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Hadith 15: Whoever among you sees an evil action

Under category : Ponder on a Hadith
1829 2021/01/31 2024/07/25
Article translated to : Español العربية

It was narrated that Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri said: “Marwan brought out the pulpit on the day of ‘Eid, and he started with the sermon before the prayer. A man said: ‘O Marwan, you have gone against the Sunnah. You have brought out the pulpit on this day, and it was not brought out before, and you have started with the sermon before the prayer, and this was not done before.’ Abu Sa'eed said: ‘As for this man, he has done his duty. I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil action and can change it with his hand (by taking action), let him change it with his hand. If he cannot do that, then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot do that, then with his heart (by hating it and feeling that it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.’”


Marwan: Marawn ibn Al-Hakam, the Umayyad Caliph. He only wanted to give the sermon before the salah, because he thought people might not sit after the salah to listen to the sermon.

And this was not done before: Marwan did ijtihad, by assuming that giving the sermon prior to the salah is not a condition for its validity, he wanted to have the people listen to the sermon so he chose to deliver it prior to the salah, but that contradicts the sunnah.


Values on Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil:

1. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is the reason for this ummah to be the best one, Almighty Allah says: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah…” (Quran: 3: 10)

2. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is the mission of the supported group and the few (strangers), as Allah’s Messenger (Peace Be upon Him) said: “…Blessed are the few, for they will set right the corruptions caused in my sunna by people after my death.”

3. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is a characteristic of the believers, Almighty Allah says: “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong...” (Quran: 9: 71)

4. (Minkom) “Whoever among you” this implies that the duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil is Fard Kifaya (collective duty), an act that is obligatory for the Muslim community collectively – if it is sufficiently carried out by some members of the Muslim community, then other Muslims do not have to perform it. It is also the duty of the man in his household with his wife and family.

5. The Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, made changing evil into degrees, the first is with the hand, if he cannot, then denying evil with the tongue, if he cannot, then denying evil with the heart.

6. In surat al-Kahf, there are three kinds of denying evil, first with the hand, i.e. taking action by Dhul Qarnayn, second with the tongue, when the friend admonished his friend who had the two gardens, and third with the heart, when the people of the cave abandoned their people who worshipped the idols.

7. Not following the Sunnah of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, in acts of worship is something wrong that should be denied and warned against. 

8. Denying with the heart is the duty of every Muslim, while denying or refusing by action and saying is an obligation on the capable person.

9. The one with the less power may deny evil at the presence of a powerful person, and the student at the presence of a scholar, as this man denied an action at the presence of the Sahabi (companion of the Prophet).

10. “Whoever among you sees an evil action” … The word ‘whoever’ implies that all the accountable people are addressed. The word ‘evil’ is indefinite to imply all kinds of evil, whether minor or major, and even the disliked and offensive ones.

11. “Whoever among you sees an evil action”: The Muslim should not deny till he/she is certain that an evil action actually happened, he should not judge based on what he heard or based on doubts.

12. “Whoever …sees”: This implies having certainty before denial, because we should not deny things that we disagree about, as they are not certain. If you see your opinion as the right or good one, what you see might be wrong, and if you think another opinion as wrong, it can be the right one.

13. There should be no denunciation concerning matters which the scholars differed, but this does not mean not to advise each other, and keep good relations and having good thinking in the one who differ.

14. The most famous acceptable disagreement that took place at the time of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, is when the Sahabah disagreed about understanding the command of the Prophet, PBUH, concerning praying Asr at Banu Qurayzah’ place. Some of them interpreted His command figuratively as hurrying to reach the destination, and some interpreted the command literally as postponing praying Asr till they reach their destination, even if it means praying Asr at the time of Magrib. The Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, did not disapprove with both opinions.

15. Advising rulers and people in authority if the person is capable to do that to apply the hadith by the Prophet, PBUH, “Religion is advice” in which He said “for the imams of Muslims”.

16. Advising the ruler can be in public or private, according to the kind of the disagreement.

17. The status and authority of the one differing with the Sunnah does not mean not to enjoin him with good and forbid him from evil.

18. Helping whoever enjoins good and forbids evil and supporting what he is doing, maybe the one who forbids an evil knows the ruling, but he does not remember the proof. So, we can help him and provide a proof to support what he says, just as what Abu Sa’eed al-Khidri did, may Allah be pleased with him.

19. Not disapproving with Marwan in this narration does not mean that Abi Sa’eed did not disagree with him, in other narrations in the two Sahihs (Bukhair and Muslim), it is mentioned that he pulled his hand when he was going up the pulpit. An-Nawwai said: “It might be two issues.”

20. Acceptance is not a condition to enjoin good and forbid evil, Almighty Allah says: “The Messenger’s duty is only to deliver ˹the message˺” (Quran: 5: 99)

21. The one who enjoins good and forbids evil does not have to be perfect, and completely complying to what he enjoins and what he forbids. Even if he is in disagreement with what he advises, because he is obligated to do two things: commands himself with good and forbids her from evil, and commands others with the same. If he fulfills one duty, it does not mean to abandon another.

22. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is not only limited to the people of authority, Muslim individuals are authorized to do so. Anyone who knows the ruling may enjoin and forbid, as long as he has the knowledge. If it is about common matters such as praying, fasting, committing fornication, drinking alcohol etc., all Muslims have knowledge about the rulings of such things. But, if the matter is very specific like matters related to Ijtihad, and the public don’t know much about it, they should not interfere and only scholars give their opinion.

23. Almighty Allah says: “…enjoin what is right” So, enjoin what is right in a good way, and forbid what is evil in a good way, such as saying “…sermon before the prayer.” This is a reminder of the Caliph in a good way, as he might have forgotten.

Aqeedah Values:

1. Actions are part of faith.

2. Faith may increase and decrease, it increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience.

3. Denying or refusing evil is an act of faith.

4. Acts of the heart are part of faith, denying evil with the heart is an act of faith.

5. Whoever totally lacks the heart denial or refusal of evil, then in this case there is the fear of going beyond the bounds of belief. In a narration by Muslim it is mentioned: “Beyond that there is not so much faith as a grain of mustard seed.” (Narrated by Muslim)

6. Ability is a condition for religious obligation, Almighty Allah: “So fear Allah as much as you are able”.

7. Obligation of following the Shareeh (Islamic laws), and not to follow any bid’ah (innovation in religion).

Generic Values:

1. The ruler or governor goes out to the people to lead them in prayer on Friday, congregational prayers and Eid.

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