Sinners must still encourage good and forbid evil
Fatwa No: 53105

  • Fatwa Date:11-3-2012 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 18, 1433
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Question

I heard the Imaam in a Friday sermon say that whoever desires to advise a person should first investigate whether he himself is free from that sin or not, this is because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, warned us against this. However, all of us commit sins, especially in this era which is full of temptations. Man tries to resist his evil self but his desires, Satan and the self overcome him. Meanwhile, one does not like to see his fellow Muslim commit the same sin, and so advises him even so. Is this person included in the threat of punishment illustrated by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? Please provide me with an accurate explanation of the Hadeeth and tell me to whom it refers. I have read on your website that those who share a table on which alcohol is served have to forbid one another due to the obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil. How can we reconcile this Hadeeth and encouraging good?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

The Hadeeth (narration) you referred to is narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of 'Usaamah ibn Zayd  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stated that on the Day of Resurrection a man will be thrown in Hell so that his entrails will come out of his abdomen and he will revolve therewith. The inhabitants of Hell will assemble around him and ask him, 'Why are you suffering? Didn't you enjoin good and forbid evil?' He will reply that he used to enjoin good without doing it himself and forbid evil without relinquishing it himself.

Unquestionably, this Hadeeth is frightening. However, man has to encourage good and forbid evil because being upright is not a condition for doing this, as stated by the Hanbali scholars Al-Mardaawi and As-Saffaareeni  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them. Had encouraging good and forbidding evil been exclusive to those free from sin, no one could do this. This is mentioned by Al-Qurtubi about Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr and Maalik ibn 'Anas  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them all.

It is better and obligatory upon man to repent from all of his sins, to apply what he calls others to and not to that which he forbids others. The example to be followed in this is the Prophet Shu‘ayb  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention when he said to his people (what means): {And I do not intend to differ from you in that which I have forbidden you; I only intend reform as much as I am able. And my success is not but through Allaah. Upon Him I have relied, and to Him I return.} [Quran 11:88].

Undoubtedly, if a person acts in this way, it is more likely that people will respond, rather than to a person who encourages good without doing it and forbids evil while partaking in it.

Allaah Knows best.

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