Offering the Right Alternative
. ‘abd-allaah ibn mas‘ood said, “when we prayed with the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him), we used to say, “peace be upon allaah from his slaves, peace be upon so-and-so.” (according to a report narrated by al-nisaa`i, he said, “peace be upon jibreel, peace be upon mikaa’eel.” al-mujtabaa: kitaab al-tatbeeq, baab kayfa al-tashahhud al-awwal. see also saheeh sunan al-nisaa`i, no. 1119). the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said,
“do not say, ‘peace be upon allaah,’ for allaah is ‘the peace’ (al-salaam). but you should say, ‘al-tahiyyaatu lillaahi wa’l-salawaatu wa’l-tayyibaat, al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-nabiyyu wa rahmat-allaahi wa barakaatuhu, wa’l-salaamu ‘alaynaa wa ‘alaa ‘ibaad-illaah il-saaliheen.’ if you say this, it will include every slave of allaah in heaven or between heaven and earth. [then say:] ‘i bear witness that there is no god except allaah and i bear witness that muhammad is his slave and messenger.’ then choose whichever du’aa’ you like, and recite it.” (al-bukhaari, fath, 835).
another report that deals with this topic was narrated by anas (may allaah be please with him), who said that the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) saw some sputum in the direction of the qiblah and this upset him so much that his anger could be seen on his face. he stood up and removed it with his hand, then said,
“when any one of you stands up to pray, he is talking to his lord. his lord is between him and the qiblah, so no one of you should spit in the direction of the qiblah; he should spit to his left or under his feet.” then he took the edge of his cloak, spat on it and rubbed part of it against another part and said, “or do like this.” (reported by al-bukhaari, fath, 405).
another example was reported by abu sa‘eed al-khudri (may allaah be pleased with him), who said: “bilaal came to the prophet with some good-quality dates, and the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) asked him,
‘where is this from?’ bilaal said, ‘we had some poor-quality dates, and i sold two measures of those for one measure of these so that we could give them to the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him).’ when he heard that, the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said, “oh, oh! the essence of ribaa, the essence of ribaa! do not do that. if you want to buy, sell your dates for something else, then buy it.’” (reported by al-bukhaari, fath, 2312).
according to another report, one day a slave belonging to the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) brought him some fresh dates, but the prophet’s dates were dry, so the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said,
‘where did you get these dates from?’ he said, ‘we bought a measure of these for two measures of our dates.’ the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said, ‘do not do this, because it is not right. sell your dates first, then buy whatever dates you want.’ (musnad ahmad, 3/67).
but in the case of some da‘iyahs and people who seek to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, we notice that there is a shortcoming in their methods when they denounce some of the mistakes that people make. they only point out the mistakes and denounce them as haraam, without offering an alternative or explaining what must be done if one makes a mistake. it is known that the method of islam is to offer alternatives to make up for any benefits that may have been gained through the haraam practice. when zinaa (fornication, adultery) was forbidden, marriage was allowed and prescribed; when ribaa (usury, interest) was forbidden, trading was allowed; when pork, dead meat and the flesh of every creature that has fangs or talons were forbidden, the meat of properly-slaughtered cattle and other animals was allowed, and so on. if a person does fall into error, islam shows him the way out, through repentance and expiation, as is explained in the texts on kafaaraat (acts of expiation). so those who seek to call others to islam must follow the sharee’ah in offering alternatives and finding acceptable ways out. (another example of offering an alternative is to quote saheeh ahaadeeth which will replace da’eef and fabricated ahaadeeth).
it is worth pointing out here that offering alternatives is something that depends on what is possible. sometimes a mistake may be something that has to be stopped, but there is no realistic alternative, either because the general situation is bad and people are far removed from the sharee’ah of allaah, or because the one who is seeking to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil cannot remember what the alternative is – all he wants to do is denounce the mistake and change it, even if he has no alternative to offer. this happens a great deal in the case of financial dealings and investment organizations, which emerged in kaafir societies and were brought, complete with all their islamically unacceptable features, to muslim societies; the muslims have shortcomings and weaknesses that prevent them from creating islamic alternatives and applying them everywhere. so those shortcomings and weaknesses remain, even though the divine methodology contains alternatives and ways out that could alleviate the muslims’ hardships, and there are some who know this and some who do not.