Fatawa >Section Nine > Part 3

Part 2 - Part 3

163. There are no special powers which those in power can enjoy over the ruled, nor are there any privileges in the hierarchy of a family, i.e. the father over the offspring, or the husband over his wife. All should be bound by the same general rules designed to regulate the enjoining of good and forbidding of evil. There are however special cases, which although do not fall under the banner of this duty, yet serve its end purpose. For example:

a. What is passed by the Marji' (al hakim Ash shari'i) under the title of "chastisement" (ta'zir) does not come under the area of enjoining good and forbidding evil; rather, it comes under the penal code which is intended to a wider audience, i.e. setting an example for the society at large as a deterrent to its members not to follow suit and to instill the reverence in the minds of members of society for the authorities.

b. The right of the father to discipline his offspring, who have not yet attained adulthood, is another subject, which is outside the remit of enjoining good and forbidding evil. Where the father is forced to his son, he should observe what is stipulat6ed in this regard which is not within the bounds of enjoining good and forbidding evil.

However, once the children attain the age of obligation (takleef), the father should abide by the rules governing enjoining good and forbidden evil, if need be. That is, he should treat them in the same way other adults are treated.

c. It is the duty of the man to give counsel to his wife with a view to encouraging her to do what is good and deterring her from what is evil, in the same way he is required to deal with others who indulge in sinful activity. However, he has more room to use subtle pressure on her than the case with other people. What the Holy Qur'an has revealed with regard to resorting to hitting the wife when she violated her marital duties (nushooz) is within the spirit of the rules dealing with enjoining good and forbidding evil.

Accordingly, the husband must not resort to hitting as a means of disciplining his wife, until all other avenues have been exhausted including good counsel and abandonment. The husband has other means, outside the remit of enjoining good and forbidding evil, at his disposal with regard to dealing with his wife. Apart from that, their relationship must be governed by the general framework of relations, as designed by the laws of Islam.

d. Brothers have no jurisdiction over their sisters. Thus, they are not allowed to overstep the boundaries set for the relationships of people at large. What has been commonplace, in our societies, of repressive practices against girls by their brothers has nothing to do with Islam. Islam has neither sanctioned nor condoned such practices, which are carried out under the pretext of good bringing up, discipline and censure, preserving the honor and so forth.


e. In their relations with one another, close relatives, such as father and son, husband and wife… etc. may take lightly to swearing as a means of discipline. This is neither allowed with one's kith and kin, nor with strangers. However, if using harsh words serves as an effective deterrence, it may be allowed, provided that the would-be sin in far worse than the harsh words.

f. The son could use whatever means at his disposal with a view to enjoining his parents to do that which is good, because this action falls within the bounds of filial piety. Such means could include the use of harsh words, hitting, or confinement. However, he should spare no effort in using them as a last resort and after a thorough consideration as to their need or effectiveness in doing the job of making them mend their ways. Thus, no corrective action should be taken before one is completely sure, especially from a shari'a perspective so that filial piety (birul walidain) is not replaced by filial disobedience (uqooq).

164. In the process of going about enjoining good and forbidding evil, the person may feel the need to commit some haraam deeds, such as entering a house without permission, be in the company of other people who are drinking alcohol, and so on. In such a case, the principle of competing priorities must be brought into play, where the most important should take precedence over the less important.

Basically, one has to weigh the harm, which may befall the individual or society, as a result of committing that which is evil, with the haraam action of the person wanting to prevent it happening. Should the detriment be greater, it is permissible to commit the haraam deed in the process; otherwise, it is not.

165. For the duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil to be carried out effectively, there may be a need for organized framework, such as forming a group, a society, a party, and so on. Where possible, setting up such as enterprise becomes obligatory. Indeed, in certain circumstances, forming such groupings is obligatory with a view to promoting the way of Allah, working towards ushering people to obey His commands, adhering to the precepts of Islam as a doctrine, feeling, and a way of life, standing up against evil, and establishing truth and dismantling falsehood.

The overriding checks and balances in all what should be done in this regard should be that one must never lose sight of the shari'i principles.

