Islah or Al-Islah (الإصلاح ,إصلاح, al-ʾIṣlāḥ) is an Arabic word, usually translated as "reform", in the sense of "to improve, to better, to put something into a better position, correction, correcting something and removing vice, reworking, emendation, reparation, restoration, rectitude, probability, reconciliation."[1][2][3][4][5][6] It is an important term in Islam.[7] The Islamic concept of "Islah" advocates for moral advancement through a reformation based on the rudimental standards of the Qur'an, Sunnah and is characterised by an attitude of bypassing classical legal works in preference of the literature from the early Muslim generations (Salaf al-Salih). Islahi ulema opposes Taqlid, strongly argue for the necessity of Ijtihad and are often referred to as "Salafis".[8]

The word is opposite to the word Ifsad, another important Islamic term meaning "corruption".[7] It is also used in politics (including as a name for political parties), and is also used as a personal and place name.[3]


According to author Josef W. Meri and other scholars, the word is derived from the root salaha Ṣ-L-Ḥ (ص ل ح), occurs in forty verses of the Qur'an, including 49:10, 4:114, 4:128, 11:88[1][9] where it means "to do good, proper, right, restore oneself or to reconcile people with one another, to make peace."[1][10][11]

The believers are but brothers, so make settlement/reconciliation (islah) between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.

— Al-Hujurat 49:10[10]

No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah - then We are going to give him a great reward.

— Quran, An-Nisa 4:114[1]

And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement or reconciliation between them - and settlement is best. And present in [human] souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah - then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

— Quran, An-Nisa 4:128[1]

In sura Al-Hud, it is mentioned as Islamic prophet Shuaib told to his community,[9]

He said, "O my people, have you considered: if I am upon clear evidence from my Lord and He has provided me with a good provision from Him... ? And I do not intend to differ from you in that which I have forbidden you; I only intend reform as much as I am able. And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return.

— Quran, 11:8.[9]

Relation with tajdid

Tajdid, meaning renewal, is another Islamic term used with the term islah in the field of different Islamic political interpretation.[9] The person who practices tajdid is called mujaddid (renewer),[9] but scholars such as Al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani have interpreted that the term mujaddid can also be understood as plural, thus referring to a group of people.[12][13] The concept is based on a hadith (a saying of Islamic prophet Muhammad),[14][9] recorded by Abu Dawood, narrated by Abu Hurairah who mentioned that Islamic prophet Muhammad said:

Allah will raise for this community at the end of every 100 years the one who will renovate its religion for it.

— Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 37: Kitab al-Malahim [Battles], Hadith Number 4278[15]

According to majority of Muslim scholars, Caliph Umar II (682-720 C.E) is considered as the first mujaddid in early Islam.[9] After then, Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (767–820), Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058–1111), Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328), leading ideal to Salafi doctrine), Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi (d. 1388), Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (1703–1762), Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792), 'Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), Muhammad al-Shawkani (1760–1834), and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi (1787–1859), etc. have been denominated as prominent reformers in Islam.[16][17] In particular, Ibn Taymiyya is regarded as a towering figure in the history of Islamic reformism and his campaigns against mystical interpretation, critique of Taqlid (blind following), creedal polemics against Falsafa, etc. have influenced a wide range of Salafi-oriented reform movements. Starting from the 18th century, numerous Islamic reformers such as Shawkani, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, Mahmud al-Alusi, al-Sanussi, etc. have popularised Ibn Taymiyya's teachings in their quest for tajdid and religious purity.[18]

According to author Juan Eduardo Campo and other scholars, "islah" is used most commonly today in Arabic with respect to the idea of reform, although this usage was not widespread until the modern reform movements of the 19th and 20th centuries; scholars like Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), Rashid Rida (1865-1935), a prominent follower of Ibn Taimiyah); and Mahmud Shaltut (1893-1963) became popular for their contemporary islah movements.[9][17]

