Commanding the right and forbidding the wrong

Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous)

by Imam Nawawi

23. Chapter: On commanding the right and forbidding the wrong

Allah Almighty says, "Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success." (3:104)

The Almighty says, "You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the is right, forbid the wrong." (3:110).

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, "Those among the Tribe of Israel who rejected were cursed on the tongue of Dawud and that of 'Isa, son of Maryam. That is because they rebelled and overstepped the limits. They would not restrain one another from any of the wrong things that they did. How evil were the things they used to do!" (5:78-79)

and the Almighty says, "Say: 'It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes believe and whoever wishes reject.'" (18:29)

The Almighty says, "Proclaim what you have been ordered to," (15:94)

and 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)

184. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri 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]

185. Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,said, "There is no Prophet sent by Allah to a community before me who did not have disciples in his community and companions, who took on his sunna and obeyed his command. Then after them successors followed who said things they did not do and did things they were not ordered to do. All who fought against them with their hands were believers, all who fought against them with their tongues were believers and all who fought against them in their hearts were believers. There is not a mustard-seed's worth of belief beyond that.'" [Muslim]

186. Abu'l-Walid 'Ubada ibn as-Samit said, "We gave allegiance to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to hear and obey in hardship and ease, in things we liked and things we disliked, to prefer others to ourselves and not to go against those in command unless we saw open disbelief for which there was definite proof from Allah." [Agreed upon]

187. An-Nu'man ibn Bashir reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The metaphor of someone who stops at the limits of Allah and someone who transgresses them is that of some people who draw lots on a boat. Some of them get the upper deck and some of them the lower. When those in the lower deck want to get water, they have to pass by those above them. Then they say, 'If we were to make a hole in our deck, we would not have to bother those above us.' If they were to let them do what they wanted, all of them would perish. If they seize hold of their hands and stop them, they will be saved and all of them will be saved." [al-Bukhari]

188. Umm al-Mu'minin, Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya Hudhayfa reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Amirs will be placed over you and you will acknowledge and object to (some of what they do). Anyone who shows dislike is innocent and anyone who objects is safe. However, there will be those who are content and follow them." They said, "Messenger of Allah, should we not fight them?" He said, "No, not as long as they establish the prayer among you." [Muslim]

It means that whoever feels dislike in his heart but is unable to object with his hand or tongue is free of wrong action and has fulfilled his duty. Whoever objects according to his ability, is safe from any disobedience. Whoever is content with what they do and follows them is at fault.

189. Umm al-Mu'minin, Umm al-Hakim Zaynab bint Jahsh reported that once the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became upset and said, "There is no god but Allah. Woe to the Arabs from an evil which is drawing near! An opening has been made in the wall of Ya'juj and Ma'juj like this," and he made a circle with his thumb and forefinger. I said, "O Messenger of Allah, will we be destroyed when the righteous are among us?" He said, "Yes, if there is a lot of wickedness." [Agreed upon]

190. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Beware of sitting in the roadways." They said, "Messenger of Allah. we must have places where we can sit and talk together." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If you must sit there, then give the roadway its rights." They asked, "What are the rights of the roadway, Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Lowering the eye, refraining from causing annoyance, returning the greeting, commanding the right and forbidding the wrong." [Agreed upon]

191. Ibn 'Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw a gold ring on the hand of a man and removed it and threw it away saying, "Would one of you go and get a coal from the Fire and put it in his hand!" After the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had left, the man was told, "Take your ring and turn it into profit!" He said, "No, by Prophet, I will never take something that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, threw away!" [Muslim]

192. Abu Sa'id al-Hasan al-Basri reported that 'A'idh ibn 'Amr visited 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and he said, "My boy, I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'The worst of shepherds is the harsh one. Beware lest you be one of them.' He said to him, 'Sit down. You are one of the remainder of the Companions of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." He said, "Do they have a remainder? The remainder comes after them and refers to other than them!"

193. Hudhayfa reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "By the One in whose hand my self is, you should command the right and forbid the wrong, or else Allah is very likely to send down on you retribution from Him. Then you will call on Him and He will not answer you." [Muslim]

194. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The best jihad is a just word in the presence of a tyrannical ruler." [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

195. Abu 'Abdullah Tariq ibn Shihab al-Bajali al-Ahmasi reported that a man asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, after he had put his feet in his stirrups, "What jihad is the best?" He said, "A true word in the presence of a tyrannical ruler." [an-Nasa'i]

196. Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The first failing to enter the Children of Isra'il was that a man would meet another man and say, 'O so and so! Fear Allah and stop what you are doing. It is not lawful for you,' Then he would meet him again the following day and find him still doing the same thing but that would not prevent him from eating, drinking and sitting with him. When they did this, Allah caused the hearts of some of them to be tainted by others. Then He said, "Those among the Tribe of Israel who rejected were cursed on the tongue of Dawud and that of 'Isa, son of Maryam. That is because they rebelled and overstepped the limits. They would not restrain one another from any of the wrong things that they did. How evil were the things they used to do! You see many of them taking the unbelievers as their friends. What their lower selves have advanced for them is evil indeed" to "deviators" (5:78-81) Then he said, "No, by Allah, you should command the right and forbid the wrong and you should restrain the unjust and bend them to the truth and confine them to the truth or Allah will cause the hearts of some of you to be tainted by others. And then He will curse you as He cursed them.'" (Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

These are the words in Abu Dawud, and the words in at-Tirmidhi are: "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'When the Children of Israel fell into acts of disobedience, their men of knowledge forbade them, but they did not stop. Then they sat with them in their assemblies and ate and drank with them, so Allah caused the hearts of some of them to be tainted by others. Allah cursed them on the tongue of Da'ud and 'Isa ibn Maryam. That was for their disobedience and overstepping the limits." The Messenger of Allah, who had been reclining, sat up. Then he said, "No, by the One who has my soul in His hand, until they bend them to the truth completely!"

197. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, "O people! You recite this verse, 'O you who believe! You are only responsible for yourselves. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided.' (W5:105; H5:104) I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'If people see an unjust person, and do not restrain him, Allah is very likely to seize them with retribution from Him.'" [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]