Compiled, Translated and Annotated
Abu Hibbaan & Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari
Advising and clarifying is from the basic concepts of Islaam. It is this as well as other such everyday concepts that give this beautiful way of life superiority and manifestation over and above other religions.
As Muslims we should always advise and attempt to rectify the affairs of the Muslims even if they dislike this or they consider you to be from amongst the armchair critics. The Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) emphasised such commands in numerous ahadeeth along with the great rewards they carry.
Allaah the most high says,
“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.” (Soorah Ale-Imraan:104)
The Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) said,
“Command the good and forbid the evil before you supplicate so that it is answered.” (Ibn Maajah 2/381 no.4052, Imaam al-Albaanee graded the Hadeeth Hasan in Saheeh Ibn Maajah 2/367 no.3235, Imaam Ibn Hibbaan has also transmitted a similar narration. (Mawaarid az-Zamaan Ilaa Zawaa’id Ibn Hibbaan 1/455-446 no.1841)
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (RadhiAllaahu Anhu) narrates Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) said in a sermon,
“Verily, fear of people should not stop a man from speaking out the truth that he knows.”Upon hearing this, Abu Sai’d wept and said: “By Allaah, we have seen things (for which we should have spoken out the truth) but we were silenced by fear (of people). In another narration in Musnad Ahmad there is an addition “It does not bring death nearer nor pushes earnings farther to speak the truth or remind a powerful man of it.” (Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee Li-Tarteeb Musnad al-Imaam Ahmad from the book of commanding the good and forbidding the evil (19/174). Imaam Ibn Hibbaan has also transmitted a narration with a similar wording (Mawaarid az-Zamaan Ilaa Zawaa’id Ibn Hibbaan 1/456 no.1842). Haafidh Haithamee has also transmitted it and said, “transmitted Abu Ya’ala and it’s narrators are narrators of the Saheeh.” (Majma’a az-Zawaa’id Wa Mamba’a al-Fawaa’id 7/273). Shaikh Ahmad al-Banna said, “Abu Ya’ala has transmitted it in his Musnad, Tabaraanee in his Mu’ajam al-Kabeer, Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh and Baihaqee in his Sunan and it’s chain is Hasan. (Buloogh al-Amaanee Min Astaraar al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee 19/174)
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (RadhiAllaahu Anhu) reported the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) said,
“Whoever amongst you sees anything evil let him change it with his hand, if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart, and the latter is the weakest form of eemaan.” (Saheeh Muslim and Saheeh Ibn Hibbaan 1/69 no.78)
Thus what will these people say to the following verse of the Quraan and in this instance we are referring to those who have a problem with not willingly accepting constructive criticism or aspects of clarification
“Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Soorah al-Asr:3)
Therefore it is imperative as indicated from the essential core teachings and etiquettes of Islaam that we contemplate and check our intentions and actions. Secondary to this, some integral parts of Islaam are ordained and we have been commanded to advise our fellow Muslims with or without their consent. Another essential pillar of Islaam is commanding the good and forbidding the evil and again this command is for all of the Muslims to practise and to observe.
In light of the basic teachings of Islaam and some of the superior elements of Islaam, why is it when people are advised and issues are clarified it is assumed to be mischievous or troublesome. Why is any advice or clarification heavy on the minds and hearts of the people that terms such as armchair critics are coined and deduced. As Muslims we need to be understanding and adopt an ideology of accepting the truth wherever it comes from without arrogance or pride.
Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said,
“Commanding the good and forbidding the evil is from the major aspects that are obligatory and recommended.” (al-Amr Bil-Ma’aroof Wa Nahya Anil Munkar pg.17)
Imaam Nawawee said,
“The scholars said and may Allaah be pleased with them all, the responsibility of commanding the good and forbidding the evil is not relieved from an individual who is required to fulfil this, just because he thinks there may be no benefit. On the contrary the obligation to fulfil this command is even more important because reminders benefit the believers. We have also mentioned previously commanding the good and forbidding the evil is obligatory but getting the people to accept this is not obligatory as Allaah said, Upon the Messenger is to convey.” (Sharh Saheeh Muslim 2/22-23).
