وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ
Walā yakhāfūna lawmat lā’im
And [they] do not fear the blame of a critic.
(Surat al-Mā’idah, No.5, Āyat 54)
The quality described here is part of five qualities of a community that Allah ‘azza wajall will bring forth which will believe in Him and obey His laws. This special community will have some outstanding qualities:
1) Allah loves them, and they love Him
2) they are humble towards believers and strong against disbelievers
3) they struggle in the way of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā.
4) they will not be afraid of negative comments and reproaches from others.
This last quality as stated in the verse above shows that these people stand by the truth, regardless of what others might say. They are not intimidated by criticism or scorn from others.
According to Tafsīr al-Mīzān it is possible that this quality is an offshoot of the other four qualities. To truly practice the first four qualities requires steeling oneself to the opposition of others. To love Allah (swt) requires a determination to please Him, no matter what others say. The enemies will scorn efforts to be humble towards believers and present disbelievers as too powerful to stand up to Struggle and fighting in the way of Allah. They will criticize incessantly the believers and remind them that by standing firm the believers are putting their lives in danger, using up their resources, facing grave difficulties and opposition, etc. In this manner, the believer who is affected by the words of others will not be able to adhere to the truth and will succumb to the negativity of others.
The group of people that adheres to the truth is often in minority. It must face a large majority that rejects the truth. This is because it is often easier and more comfortable to abandon the truth. Truth requires a strong will and constant self-discipline. The Holy Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam in his advice to Abū Dharr says: Truth is heavy and bitter, while falsehood is light and sweet (Tūsī, Al-Āmālī, p 533).
Sometimes people want to be with the truth. They have many good qualities and are virtuous people. But they succumb to criticism and pressures from the masses. They do not have the courage to stand up to those who deceive people into thinking that falsehood is truth. Manipulation of society is carried out continuously by people who want to control over the minds of others to gain power and wealth. They effectively spread false propaganda and convince people to think in a certain way. The false thinking becomes acceptable and normal in society. Those who oppose it are labelled negatively. Believers need to see through this and remain firm on what they know is the truth.
Lady Fātima Al-Zahrā (a) used the above verse as part of the sermon she gave when speaking up for Fadak. Her sermon is replete with Quranic verses. When she spoke of the role of Imam Ali (a) in the defense of Islam, she said: When the adherents of Satan would manifest themselves or the mouth of the polytheists opened out of envy, he (The Prophet) would dispatch his brother (Imam Ali) towards them. He would crush them and extinguish the blaze of their fire with his sword, and he bore extreme brutality in the way of Allah and strove to obey the commands of Allah. He was the nearest to the Prophet of Allah and the master of the friends of Allah. He was always ready to serve the creatures, looking over the welfare of the people, endeavoring and toiling ‘and he was not affected by the criticism of any critic’.
This distinctive quality of Imam Ali (a) as well as the other Imams is what we should try to emulate. Once we understand the truth we must, as the verse says, not fear the blame of any critic. Reciting this verse often, especially at times we face intimidation from those who reject religion, will InshāAllāh inspire us to be firm on the truth and not give in to negative influences.
Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; https://www.al-islam.org/fatimiyyah-ashura-lutfullah-safi-golpaygani