Conditions of Enjoining to Good [Ma`ruf ] And Forbidding From Evil [Munkar]


Enjoining to Good {Ma`ruf} And Forbidding From Evil {Munkar}

Conditions Under Which They Become Obligatory


Q 1067: What is the rule if enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar compromises the dignity of someone who fails to carry out the ma`ruf or perpetrates the munkar, and humiliates him before the people?

A: If one observes the conditions and etiquette of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar and does not transgress their limits, he will not be liable to anything for such a consequence.

Q 1068: Is it a government ordinance or a verdict that under the Islamic state the people's duty with respect to enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar is limited to oral enjoining and forbidding and the other stages pertain to the responsibility of the authorities? 

A: it is a fiqhi verdict.

Q 1069: Is it permissible to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar without the permission of the shar `i authority {hakim} when stopping someone from perpetrating munkar depends on hitting him by the hand or imprisoning him or putting him to hardship, or on interfering with his belongings even if it leads to their destruction?

A: This subject has different situations and cases. As a general rule, the different stages of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar, so long as they do not affect life or property of the perpetrator of munkar, do not require anybody's permission and are obligatory on all mukallafs. But if enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar require measures beyond oral enjoining and forbidding, and it is in a country ruled by an Islamic order and state that have taken charge of this Islamic responsibility, the matter will depend on the hakim's permission, the relevant authorities, the local police force and authorized courts.

Q 1070: If enjoining and forbidding with respect to very important matters, such as protecting an innocent life, cannot be performed except through violence, such as hitting which may cause injury or occasionally even death, will the hakim's permission be required in such matters?

A: If saving an innocent life and preventing murder depends on immediate and direct intervention, it is permissible, and even obligatory, according to Islamic law, because it is considered defense of an innocent life. This obligation neither requires the hakim's permission nor depends on obtaining any order to that effect. However, if defending an innocent life depends on killing the assailant, the cases differ with different rules applying in different cases.

Q 1071: Is it obligatory for someone who wants to enjoin another person to ma`ruf or forbid him from munkar to have the power to carry it out? When is it obligatory to enjoin someone to ma`ruf and forbid him from munkar?

A: Whoever enjoins and forbids must know what ma`ruf and munkar are and also know that someone who is perpetrating the munkar or neglecting the ma`ruf is also aware of them but violates them intentionally and without any shar `i excuse. It is obligatory on one to enjoin and forbid only when it is likely to be effective in a case and one is secure from harm in doing it, with attention to the proportionality between the expected harm and the importance of the ma`ruf and munkar in question. Otherwise, it is not obligatory on him.

Q 1072: If a relative boldly and heedlessly commits sins, what is one's duty with respect to keeping relations with him?

A: If the mukallaf thinks that breaking relations may make his relative refrain from sins, it will be obligatory on him to do so as a case of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar; otherwise, it is not permissible to break ties with blood relations.

Q 1073: Is it permissible to forego enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar for the fear of losing one's job, such as in a case where the head of an educational institution, who deals with the university youth, commits actions against the shar` or makes the environment prone to commission of sins in that place?

A: As a general rule, if the mukallaf fears harm for himself in enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar, it will not be obligatory on him.

Q 1074: If ma`ruf is neglected and munkar is common in some academic environments, and the conditions for enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar are existent, will one be relieved of the obligation to perform this duty if he is a bachelor? 

A: When their instances and conditions are existent, enjoining to ma`ruf and for bidding from munkar are shar`i obligations as well as social and human duties of all mukallafs. The different states of the mukalIaf, such as his being married or not, play no role. The mukallaf is not relieved of his obligation simply for being a bachelor.

Q 1075: If one comes across evidence of sinful conduct, impropriety and insincerity of a person holding a powerful position, but one fear his power and influence, is it permissible to neglect enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar in relation to him? Or is it obligatory on one to call him to ma`ruf and forbid him from munkar even when one is afraid of his harm?

A: If there is a reasonable fear of harm, it will not be obligatory to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar, and you will be relieved of the obligation for that reason. But one should not neglect reminding and exhorting his brother and sister in faith, neither should the duty of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar be abandoned simply for the fear of the position of the forsaker of ma`ruf and the perpetrator of munkar, or at the mere likelihood of some harm.

