Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Institutionalization of "amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar" (1)

“Amr bil maroof wa nahe anil munkar”/ to enjoin the right and to forbid  the wrong has been declared in Islam as a corner stone of a reformed society which is bound to fall a prey of many social evils, if obligation of “amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar” is not performed by the society.  The importance of institution of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ cannot be over emphasized in any civilized society. In this article, we would look into what types of institutions of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ are reflected in Islamic injunctions.

From the outset, it may be clarified that very words of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ imply this obligation is to be performed by the men of authority/influence; obviously to enjoin/order for the right and forbid/stop from the wrong requires some authority/influence to get others to act accordingly; without authority/influence only request may be made to others to act accordingly. Authority/influence has various forms. It may be legal one which is drawn from the state, from the  community (e.g. state institutions); it may be group authority/influence which is drawn from a specified group of community (e.g. non-state organizations like religious, political, economic, labor, ideological, or social organizations); it may be intellectual one which is exercised through knowledge and wisdom (e.g. writer's, intellectual's influence); it may be economic one which is exercised through economic influence (e.g. employer’s influence over employed); it may be moral one which is drawn from ethical values (e.g. parent’s or elder's influence over children); it may be social one which comes from socially respectable position (e.g. teacher's, doctor's, lawyer's influence); it may be administrative one which is exercised through superior administrative position (e.g. an officer’s influence over his subordinate). In short, this obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ may be performed by various types of men of authority/ influence. A person without any authority/influence may not perform this obligation; in fact this obligation is meant for only men of authority/ influence.
Every obligation/duty assigned in Islam has two facets- individual and collective. (for details plz see my article “Aqamat e Deen”. The obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ also has two phases- individual and collective.
The individual aspect of this obligation has been mentioned in Sura Luqman.
“O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination(Luqman-17).
In this verse Hazrat Luqman is advising his son to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. It means performance of obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ is not only collective duty but also an  individual duty; however because this obligation is to be performed through authority/ influence only, thus only individuals having some sort of influence are under obligation to perform this duty. 

The collective forms of this obligation may be performed broadly through two types of institutions/organizations. The first type are such institutions/organizations which draw their authority/ influence from the whole community/ nation on the basis of law; because such institutions draw influence/authority from the whole nation/community, such institutions/organizations in fact represent state and called state institutions. This form of obligation has been mentioned in following verses:
And let there be [arising] from you a group inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful” (al-imran-104);
“those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters” (al-hajj-41);
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong…” (al-imran-110).

These above mentioned verses state about performance of "amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar" by the whole community/nation which are to perform this obligation through a group (of state institutions).
A group may be defined as collection of persons having some peculiarity missing in other groups. All state institutions may be termed as a group in the words of al-imran-104 because these institutions share the peculiarity  of having legal powers which they draw from the state; whereas other institutions do not have such powers.  In the light of above mentioned verses, the obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ is to be performed by the whole nation/community (not by a component of nation/community) through state institutions. As this obligation is to be performed through authority/influence, these national institutions may be vested with legal powers by the state. In other words, the first type of institutions through which obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ may be performed are state institutions vested with legal powers.

The second type of institutions through which obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ may be performed may be groups of nation/community (not whole nation/community). Because such institutions do not draw their influence from the whole nation/community, such religious, political, economic, labor, ideological, or social groups/organizations do not have any state/ legal powers. The performance of obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ through such non-state organizations/groups has been mentioned in Quranic verses like:
“[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah], the travelers [for His cause], those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers” (al-taubah-112).
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong…” (al-taubah-71).
In both above mentioned verses, mention has been made as to performance of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ by a group of people, not representing the whole nation/community. Such groups may be religious, political, economic, labor, ideological, or other social non-sate organizations which do not have legal powers vested by the state/nation/community. It means this obligation is not confined to be performed by the state institutions only; non-state organizations (having some influence) are also under obligation to perform this obligation.

 We may conclude that obligation of ‘amr bil maroof wa nahe anel munkar’ is to be performed at three levels.  First at individual level; every individual having some influence is to perform this obligation in respect of persons under his influence. Second at group level; every non-state organization having some influence is to perform this obligation regarding persons under its influence. Thirdly at state level; state institutions having legal authority are to perform this obligation in their respective jurisdictions.


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