“…Give everyone of right their right…” [Narrated by Bukhari]
If we were to reflect on these words of our beloved Prophet ﷺ could we all truly say we fulfil the rights of others? Islam has come as a complete religion and way of life, exemplified by the life of the Prophet ﷺ. We are not only taught to fulfil our obligations to Allah (SWT)- titled the ‘huqooq-ullah’, but also to those around us- the ‘huqooq-ul-ibaad’. This encompasses friends, family, and people of the community and is regardless of race, creed or colour. Unfortunately, it is too often that the second aspect is overlooked, as people busy themselves with prayers, recitation, tasbeeh, seeking knowledge etc. and forget this other obligation upon them.
This obligation is clearly mentioned in the Quran, in an unrestricted manner to the extent that Allah (SWT) says:
“O you who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relative.” [Quran 4:135]
So whilst there is no doubt that worshipping Allah (SWT) is necessary and highly rewardable we also understand that Islam is not purely self-centric and obliges us to be just and fulfil the rights of others. Despite these clear teachings, it is a sad state of affairs where we see Muslims have strayed from these commandments and no longer endeavour to adopt the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. This is commonly due to a few reasons:
- The action is considered to be a small deed and therefore overlooked, or the reverse hold true and it is not considered to be a big sin and/or is easy to commit such as backbiting.
- The person looks to gain some sort of temporal benefit by deceiving a person or oppressing them.
- A person fails to control their emotion e.g. anger and does something that they later regret.
In order avoid falling short with regards to this, not only do we need to understand the obligation as we have discussed above, but also the severity of such actions. The Prophet ﷺ said,
“The rights of the people do not fall by taubah (repenting to Allah).” [Sheikh Ibn Kathir]
So on the Day that every person will be concerned purely for themselves, so much so that not even a mother will show concern for her children, how will our situation be if we have wrongly taken the rights of others? Is there any hope of forgiveness from them on that day if we did not seek their forgiveness in the dunya? Instead they will come one by one and take away our good deeds until we have none left and then they will be told to put their sins upon us.
So upon understanding this obligation and the severity of not fulfilling the rights of others, we should strive to correct our ways. Firstly we should seek forgiveness from those we have been unjust to, however this need not be a specific apology if this may make matters worse, rather a general apology would suffice. For those we cannot seek forgiveness from, the ulama advise that you make dua for them in the hope that this will serve as a substitute. And finally we should learn and focus on what rights others have over us and make an effort to fulfil their rights, rather than being concerned about our personal rights. If we all were to bear these points in mind throughout every moment of our day, in sha Allah with the help of Allah (SWT) we can restore a level of justice within our communities, whilst at the same time drawing nearer to Allah (SWT) and being rewarded for fulfilling His command.