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Islam and Spiritualism ( 4 Jul 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Religious Interpretation of ‘Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil’


By Azhar Abbas Khwaja

(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

July 5, 2013 

The Quran claims that the system given by it can offer solutions to all the problems facing humanity. One of the problems of this age that haS pushed the humanity to the verge of destruction and that tops the list of the issues that have caused severe mental agony to humanity is the issue of population explosion. The second issue is that of terrorism. The Quran presents the solution to both the problems.

In this brief article, the topic of population explosion cannot be dealt with in detail. It is briefly hinted here that the Quran does not encourage having many children. Surah Nisa says,

“That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. “ (4-3)

 It is hoped that you do not have many children because Imam Raghib has meant ‘with many children’ by a’aal. (Mufarridat-e-Imam Raghib). The main worrying problem is that of terrorism that has its solution in the establishment of the Islamic system. In this regard, the Quran says,

“Whoever entered this (system) came under peace” (3-97)

The main cause of terrorism is the total lack of tolerance. Everyone is so overpowered by his own ideas that he does not like to listen to even sensible talks of others. But the Quran has declared this intolerant attitude a Pharaonic one. When Pharaoh perceived serious threat from Hadhrat Moses, he held consultations with his men over killing Hadhrat Moses. At that time, the proselytisation done by Hadhrat Moses was at its peak and he was under constant fear of being killed by Pharaoh. In such a delicate situation, a believer among the nation of the Pharaoh delivered such a daring and impressive speech in favour of Hadhrat Moses in the court of Pharaoh that everyone in the court became silent as it impressed all. The Quran preserved this speech and lent it an eternal status to it. But it did not have any impact on Pharaoh.  In the response to the speech of the believer, Pharaoh said,

“I but point out to you that which I see (myself); Nor do I guide you but to the Path of Right!"                                          “(40-29)

In the commentary of Usmani, the verse is explained in the following words:

“Your speech could not change my views. I am trying to make you understand what I think is good for you. In my view, the best way is that this man should be killed in the beginning.”

The lack of tolerance, not listening to and acting according to what others say is Pharaonic attitude. A Muslim cannot behave in this way. After this introduction, I revert to the main topic of ‘enjoining good and forbidding evil’ which can help establish peace in the world.

The main purpose of the arrival of prophets was to establish Deen (implementation of the religious system) (16-36, 42-13). The chain of prophets has come to an end and the Muslim nation has been declared the inheritors of the Quran (35-32) Therefore, the duty of establishing Deen has become mandatory till the end. Since violence and bloodshed is being perpetrated by a section in Pakistan, our intellectuals are not in favour of the implementation of Deen because he thinks that it will lead to obscurantism and violence. But the truth is that the implementation of Deen has nothing to do with all this. Whatever is going on at present is done in the name of religion and under the spell of it. It has nothing to with deen (true version of Islam). The Deen is a system which fulfils all the needs of all the creatures of the world which God has promised. Hadhrat Umar said, ‘God has given me the discretion to prevent your prayers from reaching Him.’ All the needs and wishes of all the creatures are granted and fulfilled by God through the Islamic system.

It is to be pondered that if Islam had been confined to merely a religion and its injunctions had been limited to worship, why would the prophet (pbuh) have established an Islamic state in Madina? The state of Madina was not established easily but the Prophet (pbuh) had to migrate from Makkah to Madina and he (pbuh) had to toil for it during the day (73-7) and think over it during the night, do scheming for it (17-79). He would then implement the views and plans in the day. This state had an area of one million square miles. If the purpose of Deen was not the establishment of an Islamic state, why would the prophet (pbuh) put so much hard labour into it? Was the establishment of the state by the prophet (pbuh) was out of the purview of the mandate revealed by God? It can never be so.

 If the establishment of the Islamic caliphate is not necessary and mandatory, what would the verses mean in which suggest that the result of piety is government and power. God says,

“God will make those who have faith and do good deeds rulers on earth” (24-55) “. God further says,

“(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs. “(22-41)

The believers can perform all the four activities when they are in power and running an organised system.

If the Quran did not intend to establish an Islamic state and only wanted the observance of certain rituals, it would not have proposed a road map for the political, economic, social and legal laws or of the state. Making the ownership of land Haram, declaring interest based system Haram (2-275), giving away everything except what is required for personal use to others ( 2-219), taking care of others (2-110), paying government tax (23-4). Aren’t these the laws of an economic system? Similarly, there are clear injunctions relating to the political system. Voting is desirable from every Muslim. One should vote only the deserving candidates (4-55). Voting for a non-deserving candidate is Haram.

If an incapable person becomes and executive in the government and cannot execute his duties and responsibilities well, the voter will also be held responsible for that. (4-85). Apart from making voting mandatory, making the allegiance and obedience of the authorities a duty of the citizens is a clear proof of the fact that the Quran is not limited to the rites and ways of worship but presents a better system and everyone has the duty to obey it. Moreover, all the citizens were ordered to get their disputes and cases adjudicated by the prophet pbuh. (4-65)

After getting his cases adjudicated by the prophet pbuh, one becomes a true Muslim. And if he does not feel any heaviness in his heart on a judgment delivered by the prophet pbuh (probably against him), he becomes a Momin.(4-65) This verse had underlined the difference between a Muslim and a Momin in a few words. The laws and the rulers of this system are such that the people trust and accept their judgments and decisions. The laws of the secular governments are based on tyranny and their rulers are criminals (6-123). Therefore, there cannot be justice in a secular government.

