When Does Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil Concern Me?


In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

On the authority of Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him] who said, ” The Messenger of Allaah [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, ‘Part of the perfection of a person’s Islaam is leaving that which is of no concern to him'”. [Hassan Hadith. Reported by Imaam Tirmidhi and others. Number 12 in the 40 Hadeeth of Imaam An-Nawawi]

Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al Uthaimeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: From the benefits of this narration is that indeed Islaam gathers all the excellent qualities. Our Shaikh Abdur Rahmaan Bin Sa’di [may Allaah have mercy upon him] wrote a treatise on this topic titled: “The Excellence of The Religion of Islaam”. Likewise, Shaikh Abdul Azeez Bin Muhammad Bin Sulaymaan [may Allaah have mercy upon him] has written a treatise on this topic. And all the excellent qualities of Islaam are gathered in two statements: [ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ – Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone – Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet in a perfect manner)]. [Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 90]

Part of the perfection of a person’s Islaam is to leave what is of no importance to him and that which has no connection to his affairs and needs. One cannot perfect his Islaam through preoccupying himself with what does not concern him. This happens to many people, so you either find him speaking about affairs that do not concern him, or a person asks him about affairs that do not concern him and he enters into what does not concern him. This weakens (one’s Islaam). Indeed, it is incumbent upon the person to seek after the excellent qualities of Islaam, in order to abandon what does not concern him and to be at ease. He will exhaust himself if he busies himself with affairs that are neither important nor of concern to him. However, an Ishkaal (an ambiguity or something that may be difficult to understand) occurs on this point here, and that is does the person’s abandonment of that which does not concern him mean that he is to abandon enjoining good and Forbidding Evil? The answer is no, because enjoining good and forbidding evil is something that concerns a person, as Allaah (The Most High) said:

[وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۚ – Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good and forbidding Al-Munkar]. [Surah Aal Imran. Aayah 104]

So, if you see a person upon evil, you should say to him, “O brother! This is an evil deed and it is not permissible”. The person who witnesses that (evil) has no right to say, “This does not concern me”, and it will not be accepted were you to say this. That is because enjoining good and forbidding evil concerns the whole Ummah. [Ref 1]
Allaah (The Most High) said:

[يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ – O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the right guidance no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do]. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayah 105]

[ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ – O you who believe! Take care of your own selves]- Meaning, strive in rectifying and perfecting your own souls, and keep them firm upon adherence to the straight path, because if you are righteous, you will not be harmed by the one who has deviated from the straight path and is not guided to the upright religion; rather he only harms himself. (However), this does not indicate that the person is not harmed if he abandons enjoining good and forbidding evil, and is negligent towards it, because indeed his guidance will not be complete except through fulfilling what is obligated on him with regards to enjoining good and forbidding evil. Yes, if he is (genuinely) unable to stop evil with his hand and his tongue, but rejects it in his heart, then indeed he will not be harmed by the misguidance of others. [إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا -The return of you all is to Allah] – Meaning, your final destination is the day of Judgement and your gathering will be in the presence of Allaah (The Most High) [فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ – then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do” regarding (your) good and evil (deeds). [Ref 2]

Question to Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him]: “Is enjoining good and forbidding evil by the hand an obligation on all Muslims, or is it restricted to those in authority and their deputies?”

Answer: Stopping wrong is obligated on all Muslims according to their ability, because the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “Anyone of you who sees evil [i.e. that which is declared an evil deed in Islaam], let them stop it with their hand; if he cannot, then with their tongue; and if they cannot, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of Imaan’’. [Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi & others]

However, stopping evil by the hand must be based on ability and should not result in greater corruption or evil. A man has the right to rectify matters with his hand in his home [i.e. based on what the law of the land allows him]; a manager has the authority to make changes with the hand within the organization they are responsible for, in accordance with the instructions that were given to them [i.e. the authority given to them by the state authorities]; otherwise, people should not change with their hand anything they are not authorised to change. If they do make changes in matters that they have no authority over, this will result in more evil and great corruption between them and the people and between the people and the state.

In this case they should stop evil with their tongue (by speaking out). They may say: ‘’O Fulaan! Fear Allaah! This is not permissible; this is Haraam, or “This is obligated on you,’’ and clarify it with evidence from Sharee’ah. [NB: In the UK, objecting to certain behaviour can be viewed as harassment or verbal abuse, therefore a Muslim should be aware of what the law allows him before he says or does anything whilst living in the West].

