Article written by Muhammad Alshareef.
Ashaab As-Sabt - the people of Saturday. They were a townsfolk from Bani Israa’eel who were tested with the Sabbath, the day when they were to leave their worldly affairs and devout to Allah. All week long they would go fishing, with scant return. But on Saturdays, when they were required to put aside their activities, the fish would come in abundance. A test from Allah! "And ask them (O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday): when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them for they used to rebel against Allah's Command (disobey Allah)" [ Surah An-Nisa 4/154]
A group of the townsfolk transgressed, not satisfied with Allah’s commandments devising a scheme to by-pass the commandment. They would put out their fishing nets on Friday, and then on Sunday they would come and pick the nets up. Now all the Saturday fish would be caught.
The townsfolk divided into 2 groups when they saw the grave evil and sin that was befalling. One of them tried to advise the transgressors and warn them of the horrific consequences of their action - commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
Thinking they had no responsibility for what was taking place, the other group just went about minding their own business, holding that Allah would eventually destroy the sinners.
[And when a community among them said: "Why do you preach to a people whom Allâh is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?"]
Listen carefully to the reply of those callers to the obedience of Allah.
[(The preachers) said: "In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allâh), and perhaps they may fear Allâh."] 4/155
For 2 reasons: One - that we would be pardoned before Allah because we tried to hold back their hands. And two - that perhaps they may hear the reminder and turn back to Allah. It was only this group that survived.
[So when they forgot the reminders that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel against Allah's Command (disobey Allâh). So when they exceeded the limits of what they were prohibited, We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised and rejected."] 4/156-157
In one sweeping night, the punishment rained down and they were transfigured into pigs and monkeys.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is the nature of a human being to feel the need to do good or feel the drive to indulge in evil. Even if he or she were to be alone, deserted and secluded, they would still feel a drive to do good or indulge in evil.
From here, it is a characteristic of this Ummah to not only do good ourselves, but we MUST encourage others to do good, we must be the driving force. And we not only distance ourselves from vice, but we MUST forbid others from doing it also, we must be the obstacle.
That shall be our discussion for today: Al amr bil Ma’roof wan Nahi ‘an al Munkar.
Dear brothers and sisters,
If we all had Muslim identification badges, there would have to be a description of the owner. If it is a valid card, under the description it should read: This man/women commands the good and forbids evil; for this is how Allah described us.
[You (true believers in Islâmic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 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.] Surah Al-e-Imran 3/104
Good and Bad. When it comes to encouraging one or the other, there are two groups of people. The first are those that encourage others to do good and advise them to stop the evil they may be committing. These are the Mu’minoon and Mu’minaat, the believing men and women, the ones that shall be favored by Allah’s Mercy:
[The believers, men and women, are Auliyâ' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma'rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islâm has forbidden); they perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) and give the Zakât, and obey Allâh and His Messenger. Allâh will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.] Surah At-Tawbah 9/71
The second camp of people are those that encourage others towards evil and stop them whenever they see them doing acts of virtue. These are the Munaafiqoon and Munaafiqaat, those that Allah shall shun.
[The hypocrites, men and women, are from one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islâm has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Ma'rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do), and they close their hands (from giving (spending in Allâh's Cause) alms.). They have forgotten Allâh, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Fâsiqûn (rebellious, disobedient to Allâh).] Surah At-Tawbah 9/76
The Qur’an tells us that the winners, those that attain success, are those Muslim men and women that command the good and forbid the evil:
And Allah teaches us that He cursed nations before us because they lost this characteristic of encouraging good and forbidding evil:
[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 bound.
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.] Surah Maa’idah 5/78 -79
When a nation fails in their duty to command the good and forbid the evil, their invocations will cease to be accepted.
Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - said, “(I swear) by He who holds my soul in His Hands, you shall indeed command the good, and you shall indeed forbid the evil, otherwise Allah shall rain down upon you a punishment, then you shall attempt to invoke Him and your (invocations) shall be unanswered.” [An authentic hadith narrated by Ahmad and At-tirmidhi]
Our Qudwah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - lived his entire life commanding the good and forbidding evil. When he first arrived in Madinah, the very first thing he said to the Ansar and Muhaajireen as they gathered to see his noble face - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - was as ..
Abdullaah ibn Salam narrates: When Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - came to Madinah, the people raced to greet him. I went in the crowd to see him and when I saw his face I knew that that face was not the face of a liar. The first thing he said when he spoke was, “O people, spread salam, feed the hungry, and pray at night when others are sleeping - you’ll enter Jannah in peace.” [An authentic hadith narrated by Ibn Majah]
Our Qudwah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - would command the good and forbid the evil in all categories of the community. We see him with the young Muslims advising them, as in the following hadith:
Umar ibn Abu Salamah said: I was a young boy under the care of Allah’s Messenger - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - when my hand was jumping here and there in the (food) plate. Allah’s Messenger - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillah (first), eat with right hand, and eat from what is in front of you.” Ibn Abu Salamah said: After that I always ate in that manner (which I was taught). [Bukhari and Muslim]