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The Hukm of Hisbah

There is ijma of the u’lemaa’ that amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard due to the explicit commands in the Quran and Sunnah and the condemnation, curse and criticism connected to those who neglect it. The u’lemaa’ differed over the nature of the hukm, some said amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard kifaayah in itself due to its nature and due to the ayaat of the Qur’an and ahadeeth related to it. The majority of u’lemaa’ and mufassireen said the duty was fard kifaayah and some said it is fard ul a’yn in general and fard kifaayah for some from the ummah to be dedicated to it as a continuous role. Others said it was fardul a’yn and that the ayah referred to by some as a proof implying kifaayah was actually fardul a’yn and was in a form which was apparently a command to the part but implied the whole. Allah (swt) says “And let there be among you an ummah inviting to al Khayr and commanding the ma’roof and forbidding the munkar, those will be the successful. And be not like those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.” (aali I’mraan 3:104-105) The first ayah is in command [amr] form and this implied an obligation for either some people from the ummah to perform the duties or for all to perform the duties according to a difference in the interpretation of the Arabic language in this verse. The end of the first verse also described those who performed this duty as ‘muflihoon’ [successful ones] and ‘falaah’ implies paradise and is the opposite of ‘khusr’ which implies jahannam. This proves the obligatory nature of the verse. As for the second verse it starts with ‘wa’ [‘and’]. This type of ‘waw’ is for joining and is referred to in ilmul lughah as ‘waw atf’ [joining waw] and it connects the verse to the previous verse. Therefore the punishment for neglecting the ‘bayyinaat’ [clear proofs] also applies to those who neglect amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar. This is because the command to perform this duty is from the bayyinaat. The fact that this verse applies to those who neglected amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar was mentioned by Ibn Katheer in his ‘Tafseerul Quran al A’zeem’. There is another indication that makes this command obligatory and that is the fact that the previous two verses (i.e. the two before verse [“And let there be from among you an ummah…” (aali I’mraan 3:104) which are verses aali I’mraan 3:102-103) were also joined together by the ‘waw atf’. The significance of this is that the first of this sequence of verses starts with the phrase “O you who believe!...” Whenever this form is mentioned it is an indication of decisiveness of the command (whether the command is amr [command to do] or nahi [prohibition or command to refrain]). This is because the information has been connected to the belief and Allah (swt) says “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His messenger and turn not away from him while you are hearing and be not like those who say ‘We have heard’ but they hear not” (al Anfaal 8:20-21) and “O you who believe! Answer Allah and His messenger when He calls you to that which will give you life and know that Allah comes between a person and his heart. And verily to Him you shall be gathered.” (al Anfaal 8:24) and “The reply of the believers when they are summoned to Allah and His messenger so that he can judge between them is to say ‘We hear and We obey’ They are the ones who are successful” (an Noor 24:45) So these verses and many other verses proof the obligation to respond to the call of “O you who believe!”

Allah (swt) says “ You are the best of peoples (ummah) ever raised up for mankind, you command ma’roof, forbid munkar and you believe in Allah” (aali I’mraan 3:110) This ayah connects the duty to the belief of the Muslims and thus it is implied that if they neglected this duty they could not be described as the best ummah and would not be possessing the attributes of the Muslim ummah. The view of the individual obligation of hisba is supported by the following hadeeth of Abu Sa’eedul Khudri who reported that Nabi (saw) said “Avoid sitting by the road side” They asked ‘O Rasool Allah we can not do without those meeting places.’ So he (saw) said “Well if you insist then give the road its rights.” They asked ‘What are the rights of the road?’ He (saw) said “Lowering the gaze and abstaining from anything offensive and returning the salaam and the commanding of ma’roof and forbidding from the munkar” (BUKHAARI, MUSLIM) And how far the people are today from giving the road its rights. Rather the people go out to gaze at the women and engage in every offensive behaviour and engage in every munkar. In every land whether Muslim or non-Muslim families feel uncomfortable to travel with their wives and daughters due to the crowds of low life fools who can find nothing better to do than make a nuisance for people and pollute the streets with sinful behaviour. They act in exact opposition to the ayah “And sit not on every road threatening and hindering from the path of Allah those who believe in Him, and seeking to make it crooked. And remember when you were but few and he multiplied you and see what was the end of the corrupters.” (al A’raaf 7:86) The Islamic vision of society is far from what exists and we ask Allah to raise a people who will cleanse the earth from the dogs of mankind who have made life miserable. Either this must happen or Allah will send down a punishing rain to wipe away all the filth who are animalistic and uncivilised. Let us be warned by the hadeeth which says “…Allah will send rain which no house of mud-bricks or (tent of) camel-hair will keep out and it will wash the Earth until it resembles a mirror….” (MUSLIM [no. 7015] from an Nawwaas bin Sama’n) and Allah (swt) warned us several times in the Quran “And We rained a rain upon them. And dreadful is the rain of those who have been warned.” (an Naml 27:58) and “And We rained a rain upon them. See now the nature of the consequence of the evil-doers” (al A’raaf 7:84)

