The concept of responsibility in Islam includes a wide range of matters. Human beings have certain responsibilities in Islam toward others and themselves. All creatures in this universe are naturally inclined to move toward the perfection considered for each of them. They are created in the most proper form, then, have been provided with the conditions and requirements that God has planned (20:50).
Nonetheless, none of them knows neither the path that they should pave nor the final target; except humans. According to the Quran, human beings are created for specific reasons (23:115), and they have duties and responsibilities (75:36). The most prominent responsibility in Islam that one has is towards God, as explained in the first part of the article. He\she is also responsible towards him\herself. This category of duties is discussed here.
According to Imam Sajjad (AS), the duties of every human being towards him\herself are to serve only God by all his\her capabilities and every part of the body; and, to respect the rights of each part of the body . Hence, the responsibilities in Islam of every human being towards him\herself can be divided into spiritual and physical items.
According to the Quran, God breathed into the human being of His [created] soul after he was proportioned (38:72). This makes the human’s soul of great value in Islam. Accordingly, every individual has certain responsibilities towards his\her valuable soul. These duties can be summarized in one sentence: to utilize the soul in the way of God.
That is to apply all spiritual capacities in the obedience to God and to do what brings bout God’s satisfaction. This requires one to keep the soul alive and pure by practicing what is ordered to or invited to in Islamic teachings like prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), pilgrimage (Hajj), etc., also by preventing any harm to the soul such as anxiety, depression, etc.
One’s acts and words form and determine the his\her path in life. He\she does various acts (including good deeds, what is obligatory (Wajib) or recommended (Mustahab)) with different parts of the body and verbally thank God (in the form of prayer) with the help of tongue and mouth. Hence, whatever one does concerning the obedience of God depends also on the parts of the his\her body. Therefore, he\she has some responsibilities towards them.
Of the rights of the tongue are to :
Avoid foul language and the sins that one might commit with the tongue, such as backbiting (ghibah) and slander. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that: “Do not insult others, this turns them into your enemies” , and: “Whoever divulges the flaws and faults of another Muslim, God will reveal his flaws” ;
Accustom it to saying pleasant beneficial words;
Force it to talk nicely and politely (2:83);
Stop it from talking too much and stay silent unless talking is beneficial; “Silence is a door to wisdom, it brings affection and guides to every blessing.” , and: "whoever believes in God and the Hereafter should say beneficial words, otherwise stays silent.” ;
Think about what you are going to say and judge the words before you start talking because a wise person will be judged by his words; “A faithful person … thinks about his words first, and then says those words” .
The ears are like the doors to the heart; they transfer every word with either a positive or negative influence on the heart . Imam Ali (AS) has prevented us from listening to the words without any advantage and benefit as they darken the heart and cause us to be blamed . For example, whoever listens to backbiting is a partner of the backbiter . Hence, one should control the ears to hear only nice and useful words that purify the heart or encourage good behavior .
To be continued.
- Imam Sajjad (AS), Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq).
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 360.
- Al-Monzeri, “Invitation and Intimidation”, vol. 2, p. 239.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 113.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, Introduction, p. 6.
- W. al.Hilli, “Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir”, vol. 1, p. 106.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam Wa Durar Al-Kalim”, T. 6234.
- A. Saberi Yazdi, “Al-Hokm Al-Zahera”, p. 558.
If you have ever experienced such hard conditions in life that you see your life or other peoples’ lives completely purposeless or absolutely miserable and you may have thought of killing yourself or ending miserable peoples’ lives, then I suggest you read this text to the end and realize why suicide in Islam is strictly forbidden.
Although I know that if you are close to one of those highly hopeless phases of your life, you may even wish to kill me over the net!!! But, you probably have no important task right now, as you probably don’t care. So read on and do not lose your opportunity of accompanying me in this meaningless life!
Have you ever come across a person who is seriously ill, and his existence seems to be real trouble for himself and his family members? He stays all day in bed, with no capability of moving, or talking or transferring emotions or anything else, and he lives a plant life. Have you ever thought that killing such a useless and incapable person would bring more mental, physical and economic benefits to the society?
These thoughts and many other thoughts that may be on your mind, and may have remained unanswered for ages, can make life meaningless. But let us see how our creator answers these types of thoughts;
All human beings try to reach high positions in life, whether economic, social, political, educational, physical or spiritual. Some people reach those high positions, and many of them remain normal people in society. Among those who think that they have not achieved such reasonable positions in life, there is a group who has never set a real goal to achieve and have only dreamt of those situations.
But there are also a group of people who have set realistic goals and tried hard to achieve them, but they have never been successful. A percentage of the latter group may become disappointed and may think of this life as a pointless life, and some of them may think of suicide.
The tragedy that repeats in the history of humankind, and has been the reason for many suicide attempts is a broken heart, and not gaining the love of your life. People, who are not in love, may think that the suicidal decisions of disappointed lovers are very shallow and childish. But the person, who is trapped in the hands of powerful love, sees nothing more important than reaching the love of his/ her life.
The worldly loves may not be limited to the opposite sex only. Some people desire wealth, different jobs, cars, buildings, and towers, or even knowledge. This sort of love can also remain unattained and lead people toward disappointment.
Some people face problems in every aspect of their life. It can be individual problems such as debt, disease, family problems, loneliness, etc. Or it could be much bigger than that; social problems, war, the unjust power of imperialism and capitalism, environmental pollutions or the spread of oppression in the world.
These great issues are enough to make one totally disillusioned with living in this cruel world and to lead him toward ending his/ her life.
In all the issues mentioned above, that may take a person to the point of hopelessness, God gives us guidelines and answers. He says in the Holy Quran that most of the hardship that human beings go through is to test their level of faith and to distinguish those who are truthful and those who verbally talk about faith with no real belief in it (29: 2-3).
