Can You Clarify the Criteria for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


I’d like clarification regarding enjoining good and forbidding the evil with hand, tongue, and heart and for non-Muslims in regard to this answer.

Hand, tongue, and heart are not mentioned and it says one’s motivation to correct others should be sincere love and care for one’s BRETHREN.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

The answer cited covers the main details of forbidding evil and commanding good in light of the question.

The term brethren refer to our brothers and sisters in humanity in a general sense and fellow Muslims in a more specific sense. In all it encompasses everyone. However, the manifestation of sincere counsel and forbidding evil and commanding good may differ between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Whoever Sees a Wrong, Let Him Change It…

Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that  the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever amongst you sees a wrong, let them change it with their hand; if he is unable, then with their tongue; if he is unable, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

From this narration the scholars derived the ruling that if one is able to stop a sinful act, it is a communal obligation for one amongst them to do so. If only one person has the ability to change the wrong, the obligation falls on them personally. [Munawi, Sharh al-Arbai‘in al-Nawawiyya]

Changing with the hand is the most effective approach. For example, to step in between two people who are fighting. The scholars mention that if the only way a change can result is by physical intervention, it becomes an obligation. [Ibid.]

If one is unable to intervene physically, they may be able to shout for the person to cease fighting or to call to someone who can stop them. [Ibid.]

If one is even unable to do that, they should object in their heart and absolve themselves of any affiliation with that sin. [Ibid.]

In summary, it is a communal obligation, when the following conditions are met, to change a wrong with whichever method that is possible. [Ibid.]

Conditions of Changing the Wrong

  • That the one who is objecting to the wrong is reasonably sure that by objecting the wrongdoer will not increase in rebellion.
  • That the objection will not cause more harm than it seeks to solve.
  • That the wrong being objected to must be unanimously considered a sin amongst all the scholars (of all schools of thought).
  • That there is no reciprocal harm feared on the one objecting. [Ibid.]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.