Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is one of the basic principles of Islam. Allah, the Exalted, says: “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`ruf (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (3:104)
“You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`ruf (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden)”. (3:110)
“The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma`ruf (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e., polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden)”. (9:71)
“Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawud (David) and `Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do”. (5:78,79)
“We rescued those who forbade evil, but with a severe torment. We seized those who did wrong because they used to rebel against Allah’s Command (disobey Allah)”. (7:165)
As’haab As-Sabt – The People of Saturday – were the best example of this. They were a townsfolk from Bani Israel who were tested with the Sabbath, the day when they were ordered to leave their worldly affairs and be totally devoted to Allah. All week-long they would go fishing with scant return. But on Saturdays, when they were required to put aside their activities, the fish would come in abundance. A test from Allah.
A group of the townsfolk transgressed. The townsfolk were divided into three groups. One was the transgressors themselves. The second one who thought that they had no responsibility for what was taking place, the other group just went about minding their own business, holding that Allah would eventually destroy the sinners. And the third group tried to advise the transgressors and warn them of the horrific consequences of their action – commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
The group which tried to hold back the transgressors was rescued. “So when they forgot the remindings that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” (Qur’an, 7:165)