To enjoin good & forbid evil… What DOES it actually mean?

D8EB55EF-BB8A-421B-9D49-E84B2AB248A8‘To enjoin good and forbid evil’ – A phrase most Muslims are familiar with and the banner under which any ‘haraam’ police* operate. But, despite it being such a widespread belief and saying, do we really understand what it means?

 

 

 

We know it is mentioned in the Qur’an as a characteristic of the believers and so, something we should all work for. One example is Surah At-Tawba (verse 71):

 

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَـئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللّهُ إِنَّ اللّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

 

AND [as for] the believers, both men and women, they are the supporters of one another – They enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and are constant in prayer, and pay zakah and obey God and His Apostle. It is they upon whom God will bestow His mercy. Verily, God is Almighty, Wise!

 

I have highlighted the specific words in Arabic. They are nearly always translated as they have been above – that ‘they enjoin that which is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong’. 

 

However, if we look at the actual Arabic instead of the translations most ‘scholars’ propagate, the word ‘ma’roof’ means ‘known’ and ‘munkar’ is its opposite – ‘unknown/strange’.

 

There is evidence of this in the Qur’an and for the sake of brevity, I will give you just a couple of examples:

 

إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلَامًا قَالَ سَلَامٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ

 

When those [heavenly messengers] came unto him and bade him peace, he answered, [And upon you be] peace! – [saying to himself,] They are strangers. 

(Ad-Dhariyaat, verse 25)

 

This verse is about the Prophet Ibrahim when the angels visited him. The word ‘munkaroon’ describes them because they were unknown to him, NOT that they were ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. The same word cannot mean completely different things.

 

With regards to the definition of ‘ma’roof’, the following verses from Surah Al-A’raaf make it clear for us: 

 

وَإِن تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَى لاَ يَسْمَعُواْ وَتَرَاهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ لاَ يُبْصِرُونَ

 

And if you call them to guidance, they hear not and you will see them looking at you, yet they see not. (198)

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِض عَنِ الْجَـهِلِينَ

 

Pardon them and order Al-‘Urf and turn away from the ignorant. (199)

 

These verses are directed to the Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam) and he was told to pardon these people and order them with the ‘urf’. ‘Urf’ is from the same root in Arabic as ‘ma’roof’. Was he told to simply order them to ‘do good’ (as many claim it means) or something more specific? It is obvious what is meant here is all that is encompassed by the religion even if we ignore the fact that linguistically ‘ma’roof’ means ‘that which is known’.

 

Looking into this really brings into focus why first hand knowledge of the religion is so important. Your religion defines your destination in the next life and so, is too important to leave in the hands of others. Allah orders us to enjoin that which is the actual religion and to forbid that which is unknown (i.e. innovations or additions to the religion). It’s really quite simple – Just stick to the religion according to the evidence.

 

* Muslims who go around policing the religion of others by pointing out which of their actions, according to their views, are ‘haraam’/wrong. 

Marry two, three or four

 

CA29C19A-0F90-4C81-96E0-76F5417F8460At first glance, Islam does not seem a fair religion. Muslim men seem to have it much better than their female counterparts. One issue which perplexes many is how inequitable it is that Muslim men can marry more than one wife while a Muslim woman has only one husband at any one time. I understand how it looks and so spent time researching the issue.

 

The Quran states, in Surah An Nisaa’ (verse 3):

 

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِى الْيَتَٰـمَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلَـثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَٰحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَٰـنُكُمْ ذلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ

 

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphaned females, then marry other women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one or that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from injustice.

 

So, the possibility of marrying more than one wife at one time is in the Quran but there is a caveat.

Allah places upon it the condition that the wives must be dealt with justly. This encapsulates time, housing, and finances. This immediately excludes many men as it is quite exceptional that one man may be able to financially support more than one family at any one time. 

 

While the Quran stresses the importance of justice, what actually happens in most cases is that a Muslim man, having a tumultuous time in his current marriage, not knowing how to fix the relationship, sees a way out. He does not need to worry about the emotional, legal, and financial repercussions of divorcing his wife because he decides to stay legally (islamically or otherwise) married and marries another woman WITHOUT his first wife’s knowledge. The second wife will end up claiming support from the government as the man is unable to provide housing for both women out of his own earnings. The first wife will often only find out after the second marriage has gone through.

 

Now, this deceit, and it is DECEIT, is definitely NOT from the religion of Islam. 

 

In Islam like many other religions, a marriage is a sacred contract based upon love, compassion, and trust. The first wife of course has the choice as to whether she would like to become a co-wife. In fact, there is evidence from the Prophet that when his son in law Ali bin Abi Taalib wanted to marry a second wife, and Faatimah, the daughter of the Prophet did not want him to, the Prophet himself FORBADE Ali from doing so (See Bukhari for the hadith). 

 

Some ‘scholars’ argue the Prophet did this because Ali bin Abi Taalib wanted to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl (considered an enemy of Islam at the time) but this is completely nonsensical as the Prophet himself was married to the daughter of Abu Sufyan (who was also considered an enemy of Islam)!

