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Social and Moral Code of Islam

By Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry

CHAPTER 2

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS

  1. Rights of Parents

  2. Rights of Children

  3. Mutual Rights of Husband and Wife

  4. Rights of Orphans

  5. Rights of Relatives

  6. Rights of Neighbours

  7. Rights of the Poor and the Needy

  8. Rights of the Sick and Disabled

  9. Mutual Rights of Seniors and Juniors

  10. Rights of One Man Over Other

  11. Rights of Women.

  12. Rights of Non-Muslims

  13. Rights of Slaves and Servants

This chapter would deal, by the grace of God, with the rights and obligations of various cross sections of Islamic society. Since rights of one group mean the obligations of others towards it and the obligations of one group mean the rights of the others against it, e.g., the rights of parents are in fact obligations of children toward them and obligations of parents towards children are in fact rights of children against parents, so discussion can be made under one head only, either rights or obligations. But we would prefer to make discussion under the head rights – such as rights of parents, rights of children, rights of poor, rights of neighbours, etc. – as our age is the age of human rights. And Islam is champion of human rights as its prophet issued charter of Madinah in the year 622 A.D. which is the first written constitution of the world and delivered sermon during his final pilgrimage in the year 632 A.D. which is the first code of human rights.

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I – Rights of Parents

After rights of God, the rights of parents are the most supreme in the sight of Islam. In its list of priorities the Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, places the duties towards parents only next to duties towards God. The Qur’an enjoins upon its followers to be kind and obedient toward their parents. If they attain old age and are living with you, you should not say them even fie (a word of slight derogation) what to speak of repulsing or misbehaving with them. You should be very much submissive in talking to them and always pray for Allah’s mercy on them. You should obey their orders, look after their comforts and must not be arrogant, rude or rebellious to them. According to a Hadith, your parents are your Paradise and your Hell, which means that by your good treatment to them you can earn Paradise while your disobedience and misbehaviour with them would make you liable for Hell. According to another Hadith, a person is very unfortunate who finds parents in old age and yet does not enter Paradise by serving them kindly and by according them good treatment. Disobedience to parents is a major sin, and the almights Allah may pardon every other sin He pleases except disobedience to parents.

Children are duty bound to maintain their parents in their old age, and in case of default they would be forced by the state to maintain their parents. Islamic law of inheritance makes the parents shareholder in the estate left by their deceased child.

Among the parents, mother’s place in respect of kind treatment and obedience from children has been made higher than that of father. The Qur’an especially underlines the services of a mother regarding the pains of pregnancy and her privations regarding bringing up of the children.

Let us now reproduce some of the Verses of the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam which highlight the rights of parents.

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: That which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, Lo! Allah is Aware of it.  
   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 215

2.   Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. And to his parents a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a son; and if he have no son and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother appertaineth the third; and if he have brethren then to his mother appertaineth the sixth, after any legacy he may have bequeathed, or debt (hath been paid). Your parents or your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injunction from Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.   ––4: An-Nisa: 11

3.   And serve Allah and ascribe nothing as partner with him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbour who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbour who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveller and the wayferer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful.   ––4: An-Nisa: 36

4.   The Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not “Fie” unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little.   ––17: Bani-Israil: 23-24

5.   We have enjoined on man kindness to parents; but if they strive to make thee join with Me that of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not. Unto Me is your return and I shall tell you what ye used to do.   ––29: Al-Ankabut: 8

6.   And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents – His mother bearth him in weakness upon weakness and his weaning is in two years – Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents, Unto Me is the journeying. But if they strive with thee to make thee ascribe unto Me as partner that of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who repenteth unto Me. Then unto Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what ye used to do.   ––31: Luqman: 14-15

7.   And We have commanded unto man kindness toward parents. His mother beareth him with reluctance, and bringeth him forth with reluctance, and the bearing of him and the weaning of him is thirty months, till, when he attaineth full strength and reacheth forty years, he saith: My Lord! Arouse me that I may give thanks for the favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and that I may do right acceptable unto Thee, and be gracious unto me in the matter of my seed. Lo! I have turned unto Thee repentant, and Lo! I am of those who surrender (undo Thee).   ––46: al-Ahqaf: 15

