What is Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar?

Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar  is an important aspect of Islam. It is in fact the  rai·son d’être  of the Muslim Ummah. Either y...

Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar is an important aspect of Islam.

It is in fact the rai·son d’être of the Muslim Ummah.

Either you do it and give meaning to your existence, or you don’t care about it and get lost!

What, then, is this Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar?

Amr bil Ma’roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar is a popular Qur’anic phrase which means ‘Enjoining the Ma’roof and forbidding the Munkar‘.

Ma’roof means ‘good, known, well-known, generally recognized, beneficence, approved by Shariah”. So Amr Bil Ma’roof means ‘Enjoining the good, the approved”.

Munkar, which is the opposite of Ma’roof, means ‘bad, evil, detestable, disagreeable, abominable, disapproved’.

Nahi ‘anil Munkar means ‘Forbidding evil, the disapproved’.

So Amr bil Ma’roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar would mean to enjoin what is good and approved, and forbid what is evil and disapproved. 

What is Good and Approved are the Halaal, the Lawful in Islam. What is evil and disapproved are the Haraam, the Prohibited in Islam.

As Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا

 “And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain  from” (Surah al Hashr 59: 7)

What is the importance and significance of Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahi anil Munkar in Islam?

A few points for your reflection:

1. You are the best community in the world only because you enjoin good and forbid evil.

Audio of this ayah here

“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient”. (Surah Aal Imran 3:110)

Al Qurtubi said, “You are the best of peoples only if you enjoin good and forbid evil.”

2. There should always be a group calling people towards good and forbidding them from evil. This is an obligation upon the Ummah which is a collective responsibility.

Audio of this ayah here

“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (Surah Aal Imran 3: 104)

Your success in this world and in the Hereafter depends upon the fulfillment of this obligation. If you fail in your duty, you are “not among the successful”!

3. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is the principle characteristic of a Muslim.

A believer in Islam, male and female, should not only possess this character but also mutually cooperate in the promotion of good and the prohibition of evil. There is no gender bias in Islam.

“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Surah At-Tawbah 9:71)

4. Hypocrites, men and women, do the opposite. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right.

“The hypocrite men and hypocrite women are of one another. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right and close their hands. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them [accordingly]. Indeed, the hypocrites – it is they who are the defiantly disobedient”. (Surah At-Tawbah 9:67)

5. Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam said:

مَنْ رَأى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَراً فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ ، فَإنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ ، فَإنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ ، وَذَلِكَ أضْعَفُ الإيمَانِ

“Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith”.  

In this hadeeth, the glorious Prophet sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam has mentioned what should be a Muslim’s response to the happening evil in a beautiful way: Act as per your capability. 

1. If you capable, then stop the evil with your hand. Use your power, influence, status or force to stop bad things from happening.

2. If you are incapable of stopping evil with your hand, then at least speak out against it.

3. Even if that is not possible by you, then at least detest it in your heart telling yourself that such an evil is happening in front of my eyes and I am not able to do anything to stop it. Feeling bad at heart is the weakest form of Faith.

Those who do not have this ‘weakest form of Faith’, that is those who are not at all bothered about the evil happening, do not have Faith in the true sense.

6. Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahi ‘anil Munkar is a Fard Kifaayah, collective responsibility of the Muslim Ummah.

An-Nawawee said, “The Prophet’s saying ‘must change it’ indicates that practicing it is an obligation, by the consensus of the Ummah.”

He also said, “Enjoining good and forbidding evil is an obligation of collective responsibilty, Fard Kifaayah. Once it is undertaken by a number of people the rest are absolved of it. However, if neglected by everyone, then all those who are capable of discharging it, without legal excuse or fear, are considered sinful.

However, for a Muslim at the helm of affairs or in authority, this will become his individual responsibility, Fard Al Ayn.

7. You are On Board in this world. Either you are all drowned or all safe: 

Prophet sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam said:

“The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allah and that of the man who transgresses them is like the people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them : ‘If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.’ If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe”. (Hadeeth No. 187 )

We learn from this Hadeeth that the consequences of committing acts which are forbidden in Islam are not confined only to those persons who commit them, but the whole society has to suffer for them. It is, therefore, essential that the people who are in the habit of committing sinful acts and violate Divine injunctions, should be checked to save the whole society from destruction. If this is not done, the entire society will have to face the Divine punishment.

8. An important clarification by Abu Bakr As-Siddique radhiyallaahu anhu:

He reported, “O you people! You recite this Verse: ‘O you who believe! Take care of your ownselves. If you follow the right guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.’ (5:105) But I have heard Messenger of Allah (sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) saying: “When people see an oppressor but do not prevent him from (doing evil), it is likely that Allah will punish them all.” (Hadeeth 197, Riyadhus saliheen, Chapter 23)

Some people even today consider the Qur’anic verse, ‘Take care of yourselves‘, as justification to avoid ‘enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong’ saying that Allah has asked us to take care of ourselves, so why to bother about others!

By narrating this Hadeeth, Abu Bakr As-Siddique refuted this interpretation of the Ayah and made it clear that it is the duty of the Ummah and each of its member to make best possible efforts to check the vices prevalent in the society.

9. If you do not carry out your responsibility of Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahi ‘anil Munkar, then you du’aas go unanswered!

The Prophet sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam said:

“By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted”. (Hadeeth No. 193, Riyadhus Saliheen, Chapter 23)

May Allah help us to fulfill our role and responsibilities. Aameen.

Sal-lal-laahu ‘Ala Muhammad, Sal lal laahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam.

Jazakallaahu Khayra for reading this post.

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