Just as I was sitting here stumped for ideas for this article, I naturally gravitated towards the best source of information out there… Facebook!
One glance of Facebook alone highlights some of the sins committed by Muslims in all their photographic glory. Yet how often do we simply just scroll past these actions as if they simply cease to exist once out of sight. Many of us forget that it is not enough to simply abstain from haram but also to stop such acts when seen in others.
“There should be among you (O believers), a group (of the learned and sincere persons) who should call (the people) towards goodness, bid (them) to the good and forbid (them) from the evil–they are the successful people.” (3:104)
Remember back in madrassah we learned about amir bil ma’roof wa nahi anil munkar, from Furu-e-Deen? In case you have forgotten, it is a wajibat and it serves as a moral compass for not only ourselves but the members of our community.
It’s amusing how we would stop a friend from leaving the house with spinach in their teeth – yet we wouldn’t stop them from posting vulgar photos. Sadly physical imperfections outweigh moral imperfections. We are perfectly content to pass judgment on a lacking physical attribute yet hesitate when it comes to advising a friend on spiritual conduct.
Our growing lack of concern for each others faith perhaps stems from how conditioned we have become to witnessing unlawful Islamic acts. We have become more concerned about our relationships with one another over our moral obligations. One has to take into consideration if maintaining a diplomatic relationship is worth risking your religious conscience. Though, this doesn’t mean that the two are not simultaneously achievable.
A piece written by Moalana Syed Mohammed Rizvi clearly articulates the conditions of amr bil ma’roof wa nahi anil munkar and when it is appropriate to practice it. It is very easy to neglect all the other factors that come into play when practicing this wajibat. There is no perfect way to go about it, but hopefully these points can serve as a benchmark for your next encounter.
1. You must be familiar with the Islamic view on that issue in order to properly define “good” and “evil” before encouraging others to do good or forbid them from evil.
2. In each given case, you must weigh the possibility of the influence of your advice. If you are sure or there seems to be a great probability that your words will have no effect on the other person, then it is not necessary to do amr or nahi.
3. You must also evaluate the state of the person whom you want to advise. Is he insisting or repeating the evil deeds or was it just a one time slip on his part? If you discern or come to know that he is not going to repeat the sin, then you do not have to do amr or nahi.
4. You must also evaluate the overall situation to make sure that your action of amr or nahi would not lead to a worse situation than what exists at present.
“And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (9:71)
Are we too afraid to behave like the “guardians” Allah (swt) speaks of? How often have you whispered to a sister before she has begun her salah that some of her hair is showing, or to a brother to lower his gaze in a public gathering?
Some may argue that the sins one commits are between the person and Allah and we should not interfere. However, if we continue to allow Islamic mandates to be broken, how can we expect virtuous ideologies to remain? In order for our religious values to prevail we need to maintain our sense our religious duty.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) has said: The world is like a ship and mankind its passengers. The welfare of all depends upon the safe conduct of each. If anyone is found making a hole on the side of a ship, he must be stopped.