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Our Rights In Islam (Part 2)

Publishing Date : 13 November, 2017


Continued from last week…..

As indicated last week, human rights are not only what ‘my’ rights are but it goes further to ‘what I owe to others’. Likewise parents have to realise that their children are a gift and a trust from Allah. We never brought them into existence – we were just the means. Allah created them and bestowed them to us to take care of. So we have to fulfil the rights of parents and mould them into God – fearing offspring who will serve Allah and His creation.

Children have the right, therefore, to be raised to become responsible Muslim adults and it is the parents’ duty to ensure that right appropriately. Parents must be conscious and take an active role in guiding their children and families on the path of truth. ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’, said the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Hence a Muslim’s prayer is; Our Lord. Grant to us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us the grace to lead the righteous’ (Quran 25: 74)

Similarly, children should also be aware and conscious of fulfilling the rights of the parents. Therefore Allah has mentioned this in the Quran; ‘And we have enjoined on man kindness to parents; his mother carries him in weakness and upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Therefore show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; unto me is the journeying’. (Qur’an 46:15) and ‘your Lord has decreed that …… you show kindness to your parents….. say not a word of contempt…but address them in terms of honour (Qur’an 17:23). And:…’be good to your parents’. (Quran 6: 151).

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said ‘Paradise lies at the feet of the mother (in serving her)’. It is therefore our duty to serves and look after our parents till they leave this world. The Prophet (pbuh) further said: ‘Accursed is that person who on account of failing to serve his parents in old age, is deprived of Paradise’. He further advised us to be good to the friends of our parents even when our parents are no more. The Bible says: ‘Children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honour thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise….’ (Ephesians 6: 1 – 2)

Unfortunately in this day and age we have old folks homes and we set aside one day in the year for ‘fathers’ day and ‘mothers’ day falls far short of what we owe to our parents and shows how we have fallen into the decadence of the disturbed world and society of today.
Today in many parts of the developed world or the so-called ‘civilised’ world, a person may live years on end without knowing who his neighbour is, besides the occasional ‘hi’ or hello.

Islam the rights of neighbours are also emphasised; ‘…..and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans and those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers’. (Quran 4:36)’. The rights of neighbours include their privacy, peace and quiet. Just as an example, when we look around in some neighbourhoods we find people playing loud blaring music that can be heard several blocks away into the late hours of the night. Without an iota of guilt they disturb the right to peace of many of their neighbours.   

We should not think that doing good to others and fulfilling duties to others is applicable only to the social set-up, no, it should filter into other spheres of life. As an example, in Islam this should also be applicable even in business and financial transactions. We should be fair in our dealings, so much so that, when the person or party that I am interacting with also benefits and departs from the deal happy.

For example in the ‘old days’ there were no pre-packed items such a mealie meal, sugar etc. we had to go to the shop and ask say for a half a pound (old weights and measures before the kilogram came in) of sugar. The shop keeper would weigh it on a scale and give it to you. Some dealers would fiddle with the scale and not give you the correct weight thereby giving you less. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘Tilt the scales in favour of the buyer when you weigh’. In other words, when weighing out something, add a few extra grams in favour of the buyer, without charging him for it.

All these acts of fulfilling the ‘rights’ of others are done solely for the purpose of gaining the pleasure of the Almighty. Our desire in carrying out these acts is not to earn a name, fame or gain from anyone, but these acts are in line with what the Quran says: ‘And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive – saying, we feed you for the sake of Allah alone, no reward do we desire from you……’ (76: 7 -9)

All these things that were covered in this column together with that of last week are part of the foundation and essence of the faith of Islam; to submit oneself totally to the Almighty and dedicate every action solely to earn His Pleasure. In this manner if we can carry on maintaining at each level the respect and appreciating and fulfilling the rights of each other we can go further right up to the governments and citizens of countries near and far. This will bring peace and understanding between nations.

However this does not end here because there are many other Islamic values and qualities that make up the Islamic ‘personality’. ‘Verily, men and women who submit to Allah, and men and women who believe, and men and women who are truthful, and men and women who are humble before Allah, and those who give in charity, and those who fast, and the men and women who guard their chastity, and those who remember Allah much, to them Allah has promised forgiveness and a great reward’ (Quran 33: 35).

So in order to build that Islamic personality we have to start with some of the basics; inculcate God Consciousness; have faith; induce discipline and self-control so that this leads to integrity, honesty, truthfulness, fair dealing; dignity, honour and self-respect; kindness, helpfulness, charitableness, generosity, good manners and brotherliness. These are but a few of the things that we should try to instil and live up to in our lives. These may seem like a frighteningly, daunting and intimidatingly long list, and at first sight may look unachievable, but with the will to seek closeness to our Creator and to live a life that conforms to the His guidance we can start with small steps. Once we are able to do that we will be rewarded in the Hereafter.      

So in conclusion we have to review our understanding and definition of ‘human rights’ and concentrate on seeing how I can fulfil the rights of others but to go further for in Islam the first step is justice; to want for others what you want for yourself. The second step is: to be kind to those who are not so to you. And the third is: to forego one’s rights and see to the needs of others. These are the stepping stones to the path of righteousness and to living a life within the guidance and Commands of our Lord and Creator.



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