Living under one system means it should be clear in the system what should be practised and what should be abstained from. That the Quran has outlined the laws of the system is proof that Islam is a system. About the prophet pbuh, the Quran says,

“Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.                                                      “(7-157)

After the prophet (pbuh) this duty has been entrusted with the whole nation.

“(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs. “(22-41)

Doing the duty of enjoying good and forbidding evil is the important Sunnah (practice) of the prophet pbuh. Those who claim to follow the Sunnah of the prophet pbuh should consider this the most preferable practice.

One of the characteristics of the Islamic state is that all the functions of the government are executed through mutual consultations. That’s why this government belongs to the whole nation, and not to a group or individual. This duty is performed by the whole nation. Therefore, God says,

“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. “ (3-110)

This verse makes it clear that enjoining good and forbidding evil is the duty of the whole nation. In Surah Tauba, God says,

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: “(9-71)

This verse also says that it is the duty of the whole nation. It is not limited to a specific group. It does not even distinguish between men and women.

It was the practice in the initial phase. Since this government was the representative of the whole Muslim nation, observance of this duty (enjoining good and forbidding evil) was synonymous with the whole nation observing it. But when autocracy emerged among us, the whole system of the Deen disintegrated. When autocracy came to power, the religious leadership was confined to mere preaching and sermonising and they called it enjoining good and forbidding evil. Power and government was no more considered necessary for enjoining good and forbidding evil. The following verse was then quoted to justify this idea:

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. “ (3-104)

Commenting on this verse, Sheikh ul Hind writes among other things,

“That is why a particular group among the Muslims was appointed for this duty that invites people to virtues and enjoins good and forbids evil.”

In Tafsir-e-Majid too, it is written that “It is necessary that there should be a group among you that invites you to good deeds, enjoins good and forbids evil and such people are successful.”

 Maulana (the exegetes) has written in the footnote, “It is a blessing of God and a concession to the weakness of the humankind that instead of the whole nation, only a group has been appointed for this duty otherwise the qualities and abilities required for this job would be a burden for many.”

In the Tafseer Marif ul Quran, the verse is translated thus, “And there should be a group from among you that invites people to welfare, enjoins good and forbids evil, and they are those who succeeded.”

 The late mufti has gone wrong here while translating this verse but I would like to quote the nice and commendable view he has presented in the translation.  While explaining verse (41-22) of the Surah Hajj, he writes, “True Muslims are those who when we give them power and authority on earth the first thing they do is establish the system of obedience on earth, one manifestation of which is Namaz and establish their financial system on the laws of Zakat. Moreover, they make enjoining good and forbidding evil their mission of life. “(Vol 2, p 140) Hadhrat Mufti has presented these very meaningful sentences that have for the first time come from the pen of our religious leadership.

It is written in Tadabbur-e-Quran, “And there should be a group among you who invites you to righteousness, enjoins good and forbids evil, and it is they who are successful.” It should be noted here that in almost all the exegeses, the verse is translated similarly and same interpretation has been presented. But according to the Arabic grammar, the translation and the interpretation are both wrong. It is not that these gentlemen did not know Arabic. They were experts in Arabic and had a keen eye on the Arabic literature. We are nowhere near them and we have great respect for them but the translation is wrong because they were not the obsessed with the propagation of the religion. They had neither Deen in their mind nor was the establishment of Deen their motive. The translation was done in a way as to give the impression that the duty of the establishment of the Islamic system did not have any importance though the verse cannot be realised until the Deen is established. Please go through the correct translation and religious interpretation of the verse:

In the preceding passages it has been established that enjoining good and forbidding evil is the duty of the whole nation which it performs through the Islamic state. This duty is not restricted to a group of the Muslims. It should be understood from the verse under discussion which is used to justify our religious leadership that the word ‘min’ in Arabic. One meaning of the word is ‘some’. For example in the verse (2-253)

“There are some among them to whom God spoke. The other meaning is ‘wholly’. The example, “God is one who revealed the (whole book) to you which is true.” (35-31)

If the meaning of the word is taken as ‘some’ it would mean that God revealed to the prophet pbuh only some parts of the book. Similarly, in the verse under discussion, the word ‘min’ is narrative and it means that you, the whole nation is the group that enjoins good and forbids evil. Our religious leadership has translated the word ‘min’ as some to justify their existence thereby distorting the whole teachings of the Quran. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is the duty of the Islamic state and only it can perform it.

The Quran severely condemns the destructive attitude

“Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order”                                               (7-56)

“For them will be a home of peace in the presence of their Lord: He will be their friend, because they practised (righteousness) “ (6-127)

“O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, -Wherewith Allah guideth all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leadeth them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light, - guideth them to a path that is straight. “(5-15-16)

“But Allah doth call to the Home of Peace: He doth guide whom He pleaseth to a way that is straight. “ (10-25)

In Surah Noor, the result of righteous deeds and piety is said to be the endowment of power on the earth. After this power or the establishment of Islamic system, God says,

“And that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: 'They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. “(24-55)

The purpose behind the establishment of the Islamic system is to protect the whole humanity from fear and make the world a cradle of peace.

“Not frivolity will they hear therein, nor any taint of ill, - Only the saying, "Peace! Peace". “(56-25-26)

And all praise is for God.

Source: Monthly Saut ul Haque, April 2013