As for stopping evil with the hand, this should be done where one has authority, such as one’s home [i.e. within what the law allows] when dealing with those under one’s responsibility, or those authorized by the ruler, such as organizations given permission and authority to enjoin Good. They should make changes in accordance with the authority they have been given- in the way prescribed by the Sharee’ah, without exceeding their jurisdiction. The same applies to the governor of a city. [Ref 3]

All Noble Manners Revolve Around Four Ahaadeeth

Ibn Abee Zayd Al-Qayrawaani [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “All noble manners and etiquettes revolve around four ahaadeeth: “Whoever believes in Allaah and the last day then let him speak good or keep silent”. This Hadeeth teaches us about restraining the tongue from (evil, false, doubtful speech etc), because whoever is unable to restrain his tongue from (these blameworthy affairs) is not considered to be from the people of good manners. The Second Hadeeth is “Part of the perfection of a person’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him”. This Hadeeth teaches us to refrain from engaging in excess and that which does not concern us. The person who concerns himself with those affairs of the people that do not concern him – either by listening, looking or speaking -is not considered to be from the people of good manners. The Third Hadeeth is “A man said to the Prophet, ‘ ‘Advise me’. He said, ‘Do not become angry’. The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet said to him, ‘Do not become angry'”. This Hadeeth teaches us self-restraint when we are angry. That is because anger is the basis of every evil in speech and action. Whoever cannot restrain himself (or herself) from (evil) when he is angry cannot be considered to be from the people of good manners. The Fourth Hadeeth is “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”. This Hadeeth is a means of rectifying the heart and soul, so that a person’s heart is free from harbouring malice, hatred, envy towards his Muslim brothers and sisters. If a person acquires precise understanding of these four ahaadeeth and acts upon them, they have indeed acted on all the affairs related to good manners and etiquettes. These four ahaadeeth comprise of four affairs: To restrain the tongue from [evil, false, doubtful speech etc], restrain oneself from excess – be it by way of speech, looking, listening etc. restrain oneself from evil desires and wishes during anger and to possess a heart that is free from unjustified hatred, blameworthy envy [i.e. wishing that blessings bestowed on others should cease] and malice etc [[Source: Audio Number 15. Explanation of the forty Hadeeth of Imaam An-Nawawi’ (rahimahullaah) by Shaikh Abdur-Razzaaq Al-Badr (may Allaah preserve him)]

Some Statements of The Salaf

Abdur-Rahmaan Al-Umari [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “If a slave of Allaah is one who keeps away from the doubtful matters due fear of falling into the forbidden and ruining one’s hereafter, he will abandon what does not concern him and will concern himself with what concerns him.” (Ref 4)

Fudayl Ibn Iyaad [may Allaah ahve mercy upon him] said: “The people claim that the affair of keeping away from the doubtful matters out of fear of falling into the forbidden and ruining one’s hereafter is very difficult; but I do not come across two affairs, except that I select the affair that is more difficult for me (to abandon); so leave what makes you doubtful for what is not doubtful.” (Ref 5)

Hassaan Bin Abee Sinaan [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “There is not anything easier than the affair of keeping away from the doubtful matters due to fear of falling into the forbidden and ruining one’s hereafter; so when you are doubt about something, leave it.” (Ref 6)

Some of the people of knowledge and understanding said: “When you speak, remember that Allaah hears you; and when you keep quiet, then remember that He sees you.” (Ref 7)

Umar Bin Abdul Azeez [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “Whoever makes his speech reckon with his actions, then his speech in that which does not concern him will be little.” (Ref 8)


[Ref1: ‘Sharh Al-Arba’een An-Nawawiyyah’ of Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah), (Hadith No: 12. pages 181-182]

[Ref 2: Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer kalaam Al-Mannaan of Imaam as-Saa’di (rahimahullaah)]

[Ref 3: Fataawa Ibn Baaz 8/208. Slightly paraphrased]

[Ref4: Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page:117]

[Ref 5: Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page:117]

[Ref 6: Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page:117]

[Ref 7:Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page:122]

[Ref 8: Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page: 122]

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