Don’t Other Acts of Worship Also Give Islam a Bad Image?
Another argument that is often used by promoters of blood flagellation is the contention that other established acts of worship also give Islam a bad image, therefore there is no need to refrain from publicly performing acts such as Tatbir (which also portray a negative image). Established Islamic actions such as Salaat, Tawaf, and the various forms of Hudood (e.g. flogging the fornicator) are often given as examples of actions that are the disliked by non-Muslims.
This argument is flawed and is considered a false analogy for the following reasons:
1, The established Islamic acts that have been mentioned are all from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If it is indeed true that they give Islam a bad image, then it does not fully justify their non-performance because they are actual religious obligations that cannot be neglected. On the contrary, blood rituals are not from the Quran or the Sunnah.
2, The argument ignores all the ahadith which tell us to give the religion and ourselves a good image.
3, Blood flagellation cannot be compared to these other actions in terms of how much it disturbs people; it is a lot more disturbing.
4, Islam is the religion of the Fitra (innate human nature) therefore the human heart is inclined towards the Islamic practices. So for example the human heart finds peace in the performance of prayers and tawaf. If there are Islamic actions that are disliked by some people then it is normally due to a lack of proper understanding of what they entail and what their benefits are. If people saw these Islamic actions with the correct perspective then they would understand that the laws are actually very good and they are not detrimental. For example if a sincere person were to know the reasons for the hudood laws then they would come to accept their benefits and would no longer oppose them.
5, When Islam was revealed to the Arabs, it was revealed in stages. Certain things were not revealed initially (for example the prohibition of alcohol) thus showing that Islam does take into consideration the fact that a wise and pragmatic approach is needed when introducing a religion to a people. Therefore we must also deal with others in a wise manner and not disturb them with public displays of blood shedding.
Imam Al-Sadiq (a) speaks about having a wise and diplomatic approach when dealing with others; from Shaykh Sadooq’s book on Aqeedah:
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was told: 0 son of the Messenger of Allah, verily we see in the mosque one who openly abuses your enemies, calling out their names. And he said: May Allah curse him! Why does he refer to us? He, Who is Exalted above all, says: “Revile not those who invoke (deities) other than Allah, lest wrongfully they revile Allah through ignorance” [6, 108] And Imam Ja’far in explaining this verse has said: So do not revile them, lest they revile your ‘Ali. And he also said: He who reviles the friend (wali) of Allah (i.e. All) has reviled Allah. And the Prophet said: He who reviles thee, 0 ‘Ali, has verily reviled me; and he, who reviles me, has verily reviled Allah.
Imam Ja’far said: Verily, I hear a man abusing me in the mosque; and I hide myself behind a pillar so that he may not see me. And he (Imam Ja’far) said: Mix with the people (enemies) outwardly, but oppose them inwardly, so long as the Amirate (imratun) is a matter of opinion. And he also said: Verily diplomacy (arri’a’) with a true believer is a form of shirk (polytheism); but with a hypocrite (munafiq) in his own house, it is worship. And he also said: He who prays with them (hypocrites) standing in the first row, it is as though he prayed with the Prophet in the first row. And he also said: Visit their sick and attend their funerals and pray in their mosques. And he also said: (You should) become an ornament for us, and not a disgrace. And he said: May Allah have mercy on a person who inculcates friendship towards us among men, and does not provoke ill-will among them.
6, The argument is a bit dishonest because many of these Islamic actions are actually not disliked by the many good people. There is nothing unattractive with acts such as salaat, tawaf and the recitation of the Qur’an.