When we enjoin good and forbid evil, it is common to encounter excuses from the ones who we are advising. Excuse is a kind of defense mechanism people use when confronted with the truth. In this article, I have listed ten most common excuses we usually come across while giving Islamic advice, and explained in detail how you can refute each of these excuses.
01. You are being judgmental
“You are being judgmental” is the most common excuse of our time, especially in online discussions. I am not saying here in any way that we never come across as judgmental. Sometimes we do. However, the opposite is also true. Sometimes, as soon as we give advice, ‘do not judge me’ is hurled out, and the recipients of our advice wrongly assume that we were trying to prove ourselves better than them.
Although ‘don’t judge me’ and the other variants of this excuse can be startling for the advice giver, there are many easy rebuttals of this excuse:
First, when someone says “you are being judgmental” to the advice giver, he also ends up judging the intention of the advice giver. May be the advice giver was sincere and did not mean to judge. May be the advice giver has yet to attain some maturity in terms of how to give advice. Why not give the advice giver some benefit of doubt? Why do you immediately judge his intention?
Second, focus on what the advice is about, not on how it is given or who has given it.
02. My heart is pure
I am sure you have heard excuses in the following lines:
“I do not cover my hair but my heart is pure.”
“I am more spiritual than ritualistic.”
“I talk with girls but I keep my heart pure. Mental hijab is far more important than physical hijab.”
The rebuttals of such claims are also very easy:
First, when Allah revealed the laws of Islam, He revealed both the spirit of law and the letter of law. The spirit and the letter of law are not separable. For example, if someone does not fast but claims to have attained the spiritual high like a fasting person, no one would believe him. Everyone knows that the spiritual high of fasting is not attainable without abstaining from food and intimacy. At the same time, if the spirit is not observed, following the letter of law alone does not help much either. For example, if someone fasts, but engages in backbiting or sees lewd things while fasting, he will not benefit from his fasting at all. The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink.”[Bukhari]
For those who claim to have pure hearts and spiritual nature, but do not comply with the letter of Sharia, they neither have pure hearts nor possess spirituality. As it has been demonstrated, spirituality cannot be separated from the letter of law. One cannot be achieved without the other. Without spirit, the letter of law becomes meaningless rituals. Without the letter of law, spirituality is nothing but wishful whims and desires. Allah has always coupled belief with good deeds in the Quran:
Second, no one can claim to have a purer heart than that of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Yet he (ﷺ) was the most meticulous in following the letter of each and every law of Islam.
Third, to cleanse the heart, one needs to do something. We study to pass exams. We sweep the floor to clean our houses. Similarly, to cleanse the heart, one must worship Allah, in the way it has been prescribed and shown by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
Fourth, it is possible to have an inner state that is rebellious to the teachings of Islam, but the outer state or appearance may conceal it. For example, the hypocrites during the time of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would pray in the mosque, but they had disbelief in their hearts. However, if the inner state is pure and conforms to the teachings of Islam, then it is impossible for the outer state or appearance to contradict the inner state. It is because inner transgression is easy to veil. For example, if someone does not transgress Allah in private, do you think he will disobey Allah in public? Similarly, if the heart obeys Allah, which is a private affair between Allah and the heart alone, then how is it possible for the outer appearance, which is visible to public, to disobey Allah?
Additionally, claim of possessing a pure heart is a very high level of praise, and even the companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would not dare to shower them with such praise. Omar ibn Al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه) would often ask Hudhayfa ibn Al-Yaman (رضى الله عنه), whom the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had vouchsafed the names of hypocrites, “Tell me O Hudhayfa! Am I among the hypocrites?” Hudhayfa (رضى الله عنه) would reply, “By Allah! No.” If Omar ibn Al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه) could not ascertain the purity of his heart, even though Shaytan would flee from him seeing his sincerity, how can we so easily claim that we have pure, spiritual hearts? Undoubtedly, such self-praise is the first step towards deviation.
03. I am not married
Last year mashaAllah a young, handsome, unmarried brother from Algeria had joined our company. Since Doha is very close to the holy city of Makkah, and the brother also earns a good salary, I suggested him that he finishes off his obligation of hajj.
“Go for hajj brother.”
“But I am not married.”
“So what? Did Allah make marriage a condition for hajj?”