 

Now, I’m sure many men will argue that most, if not all women, will refuse to be a co-wife which would make it impossible for any man to marry more than one wife. My answer to this is in the example of the Prophet. He married his first wife when he was 25 years old and she was 40. The marriage lasted around 25 years and was completely monogamous. During this time, they had 4 daughters. Only after Khadija’s death did the Prophet have multiple wives – all except one (Aisha) were divorcees or widows. 

 

In other words, when the Prophet had young children, he was committed only to that wife and family. This makes perfect sense as the needs of a wife with young children are very different from older people coming together in marriage without any children to raise and being more independent in how they live their lives within the marriage. So, of course, it is possible that women would be happy as co-wives if their circumstances are suited to such.

 

Indeed the way of our Prophet and pious predecessors was not to leave their current wife in limbo and take the easy way out. They lived according to verse 129 of Surah An Nisaa’ which states:

 

 وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَآءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

 

You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them so as to leave the other hanging. And if you do justice, and do all that is right and have Taqwa, then Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

In fact, the way in which second or further marriages are being conducted goes against the very essence of Islam. It is not Islam which is an unfair religion. In this aspect, it is Muslim men who are twisting it for their own needs.

 

The Muslim community needs Muslim men to live up to the honourable examples of men in the past. Men who were strong in faith, in conviction, and knew the actual religion. 

 

After all, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did say, “The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” (Tirmidhi).

 

 

Devilry in Islam

B53BA356-857F-48E9-A763-5F9DC2600735‘Devilry’ in Islam includes ‘black magic’ and jinn (demonic) possession. Both are serious issues for Muslims. The common advice out there is to use ‘Ruqya’ (see my blog on this topic) as a cure. However, the evidence says different.

 

In terms of black magic, there is the following hadith:

Narrated `Aisha,

Magic was worked on Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) so that he began to imagine that he had done something although he had not. One day while he was with me, he invoked Allah and invoked for a long period and then said, “O `Aisha! Do you know that Allah has instructed me regarding the matter I asked Him about?” I asked, “What is that, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” He said, “Two men came to me; one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. One of them asked his companion, ‘What is the disease of this man?’ The other replied, ‘He is under the effect of magic.’ The first one asked, ‘Who has worked magic on him?” The other replied, ‘Labid bin A’sam, a Jew from the tribe of Bani Zuraiq.’ The (first one asked), ‘With what has it been done?’ The other replied, ‘With a a comb and the hair stuck to it and a skin of the pollen of a date palm tree.’ The first one asked, ‘Where is it?’ The other replied, ‘In the well of Dharwan.’ Then the Prophet (ﷺ) went along with some of his companions to that well and looked at that and there were date palms near to it. Then he returned to me and said, ‘By Allah the water of that well was (red) like the infusion of Henna leaves and its date-palms were like the heads of devils” I said, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Did you take those materials out of the pollen skin?” He said, ‘No! As for me Allah has healed me and cured me and I was afraid that (by showing that to the people) I would spread evil among them when he ordered that the well be filled up with earth, and it was filled up with earth.”

Bukhari

 

The hadith is clear. The Prophet simply ‘invoked’ or asked Allah for a cure/help. Asking Allah for help means then being patient and patience is never easy. People by nature, feel better being in control, being able to do something physically, which is why people resort to ‘ruqya processes’ (see my blog on this) despite there being no evidence for this.

 

Based upon this evidence we should ask Allah and then wait. It may be a very long wait but that is what faith is and why Allah tells us to ask for help with patience, in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 45,

 

وَاسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَوةِ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلاَّ عَلَى الْخَـشِعِينَ –

 

And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi`in (those who lower/humble themselves).

 

There is also this related hadith:

 

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ مَنْصُورٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا هَاشِمُ بْنُ هَاشِمٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ عَامِرَ بْنَ سَعْدٍ، سَمِعْتُ سَعْدًا ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ” مَنْ تَصَبَّحَ سَبْعَ تَمَرَاتٍ عَجْوَةً، لَمْ يَضُرُّهُ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ سَمٌّ وَلاَ سِحْرٌ “.

 

Narrated Saud:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “If somebody takes seven ‘Ajwa dates in the morning, neither magic nor poison will hurt him that day.”

Bukhari

 

Eating dates is beneficial in a number of ways and you can easily look this up if you would like to know more. However, according to this hadith, adopting this practice is prior to being afflicted so is a preventative measure as opposed to a cure.

 

Nevertheless, we want a quick fix. ‘Magic words’ (usually taken from the Quran!) to rid us of the problem. This is not faith. It is superstition. Obviously, there is no room for this in Islam and furthermore, this practice betrays the very cornerstone of the religion. The belief in One God and the belief in His abilities as the only One who can cure.

 

Interestingly, in our current time, the list of ailments is endless. Anything – from a chronic illness to a marriage falling apart is put down to magic. Magic becomes an easy scapegoat and the pendulum of control swings in the opposite direction so all accountability or responsibility for action is relinquished.

