Whenever humanity strayed from the righteous path, whenever they had forgotten their Lord and indulged themselves in a hedonistic lifestyle, Allah sent Prophets (AS) to correct the people. They would advise the masses with wisdom and guide them toward Paradise. As the line of Prophets (AS) ended with the Messenger (SAW), his community has been entrusted to carry on his work and show the rest of creation the way they should live their lives.
Allah has outlined our mission: “And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (3:104) The responsibility of trying to guide others now rests upon the shoulders of the Muslim community. They will be questioned if they fail in this regard, if they are active in spreading the truth then they will attain eternal success. The Muslims should never overlook this aspect of their religion, as if they do then they invite calamities upon themselves and Allah’s punishment.
This aspect of enjoining good and forbidding evil is so important to the Muslim community that Allah has praised us for it; “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (3:110) If we are steadfast on this forbidding of evil and enjoining of good then, indeed we will be counted under this verse, being praiseworthy individuals. If we do not do this then we cannot claim to be the best of nations.
The reward for enjoining good is immense, as explained by the Prophet (SAW); “He who leads (anyone) to a pious task will get a reward equal to the reward of the person who does that pious work…” (Muslim) This Hadith can be best understood with an example, if one of your friends is neglectful of their compulsory prayer, and you were the means of making them conscious of their prayer. You will be rewarded for every prayer that they performed due to your counsel, every letter of the Quran they prayed in their prayer, their performing of ablution, all of this will be put on your scales on the Day of Judgment. This is a yield massive profit for a person, he is oblivious to the fact that his advice is accumulating good deeds for him. The act of enjoining good and forbidding is a very lucrative investment indeed.
Just as a person will be rewarded for the goodness someone did because of him, so too will he be held accountable for the evil that he spread and others committed due to him. The Prophet has told us; “If anyone invites (people) to the path of piety then he will get a reward equal to the reward earned by all those people who listened to him and walked on the pious path and performed the pious deed, and, because of that, nothing will be deducted from their reward. (And in the same way,) if anyone leads (people) to the wrong path (and bad deeds) then he will have the sin equal to the accumulated sin of all those people who perpetrate the bad deed and follow the wrong path on his lead, and, because of that , nothing will be reduced from the sin (and punishment) of those people.” (Muslim) Influence is a double-edged sword, if you are the means of others committing good then you will have unimaginable reward. If on the other hand, you are a person who propagates evil, be prepared to reap what you sow.
We have seen many incentives to carry out this noble act, yet we remain unaware of the calamities that may befall us if we turn our backs on this. The Prophet (SAW) has warned us; “I swear by that Being Who has my life in His hands, it is incumbent upon you, that you enjoin what is virtuous and that you should forbid what is evil, otherwise Allah will send His punishment on you. Then you will pray to Him but your prayer will not be accepted.” (Tirmidhi) Only Allah in His divine knowledge understands why the community is being tested so severely, however this Hadith may serve as some indication to the question: ‘Why aren’t our prayers being accepted?’. We need to remember; Allah is the same, the Quran is the same, the prayers are the same, the only difference is the people who are raising their hands to make those prayers. If the gates of acceptance are closed we only have ourselves to blame.
May Allah give us the ability to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. May he allow our efforts to yield benefit in both worlds. Ameen.