Scholars' views

Islamic scholar Sayyid Rashid Rida (1865–1935 C.E/ 1282–1354 A.H) considered renewal (Tajdid) and reform (Islah) as a continuous process throughout the history of Islam. As time passes, masses fall into superstitions and innovations due to various reasons. During every era, religious reformers appear to eradicate these heresies and campaign for a return to the pure Islam, by inviting to Qur'an and Sunnah. Rida classified reformers/renewers into two types: i) Major reformers recognised universally by all Muslims ii) Regional reformers.[19] Some of the major reformers of Islamic history in Rida's list included:

The second type of reformers, whose scholarly impact were limited to particular lands consisted of figures such as:[21]

Salafi scholar Salih Al-Munajjid argued in his book "Prophets Methods of correcting People's Mistakes" that, Islah or correct mistakes is a basic aspect in Quran and Hadith and there are 38 prophetic ways to do Islah or correct people.[22][23] and they are:

  1. Prompt action in correcting mistakes and not relaxing
  2. Remedy of errors by description of provisions
  3. Bringing the wrongdoers back to the Shariah and reminding them of the principles they have violated
  4. Correction of concepts where errors are detected due to errors in concepts
  5. Correction of mistakes by advice and re-intimidation
  6. Showing mercy to the wrong-doer
  7. Don't be too quick to catch mistakes
  8. Calm behavior with wrongdoers
  9. Describe the severity of the mistake
  10. Describing the costs or damages of mistakes
  11. Teaching the wrongdoer manually or practically
  12. Bring up the correct option
  13. Telling ways to avoid making mistakes
  14. Saying without directly naming the wrongdoer
  15. To stir up the public against the wrongdoer
  16. Refraining from cooperating with Satan against the wrongdoer
  17. Asking to stop wrongdoing
  18. Instructing the wrongdoer to correct his mistake (a) Returning the wrongdoer's attention to his mistake, so that he can correct his mistake (b) Asking him to redo the work in the correct manner if possible (c) Making the irregular flow of work as regular as possible Saying (d) Correcting the effects of mistakes (e) Atonement for mistakes
  19. Just discard the error field and accept the rest
  20. To repay the creditor and preserve the dignity of the wrongdoer
  21. In case of bilateral mistakes, listening to both sides and giving instructions about the mistakes of both
  22. Asking the wrongdoer to seek forgiveness from the one against whom he has wronged
  23. To remind the wrongdoer of the dignity of the one against whom he has wronged, so that he may feel ashamed and repent.
  24. Intervening in de-escalation of tensions and rooting out sedition from wrongdoers
  25. Expressing anger for mistakes
  26. To turn away from the wrongdoer and avoid controversy in the hope that he will return to the right path
  27. Rebuke the wrongdoer
  28. To speak harshly to the wrongdoer
  29. Turning away from the wrongdoer
  30. Boycott the wrongdoer
  31. Baddu'a (curse) against the wrongdoer
  32. Catching some mistakes and ignoring some mistakes out of compassion for the wrongdoer, so that the entire mistake is realized in a gesture.
  33. Helping the Muslim to correct his mistakes
  34. Meeting with the wrongdoer and discussing with him
  35. Telling about the wrongdoer's condition and mistake on his face
  36. Interrogate the wrongdoer
  37. Convince the wrongdoer that his lame excuse is not acceptable
  38. Paying attention to human mood and instinct[24]

Saudi cleric Khalid Bin Abdullah al-Musleh listed seven obstacles in the way of Tazkiah in his book "Islahul Qulub" (reforming the hearts):[25]

  1. Shirk
  2. Rejecting Sunnah and following Bid'ah
  3. Obeying the instinct and ego (nafs)
  4. Doubt
  5. Negligence (ghaflah)

He also listed 8 ways to maintain Tazkiah:[25]

  1. Reading Quran
  2. Loving Allah
  3. Doing dhikr
  4. Tawbah and Istighfar
  5. Supplicate (dua) for hidayah and purify
  6. Remembering afterlife (Akhirah)
  7. Reading the biographies of the salafs
  8. Company of good, honest and pious people.


