ENJOINING THE GOOD AND FORBIDDING THE WRONG
These two acts are amongst the greatest religious obligations; through these two deeds society is corrected and corruption is curbed and evil is pushed away. Allah Almighty said: “You are the best of nations raised up for mankind, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong.” (3:110) The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “If )the members of( my nation leave the enjoining of good and the forbidding of wrong for each other to undertake, they should expect the punishment of Allah.”
In a narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny): “Do not abandon the enjoying the good and forbidding the wrong, lest the wrongdoers amongst you become your leaders. And then you supplicate and your supplications will not be answered.” Just as the individual is required to adhere to the obligations and refrain from the prohibitions, he must also enjoin those who do not fulfill their obligations and he must forbid sinners from committing prohibited deeds.
We will mention a number of obligations and good traits, and also some prohibited acts and negative traits which one should rise above.
For the believer there are two necessary inter-related positions which he must hold:
(1) The psychological position: one should be amiable and affectionate with good deeds and righteousness and be in harmony with them, and one should be troubled and disapproving of wrong and evil, psychologically. This is what is meant by rejecting the wrong with the heart, and this is obligatory on everybody; its obligation does not depend on anything except knowledge of the good and the wrong.
(2) The practical position: this refers to the attempt to change something by motivating towards good deeds when they are neglected, by enjoining it and encouraging it; and by deterring and discouraging from bad deeds when they are committed. This is what is meant by enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong.
In respect to the second position, there are three levels which are obligatory by way of kifayah, i.e. all duty-bound persons are obligated to do so, but if a sufficient number of persons do act accordingly, the obligation no longer applies to the rest. If nobody acts, all relevant persons have sinned.
(1) The silent level, by showing one’s anger and hurt caused by the sinner, and avoiding him and abandoning him in society, and not doing for him any favours, etc.
(2) The verbal level, by verbally enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong, by preaching to him and reminding him of the rewards and punishments of Allah Almighty, etc.
(3) The physical level.
The Conditions of the Obligation
Ruling 379: These aforementioned three levels of enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong are obligatory subject to the following two conditions:
(1) The possibility of this benefitting somebody, whether in favour of the sinner who will then refrain from committing the sins, or anybody else who emulates the sinner in committing the sins.
(2) That one does not fear harm for himself, his wealth and his dignity or for that of the sinner or any other believer.
Ruling 380: Once these two conditions are fulfilled, the first two levels of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil become obligatory. As for the third level, it is not permissible without the permission of the hakim shar’i, and for further information the detailed books should be referred to.
Ruling 381: The obligation of enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong is not limited to certain types of people to the exclusion of others. All are slaves of Allah and they must abide by His orders.
Ruling 382: It is necessary for one who is enjoining good and forbidding the wrong to know what is meant by good and wrong. This does not mean that it is not obligatory unless one knows what is meant by them, but it means that the obligation remains, as does the obligation of understanding them as a pre-requisite.
Enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong is especially emphasized in respect to oneself and one’s family, as Allah Almighty said: “Oh you who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are angels stern and severe, who do not flinch in obeying Allah in what He commanded, and they do as they are commanded.” (66:6).
If he did not fulfil the said obligation negligently or out of extreme love, then this would be a cause for his misery and Allah’s wrath.
Ruling 383: The enjoining of the ‘good’ refers to enjoining what is obligatory, although enjoining the recommended acts is also recommended.
Examples of the ‘Good’
The following are examples of good acts which are enjoined:
(1) Reliance on Allah Almighty, and seeking help from Him. He said in the Holy Quran: “And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice.” (65:3).
(2) Prayers, fasting, khums, and all other obligatory acts known as the ‘branches of religion’, and it is obligatory to enjoin those who neglect them to adhere to them.
(3) Patience and perseverance: there are various categories of patience, as follows:
(a) Perseverance during misfortune: one should be patient if he is afflicted with misfortunes such as illness, imprisonment, poverty, etc. One should remain steadfast in his patience and not talk in an inappropriate way which may result in losing the reward designated for the patient ones, as Allah said: “Only the patient will be paid their reward without measure.” (39:10).
(b) By being patient, it does not mean that one should not attempt to alleviate the misfortune; rather, he is required to do so, by seeking treatment from the doctor, or working hard to alleviate poverty. If the alleviation of these problems do not occur or are delayed, one shouldd not lose his patience nor talk or act in a way inappropriate for a Muslim.).
(c) Being patient in obedience: one should be patient in his obedience to Allah, such as during fasting one feels thirsty or hungry, but he remains patient and completes his fast.
