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Social Responsibility in Islam

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  • Social Responsibility in Islam

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    Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you because of your religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those who deal justly.
    This mutual responsibility exists because of the honor and dignity of every human being. Allah says:
    And indeed We have honored the descendants of Adam and carried them on land and sea, and We have provided them with all the good things and have preferred them over much of what We have created.
    The Domain of Social Responsibility in Islam
    Islam considers social responsibility to be one of its fundamental objectives. It extends to all of humanity, believers and disbelievers alike. Allah says:
    O mankind. We have created you from a male and female and made you nations and tribes so you could come to know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah are the most righteous.
    Social responsibility encompasses everyone by degrees. It starts with the Muslim and his personal sphere of life, extends to his family, then to the society that he lives in, and finally to all the diverse societies that exist on Earth.

    Responsibility to oneself:

    Every person is responsible for himself. He is responsible to keep himself pure, cultivate good manners, reform his faults, do good, and refrain from evil. Allah says:
    By the soul and Him who perfected its proportions; then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right. Indeed, he who purifies himself succeeds. And indeed, he who corrupts himself fails.
    Likewise, he is responsible to protect himself and to maintain his health. He must provide for himself in a lawful manner. Allah says:
    Seek, with what Allah has bestowed upon you, the Hereafter, and do not forget your share of this world; and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah does not like the mischief makers.
    A person is forbidden to kill himself, weaken himself, or inflict pain upon himself. Allah has prohibited suicide by saying:
    And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.
    O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones.
    The believing men and women are protectors of one another; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.
    Islam encourages the cultivation of love and affection between the man and woman in their marital life. Allah says:
    And from His signs is that he created for you mates from amongst yourselves to find comfort in and he placed between you affection and mercy.
    Islam has established a number of principles to bring this about:

    A. Preserving the rights of the husband and wife: Allah says:
    Do not marry the idolatrous women until they believe. A believing slave girl is better than an idolatress, even if she pleases you. And do not marry your women to the idolaters until they believe. A believing slave is better than an idolater, even if he pleases you. They call to the Fire, and Allah calls to Paradise and forgiveness by His leave, and He makes His signs clear to mankind so perhaps they might take heed.
    - Live with them on good terms.

    - Retain them on good terms or release them on good terms.
    Let the wealthy man spend according to his means; and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend from according to what Allah has given him. Allah does not put a burden on a person greater than what He has given him. Allah will grant, after hardship, ease.
    Lodge them where you dwell, according to your means, and do not harm them to make their lives difficult (so they will be forced to leave your house). And if they are pregnant, then spend on them until they give birth. Then if they nurse the children for you, then give them their due payment, and let each of you accept the advice of the other in a just way. If you make difficulties for one another, then some other woman may nurse for him.
    The right of proper upbringing is also clearly stated. Allah says:
    O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families from the Fire.
    Responsibility to Society: Islam makes the individual and society responsible for each other. It requires each to fulfill its duties to the other. It brings public and private interests together in such a way that fulfilling individual interests becomes a means of realizing the general good and likewise, realizing the general good entails realizing the good of the individual.

    The individual in Muslim society is responsible to help in preserving the general order and to refrain from any behavior that could harm society or work against its interests. Allah says:
    The believers, men and women, are protectors of one another; they enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, perform prayer, keep the fasts, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy on them. Surely Allah is Almighty, All Wise.
    The individual, moreover, is commanded to play an active and effective part in society. Allah says:
    Help one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression.
    O you who believe! Let not a group of you belittle another; it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let some women belittle other women; it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another with nicknames. How bad it is to charge someone with iniquity after they have believed. And whosoever does not repent, such are indeed transgressors. O you who believe, avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, nor backbite one another.
    O mankind. We have created you from a male and female and made you nations and tribes so you could come to know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah are the most righteous. Verily Allah is All-Knowing All-Aware.
    The future generations should have a good impression of the present one, so they will uphold their honor, seek from Allah their forgiveness, and carry in their hearts good feelings towards them. This is, in turn, how the present generation should feel about their relationship with the generations to come and the effects that their actions will have on them. Thus, they will refrain from depleting the resources that are in their possession and squandering the necessities of life.

