On July 20 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke to Emgage Action, a Muslim advocacy group, in support of their “Million Muslim Votes” summit to boost voter turnout in Muslim communities.
During his address he said, a “Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad instructs, ‘Whomever among you sees wrong, let him change it with his hand. If he is not able, then with his tongue. If he is not able, then with his heart.” (A Hadith is an authoritative saying by the Prophet Muhammad).
As a former Muslim who wishes to see genuine reforms take place within Islam to make it a more tolerant and humane faith, it concerns me that Biden does not appear to realize the harmful significance of the hadith he quoted.
The hadith he cited refers to a widely known principle “Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong,” that is used to keep Muslims in line. Far from revealing humanism or tolerance, the hadith emphasizes the need for social control in defense of orthodoxy.
This mindset is one important reason why many Muslim reformers run into serious problems in Islamic societies. There are other Hadiths that emphasize the same principle.
When Biden repeats, “whomever among you sees wrong, let him change it with the hand,” this has been used in Islam to justify physical force and even acts of violence to stop wrongdoing. But wrongdoing in Islamic doctrine is defined as acts that go against Shariah. Islamic scholars have had long-standing debates about whether this principle can involve weapons such as the sword (or firearms, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or only fists.
The risks to a free society are undeniable.
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