Qaadi Abu Bakr al Jassaas [HANAFI] says ‘That it is fard kifaayah is certain if it is performed by a part it relieves others’ (Ahkaamul Quraan [vol.2 p.35])‘Mulla A’li Qaari (d. h) [HANAFI] said ‘Verily, amrbil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard kifaayah. However, if everyone is ignorant of it it is fardul a’yn upon the capable.’ (Al Mubeen) Ibn Taymeeyah (d.728 h)[HANBALI] says ‘Al amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is not waajib upon every individual but is fard kifaayah as demonstrated by the Quraan’ (‘al Hisbah fi’l Islam’) Imaam Ghazaali (d.505 h)[SHAFI’I]said ‘amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard kifaayah and not fard a’yn and its performance by a few absolves others from doing it for the Quran makes it clear “Let there arise from you an ummah…” So when it is performed by a group others are absolved…’ (Ihyaa u’loomid Deen [vol.2 p.269]) Zamakhshari says ‘Min (from) is used for taba’eed (partitioning) for amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard kifaayah’ (al Kashaf [vol.1 p.224]) Imaam Sayyid A’loosi (d. h) [HANAFI]said ‘The u’lemaa’ except a few say amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar is fard kifaayah’ (Roohul Maa’ani [vol.4 p.21]) Imaam Juwayni (d.478 h) [SHAFI’I]said ‘…commanding ma’roof is fard kifaayah. If in each district there is someone who can undertake it adequately by himself, the obligation on the rest is removed.’ (‘kitaabul Irshaad’) As for those who said the duty was upon all, they include Imaam Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawaani (d. h) [MAALIKI] ‘To command the ma’roof and forbid the munkar is an obligation on anyone who has the public or private power to do so…’ (‘Ar Risaalatul Qayrawaani’)

As for the nature of amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar and its relation with its hukm, if someone sees a munkar then they should remove it and if not then they should forbid it verbally, this is an individual duty. However, if someone has done this and this particular munkar has been removed then this explains that the sufficiency has been met which is described as fard kifaayah. However, this is related to the removal of munkar. The same applies to the absence of ma’roof, if someone sees that an obligation is not being performed then they should command to it, this is a duty upon the one who experiences this situation, so this is described as fardul a’yn, however, if this duty was then brought about then there would be no need for others to engage in it and this would explain it as fard kifaayah. This is regarding bringing about the ma’roof, however commanding ma’roof and forbidding munkar is a continuous duty due to the fact that sins always exist among society and even among the righteous people. So there is a constant need for these duties and no one should neglect to command and forbid when this is necessary so some on this basis mention that it is fardul a’yn and they support it with various ayaat and ahadeeth such as the hadeeth reported by A’bdullah ibn A’bbaas that Nabi (saw) said “He is not one of us the one who has no mercy for our young ones and no respect for our elder ones and who does not command ma’roof and forbid munkar” (AHMAD, AL MUNDHIRI in ‘at Targheeb wat Tarheeb’ [vol.4 p12]) This though can be interpreted in that it is a duty to command when we encounter an absent obligation and a duty to forbid when we encounter a prohibited action, and everyone must do this unless someone is dealing with that particular case already. So we must command and forbid when we encounter these matters our lives may be dedicated to other spheres such as farming, agriculture, medicine, building, science, administration all of which are necessary for the functioning of a strong Islamic society and are in themselves fard kifaayah. However there should be some people in every community who are dedicated to amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar and this means that rather than being occupied with other fard kifaayah duties such as medicine and science, they should be dedicated to commanding ma’roof and forbidding munkar continously. The people most suited for this are those of knowledge, who have studied the shari’ah in depth and know what is ma’roof and what is munkar and what there is ikhtilaaf about, they understand the conditions, rules and methods of commanding and forbidding and their knowledge is a scale to weigh a situation so their commanding and forbidding does not lead to a greater munkar. This without doubt is fard kifaayah as not all of society could be dedicated to commanding and forbidding in this way as this activity along with the time taken to reach this level of knowledge and ability would lead to the neglect of other obligations in society some of which are related to the fulfilling of the needs of the people, such as medicine, computing, administration, farming etc. By understanding this reality and having a knowledge of the various ayaat and ahadeeth concerning the subject and having an awareness of the views of the sahaabah and the earlier u’lemaa’ we can understand that commanding ma’roof and forbidding a munkar is a duty for one who encounters the absence of obligations and the presence of prohibitions and that it is fard kifaayah for some people to be specifically dedicated to this duty based upon their specialist knowledge of the shari’ah or due to their specialist knowledge relating to the duties of amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar. So in accordance with this Imaam Mawaardi (d.450 h) [SHAFI’I] said regarding one of the opinions within his madh-hab ‘…the muhtasib must be a’lim from among the people who make ijtihad concerning leagal rulings in the deen’ (‘Al Ahkaamus Sultaniyyah wal Wilaayatud Deeniyyah’)Therefore the verse “Let there arise from among you an ummah inviting to al khayr and commanding ma’roof and forbidding munkar and they will be the successful” (aali I’mraan 3:104) can be understood to mean that some people must be dedicated to the tasks while the rest of the Muslims engage in it only when they encounter the need. So there is difference between the one who leaves his home in order to do some farm-work and he forbids a munkar that he sees during the course of his journey and the one who leaves his home in order to do nothing else but command ma’roof and forbid munkar.

