Islam is supposed to be simple and straightforward on matters of social organisation.
In Islam, there is no special class of advisers or a special privileged class of Muslims who are above reprimand. If there were, there would be a kind of priesthood in Islam.
In many books about Islam by Muslim and non-Muslim authors, this has been clearly stated. But in practice, it is not the case. Institutions are created in order to organise Muslim society. Certain people are named as “official advisers” while others are deemed irrelevant or unimportant.
What happens to people if they are not to be advised? They would never change.
Perhaps on judgment day, they would say: “O God, I have erred but no one advised me as I was of a class created by Muslims to be above all others.”
How do you think that kind of defence would fare in the Court of the Most High?
Those considered to be above reprimand or advice consider themselves to be right all the time. This is against the very notion of being human. Remember, to err is human and to forgive, divine.
There are no two ways about it. Even Prophet Muhammad himself erred in his decisions, such as during battles and on his domestic issues.
The Quran related an incident in which God reprimanded the Prophet. One day, the Prophet was in a conversation with Arab notables when a blind man came to ask him questions on Islam.
As the Prophet was busy with his discussion, he turned his back on the man. A revelation was sent down to him, reprimanding him for ignoring a soul looking for truth while the other tribal leaders were disinterested in that same truth.
What would happen to us if we refused to receive advice from others? We would probably never grow or improve.
There is a saying of the Prophet which states that when God asked a man why he had not advised his leaders, the man answered that he feared them. God then retorted: “Should you not fear Me, than man?”
A frequently read chapter in the Quran runs like this: “By Time. Indeed mankind is in loss. Except those who have believed and have done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”
Many of us who have sinned in this world and been punished for our deeds may not be punished again. But what about those who escape punishment in this world? There is no escaping divine justice.
Sometimes, friends ask me why I keep writing. My answer is that I do not wish to answer to Allah in the hereafter because I have done my part here.
There is a price to pay in carrying out the responsibility of advising. Many think that they can get to heaven through prayers, umrah and haj, charitable deeds and fasting.
Some who perform the responsibility of advising leaders have languished in prison. One day, those of us outside the prison will have to answer for our indifference when it comes to advising our leaders.
Worse are those who think they do not need any advice.
I think it is better to ask these questions now rather than later.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.