The Basic Duties of a Muslim
Muslims, as individuals and groups, have to fulfill certain basic duties which summarize the universal values of Islam. When these duties are observed they bring justice, peace and happiness in this world and they will indeed bring success and salvation in the Hereafter.
“In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah, Most High, says: “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. and that you be dutiful to your parents. If one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them, but address them in terms of honor.
And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they did bring me up when I was young.’ Your Lord knows best what is in your inner-selves. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again in obedience, and in repentance.
“And give to the kinsman his due and to Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.
Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils) and the Shaitan (Devil-Satan)is ever ungrateful to his Lord.”
” And even if you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) turn away from them (kindred, poor, wayfarer, whom We have ordered you to give their rights, but if you have no money at the time they ask for it) and you are awaiting a mercy from you Lord for which you hope, then, speak unto them a soft, kind word ( i.e. Allah will give me and I shall give you). (17: 23-28) ”
Surat al-Isra’ was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Makkah after his Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem. In this surah Allah mentions some basic commitments of Muslims. Without fulfilling these commitments no individual or group can succeed. Muslims have to live by these values and should invite the humanity to these principles. These principles are not limited to one race, tribe or group; they are universal in their scope and application. These are also called the Hikmah or the teachings of wisdom. It is wise for every one to follow them. If followed properly they are capable of increasing the goodness and wisdom of all people.
These principles are:
1. To worship Allah alone: This means to recognize Allah as the ultimate reality and to recognize Allah as the Lord, to worship Him with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of life. A Muslim’s life is nothing but total commitment to Allah. We are not only monotheists (people of Tawhid) but we are also theocentric people. Allah is the center of our life and He is our total and ultimate concern.
2. To be respectful and kind to the parents: This is to acknowledge the compassion and kindness of the parents, to be grateful to them and to do one’s utmost to reciprocate that love and compassion. Filial piety and devotion is the second most important commitment of Muslims. Respect and kindness to parents is not just a social duty for us; it is our religious duty and obligation.
3. To be good to your relatives, to the poor and the travelers: This is to remember that we are interconnected in this world. Our responsibilities are not only towards ourselves and our immediate families, but also to other relatives and to the society at large. We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this journey of life. We must see what we can do for others. Muslims must live a socially responsible life. Social responsibility begins with the family, other relatives and it includes all those who are in need.
4. To be careful with your money and not to waste your resources: One should be neither too close-fisted with one’s money nor too loose with it. Extravagance is not right, but also one should not become stingy and miserly. A Muslim is committed to a balanced life style. Money should be earned in Halal (lawful) ways and it should be spent in the right manner. This principle can be applied to all resources that Allah has given us. Wise and conscientious use of resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.
5. To take good care of your children: As we recognize the rights of the parents, we should also recognize the rights of children. Our children are our future. We must see that we raise healthy, intelligent and morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy environment. We must protect their life as well as their spirit and mind, their morals and manners.
6. To steer clear of adultery and illicit relations: Sexual perversions bring the greatest harm to individuals and societies. Observing the proper rules in this matter leads to health, happiness and good moral society. Muslims are committed to a pure, clean and socially responsible life style. Islam teaches that one should not come even close to adultery or fornication. This means proper dress code for males and females, proper behavior in mixed societies and proper control on social relations and entertainment.
7. To respect every life and not to kill anyone unless in the pursuit of justice: This means that one should recognize the sanctity of all life and should not do anything that may jeopardize life. One should avoid aggression and violence, because these things lead to murder. Every Muslim must be committed to peaceful ways. Conflicts should be resolved by dialogue and negotiations, not by killings and murders. However, justice must be maintained, because just punishment brings security and protects life.
8. To take care of the orphans: Orphans and all those who are vulnerable must be taken care of. Their rights must be recognized and they should be protected from all harms. A Muslim must be deeply committed to the care of young, poor, infirm and handicapped. Kindness and compassion is the basic commitment of a Muslim. It includes every one, including the animals.
9. To fulfill the promises and your commitments: Promises and contracts are an important part of human life and human civilization. When promises are not kept, people lose trust in each other and the whole society becomes weak. Muslims must be true to their words. Our commitment must be to speak the truth, to be honest and when we make a pledge we do our best to fulfill our pledges.
10. To be honest in business dealings and not to cheat in weights or measurements: Honest business brings progress, success and blessings. All business whether they be commercial, social or political must be done with a sense of justice and fairness. A Muslim is committed to fair dealing in everything and with every one. Dealing with a Muslim means dealing with full confidence. A Muslim businessman is the most truthful businessman. A Muslim worker is the most honest worker. A Muslim in any profession should bring honor to that profession.
11. To do things with knowledge and not to follow the hearsay or act on half- knowledge: The information agencies, the media have a great responsibility. A lot of injustice is done when the misinformation is given or the information is misused. Muslims should be committed to truth in information. They should promote truthful and honest reporting about everyone including their enemies. A report coming from a Muslim source should be the most trustworthy report.
12. To be humble and have no arrogance: Moderation and balance is the best thing in one’s behavior as well as in one’s attitudes toward others. A Muslim is a dignified person, but he/she is humble. A Muslim is not boastful, arrogant or vainglorious. A Muslim thanks Allah for all His gifts. For everything the ultimate praise is for Allah and the real glory belongs to Allah.
These are the basic commitments of Muslims, as individuals and as people. These are the principles of wisdom and the universal values of Islam. When they are followed they bring justice, peace and happiness in this world and they will indeed bring success and salvation in the Hereafter. Let us all try to make these our real commitments.