Abu Saee’d al Khudri reported that Nabi (saw) said “If one of you sees a munkar he should change it with his hand if he is not able then with his tongue and if he is not able then with his heart and that is the weakest of imaan” (MUSLIM) This hadeeth is a command to every individual Muslim to remove munkar if he encounters it, if he can not remove it then she should forbid with his tongue and if he is not capable of this then he must at least hate the munkar in his heart and desire it to be changed. The hating of the shirk, kufr, bida’ and munkar in the heart is a natural and necessary attribute of the believer. This natural hatred it would lead the believer to action so that he would work to remove the munkar, if he could not then his hatred for the munkar would remain in his heart and is a sign of his belief. However, if he did not remove the munkar nor forbid it nor hate it then this would be due to the absence of necessary conditions of imaan being absent within him. The one who has imaan must hate the munkar and desire it to be changed. It should be noted that to hate anything that has been revealed to us in terms of beliefs and obligations is kufr and excludes a person from the fold of Islam. Similarly, the one who loves the munkar, which is that which has been prohibited to us in terms of false beliefs and prohibitions has committed kufr and excluded himself from the fold of Islam. This is clear due to Allah (swt) describing the kuffaar as hating the truth of Islam, Allah (swt) says “…but most of them have a hatred for the Truth” (al Mu’minoon 23:70) and “It is He who sent His messenger with guidance and the deen of truth to make it manifest over all the deens even though the mushrikeen detest it” (at Tawbah 9:33). In fact

“Those among the children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and I’sa ibn Maryam. That is because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses. They used not to forbid one another from munkar which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do.” (al Maai’dah 5:78-79) Therefore the obligation was not only with the messengers to command ma’roof and forbid munkar but it was also upon the previous peoples to whom the revelation was sent to. It is vital to learn the lessons from the mistakes of the previous peoples, the Quran deliberately conveys to us the information of their erros so that we can have the opportunity to avoid the same mistakes and take heed of the warnings of their resultant misguidance, worldly calamities and punishment in the next world. In relation to their neglect of amr bil ma’roof wan nahi anil munkar, the above ayah is supported by the following hadeeth, Ibn Masoo’d reported “The decline and fall of Bani Israa’eel sarted thus – when the pious among them saw certain sins being committed by the transgressors they forbade them from doing the same but when the sinners did not repent, the pious because of their relationship and friendship continued to mix with them. So when this state of affairs began to prevail, Allah caused their hearts to be accursed in the same manner” Then Nabi (saw) recited the ayah “The disobedient and the transgressors among the Bani Israa’eel were accursed by Allah” On this the Prophet (saw) emphatically commanded his companions “You must command the ma’roof and forbid the munkar you must restrain the hand of the zaalim and invite him to the truth and justice” (ABU DAWOOD, TIRMIDHI) This hadeeth also provides us with other important lessons:-

• Firstly, a whole nation can fall into demise due to neglecting the societal actions and relations and neglecting the Islamic reform. Indeed we see this has occurred in the Muslim ummah, the society is corrupt and the opposite of the Islamic society and there has been a long neglect of hisba.

• Secondly, the failure to repent results in the continuation of sins and leads to the misguidance of the hearts.

• Thirdly, the obligation of hijraan, i.e. separation from those who cause harm to our deen, even if they are Muslims. If we associate with them in a friendly manner this shows agreement and approval to their deeds and it exposes us to their harm. We should only associate with them in order to command and forbid them.

The curse for neglecting the commanding of ma’roof and forbidding of munkar is not restricted to the previous people but is also for the ummah of Muhammad (saw). This is because the Quran has come to the whole of mankind and if there is a criticism for a belief or action then this must also be avoided by the people to whom the present Book has been sent, this is unless there is a specific indication [qareenah] to restrict this action to the previous people.