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Forbidding the Evil: Islamic Responsibility

Forbidding the Evil: Islamic Responsibility


The late Maulana Sadruddin Islahi, a great scholar of Islam from India had written a book called “Islam and Ijtamaiat” written in Urdu. He cited and argued the importance of Ijtamiat (organization), he implored that any organization/Ijtamiat of Muslims are not permissible in Islam, except for the following three reasons:

  • To fulfill the responsibility of witness to the truth “Shahadate Haq”; Shuhda Alan Nas (witness over mankind). (Surah baqra-143)
  • Commanding the right and forbidding the evil. (Quran: Al- Imran-110)
  • Establishment of Deen of Islam, Ad-Deen of Allah, s.t, the way of life provided byAllah and practiced by His Messenger (S.A.)  and His Companions (R.A.) that includes politics, society, education, business and economy with establishment of salat ( (prayers), zakat (mandatory charity) [Iqamat E deen,  Aqeemu d Deen; Quran, Sura Ash-Shura -13].

Witness to the truth:

The Qur'an clearly states that witnessing a Truth in a manner that would leave mankind with no justifiable ground to deny it is the only purpose behind constituting you as a distinct Ummah (community), namely Muslims.

“And thus we have made you a community of the middle way, so that you may be witnesses [to the Truth] before all mankind, and the Messenger may be witness [to it] before you.” (Quran 2: 143).

This is no ordinary duty; it is a duty enjoined on you by Allah. It is a Divine command and a Divine call:

“O believers, be ever steadfast in standing up, for the sake of Allah, bearing witness to justice.” (alMa'idah 5: 8) .

It is not just a bit but a definite and grave mandate, for Allah also says:

 "And who is more unjust than one who conceals a testimony he has from Allah ? And Allah is not unaware of what you do. Quran 2:140”.

Lesson from the history of the people of Israel:  They too were appointed to stand in the witness-stand; but sometimes they suppressed the Truth, and sometimes they witnessed against it. By their conduct, they, in fact, became witnesses to falsehood rather than witnesses to the Truth. The consequence was that God forsook them and a curse fell upon them. And so, humiliation and powerlessness afflicted them, and they earned God's anger.” Al-Baqarah 2:61.

Commanding the right and forbidding the evil:

Muslims should not be so insensitive that they let falsehood, injustice and lies thrive and flourish.  People should not watch indifferently and knowingly, no matter where they are living and what the circumstances are. On the contrary, we should be a living in a morally ethical society so that whenever and wherever falsehood appears, the upholders of the Truth should rise up against it, and no member of the society rest content with only himself adhering to truth, righteousness, justice and rendering the rights of others, but should exhort others also to adopt the same way of life. This is the spirit that can ensure security of a society against moral degeneration and decay. If a society becomes devoid of this spirit, it cannot remain secure from loss, and eventually even those people also are affected by the loss, might in their own way be adhering to the truth, but were insensitive to violation of the truth in their society.

The same has been stated in Al-Ma'idah: "Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed. They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing. (5: 78-79).

The same idea has been expressed in Surah Al-A`raf, thus: "When the children of Israel totally forgot the teachings (of observing the Sabbath), We seized with a severe scourge all those who were transgressors, and We saved those who used to forbid evil" (v. 165); and in Surah Al-Anfal, thus: "And guard against that mischief which will not bring punishment in particular to the mischief-makers alone from among you." (v. 25) That is why to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is evil, has been enjoined on the Muslim community as a duty (Al-`Imran 104) and the community which performs this duty has been declared to be the best community (Al-`Imran: 110).

The Almighty says, "Make allowances for people, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant," (7:199) and the Almighty says, "The believers, men and women, are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong." (9:71) The Almighty says, "We rescued those who forbidden the evil and seized those who did wrong with a harsh punishment because they were deviators." (7:165)

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (R.A.) 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.'" [Muslim]

Conclusion: To rescue ourselves and save ourselves from punishment, commending the right and forbidding evil is a obligatory duty.

Establishment of Deen (the way of life):

“He has appointed for you the same Way of life which He had ordained for Noah and which (O Muhammad) We have now revealed to you; and which We had already enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus, stressing: "Establish this Way and be not divided in it."  The same thing to which you (O Muhammad) are calling the mushriks (who associate others with Allah) has set them ill at ease. Allah chooses for Himself whomever He wills, and He guides to His Way only him who turns to Him (in penitence). (Quran, Surah Ash Shuraa 42:13)

This Ayah is not revealed in Madinah where Muslims got the state power, instead it revealed in Makkah where Muslims are in extreme minority and living under severe hardships and oppression. It means Muslims living in whatever situation and circumstances, their political/social/religious activism should solely revolve around the establishment of DEEN (the way of life that GOD prescribed for the mankind).

Considering all above mentioned duties and responsibilities, do we have any such “Islamic Organization” in Canada or USA? The answer is NO.

Allah commands “There should always be among you some people (a party) who invite to what is good and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. They alone will attain true success.” (Quran: 3:104)

“And do not be like those, who became divided into sects and got involved in differences of opinion even after receiving clear teachings.Those (who have caused divisions), shall suffer a terrible punishment on the Day. (Quran: 3:105-106).

Some Islamic leaders present excuse that by having a charity status, they cannot full fill the responsibility of “Commanding the right and forbidding the evil.

This is a wrong excuse. Being a charity organization, the law doesn’t prohibit you to proclaim your religious beliefs on all vital issues. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees these rights; (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”

If you think that your “charity status” prohibits to “Witness to the Truth” and “Commanding the right and forbidding the evil, then why you seek charity status?  Will it be an excuse in the Day of Judgment, that you could not obey your command due to having a “charity status?” What will be your response at the witness stand on that inevitable big DAY?

As a not for profit or a community or political organization (you have liberty to form), you can address all these issues and can strive for the establishment (Iqamat) of deen through peaceful and patient religious, social, political activism, and by outreaching, and convincing the people. Our responsibility is a struggle in the direction and not to complete the establishment.

The first two steps of the stair of Iqamat of Deen are; 1. Witness to the truth  2. Commanding the right and forbidding the evil.

Syed Jawed Anwar can be reached at



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