The young Muslims of our time often harbor a dream where they imagine of reaching a spiritual utopia instantly after getting married. They dream of praying tahajjud, studying Arabic, learning beneficial knowledge, and doing hajj together with their spouse. They dream of waking their spouse for fajr prayer. These dreams are beautiful, but there are two problems when we focus too much on the dream and forget the reality. First, marriage is not a condition for doing acts of worship. We do not need a spouse to do hajj, pray tahajjud or fajr, and learn beneficial knowledge and Arabic. If an act of worship is obligatory, like praying fajr or doing hajj, then neglecting it using the excuse of not having a spouse is sinful. Second, there is a difference between dream and wishful thinking. Dream is something that you work for. Wishful thinking means you wish to get something miraculously without doing any work for it. For anyone who dreams of reaching a spiritual idealism right after marriage but does not prepare himself or herself while he or she is unmarried, that idealism will probably never become a reality. If you have never waked up for fajr, how can you think that marriage will suddenly make waking up for fajr your second nature? Performing any act of worship requires patience and practice, not marriage. Marriage is half of the deen. Half + Half = One. This is a simple equation. Therefore, each spouse must prepare his half or her half prior to marriage.
04. InShaAllah….make dua for me!
This excuse is given by those who procrastinate or who try to shy away from the advice given to them. There is a brother who rarely prays, and sometimes when I see him, I try to gently remind him the importance of prayer. Majority of the time he replies in the following lines:
“InShaAllah brother inShaAllah, make dua for me!”
One day I confronted him.
“Brother, inShaAllah I will make dua for you. But please tell me why you are working here. You didn’t just make dua and say InShaAllah and sit in your house expecting the salary to fall from the heaven, did you?”
The brother laughed it off.
The excuses of ‘Inshallah’ and ‘make dua for me’ have two problematic areas. Whenever someone gives excuses in these lines after you advise them, explain these problem areas:
First, dua alone cannot solve problems unless dua is associated with sincere intention to change, and Allah knows our intentions. If someone is exerting every possible effort for worldly matters, but uses ‘make dua for me’ to excuse him from religious obligations, then the intention to change is missing clearly. In such circumstance, the need for sincere intention should be explained.
Second, the word inShallah (if Allah wills) has some etiquette of usage attached with it. When someone says, “I will do it inShaAllah,” in factual sense, the phrase would mean that he is determined to do it unless Allah decrees otherwise, something that is beyond his control. However, if someone says “I will do it inShaAllah” and means that he will never do it, then it is as if he is using the Decree of Allah to hide his intention to never do it, and it is an abuse of the word inShaAllah. Muslims are not supposed to play with words, let alone religious words. Allah instructed us:
05. Religion is personal matter
Many years ago my father once advised a relative of his to pray. And he answered that religion was his personal affair.
This notion that religious is personal business was invented by secularists, who wanted to seclude religion into personal lives. Unfortunately, many modernist Muslims have picked it up and use it as an excuse to shy away from religious obligations.
If someone says that religion is a personal matter, simply put the following counter questions:
If the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) were here, and gave you the same advice I have given you, would you tell him that religion is personal business?
If the religion was a personal matter, why did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) go out and spread Islam?
If the religion was personal matter, why did Allah command us to enjoin good and forbid evil?
In a nutshell, statement that religion is personal matter is in complete contrary to Islam. It defeats the whole purpose of Islam. Islam is not a personal matter. It is the deen of Allah, and Allah will make His deen manifest even if the haters do not like it:
06. Brother you are too extreme, I am a moderate Muslim
Some Muslims have unfortunately misunderstood the definition of moderation or the middle path. Shaykh Kamal El Mekki has given a proper definition of the middle way. In one of his lectures, he asked, who is in the middle? Obviously, the answer is the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). He was not extreme and his noble sunnah is the middle way.
Therefore, when someone accuses you of extremism, judge the accusation in the light of the sunnah of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and see if the accusation holds or not.
“Son, why are you growing beards now? You are a young man. We do not want any extremism in our house.”
“What is the problem with shaking hands with non-mahram women? It is not that I am shaking their hands with desire. I think you are being extreme here.”
Let’s analyze these cases in the yardstick of sunnah. Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) grow bread? He (ﷺ) did. Therefore, growing beard is not extremism. It is the middle way. Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ever shake hands with non-mahram women? He (ﷺ) did not. Therefore, refusing to shake hands with non-mahram women is not extremism. Rather, it is the middle way. It is the best example.
Muslims should be careful about the label of extremism. Extremism and the middle way have been clearly defined by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). If someone agrees with ‘extremism’ as defined by the West, the definition which basically aims to eliminate the laws of Islam all together, he may accuse the examples of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as extreme, and we seek refuge with Allah from ever using derogatory terms like ‘extreme’ to label the examples of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), who left for us the best examples to follow. Allah said:
07. Allah is All forgiving, the Most Merciful
This is another of the most common excuses.
“Brother, do not listen to music.”
“Brother, Allah is All Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
That Allah is All Forgiving and the Most Merciful is a factual statement. However, when this factual statement is used as an excuse to shy away from religious obligations, this becomes a statement of arrogance.
