You mostly live in lands some of the residents of which suffer from moral looseness, lewdness, licentiousness and family disintegration, in a place where direct pleasure is sought in all its facets and from its shortest ways without a barrier formed by religion, conduct or tradition, so much so that this has prevailed throughout them, taken control of them, imposed itself on the ground of reality without denial, awareness or a call for reform.
When you settled in those lands, you were still carrying a remnant of religious, moral and social values on which your entity is based and by which your character is defined. If you are not fortified with these values and do not stick to them firmly and stubbornly, you will gradually be separated from them and will melt into the society. The result of this will be the following:
Firstly: Allah Almighty will be angry with you; He will abandon you; His punishment against you will be great and so will His retribution. This is so because Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, wishes to be worshipped. He disciplined His servants and set limits for them: Whoever violates them will be subjected to His wrath against which nothing stands. The warnings about any single one of His prohibitions is too much to count. Allah Almighty has blessed you by granting you knowledge of Him, enabled you to bear the call to Him, so the burden on you is greater and your disobedience in this regards is much more serious.
In the reliable tradition narrated by Abbad ibn Suhayb, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) says, "Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, says: If one who knows Me disobeys Me, I shall send against him one who does not know [fear] Me.”[i]
Secondly: You will reap what is trivial and shallow, and you may even stoop into the abyss of bestiality, even become lower, worse and more trivial than that, God forbid. In the authenticated tradition narrated by Abdullah ibn Sinan, the latter states saying, "I asked [Imam] Abu Abdullah Ja’far ibn Muhammed al-Sadiq (peace be upon him): 'Are angels better than the offspring of Adam?' He said that the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abu Talib (peace be upon him), had said, 'Allah installed in the angels reason without desire, in the beasts desire without reason, and in the descendants of Adam both of them; so, if one's reason subdues his desire, he is better than the angels, and if one's desire subdues his reason, he is worse than the beasts.”[ii]
Thirdly: You will be subject to the problems and serious repercussions which result from them and which have now formed a danger threatening the structure of these societies; they cannot get rid of it or free themselves from it.
Fourthly: You will be followers of others and your character will decay. If you are swept away in this direction and run after it, you will become imitators, followers who walk behind them without catching up with them, because they are in the lowest pit of degeneration. If, God forbid, you catch up with them and reach what they have reached, what a lost following! How much better is it to follow others in their good morals and ethics, beautiful attributes and good conduct, for wisdom is the pursuit of the believer: Wherever he finds it, he grabs it.
But if you solidify, stick to your decency and modesty, if you safeguard your ethics and principles and separate yourself from anything lowly when it comes to these aspects, your character will be distinguished in a way which attracts others’ attention. You will force your respect and admiration in their hearts, for the hearts, no matter how low they degenerate, how arrogant they may become, are inclined on respecting decency, modesty and commitment; they see disintegration, immodesty and lewdness as being abominable.
If periods pass by during which materialistic calls try to cast the attribute of progress, advancement and liberation on non-commitment to morality, they are empty voices that are not sanctioned by what the soul and conscience desire, especially after the glow of that call had gone due to the lengthy period and the surfacing of negativities and serious repercussions from them.
This shows how the truth imposes itself, how it is endorsed by reason, despite the old calls for not adopting the veil in the name of advancement, progress and civilization, for those who promote this call for abandoning the veil feel that when Muslims – by observing the hijab - are contrasting themselves to the western people, and cautioning them of their abandoning of the veil and their vulgar manners, belittling them, since their immodesty and lewdness represents a stigma: When one draws attention to it and criticizes it, he actually disrespects one’s dignity, degrading him.
Yet your commitment to modesty and decency, being your distinguishing characteristics, may turn you into a beacon in the darkness of these societies. This beacon light shows the way for those who went astray; it is a flag-post for goodness and humanity which provides guidance for those who stray from Allah Almighty through which He shows His servants the right way, the gate of His mercy which He opens for them. If Allah, through you, guides a single person, it is better for you that all what the sun shines on, and surely success comes from Allah Almighty.
Hopes rest on you for not relaxing while avoiding the doing of that from which you are prohibited, such as abandonment of the veil, prohibited mixing of the sexes and indulging in prohibited sex. Instead, you should keep your distance from places of immodesty, licentiousness and lewdness in their various forms and shapes; raise yourselves above getting close to them. Do not try to hold on to licentiousness or listen to some deviating or defeatist calls to compromise and to take things lightly. Keeping a distance from the said places and avoiding them results in the following:
1. It strengthens your personality, underscores your modesty and decency as has already been pointed out.
2. It fortifies you from committing what is prohibited: No matter how one feels self-confident, he may be overcome and thus fall into what is prohibited if he gets close to where it is, if it is easy for you to commit it, whereas keeping his distance from it will form a natural barrier that secures him from it.
3. It strengthens the principle of forbidding evil and seeing the ugliness of unlawful acts in your soul, for a believer is obligated to denounce what is held as contemptible even when others commit it as much as he can while also denouncing it inwardly, accustoming his soul to looking at it with contempt, seeing it as being ugly due to Allah Almighty opposing it, because it violates His sanctities and transgresses His limits. Whenever one gets close to where prohibitions are, mingling with those who commit them, becoming used to his presence among them, these prohibitions become light in his eyes, his denunciation of them decreases, the religious impulse within him wanes, the light of conviction in his heart is put out, so much so that the matter may reach the extent that what is held as contemptible starts looking as commendable, and what is wrong appears to be right. Thus, hearts die, and Allah Almighty will place a seal upon them; we seek refuge with Allah Almighty against His abandoning us.