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Hurairah reported that a man enquired: “O Apostle of Allah! Who is the most proper person for my good association”? “Thy mother” replied he. Then he asked: Who is next? “Thy mother”, he replied. Then he asked: Who is next? “Thy mother”, he replied. He enquired: Who is next? “Thy father”, ‘he said. In another narration, he replied: “Thy mother, then thy mother, then thy mother and then thy father and then thy nearest relatives and then thy nearer relatives”.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

2.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: May he be humbled! May he be humbled! May he be humbled! It was questioned: Who, O Apostle of Allah? He said: The one who finds parents in their old age – one of them or both of them, and yet does not enter Paradise.   (Muslim)

3.   Muawiyah-b-Ja’hemah reported that Ja’hemah came to the Messenger of Allah and said: O Messenger of Allah I intend to join a battle and have come to you for consultation. He enquired: Have you got mother? “Yes’ replied he. He said: Then keep near her, because Paradise is at her feet.  
   (Ahmad, Nisai)

4.   Jaber reported that the Holy Prophet said: Whose has got three things in him, Allah will make his death easy and will admit him in Paradise: mercy to the weak, kindness to the parents and doing good to the slave.   (Tirmizi) Rare))

5.   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: No obedient son looks to his parents with a look of kindness but Allah does not write for him one accepted pilgrimage for every look. They enquired: And if he looks hundred times every day? ‘Yes’ said he, ‘Allah is most Great and most Beneficent.  
   (Baihaqi)

6.   Asma’a-binet Abu Bakr reported: My mother, while she was a polytheist during the treaty of Qur’aish, came to me, I asked: O Messenger of Allah! My mother has come to me while she is ill-disposed (to Islam). Should I show her respect? ‘Yes’, replied he, ‘show respect to her’.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

7.   Abu Bakrah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The Almighty Allah may pardon all sins He pleases except disobedience to parents, and He hastens (punishment) in this life before death for one who commits it.   (Baihaqi)

8.   Ibn Umar reported that a man came to the Holy Prophet and said: O Apostle of Allah! I have committed a great sin. Is there any repentance for me? He enquired: Have you got mother? ‘No’, replied he. He asked: have you got mother’s sister? ‘Yes’, said he. He said: Then accord her good treatment.   (Tirmizi)

9.   Abu Osaid-as-Sayedi reported: We were near the Holy Prophet when a man of Banu Salemah came to him and asked: O Apostle of Allah! Is there any obedience to parents left that I can show to them after their demise? ‘Yes’, replied he, ‘to pray for them, to seek forgiveness for them, to fulfill their instructions after their death, to keep affinity with those who are not connected with you but through them, and to honour their friends.   (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)

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II – Rights of Children

Just as obedience to parents has been enjoined upon the children by the Qur’an and Hadith, similarly the parents have also been exhorted to discharge their duties and obligations towards their children. The duties of the parents include nursing and bringing-up of the children, imparting of education and teaching of good manners and maintenance and spending for their comforts besides kind treatment, love, affection and their protection. At the very birth of a child he or she should be given a good name. Immediately on birth, proclamation of Allah’s name should be made in their ears. According to a tradition of the Prophet, education is compulsory for every Muslim male or female and therefore, the parents are bound to provide them good education-religious as well as worldly-which normally starts with the teaching of the Holy Qur’an. The children are also taught how to perform their religious obligations like prayer. Of all the properties which the children inherit from their parents, the best is good manners. So the children should be taught good manners and given good training regarding their behaviour and general conduct from the beginning. When the children reach marriageable age, it is the bounden duty of their parents to marry them. Even after the puberty, marriage and independence of children, the parents should pray for the well-being of their children and should never invoke curse or punishment of Allah against them.

Among the children, the maintenance and up-bringing of daughters has been more stressed. Islam abolished the evil custom of killing of female children which prevailed among the pre-Islamic Arabs who were disturbed to hear the news of birth of a daughter and sometimes ended her life by burying her alive. Slaying of children has been declared a great sin by the Qur’an. Islam raised the status of female children to the level of male children. Rather the kindness and good treatment shown to the daughters merits higher reward from Allah.

Spending for the maintenance of the children on their education, living and well-being, carries higher merit even as compared with spending in the way of Allah or spending in emancipating a slave. According to Islamic law of inheritance, children are entitled to prescribed shares in the estate left by their deceased parents.

