“We should be talking about more important things!” No matter what topic I (or my brothers and sisters in da’wah) speak about, this is the typical response.
I think on this now because a friend of mine recently sent me a post where a Muslim called the topic of homosexuality “stupid” to be concerned about, even if the concern is the normalization and acceptance of it amongst Muslims. This person claimed (based on statistics) that there are “more important” things to be concerned about, as the percentage of Muslims who approve of this sexual sin is “negligible” and no Muslim scholar says it’s okay.
As if we are excused from commanding the good and forbidding the evil by looking at statistical research percentages and Islamic scholars’ attitudes on a topic.
As if Allah removes the responsibility for calling to Him if we can rationalize that “not enough people are going astray yet.”
As if even a single lost soul is insignificant to Allah such that we can accost and harass the believers who care about him and call them “stupid” for seeing this person’s soul as important at all.
And as if speaking about one topic means we don’t (or won’t) speak about other topics as well.
Every Soul Has the Right To Guidance
The other day I was reading the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), peace be upon him, and one part of the narration really hit my heart. The author said that part of the wisdom of Allah placing Prophet Yusuf in the prison all those years was to call those prisoners to the worship of Allah, and the author said, “…because every soul has the right to guidance.”
Imagine if we as Muslims sincerely believed that every soul has the right to guidance. Would it then be possible to ever claim that there are more important things to discuss when someone is helping lost souls toward right guidance, and commanding the good and forbidding the evil?
What Does Islam Teach Us?
Allah says what has been translated to mean, “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah…” (Ali ‘Imraan, 3:110).
The Companion Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith” [Muslim].
Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t say, “When you see enough evil to be concerned about based on statistics and your rationale…”
So why are we saying this?
If you don’t see something as evil, then there’s nothing for you to do about it. But if you do recognize something as evil, why are you attacking the one removing the evil, instead of attacking the evil itself?
Stop Shaming Believers for Fearing Allah
This tactic of shaming and humiliating believers for fearing for their souls and speaking the truth for the sake of Allah is unfortunately becoming widespread in many Muslim circles. Sometimes it’s couched in “We need to be concerned about more important things!” and sometimes, it is displayed as unabashed arrogance and cruelty—like the post I saw calling the entire Muslim concern about homosexuality “stupid.”
This is not only disrespecting believers. It is also disrespecting Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), implying that Allah spent time in His Book (via the story of Prophet Lut, peace be upon him) discussing something “stupid,” and that any hadith on this topic were time wasters that the Prophet should have been spent on “more important things.”
I’ve seen this “commanding the evil and forbidding the good” very often over the years, sometimes even from those who consider themselves imams, sheikhs, and Islamic teachers.
It’s so sad.
For the believer, we don’t turn away from speaking up against falsehood just because the falsehood hasn’t reached a certain statistical percentage (in our flawed human perception)—or just because you decide that a topic isn’t important.
You Could Simply Be Quiet
Here’s my advice: If you think a topic is “stupid” to address, then don’t address it. Simple as that. But to speak about the topic and then target all your criticism toward those fulfilling their duty in front of Allah is a dhulm (a wrongdoing) in itself.
So please don’t be the one who speaks up only to tell others to shut up—under the guise of telling them to get their priorities straight. Yes, priorities are important, but ours should never include disregarding someone else’s.
You are not Allah. Therefore, you don’t know what He wants most from someone else right now. Dismissing others’ concerns by telling them what they should be concerned about isn’t da’wah, and it isn’t activism. It’s narcissism.
We will never have a loving, united ummah until we learn to listen with our hearts—even to issues that we don’t understand or think are important. That it matters to someone you love (i.e. a believer) should be enough to make it matter to you—that is, if you truly love them for the sake of Allah.
But if the topic really doesn’t matter to you, then keep quiet about it and focus on what does. It really isn’t that complicated.
By speaking up and saying that someone else’s spiritual concern doesn’t matter is really just another way of saying that they don’t matter. And all souls matter to Allah. Thus, they should matter to you—if you have your priorities straight.
We Are One Body
The ummah is one body. If one part of it hurts, the rest hurts. We often think this concerns only the harm that others inflict on us. But it also concerns the harm we inflict on ourselves—intentionally or unintentionally. Just as with your physical body, you cannot wound one part of it and imagine that the other parts have no “right” to feel hurt.
So let’s stop hurting each other in these “priority popularity contests,” wherein we micromanage how much emotional and spiritual pain someone else should be feeling. Then we hop online or in front of a microphone to let the Muslim world know that only our concerns are real concerns.
You have your priorities. Others have theirs. You have your pain, and others have theirs. No priority is insignificant, and no pain is insignificant. If something is troubling or hurting someone, this isn’t because they’re “stupid” or because they can’t get their priorities straight. It’s because what is happening actually hurts them—and others—even if it doesn’t faze you.
Pain isn’t a choice. It’s a natural response to being hurt. And when we are hurt, we have not only the right, but the obligation to seek healing.
If you can’t offer that healing, that is fine. No human can do it all. But to tell someone that they shouldn’t even be seeking healing is not only a dhulm, but it is also a sign that something is wrong with the “spiritual nerves” in our own heart and soul.
Our emaan is like the nerves in the human body. The stronger and healthier they are, the more we feel when something is wrong. The weaker and less functional they are, the less we feel when something is wrong. Continuous sin and wrongdoing—and our collective approval of it, whether in the name of political gain, individual choice, or even “Let’s focus on more important things!”—causes long term “nerve damage.”
That’s why so many of us don’t feel anymore. And we can actually spend more time arguing about whether or not these feelings should exist than finding ways to seek healing.
When’s the Right Time To Prioritize Our Souls?
When I hear Muslims trivializing the spiritual concerns and da’wah of others, I wonder what is going on with us.
I mean, what could possibly be more important than obeying Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). And if this topic is not important right now—before our souls are taken and we’re in the grave—then when exactly is the right time?
When exactly is the right time to talk about the importance of avoiding shirk and misguidance?
About the necessity of praying five times a day?
About lowering our gazes?
About avoiding forbidden relationships?
About the danger of normalizing homosexuality?
About the importance of wearing hijab?
About the need to guard our tongues—or any other topic that helps us go to Paradise?
Or is your focus on going someplace else?
Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of twenty books, including the If I Should Speak trilogy, Muslim Girl, and His Other Wife. In 2019, she launched UZ Soul Gear, a passion project fueled by her love of both art and inspirational reflections. UZSoulGear.com offers apparel, wall décor, and more, aimed at supporting and inspiring the soul-centered lifestyle.
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