What it means to 'pass by ill-speech with dignity' (Quran 25:72)
Fatwa No: 250978

Question

Assalaam alaikum, how do we understand this verse "And those who do not bear witness to falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity" and the hadeeth which say to stop evil with hand, if not then by words, if not atleast think band about it-this being the lowest. How do we reconcle them. is passing by dignity means to stop them??

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Whoever among you sees an evil and can change it with his hand, then let him change it with his hand. If he cannot do that, then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot do that, then with his heart (by hating it), and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Imaam An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him comments on the Hadeeth saying: “The words of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, 'then let him change it' is a directive for Muslims to forbid evil according to the consensus of Muslim scholars. The obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil is established according to the Quran, Sunnah, and the consensus of Muslims... In fact, enjoining good and forbidding evil is a collective obligation (Fardh Kifaayah) upon Muslims whereby if it is properly carried out by a sufficient number of people, then the intent is met and the obligation is lifted from the rest of the Muslim community. However, if it is neglected, then all Muslims who are able to carry out that obligation but neglected it without a valid excuse are sinful.” [Saheeh Muslim]

As for the verse that reads (what means): {And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity} [Quran 25:72], it does not indicate that enjoining good and forbidding evil is not obligatory. There is no contradiction between the verse and the abovementioned Hadeeth. The researching scholars of Tafseer underlined that enjoining good and forbidding evil is a manifestation of ‘passing by (ill speech) with dignity’ mentioned in the verse. At-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “When they (i.e. the believers) see or hear falsehood, they pass by it with dignity. This is sometimes achieved by abstaining from listening to the falsehood, like the case of singing, or by self-restraint and pardoning (people's offenses), like the case of hearing people's reprehensible speech and offenses, or sometimes by forbidding people from committing such an evil by speaking out. It could also be achieved by changing the evil with the sword (i.e. taking action), like the case of someone witnessing a robbery and the victims seek the person's help, so he rushes to help them. All these are manifestations of passing by falsehood with dignity.

Ibn ‘Atiyyah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him wrote, “When a Muslim passes by a sin being committed, passing by it with dignity means changing it.

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “It is said that one of the manifestations of passing by ill speech (i.e. evil play or vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allaah has forbidden) with dignity is enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.

Allaah Knows best.

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