Fatwa ID: 03972
Answered by: Maulana Muhammad Adnan
I want to ask that if a man is planning to do Zina and his wife finds out by chance that he is going to do a bad sin but she can't do anything, and if she tells her husband 'don't do that, what are you doing?' then he will ask her ‘how do you know?’ – so now she's in trouble. Please guide on what is right for the woman – has she become sinful or what does she need to do?
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Man is very forgetful and makes a lot of mistakes. His own self tells him to do evil and the Shaytaan tempts him to commit sin. When bodies get sick and are afflicted with a disease, one has to find a doctor who can prescribe the appropriate medicine so that the body may be restored to full health. Similarly, souls and hearts may be afflicted with the diseases of desire and doubt, so people do things which Allah Ta’ala has forbidden, such as shedding blood, committing adultery, drinking alcohol, oppressing people and consuming their wealth unlawfully, preventing people from following the way of Allah and disbelieving in Allah.
The diseases of the heart are worse than diseases of the body. This means that one must find a doctor who is skilled in treating such diseases. Because the diseases of the heart are so many and cause the spread of evil and corruption. Allah has enjoined the believers to treat these diseases, by enjoining that which is good and forbidding that which is evil.
'Whosoever from among you witnesses evil, he should change it with his hands. And if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his tongue. And if he is unable to do so with his tongue, then he should at least consider it to be wrong. And this is the weakest stage of Imaan.
If a person knows a particular sin is taking place/going to take place and has the ability to stop it from taking place, from the above hadith we can see that it is imperative to strive to prevent that sin from taking place. Some of the nations from the past have been ruined because of their not preventing sin and it lead to their destruction. However, one must be aware of many factors when doing so and must do it with wisdom. Different people will react differently to criticism so it is important to be constructive and strategic. In some instances, it is better to seize the opportunity at the time to advise the person correctly and at other times it may be wiser to leave the sin and think of it as a sin in the heart and then take measures to prevent it, like speak to someone who may be able to influence the sinner's decision to sin.
While it is a communal obligation, commanding the good and forbidding evil is incumbent only if the following conditions are met:
(1) Sound knowledge and understanding of the issue one is exhorting to. Scholars mention that anyone who takes up this obligation must know the different schools of thought on the issue at hand, such that his enjoining and forbidding only takes place with evils that are evil by scholarly consensus. This relates to clear matters that are generally known by the Muslims.
With respect to matters on which there is scholarly disagreement, although they cannot be forbidden per se, one can still offer counsel and advice (nasiha), which is often needed as certain positions are not appropriate or applicable in all circumstances.
(2) Gentleness and wisdom in one are enjoining or forbidding. The sunnah is to exhort in a manner that is general and discreet, so as to protect the feelings of the other party as much as possible. My teacher, for example, told me that if I am ever in a situation where someone else falls into backbiting, I should simply say, “Allah has prohibited us from backbiting.”
If, however, one crosses the limits or is excessive in their condemnation, the good they perform is less than their own evil.
(3) Clemency and steadfastness in the face of any difficulty one may encounter.
(4) That one feels reasonably sure that the other party will take heed and listen. That is, a condition of incumbency is that benefit is likely or expected. This condition (reasonable surety of benefit) is the opinion of Imam Bajuri, Imam Qarafi, Imam Haskafi, Allama Ibn Abidin, and others.
Otherwise if one does not think they will listen, enjoining the good is recommended if there is a chance of benefit yet one is unsure. If the benefit is unlikely, enjoining the good is permissible yet possibly disliked. And if one is certain that there would be no benefit, enjoining the good could be impermissible, as it might entail frivolous and useless speech and might worsen the situation (see condition 5 below).
The upshot is that one must consider the likely benefit of one’s exhortation, and if benefit is unlikely, then silence might prove more beneficial. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
If one does not enjoin the good or forbid evil, then one must try to change the subject so as to end the unlawful talk; if this is not possible, one must get up and leave.
(5) That one’s advice not lead to greater harm or worsen the situation, such as leading to more sin, more unlawful talk, or the other party’s outright disdain for the religion. In such cases, it would be better — or at times obligatory — to remain silent, so as to choose the less harmful of two matters. Of course, one must still hate the wrong in one’s heart.
(6) Sound intention, which is to desire nothing except that the word of Allah Most High reign supreme. This is essential and often neglected, as many people exhort others in religious matters for the sake of their own egos or out of animosity towards the other party.
One’s motivation to correct others should also be out of sincere love and care for one’s brethren. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that the basis of the entire religion is sincere and genuine concern for others (al-Din al-nasiha), and he also said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
In fact, in his renowned hadith collection Riyad al-Salihin, Imam Nawawi placed the chapter on “Enjoining the Good and Forbidding Evil” immediately after the chapter on “Sincere and Genuine Concern”.
As Imam Nahlawi states, “To conclude, there is a major catastrophe that one must be careful to avoid, namely: for the person of knowledge, when enjoining something, to perceive his own dignity due to his knowledge, and the other’s lowliness due to their ignorance. If this is one’s motivation, then this evil is itself much viler than the evil he is forbidding. Truly, no one is safe from the plotting of Satan except one to whom Allah shows his own faults, and whose insight Allah opens by the light of true guidance.”
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Muhammad Adnan
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
 Nahlawi, Durar Mubaha; Khadimi, Nabulsi/Birgivi, Shuruh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya; Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid; Ibn Abidin/Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar ala Durr al-Mukhtar