Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy anil Munkar in Imam Ali's View
According to Imam Ali (AS), Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar have a number of individual and social blessings in the Islamic society. We shall attempt to highlight a few of these blessings hereunder:
A- Social Effects
1. The Establishment of Justice
Imam Ali (AS) was of the opinion that if the believers took Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar seriously, there would be no grounds for injustice in society, for under such circumstances there would be mutual supervision over the deeds of the believers. In this regard Imam Ali (AS) says:
"Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar entail doing away with oppression and opposing the oppressors. (1)
2. The Rule of the Pious
The Islamic system is ruled by deserving and pious people, who give importance to Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar.
3. Proper Implementation of Islamic Laws
The society in which people abide by Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar, the Islamic laws are properly implemented and vice-versa. According to Imam Ali (AS), taking Nahy an il Munkar for granted leads to the spread of corruption in society, which in turn is a barrier to the implementation of Islamic laws.
4. Prevention of Imperialistic Attitudes
In Imam Ali's (AS) view, the spread of Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar, serves as a deterrent to imperialistic attitudes, on the one hand, and the strengthening of the believers on the other.
In his words: "Whosoever observes Amr bil Ma'roof strengthens the believers." (2)
5. Establishment of the Islamic Value System
According to Imam Ali (AS) indifference towards Nahy an il Munkar tends to lead to a distancing between the Glorious Qur'an and the believers paving the way for the rule of the enemies of Allah. Proper observance of this duty, on the other hand, spreads divine piety, encourages the remembrance of Allah and paves the opportunity to discover Divine Truths. (3)
B- Effects on Individuals
1. Divine Rewards
According to Imam Ali (AS) the reward for all the good deeds together as compared to that of Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar is like a drop of water as compared with an ocean. (4)
2. Guiding and Training the Ignorant
In Imam Ali's (AS) view, Amr bil Ma'roof can effectively guide the ignorant and serve to rectify the deeds of the misguided. (5)
3. Adhering to Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar and its implications
There may be some people who think that observing Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar would cause personal losses. Imam Ali (AS) refutes this notion and says:
"Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar do not make one's life short, nor do they cause loss in people's income. (6)
The characteristics of the people who observe Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar, as described by Imam Ali (AS):
The foregoing discussion makes it quite clear that these two important Islamic duties have great benefits for the society. However, it should be remembered that these duties are effective under certain appropriate circumstances. Islam has also laid down certain pre-conditions for those who intend to enjoin other people to good deeds and prevent them from committing evils. Imam Ali (AS) was the best role model for people who wish to observe Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar. According to him before taking on these two duties one should fulfill the following conditions:
1. One should be clear about what Ma'roof and Munkar are and should ensure that he himself practices the same.
In the words of Imam Ali (AS): "Cursed are the people who advise others to do good and do not practice it themselves, and cursed are the people who warn other people against evil and commit the same themselves.(7)
2. One should have a deep and complete faith in Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar.
3. One should not be afraid of disposing his duty.
4. One should not be disrespectful to other people while advising or warning them.
5. One should be compassionate towards people.
6. One should not discriminate between people and should not have double standards in dealing with different people.
7. One should be a pious person and should observe this duty only for the Cause of Allah.
8. One should be patient and be prepared to face difficulties.
9. One should not lose hope and should be able to withstand the criticism of others, without becoming weak.
10. One should constantly be remembering Allah.
11. One should refrain from responding to the trouble caused by others by troubling them back.
Knowing Imam Ali (AS) is Knowing Ma'roof
For an unbiased researcher, every moment in Imam Ali's (AS) life is a reflection of Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar. According to Imam Ali (AS), these two duties have two basic pre-requisites. They are:
1) Religious insight; and,
2) Insight of action.
What makes Imam Ali an outstanding personality is his deep religious insight and his powerful and unconditional adherence to Ma'roof and his abstinence from Munkar - even if it meant losing his rightful position. When this great leader was questioned as to why he chose to remain silent in spite of all the injustice meted out to him and his family, following the demise of the noble Messenger of Allah (SAW), the reason he gave was because he wanted to prevent the disintegration of the Muslim Ummah. Nevertheless, when Valid ibn Aqaba was proved guilty of intoxication and at a time when no one else dared to execute the penalty of lashing him publicly (since he was the half-brother of the 3rd Caliph - Uthman), it was only Imam Ali (AS) who stepped forward in order to fulfill on the Divine laws of Islam.
History has recorded that Imam Ali (AS) never participated in a race for power and position and even when he was coerced by the people to accept the responsibilities of Caliphate, he declared clearly his aim in giving in to public demand as being an expression of his duty towards Almighty Allah and because of his concern for establishing Amr bil Ma'roof and Nahy an il Munkar.
1. Sayyid Razi, Nahjul Balagha, p. 170
2. Amili, Horr, Vasail ash-Shi'a, vol. 11, p. 420
3. Faiz al-Islam, Nahjul Balagha, p. 1100
4. Sayyid Razi, op. cit., pp. 336 and 421
5. Ibid., p. 1008
6. Ibid., p. 948
7. Ibid., Sermon No. 129
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