Living The Quran
From Issue: 1016 [Read full issue]
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 110 (partial)
The social activity that binds Muslim society together, what makes the umma the best community, is that it 'enjoins good and forbids evil'. This is one of the most misused injunctions of the Quran. It is used as a charter by all self-appointed moral supervisors who think they know what is best for everyone else. In its worse forms, we have the state-sponsored moral police harassing citizens for alleged moral shortcomings in Saudi Arabia and Iran. But the injunction has nothing to do with moral policing.
The principle of doing good and preventing bad is that both individual and society work in harmony to promote virtue. This means we have to concentrate not only on individual acts of goodness, but also work to ensure that the institutions and organisations of our society are fit for the purpose of giving everyone the best opportunity to fulfil their potential and flourish. It is about making the right choices about the provision of services—everything from energy and sewage to schools and hospitals—so that the needs of all people are catered for. It is about building peace, ensuring mutual tolerance, working for and insisting on good government: all actions necessary to build taqwa in a society. It is about making reasoned and informed choices about science and technology and all the ethical questions they raise. It is about inclusion and participation for all people in the life of society; no individual or group can attribute absolute power to themselves to determine the affairs of the community or to arbitrate on the issues of morality and ethics. Rather, the affairs of the community should be determined by mutual consultation (42:38). This was the way of Prophet Muhammad himself (3:159); and this must be the way of the Muslim community and society.
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, pp. 247, 248