Exhorting Good and Forbidding Wrong

One of the great commands and everlasting obligations of Islamic society is exhorting good and forbidding wrong. This command leads to well-being and felicity in this world and the hereafter, and other religious laws and obligations are established upon it.

Allah the Most High said: “And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these are the ones that shall be successful.”

He also said: “Of the followers of the Book there is an upright party; they recite Allah’s communications in the night-time and they adore (Him). They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and they strive with one another in hastening to good deeds, and those are among the good.”

He also said: “Why do not the learned men and the doctors of law (among Jews) prohibit them from their speaking of what is sinful and eating of what is unlawfully acquired? Certainly evil is that which they work.”

He also said: “And surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and enjoin good and forbid evil; and Allah’s is the end of affairs.”

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) said: “When my people shirk the responsibility of exhorting good and forbidding wrong and say that another should do it, they must wait for an affliction from Allah the Exalted.”

He (S) also said: “Surely Allah abhors any weak believer who is a coward, that is, he does not forbid what is wrong.”

He (S) also said: “It is forbidden for any believing eye which sees that Allah is disobeyed, to shut itself to it unless it changes the situation.”

He (S) also said: “You should exhort good and forbid wrong or else the punishment of Allah will cover you all.”

He (S) also said: “My people are in felicity as long as they exhort good and forbid wrong and help each other in doing good. If they do not do this, grace will be taken away from them and some of them will get to dominate over the others, and there will be no help for them in the earth or in the heavens.”

Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) the Commander of the Faithful said: “Do not abandon enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong lest the wicked among yourselves dominate over you. In that case you will supplicate to Allah and He will not respond to you.”

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said: “What an evil people are they who oppose enjoining good and forbidding wrong.”

He (a.s.) also said: “Surely exhorting good and forbidding wrong are the path of the prophets and the method of the virtuous. They are major obligations upon which the other obligations are established, ways are made secure, trade is made lawful, things that which have been usurped are returned, the earth becomes civilized, one can combat the enemy, and affairs are corrected.

So you must hate and deny evil in your hearts, denounce it with your tongues, forbid it with your hands, and do not fear the blame of anyone in this regard for the sake of Allah. If the wrongdoers stop and return to right action, then you will have no power over them. ‘The way (to blame) is only against those who oppress men and revolt in the earth unjustly; these shall have a painful chastisement.’1

“So you should oppose them by your organs and abhor them in your hearts while not seeking power or victory over them, nor any profit until they return to obeying the commands of Allah and continue with obeying Him.”

He (a.s.) and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: “Woe upon a people who do not obey Allah through enjoining right and forbidding evil.”

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘My mother is not a chaste woman.’ The Prophet (S) said: ‘Do not let her out.’ The man said: ‘I did so, but it was not sufficient.’ The Messenger (S) said: “Then prevent people from coming to visit her.’ He said: ‘I did so, but it was not sufficient.’ The Prophet (S) said: ‘Imprison her; because you cannot do any better good to her than preventing her from committing a grave (mortal) sin in front of Allah the Almighty.”