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 Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

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Obedient Angel

Join date : 2011-04-30
Posts : 2448

PostSubject: Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil    Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:07 am

Commentary on The Hadith Pertaining to Changing Munkar

Abu Sa"id al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) had said:

"Whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable, let him change it with his hand, if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart, and the latter is the weakest form of faith."[1]

This Hadith was also transmitted in another form on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

"Never before me had a Prophet been sent by Allah to his nation who had not among his people disciples and companions who followed his ways and obeyed his command. Then there came after them their successors who said whatever they did not practice, and practised whatever they were not commanded to do. He who strove against them with his hand was a believer; he who strove against them with his tongue was a believer; and he who strove against them with his heart was a believer; and beyond that there is no faith, not even as minute as a mustard seed."[2]

On the authority of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: "There shall be much tumult after me and, in such times, a believer will not be able to change anything (Munkar) with his hand or his tongue."I said: "O Messenger of Allah, what should they do then?" He said: "They should denounce it with their hearts?"I said: "0 Messenger of Allah, will this make them any less believers?" He (SAW) said: "No. Only as much as a few drops effect a reservoir of clear water."

These Hadiths, and others, convey a similar message and show that the obligation to denounce and change Munkar is conditional on the ability to do so, while disapproving of it with the heart is a must for all Muslims regardless of ability; for the heart that does not deny Munkar is a heart that has lost all faith. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

"The first type of Jihad you will be unable to perform is Jihad with your hands, then Jihad with your tongues, then Jihad with your hearts. He whose heart knows not Ma’roof nor disapproves of Munkar, has a heart that has been turned upside down."

Bin Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, once heard a man say: "He who does not enjoin good and forbid evil is doomed to perish." Ibn Mas’ud said: "He shall perish whose heart does not recognize good and evil." This indicates that to differentiate between good and evil with the heart is an obligation binding on every Muslim, and that he who does not recognize them is doomed; while to show disapproval of evil and attempt to change it with the hand or tongue is only a binding obligation for those Muslims capable of doing so.

Bin Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

"Those of you who live on (after me) will almost reach a stage when all they would be able to do towards evil that Allah would know from their hearts that they detest it."

The Prophet (SAW) said:

"If a sin is committed on this earth, he who witnessed it and disapproved of it is equal to a person who has not witnessed it, while he who has not witnessed it but approved of it is equal to a person who has witnessed it."[3]

So, he who has witnessed a sin being committed and detested it with his heart but was unable to show his disapproval with his hands or tongue, is equal to a person who has not witnessed it at all. While he who had not witnessed it but approved of it is like a person who had witnessed it and was able to change it with his hands or tongue but did not do so.

To accept sins is the most hideous of all prohibitions, it is the antithesis of disapproving with the heart.

Showing disapproval with the hands and tongue is dependent on the ability to do so, as mentioned above. Abi Bakr as-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said:

"There are no people in whose midst sins are committed, and they do not change this situation although it is in their powers to do so, except that Allah will be near to overtaking them all with His punishment."[4]

Abu Sai’d, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said in a sermon: "Verily, fear of people should not stop a man from speaking out the truth he knows."Upon hearing this, Abu Sai’d wept and said: "By Allah, we have seen things (for which we should have spoken out the truth) but we were silenced by fear (of people)."[5]

Imam Ahmad also narrated the same Hadith with an addition: "It does not bring death nearer nor pushes earnings farther to speak the truth or remind a powerful man of it."[6]

The Prophet"s (SAW) saying about disapproving with the heart only, that "it is the weakest form of faith", indicates that enjoining good and forbidding evil is one of the aspects of faith. And his saying (SAW) "whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable" indicates that disapproving is conditional on seeing. If the objectionable thing was hidden from sight and the believer only learned of it indirectly, he must neither deal with it nor go searching for it if he suspects its existence.

Reasons For Enjoining Good And Forbidding Evil

These reasons are:

- Aspiring for Allah’s reward for doing so.
- Fearing Allah’s punishment for neglecting this duty.
- Experiencing rage due to transgressions of bounds and prohibitions laid down by Allah.
- Wishing well for the believers, feeling compassion and mercy towards them, and hoping to save them from Allah’s punishment and wrath in this life and the Hereafter for the wrongs they had allowed themselves to commit.
- Exaltation of Allah, glorifying and loving Him. He is entitled to be obeyed, never to be disobeyed; remembered, never forgotten; that life and wealth be sacrificed to safeguard his bounds against transgression. Some of our predecessors used to say: "I wish that all creation would obey Allah, even if the price for this would be that my flesh is torn apart with clippers."

Abdul-Malik Ibn Omar Ibn Abdul-Aziz used to say to his father: "I wish that we would be boiled in a cooking pot if this would please Allah."


