Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 25, 2009

“Are We Being Punished for Not Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil?”

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala rasulullah
The following Hadith are more than enough to consider when it comes to politics here in the West.

Abu Darda (Radiallahu anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Allah says: I am Allah besides whom there is no Deity, the Master of Kings, King of Kings. Verily the hearts of kings are under the control of My Hands. When My servants obey me, I turn the hearts of kings and rulers towards them so that they rule over them with mercy and kindness and when My servants disobey Me, I turn the hearts of kings and rulers to treat them harshly, with anger and vengeance. Thereby they mete out torture and oppression. Hence do not occupy yourselves with praying for curses upon kings and instead turn to Me in remembrance and with humility. And I will preserve you against the tyranny of the kings.”

Truth be told- our concern should not be with voting or not voting. I don’t even waste my time with the voting debate nor do I have a stance. People will go back and discuss how the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam dealt with Najashi, and there are many lessons from this interaction- but truth be told, we forget how Muslims later on dealt with corrupt leaders in situations very similar to ours. If you read stories of Hasan al-Basri or Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimullah), you will realize they didn’t have to deal with the garbage and games of politicians, because Allah had blessed them. They dealt with leaders and didn’t avoid them, but it was Islam and closeness to Allah that gave them a rank higher than that of political office- something even the corrupt recognize, be they Firawn or a corrupt Muslim dictator. We need not fall in line with being like regular people, only voting but need to assert the Islam values of obeying Allah, which leads into the next Hadith.

Corrupt government as punishment for failing to Enjoin good and forbid evil

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “You people should continue to enjoin people towards the doing of righteous deeds and you should continue to prohibit them from evil; otherwise Allah will put into authority over you the worst of people to rule over you. At such time the best from among you will pray to Allah (for deliverance) and your prayers will go unanswered.’

Explains a lot doesn’t it? We have in our time, slackened in our enjoining good and forbidding evil. I’ve noticed the only people we do so, are the Muslims who are already practicing! And usually its a matter of different fiqh or a different shaykh! It has become an act of cowardice, meant more to demean people than to guide them. The pious of us fear we are alone when we speak for Allah. We forget Musa alayhi salam and his harshness. And Bani Israel was cursed and destroyed because the pious among them failed to guide the rest. Apathy is not an option. We should address issues in our society relating to haram and halal and call them out. We shouldn’t be so wishy-washy and “accept people.” I’ve come across Muslims who have homosexual tendencies (but are practicing Islam and persevering) and they have said, they want us to be harsh with them. Any slackness whether it be saying, “hate the sin and not the sinner” is a compromise in disguise. We should say we hate homosexuality in all forms. Period. Otherwise, we end up allowing them more room to sin, at least at an unconscious level and get the wrong message across and show we are vulnerable and weak in our stance.

How we messed up in enjoining good and forbidding evil

Our firmness in enjoining good and forbidding evil should not be like that of a brainwashed Muslim, hating and attacking, but should be aimed precisely, thought out meticulously, and addressed civilly without any compromise.  Our enjoining good and also forbidding evil, should work together in tandem so we give people something to replace their sinful habits. Remember enjoining good comes first and then comes forbidding the evil! In order to do so successfully we need to get rid of the distractions we have faced: attacking each other for differences, interrogating each others religiosity, gossiping (what everyone else does at the mosque besides pray), not taking everything someone says personally, and holding hands with someone who may have a different understanding of Islam- but is ruthless in pursuing the same goals stated in the Quran. Instead, we should focus on the real core issues: drugs in our community, the high incidence of Muslim involvement in gangs (which in the long-run extends its reach into terrorism and corrupt governments), alcohol and clubbing, absence of tazkiya, building up the resources of the community, communicating and building brotherhood, family dynamics (parent-child interaction), setting Islam as priority and eliminating the “I have no time excuse” and lastly, manifesting our words into realities. In doing so, we need to remember we are not marketing agents- the MSA does not need to rely on fliers, but character and people. Nor do we need to be obsessed with fund raising the instant we want to do something- the best events I’ve seen done we’re on minimal resources (or the money came from the people who ran it and money was never an issue to them) and high effort. The preoccupation with guest speakers and events, obscures and detracts the evolution of our communities- we are distracted by a personality from elsewhere as a solution, but don’t realize the presence of a visiting shaykh is an illusion of having achieved something. The reality is we focus more on superficialities. We do not give as much attention to the batin (inner reality) and focus on zahir (outer appearance). Their is an importance on you growing a beard and wearing a hijab, but we forget if we don’t build a strong emaan those beard and hijab will disappear as some have observed in the news. We need to focus on the inner realities of our community, the soul of our community and what is really going on in peoples lives, not what they show on the surface.

