Basic Duties of the Muslim
Name of Questioner : Abu `Amr - United States
Name of Counselor: Muzammil Siddiqi
Topic: Morals & Values, Muslim Belief
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother, we really appreciate you question and implore Allah to enlighten your heart with the truth, Islam. In fact, the question you have posed is of great importance for it focuses on the Muslim’s role on earth.
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.
Regarding these basic duties, we’d cite some words of a Khutbah delivered by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, at ISOC - Shawwal 20, 1422/ January 4, 2002:
“In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah, Most High, says, “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! Bestow on them Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.' Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts: if you do deeds of righteousness, verily He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again (in true penitence). And, render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: but squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (Himself) ungrateful. And even if you have to turn away from them in pursuit of the Mercy from thy Lord which you do expect, yet speak to them a word of easy kindness. Make not your hand tied to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that you become blameworthy and destitute. Verily your Lord does provide sustenance in abundance for whom He pleases, and He provides in a just measure: for He does know and regard all His servants. Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily, the killing of them is a great sin. Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils). Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law). Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; and fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement, will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). Give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight; that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination. And, pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing, or of (feeling in) the heart will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). Nor walk on the earth with insolence: for you cannot rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height. Of all such things the evil is hateful in the sight of your Lord. These are among the (precepts of) wisdom, which thy Lord has revealed to you. Take not, with Allah, another object of worship, lest you should be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected.” (Al-Isra’: 23-39)
Surat al-Isra’ was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings 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 to increase 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 travelers in this path 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 tight with one’s money nor too lose with it. Extravagance is not right, but also one should not become stingy and miserly. A Muslim is committed to the 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 sprit 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 lead to health, happiness and good moral society. Muslims are committed to 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 safety 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 weight or measurement: Honest business brings progress, success and blessings. All business whether it is 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. In a similar way Muslim should be extremely careful with their actions and reactions. They should not react without proper evidence against anyone. They should show the world how the information is ascertained.
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.”