Because although Allah is All Forgiving and the Most Merciful, can anyone force Allah to show mercy or grant forgiveness? The answer is NO. No one can force Allah to do anything. Allah alone decides whether He will forgive or punish a transgressor. No one can have any say in this regard. Therefore, when someone continually transgresses the limits of Allah, and at the same time consoles him by saying that Allah is All Forgiving and the Most Merciful, his statement implicitly implies that Allah is bound to forgive him, whereas Allah is free from any obligation. And this is how a factual statement becomes a statement of arrogance, and this is how Shaytaan tricks human beings.
Allah has said in the Quran:
Allah also said:
To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it. Then He will forgive whom He wills and punish whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent. [The Noble Quran 2:284]
Like Allah mentioned that He is infinitely merciful, He also mentioned that He is the most severe in punishment. Therefore, for those who only focus on the Mercy of Allah and use the Mercy of Allah as an excuse to commit sins, they only fool themselves by consciously losing sight of Allah’s severe punishment, and by forgetting the fact that no one can force Allah to show mercy and grant forgiveness.
08. Trade off mentality/False consolation
“I do not pray five times a day, but I pray jumuah.”
“I do not cover my hair, but I dress moderately.”
This category of excuses contains elements of trade off mentality and false consolation.
Does jumuah compensate for the five daily prayers? There is no such compensation system in Islam. If you pray jumuah, you will be rewarded, but you would still be a disobedient slave for missing the daily prayers.
Similarly, dressing moderately does not compensate for keeping your hair uncovered. One may have mountains of good deeds, but a sin still remains a sin.
If you use your good deeds as a consolation for your failure in other areas, then know that such consolation is coming from the Shaytaan. If Allah asks you on the Day of Judgment for your certain shortcomings, will you be able to defend yourself by saying, “But at least I did such and such”?
So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. [The Noble Quran 2:85]
09. Religious people do evil………..
Except for the prophets and the messengers of Allah, no one can immaculately represent the religion in the real life. We live in an imperfect world. Therefore, it is only natural that our practical realization of religious teachings and ideals will fall short of the expected standard. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“All the sons of Adam are sinners and the best among the sinners are those who repent.” (Ahmad and others)
Since the religious people are also from the progeny of Adam, they are also sinners. They are not angels. However, using the transgressions of religious people to shy away from performing the obligations of religion is nothing but foolish.
“I have seen hijabi sisters with boyfriends.”
“I have seen shaykhs who are womanizers.”
If you do not wear hijab because you found hijabi sisters doing evil things under their veil, simply wear hijab and do not do the evil deeds they do. If you do not pray because you have found some shaykhs to be womanizers, simply pray and do not be a womanizer.
Ask yourself: Before Allah on the Day of Judgment, can you use the transgression of other Muslims as an excuse for your failure to obey the commands of Sharia? If the answer is no, why do you fool yourself with the excuse of ‘religious people do evil things’?
Moreover, your ultimate role model is the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Look upto him (ﷺ) and his companions as your role model, and the sins of religious people will not confuse you.
10. This is sunnah only
This is an excuse that should move us.
The hypocrites of Madinah first came up with this excuse. Whenever the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would command the Muslims to do something, the hypocrites would first ask if the command was from Allah or from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). If they found that the command was from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), they would abandon the command.
The companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) were ever swift in following the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). They were actually literal in following the sunnah of the noble Messenger (ﷺ). One day the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) asked his companions to sit down. A companion was at the door of Prophet’s Mosque. As soon has he heard the Prophet (ﷺ)’s command, he sat down. He did not take a step further to sit inside the mosque. He sat down at the door.
Our relationship with the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) should be emotional. How much we love him, respect him, and cherish him is directly linked with how much we follow his sunnah. Deeply thinking, if you do not follow the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), whether you like it or not, you indirectly show arrogance and make a statement that your way is better than the way of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
Take the example of eating and drinking with left hand. It is widely prevalent among the Muslims now. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) never ate or drank with his left hand. Why do some Muslims eat and drink with left hands despite being reminded and ignore the sunnah? Aren’t they refusing to sacrifice their ego to obey the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and making a statement that their way is better?
Allah has exhorted numerous times in the Quran to obey His noble Messenger:
It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error. [The Noble Quran 33:36]
But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. [The Noble Quran 4:65]
We also need to think from another perspective. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) dedicated his life to save us from the Fire of Hell. Whenever he saw someone upon misguidance, out of his genuine fear for what might befall from the punishment of Allah upon that person, he (ﷺ) would be grieved deeply. Allah has recorded His Messenger (ﷺ)’s genuine concern for his nation in the Quran:
Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad SAW) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad SAW) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he SAW is) full of pity, kind, and merciful. [The Noble Quran 9:128]
It is thus fitting that Allah has prepared severe punishment for anyone who puts his ego over obedience to His Messenger (ﷺ):
And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination. [The Noble Quran 4:115]
O Allah! Make us among those who accept the truth as soon as it is presented without any excuse. Ameen!