What is the right approach to commanding the good?
Question: Allah commands us to “Enjoin the good, forbid evil.” There is also hadith which says we must stop evil with action, if not then with speech, if not then hate it in our hearts. This all suggests that we cannot be passive and ignore evil even though it’s all around us. Seeing wrongdoing (Zina, etc.) causes me pain, anger, anxiety, concern for ourselves, the perpetrators, and the Ummah. I don’t know, though, how to advise following the commands of Allah and RasulAllah. It rarely goes well and often meets with the standard response, “Who are you to judge me? Only Allah can judge”. But clearly, Amr bil Ma`roof requires us to make an outward judgment. In Pakistan, advising rich people can land you in trouble. In the UK, religious advice can result in hate crime complaints. These are extremes, but it does highlight how this is a tricky matter. The last thing we want is to make people hate Islam more. I need practical advice on this. What are we expected to do?
Thank you for your question. Your question is fundamental and one must understand this issue correctly, for this very issue can bring someone closer to Allah or push him further away.
Recall first that the most beneficial way of commanding the good and forbidding evil is through personal example. Strive to fear Allah as much as you can and then spread it to others.
Secondly, please refer to the Reliance of the Traveller, which has a whole chapter of ten pages on the subject, starting from page 713 and elucidates the matter very well.
You will also find excellent and detailed information on your question here:
In addition, please see these useful links:
The Reliance of the Traveller says, at the end of the aforementioned chapter:
“q6.1 Having presented in detail the rules for someone condemning the wrong, they may be summarized in three traits needed by the person giving the reprimand:
(1) knowledge of the (A: above-mentioned) appropriate circumstances for censure and their definitions, to keep within lawful bounds;
(2) godfearingness, without which one might know something but not apply it because of some personal interest;
(3) and good character, the prime prerequisite for controlling oneself, for when anger is aroused, mere knowledge and piousness are seldom sufficient to suppress it if the character is lacking.
REDUCING ONE’S DEPENDENCE ON OTHERS
q6.2 Among the rules for commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is to depend less on others and eliminate the desire for what they have not to have to compromise one’s principles. A story is told about one of the early Muslims who used to get offal each day from the neighborhood butcher for his cat. He noticed something blameworthy about the butcher, so he returned home and turned out the cat before returning to reprimand the man, who retorted, “From now on, I’m not giving you a thing for your cat,” to which he replied, “I did not censure you till I gave up both the cat and any desire for what you have.” And this is the fact of the matter. One cannot reprimand others as long as one is anxious for two things: the things people give one and their approval and praise.
q6.3 As for politeness in commanding the right and forbidding the wrong, it is obligatory. Allah Most High says, “Speak unto him gentle words” (Koran 20:44) (A: this being to Pharaoh, the enemy of Allah, so how then with one’s fellow Muslims?) (Mukhtasar Minhaj al-qasidin (y62), 123-30). “
May Allah give you every success and guidance in this delicate matter
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.