2. Who must be admonished?
Several issues have to be discussed, before the
persons who turn their back to doing good and take to sinning be
i. They must be fully aware that what they are
doing funs counter to the dictated of religion, for should they
be ignorant of the rules and the whole subject, the obligation
of counseling them should no longer be called for, barring that
what they intend to do falls within that which Allah has
ordained to be harram, such as spreading corruption in the earth
and killing the respected soul. In such a case, such persons
must be prevented from doing so, even if they were excused
157. Should the mukallaf be negligent for not
acquiring knowledge, he should be treated as though he has
turned his back to doing what is good; he must therefore be
directed in that avenue.
158. It is necessary to teach the ignorant those
Islamic laws with which he is frequently tested, such as the
rules governing acts of worship and transactions, especially
when it is difficult for him to learn them through personal
effort, i.e. by way of reading, listening and so on.
ii. The person who is doing that which is evil
should not be justified in so doing. For example, he could be
thinking that what he is doing is not harram, or that which
shuns is not obligatory on him; this conclusion could have
stemmed from a personal opinion, or it could have been based on
the fatwa of the jurist he is following. If it transpires that
the doer is justified in what he has done, no further action
should be taken. That is, unless what he intend to do falls
within that which Allah has ordained to be haram, such as
spreading corruption in the earth and killing the respected
soul. In such a case, such a person must be prevented from doing
so even if they were justified in what they wanted to do (as a
matter of opinion), and not deemed sinners.
159. The party intending to give counsel should
be guided by what is actually happening before his eyes of the
perceived commissioning of sin. That is, unless he is sure, he
must not jump into conclusions that the would-be sinner could be
justified in what he is doing; if need be, he may be asked to
clarify the situations, as a matter of ihtiyat.
iii. Some jurists are of the opinion that the
obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil becomes
obligatory only when the culprit is caught red-handed, or that
they are known for their habitual breaking of the laws. However,
it is evident that upholding the duty becomes operative once
knowledge is gained that the would-be sinner is bent on turning
away from what is good or insisting on commissioning a ghastly
act for the first time, or his intention to repeat same, or he
may have manifested readiness to do it again. Where giving
counsel is sanctioned by sensible people, it becomes dutiful
If the culprit has committed the act and showed
remorse and willingness not to do it again, it is not obligatory
to give him counsel. However, should he take repenting for his
sins lightly, he must be enjoined to hasten to penance.
iv. There is the possibility of reaping results
of giving counsel to would-be sinners, i.e. by desisting from
commissioning the bad act not necessarily immediately. Even the
slim chance that he might be deterred or at least think twice
before commissioning the act, etec. is a sufficient reason to
The person intending to carry out the duty of
enjoining good and forbidding evil must not resort to a mere
suspicion that the doer of the bad deed would not be deterred
from that which he is intent on doing to absolve themselves of
the responsibility. They must reach a clear-cut conclusion that
no benefit would be reaped from counseling the would- be sinner,
in that he is not interested in anybody's advice; only then the
obligation could be waived.
However, for counseling to be effective every
effort has to be put into studying the circumstances of the
sinful and choosing the right person and time to make inroads
into rehabilitating them, as will be discussed.
160. Wherever we have rules that enjoining good
and forbidding evil could be dropped we do not mean that they no
longer be permissible; rather the obligation can be embarked on
by way of reminding the sinning or their duty towards Allah a
nice manner and good counsel. That is, of course, barring being
derogatory or insulting to the intended person.
3. Levels of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil
there are three ways at the disposal of the
mukallaf to carry out his duty:
i. Expressing one's disapproval of the wrong
action by attitude, such as turning away the sinner, not shaking
hands with themů etc.
161. Boycott is one of the means could be
employed to deter people from committing that which is haraam.
It should be maintained, even if it leads to abandoning what is
obligatory. Some examples:
a. It is permissible not to return the
salutation to sinner, if in so doing they indulge further in
their transgression, or detract from the opportunity of
reforming them. Otherwise, it is not permissible.
b. Rupture of relations with one's relatives, by
maintaining a semblance of relations, which does not detract
from the effectiveness of the boycott.
c. It is permissible for a wife to refrain from
having sex with her sinning husband, should the sin he is
indulging in have far reaching consequences on the personal or
the social levels. That is, if in so doing the wife could
persuade him to mend his ways. There are also other examples.
ii. Showing aversion by speech, i.e. in an
appropriate and effective manner. It is not necessary that it
should take the form of a dressing down, unless it is the only
effective way in yielding results. The tone of the speech must
be friendly, quiet, and persuasive. "The carrot and the stick"
approach could prove fruitful in certain cases, i.e. by
stressing the resultant reward and punishment .
No doubt achieving results could hinge upon the
style used in giving counsel, be it harsh or mild; it also vary
from one person to the other, male/female, young/old,
father/son, etc., from time to another, from one venue to
another, one to one or in a group, during the month of Ramadhan
or the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.), by
way of a play, a film, a picnic, music, and so forth. So, one
has to be tactful in using the best way possible that may yield
results in rehabilitating the sinner. Under no circumstances is
it permissible to use any violent means in speech, where the
gentle approach could do the job.
iii. In the last resort, where possible, one
should try to stop the sinner from commissioning the vile act.
Stopping them could be by making them suffer physically, i.e.
beating them up. However, in applying this method, one had to
bear the following in mind:
a. Beating up should be the last resort, i.e.
after exhausting all the other alternatives, as will be
b. The maximum level of beating should not
include causing a fracture or opening a wound. Should the
deterrence only be achieved by resorting to either or even
killing the sinner, this has to be sanctioned by the Infallible
Imam (a.s.), or his personal representative; however the Imam's
general agent, i.e. the just jurist could rule in this matter,
after having considered it in a way that serves Islam's interest
which stipulates that one should revolt against the oppressive
ruler which in turn may lead to his killing or getting him
wounded, or to that of his lackeys, with a view to toppling the
iii. The order of hitting must be gradual, i.e.
from the very mild to the hardest. This means that each case
should be treated on its own merits, taking into account the
accused, the time, and the circumstances. Thus, it can be said
that this regime of deterrence should be part of the whole
system that the Islamic state, if it existed, adopt in its
scheme of things for the ummah.
In the absence of an Islamic government, i.e.
where Islamic society is under the rule of non-Islamic
government, the faithful may take the responsibility, or indeed
it is obligatory on them to do so the order of banishing evil
and establishing good. This however should be decided upon after
consulting the experts in the fields, in order to avoid bringing
the name of Islam and all what it stands for into disrepute.
4. Rules Governing Enjoining Good and Forbidding
162. There is no need to act according to the
order of expressing disapproval by way of attitude or speech;
the use of either way, which may serve the purpose, as the case
maybe would do. As for hitting, it should, as we have already
mentioned, be the last resort. The objective behind all these
means should be to urge the sinner to repent and obey the
dictates of the faith with the absolute minimum of injury to
their dignity, hence the admonishment with wisdom and good