UNIT ELEVEN – AMR BI-MA’RUF WA AN-NAHY AN AL-MUNKAR (Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil)

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Abu Said al-Khudri, may Allah be well pleased with him, said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say: ‘Whoever of you sees something wrong should change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart, and that is the weakest form of belief.’” (Sahih Muslim, Iman, 78. See also: Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 11; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Iman, 17).



Abu Said al-Khudri 1. Sa’d ibn Malik ibn Sinan ibn Ubayd’s father had become Muslim in Medina when the message of Islam was first conveyed in the city; Abu Said was born into a Muslim family. 2. Abu Said al-Khudri is among the mukthirun Companions of the Prophet, who narrated over a thousand hadith. 3. Abu Said participated in the construction of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. He was too young to participate in the Battle of Badr, but took part in the Battle of Uhud alongside his father. 4. He passed away in the seventy- fourth year after the Emigration, at eighty-one years of age.



Ma’ruf denotes a thing accepted as good in Islam and encompasses everything in the sphere of obedience to Allah. On the contrary, Munkar are those things not approved of in Islam and deemed to be transgression against Allah. The responsibility of enjoining the ma’ruf and forbidding the munkar is religiously incumbent upon Muslims. The obligatory nature of this has been established with the Book and the Sunnah. In addition, this religious obligation is one of the greatest of all religious obligations and constitutes the backbone of the religion. The formation of a group that would realize this mission is a collective duty (fard al-kifaya). The Muslim community is obligated to raise a community to fulfill this duty. If this is not accomplished, the entire community will be held accountable and cannot be absolved from responsibility.

Allah declares: “The hypocrites, both men and women, are all of a kind: enjoining and promoting what is evil and forbidding and trying to prevent what is right and good…” (at-Tawbah 9:67). However, the qualities of the believers in this regard are described thus: “The believers, both men and women, they are guardians, confidants, and helpers of one another. They enjoin and promote what is right and good and forbid and try to prevent the evil…” (at-Tawbah 9:71).

Is the duty of enjoining the good and preventing the evil merely the duty of a community established solely for this task? Don’t human beings hold individual responsibilities in this regard? The obligation of promoting the good and trying to prevent the evil is common to all believers. Such verses as, “Do you enjoin upon people holiness and virtue but forget your own selves,” (al-Baqarah 2:44) and “Most odious it is in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not (and will not) do,” (as-Saff 61:3) demonstrate that all individuals in society are charged with the duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. No one can absolve themselves in this regard. Advocating the good and striving to prevent the evil to the best of their ability is a command that is absolutely binding on every individual Muslim (fard al-ayn).

1. Muslim scholars have asserted that, in the general sense, changing something that is wrong with one’s hand is the duty of administrators, changing it with one’s tongue is the duty of scholars, and changing it with the heart falls upon the people, and those unable to actualize the others. If changing an evil is going to give rise to even greater disorder and evil, such as killing, than one must suffice with changing it verbally, or by means of advice and counsel. If speaking is similarly going to endanger or threaten, then trying to change that wrong with one’s heart must be preferred. Implied in changing something with one’s heart is to view that thing as repugnant and to abhor it inwardly.

2. Amr bi-ma’ruf wa an-nahy an al-munkar is a path leading to the purpose of one’s creation. Allah revealed for display the palace of the universe for precisely this reason and again charged the human being therein with this mission. “There must be among you a community calling to good, and enjoining and actively promoting what is right, and forbidding and trying to prevent evil (in appropriate ways). They are those who are the prosperous” (Al Imran 3:104). Indeed, there must be in society, a community carrying out Amr bi-ma’ruf wa an-nahy an al-munkar, inviting to good and prevent wickedness, showing human beings what is true and right, and who are themselves upon the path of righteousness.

If there, is in a particular place, a community enjoining the good and striving to prevent evil, Allah the Almighty promises to protect the people of that place from all afflictions and disasters. It is not possible for another to provide such a guarantee. He declares:

And it has never been the way of your Lord to destroy the townships unjustly while their people were righteous, dedicated to continuous self-reform and setting things right in the society. (Hud 11:117)

Allah does not impose punishment upon a place wherein the duty of calling people to what is right and working to prevent the wrong is realized. Thus, the Prophet states, “Anyone who creates a good Sunnah in Islam has its reward.” It is not possible to consider the enterprise of promoting good and preventing evil without reflecting upon Mus’ab ibn Umayr, his self-sacrifice, his endeavors, as well as his method:

 The First Teacher

The Medinan natives who had embraced Islam at the first Aqaba Allegiance wrote to the Messenger of Allah, saying: “O Messenger of Allah, Islam has been declared among us and has begun to spread. Send to us a person who will invite the people to the Book of Allah, to recite the Qur’an to us, teach us the religion of Islam, demonstrate and establish its practices and commandments, and lead us in the Prayer.” Upon this, Allah’s Messenger appointed Mus’ab ibn Umayr to Medina, instructing him to teach the natives of Medina how to read the Qur’an, to teach them Islam, to help them understand its commandments and prohibitions, and to lead them in Prayer.

Mus’ab ibn Umayr reached Medina in a short time and was greeted with great jubilation. He was hosted at the residence of As’ad ibn Zurara, one of the first Medinan Muslims. There, he began to teach the people their religion and, by virtue of his great efforts and service, Islam spread rapidly throughout the city until it reached every house.



1. The establishment of an administration that would promote the good and work to prevent evil, raising scholars to realize this task, and forming a community to undertake this endeavor is a collective obligation upon the Muslims.

2. Advocating what is right and trying to prevent what is wrong is a duty that is absolutely binding upon every Muslim, to their own ability and capacity.

3. Preventing evil in society with the hand is, broadly speaking, the duty of administrators, prevention with the tongue, or through verbal communication, teaching, counsel and advice, is the duty of scholars and the learned, and reacting to evil with the heart, expressing abhorrence and aversion, is the duty of the community.

4. Promoting the good and trying to prevent the evil is the common responsibility of the Muslim community.



1. What is the weakest level of belief according to the hadith?

2. How many hadith were narrated by Abu Said al-Khudri? What is his actual name?

3. What is the meaning of ma’ruf and munkar?

4. “The believers, both men and women, they are guardians, confidants, and helpers of one another. They ……… and ……… what is right and good and ……… and try to ……… the evil.”

5. “The hypocrites, both men and women, are all of a kind: enjoining and promoting what is ……… and forbidding and trying to prevent what is ……… and ……… .”

6. Changing evil with the hand is the duty of ………, changing these with the tongue is the duty of ………, and reacting with the heart is the duty of ……… .

7. What is the assurance that the residents of a particular place would be protected from affliction and disaster?

8. ……… ends can only be reached through right means.

9. Why did Sufyan al-Thawri refuse going to the presence of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid?

10. What spiritual qualities must a person undertaking Amr bi-ma’ruf wa annahy ‘an al-munkar possess?

11. What issues needs to be taken into consideration when promoting the good and preventing the evil?

12. Briefly describe Mus’ab ibn Umayr’s method of Amr bi-ma’ruf wa annahy ‘an al-munkar.

13. What does it mean to change a wrong with one’s heart?



Tekines, Ayhan. “An Introduction to Hadith” Tughra Books Press. January 2013.