your personal rights. You have not spent your money or risked your lives for the sake of the One who gave you life, nor have you fought against any group or tribe for be sake of God.
You desire, and regard it as your due, that He should want you paradise, the company of the Prophet, and security from hellfire in the hereafter. You who have such expectations of God, I fear that the full weight of His wrath will descend upon you, for although it is by His might and glory that you have achieved high rank, you show no respect to those who truly know God and wish to disseminate their knowledge while you yourselves enjoy respect among God’s bondsmen on His account.
I am also afraid for you for another reason: you see the covenants enacted with God being violated and trampled underfoot, yet you show no anxiety. When it comes to the covenants enacted with your fathers, you become greatly disturbed and anxious if they are only violated in part, but the pledges you have given to the Most Noble Messenger are a matter of complete indifference to you.
The blind, the dumb, and the chronically sick everywhere lack protectors and no mercy is shown them. You do not behave in accordance with your function and rank, nor do you support or pay any regard to those who do so behave and who strive to promote the standing of the religious scholars. You purchase your safety from the oppressive ruling powers with flattery, cajolery, and compromise.
All these activities have been forbidden-you by God, and He has, more over, commanded you to forbid each other to engage in them, but you pay no attention. The disaster that has befallen you is greater than what has befallen others, for the true rank and degree of ‘ulama’ has been taken away from you.
The administration of the country, the issuing of judicial decrees, and the approving of legislative programmes should actually be entrusted to religious scholars who are guardians of the rights of God and knowledgeable about God’s ordinances concerning what is permitted and what is forbidden. But your position has been usurped from you, for no other reason than that you have abandoned the pivot of truth, the law of Islam and God’s decree, and have disagreed about the nature of the Sunnah, despite the existence of clear proofs.
If you were true men, strong in the face of torture and suffering and prepared to endure hardship for God’s sake, then all proposed regulations would be brought to you for your approval and for you to issue; authority would lie in your hands.
But you allowed the oppressors to take away your functions and permitted government, which is supposed to be regulated by the provisions of the Shari’ah, to fall into their hands, so that they administer it on the shaky basis of their own conjectures and suppositions and make arbitrariness and the satisfaction of lust their consistent practice.
What enabled them to gain control of government was your fleeing in panic from being killed, your attachment to the transitory life of this world. With that mentality and the conduct it inspires, you have delivered the powerless masses into the clutches of the oppressors. While some cringe like slaves under the blows of the oppressors, and others search in misery and desperation for bread and water, the rulers are entirely absorbed in the pleasures of kingship, earning shame and disgrace for themselves with their licentiousness following evil counselling, and showing impudence toward God. One of their appointed spokesmen mounts the minbar in each city.
The soil of the homeland is defenceless before them, and they grab freely whatever they want of it. The people are their slaves and are powerless to defend themselves. One ruler is a dictator by nature, malevolent and rancorous; another represses his wretched subjects ruthlessly plundering by imposing on them all kinds of burdens; and still another refuses in his absolutism to recognize either God or the Day of Judgment!
Is it not strange, how can one not think it strange, that society is in the clutches of a cunning oppressor whose tax collectors are oppressors and whose governors feel no compassion or mercy toward the believers under their rule?
It is God Who will judge concerning what is at dispute among us and deliver a decisive verdict concerning all that occurs among us.
O God! You know that everything we did was not prompted by rivalry for political power, nor by a search for wealth and abundance; rather it was done in order to demonstrate to men the shinning principles and values of Your religion, to reform the affairs of your land, to protect and secure the indisputable rights of Your oppressed servants, and to act in accordance with the duties You have established and the norms, laws, and ordinances You have decreed.
So, O scholars of religion! You are to help us reach this goal, win back our rights from those powers who have considered it acceptable to wrong You and who have attempted to put out the light kindled by your Prophet. God the One suffices us, upon Him do we rely, to Him do we turn, in His hands lies our fate, and to Him shall we return.