Q 1076: At times forbidding a sinner creates in him negative feelings against Islam due to his ignorance of Islamic duties and rules. On the other hand, if we leave him alone, it will prepare the grounds for others to corrupt the environment and commit sins. What is the duty in such a situation? 

A: Enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar with their conditions is considered a public religious duty for the sake of safeguarding Islamic laws and social health. The mere notion that it might create negative feelings against Islam in some individuals does not justify the negligence of such an extremely crucial duty.

Q 1077: If those assigned by the Islamic state to prevent corruption do not accomplish their duty, is it permissible for people to take charge of this duty themselves?

A: Intervention at the individual level in affairs which constitute the duty of security and law-enforcement authorities is not permissible. But there is no problem in enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar by people when carried out with due observance of their limits and conditions.

Q 1078: Is the duty of individuals with regard to enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar to confine themselves only to oral enjoining and forbidding? If it is obligatory on them to confine themselves to oral reminders, this will contradict what is stated in the risalahs, particularly the Tahrir al-Wasilah. And if they are allowed when necessary to advance to the other stages, will it be permissible for them at times of necessity to carry out all the graded stages mentioned in the Tahrir al-Wasilah?

A: Considering that under an Islamic state the stages subsequent to oral enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar may be signed to security and judicial authorities, particularly with respect to cases where prevention of munkar entails the use of force and intervention in the assets of the individual who is guilty of munkar, or taking punitive action {ta`zir} against him, or his detention, and so on, it is obligatory on the mukallaf to confine themselves to oral enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar, and when the need arises for the use of force, to refer the case to law-enforcement authorities. This does not contradict the verdict of the late Imam Khomeini in this regard. As for periods or places that are without an Islamic state in power, it is obligatory on the mukallafs (when the conditions are realized), when to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar, to go through the graded states, from one to the next, until its purpose is realized.

Q 1079: Some passenger bus drivers play cassettes of ghina' and music that come under haram, without paying any attention to advice and exhortations to turn off their cassette players. Please explain the rule which should be followed in such situations and for dealing with such persons. Is it permissible to use force against them?

A: If the conditions for forbidding from munkar exist, you are to do no more than oral forbidding from munkar. In case this forbidding is not effective, it is obligatory to avoid listening to unlawful music and ghina', and if nevertheless the sound reaches your ears, you are not liable to any thing in that regard.

Q 1080: I work in a hospital in the sacred profession of nursing. Occasionally, during part of my work I encounter some patients who listen to cassettes of unlawful and degenerate music. I advice them to stop it, and if it does not work on repeating twice, I take the cassette out of the player, erase its content, then return it to its owner. Please explain if such conduct is permissible?

A: There is no problem in erasing the perverse contents to prevent the cassette's unlawful use, provided it is done with the permission of the cassette's owner or a religious authority {Hakim al-shar `}.

Q 1081: The sound of music cassettes of uncertain permissibility is heard from some houses and is at times so high that it is troublesome for the faithful. What is one's duty in that regard?

A: Interference inside people's houses is not permissible, and forbidding from munkar depends on identification of the actual instance and the conditions being available.

Q 1082: What is the rule of enjoining and forbidding in respect of women with inadequate covering {hijab}? What is the rule when one fears that oral forbidding may cause unlawful sexual feelings?

A: Forbidding from munkar does not depend on looking at a female stranger in a way that may be sinful, and it is obligatory on every mukallaf to avoid haram, especially when carrying out the duty of forbidding from munkar.

How to Perform Them


Q 1083: What is the duty of a son toward his parents or that of a wife toward her husband when they give no importance to paying khums and zakat on their assets? Are they allowed to use the assets whose khums or zakat has not been paid, as they are mixed with haram, in view of the emphasis that has been laid on its avoidance, as haram wealth contaminates the soul?

A: They (the son and the wife) should enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar whenever they see the parents or the husband neglecting ma`ruf or committing munkar, provided the conditions for carrying them out exist. As for using their wealth, there is no problem in it, unless they are certain of the presence of khums and zakat funds in the part of wealth they use, in which case they should seek the permission of khums and zakat authorities concerning that amount.

Q 1084: How should a son behave with his parents who do not care about their religious duties due to their lack of complete faith in them? 

A: He should orally enjoin them to ma`ruf and forbid them from munkar in a soft language, and with due observance of their respect as parents.

