Spreading Evil the Indirect Way

by Dr. Khalid Zaheer


The Qur'an (31:17) requires us to not only stay away from evil but to prevent others from getting involved in it as well. Evil can take different forms and unless it is properly understood, it cannot be effectively checked. One form of evil is simple: It is the one which is blatant and is, therefore, unlikely to go unnoticed. A morally alert society would normally not allow evil in its blatant form to get promoted. However, it is the other form of evil -- the one that creeps into the society slowly, hiding its devilish threat under the apparent garb of virtue -- that can have a more devastating effect on an otherwise morally sound society because of its slow-poisoning effect. It is the responsibility of the religious leadership of a society to warn people against the grave consequences of the indirect evil. As in the case of virtue and goodness, evil too prospers if it is introduced gradually in an indirect manner. The reason why the strategy of gradual introduction of evil meets with more success is that it overcomes the immediate resistance of the conscience of the society so cleverly that the collective piety gets confused on the question whether there is anything wrong at all with the practice in question or not. Even the religious people are found debating the question whether the practice in question has anything really objectionable in it at all or not. 'If it was really an evil why didn't God Almighty condemn it clearly in His eternal Shari'ah?' would be a strong argument presented by some scholars. Thus, by intelligently mixing good with evil and creating confusion amongst the defenders of faith, the devil is able to find the cracks in the religious society that enables it to threaten the society's moral fabric in a manner it could not have been able to do through a more direct way. One of the most striking examples of 'success' of this devilish strategy in recent times can be seen in the proliferation of obscenity through the media of film and drama in Muslim societies. The whole idea of the fiction-based characterizing of has been introduced in such a manner that people are given to view living stories with real men and women playing different roles. If properly produced, the presentation is so gripping for the viewers that they are glued to their screens until the very end of the show. Since in many of the 'clean' films and dramas, the entire story is seemingly acceptable and, in some cases, reform-oriented, many good people find hardly anything bad in enjoying this 'innocuous' family entertainment. The truth of the matter however is that there have been few other more effective ways contrived by the devil than this to deprive our society of the true sense of morality. Indeed, there is no clear mention in the Qur'an that drama and film are prohibited in Islam. However, that is how the entire scheme of Shari'ah is: The basic principles have been mentioned and believers are encouraged to use their God-given intellect to apply the understanding of those principles in all those areas of application where the spirit of those principles is being violated. The intent of the Shari'ah is after all not to just require believers to sheepishly follow the apparent form of a few injunctions. The real purpose is to plug all possible holes that the evil one can exploit within us to lead us astray. The Qur'an mentions this purpose thus:

And Allah wishes to turn to you in mercy, but those who follow their low desires wish that you should incline wholly towards evil. (4:27)

Thus, in order to look at the possibility of whether the above-mentioned means of entertainment should be viewed favourably in Islam, we should look at the injunctions of the Qur'an where there is a clear mention of the fact that the institution of marriage has to be respected (the Qur'an 4:24 and 24:32) and that there are close relatives specified with whom marriage cannot take place at all (the Qur'an 4:23) and that in case of the possibility of intermingling of the opposite genders outside the circle of the very close relatives, certain norms of decency have to be maintained (the Qur'an 24:27-31). Moreover, the Qur'an expects all believers to stay away from even the traces of extra-marital sex (the Qur'an 17:32) and wants to make sure that there should be no mention of an extra-marital affair in a Muslim society at all (the Qur'an 24:4). Given the spirit of these teachings, how could it ever be imagined that Islam would allow complete stranger men and stranger women to come into contact with each other, playing the roles of lovers and beloveds, husbands and wives and so on, and hundreds and thousands of believing men and believing women to view them without entertaining any thought whatsoever that this practice was unacceptable in the eyes of their Creator?


[ Main Page ] | [ Khalid Zaheer Essay Index ]