4 Islamic Responsibilities that Builds a Better Society

Islam, as the last divine monotheistic religion, is the most perfect of the religions: “Today I have perfected your religion for you… and I have approved Islam as your religion.” (5:3). By introducing Islam, Allah has completed His blessings upon human beings (5:3). In other words, Islam provides everything that humans need to reach their perfection and salvation in the afterlife [1]; what they require for a divine life in this world and the tools they need for their social life, too; including their rights and responsibilities. The Islamic responsibilities of each individual towards others were thoroughly discussed previously. Here, the focus will be on Islamic responsibilities that concern the rights and benefits of people in society.

 

1. Social Expediency Is the Priority


When reviewing the Islamic teachings, one can notice the importance of congregation, unity, and brotherhood in the society. That is why many duties such as those to parents, neighbors, relatives, sick people, the elderly, the young people, mentors, etc. as various members of society are defined in Islam. Doing good to orphans, those in need, the traveler and the beggar, and freeing slaves (2:177) is another Islamic principle that concerns the members of society.

Islamic responsibilities

Hence, it can be concluded that in most cases, Islam has preferred the benefits of the congregation over the individual, even if it imposes a limitation or a loss to the individual. This can be compared to some of the social rules that aim to bring order in society but are limiting to individuals (e.g., red light). 

 

2. No to Social Ranking or Racial Discrimination 


In Islam, there is no place for arrogance and racism, but brotherhood towards other Muslims and a general sense of humanity towards every human being have been encouraged [2]. According to the Quran, the diversity of life and the various languages and colors of human beings are all signs of Allah’s majesty (30:22). Also, as Islamic teachings suggest, no privileged class exists, and everyone is equal in society, the only criteria for superiority over others is having piety or moral excellence (49:13).

islamic responsibilities

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has also emphasized this in a narration where he (PBUH&HP) says that all human beings are from the same father (Adam (AS)) and no nation or race is superior to the other [3]. In another narration, he (PBUH&HP) says that whoever knows more than others is more respected [4], and he repudiates the discriminations based on tribe, origin, color, and wealth. 

 

3. Giving Alms-Tax (Zakat) Is an Islamic Responsibility


By many of its rulings and duties considered for its followers, Islam aims to direct the attention of each individual to other’s needs. One way of achieving this goal is through the Alms-Tax (Zakat). Zakat is an exact amount of money that must be paid according to the rules of Sharia to be used in favor of the people in need or for certain beneficial deeds in society. Zakat can be given to poor people or can be spent on public welfare or creating jobs.

 

It should be noted that one can directly pay Zakat to the needy people only under the permission of his/her religious expert (Marja’). The aim is to manage and organize the resources by an expert aware of the requirements of the society; Marja’. This is one of the solutions to prevent a particular group of community to manipulate the economy. It empowers those who have been neglected in society to become productive and useful. 

Islamic responsibilities

 

4. Voluntary Charity (Sadaqah)


Sadaqah is giving away something (money, clothes, food, teaching, etc.) voluntarily to someone in need without expecting anything in return and with the intention of pleasing Allah: “spend from what we have provided you” (63:10). Giving charity in the form of Sadaqah is highly recommended in Islamic teachings. However, the manner of giving charity is of high importance in Islam. Sadagah should be offered discreetly to needy people rather than in public with the intention of showing off and pretending to be generous. This means that Islam encourages the preservation of human dignity. 

 

Here, we reviewed a general Islamic viewpoint that guarantees the rights of every member of the society and the importance it gives to social expediency. These Islamic recommendations will ultimately promote human rights and dignity.  

 

References:

[1].    M H Tabataba'i, “Tafsir al-Mizan”, Surah Al-Maidah.
[2].    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_humanity
[3].    M. Karajaki, “Ma’dan al-Jawahir wa-Riyadat al-Khawatir”, p. 21.
[4].    Shaykh Saduq, “al-Amali”, p. 27.