1 Reported by Muslim.

2 Reported by Muslim.

3 Reported Abu Dawud.

4 Reported by Abu Dawud.

5 Reported by Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

6 Imam Ahmed.


Allaah, the Exalted, Says (what means): "Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`roof (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.'' [Quran 3:104]

"You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`roof (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden)''.[Quran 3:110]

"Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don't punish them).''[Quran 7:199]
"Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Daawood (David) and `Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allaah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do".[Quran 5:78, 79]

"…We (i.e. Allaah Almighty) rescued those who forbade evil, and with a severe torment We seized those who did wrong because they used to rebel against Allaah's Command (disobey Allaah)."[Quran 7:165]

Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allaah said, "Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is yet unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith". [Muslim]

This Hadeeth (narration) contains a very important prescription to prevent the Muslim society from all things which are forbidden in Islam. So long as Muslims adhered to it and ceaselessly and fearlessly performed their obligation of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, their society was largely safe from many evils and sins.

Nu`maan Ibn Basheer, May Allaah be pleased with him, reported: The Prophet said: "The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allaah and that of the man who transgresses them is like a group of people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them: `If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.' If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe". [Al-Bukhaari]

We learn from this Hadeeth that the consequences of committing acts which are forbidden in Islam are not confined only to those persons who commit them, but the whole society has to suffer the consequences. It is, therefore, essential that the people who are in the habit of committing sinful acts and violate Divine injunctions, should be checked to save the whole society from destruction. If this is not done, the entire society will have to face the Divine punishment.

The Prophet said, "Beware of sitting on roads (paths).'' The audience said: "We have them as sitting places.'' The Messenger said, "If you have to sit there, then observe the rights of the way". They asked, "What are the rights of the way?'' He said, "To lower your gaze (on seeing what is illegal to look at), removal of harmful objects from the way, returning greetings, and enjoining good and forbidding wrong". [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
This Hadeeth tells us that it is improper to sit on roadsides and passages in such a way, which causes inconvenience to the people who pass by. It is really very unfortunate that now we do not care about such things at all. If sitting on the roadside is indispensable, then it is essential to observe the requirements mentioned in the Hadeeth.

Some Islamic etiquette mentioned in this Hadeeth have also been stated in other Ahadeeth (pl. or Hadeeth). For instance, politeness of speech, sharing of someone's burden, helping the oppressed and the troubled, guiding the wayward person to the right path, answering (in the prescribed manner) one who sneezes, etc.

`Abdullaah Ibn `Abbaas reported: The Messenger of Allaah saw a man wearing a gold ring. So he (the Prophet ) pulled it off and threw it away, saying, "One of you takes a live coal, and puts it on his hand?!'' It was said to the man after the Messenger had left: "Take your ring (of gold) and utilize it,'' whereupon he said: "No, by Allaah, I would never take it after the Messenger of Allaah has thrown it away". [Muslim]

We learn from this Hadeeth that wearing gold rings (and other golden ornaments) is prohibited for men. Unfortunately, it has become a popular fashion nowadays for men to wear gold rings to signify their marriage, which is a very dangerous custom that must be shunned.

`Aa'idh Ibn `Amr visited `Ubaidillaah Ibn Ziyaad (the ruler) and said to him: "Son, I heard the Messenger of Allaah saying, 'The worst shepherds (rulers) are those who deal harshly in respect of supervision. Beware, don't be one of them!''' Ibn Ziyaad said to him, "Sit down, you are but a husk from among the Companions of the Prophet '' `Aa'idh Ibn `Amr retorted: "Was there any husk among them? Surely, husk came after them and among others than them". [Muslim]

This Hadeeth presents a model of courage and boldness of speaking the truth before a tyrant. It was displayed by `Aa'idh in the court of 'Ubaidillaah Ibn Ziyaad, governor of Basrah. The latter humiliated `Aa'idh the righteous preacher, for his straight forwardness and truth but he repeated his statement about the eminence of the Companions of the Prophet and said none of them could be called husk.

Huthaifah reported: The Prophet said, "By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allaah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted". [At-Tirmithi]

To abandon the practice of enjoining virtue and forbidding vice is likely to incur the displeasure of Allaah and the rejection of prayers and supplications.


The characteristics of those enjoining good and forbidding evil should include:

· Sincerity (must not show off)
· Knowledge (must know halal & haram and have etiquettes)
· Kindness and Wisdom (must be kind and gentle as without it
people will not accept it)
· Patience (must bear patiently the hardship and harm)
· Lead by Example (must do what one orders others to do and
refrain from what one orders others to refrain from)


· Don’t look for the hidden Munkar as this is considered as spying
· Don’t forbid a hidden Munkar publicly (advise the person privately)
· Don’t attempt to forbid a Munkar that will only lead to a greater Munkar
· Don’t forbid what is not agreed upon as a Munkar (i.e. a legitimate difference of the Scholars in ruling
or Ijtihad)

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