Be it in the movement, the means, the planning, the confrontation, be it political, security, social, or military. Bigotry, tearing apart Islamic realities, branding others, outside the party or the organization, as heretics should be done with.

This path should be a practical means to strengthening Islam; in going down this road, the alim (scholar) as well as the layman must be treated likewise.

166. Should the process of enjoining good and forbidding evil hinge upon money spending, the person embarking on it is not obligated to dig into their own pocket. That is unless, the evil deed poses a greater threat, such as civil strife which may culminate in loss of life an property, and that there are not enough funds form the public purse, i.e. zakat and Khums, the public at large are obligated, by way of wajibun kifa'ie, to spend their money in that cause. As for public funds, such as zakat and the share of the Imam (a.s.) in Zakat, spending of them for removing evil and establishing good is among the best of investments.

167. Muslims are not allowed to send their children to non-Islamic schools, especially if it is feared that they may go astray, even if this happens sometime in the future. If this is not the case, they are allowed to do so. However, we do not encourage this practice, particularly if there are decent Islamic schools.

Should there be no Islamic schools around, and there was a real danger of losing Muslim children to non-Muslim norms of education, which is often the case, it becomes obligatory, by way of wajibun kifa'ie, on Muslims to establish Islamic schools on a scale that is capable of satisfying the need for such schools.

169. In certain situations there may arise the need to enlist the help of the wrongdoer (dhalim) to forestall a potential sin. This could be sanctioned, even with the knowledge that the wrongdoer may overstep the legal bounds of shari'a in the process of deterring the would-be sinner. That said, if the harm, which may befall the culprit, is fat greater than the sin which would have been committed, the principle of competing priorities should be applied, i.e. one has to strike the right balance.

169. Innovation (bid'ah) is ascribing to Islam a certain belief or law without being substantiated with any evidence from the body of shari'a, tradition, or reason. It is one of the sins, which could pose a great risk to Islamic society. This being so , may leave an indelible mark on the doctrine or the practical aspect of spiritual life, i.e. it may lead Muslims astray.

Thus, it must be fought in all means at one's disposal to remove it, or at least undermine it. It could be said that it is obligatory that no effort should spared in trying to stem innovation, even though there might not be hope in succeeding in one's bid, because at the end of the day, the objective is that Muslims have to be made aware that it does not form part of Islam's heritage.


It is a fact that flagrantly committing evil deeds and turning away form what is good has become institutionalized. It is being espoused by states, bodies, institutions, etc., let alone individuals, across the board, i.e. from commoners to the rich and famous. This makes the bid of standing up to such a phenomenon effectively a gigantic task. Therefore, every effort should be put into a detailed study and a comprehensive plan that takes into account all social, political, and economic aspects.

As for those activists working in the field of religious guidance, they should spare no effort in elevating themselves to the magnitude of the challenge and work with clarity, wisdom, depth, reflection, and total commitment, especially alongside those charged with putting the plan to fight waywardness together.

One of our ulema (May he rest in peace) said, "Among the best tools of facing up to bad deeds and encouraging good ones is for the activist, especially the ulema, to set a good example in every aspect of their life, be it on a personal level or in dealing with other people. Their example is bound to be emulated by those whom they aim to win back to the right path".

In the end, there are several niceties, which commend the involvement in this sacred duty and could pave the way to achieving good results:

i. Some commendations from the Holy Book and Tradition.

a. Holding fast to Allah, the Exalted, "..and whoever holds fast to Allah, he indeed is guided to the right path". (3/101).

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq was quoted as saying: "Whoever among my servants held fast to Me, and not to any My creation, I could tell from his niyyah. I guarantee to extricated him from any plot which may be hatched to harm him, be it in the heavens of in the earth".

b. Trust in Allah, the Most High, "...and whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him..". (65/3).

c. Having good opinion of Allah. Imam(a.s.) Ali (a.s.) was quoted as saying, "By Him who rules supreme, no believing servant thinks good of Allah, Allah would surely reciprocate. That is because Allah is generous and has all that is good; He would therefore feel shy if He did not respond to his servant in kind; He would never dash his hopes. So think good of Allah and covet of that which He owns".

d. Patience in adversity and refraining from what Allah has ordained unlawful. Allah, the Most High has said, ".. Only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure". (39/10).