So this is the reason why the Muslims in their respective masjids advise their administrators.
Can An Average Person Advise, Clarify & Command The Good?
Those who have assumed leadership positions over their communities by the way of Imaams, community leaders, masjid committees and or institutes have shunned those who have attempted to advise them or spoke about points that needed clarification. Instead of pondering or being humble and acknowledging these points, they have abused their positions and labelled them as arm chair critics or inferior to them. They also say advising and clarifying is not the position of the normal people as they dont even know the basics of Islaam.
This notion my dear Muslims is false and wreaks of the understanding of the people of the false religions. Firstly this notion abolishes the great obligation of commanding the good and forbidding the evil. Secondly it opposes the understanding of the Salaf and the Scholars of Islaam. The normal average people, like the most of us can criticise under the concept of advising and commanding the good and reprimanding the evil, this should be understood as constructive criticism and advice for the greater benefit of the Muslim Ummah.
Imaam Abu Bakr al-Jassaas said,
“Similarly the person who is not able to fulfil all of the righteous deeds or if they not able to refrain from all of the bad deeds, in-spite all of this the obligation of commanding the good and forbidding the evil does not diminish from him.” (Ahkaam al-Quraan 2/33)
Imaam Nawawee said,
“The scholars have said it is not necessary for the one who commands the good and forbids the evil that he has to have reached the level of being complete in his affairs (ie attained a lot of knowledge), rather commanding the good is obligatory upon him even though he is not from amongst those who fulfils it completely himself. Similarly prohibiting the evil is also obligatory upon him even though he maybe committing it himself. So in essence 2 things are obligatory upon him, the first that he commands his self to do righteous deeds and abstain from the evil ones and secondly he command others with good deeds and forbid the evil ones. So if he falls short in establishing one obligation how is it permissible that he falls short in the other one.” (Sharh Saheeh Muslim 2/23)
The same understanding has been mentioned by the following explainers of the Quraan ie Raazee in Tafseer al-Kabeer 3/47, Baidhaawee in his Tafseer 1/150, Abu Sa’ood in his Tafseer 1/97 and in Tafseer Siraaj al-Muneer 1/55).
The non arm chair critics may argue and say the one who commands good and forbids the evil with respect to his advising and criticising must also himself be upon this ie not commit the evil and being doing the same good. Then the answer to this is that you will find no one in this category and no one will ever be carrying out this great obligation and it will remain unpractised.
So Sa’eed ibn Jubair may Allaah have mercy upon him said,
“If a person does not command the good or forbid the evil (with regards to advising, engaging in constructive criticism) until nothing remains of them (of them in him ie he does all good deeds and no bad deeds) then no individual will ever be able to advise the good or forbid the evil.” (Tafseer Qurtubee 1/367-368)
Imaam Maalik may Allaah have mercy upon him, commented on the above statement of Sa’eed and said,
“He has spoken the truth, who is there who has nothing in him (by the way of bad deeds)” (Tafseer Qurtubee 1/368)
Imaam Hasan al-Basree said to Mutarraf bin Abdullaah,
“Advise your companions!” Mutarraf replied, “I am scared to say something to them that I do not practise myself.” Imaam Hasan al-Basree replied, “May Allaah have mercy on you, who is there amongst us who does exactly what he says? This is how shaytaan attains his objective so that no one commands the good or forbids the evil.” (Tafseer Qurtubee 1/367).
Imaam Tabaree has elucidated this point further and said,
“As for whoever said, “The persons who has no mistakes should be the one commanding the good.” If they mean by this that this is the best scenario then this is something good. If in the instance there is no one else to command the good then the door of commanding the good will be closed.” (Fath ul-Baaree 13/53)