Some of the verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of the Prophet on the rights of children are:

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   Mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years, (that is) for those who wish to complete the suckling. The duty of feeding and clothing nursing mothers in a seemly manner is upon the father of the child.   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 233

2.   Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then there is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half.   ––4: An-Nisa: 11

3.   Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty. We shall provide for them and for you. Lo! The slaying of them is great sin.   ––17: Bani Israil: 31

Ahadith of Prophet (PBUH):

1.   Ayub-b-Musa from his father from his grandfather reported that the Messenger of Allah said: No father can give a better gift to his son than good manners.   (Tirmizi (defective))

2.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers.  
   (Muslim)

3.   Ja’ber-b-Samorah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The teaching of good manners by a man to his son is better for him than to give a sa’a in charity.   (Tirmizi (Rare))

4.   Auf-b-Malek-al-Ash’jayi reported that the Messenger of Allah said: I and the woman, black of two cheeks, shall be like these two (fingers) on the Resurrection Day, (Yazid-b-Zuraiy pointed out the middle and fore-fingers) the woman who has been bereft of her husband (but possessing beauty and respectability) and who confines herself to (upbringing) her orphan children till they grow major or die.   (Abu Daud)

5.   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: If any body has a female child, and then does neither bury her alive, nor treats her unjustly, nor prefers his children (meaning male children) to her, Allah will admit him in Paradise.  
   (Abu Daud)

6.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah kissed his grandson-Hassan-b-Ali in the presence of Aqra-b-Habis. Whereupon Aqra said: I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them. The Messenger of Allah looked towards him and said: He who is not kind will not be shown kindness.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

7.   Abu Hurairah reported that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said: I have got a dinar. He said: Spend it for yourself. He said: I have got another. He said: Spend it for your children. He said: I have got another. He said: Spend it for your wife. He said: I have got another. He replied: Spend it for your servant. He said: I have got another. He replied; You know best.   (Abu Daud, Nisai)

8.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: (As for) a dinar you have spent in the way of Allah, and a dinar you have spent in emancipating a slave, and a dinar you have given to a poor man in charity and a dinar you have spent for your family, the greatest of them in reward is that which you have spent for your family.   (Muslim)

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III – Mutual Rights of Husband and Wife

Man and woman come from the same stock. Allah has ordained love and mercy between husband and wife. About the relationship between the husband and wife the Qur’an says: They are your garments, and you are their garments” (2: 187) The relationship between the husband and wife cannot be described perhaps in a better way than this. As the clothes protect a person from heat and cold, similarly husband and wife protect each other from social evils and moral vices of base passions, lewdness and sexual indulgence. Husband and wife are thus source of comfort, consolation, peace and security for each other. Besides relationship of love and affection, they are mutually entitled to kind treatment, good behaviour and respect of each other. According to the Prophet of Islam, the most perfect of the believers is he who is best to his wife. Similarly the best woman is she who obeys her husband when he bids, and who does not oppose him regarding herself and her riches. The Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam have especially enjoined upon the Muslim to treat their wives very kindly. Husband and wife are required to be faithful to each other and none of them is permitted to have sexual relations with any other person outside marriage.

Briefly speaking, the rights of husband over wife include: that she should be obedient to her husband and even at the cost of her optional fasts and prayers she should look after the comforts of her husband; that she should be faithful to her husband; and entertain none except with the permission of her husband; that she should not refuse her husband to herself and her property; that she should manage the house properly; that she should bring up and train the children, and finally that she should protect her honour and her husband’s property in the absence of her husband. The rights of wife over husband include: that he should protect her; that he should give her kind treatment and should not beat her except for a serious cause like moral turpitude and even in that case beating should be mild, and that he should give her agreed dower and provide her maintenance including food, clothing, house, etc.

Following are some of the verses of al-Qur’an and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which highlight mutual rights of spouses.

