A command is a verbal request obliging an inferior to perform an act. Its verbal form, when unqualified and in the absence of contextual indications to the contrary, is ifʿal,2 so that verbal form is interpreted as a command, except when some evidence indicates that what is intended is a recommendation or a granting of permission, in which case it is interpreted accordingly.
The correct view is that command does not require the repetition of the act, unless some evidence indicates that repetition is intended; nor does it require immediate action, because its aim is to bring the action into being without specifying one time rather than another. The command to bring about an action is a command to perform both the act and whatever is required for the completion of the act, just as the command to perform the prayers is a command enjoining the purity that paves the way for them. If the act is performed, then the person to whom the command is addressed is released from the charge laid upon him.
Who is included in command and prohibition, and who is not: The believers are included in God’s command, but the inattentive, young people, and the possessed are not addressed by it. Unbelievers are addressed concerning the branches of the revealed laws, and concerning that without which their performance is invalid, namely islām, because God has said “What has landed you in hell? They said, we did not pray.”3
The command to do something is the prohibition of its opposite, and the prohibition of something is the command to do its opposite.
A prohibition is a verbal request obliging an inferior to omit an act, and it indicates that the prohibited act is invalid.
- This section provides for translating imperatives, which are ambiguous, into unambiguous indicative statements of the legal values (obligation, recommendation, or permission) of particular acts for particular people. Note that the meaning of an imperative depends on the speaker’s intent, which must be made known by some indicator if something other than obligation is meant.
- The imperative form of the verb, represented by the verb “do!”
- Qurʾān 74:42-43.
- Taswiya, literally ‘making equal.’
- God creates by command, as in Qurʾān 3:47: “If He decrees a thing, He only says to it “be!” and it is.”