Question: After the verse meaning, “Pursue what is exactly right, as you are commanded…” (Hud 11:112), believers are told not to incline towards the wrongdoers in the least. What are the lessons to be drawn from these verses?
Answer: God Almighty commands all believers to pursue that which is right in the character of the Prophet. Therefore, we are supposed to understand this verse as, “O believers, pursue what is right as you are commanded…”
The Wisdom in Singular and Plural Forms
The meaning of this verse contains a compliment and praise for the noble Prophet at the same time. It is as if God Almighty strokes the head of His Messenger and commands him to be perfectly upright. This resembles a situation of a good child being complimented by his teacher, who wishes for him to keep up the good behavior he always displays. Otherwise, it would definitely be a mistake to think that there was something wrong with the beloved Prophet and that God called him to strive towards what is right. In my opinion, the verse holds no implications in this sense whatsoever, because all feelings, thoughts, and actions of the Messenger of God were perfectly upright at all times. Therefore, the verse in question suggests the meaning, “Keep on pursuing what is right, as you have always done.” The decree to strive towards the righteous path is used in the singular imperative form in Arabic. The next command meaning, “…and do not rebel against the bounds of the Straight Path” is used in the plural imperative form and this also seems to support our point. When this verse and several similar verses are studied, one can derive from them, that the commands about being good are used as singular imperative sentences directly addressing the noble Prophet, whereas those forbidding transgression are in plural form. Based on this notion, we can infer that the real command is to all the believers, but is addressed to the Messenger of God, for he is the best example for all.
In addition, there appears to be a fine point presented about the warning against inclining toward the wrongdoers, right after the command to pursue what is right; it is a warning against a gradual shift toward transgression and misguidance.
Keeping Away from Every Kind of Wrongdoing
As it is mentioned in the question, the next verse (Hud 11:113) gives a command meaning:
“…do not incline towards those who do wrong (against God by associating partners with Him or transgressing against His commands, or against people by violating their rights), or the Fire will touch you. For you have no guardians and true friends apart from God; (but if you should incline towards those who do wrong,) you will not be helped (by Him).”
A person who leans by a slightest degree toward those who do wrong runs the risk of gradually being included in the same evil. As a matter of fact, wrongdoing (zulm) is extensively covered in the Qur’an. As this word is used to express the transgressions of unbelievers and hypocrites, it is also used to describe specific mistakes of Muslims, as in: “Those who have believed and not obscured their faith with any wrongdoing – they are the ones for whom there is true security, and they are rightly guided” (al-An’am 6:82). When this verse was revealed, the Companions felt great distress. Seeing their situation, the Messenger of God consoled them with the verse meaning, “Associating partners with God is a tremendous wrong” (Luqman 31:13), and stated that the wrongdoing mentioned in the other verse refers to associating partners with God, also known as shirk. This being the worst transgression, there are other various forms of wrongdoing from persecution to abusing bureaucratic powers. Considering the verse mentioned in the initial question, the Divine command warns against all kinds of wrongdoing; furthermore, believers are also forbidden from inclining toward those who commit the acts of wrongdoing. An important point that should not be missed is that wrongdoing should not be solely associated with obvious injustice and transgressions. As it is a misdeed for a bureaucrat of any level to favor certain people over others, allocating even a gram of what belongs to the people is also a violation. Relatively speaking, the verse indicates that inclining toward someone who commits any level of wrongdoing is a reason for being touched by Hellfire. In other words, spending time with wrongdoers as a normal order of affairs, being fond of them, or being like them are all included in the meaning of showing inclination. As a matter of fact, there is another decree meaning, “When you meet such that indulge in (blasphemous or derisive) talk about Our Revelations, turn away from them until they engage in some other talk” (al-An’am 6:68).
As a matter of fact, a person who always displays righteousness in their intention, way of living, words, attitudes, and behaviors will naturally stand against misdeeds and injustice. Another verse gives glad tidings to such people, “As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is God,’ and then follow the Straight Path (in their belief, thought, and actions) without deviation, the angels descend upon them from time to time (in the world as protecting comrades, and in the Hereafter with the message): ‘Do not fear or grieve, but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise, which you have been promised’” (Fussilat 41:30).
Question: Why are people inclined to wrongdoers?
There can be different reasons for this. Sometimes, one may feel obliged to side with wrongdoers out of fear. Throughout the history of humanity, so many unfortunate people did just that by fearing to lose their rank and position. In the present as well, many people flatter wrongdoers in order to retain their status and enjoy its advantages. Love of position is one example of the presence of such a virus. In addition, love for being applauded, hedonism, addiction to comfort and one’s family are weaknesses of the same kind. A person concerned with making his children enjoy wealth will be doomed to salute wrongdoers along the way. In fact, even though such people perceive themselves as walking on the righteous path, they are actually on a slippery slope and have a great possibility to fall at any time.
It is possible to list many other similar causes/viruses within this issue. Each one of them is like a door to keep away from, which is opening to misdeeds. Keeping away from anything that might pave the way for sins, sadd al-zarai, is a principle of Islamic Jurisprudence. Relatively speaking, one must close and bolt up all the doors, such as love of status, passion for applause, fear and the like.
As we keep away from infectious environments in the material sense, we need to do the same with spiritual diseases. Otherwise one can shift towards committing misdeeds unintentionally. It is stated at the end of the verse, that such people receive no help, for their acts cut their connection with Him. As a final point, let me draw attention to the verse that follows the ones mentioned above, “Establish the Prayer at the beginning and at the end of the day, and in the watches of the night near to the day. Surely, good deeds wipe out evil deeds” (Hud 11:14). In terms of the coherence between verses, the command to establish prayer is very meaningful. Accordingly, if one can go beyond apparent forms of faith and establish prayer thoroughly with not only its outward, but also its inward dimensions, then he will have protected himself against accepting wrongdoing.
This text is the translation of “İstikameti Muhafaza ve Zulme Meyletmeme“