Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil (EGFE)

وَلۡتَكُن مِّنكُمۡ أُمَّةٌ۬ يَدۡعُونَ إِلَى ٱلۡخَيۡرِ وَيَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ‌ۚ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ

“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.”
[Qur’an; 3:104]

More from the Quran

كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

“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.”
[Qur’an; 3:110]


لَيۡسُواْ سَوَآءً۬‌ۗ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ أُمَّةٌ۬ قَآٮِٕمَةٌ۬ يَتۡلُونَ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ ءَانَآءَ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَهُمۡ يَسۡجُدُونَ / يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَيَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ وَيُسَـٰرِعُونَ فِى ٱلۡخَيۡرَٲتِ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ

“They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer]. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous.”
[Qur’an; 3:113-114]


وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ‌ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَٱلۡعُدۡوَٲنِ‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلۡعِقَابِ

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”
[Qur’an; 5:2]


ڪَانُواْ لَا يَتَنَاهَوۡنَ عَن مُّنڪَرٍ۬ فَعَلُوهُ‌ۚ لَبِئۡسَ مَا ڪَانُواْ يَفۡعَلُونَ

“They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”
[Qur’an; 5:79]


فَلَمَّا نَسُواْ مَا ذُڪِّرُواْ بِهِۦۤ أَنجَيۡنَا ٱلَّذِينَ يَنۡہَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلسُّوٓءِ

“And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil…”
[Qur’an; 7:165]


خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ

“Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.”
[Qur’an; 7:199]


وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتُ بَعۡضُهُمۡ أَوۡلِيَآءُ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۚ يَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَيُؤۡتُونَ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥۤ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ سَيَرۡحَمُهُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ۬

“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”
[Qur’an; 9:71]


وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ ٱللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ ۥۤ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَقَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌ / ٱلَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّـٰهُمۡ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَقَامُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَوُاْ ٱلزَّڪَوٰةَ وَأَمَرُواْ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَنَهَوۡاْ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ‌ۗ

“…And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. [And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong…”
[Qur’an: 22:40-41]



It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: ‘enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, before you call and you are not answered.’” [Ibn Majah]

Ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who does not have mercy upon our young, respect our elders, and command good and forbid evil.” [Tirmidhi]

It was narrated from Umm Habibah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The words of the son of Adam count against him, not for him, except what is good and forbidding what is evil, and remembering Allah.” [Ibn Majah]

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Beware! Avoid sitting on the roads.” They (the people) said, “O Allah’s Apostle! We can’t help sitting (on the roads) as these are (our places) here we have talks.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘lf you refuse but to sit, then pay the road its right’ They said, “What is the right of the road, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, ‘Lowering your gaze, refraining from harming others, returning greeting, and enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil.” [Bukhari]

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, and he is able to change it with his hand, then change it with his hand (by taking action); if he cannot, (do so) with his tongue then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot then with his heart (by hating it and feeling that it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.” [Ibn Majah]

Guidelines of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

    1. Knowledge: knowing the principles governing the enjoinment of good and the forbidding of evil. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz is reported to have said, “Whoever worships Allah without knowledge will do more damage than what he puts right.”One must consider the maslaha and mafsada before proceeding to enjoin good and forbid evil.


    1. Gentleness: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Show gentleness, for if gentleness is found in anything, it beautifies it and when it is taken out from anything it damages it.” [Abu Dawud]


    1. Patience: Enjoining good and forbidding evil requires patience in the face of difficulty. Read more about the attribute of patience here.


Integrals of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

1 The Person Forbidding

The person who forbids evil must have some qualifications. He must be wise, mature, a believer, and must have strength and ability. Additionally, one must have moral rectitude. There are many sayings to this effect in day-to-day use such as ,”Practice what you preach”, “Actions speak louder than words”, or “if you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk”.

“Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?” [Quran; 2:44]

Someone who gives advice should have strength and power. He who is unable to undertake this task should hate sinful acts. Inability here means to fear injury and harm from the person to whom advice is given.