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   It is made lawful for you to go unto your wives on the night of the fast. They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them….   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 187

2.   And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 228

3.   And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it in your wealth).   ––4: An-Nisa: 4

4.   And unto you belongeth a half of that which your wives leave, if they have no child, but if they have a child then unto you the fourth of that which they leave, after any legacy they may have bequeathed, or debt (they may have contracted, hath been paid). And unto them belongeth the fourth of that which ye leave if ye have no child. But if ye have a child then the eighth of that which ye leave, after any legacy ye may have bequeathed, or debt (ye may have contracted, hath been paid).   ––4: An-Nisa: 12

5.   Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.   ––4: An-Nisa: 34

6.   And of His signs is this: He created for you help-meets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect.   ––30: Ar-Rum: 21

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Omamah reported from the Messenger of Allah who used to say: Next to fear of Allah the believer finds nothing good for him than a virtuous wife. If he bids her, shy obeys him; if he looks at her she gives him pleasure; if he gives her a promise, she fulfils it, and if he is absent from her, she guards herself and his property.   (Ibn Majah)

2.   Hakim-b-Muawiyah from his father reported: I asked: O Messenger of Allah! What right has the wife of one among us got over him? He said it is that you shall give her food when you have taken your food, that you shall clothe her when you have clothed yourself, that you shall not slap her on the face, nor revile (her), nor leave (her) alone except within the house.  
   (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)

3.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The most perfect of the believers in faith is he who is the best of them in conduct, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.   (Tirmizi (approved, correct))

4.   Jaber-b-Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with trust of Allah and made their private parts lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them that they entertain nobody to your beds which you dislike. If they do this, give them a beating without causing injury. They have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to means.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

5.   In his famous Farewell address, delivered at Arafat on the occasion of last pilgrimage in 10 A.H., the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared: “Well then, people! Verily there are rights in favour of your women which are incumbent upon you, and there are rights in favour of you which are incumbent upon them. As to what is incumbent upon them in your regard, is that they should not let your beds be trampled by others than you, should not allow those to enter your houses whom you do not like without your authorization, and should not commit turpitude. If they do commit that, then God has given you permission to reprimand them, to separate yourself from them in beds, and to strike them but not hard. If they abstain and obey you, then it is incumbent upon you to provide them food and dress in accordance with good custom. And I command you to treat women well because they are like captives in your houses, possessing nothing for themselves, and you, on your part, take them as a deposit from God, and permit yourselves the enjoyment of their persons by means of a word of God. Have therefore the fear of God with regard to women, and I order you to treat them well. Attention! Have I communicated? O God, be witness!”  
   (Ibn Hisham quoted by Dr. Hamidullah)

6.   Ayesha reported that Hind, daughter of Utba, asked: O Messenger of Allah! Abu sufiyan is a miserly fellow. He does not give what may be sufficient for me and my children, unless I take it from him without his knowledge. He said: Take what suffices you and your children according to means.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

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IV – Rights of the Orphans

The orphans should be kindly treated. They should be accorded, as far as possible, the same love and affection which is given to one’s own children. The Qur’an says: “And let those fear (in their behaviour towards orphans) who if they left behind them weak offspring would be afraid for them ……” (4:9) The orphans should not be maltreated and they should not be oppressed. The Prophet of Islam has said: “The best home of Muslims is one where there is an orphan who is treated well; and the worst home of Muslims is one wherein there is an orphan who is treated badly.” High rewards are promised for those who give kind treatment to the orphans. Whoso gives shelter to an orphan, Allah will guarantee him Paradise unless he has committed an unpardonable sin. Whoso shows kindness to an orphan under his care will live in Paradise near the Prophet (PBUH): and whoso passes his hand over the head of an orphan shall have merits for every hair over which his hand passes.

The orphans should be given food, drink and clothes. They should be taught good manners and given education. If the parents of the orphans have left property, the guardian should meet their expenses out of that. But if no property has been left by their parents, the expenses on their food, clothing, education, etc. should be met by the guardian from his own sources. Spending in the way of Allah on the orphan is a best form of a charity and Allah would certainy reward those who provide food, clothing and shelter to the orphans.

There are clear injunctions of the Holy Qur’an about the management of the property and wealth of the orphans. The guardians of the orphans have been strictly prohibited to exchange the good properties of the orphans with their bad properties. The guardians have also been exhorted not to absorb the properties and wealth of the orphans into their own wealth. The wealth of the orphans should not be devoured and squandered hastily with the idea that the orphans might not grow up and demand for its return. The Qur’an warns those who swallow the wealth of the orphans wrongfully by declaring that they swallow nothing but the fire into their bellies. Usurping the wealth of the orphans is one of the major sins and one who commits that would go to Hell.

The verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about rights of orphans are reproduced as follows:

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spent. Say: That which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer: And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it.  
   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 215

2.   And they question thee concerning orphans. Say: To improve their lot is best. And if ye mingle your affairs with theirs, then (they are) your brother. Allah knoweth him who spoileth from him who improveth. Had Allah willed He could have overburdened you. Allah is Mighty, Wise.   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 220

3.   Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo! That would be a great sin.  
   ––4: An-Nisa: 2

4.   Prove orphans till they reach the marriageable age; then if ye find them of sound judgement, deliver over unto them their fortune; and devour it not by squandering and in haste lest they should grow up. Whoso (of the guardians) is rich, let him abstain generously (from taking of the property of orphans); and whoso is poor, let him take thereof in reason (for his guardianship). And when ye deliver up their fortune unto orphans, have (the transaction) witnessed in their presence. Allah sufficeth as Reckoner.   ––4: An-Nisa: 6

5.   And when kinsfolk and orphans and the needy are present at the division (of the heritage), bestow on them therefrom and speak kindly unto them.   ––4: An-Nisa: 8

6.   And let those fear (in their behaviour toward orphans) who if they left behind them weak offspring would be afraid for them. So let them mind their duty to Allah, and speak justly. Lo! Those who devour the wealth of orphans wrongfully, they do but swallow fire into their bellies and they will be exposed to burning flame.   ––4: An-Nisa: 9-10

7.   And know that whatever ye take as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the kinsman (who hath need) and orphans and the needy and the wayferer, if ye believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies met. And Allah is able to do all things.   ––8: Al-Anfal: 41

8.   Come not near the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better till he come to strength; and keep the covenant. Lo! Of the covenant it will be asked.   ––17: Bani Isra’il: 34

9.   That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His Messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and His messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayferer, that it become not a commodity between the rich among you. And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal.  
   ––59: Al-Hashr: 7

10.   And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him.   ––76: Ad-Dahr: 8

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The best home of Muslims is one wherein there is an orphan who is treated well; and the worst home of Muslims is one wherein there is an orphan who is treated badly:   (Ibn Majah)

2.   Abu Omamah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso passes his touch over the head of an orphan, not passing it but for Allah, shall have merits for every hair over which his hand passes; and whoso shows kindness to an orphan-girl or a boy under his care, I and he shall be in Paradise like these two. And he joined together his two fingers.   (Ahmad, Tirmizi)

3.   Amr-b-Shuaib from his father from his grandfather reported that the Messenger of Allah addressed the people and said: Beware! Whoever is entrusted with an orphan having property, let him make merchandise therewith, and let him not leave it till Zakat eats it up.   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

4.   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso gives shelter to an orphan with his food and drink Allah will guarantee him Paradise unless he has committed a sin which cannot be pardoned; and whosoever maintains three daughters or number of sisters and gives them training of good manners and is kind to them till Allah makes them free from wants; Allah will make Paradise sure for him. A man asked; O Messenger of Allah! if (They are) two? He said: (even) if two. Till if they had said “And one”, he would have replied “And one.”   (Baihaqi)

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V – Rights of Relatives

Individuals make families, families make tribes and tribes make nations. Thus the peace, harmony, fraternity and prosperity in the family intimately leads to the peace, prosperity and betterment of the nation. Islam, therefore has laid much stress upon the connection of blood-ties and family relations. Rights of family members upon each other and the duties and obligations towards family members and near kindred have been especially emphasized by the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam.

