Enjoining Right & Forbidding WrongBy Ibn Taymiyya


All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek His aid, and seek His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil which is within ourselves, and from the evil in our actions. Whoever Allah guides, none can send astray; whoever Allah sends astray, none can guide.

I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah alone, and with no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger. Allah sent him with the guidance and the way of truth, that He might raise it above all other ways of life. Allah is sufficient as a witness. May Allah send His prayers and his greetings upon Muhammad and upon the people of Muhammad.

Enjoining right and forbidding wrong is that with which Allah sent the revealed books, and with it He sent His messengers, and it is an integral part of the way (i.e. the deen). The message of Allah is composed of informative and directive parts. As for the informative, it is Allah informing us about Himself, such as tauhid (theology), or His informing us about His creation, such as the stories of previous peoples and Prophets in which are contained for us lessons, threats and promises. The directive part consists of commands to do, commands not to do, and things left to our choice and discretion.

Thus, it has been mentioned in the hadith that the chapter of the Qur'an which starts out: [Say: He is Allah, the One...] is equal to one third of the Qur'an, because of its including the third of tauhid. The Qur'an consists of tauhid, commands, and historical events.

Enjoining Right: Our Prophet And Those Before Him

Allah said by way of description of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam):

[He orders them with that which is good and forbids them that which is bad. And he makes allowed for them that which is clean and good, and forbids them that which is unclean and detestable.] Qur'an 7/157.

This illustrates the perfection of the message of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). He is the one on whose tongue Allah has enjoined all that is good, forbidden all that is bad, allowed every clean thing and prohibited every unclean or harmful thing. For this reason, it is narrated that the Prophet said:

"I have been sent to complete the qualities of good character."

And he said in the agreed-upon hadith:

"My analogy in relation to the other prophets of Allah is like the analogy of a man who built a house. He completed and perfected everything about the house all except for the location of a single brick. The people used to pass by the house and express pleasure at its beauty, but they would say: "If only it weren't for that missing brick." I am that brick, and I am the seal of the Prophets."

Through Muhammad, Allah completed the way (deen) which includes the enjoining of all good, the forbidding of all evil, the allowing of everything clean, and the prohibition of everything unclean. As for the Prophets who came before him, their messages sometimes contained the prohibition of some clean and good things, as Allah said:

[Because of some crimes committed by the Jews, we forbad to them some clean things which had been allowed to them.] Qur'an 4/160

Also, their messages sometimes did not forbid all unclean things as Allah said:

[All food was once allowed to the children of Israel except that which they chose to forbid themselves before the sending down of the taurat.] Qur'an 3/93.

The forbidding of unclean things is included in the meaning of forbidding wrong, just as the allowing of all clean things is included in the meaning of enjoining right. This is because the prohibiting of clean and good things is part of what Allah has forbidden. Thus, the enjoining of all good and the forbidding of all bad did not reach completion except in the Prophethood of Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) by means of whom Allah completed the qualities of good character, which includes all that is good. Allah said:

[On this day I have perfected for you your way (deen), and have completed my favor upon you, and have accepted for you Islam as your way (deen)].

Allah has perfected for us the way, and completed His favor upon us, and accepted for us Islam (submission) as our way of life.

This Nation Is The Best Nation For The People

Allah ascribed to the nation (Ummah) of Muhammad the same characteristic which He ascribed to the Prophet himself in the previous verse when He said:

[You are the best nation brought forth for the people of the world: you enjoin right and you forbid wrong, and you believe in Allah.] Qur'an 3/110.

And He said:

[Believing men and believing women are the protecting friends of each other: they enjoin right and they forbid wrong.] Qur`an 9/71.

In the same vein, Abu Huraira, a companion of the Prophet and narrator of many hadith used to say:

"You are the best people for the people, you tie them in chains and shackles and drag them off to paradise."

Allah explains in the above verse that this nation is the best nation for the people i.e. the most beneficial to them, the one doing them the greatest favor. This is because they constitute the total good and benefit for the people via their enjoining right and forbidding wrong both in quality and in quantity, since they enjoin all that is right and forbid all that is wrong, and their message is addressed to all people of the world. Furthermore, they uphold this institution with jihad (struggle) in the path of Allah with their lives and their property, and this constitutes the complete benefit for the world.

As for the previous nations, none of them enjoined all people with all that is right, nor did they prohibit all that is wrong to all people. Furthermore, they did not make jihad (struggle) in this cause. Some of them did not take up armed struggle at all, and those who did, such as the Jews, their struggle was generally for the purpose of driving their enemy from their land, or as any oppressed people struggles against their oppressor, and not for sake of calling the people of the world to guidance and right, nor to enjoin on them right and to prohibit to them wrong. Allah narrates the following discussion between Musa (Moses) and his followers:

[O people, enter the sacred land which Allah has written for you, and do not turn back on your heels to subsequently find yourselves in abject loss. They said: "O Musa, therein is a belligerent people, and we will not enter it until they come out -if they come out, then we will enter it." ... They said: "O Musa, we will never enter it as long as they are in it, so you go, you and your Lord, and fight. We are going to sit right here.] Qur'an 5/21-24

Allah says in another verse:

[Did you not see the assembly of the sons of Israel after the time of Musa when they said to a Prophet of theirs: "Raise up for us a king, that we may fight in the path of Allah." He said: "Would you perhaps not fight then, if fighting were prescribed for you?" They said: "Why would we not fight in the path of Allah, and we have been exiled from our homes and our children?" Then, when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned their backs, all except a few, and Allah is in full knowledge of the wrong-doers.] Qur'an 2/246

Here we see that those speaking with this prophet cited the reason for their fighting that they had been exiled from their homes and their children. In spite of this, most of them failed to live up to their word, when in fact they were ordered to fight. For this reason, they were not allowed to keep any spoils of war, and were not allowed to take female captives as right-hand possessions.

It is well known that the greatest nation of believers before us was the children of Israel. This has been narrated in the agreed-upon hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas, that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:

"The previous nations and their prophets were shown to me last night. A prophet would pass with one man, another with two men, another with a small group, and another with no one with him. Then, I saw a great crowd, small mountains filled with people, and I said: "This is my Ummah!" It was said to me: "These are the sons of Israel, but look over there." Then I saw a huge crowd which blocked the horizons. It was said to me: "This is your Ummah, and among them are seventy thousand who will enter paradise with