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When in Rome, Do What’s Right – Not Automatically What the Romans Do

30 March, 2020
Q Alhamdulilah Peace and Blessings of Our Lord, Recently from a believer gave an advice or.other one, based on a infidels phrase or saying " where you go to Roma, does what Romans does". So, I was thinking, if we would be living in the times of Sodoma And Gomorra, We must to do and apply the behavior this people with not religion had?This advice came from an Islamic organization in this country, to an other man. My Question is, We must to smile ourself to the world customs and habits? Or we are called to respect and apply our Faith and The True Religion from. Allah swt, revealed in Quran and Hadizes (Sunnah of Prophet Mohammedand pbuh). If the country has free expression fro religion, why should I abort My faith and comments from Allah to start doing what is against what is Written in Quran as a command and request of My God? Why go against my own faith? Or is true?, Then we need to do what other people in the world do (people who don't practice our faith)?As Muslim, I believe we are Muslims, we are called to take Islam to the world (with not God); and trough our example of live applying what Allah teaches us in Quran and Sunannh of Prophet Mohammed we can be an example of other that His model of living roles of men and women and care of our families bring happiness peace love and a great blessing. It would be a mistake, is my humble opinion, try to live this life according to world habits or what society says that is correct to the roles of men and women. When we know the consequences of their bad habits or relation between both genders, have brought for the life of humanity and generations and society. Thanks for kind attention, This link explains the origin of the phrase. https://yourtripagent.com/4107-origin-of-saying-when-in-rome-do-as-romans-doThanks so much. May Allah swt, reward you.

Answer

 Short Answer:

  • Prophet Muhammad said: “None amongst you believes (truly) until he loves for his brother” – or he said “for his neighbor” – “that which he loves for himself.” [Sahih Muslim]
  • So, we need to uphold and practice our faith without compromising it and explain it to people out of love and desiring benefit for them. 
  • And when we share, it’s not out of arrogance or forcing others to believe in what we believe, rather it’s out of love, mercy, and compassion.

………….

Walaykum Assalam Wa Rahmat Allah (and may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you), Dear Sylvie,

Thank you for your question. 

When in Rome, Do What Romans Do?

There are two parts to this question; respecting the law and order of the country we’re in, and upholding our own faith values and not compromising them.

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Respect for Law & Order without Compromising One’s Values

As Muslims, we’re supposed to uphold high ethics and respect the law and order wherever we are. So, in whichever country we’re in, we follow the law and order that is supposed to secure people’s lives and establish peace and justice. 

This doesn’t mean we’re forced to follow customs and habits that are not in line with our faith. For example, if you’re in a country and the custom or habit for everyone is to drink alcohol while this is strictly prohibited in Islam, then definitely one does not need and should not feel obliged to follow this habit. In addition to it being Divinely prohibited, scientists recently have shown that the safest level of alcohol consumption is ZERO.  

So instead of following something that is harmful and is not in line with one’s faith, one must uphold his/her own Islamic values that lead to goodness for all humanity and share that with those who’re interested. Not imposing on them our habits, but sharing and inviting people to what can benefit them, and it’s up to them to choose what they want. 

The Creator Almighty says in His Direct Words in the Quran

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Quran 49: 13)

Follow or Set a Positive Example? 

Respecting people doesn’t mean suppressing one’s faith and identity to follow everything people do even if it’s spiritually/physically wrong. The Creator Allah Almighty said:

“Let there be a group among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil—it is they who will be successful.” (Quran 3: 104

So, it is a duty upon us to call others to what is good and beneficial. 

It is worth mentioning that a recent study has shown that Muslims are the happiest and have the highest level of satisfaction due to their feeling of the Oneness of God Almighty. 

And He Almighty says:

“[Believers], you are the best community singled out for people: you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in God.” (Quran 3: 110)

So it is our responsibility to share with people what makes us happy and makes us satisfied and not blindly follow customs and traditions that deprive us of the honor and blessings that are in following the Divine Revelation. 

And when we share, it’s not out of arrogance or forcing others to believe in what we believe, rather it’s out of love, mercy, and compassion. 

Prophet Muhammad: a Mercy to The People

Essentially, the Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to all people as God said:

“It was only as a mercy that We sent you [Prophet] to all people.” (Quran 21: 107)

And the Prophet said: 

“None amongst you believes (truly) until he loves for his brother” – or he said “for his neighbor” – “that which he loves for himself.” [Sahih Muslim]

So, as you mentioned, we need to uphold and practice our faith without compromising it and explain it to people out of love and desiring benefit for them. 

Allah created us and gave us this life to know Him and witness the Truth of His Words and His Revelation. We’ve witnessed and research has shown how many aspects of our religion bring peace and happiness and satisfaction into our lives. We’re not supposed to compromise that in order to please others. We’re supposed to please our Creator by following His Words and Revelation and He, in turn, will make us deeply pleased.  

“But for those who are on God’s side there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.

˹They are˺ those who are faithful and are mindful ˹of Him˺.

for them there is good news in this life and in the Hereafter- there is no changing the promises of God- that is truly the supreme triumph.” (Quran 10: 62-64)

Hope this helps. May Allah enlighten all our hearts and grant us peace and unique honor and satisfaction from Him. 

Salam and please keep in touch.

Editor’s Note:

There is a very important juristic maxim relevant to this case, which is “al-ʿādah muḥakkamah” meaning that ‘custom is a basis for judgment” in Islam, and there are a lot of issues Muslim scholars have handled based on this maxim, even right from the time of the noble Prophet (SAW) and his Companions, so it’s one of the well-established rules of fiqh portraying the objectives of Shariah. The matter is not just a black and white issue as the questioner assumes. But custom is one of the sources of legislation in Shariah, and there are many examples and instances of that.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How Can a Muslim Woman Practice Islam in the West?

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-about-islam/prophet-spread-islam-humanity/

About Dina Mohamed Basiony
Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt. She specializes in Islam and spirituality. Dina holds an MA and BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.