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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

By Ibn Al-Qayyim
Enjoining good and forbidding evil, amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa’n-nahiy an al-munkar, is the pivot and most important principle in Islam and it is the main reason why Allah sent His Prophets and Messengers to His creatures. If this principle is not implemented and put into practice, then prophethood is ineffective, the deen fades away, misguidance, corruption and ignorance prevail, civilizations decline, and nations are destroyed.
Whenever this principle has been extinguished, people follow their desires and whims, ignore their Lord, and live like animals — and then you can hardly find anyone who adheres to the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil, even though the reward of putting it into practice is great in the sight of Allah.
The Obligation to Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil
Allah says:
"Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success."
(3: 104)
Allah also says:
"They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright.They recite Allah’s Signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They have iman in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the salihun."
(3: 113-114)
In the above verse, Allah does not accept their righteousness just by their believing in Allah and the Last Day, until He has added to it the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil.
In another verse, Allah says:
"The men and women of the muminun are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong."
(9: 72)
Here Allah refers to the believers as those who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil — therefore, anyone who forsakes this pillar is excluded from the ranks of the believers.
In another verse, Allah has cursed some of the tribe of Israel for abandoning the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil. He says:
"Those among the tribe of Israel who were kafir were cursed on the tongue of Dawud and that of ‘Isa, son of Maryam. That is because they rebelled and overstepped the limits. They would not restrain one another from any of the wrong things that they did. How evil were the things they used to do!"
(5: 78-79)
Whereas, Allah has praised those who have implemented the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil. He says:
"You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and have iman in Allah."
(3: 110)
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say’,
"He who amongst you sees something objectionable should change it with the help of his hand; and if he does not have the strength to do it, then he should reject it with his tongue; and if he does not have the strength to do it, then he should reject it in his heart — and that is the least of faith." [7]
This hadith shows that rejecting evil should be done according to your strength and ability, but should be done at least with your heart, because if your heart does not deny evil, this means that your iman is gone. Therefore you must change evil with your hand and tongue if you are able to do so, but in any event you must reject it with your heart — and this is an obligation and the least of faith — otherwise Allah’s punishment will come.
Hudhaifah related that the Prophet (salalahu alayhim wa salam) said,
"By Him in Whose hand my soul is, you must enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, or Allah will certainly soon send punishment from Him to you. Then you will make supplication and not receive any answer."[8]
An-Nu’man Ibn Bashir related that the Prophet said,
"The metaphor of a person who complies with Allah’s orders and prohibitions in comparison to those who violate them is like the metaphor of some people who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them were given seats on the upper deck, and the others on the lower deck. When those on the lower deck needed water, they would have had to go up to fetch the water, so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our part of the ship and save those who are above us from our troubling them.’ If the people on the upper deck let the others do what they suggested, all the people in the boat would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both groups would be safe."[9]
Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud related that the Prophet said,
"There was never a Prophet sent before me by Allah to his nation who did not have among his people disciples and companions who followed his ways and obeyed his command. Then after them came their successors who said what they did not do, and did what they were not commanded to do. Whoever strove against them with his hand was a believer; whoever strove against them with his tongue was a believer; and whoever strove against them with his heart was a believer; and beyond that there was no faith, not even as much as a mustard seed."[10]
Abu Bakr related that the Prophet said,
"If acts of disobedience occur among any people and they do not change them even though they are able to do so, Allah will soon punish them all."[11]

[7] Muslim, 2/22-25; At-Tirmidhi, 9/18-19; Abu Dawud, 1128; An-Nasa’i’, 8/111; Ibn Majah, 4013.
[8] At-Tirmidhi, 9/17; classified as hasan. Albani also classifies it as hasan.
[9] Al-Bukhari, 5 / 132; At-Tirmidhi, 9/19.
[10] Muslim, 2/27.
[11] Abu Dawud, 4316; Ibn Majah, 4005; Ahmed, 1/16.
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