Society has a collective responsibility to prevent wrongdoing

مثل المدهن في حدود الله والواقع فيها مثل قوم استهموا سفينة فصار بعضهم في أسفلها وصار بعضهم في أعلاها فكان الذي في أسفلها يمرون بالماء على الذين في أعلاها فتأذوا به فأخذ فأسا فجعل ينقر أسفل السفينة فأتوه فقالوا ما لك قال تأذيتم بي ولا بد لي من الماء فإن أخذوا على يديه أنجوه ونجوا أنفسهم وإن تركوه أهلكوه وأهلكوا أنفسهم

The example of the one who stands for the Hudood of Allah and the one who compromises the Hudood of Allah are like the people in a boat, some of whom occupy the upper deck and some occupy the lower deck. Whenever those in the lower deck need water, they have to go to the upper deck to retrieve it. So some of them said, ‘why don’t we make a hole in our deck so we do not harm the people of the upper deck?’ If the people do not stop them, they will all fall and be failures, but if they stop them they will all be saved

(Bukhari)

Commentary

a. The description of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم of the Muslim society being like a community of people on a ship, whose actions each can affect the other, explains that the Islamic view that society must be maintained by its members each of whom is responsible for maintaining the public good, thereby explaining the true relationship between the individual and the society. This is in contrast to the individualistic outlook which dominates in contemporary times, and the philosophy that states that the society is solely made up of individuals so each is free to act as they please, where each person’s concern is for themselves without any or little regard for others. This is reflected in the endemic corruption, crime rates, and neglect of both the younger and elder generations.

b. If the government and the people allow the prohibited issues to be infringed, then the whole of society becomes damaged.

c. The hadith explains through the metaphor that if the Hudood are established in the society, then the society will be protected, and if the Hudood are left, then the infringements will end up engulfing everyone (as can be seen for example in the rising crime rates).

d. Imam al-Siddiqi al-Shafi said that the hadith indicates that the one who infringes the prohibitions is destroyed by his sin, and the one who remains silent is destroyed due to his contentment.

e. Imam al-‘Ayni mentioned that when the action of preventing the infringements is carried out, all of the people are saved, and not just those on the upper deck. And therefore the implementation of Islam and the enjoining of the good and forbidding of the evil is the way the whole of the society is protected and served.

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