Several political groups and parties have been named "Islah" in the 20th and 21st centuries including:

In popular culture

Rapper Kevin Gates named his debut studio album Islah inspired by his daughter's same name.[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Meri, Josef W. (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Psychology Press. pp. 675, 676. ISBN 978-0-415-96690-0. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  2. ^ Tan, Charlene (2014-04-24). Reforms in Islamic Education: International Perspectives. A&C Black. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-4411-4617-5.
  3. ^ a b Lane, Jan-Erik; Redissi, Hamadi (2016). Religion and Politics: Islam and Muslim Civilisation. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-317-06793-1. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  4. ^ Seker, Mehmet Yavuz (2015). A Map of the Divine Subtle Faculty: The Concept of the Heart in the Works of Ghazali, Said Nursi, and Fethullah Gulen. Tughra Books. ISBN 978-1-59784-877-0. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  5. ^ Catafago, Joseph (1858). An English and Arabic Dictionary: In which the Arabic Words are Represented in the Oriental Character, as Well as Their Correct Pronunciation and Accentuation Shewn in English Letters. B. Quaritch. p. 18. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  6. ^ Kunitzsch, Paul (2000). Sic Itur Ad Astra: Studien Zur Geschichte Der Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften : Festschrift Für Den Arabisten Paul Kunitzsch Zum 70. Geburtstag. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-04290-1. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b Malik, Maszlee (2016). Foundations of Islamic Governance: A Southeast Asian Perspective. Taylor & Francis. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-315-41464-5. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  8. ^ E. Miller, Roland (2015). "5:The Great Transition in Mappila Culture". Mappila Muslim Culture. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-4384-5601-0.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Campo, Juan Eduardo (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. pp. 372, 715. ISBN 978-1-4381-2696-8.
  10. ^ a b Philpott, Daniel (2012). Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-996922-7. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  11. ^ Mey, See Ching; Abdullah, Melissa Ng Lee Yen (2014). Counselling in the New Frontier of Helping (Penerbit USM). Penerbit USM. ISBN 978-983-861-704-8.
  12. ^ Fath al-Baari (13/295)
  13. ^ Taareekh al-Islam (23/180)
  14. ^ Neal Robinson (2013), Islam: A Concise Introduction, Routledge, ISBN 978-0878402243, Chapter 7, pp. 85-89
  15. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood, 37:4278
  16. ^ C. Martin, Richard (2016). Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World: Second Edition. 27500 Drake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI, 48331-3535: Gale. p. 895. ISBN 978-0-02-866269-5.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  17. ^ a b Browers, Michaelle; Kurzman, Charles (2004). An Islamic Reformation?. Lexington Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7391-0554-2. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  18. ^ Carr, Mahalingam, Brian, Indira (2005). Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy. New York, USA: Routledge. p. 931. ISBN 0-415-03535-X.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ M. Seikaly, Samir (2009). "1- Appropriating the Past: Twentieth-century Reconstruction of Pre-Modern Islamic Thought". Configuring Identity in the Modern Arab East. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut Press. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-9953-9019-6-1.
  20. ^ M. Seikaly, Samir (2009). "1- Appropriating the Past: Twentieth-century Reconstruction of Pre-Modern Islamic Thought". Configuring Identity in the Modern Arab East. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-9953-9019-6-1.
  21. ^ M. Seikaly, Samir (2009). "1- Appropriating the Past: Twentieth-century Reconstruction of Pre-Modern Islamic Thought". Configuring Identity in the Modern Arab East. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-9953-9019-6-1.
  22. ^ The Prophet's Methods for Correcting People's Mistakes. IslamKotob. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  23. ^ al-Munajjid, Syekh Muhammad saleh (2010). Cara Cerdas Nabi Mengoreksi Kesalahan Orang Lain (in Indonesian). Serambi Ilmu Semesta. ISBN 978-979-024-211-1. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  24. ^ Prophetic Method of Correcting Mistakes, Salih Al Munajjid, Translation: Abdul Malek (bengali), Hadith Foundation Bangladesh, pg 47 -132
  25. ^ a b Al-Musleh, Khalid Bin Abdullah (2004). Reform the Hearts - Bengali - Khalid Bin Abdullah Al-Musleh. Ministry of Dawah, Irshad, Awkaf and Religious Affairs. ISBN 9960-29-546-X. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  26. ^ Farrell, Paul (17 May 2020). "Dreka Haynes, Kevin Gates' Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Ned to Know". Retrieved 14 June 2020.