Enjoining good and forbidding evil, (Arabic: amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa'n-nahiy an al-munkar), is the pivot
and most important principle in Islam and it is the main reason why Allah sent His Prophets
and Messengers to His creatures. If this principle is not implemented and put into practice,
then prophethood is ineffective, the deen fades away, misguidance, corruption and ignorance
prevail, civilizations decline, and nations are destroyed.
Whenever this principle has been extinguished, people follow their desires and whims, ignore
their Lord, and live like animals — and then you can hardly find anyone who adheres to the
principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil, even though the reward of putting it into
practice is great in the sight of Allah.
The Obligation to Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil
(Let there be a community among you
who call to the good,
and enjoin the right,
and forbid the wrong.
They are the ones who have success. ) (3: 104)
Allah also says:
( They are not all the same.
There is a community among the People of the Book
who are upright.
They recite Allah's Signs throughout the night,
and they prostrate.
They have iman in Allah and the Last Day,
and enjoin the right
and forbid the wrong,
and compete in doing good.
They are among the salihun. ) (3: 113-114)
In the above verse, Allah does not accept their righteousness just by their believing in Allah
and the Last Day, until He has added to it the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil.
In another verse, Allah says:
( The men and women of the believers
are friends of one another.
They command what is right
and forbid what is wrong. ) (9: 72)
Here Allah refers to the believers as those who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil --
therefore, anyone who forsakes this pillar is excluded from the ranks of the believers.
In another verse, Allah has cursed some of the tribe of Israel for abandoning the principle of
enjoining good and forbidding evil. He says:
( Those among the tribe of Israel who were disbelievers
were cursed on the tongue of Dawud
and that of 'Isa, son of Maryam.
That is because they rebelled
and overstepped the limits.
They would not restrain one another
from any of the wrong things that they did.
How evil were the things they used to do! ) (5: 78-79)
Whereas, Allah has praised those who have implemented the principle of enjoining good and
forbidding evil. He says:
( You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind.
You enjoin the right,
forbid the wrong
and have iman in Allah. ) (3: 110)
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say, 'He who amongst you sees
something objectionable should change it with the help of his hand; and if he does not have
the strength to do it, then he should reject it with his tongue; and if he does not have the
strength to do it, then he should reject it in his heart — and that is the least of faith."1
This hadith shows that rejecting evil should be done according to your strength and ability,
but should be done at least with your heart, because if your heart does not deny evil, this
means that your iman is gone. Therefore you must change evil with your hand and tongue if
you are able to do so, but in any event you must reject it with your heart — and this is an
obligation and the least of faith — otherwise Allah's punishment will come.
Extract from 'Heavens Door' by Ibn Qayiim al-Jawziyyah
Part 2: 16/12/2015
1 Muslim, 2/22-25; At-Tirmidhi, 9/18-19; Abu Dawud, 1128; An-Nasa'i', 8/111; Ibn Majah, 4013.