Today's hadith is narrated in Sahih Muslim, in Book 1. It is hadith 84 .
It is narrated by Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "He among you who sees something abominable must change it with his hand. If he unable, then he must do it with his tongue. If he is unable, then he must do it in his heart, and that is the weakest form of faith." (The hadith in Arabic is mentioned at the bottom of this blog, if you would like to read it.)
This hadith mentions 3 options, one after the other, of which the weakest is to regard the evil, abominable act in one's mind and not being able to condemn it outwardly. When the believers become very weak in their faith and are unable to curb evil by force of by reprimanding the perpetrators, then consider that to be the weakest and most frail age of faith. When the believers are strong in their faith, they are sufficed to merely think of an evil as reprehensible, but they use strong words and physical strength to put an end to it.
If anyone regards something as evil, and exerts himself to curb it, then there is another hadith which praises this; "The best form of Jihad is to speak the truth before a cruel king."
A person should be wary about what they enjoin and forbid. For example, there are some concerns which the common Muslims have no knowledge of. They should refrain from enjoining and forbidding in those matters.
A person's character when enjoining good and forbidding evil is also very important. They should have good manners. They should be cheerful, mild, and gentle. They should never admonish a person in the presence of others as that would be disgracing him. To have these characteristics, it will help with those who enjoin good and forbid evil.
Who should condemn evil?
Some scholars say that the first option, to stop evil by force, is to be exercised by those believers whom Allah has blessed with authority and power. It is their responsibility to put an end to evil in their domain and try to reform the perpetrators of evil.
The second option, to stop evil by admonishing and enjoining orally, is the responsibility of the scholars. They must urge and advise people to stay away from evil.
The third option, to regard evil as an abominable act in one's mind, refers to the general body of the Muslims. It is required that when they see something which is prohibited or disapproved by the shari'ah (divine law), then they must turn away from it and consider it as an evil in their hearts.
Some scholars say the third option is the weakest form of faith because if a Muslim sees something that is evil and does not even think of it as an evil, but seems to be satisfied with it and considers it good, it can become a form of disbelief.
The degrees of enjoining the reputable and forbidding the disreputable are commensurate with the degrees of piety and evil. If anything is contrary to the shari'ah (divine law) and is of the degree of haram (unlawful), then to forbid the disreputable is obligatory. If anything is disapproved (makruh), then to forbid it is desirable (mustahab).
The words of the hadith clearly indicate the duty of of enjoining good and forbidding evil. This must be for every Muslim man or woman, free or slave, and even a confirmed sinner. With regards to the verse: "Why do you say that what you do not do?" (61:2), the verse does not apply in this circumstance. Rather, this verse aims to prevent people from forsaking deeds. It does not disallow anyone to encourage people to do good.
If a person urges others to do good, yet does not do good himself, then the verse cautions such a person. He is commendable when he enjoins the piety of others yet it is most improper of him to not abide by what he encourages others to do. This verse does not at all prove that one who fails to perform righteous deeds should not preach to others. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there is nothing better if one who enjoins piety follow it himself because the advice of one who does not set an example himself, has no effect at all.
Imam Nawawi's opinion (from his sharh of Muslim):
Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) writes that the possibility of rejection does not waive the obligation of enjoining piety and forbidding evil. If anyone images that a certain person will not agree to his enjoining piety and forbidding evil, then even in this case, he must still enjoin and forbid.
Firstly, the preacher should not worry about whether his preaching will be heeded or not. Admonition and exhortation by themselves are very beneficial and do have an effect in some way or the other at some time. There is a Quranic verse which supports this: "Admonition benefits the believers" (51:55).
Secondly, simply on the assumption that one's preaching will have no effect, one cannot give up their responsibility. Rather, one must bear in mind that one has to propagate and spread goodness while forbidding evil. People went so far as to belie the Prophet (PBUH) and refused to believe him; yet, the Prophet (PBUH) did not give up the duty of propagating the truth.
Advice or inspiration from this hadith:
- We should enjoin good and forbid evil wherever we find it
- We should never give advice or rulings on matter in which we have no knowledge about
- If you cannot enjoin good and forbid evil with your hand, then you must do it with your tongue, and if you cannot, then you must do it with your heart.
That is all for today, alhamdulillah. Insha'Allah, we have all benefited from it. May Allah allow us to have complete faith in Him and allow us to fully act upon the sayings and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). May Allah bless us with knowledge and understanding so that we may contemplate upon His words. May Allah allow us to enjoin good and forbid evil for his sake. May Allah forgive us all and enter us into paradise. Ameen.
If you have any opinions or corrections to make, please mention them in the comments. Jazakumullah khair.