AS an Ummah, it is our responsibility to not only do good and leave evil, but also to encourage and enjoin others to it. Allah said in the Qur’an:
“You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (Qur’an, 3:110)
The status Allah gave Muslims is by virtue of: our acknowledgment of our Creator’s Lordship and His over us that we worship and obey Him alone; enjoining what is right; and forbidding what is wrong. If we lose these virtues, we lose the status. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is a noble deed, though regretfully it has acquired a negative image today.
The focus of this article is, however, on the role women can play in carrying out this duty. It should be known that this is everyone’s job and not restricted to men alone. In fact, women can do a great job in carrying out this religious duty.
As mothers, women are mostly responsible for the upbringing of children. This is where enjoining of good and forbidding of evil starts. Children are normally closer to their mothers, who have a great influence in what children grow up to be.
By virtue of motherhood, women are probably the greatest contributors to the society and the economy. Great mothers not only provide leaders for the next generation but also virtuous intellectuals brought up on strong Islamic principles.
Apart from motherhood, there are several examples of how women in the past carried out this duty. Mother of the believers, Ayesha, ordered her brother, Abdur Rahman Bin Abu Bakr, to correctly make Wudhu (Sahih Muslim, no. 240)
Maymunah threatened one of her male relatives who smelt of alcohol that she would boycott him unless he undertook the Islamic punishment for drinking alcohol (At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra)
when Umm Salamah saw some women turning away beggars, she rebuked them and asked them to give something to the beggars, even if a date. The point to note is that these great women did not hesitate in commanding good and forbidding evil.
Women can forbid evil and enjoin good in their homes, places of work, mosques, and schools. In the past, old women’s advice was rarely ignored unless it was incorrect. According to a narration in Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz As-Sahaba (8/121), an old woman known as Samra Bint Nuhayk Al-Asadiyyah would go to the markets and carry out this as a religious duty (it should be noted that this narration does not have a full chain of narrators).
Elderly people were earlier respected and honored. Imagine the reaction an old woman will get today if she advises a young girl not to throw away food or comments on her dress in a shopping mall! I think we all know the answer.
Conditioning the youth towards good is a pressing need in our times. But it should be done with wisdom and beautiful preaching. Our goal should be to bring them onboard, not to push them overboard. Kind words, patience and positive attitude is the key. How often, just because of our attitude we push people away from good.
More important than attitude is knowledge. One has to know what is right and what is wrong before she tries to propagate it. It may be possible that what one was considering something to be good or bad was in fact influenced from her country’s culture. Learning Islam precedes practicing. Knowledge comes before action.
Last, but definitely not the least, is we must make sure our intention is sincere for the sake of Allah. Worldly motives, prejudice, and desires should stay out of any religious duty. Our worship and good deeds will not be accepted by Allah unless it is for His sake alone.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has mentioned the importance of this duty in the following Hadith: “By the One in Whose hands is my soul, you have to enjoin right and forbid wrong, otherwise Allah will be about to send upon you a punishment from Him, then you would pray to Him but He would not answer you.” (Al-Tirmidhi)