(d) Being patient in avoiding sins: one should be patient and not follow what his desires sometimes incite him to do; for example, one may feel very inclined towards somebody else’s possession, and he may want to steal it from him; he should be patient and remind himself that this is a sin.
(4) Good manners: a Muslim should have good manners and etiquettes with this relatives and others; so he should respect the elders and be affectionate with the young, he should not insult or harm anybody. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “You should take to good manners, as one who has good manners is undoubtedly in Paradise, and one who has bad manners is undoubtedly in the Fire.” He also said “The closest seat to mine on the Day of Judgment is for the one who has the best of manners, and who is the best with his family.”
(5) Helping the needy believers: the poor, the orphans and others who require help should be helped, so that Allah may also act affectionately with you and be pleased with you. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said to Imam Ali (peace be upon him): “Oh Ali, whoever cares for an orphan’s expenses with his money until he no longer is needy, Paradise will definitely be for him.” It has been reported from Imam Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) that he said: “If four traits are found within a person, Almighty Allah will make for him a house in Paradise: whoever shelters the orphan, acts kindly with the weak, acts compassionately with his parents and provides for them and treats his slave softly.” Also the Prophet said: “The believers are a brotherhood; they fulfil the needs of each other ... I will fulfil their needs on the Day of Judgment.”
(6) Respecting the parents: a Muslim should listen to his parents with respect and good manners, and he should not cross the limits in violating the sanctity of his parents, as Allah Almighty said: “And your Lord has commanded that you: do not worship except Him, and goodness to the parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them “ugh”, nor chide them, and speak to them generously.” (17:23) and the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “Heaven is beneath the feet of the mothers.” So if you respect your parents and they are pleased with you, you will – God willing – enter Paradise.
(7) Cleanliness: Islam has greatly emphasized on cleanliness in all its forms, and forbidden filth and dirt. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “Clean all that you can, as Allah has founded Islam upon cleanliness, and nothing will enter Heaven except every clean one.”
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said: “One whose clothes are clean will destroy the troubles and griefs, and he is cleansed for prayer.” Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) said: “Sweeping the house removes poverty.”
There are many other good deeds and virtuous traits that are mentioned in other detailed books.
Examples of the ‘Wrong’
The following are examples of wrongdoings and sins which should be discouraged and forbidden:
(1) Oppression (Dhulm): this means transgression and wrong-doing against others, and this is amongst the greatest sins. Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) said: “Oppression in this world will lead to darknesses in the Hereafter.” Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) said advising his son Imam Zainul–Abideen on the day of Ashura: “Oh my son, beware of oppressing he who does not have a helper to protect himself from you save Allah”. In addition to this, the prayers of the oppressed against the oppressor are accepted by Almighty Allah, as the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) said: “The supplication of the oppressed Muslim is accepted”.
This also applies to what may occur within families, like the transgression of the father against his children, or the transgression of the children against their parents, or the transgression of the husband against his wife, and vice-versa, etc. as all this is forbidden wrongdoing which Islam rejects.
(2) Supporting the oppressor: any kind of support or help, however small it may be, is forbidden, as a tradition states: “The least that Allah will do to the supporters of oppressors is that He will put them in a large tent of fire until He finishes the reckoning of all His creation.” Allah has said: “Help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression.” (5:2)
(3) Lying: this is prohibited, especially in respect to Allah and His Messenger and the Imams (peace be upon them). This includes giving a religious edict without knowledge, as it is forbidden. Lying can become a habit and a psychological illness, leading to one’s disgrace and disrespect amongst people, who do not trust him even when he is speaking the truth. Such is not suitable for a Muslim.
Imam Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) said: “Lying is a destruction of faith”. So if a believer is concerned about his faith, he would not lie.
(4) Backbiting (gheebah): this means revealing a defect in a believer who is not present, in order to belittle him and expose his defect. For example, if your friend makes a mistake, do not tell others about it so they may defame his nobility and reputation; rather, you should advise him not to commit the mistake again, and if he does not listen speak to his father or elders, without causing exposing him amongst the people.
Ruling 384: Backbiting is permissible in specific circumstances, such as the following:
(1) When the person openly commits sins, his personal sanctity is no longer recognized and his backbiting is then allowed.
(2) The oppressed person can reveal the transgressions against him, even if this necessitates backbiting against the oppressor.
(3) When exposing the people of innovations (bid’ah) in religion, backbiting against them is permissible, so that people may beware of them and not be affected by them.