Q 1084: My brother does not observe shar `i and moral norms, and advice has not been effective so far. What is my duty when I see such conduct on his behalf?

A: It is obligatory on you to express resentment towards such conduct which is against Islamic law, and to remind him in a brotherly way which you deem effective and suitable. But do not break your ties with him, because that is impermissible.

Q 1085: What kind of relations can one have with persons who formerly used to commit such unlawful acts as drinking?

A: The criterion is the present behaviour of people. So if they have repented for what they used to do, they should be treated presently like other believers. As for someone who commits haram at present, it is obligatory to deter him from it through forbidding from munkar, and if he will not stop committing haram unless one avoids his company, it will be obligatory to avoid his company and break with him.

Q 1086: A continuous assault is going on against Islamic morals by the Western culture, and some non-Islamic customs are being propagated. For example, some men hang golden crosses on their necks, or some women wear clothes with garish colours, and, occasionally, some men and women wear bracelets, dark glasses, and certain ornaments which attract attention and are generally considered improper. Taking into consideration that some of these people insist on such actions even after enjoining them to ma`ruf and forbidding them from munkar, please explain how to treat such individuals?

A: Wearing gold or hanging it on the neck is absolutely unlawful for men. It is not permissible to wear clothes whose tailoring style, colour, etc. is considered imitation of the invading culture of non-Muslims, and it is not permissible also to wear bracelets and glasses in a way that is regarded as imitation of the invading culture of enemies of Islam and Muslims. The duty of others towards such phenomena is to do oral forbidding from munkar.

Q 1087: Sometimes we see that a faculty student or employee who commits munkar does not stop it even after repeated advice and guidance, but on the contrary he remains insistent on committing his wrongdoing which vitiates the faculty's atmosphere. What is your opinion on taking such effective punitive administrative measures as entering it into his personal record?

A: There is no problem in doing it while observing the faculty's internal rules. The dear youth should take the issue of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar seriously, learn its conditions and shar `i rules carefully, publicize this principle, and employ moral and effective methods to encourage the practice of ma`ruf and prevent the occurrence of munkar. They should avoid using this principle for their personal ends, and know that it is the best and most effective way of spreading good and preventing evil. May God grant you success in carrying out what pleases Him.

Q 1088: Is it permissible not to respond to the greeting of someone who commits munkar as a way of stopping and discouraging him?

A: It is permissible to refrain from responding to someone's greeting with the intention of forbidding from munkar if such action is normally interpreted as prevention and discouraging of munkar.

Q 1089: What is the duty of the authorities if it is proved definitely that some of their employees are negligent of prayers, and exhortation and guidance do not affect their conduct?

A: Nevertheless it is obligatory not to ignore the effectiveness of enjoining to ma`ruf and forbidding from munkar if it is performed continuously with due observance of its conditions. If it reaches a point that the authorities have no hope that enjoining to ma`ruf is effective on such individuals, and regulations permit depriving them of employment benefits , it will be obligatory to take such measures against them, while reminding them that the measure has been taken against them because of their negligence in carrying out this divine obligation. 

Miscellaneous Rules


Q 1090: My sister is married to a man who does not say prayers. Since he is with us all the time, I have to associate with him, talk to him, and even at times help him in some work on his request. My question is, am I permitted by Islamic law to associate with and talk to him, and help him in some work? What is my duty towards him?

A: Nothing is obligatory on you except to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar in a continuous manner, whenever its conditions are existent. If associating with him and assisting him do not encourage him in his negligence of prayers, there is no problem in it.

Q 1091: Is it permissible for high-ranking Islamic scholars to frequent and associate with tyrants and tyrannical rulers if it leads to a decrease in their tyranny? 

A: If it is proved for the scholar in such cases that his links with the tyrant lead to prevention of tyranny and are effective in stopping him from munkar, or the scholar considers an important issue which has to be taken care of and followed up, there will be no problem in it.

Q 1092: I got married several years ago. While I pay great attention to religious affairs and shar `i matters and follow the late Imam Khomeini, my wife, unfortunately, does not care much about religious matters. Sometimes, after a verbal argument, she says prayers once in a while, and this is what bothers me very much. What is my duty in such a situation?

A: Your duty is to prepare the grounds for her reform by every possible means, and to avoid any kind of violence which might indicate bad temper and disharmony. Keep in mind that attending religious ceremonies and associating with religious families has a great effect on reforming persons.