The life of this world is only a place for us to prove our capabilities and talents for greater eternal life, and in this path, only the patient will win;
“We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient.” (2: 155)
Imagine that you have entered a challenge or a test. In the middle of the tackle, you find it really hard that you feel like you cannot take it anymore. Will you stop the challenge and decide to kill yourself, or will you think about your goals and keep going with the rest of your energy?
Usually, people who have set goals in life, will keep moving and find ways of overcoming problems. Therefore, the main problem of those who may think of suicide is that they don’t have a clear goal, nor they have a clear vision of the meaning of challenges in life.
From an Islamic viewpoint, the life of this world is full of different tests, and by going through them and passing the tests, people elevate their spiritual level and build their eternal life more comfortable. Therefore, the harder the tests are, the stronger the person will become, and he will have an easier life in the hereafter.
First of all, He wants us to choose the right path in life; “rectitude has become distinct from error.” (2: 256)
After choosing the path of righteousness, He wants us to follow the guidelines that He sent us through His messengers; “should any guidance come to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will not go astray, nor will they be miserable.” (20: 123)
Then, He promises that whoever sets his goals in the direction of helping the religion of God and gaining God’s satisfaction, He will show him/her the right way: “As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways, and Allah is indeed with the virtuous.”(29:69)
Therefore, whoever forms his lifestyle based on teachings of God, will never feel disappointed, since Allah says: “indeed no one despairs of Allah’s mercy except the faithless lot”. (12: 87)
When you face problems you should:
1. Revise your goals and lifestyle. If it is against the path that Allah has sent us, disappointment will overcome you at some points.
2. Remember God, knowing that it will give you strength; “—those who have faith and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ Behold! The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!” (13: 28)
3. Form a strong Islamic family to keep you in peace; “And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you.” (30:21)
4. Never hang around aimlessly and idly; “so when you are done appoint (to a new task).” (94: 7)
5. Keep in mind that the real life is to come after death. So live every day of your life knowing that it may be your last day. Many of us are the last minute people!!
And there are many other solutions that can help us get rid of satanic thoughts, if we just read the Quran while we are depressed and feeling suicidal.
Following the discussions on the concept of responsibility in Islam and Muslims' duties towards other human beings, this article reviews the duties towards the teachers, students, and young and older adults.
Teachers are acknowledged and valorized in Islam. It is said that God, angels, earth inhabitants and even the small ants in their nests and the fish in the seas, all salute the mentors who invite to goodness . Imam Ali (AS) said that whoever has taught me a word has made me “his slave”[i] . Regarding the Islamic resources, the rights of the mentor over the students are:
to be polite and grateful to the mentor, and honor him\her ;
to sit down politely in his\her presence such that to face him\her directly ;
to listen carefully to him\her and forget anything else during the session except what the mentor explains ;
not to answer the questions that the mentor has been asked about and let him\her to reply ;
to lower your voice when talking to him\her  as a means of showing the respect for him\her;
to ask in order to know and not to annoy the mentor or to mock him\her  and then to listen carefully to the answer of the question ;
not to talk and whisper to anybody in his\her presence  otherwise the mentor feels being ignored;
not to talk behind other people’s back with him\her  since this is an unpleasant act which also bothers the audience ;
not to let others insult the mentor or lie about him\her ;
not to reveal his\her deficiencies and to tell others about his\her positive characteristics .
Seeking knowledge is such important in Islam that according to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), trees, winds, clouds, seas and stars, plants and everything that the sunshine falls on, all ask for mercy for whoever seeks knowledge . Also, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) said that whoever seeks knowledge is beloved by God, angels, and prophets and good for them on the judgment day . Of the rights of the knowledge-seekers over their mentor are:
To be kind to them ;
To be humble and flexible to them ;
To know their names and some details about each of them . This helps to maintain a better relationship and consequently to better teach and educate them;
To respect their character and to consider their words and thoughts ;
To equally love them and pay attention to them . In this regard, mentors are almost like judges in Islam;
To teach with serenity and dignity , therefore, his\her lessons impress their mind and soul ;
To be tolerant of them and answer their questions properly ;
To consider and support kindly the newcomers ;
To honestly tell if he\she does not know the answer to a question  instead of saying what he\she is not sure about;
Of the rights of young people over older adults and their responsibility in Islam are:
To be kind to them ;
To be engaged in their education and training ;
To ignore and forgive their mistakes and hide their deficiencies ;
To tolerate them, be patient with them and help them in difficulties ;
If the young people do something wrong because they are naive, the older adults should not reveal that ;
To avoid arguments and conflicts with them .
The responsibility in Islam of the younger people toward the elderly include:
To respect them since they are older than you ;
If they argue with you, do not react unpleasantly ;
If you accompany each other on the way, do not overtake them ;
If they do not know about something, do not humiliate them ;
And, if they ignore you because you do not know something, keep calm and do not react as they are older than you .
[i] The word “slave” here does not mean servant, but is used to valorize the mentor and emphasizes the importance of respecting him\her.
[ii] Knowledge-seeker is used as a more general word than a student to cover whoever seeks knowledge.
- M. B. Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 245
- M. Naraqi, “Jami' al-Sa'adat”.
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)”.
- “Nahj al Balaqa”, I. 320.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, vol. 2. p. 334.
- H. al-Daylami, "Irshad al-Qulub", p. 164.
- M. Shoueiri “Jami’ al-Akhbar”, p. 37.
- Al-Shahid al-Thani, “Munya al-murid fi adab al-mufid wa al-mustafid”, p. 190-219.