What Responsibilities Do I Have towards Myself? Part 1

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.

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The Rights that One Has Over Him\herself as His/her Responsibility in Islam

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 [1]. Hence, the responsibilities in Islam of every human being towards him\herself can be divided into spiritual and physical items.

Responsibility in Islam towards the Soul

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. 

The Rights that the Parts of the Body Have and One's Responsibility in Islam toward them

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.

The Rights of the Tongue

Of the rights of the tongue are to [1]:

  • 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” [2], and: “Whoever divulges the flaws and faults of another Muslim, God will reveal his flaws” [3]; 
  • 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.” [4], and: "whoever believes in God and the Hereafter should say beneficial words, otherwise stays silent.” [5];
  • 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” [6].

The Rights of the Ears

The ears are like the doors to the heart; they transfer every word with either a positive or negative influence on the heart [1]. 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 [7]. For example, whoever listens to backbiting is a partner of the backbiter [8]. Hence, one should control the ears to hear only nice and useful words that purify the heart or encourage good behavior [1]. 

To be continued. 


[1] Imam Sajjad (AS), Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq).
[2] M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 360.
[3] Al-Monzeri, “Invitation and Intimidation”, vol. 2, p. 239.
[4] M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 113.
[5] M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, Introduction, p. 6.
[6] W. al.Hilli, “Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir”, vol. 1, p. 106.
[7] “Ghurar Al-Hikam Wa Durar Al-Kalim”, T. 6234.
[8] A. Saberi Yazdi, “Al-Hokm Al-Zahera”, p. 558.