There are three kinds of sins. The first is major sins, for which there are prescribed punishments in the Qur’an; it is obligatory to prevent these (within the limits of one’s authority, and with wisdom).

“(Of the) major sins are: to ascribe partners to Allah, disobey parents, murder someone, and to take a false oath (intentionally).” [Bukhari]

The second is sins which are committed continuously, such as drinking wine, wearing silk, and using utensils of gold and silver; it is obligatory to prevent these as well (again, without exceeding one’s limits and causing greater harm). The third is sins which are expected to be committed in the future.

Four conditions apply to the prevention of these evils. The first is that it must be an evil action according to Shari’ah, and must be unlawful. The second is that it is to be prevented in the course of its commission. If a man has finished drinking wine, prevention is not applicable, except by way of advice. Also, one must exercise wisdom about advising as well as preventing. Prevention or giving advice might not be possible except within one’s immediate family or closest friends. The third condition is that the person preventing it must know it is sinful without asking others. If a man commits a sin after closing the door of his house, to inquire about it secretly is unlawful. The fourth condition is that the evil must be known to be evil without effort, otherwise there is no forbidding of evil. These relate to the minor details of different schools of thought, where one school of thought may hold a particular act to be evil, while another does not.

2 The Person Being Forbidden

The sin which should be prevented must be fit to be prevented according to Shari’ah. If a man is seen drinking wine, it is compulsory to prevent him from drinking it.

3. What is Being Forbidden

There are different stages of forbidding sins.

Stage 1: Knowledge of the wrong act

To spy on a sinner is unlawful, so one should not inquire into what is happening at home. But if anyone informs you that a man is drinking wine or doing some unlawful act, it becomes a duty to prevent it. So the first thing is to inquire about the condition of the sinner.

Stage 2: Explaining that something is wrong

Many men do sinful acts out of ignorance. If warning is given, they may themselves desist from sinful acts. For instance, an illiterate man observes his prayer, but does not bow and prostrate well, or prays with unclean clothes. Had he known this, he would not have prayed in this way.

Stage 3: Forbidding the act verbally

This is done by sermons, admonition, or showing fear of Allah. If a man commits a sin after knowing it is a sin, he should be given advice and shown fear of Allah’s punishment. He should be informed of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which deal with punishment of the crime. The Muslims are like one soul, and so destructive faults should be removed from the soul. One who gives advice should take precautions so that he himself is free from that vice.

Stage 4: Censuring with harsh words

If using gentle words with the wrongdoer could yield good results, harsh words need not be used. When it fails, then use harsh words and criticize him. There are two rules in this stage: do not criticize except when necessary. If this measure does not produce the desired effect, express your anger by ignoring him.

Stage 5: Righting the wrong by hand

This includes pouring out wine, taking off silk clothes from the body, returning stolen property, etc. This method should be adopted after the failure of the first four stages, but one must be careful not to exceed the limits of his authority, (for instance it is not appropriate to destroy a liquor store). Keep the correction within limits and do not exceed what is necessary. Prior to taking action, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of taking physical action. If speaking out or taking physical action will cause more harm than benefit, then one should stick to hating the evil in one’s heart, and speaking about it only to one’s family and close circles.

Stage 6: Intimidation

If all the previous methods fail, this method should be adopted.

Stage 7: Assault

If the previous modes of correction fail, one may assault by hand or stick. However, it must be understood that assault is generally not justified, except in exceptional circumstances where the evil is seriously causing harm to a person’s property or wealth. (such as to stop a murder or rape or serious robbery).

Stage 8: Force of Arms

Many a time arms are necessary to ward off evil because a wrongdoer with a party of men are ready to fight. When the two parties meet, a fight breaks out. It is necessary in order to please Allah and in order to remove the harms of sinful acts. It is necessary to bring the transgressors under control.

The Forbiddance Itself

[To be contd.]