Conditions for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil -ibn al-‘Uthaymeen

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Conditions for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen may Allah have mercy on him

The shaykh mentioned this point of benefit in his explanation of Imaam Nawawi’s 40 hadith. This particular benefit can be found in his explanation of the 25th hadith narrated by Abu Dharr. Ibn al-‘Uthyameen says:

There are two conditions for enjoining good:

Condition 1: He must have knowledge that what he is enjoining is good. If he is unaware that is it good then it is not permissible for him to speak. That is because if he is enjoining something while being unaware/ignorant then he is speaking about Allah without knowledge.

Condition 2: He must know that the one who he is speaking to has left off this good. If he doesn’t know whether or not this person left it off then he must find out. The proof for this is that one time a man entered the (masjid) on the day of Jumu’ah and sat while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was giving the khutba. The Prophet asked, “Did you pray?” and the man responded no, and then the Prophet said, “Stand up and pray two units of salah and make them short.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

So he didn’t order him with the two units of salah until he asked first if he did it or not. Therefore, it is a must to learn whether or not that person has left off the good.

There are three conditions for forbidding evil:

Condition 1: He must learn that this act is evil with a legislative evidence. Not by his taste, custom, jealousy, or emotion and not just because he sees it to be an evil that it is evil. Perhaps he may forbid someone from something that is (in reality) good.

Condition 2: He must know that the person has actually fallen into that act of evil. If he does not know whether he fell into evil or not then it is not permissible to prohibit him from it.

An example of this is if you see a man eating and drinking in the days of Ramadan in Masjid Harem. It is not upon you to forbid this man from this action until you ask him if he is a traveler or not. Because it is possible that he may be a traveler and (in this instance) it is permissible for him to eat and drink during Ramadan.

Therefore it is a must to learn whether the one who is being spoken to has indeed fall into evil or not.

Condition 3: Forbidding evil cannot lead to something which is worse. If forbidding evil leads to something that is worse then it becomes prohibited to do this deed.

And effects of forbidding evil is four types:

1. The evil disappears- this is obligatory to do because the evil disappears.

2. The evil becomes less- this is also obligatory to do because the evil lessens.

3. The evil changes to something which is similar to it- this depends perhaps it may lead to something that is less or it may become worse.

4. The evil leads to something greater– in this case it is prohibited to forbid evil because it leads to something that is worse.

Now if someone were to say where are the evidences for these types? We would respond:

As for the first two, then if there is a possibility for the evil to be removed it becomes obligatory to do so. Allah stated:

تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ‌ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَٱلۡعُدۡوَٲنِ‌ۚ

“…Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression…” (5:2)

وَلۡتَكُن مِّنكُمۡ أُمَّةٌ۬ يَدۡعُونَ إِلَى ٱلۡخَيۡرِ وَيَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ‌ۚ

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islâm), enjoining Al-Ma’rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden)…” (3:104)

As for the fourth, then if it would lead to more harm then it is prohibited to forbid this evil. The evidence for this is the statement of Allah:

وَلَا تَسُبُّواْ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ ٱللَّهَ عَدۡوَۢا بِغَيۡرِ عِلۡمٍ۬‌ۗ

“And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allâh, lest they insult Allâh wrongfully without knowledge…” (6:108)

So it is prohibited to curse the gods of the polytheists, because cursing their gods would lead to them attributing something deficient to Allah which He is free from.

It is mentioned that Shaykhul Islaam ibn Taymeeyah 728 AH (may Allah have mercy on him) one time he was with his companion and they witness people drinking alcohol and committing mischief in a certain place and Ibn Taymeeyah did not forbid them from doing so. His companion then said to him, “Why didn’t you prohibit them (from their actions?)” and he replied, “If I had prohibited them from their actions they would have went to the people’s homes trespassing and robbing their property. And this is more severe than what they are doing right now.” So look at his understanding in the religion of Allah.

Translated by: Michael AbdusSalaam Deonarain

الفقير الى الله

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