Q 1093: If a Muslim man comes to know from circumstantial evidence that his wife, though being a mother of several children, secretly commits acts against chastity, though he does not have any shar`i evidence to prove it (such as a witness who is prepared to testify), how can he deal with this woman in accordance with Islamic law, considering that the children will grow up with such a woman? How should one deal with a person, or persons, who commit such obscene deeds contrary to the divine laws, if he becomes aware of them without possessing any evidence which can be presented in a shar `i court?

A: It is obligatory to avoid suspicion and refrain from taking resort in conjectures. If it is ascertained that a haram has been committed, it is obligatory to forbid her by reminding, exhorting, and forbidding from munkar. If forbidding from munkar is not effective, one may refer to competent judicial authorities if there is any evidence.

Q 1094: Is it permissible for a female to guide a young man and help him with his studies etc. while observing Islamic norms? 

A: Under the assumption in the question, there is no problem in it. However, it is better to avoid satanic temptations, and obligatory to observe the related shar `i rules, as avoiding being alone with a stranger.

Q 1095: What is the duty of employees in official departments and institutions when they occasionally observe certain organizational and religious misconducts perpetrated by their high-ranking managers? Will the obligation be called off if the individual fears that his forbiddance from evil may cause high-ranking authority or authorities to harm him? 

A: If all conditions of enjoining to good and forbidding from evil are satisfied they will be obligated to implement them, otherwise they will have no obligation in this respect. So is the case when they fear some harm for themselves as a result of enjoining to good and forbidding from evil - and therefore, there will be no obligation. This rule remains in force as long as the country is not governed by an Islamic state. When there is an Islamic state that takes up the fulfillment of these divine duties, the obligation of those who are incapable {a`jiz} of enjoining to good and forbidding from evil will be to inform official authorities about the case and follow it up until sinister and corrupting roots are eradicated.

Q 1096: If there is continuing misappropriation of public funds in a department, and there is someone who thinks that he can curtail this phenomena if he takes charge of the office, but it is impossible for him to acquire that post without bribing one of the specialists, is it permissible to give bribe in order to prevent misappropriation of public funds, a measure which amounts to averting a major evil with a minor one?

A: The duty of those who become aware of violations of Islamic law is to forbid from munkar while observing the related shar `i conditions and norms, and it is not permissible to resort to bribery and illegal methods in order to obtain an office,even though it should be for the purpose of preventing corruption. Of course, if that is assumed to occur in a country ruled by an Islamic state, the people's duty does not end simply by personal inability to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar, rather they must bring the matter to the attention of the related authorities and follow it up.

Q 1097: Is munkar something relative, so that it should be possible to compare the university environment with the worst of environments, and make it an excuse for neglect of forbidding from munkar with respect to some munkars and for failing to prevent them by maintaining them not to be haram and munkar at all? 

A: A munkar as such is not something relative, but at the same time some munkars may be considered more haram compared to others. In any case, forbidding from munkar is regarded a shar `i obligation whenever its conditions exist, and he must not neglect it. There is no difference between various munkars in this respect, or between university environments and other settings.

Q 1098: What rule applies to alcoholic drinks found with some occasional foreign specialists in some institutions of the Islamic country and who drink them at home or in places assigned for their stay? What rule applies to their preparation and consumption of pork, as well as their conduct contrary to chastity and the people's ruling values? What is the duty of factory managers and those who have relations with them? What position is to be taken if the factory managers and related provincial authorities do not take any measures in these cases after being informed? 

A: It is obligatory for related authorities to ask them not to openly commit such acts as drinking and eating unlawful meats and to refrain from doing them in public. As for matters which are against public chastity, it is not proper to allow them to commit them. In any case, any measure regarding them in this context must be taken only through competent authorities.

Q 1099: Some brothers go to places where improperly veiled women gather at times in order to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar, and to advise and exhort them. Are they allowed to look at these women, considering that they go there to enjoin to ma`ruf?

A: There is no problem in a first unintentional look, but an intentional look at parts other than the face and hands is not permissible, even for the purpose of enjoining ma`ruf.

Q 1100: What is the duty of a devout youth in mixed universities in respect of the improprieties which are observed in some of these universities?

A: It is obligatory for them, while guarding themselves against being polluted, to enjoin to ma`ruf and forbid from munkar if its conditions are available to them and they have the ability to carry it out.