Islam, however, has prescribed some guidelines and principles which must be followed when enjoining good and prohibiting evil. From them are the following:

  1. The one who takes up this task must be knowledgeable about what he enjoins or prohibits, so that he would not cause the person he is talking to stray away from the Religion. Sufyaan bin Abdullah ath-Thaqafi said:

“I said: O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), advise me with something which I can abide by.’ He said ‘Say My Lord is Allah, and then stay upright.’ I said ‘O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), what do you fear for me the most?’ He then took hold of his tongue and said ‘This!'” [al—Tirmidi]

Ibn Hibban, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

‘The reason the Prophet (t) held his tongue with his hand, and said: ‘this’ when he could have said ‘the tongue’ without holding it with his hand was that the Prophet (ﷺ) knew well the knowledge he was teaching people; so he wanted to apply the knowledge he was teaching… he knew this knowledge because he told the one who asked: ‘the thing I fear most, is that it would lead you through many trials’… so he ordered him to refrain from talking much. Therefore, the Prophet (ﷺ) applied what he knew, to clarify the difference between places a person should seek knowledge and when he should give knowledge.’

  1. Prohibiting an evil should not lead to a greater one being committed.
  2. He should not engage in what he prohibits nor should he neglect what he enjoins. Allah (SWA) says:

O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do. [61:2-3]

  1. He should be gentle and kind when he enjoins or prohibits. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Nothing is done with kindness except that it is beautified, and nothing is devoid of kindness except that it is disfigured.” (Muslim)

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  1. He should also bear any inconvenience resulting from this task. Allah (SWA) mentions that Luqman said in his great advice to his son:

O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and be patient over what befalls sot’. Indeed that is of the matters (requiring) determination. [31:17] [6] Islam has enjoined good manners. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“The most complete Believers in terms of faith are those who have the best manners, and the best of you is the best to his family.” [al-Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (ﷺ) also pointed out the reward of good manners He said:

“The most beloved and closest of you to me on the Day of Requital are the best of you in character. And indeed the most hated and farthest of you to me on the Day of Requital are those who talk with affectation, boast, and the ‘Mutafayhiqoon’,” They said, “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) We understood those who talk with affectation and those who boast, but who are the `Mutafayhiqoon’?”  He said: “The arrogant.” [al-Tirmidhi] [7] Islam has enjoined acts of kindness. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed Allah is benevolent and loves benevolence, and excellent manners, and dislikes poor manners.” [Tabraani in al-Awsat] [8] Islam has legislated that one confirm reports before issuing a judgment concerning them. Allah (SWA) says:

O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done. [49:6] [9] Islam has enjoined that people be sincere towards others. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“The Religion is sincerity.” We asked, “To whom?” He replied, “To Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their general folk.” [Muslim]

Being sincere to Allah is achieved by believing in Him, worshipping Him alone, negating any partners that are associated with him, and declaring Him far removed from any imperfection in His Names and Attributes. One should believe that He is the Disposer of all affairs of this universe. Whatever He wills must come to pass, and whatever He does not, will never be One must comply with all His commands and avoid His prohibitions.

Sincerity towards His Book is realized by believing that it is the Word of Allah, revealed by Him, and that it is the last of the Heavenly Scriptures. One must apply and abide by its commands, and hold as lawful all that it has declared as such, and refrain from all that is prohibited therein.

Sincerity towards His Messenger entails that one obey his orders, believe everything He informed us of, and refrain from that which He prohibited. He must be loved and respected, and his Sunnah must be followed and disseminated amongst the masses.

One must show sincerity to the leaders of the Muslims by obeying them unless they enjoin sin, by guiding them to that which is best and helping them in it, and by abstaining from rebelling against them. Rather, they must be advised gently and reminded of the rights of the people.

Sincerity towards the Muslim masses is achieved by guiding them to what is good and beneficial, both in matters concerning their Religion and worldly life. One should help them in fulfilling their needs, and protect them from harm. One should love for them what he loves for himself and dislike for them what he dislikes for himself, and he should treat them in the same manner he would like to be treated.

[10] Islam has enjoined generosity due to the affection and love it spreads. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Nothing is heftier in the scale than good manners.” [Abu Dawood]

Allah (SWA) set a guideline in the following verse defining the limits of generosity. Allah (SWA) says:

And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty. [17:29] [11] Islam has enjoined concealing people’s faults and helping to relieve their distress and to ease their affairs. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

 “Whoever eases some distress of a Muslim in this world, Allah will ease some distress of his on the Day of Recompense. Whoever eases the burden of a loan (by repaying it, pardoning it, or extending the time period for payment) for one for whom it is hard to repay it, Allah will make things easy for him in this life as well as the next. Whoever covers the fault of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults in this life and the next. Allah continues to help his slave as long as he helps his brothers.” [Muslim] [12] Islam has enjoined and encouraged patience, whether in doing deeds of obedience or refraining from prohibitions. Allah (SWA) says:

So wait patiently for the Decision of your Lord. for verily, you are under Our Eyes. [52:48]

It has also enjoined patience in facing the different trials through which Allah tests His slaves, such as poverty, hunger, disease, and fear. Allah (SWA) says:

And certainly. We shall test you with something of fear, hunger. loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient. * Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’ * They are those on whom are the blessings from their Lord, and receive Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones. [2:155-7] [13] Islam commands that one suppress his anger and pardon others while having the ability to take revenge. This strengthens the bonds between the members of the society and distances those things which may raise enmity and sever ties. Allah (SWA) has promised a great reward and has highly praised those who try to acquire this characteristic. Allah (SWA) says:

And race to forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend in times of prosperity and adversity, who repress their anger, and who pardon others; verily, Allah loves the doers of good. [3:133-4]

Islam orders that one return an evil act with goodness in order to join the hearts and remove hatred as well as to deter one from taking revenge. Allah (SWA) says:

The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better. Then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. [41:34]

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