I believe that one of the terms which has been underestimated, which lost its essence, weight and meaning today while having the top significance, is Amr bil Ma''ruf wa Nahy an al Munkar. It is so important because this is one of the fundamental terms in Islam and thus pertaining to the Islamic law and Islamic ethics.
It has been underestimated and depleted from its essence, because non-specialists apply the wrong methods and instead of inviting others, they make people hated. Specialists, on the other hand, are entirely passive under the western influence of individualism, those who stay away from their responsibility by saying, "I don"t care".
However, the holy Quran considers this as one of the fundamental aspects of being an ummah, or nation.
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)
In other words, this is our characteristic of being the best nation and this characteristic is conditioned in the Quran with our faith in God.
Allah states that believers who will inherit the eternal salvation are those who carry out this duty:
"And be a nation as such inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful" (3/104)
Let us first get to know the term "Maruf". The word "maruf" is a derivative from the word ma"rifah "knowledge" like the word "orf "custom". Marifah is a type of knowledge that is the recognition of something through its external appearance via the senses. Therefore, maruf is something recognized, known and accepted.
We find two aspects in it as a term: the clear and certain teachings, permissions and forbidding of the religion or the religious law (shariah).
A given custom in a society that is not contrary to the religion and which is regarded as "good" or "welcomed" by the reasonable individuals of the society.
The first aspect is related to the revelation; the second is related to its representative organized by the collective conscience. The meaning of this is: where the revelation does not set the general outlines of a reason, it is not always able to find the maruf in every field. Maruf is not a good thing that every individual mind can find by him or herself. It is what the people of common sense, collective conscience find good and accept.
Thus, Islam values this acceptance and considers it as a parameter of finding the truth and good. Islam does not only state to move along with the maruf/orf only in the field of ethics, but also in many other fields. This situation even becomes a set rule the field of which is left to the orf in the human law systems the counterpart known as "crimes against public morality".
Hence, "maruf" is one the good things, which achieves religion through its orders and forbidding and its pertaining common Islamic reason achieves.
Munkar on the contrary is its antonym, its negative. The etymology of the word has a meaning of "unknown" or "unrecognized". Because someone or the religion rejects it, or the common Islamic reason does not find it good, it"s considered munkar.
Therefore enjoining maruf and forbidding maruf has been clarified.
In this context, enjoining or forbidding and the words amr/nahy are important because enjoining and forbidding denotes the power, authority and supremacy. A student cannot order his teacher. This aspect also indicates the official aspect of the relationships. The organs of a legal administration also interfere with the moral field. Today, unlike the fundamental philosophy of the west, the individual cannot be left alone as long as he or she complies with the law. His or her salvation is a part of the authority"s interest.
Therefore, those who enjoin good must be excelling in status from a certain aspect. The first excelling aspect must be knowledge. There is no other excelling or more powerful tool than knowledge. Someone who does not have sufficient knowledge, instead of dealing with a hole in a ship can spend his/her time with the color of the ship"s mast. The prophet"s instruction is "Tell them that there is no God but if they accept God, tell them that I am his Messenger. If they accept this, tell them to pray 5 times a day. If they accept it, tell them that the poor have right in the properties of the rich."
To be continued on Sunday, Inshallah.