 

Now, in terms of jinn (demonic) possession, this example is related by Ya’la ibn Murah:

I saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) do three things which no one before or after me saw. I went with him on a trip. On the way, we passed by a woman sitting at the roadside with a young boy. She called out, ‘O Messenger of Allah, this boy is afflicted with a trial, and from him we have also been afflicted with a trial. I don’t know how many times per day he is seized by fits.’ He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Give him to me.’ So she lifted him up to the Prophet.
He (peace be upon him) then placed the boy between himself and the middle of the saddle, opened the boy’s mouth and blew in it three times, saying, ‘In the name of Allah, I am the slave of Allah, get out, enemy of Allah!’ Then he gave the boy back to her and said: ‘Meet us on our return at this same place and inform us how he has fared.’ We then went. On our return, we found her in the same place with three sheep. When he said to her, ‘How has your son fared?’ She replied: ‘By the One who sent you with the truth, we have not detected anything (unusual) in his behaviour up to this time… (Musnad Ahmad (vol: 4, p. 170), and al-Haakim, who declared it authentic)

 

There is absolutely no evidence stating ‘Ruqya’ (often MISINTERPRETED as ‘reciting any part of the Quran’ – See my blog on Ruqya) should be done. The Prophet’s example is the best one and the Hadith clearly shows he asked the jinn to leave. Again, it is a case of asking and waiting. The waiting may be for the rest of our lives but that is the true essence of faith.

 

Many a ‘scholar’ will advise the usage of Ayat-ul-Kursi. This is based upon the Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle ordered me to guard the Zakat revenue of Ramadan. Then somebody came to me and started stealing of the foodstuff. I caught him and said, “I will take you to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” Then Abu Huraira described the whole narration and said: That person said, “Please don’t take me to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and I will tell you a few words by which Allah will benefit you. When you go to your bed, recite Ayat-al-Kursi, (2.255) for then there will be a guard from Allah who will protect you all night long, and Satan will not be able to come near you till dawn.” When the Prophet (ﷺ) heard the story he said (to me), “He (who came to you at night) told you the truth although he is a liar; and it was Satan.

Bukhari

This again, like the eating of dates mentioned above, is preventative. More importantly, it is also general and neither magic or jinn are mentioned.

 

Human nature is such that we want quick fixes whether it is to lose weight, to become physically fitter, or to recover from a chronic illness. Why would the issues of black magic and jinn possession be any different?

 

Religion, time and time again, asks for us to go against our nature. To do good even though our souls may lean towards evil, to fast when our bodies want food, to wake up at night, and pray while others sleep and so on. This is the same. Go against your nature and realise there is no quick fix. Ask and then wait. It will not be easy but no one ever said faith was.

Beat her lightly

woman-sitting-silhouette-clipart

Islam is not the rod with which men beat women. I have just watched yet another so-called ‘Sheikh’ on YouTube state the Quran allows men to beat their wives. Enough is enough. For generations, Muslim women around the world have suffered and continue to suffer from domestic violence and abuse because of such opinions.

Those in a position of power or authority will always present dogma so that they are not undermined. It has served the Muslim clergy well historically and to this day, feeds into a patriarchal culture whereby the husband is somehow responsible or a moral guide for the wife. Thus, she is deemed spiritually lesser, requiring discipline.

The whole argument pivots on the translation of one word – the Arabic verb ‘Dharaba’ (in Surah An Nisa’, verse 34). It is a word which has a huge array of meanings in the Quran including ‘to bring forth’, ‘to strike the ground with a stick’, ‘to deal with’ and so on. Context is all important in helping us to understand what it means in each case in the Quran.

The common misconception that Islam allows and even encourages wife beating is down to a sexist and cultural context within which, this word ‘Dharaba’ is wrongly translated as ‘beat/hit’. This translation works for those cultures where women are seen as lesser citizens, beings to be subjugated and ruled over. In other words, it is not Islam but men who legalize and normalize wife beating. Worse, they use the banner of Islam to hide what is blatantly oppression and wrongdoing.

If you study all the instances of ‘dharaba’ in the Quran and the example of the Prophet, it is clear it means ‘to go away/separate’.

The verse is very clear. If a husband sees ‘nushuz’(ie. an uprising – unreasonable demands) from his wife;

1). He admonishes/speaks to her about it
2). Forsakes her in the bed
3). Separates/goes away

This process is exactly what the Prophet did with his wives when they wanted more financially than he had to give. So my question now is, do the Fuqaha (jurists) know the religion better than the Prophet did?

What allows the same patterns to be perpetuated is that many Muslim women often do not feel able to come forward and seek help. They are afraid that they will be blamed instead of being comforted, reminded that, wife beating is a right of the husband. Terrified of what taking a stand will cost them. In unity comes strength so as Muslim women, we must stand with these women, with our hearts and minds, the correct knowledge of the religion in our hands.

I believe any change in society starts from within us. We, as Muslims, need to change our views so women can come forward and break the chains of silent suffering. We must offer comfort rather than judgement. Most important of all, our understanding and advice must be based upon actual knowledge and Scripture as opposed to deeply entrenched cultural and patriarchal injustices.

Like I said, enough is enough.

For detailed evidence, click this link.