Islamic ruling on enjoining good

Q 1: What is the ruling of Islam on enjoining good and forbidding evil, according to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) of His Messenger, the Hadith, Athar (narrations from the Companions), and the Manhaj (methodology) of the pious Salaf (the righteous predecessors)? What should the position of the ruler and people be regarding this?

A: It is obligatory that among the Muslims there is a group who calls to virtue, enjoin good, and forbid evil. Allah (Exalted be He) says: Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islâm), enjoining Al-Ma‘rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful. This will realize the righteousness of the people, the uprightness of their affairs, and this Ummah (nation based on one creed) will be as Allah praises it saying: You [true believers in Islâmic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma‘rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden), and you believe in Allâh. Accordingly, whoever enjoins good and forbids evil should advise the hard-hearted people in a way that softens their hearts, reassures their souls, and makes them willing to obey Allah and worship Him. They should argue with those who have doubts in a way that is best, until they become enlightened and Truth becomes evident to them and so they are guided to the Straight Path. Allah (Exalted be He) says: Invite (mankind, O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islâm) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Qur’ân) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Muslims, in this regard, are at different levels, among which is a group calling to the Ma‘ruf (that which is judged as good, beneficial, or fitting by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect), and undertaking its implementation by hand [i.e. Physically]. (Part No. 12; Page No. 338) This group includes public guardians, such as the rulers and their deputies, and private ones like fathers and whoever takes their place. Another group calls to good and forbids evil by their tongues, such as the scholars and those who come under the same ruling as them. The third group has no strength, authority, or word power; they should abhor evil in their hearts. It was authentically reported in a Hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Anyone of you who sees an evil action, let them change it with their hand (by taking action); if they cannot, then with their tongue (by speaking out); and if they cannot, then with their heart (by hating it and feeling that it is wrong); and that is the weakest of Iman (faith).” Therefore, anyone who neglects their obligation in this, has sinned, and consequently will resemble those whom Allah described by saying: Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dâwûd (David) and ‘Isâ (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allâh and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar (wrong, evil-doing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do. You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Auliyâ’ (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them; for that (reason) Allâh’s Wrath fell upon them, and in torment they will abide. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.