The Prophet (p.) was quoted as saying, "Be patient because with patience comes great good; be informed that with patience comes victory, and with patience comes freedom sorrow 'Surely with difficulty there is ease, with difficulty there surely is ease".

e. Virtuousness: Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq was quoted as saying, "There is no other worship better, in the view of Allah, then chastity and probity". It has also been narrated from him", A partisan (Shi'ite) of Ja'far is he who guards against breaking his chastity, proves strong in jihad, works to please his Creator, coveting His reward and fearing His wrath. Should you come across such folk, these are the Shi'a of Ja'far".

f. Mild temperament; It has been narrated from the Prophet (p.), "Allah never confers power on a person who are ignorant, and never causes the gentle to be lowly". Imam Ali (a.s.) was quoted as saying, "The first reward of the mild-tempered is that people at large come to his support over the ignorant".

g. Humility; The Messenger of Allah (p.) said, "Whoever demonstrates his inferiority before Allah, He would elevate his station, and whoever shows haughtiness, Allah would drag him down. Whoever spends responsibly, Allah would give him of His sustenance; and whoever squanders money, Allah would deny him His sustenance. Whoever makes a habit of remembering death, Allah love him".

h. Treating people justly, albeit of oneself; It has been related that the Prophet said, "The best of works is seeing that justice is done to someone, consolation to your brethren at all time and circumstances, in those areas Allah has ordained halal is yet another commendable work".

i. Paying attention to one's own shortcomings, rather that those of other people; The Prophet (p.) said, "Blessed is he who is engaged in fearing Allah, rather than fearing the people. Blessed is he who is more concerned with attending to his won frailties rather than those of the others.

j. Directing oneself away from evil deeds; Imam Ali (a.s.) said, "Whoever strive to make good his intentions, Allah is capable of making his attitude good; whoever works for the good of his faith, Allah would make him less concerned about worldly matters; and whoever thinks highly of his relation with his Creator, He is capable of making good his relations with his fellow men".

k. Asceticism; It has been related that the following encounter took place between Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and one of his followers, "The man said: I can hardly meet with you, so could you give me counsel so that I may make use of it. The Imam replied: I enjoin you to be mindful of your duty towards Allah, pious, and keen on widening your religious knowledge; do not seek to be covetous of that which others are enjoying; (in this regard) it suffices to remind oneself of what Allah has revealed to his Prophet: And do not cast your eyes towards that with which We have provided different classes of them, (of) the splendor of this world's life, that We may thereby try them; and the sustenance (given) by your Lord is better and more abiding. (20/131). Allah also revealed: Let not then their property and their children excite your admiration..(9/55). So, should you be aware of that, you must remember how the Messenger of Allah (p.) used to live his life; his staple food was barley, his sweet dates, his fire made with palm leaves – if he could afford them. And should a calamity befall you, your offspring, or property, always recall the calamities that had befallen the Prophet and his household, for no other people had experienced anything on that scale".

ii. Vile Practices that Should be Avoided

a. Anger; the Prophet (p.) said, "Anger detracts from faith in the same way vinegar spoils honey". Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, "Anger is the key to every evil deed". Imam Mohammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said, "A human being could get irate; should they not cool down, and regret it, he would enter hellfire. However, whoever gets angry with his kinfolk, and happen to be standing, he should sit down immediately; this is bound to ward off the machinations of Satan from getting hold over him. Whoever gets angry with one's immediate family, he should approach them and touch them; this is capable of calming anger down".

b. Envy; Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq said, "Whoever does injustice to others, it would rebound on him, his property, or offspring". He also said, "Whoever achieves success by way of doing injustice to others, there is no value of the success he achieved; this being so that the wronged party takes away more of the faith of the oppressor than latter takes away from the property of the injured party".

d. A rogue person whom people try always to obviate their evil actions. The Prophet (p.) said, "The worst of people before Allah, at the Day of Judgment, is he who had been shown respect for fear of his actions". Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq said, "The most hated among Allah's creation is he who people try to avoid because of his rude manner of speech".