Quranic Reflection No. 336 Āyat 4:140 – Associating with those who do mockery

وَقَدْ نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الْكِتَابِ أَنْ إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ يُكْفَرُ بِهَا وَيُسْتَهْزَأُ بِهَا فَلَا تَقْعُدُوا مَعَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِّثْلُهُمْ ۗ
Wa-qad nazzala ‘alaykum fil-kitābi an idhā sami ‘tum āyātillāhi yukfaru bihā wa-yustahza’u bihā falā taq ‘udū ma ‘ahum hattā yakhūdū fī hadīthin ghayrih; innakum idhan mithluhum
Certainly He has sent down to you in the Book that when you hear Allah’s signs being disbelieved and derided, do not sit with them until they engage in some other discourse, or else you [too] will be like them.
(Sūratun Nisā, No. 4, Āyat 140)

Almighty Allah in this verse enjoins believers not to sit in gatherings in which His signs are denied and mocked. Those who believe cannot be part of such a group, even if they disagree with them. Unless the group changes the discussion they need to leave. By staying with them they run the danger of becoming like them, or at least be labelled as part of them.

The following points can be derived from this verse:
– participating in groups where sins take place is a sin even if you yourself don’t say anything
silence is a form of tacit approval
– if you cannot forbid evil in a positive manner such as discussing and explaining to them then it must be done by distancing yourself from the group
– those who encourage such talks by being a part of them will face the consequences that the group will face
– faith in Allah necessitates a disassociation with those who reject and mock His signs

Sometimes in family and social situations it becomes difficult to distance yourself from discussions that in some way reject the words of God. People may talk with skepticism, arrogance, dismissing religious values and criticizing the teachings of Islam. When someone happens to be part of such gatherings, the duty of the believer is to speak up. If the general tone of the discussion remains antagonistic to God’s laws then the duty is to either change the subject or leave. Otherwise the whole group is subject to God’s displeasure.

The following conversation between Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ridhā or al-Hādī (a) and his companion Ja‘farī illustrates this point:
Imam: Why do you visit ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Ya‘qūb often?
Ja‘farī: He is my uncle
Imam: He says inappropriate things about Allah, ascribing physical characteristics to him. O Ja‘farī either you associate with him and leave us or associate with us and leave him.
Ja‘farī: He says whatever he wishes, I don’t say it so how would it harm me?
Imam: Ja‘farī, are you not afraid that the wrath of Allah when it comes down on him would include both of you?  (Al-Kāfī, v. 2, p. 374, H. 2)

Imam Ali (a) says: Beware of the companionship of corrupt people for a person who is pleased with the actions of a group is like one who is among them (Ghurar al-Hikam, V. 1, p.153).

Remind yourself of this verse when you sit among people who talk disparagingly and God’s religion. Say something and change the subject or leave the group. Do not be with them lest you become like them.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;http://rasekhoon.net/article/show/1003006