‘Do's and Don'ts’ of enjoining good and forbidding evil
Fatwa No: 341197

  • Fatwa Date:7-12-2016 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 8, 1438
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. What are the ‘do's and dont's’ of enjoining good and forbidding evil? I heard that it is necessary to use ‘we’ while correcting someone and not ‘you’. Is there any proof for that? And should a man always enjoin good and forbid evil? And what is the meaning of the last verse of SuraH Al-‘Asr (what means): {…and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.} [Quran 103:3]? May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

When enjoining good and forbidding evil, one should observe what the scholars summarized as follows: knowledge before enjoining, gentleness when enjoining, and patience after enjoining. This means that a person must know what he enjoins and what he forbids and use the best gentle style when addressing the person that he is enjoining, pursuant to the saying of Allah to Moosa (Moses) and Haaroon (Aron), may Allah exalt their mention (which means): {And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah].} [Quran 20:44]

Part of such style is to say, ‘we do such-and-such’ or, ‘many people do such and such’ as this is softer and nicer than confrontational speech like, ‘you do this’ and ‘you do that’; but it is not an obligation to do so.

What is important is to take the most gentle style which is the closest to the person who is enjoined to do something or forbidden from doing something into account. Then he should be patient with the harm that he may encounter after enjoining good or forbidding evil.

As regards the obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil in all cases, then you should know that enjoining good and forbidding evil is a communal obligation; if some people do it, then the obligation is removed from the others.

Any person who sees evil is obliged to change it according to his ability; if he can change it with his hands (physically), then he should do so; otherwise, with his tongue; and if he is also unable to change it with his tongue, then with his heart. No one is forgiven for not denying evil in his heart, as this is the least level of denying evil. So this is an obligation in all cases.

As regards other kinds of changing evil and denying it, then this is not an obligation except if one is able to do so, with the condition that this does not lead to a greater evil than the benefit of enjoining good and forbidding evil. For more benefit, please refer to fatwas 9358, 24634 and 36372.

As regards Allah’s saying {…and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.} [Quran 103:3], it means that they command each other to abide by the Sharia and respect the limits that it sets, and they advise each other to be patient in doing this because there is hardship in going against one’s desires.

Allah knows best.

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