18: Enjoining Good & Forbidding Evil – Renewing Religion: An Overview of the Ihya – Shakh Riad Saloojee


In this lesson, visiting scholar, Shaykh Riad Saloojee gives an overview of the chapter on enjoining the good and forbidding the evil from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya. This chapter is divided into a number of topics:
[1] the importance of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil
[2] the conditions and etiquette of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil
[3] the integrals of doing so.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever of you sees wrongdoing then let him change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then let him feel it wrong with his heart. And that is the weakest of faith.”

This hadith gives us an opportunity to understand the meanings of hadith from the text. The way this text has many lessons that have been derived from it by our scholars. In order to derive meaning from a text one must first have an understanding of fiqh theory and principles. The application of the text must produce benefit, because the whole religion is bring upon benefit. In order for one to begin enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, one must first ask themselves these questions:
[1] How sure am I of the legal ruling?
[2] Is this a matter of difference between scholars?
[3] If we believe it is definitely wrong, will be there be a benefit in discouraging it? Consider the probable consequences of your actions.
[4] Can they understand what you will say? Should you then speak in detail or in summary?
[5] Always begin with gentleness, wisdom and being nice
[6] Check your motives first, and if they are in any way egotistical then you should not enjoin good or forbid evil in that moment… Only then should one speak

Shaykh Riad reminds us that this whole enterprise rests on having good character and that is dependent on a sound heart that is attached to Allah. This hadith can apply to all types of activism that one might want to undertake. Lastly, never think that your advice or doing is indispensable so if you feel like your intentions are not sound for what you are about to say or do, then do not do it.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

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