I wrote to my brothers and my beloved advising my children saying:
“O son, if you do something bad, you are closing the door of my pleasure, and I shall not open this door unless you remove this evil and do a good deed to remove it and indicate your sincere intention.”
One of virtuous professors objected politely and said: “If you do something bad, you are closing the door of my pleasure” is a nice expression, but the idea itself has some cruelty, professor.
Thereupon, I answered: “Yes, it is part of intimidation, and discipline is achieved by this and that, i.e., exhortation and intimidation.”
I said to him: Exhortation and intimidation have much mention in our books particularly, the books of asceticism and heart-softening materials which are useful for those who know exactly when and how to use them.
He expressed his consent of the balance between exhortation and intimidation and said thankfully: I agree with you, we cannot dispense with intimidation as it is the opposite wing of exhortation to make a balance between preaching and life.
Now, I would like to elaborate through this short article and add some benefits.
The matter circulates around “turning away” which indicates dissatisfaction and represent it in the form of avoidance and turning away.
Scholars wrote a lot about “abandoning or turning away” from both juristic and dogma aspects without any mention to the educational aspect.
This method has an origin in the Prophetic Sunnah, where it was a practical rearing not theoretical.
Al Bukhari classified in his Sahih under his saying: “Chapter on permissible avoidance for those who show disobedience” the story of Ka`b ibn Malik and his two friends when they lagged behind the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the battle of Tabuk without an excuse. So, the Prophet (peace be upon him) turned away from them and prohibited his Companions from speaking to them.”
Al Hafizh ibn Hajar (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said in the explanation of the meaning of Al Bukhari (Fathul-Bary 10 /497): He meant by this chapter explaining the permissibility of avoidance because the general rule of prohibition is directed to those who avoid people for no reason. So, the reason of permissibility is for those who have committed a sin, so it is permissible for those who see people committing these sins to avoid them to stop them doing these sins.
Then he mentioned the words of the Hadith commentators such as the saying of Al Muhallabwho said: The purpose of Al Bukhari in this chapter is to explain the description of avoidance which varies according to the volume of the crime. So, disobedient people deserve avoidance as happened in the story of Ka`b and his two friends. As for the avoidance of the family and friends, it is permissible for them not to mention the name of the sinful person such as: Avoid mentioning his name and not smiling at his face so as not to cut the ties of kinship and not to avoid salam and speaking.
Imam At-Tabary said: The story of Ka`b ibn Malik is the origin of avoiding sinners and disobedient people.
Then Ibn Hajar (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said: Others said that avoidance is divided into two categories:
Avoidance by the heart and avoidance by the tongue.
So, avoidance of the disbeliever is by the heart, avoidance of showing intimacy, cooperation and help, especially, if he is a fighter. However, it is not permissible to avoid him by words because it is impossible to deter him by this method unlike a disobedient Muslim who often is deterred by words.
Disbelievers and disobedient share the permissibility of calling them to obedience and enjoining good and forbidding evil, but it is not permissible to speak intimately with them.
He mentioned in Tuhfat Al Ahwazy (6 /51) what Al Khattaby said that avoidance of the father to his children and the husband to his wife and suchlike is not effective if it continues to only three days and said that Prophet (peace be upon him) abandoned his wives one full month.
I said: A Muslim does not avoid his Muslim brother for weak or illegitimate reasons so as not to fall into forbidden things mentioned in the Messenger’s saying: “It is not lawful for a Muslim to keep apart from his brother for more than three days,” as was reported by Al Bukhari (6237) and others.
I say: The father’s avoidance of his children and a sheikh to his students is because they have done something wrong such as: Lying, backbiting, mockery, lewdness, indecency, or indifference and such matters known to educators. Avoidance in this case is an effective educational procedure provided that avoidance should not be for malice, hatred, or humiliation of the person, but it is a treatment like that of a sick person. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a man was lashed for drinking wine, thereupon his friends cursed him, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not curse him, for he loves Allah and His Messenger.
What is important to say is that the avoidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions to K`ab and his two friends was fruitful and resulted in their repentance. Allah (may He be Exalted) says in His Book: “And (He did forgive also) the three [who did not join the Tabuk expedition (whom the Prophet peace be upon him)] left (i.e. he did not give his judgment in their case, and their case was suspended for Allah’s Decision) till for them the earth, vast as it is, was straitened and their ownselves were straitened to them, and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah, and no refuge but with Him. Then, He accepted their repentance, that they might repent (unto Him). Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” [Surat At-Tawbah: 118].
That was a lesson for Muslim so as not to lag behind the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) otherwise their destiny is known.
The situation of Ka`b (may Allah be pleased with him) was honorable where he observed patience for that boycott and could endure the avoidance of Muslims for him for fifty days after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) commanded him to keep away from his wife too. His affliction intensified after he had received a letter from the king of Ghassantelling him: We had known that your companions avoided you, and it is not proper for you to live in an abode of humiliation, so join us to condole you. He said: When I was reading it, I said: This is also part of affliction, then I burnt it in the oven. [Sahih Muslim 2769].
The cure would be effective if the other party does not show stubbornness and accept the boycott which he deserves and observes patience.
So, we understand from the story is that turning away and avoidance mean dissatisfaction, but rather they are the reason for satisfaction and stopping them means satisfaction.
There are other examples from our Islamic heritage to this such as the scholar’s avoidance to the people of heresy or those who deviated from the proper Ijtihad (juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings) and disagreed with Muslims, lied about a Hadith, or inclined to a dispersion.
So, if these ideas are written in an educational book with a modern purposeful handling, it will be very useful.
Difference of human natures and dispositions, conditions, environment, customs, times, and whether the society is a Muslim or not must be taken into consideration when handling as educators and educators decree.
I should mention here that the issue of avoidance is dangerous, especially if it leads to cutting the ties of kinship. So, a person should resort to this severe and bitter treatment only in the time of need so that the matter would not exacerbate. Avoidance and turning away from a person have conditions that must be taken into consideration otherwise the cure will turn to be a disease, and smart educators realize that.
Allah is the One who guides.