4. You will discourage by conduct some individuals from among your own community who may contemplate on getting involved in them and wading in their quagmires, for if they see their brethren rising above them, denouncing them, this will motivate them to avoid these prohibitions. Thus, you will have enjoined what is right and forbidden what is wrong, which are two of Islam's major obligations.
Places where Allah Almighty is disobeyed, where His sanctities are violated, are more likely to bring about His wrath and curse. The curse and condemnation may descend on these places, so all those in them will be affected even if they are not among those who commit them: Allah Almighty has said, "When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our Signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollecting, do not sit in the company of the wrongdoers" (Qur'an, 6:68).
In a tradition narrated by Salih, the latter quotes Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) as saying, "A believer should not sit where Allah is disobeyed if he cannot change it.”[iii]
In the authenticated tradition narrated by Abdullah ibn Maymoon al-Qaddah, he [al-Sadiq] (peace be upon him) is quoted as having said that the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) had said, "One who believes in Allah and in the Last Day does not sit in a place where doubts [about Allah] are cast.”[iv]
In [Sulaiman] al-Ja'fari's authenticated narration, the latter says that he heard Imam Abul-Hassan [Imam Ali] (peace be upon him) asking him, "Why do I see you keeping company with Abdul-Rahman ibn Ya'qoub?” Al-Ja'fari said, "He is my maternal uncle.” The Imam (peace be upon him) said, "He is uttering about Allah preposterous things, describing Allah, while He cannot be described. You may either keep him company while abandoning us or keeping us company while abandoning him.” Al-Ja'fari said, "He can say whatever he wants; why should I be concerned if I do not repeat what he says?” The Imam (peace be upon him) said, "Are you not afraid the wrath may descend on him and harm you all? Do you not know about the companions of Moses (peace be upon him)? Someone's father was one of Pharaoh's people. When Pharaoh's cavalry caught up with Moses, the son lagged behind him in order to admonish his father so he would catch up with Moses (peace be upon him). But his father kept instead trying to pull him in his own direction. This went on until they reached the sea in which they both drowned. Moses (peace be upon him) came to know about it, so he said, 'He [the believer] is in the mercy of Allah, but when wrath descends, nobody who is close to the sinner can keep it away.'”[v]
In the authenticated narration of Abu Hamzah, the latter quotes Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) as having said, "The rain falls every year in exactly the same measure, but Allah places it wherever He pleases. When some people commit transgressions, Allah, the most Great, will keep away rain from them which he had decreed that year and will send it to others in the plains, seas and mountains. Allah punishes the beetle in its hole by keeping rain from reaching the ground in which it lives on account of the sins of those in its company, for Allah has enabled it to go and live somewhere else where transgressions are not committed.” Then the Imam (peace be upon him) quoted this verse: "So, be warned, O people who have vision” (Qur'an, 59:2).[vi]
Do not let Satan and his followers deceive you with the blessings which Allah has bestowed on the societies in which you live, the riches of this world and its ornaments, and rest assured that they are blessings that have turned into curses due to their negativities and consequences, so much so that they have ended up in severeproblems as a result of their affluence and the satisfying of their animalistic desires.
Yet these have diverted them from Allah Almighty, making them forget about remembering Him, so Satan took control of them, and they drowned into disobeying Allah Almighty, going to extremes in their stupor. Allah, praise belongs to Him, therefore, turned away from them, rendering their affairs to their own souls, giving them a respite. One of the most severe penalties of Allah Almighty with which He punishes His servants is to give them respite.
Allah Almighty says, "Do not let the unbelievers think that Our respite to them is good for them: We grant them respite so they may grow in their iniquity, but they will have a humiliating punishment” (Qur'an, 3:178) and "But leave them in their confused ignorance for some time. Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons, We would hasten them on in every good? Nay! They (simply) do not understand” (Qur'an, 54:56). He has also said, "We shall gradually visit those who reject Our Signs with punishment, in ways which they do not perceive. We will grant them respite, for My plan is strong (and unfailing)” (Qur'an, 7:182-83).
In a tradition narrated by Sufyan ibn al-Samt, the latter quotes Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) as saying, "If Allah decrees something good for one of His servants who then commits a sin, He follows it with an affliction to remind him to seek forgiveness. And if He wishes for a servant something adverse and he then commits a sin, he follows it by granting a blessing so it may make him forget to seek forgiveness and he will persist in his sins. This is the meaning of this verse when Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great says: 'We shall gradually visit those who reject Our Signs with punishment in ways which they do not perceive' (Qur'an, 7:182), i.e. visit them with blessings when they sin.”[vii] And there are many other such texts.
Thereupon, you can see for sure that you should distance yourselves from such places and their likes and keep away from those who frequent them so you may not expose yourselves to embarrassment. Rise above corruption, purify your souls and maintain your modesty. But you may be forced to socialize, or it may be justified by a need, by a more importantinterest. In this case, restrict it to whatever necessity dictates to you, for necessities are judged according to their own extents. But you should nevertheless fully condemn and detest it, deep down rejecting it and raising yourselves above committing transgressions.
Substitute these places with those wherein Allah is mentioned, where there are societies for goodness, guidance and righteousness. You must try to create assemblies and recreational places where you get together and which suit your religious, ethical and social condition, even if it may be in a limited scope, which all increase your clinging to your reality with which you felt comfortable when you were in your homelands. And you will be thus more upholding your great religion, honorable principles and virtuous manners. Allah, the most Praised the most Exalted, helps you in your trials and tribulations; He is the One Who is Merciful to you during your life and in the Hereafter.
[i] Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 11, p. 242.
[ii] Ibid., Vol. 11, p. 164.
[iii] Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 11, p. 503.
[v] Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 71, p. 200, in his own wording. Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 11, p. 503.
[vi] Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 11, p. 501.
[vii] Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 5, p. 217.