Ordering Right and Forbidding Wrong In Islam.

Ordering Right and Forbidding Wrong In Islam.

Ordering right and forbidding wrong is a fundamental part which is essential to our success in this life and in the hereafter both individually and collectively. It is sometimes an individual, absolute and specific obligation (Fardh ‘ain) and others it is a general obligation on the Ummah as a whole (Fardh kifaya). The meaning of Fardh kifaya is that if those sufficient for the task fulfill it, the entire Ummah is blameless. On the other hand, if this obligation is not fulfilled by a number sufficient for the task, then the entire nation is in sin, the sin of each one being according to their ability to address the problem.  Ordering right and forbidding wrong is an individual obligation upon one who personally witnesses or is in the presence of wrongdoing. Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Whoever among you sees wrongdoing, let him correct it with his hand. If he is unable to do that, then let him correct it with his tongue. If he is unable to do that, then let him correct it with his heart and there is not a single grain of faith beyond that.” A special case of this is those who are in authority over others – their responsibility is specific and absolute and they will be questioned about those under their authority. We have all heard the hadith of Rasulullah (SAW) in which Rasulullah (SAW) says: “Every one of you is a guardian and every one of you will be asked about those under his/her custody…”  In one version of this hadith Rasulullah (SAW) added at the end: “…until each man will be asked about those in his household: did he establish Allah’s Shari’ among them or did he allow it to become lost?”

The word Ma’roof literally means “that which is known”, but a subtle other meaning of this word in Arabic is also something like “that which the healthy and pious soul accepts and acknowledges as good”. Likewise, munkar means something “unknown” or “strange” but is also sometimes used to mean “that which the healthy and pious soul rejects and recognizes as bad”. This meaning is also found in a hadith which mentions the corrupt rulers which will afflict this Ummah in its later days about whom Rasulullah (SAW) says: “…ta’rifoona minhum wa tunkiroon…” Which Literally means : “You know from them (i.e., some of their actions) and you reject (i.e., other of their actions).” In order to carry out ordering what is right and forbidding what is wrong, an individual must develop various traits within themselves:

a) Knowledge: It has been said: “Whoever worships Allah without knowledge corrupts more than he sets right.” Especially in this area it is critical to have sufficient knowledge in order to be sure that one is calling to what is right and also prioritizing correctly for example not criticizing another on some small details or ritual (possibly even issues where there is significant difference of opinion) while neglecting other much more serious issues such as associating others with Allah in worship or in legislation.

b) Compassion: This act of worship must be done solely out of desire for Allah’s pleasure and reward first of all and out of true concern for the one being addressed secondly. Any other intentions or motivations will corrupt the act and cause it to bear no fruit or to have negative consequences.

The caller must begin with himself and beware of falling into being two-faced – calling to things which he himself does not fulfill. Allah described those who do this as being “senseless” or without intelligence. Allah says:

أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنْسَوْنَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

“Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practice it) yourselves, and yet ye study the Scripture? Will ye not understand” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 44)

Al-Hassan Al- was a great preacher who would have all eyes filled with tears in minutes and benefited many with his words every day. Al-Hassan reported that each and every day when he returned to his home he was in fear from Allah’s statement:

 فَالزَّاجِرَاتِ زَجْرًافَالتَّالِيَاتِ ذِكْرًا

“O you who believe, why do you say that which you do not do? It is so hateful to Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (Surah As-Saff 37: 2-3)

In addition to being an individual obligation upon the one who witnesses wrongdoing, enjoining right and forbidding wrong is a general obligation on the Ummah as a whole. Every Muslim is responsible to do what they can to rid this nation of wrongdoing and injustice. If people sufficient to this task are carrying it out then the rest of the Muslims are free of blame, but such a group must always exist within this nation. Allah says:

وَلْتَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.” (Surah al ‘Imraan 3: 104)

Those who carry out this duty are the best among us just as we are the best among humanity because of our ordering what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Allah says:

كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ ۚ مِنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” (Surah al ‘Imraan 3: 110)

Ordering what is right and forbidding what is wrong is how we aid and support one another. It is what gives us success in this life and in the hereafter. Neglecting it has grave consequences both in this life and in the hereafter. It is the cause of Allah’s mercy. Allah says:

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.” (Surah Taubah 9: 71)

There is a direct relation between ordering right and forbidding wrong and earthly power and stability. Allah says:

الَّذِينَ إِنْ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ

“(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22: 41)

It is not an easy duty and anyone who fulfills it will be met with rejection, mistreatment and abuse. Luqmaan said to his son:

يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

“O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.” (Surah Luqmaan 31: 17 )

Ordering right and forbidding wrong is also one of the duties of “the street”, i.e., all public places such as malls, markets and public streets and avenues. Rasulullah (SAW) discouraged Muslims from these places and they should not be taken as “recreation” or places to go just to wander around and enjoy oneself. A Muslim should only go to such places for some need or important benefit, otherwise they should be avoided. Abu Saeed Al-Khudri narrates that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Stay away from sitting in the streets.” They said: “O Allah’s Messenger (SAW), we have no alternative to our sitting places. It is where we converse.” Rasulullah (SAW) said: “If you have refused and insisted on your sittings, then give the street its right.” They said: “And what is the right of the street, O Allah’s Messenger (SAW)?” Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Lowering the gaze, withholding your harmfulness, returning the greeting, ordering what is right and forbidding what is wrong.” (Al-Bukhari) Neglect of this part of Islam can have horrible consequences in the hereafter. Usamah ibn Zaid narrates: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: “A man will be brought out on Qiyamah. He will be thrown into the fire and his intestines pulled from his abdomen. He will circle with them like the way a donkey walks around the grindstone (turning it). The people of hell-fire will gather around him and say: ‘O so-and-so what has happened to you? Did you not order what is right and forbid what is wrong?” He will say: “Yes. I used to order what is right and not do it and forbid what is wrong and do it.” (Al- Bukhari and Muslim) In this life, one of the consequences of neglecting ordering right and forbidding wrong is a general punishment which cuts off even the righteous among us from Allah Most High. Rasulullah (SAW) said: “By the One in whose hand my soul is, you will order what is right and you will forbid what is wrong or Allah is about to send upon you a punishment from Him. Then, you will call to Him but He will not respond to you.” Hudhayfah described those who abandon ordering right and forbidding wrong as the “living dead”. Hudhayfah was asked about the living dead and he said: “Those who do not forbid wrongdoing with their hands, their tongues or their hearts.”


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