Enjoining good and forbidding evil as an evolution

Thus, enjoining good and forbidding evil is not a static process, nor a form of ritualism. It is a living evolution, not a dead picture where all a person does is yell at the top of their lungs. Its like a child growing up, and I use this analogy because most people, in there essence and when it comes down to analyzing all their behavior, act no different than children do. They bicker, are greedy, aren’t attached to higher ideals nor do they see things fully. Few mature to the point where they can stand for Islam as real men and women, as true representatives of Islam, not overgrown teens with wannabe mentalities. But even if we are still immature, we are still on the road to reaching full maturity, completing our evolution and fulfilling our full Islam potentials so we can eventually not back down when it comes to enjoining good and forbidding evil.

Who has the courage to enjoin good and forbid evil? And ultimately, why would they?

It requires a firm and true patron of the truth adhering to truth in their zahir and batin (inner self and outer appearance) blessed with a rare evolved intellect (no, not an illiterate or ex-con, but at least holding an upper level education) understanding the reality of the situation. When the apostates refused to pay zakah after the death of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wasalam, Abu Bakr proclaimed, “Is there anyone who can take away from the religion of Allah?” He would not allow it. He knew for certain and acted with audacious certainty. Precision: It was as simple as that. Instead, in our time, we obscure and talk away the matter and slowly legitimize an issue- and don’t see a manifest sin for what it is. This is why it requires a person who can clearly recognize what is going wrong, cut away all the crap (so to speak!) and carry out the appropriate actions; a person who recognizes the truth of the situation and is clear about it so all recognize- think of Malcolm X. But one thing needs to be said- it cannot be carried out successfully on the Internet because it will be misconstrued or the efficacy of the message is dismissed. Even if it’s a video- it will lack punch. It has to be a social, real-world phenomenon; in-person, felt, experienced not as sound bites or a video recording but as a reality to shake us spiritually awake. And this is the clincher- enjoining good and forbidding evil is a unique, special spiritual experience, both for the admonisher and the admonished- they will feel you saying a verse of the Quran at that appropriate time, it with greater acuteness than they would have had they heard a qari. It’s this blessing of a sincere person of faith, the words of faith and the right place and time, a matter preordained by Allah, which creates a spiritual experience to guide men and women to the truth.

How Muslims Activists are different from other Activists

Lastly, we are not activists- and this is something I struggle with since it is a word I use often. We may call ourselves “Muslim activists” to highlight our concern with enculculating Islam into the lives of others, but it should not go beyond this to something else. An activist is a person who signs petitions, carries out protests, gives out flyers, fundraise at big events, holds concerts (halal or haram music, definitions as you please!), give riveting talks as if we are MLK, talks politics as if they are the UN (refer back to the first Hadith in this post!), creating “institutes” of Islamic learning, launch Islamic magazines, write for their newspapers and journals, and liason with relief agencies…and this is all good and beneficial BUT it is NOT ENOUGH! As you can see, we haven’t sufficiently differentiated ourselves in the good deeds we do- we are in essence, just following in the footsteps of the activists that preceded us, we are not contributing anything new to it. Yes, their is khayr in this work, but aside from building masjids, Tableeghi Jamat, Feed the Steets, we are actors in somebody elses film. We need our own plot. Otherwise, we will end up like the churches, the hundreds of churches lining major cities, all doing the same social services, soup kitchens, shelters, and even then…the church pews remain empty. Religion, then, is nothing more than slavish social work- not spiritual salvation. The last thing people go to Salvation Army for is salvation, but grudgingly accept the Bibles they hand out to the poor alongside the food they give. We do not want to follow in the footsteps of the Christian establishment. We need to create a social tradition of our own different, more powerful and life-changing. Refer back to the first Hadith in this post to see

Searching for a Breakthrough

We need to be creative in our khayr. This is the hard part and I will tell you it only comes from Allah. Much of what you see on this blog, the pamphlets and whatnot, are meant to be tools, not as ends. But in creating them, I had a hope it would lead me to an even greater breakthrough with the help of Allah. Much of my posts are me struggling for words and having a thought or idea on the edge of my lips…just as much my ibadah and dua are for the same end: struggling to make a bigger breakthrough. And I think most Muslim personalities feel the same way about their work.

The question I always ask myself and meditate upon is: What do we inevitably have to do? What will have to do… sooner or later… to spread Islam and pursue the Islamic dream- the dream the days of the Prophet showed us? When we can answer this question of inevitability with utmost, brutal honesty…then we will see our destiny and not be afraid to pursue it come life, or death.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihmadika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, Ameen.


  1. Oh my goodness – where did you find that picture?!


    Their forum was my old online hangout. But I’m not too approving on the comedy…Hamzah Moin is doing great work with MIST though. Great initiative ma sha Allah la quwatta illah billah.

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