    They should enrich the soil of the future so that a continuous progression of generations can be built on solid ground and inherit a rich and venerable legacy.

    In this way, the present generation presents an ideal realization of its responsibility to those who are to come, and the next generation, in turn, looks back on them with love in their hearts and prayers on their tongues asking for their forgiveness. In this way, their mutual responsibility towards each other is fulfilled from the first generation to the last. Manifestations of Social Responsibility in Islam
    A general outline of social responsibility should be clear from what has already been said. When we turn our attention to specific manifestations of this responsibility, we find that Islam pays greater attention to the needs of certain classes of people who are more exposed to suffering and harm than others and who are more often the focus of social responsibility in its narrowest sense.

    Responsibility towards the elderly Islam pays special attention to the elderly. It considers them to have a right to be cared for in repayment for the sacrifices that they have made to ensure the prosperity of the generation that they raised and nurtured. In Islam, the responsibility to take care of the elderly starts with the children. Allah says:The responsibility of children to care for their parents and treat them kindly is compulsory, both religiously and in the court of Law. It is, first and foremost a religious commandment upon the children. Then, if they are neglectful in their duties to their parents, the courts can force the children to perform them.

    It does not matter if the parents are of a different religion; their rights are still the same. Allah says:
    And we have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning was in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto me is the final destination But if they both strive to make you join in worship with Me others of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but, in the world, behave with them kindly.
    If elderly people do not have children, the responsibility to care for them is transferred to society in the form of mandatory state support.

    This is further strengthened by the abundance of texts that encourage doing good to others, especially those who cannot take care of themselves like many of the elderly. This inspires a believing soul to naturally expend effort to do good voluntarily.

    Caring for the elderly is not merely on the material level. Spiritual and emotional support, that the elderly desperately need, also come into play. Allah says:Responsibility towards Children and Orphans Responsibility towards the Poor and the Destitute Recognizing the rights of neighborsThe rights of the guest and the stranger
    The charity tax is only for the poor, the destitute, those employed to collect it, to encourage those whose hearts are inclined towards Islam, to free captives, for those in debt, for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
    The Means Employed by Islam to Achieve Social Responsibility
    Islam legislates certain measures and regulations to assure social responsibility. Some of these measures concern the individual and some concern the state.

    Measures connected to the individual:

    Islam has charged the individual with a number of measures, some of which are compulsory while others are voluntary.

    The following are among the compulsory measures that the individual is charged with:

    2. Expiations:
    Allah will not take you to task you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but he will take you to task for your deliberate oaths. For their expiation, feed ten poor people in the manner that you would feed your own family, or clothe them, or manumit a slave. But whoever cannot afford that must fast for three days. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn.
    3. The charity at the end of the month of fasting: 4. Assisting the needy:1. Endowments:2. Bequests: A person gives a bequest before his death to another party from his estate. This party could be an individual or an organization. A bequest can even be generally worded so that the recipients are those who meet certain criteria.

    Islam encourages bequests. Allah says:
    It is prescribed for you, if one of you approaches death and leaves behind wealth, to make a bequest to parents and relatives in a reasonable manner.
    3. Loans:
    So woe to those who pray who are negligent while in their prayers and who only wish to be seen of men and who withhold even neighborly needs.
    These needs would include any small everyday items, like dishes and hand tools.

    Islam expects the borrower, in return, to treat what he borrows in the best possible manner, protect it, and return it on time. Allah says:
    Verily, Allah commands you to render back the trusts to those to whom they are due.
    Allah describes the believers as:
    Those who are faithful in observing their trusts and their covenants.
    4. Gifts:The Responsibility of the State:

    Though Islam pays close attention to social responsibility on the individual level, it does not stop there. Alongside the individual measures, it establishes general measures that the state is responsible to carry out.

    Among these measures are the following:

    1. Safeguarding natural resources:2. Creating opportunities for employment:3. Organizing individual efforts:4. Utilizing the property of the wealthy when necessary:
    "Closer and closer to mankind comes their Reckoning: yet they heed not and they turn away" (21:1)

    " How can the one who chooses a hour of Haraam pleasure, above the eternal pleasure of Jannah, ever be considered as sane? "
    -Ibn Al Qayyim

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