Who is Responsible for Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahy anil Munkar?
Amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar is a fardh obligation in deen. This obligation rests upon the shoulders of every ummati. However, each person will be responsible in accordance to his understanding and ability.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Whichever one of you sees an evil being perpetrated, then he should stop it with his hand (i.e. physically put a stop to the evil). If he is unable to stop it with his hand, then he should stop it with his tongue (i.e. through advising the person). If he is unable to stop it with his tongue, then he should regard it to be wrong and evil in his heart, and this is the weakest level of imaan (where a person will not be able to correct the wrong).” (Saheeh Muslim #49)
The Ulama explain that the first level of amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar, where a person physically prevents the wrong, applies to the rulers. The Ulama also mention that it applies to the father in his household, as he has the authority to physically prevent his family from committing sins.
The second level (i.e. verbally correcting) applies to the Ulama and the general public when the issue is within the scope of their understanding and they are able to rectify the situation.
The third level applies to people who are unable to correct the situation in any way. If they are able to move away from the place where the wrong is taking place, then they should immediately do so, and this will be a way to express their disapproval. If they are unable to move away due to circumstances (e.g. a person is traveling in an aeroplane and music is playing), then in such a situation, one should disgust the sin from his heart and turn to Allah Ta‘ala.
The Responsibility of the General Public and the Ulama
As far as the general public is concerned then they should make amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar in matters of deen which are clear and known to all (e.g. halaal and haraam, the fardh salaah being compulsory, wine and pork being haraam, etc.). As for intricate issues and difficult masaa’il, then since the general public do not possess the required knowledge and understanding regarding these matters, they should leave these matters for the Ulama to address and correct.
In certain cases, amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar will be fardh-e-ain (obligatory on a person individually), while in other situations, it will be fardh-e-kifaayah (obligatory on all the people collectively). Both these types of fardh obligations have been mentioned separately in the Qur’aan Majeed.
Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahy anil Munkar being Fardh-e-Ain
It is fardh-e-ain upon a person to be concerned about his family and to make an effort toward their deeni improvement. Hence, he should encourage them towards upholding the commands of Allah Ta‘ala such as performing salaah, adhering to the sunnah, remaining in pious company, etc., and when he sees them committing any evil or sin, he should prevent them. Allah Ta‘ala mentions in the Qur’aan Majeed, “O you who have imaan! Save yourselves and your families from the fire of Jahannum.” (Surah Tahreem v. 6)
This aayat emphatically proves that if one did not prevent his family from sin and show them the path of guidance, he will be held responsible. In the Mubaarak Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Every one of you is a shepherd, and every one of you will be questioned regarding his flock. The Muslim leader is a shepherd and will be questioned regarding his subjects, and a husband is a shepherd who will be questioned regarding his household, and a wife is a shepherd in her husband’s home and will be questioned regarding her flock…” (Saheeh Bukhaari #893) From this Hadith, we understand that just as the husband is responsible for his household, the wife is also answerable regarding her children.
In one narration, it is reported that Hazrat Ibnu Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) advised a person saying, “Ensure that you give your child a good Islamic upbringing, for you will be questioned regarding this on the Day of Qiyaamah. You will be asked regarding the type of upbringing that you had given him and the type of education that you had imparted to him, while he will also be asked regarding whether he was obedient and submissive to you.” (Shu’abul Imaan #8295)
Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahy anil Munkar being Fardh-e-Kifaayah
In regard to the obligation of amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar being fardh-e-kifaayah, then this obligation is placed on the entire ummah collectively. In other words, the whole ummah is commanded to be concerned about the deeni progress and plight of people in general. Allah Ta‘ala mentions in the Qur’aan Majeed, “You are the best of nations sent for (the benefit of) mankind. (You are the best on account of the fact that) you command with good and forbid from evil, and you believe in Allah.” (Surah Aal-e-Imraan v. 110)
From this aayat, we understand that amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar is an obligation that is directed to this entire ummah collectively. Fardh-e-kifaayah means that if some people of the ummah fulfil this obligation, then others will be absolved, and if no one fulfils this obligation, then all will be sinful.
The Immense Reward for the Ummah Carrying out Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahy anil Munkar
Mujaddid Alf-e-Thaani (rahimahullah) once mentioned the following: When a person spends even one coin for the sake of propagating the knowledge of deen then the reward is so great that it is equal to spending hundreds of thousands of coins in some other charitable cause. However, it should be understood that the greatest reward in deen is to uphold, preserve and propagate deen through reviving deen among the people. Especially at the time when the salient symbols of Islam are being erased and wiped out from people’s lives, then at such a time, for one to promote and propagate even one mas’alah of deen will be so rewarding that it will earn one even more reward than spending hundreds of thousands of rupees for the cause of deen. (Majaalis-e-Abraar – Ashraf-u-Tafheem pg. 35)