Ruling 385: It is prohibited to listen to backbiting if it is based on agreeing with the backbiter and satisfying his objective; similarly, it is obligatory to object to the backbiting and to defend the victim, provided that there is no religious or conventional obstacle from doing so.
(5) Keeping bad company: bad company are those people who do not adhere to the religion or morals. One should advise them and enjoin them towards good deeds and forbid them from bad deeds. If this does not work, one should leave them so that one does not become affected by their bad behaviour. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said: “A Muslim should avoid the companionship of three types of people: the shameless sinner, that is, the one who is busy with feeding his lust, who practises evil deeds; the fool, that is, the stupid one who does not understand; and the liar.”
(6) Using bad language: it is improper for Muslims to use bad language and obscene words. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has surely forbidden Heaven for all obscene shameless people.” i.e. those who are habituated to use obscene words. One should leave the companionship of such people if advising them is of no use, so that they are not affected by them.
(7) Anger: we find in many situations some people commit some improper acts with the justification that he was angry, but this is not an acceptable excuse in the perspective of the sharia. Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) said: “Anger is the key to all evil.” This is so because an angry person will not use his intellect and is prepared to commit bad deeds in allowing himself to be overwhelmed by his anger.
(8) Greed: this means that one is not satisfied with what Allah has blessed him with, and he seeks what others have, for example. This does not befit a Muslim, as both the good of this world and the next can be lost. He may lose the good of this world by not enjoying the bounties which Allah has blessed him with as he always seeks more. He may also lose the good of the Hereafter by resorting to transgressing against others or cheating them or committing crimes, in order to satisfy his greed.
: this is prohibited whether it results in the discharge of semen or not. This also applies to women.
(10) Lewdness: A woman who does not abide by modesty and hijab will be subject to harsh punishment on the Day of Judgment.
(11) Showing-off (riya): this means that a person in his worships aims to achieve the praise of the people, rather than proximity and obedience to Allah. This is amongst the greatest sins. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said that the following will be called out to such a person on the Day of Judgment: “Oh infidel! Oh open sinner! Oh traitor! Oh loser! Your deed has become useless and your reward is annulled, so there is no deliverance for you this day, so seek your reward from whom you acted for the sake of.”
(12) Cheating a believer: this means misleading him about a matter contrary to its reality; for example, he will present rotten fruits as good fruits. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said thrice: “Whoever cheats us is not from us.”
(13) Despair: from the soothing grace of Allah and despondence of His mercy..”
(14) Ingratitude to parents, as Allah Almighty said: “And your Lord has commanded that you do not worship except Him, and goodness to the parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them “ugh”, nor chide them, and speak to them generously.” (17:23)
(15) Killing a believer, even the unborn child of a believer, and assisting in this; rather, any form of transgression against a believer is amongst the greatest sins, such as hitting him, insulting him, and humiliating him.
(16) Defaming a pious believer with accusations of adultery.
(17) Taking the money of orphans wrongfully; rather, taking the money of any believer. Allah Almighty said: “Surely those who take the money of the orphans unjustly, they are not but swallowing fire into their bellies, and they will soon enter burning fire.” (4:10)
(18) Taking and giving interest, as well as recording its transaction and being a witness in it.
(19) Adultery. and similar sins, as well as their facilitation.
(22) Preventing the payment of zakah, and any other rights of Allah and people.
(23) Drinking alcohol and all intoxicants.
(24) Abandoning obligatory acts of worship such as prayers, fasting, zakah and pilgrimage.
(25) Breaching a covenant.
(26) Breaking family ties.
(27) Expatriation leading to ignorance (al-Ta’arrub ba’dal-Hijrah): this refers to migrating to places where one’s religious knowledge will decrease and his ignorance about his religion will increase.
(28) Theft, usurping and taking wealth unlawfully.
(29) Eating forbidden things, such as meat of animals not slaughtered as prescribed by the Sharia, blood, pigs, etc.
(30) Gambling– even if it is without any actual wager – such as cards and chess.
(31) Tampering with weights on scales.
(32) Being one whose evil actions and tongue is feared by other believers.
(33) Vanity and narcissism, in wanting to be superior over people.
(34) Squandering: this means being excessive in spending in a way that wastes wealth for an unreasonable purpose.
(35) Fighting against the friends of Allah, and siding with His enemies.
(36) Singing, as well as listening to and playing forbidden music.
(37) Insistence on committing small sins.
(38) Sowing discord, i.e. telling somebody what others are saying in belittling him.
(39) Hiding one’s testimony, even if one is not sought to bear it as an obligatory precaution.