There are many Verses in the Holy Qur’an and there are many Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam which enjoin upon the believers to acknowledge the rights of their relatives, near kindred and kinsfolk, and discharge their obligations towards them. Following are some of those Verses and Ahadith:

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   It is prescribed for you, when one of you approacheth death, if he leaves wealth, that he bequeath unto parents and near relatives in kindness. (This is) a duty for all those who ward off (evil).   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 180

2.   They ask thee, (O Muhammad). What they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, Lo! Allah is Aware of it.  
   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 215

3.   And when kinsfolk and orphans and the needy are present at the division (of the heritage), bestow on them therefrom and speak kindly unto them.   ––4: An-Nisa: 8

4.   Lo! Allah enjoyneth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed.  
   ––4: An-Nisa: 90

5.   Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and squander not (thy wealth) in wantonness.  
   ––17: Bani Isra’il: 26

6.   And let not those who posses dignity and ease among you swear not to give to the near of kin and to the needy, and to fugitives for the cause of Allah. Let them forgive and show indulgence. Yearn ye not that Allah may forgive you? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.   ––24: An-Nur: 22

7.   The Prophet is closer to the believers than theirselves, and his wives are (as) their mothers. And the owner of kinship are closer one to another in the ordinance of Allah than (other) believers and the fugitives (who fled from Makkah), except that ye should do kindness to your friend. This is written in the book (of nature).   ––33: Al-Ahzab: 6

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Hurairah asked: O Messenger of Allah! Which charity is best? He said: The charity of the needy. And begin with one who is a kinsman.   (Abu Daud)

2.   Solaiman-b-A’mer reported that the Holy Prophet said: Alms to a poor man has one (merit)-charity, and to a kinsman two (merits) – charity and connection.  
   (Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Nisai)

3.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoever desires that provisions might be extended to him and that his time of life be prolonged, let him keep affinity with his kindred.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

4.   Zubair-b-Mut’em reported that the Messenger of Allah said: One who severs (blood-tie) shall not enter Paradise.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

5.   Abdur Rahman-b-Auf reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: The Blessed and Almighty Allah said: I am Allah and I am Merciful. I created blood-tie and derived it from My name. With him who joins it, I shall keep connection; and I shall destroy one who cuts it asunder.   (Abu Daud)

6.   Durra-binet-Abi Lahab reported that the Messenger of Allah was asked: Who among men is the best? He said: He who is most dutiful of Allah among them and most dutiful towards blood-connections among them.   (Ahmad)

7.   Abu Hurairah reported that a man asked: O Messenger of Allah! I have got kindreds with whom I live in amity, while they treat me badly; I do them good while they do me evil; I am gentle to them, while they are rough to me. He said: If you are as you say, it is as though you give them pills of hot ashes, and a helper from Allah against them will always be with you, so long as you remain upon that.   (Muslim)

8.   Abu Bakrah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no other sin for the doer of which Allah hastens punishment in the world along with what is in store for him in the next world than rebellion and severance of blood connection.  
   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

9.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Learn from your ancestors with what thing to befriend your relations, because joining of blood-tie is a cause of love within the household, a means of increase in wealth and a means of delaying death.   (Tirmizi (Rare))

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VI – Rights of Neighbours

Islam attaches paramount importance to the rights of neighbours. The Qur’an enjoins upon the believers to show kindness to their neighbours. The duty to neighbour is only next in importance to your duties towards parents and near kindred. The Prophet (PBUH) himself set noble example by his kind treatment towards his neighbours. He was very kind and friendly to Ashab-Suffa who were his immediate neighbours. Once Ali asked the Prophet for a maid servant for Fatima, Prophet’s daughter, but the Prophet did not accede to the request, saying; “As yet the companions of Suffa have not been provided for.” Briefly speaking, duties towards neighbours include: the neighbours should be accorded kind treatment: they should be safe from your injuries caused by actions or words: One should send presents and food to one’s neighbours, however small it may be: in case of sickness they should be looked after and every sort of help should be extended to them.

Some jurists of Islam have ruled in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith that the neighbours have got right of pre-emption in case of disposal of property. This right which has been conceded by Islam is an important right which was not known before in any part of the world.

Following are Verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which bring in focus the rights of neighbours:

Verse of the Holy Qur’an:

And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbour who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbour who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveller and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful:  
      ––4: An-Nisa: 36

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: One whose neighbour is not safe from his troubles, shall not enter Paradise.   (Muslim)

2.   Ayesha and Ibn Omar reported from the Messenger of Allah who said: Gabreil did not stop to advice me about neighbour till I thought that he would soon make him an heir.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

3.   Ibn Masud reported that a man asked the Holy Prophet: O Messenger of Allah! how can I know when I do good and when I do bad? The Holy Prophet said: When you hear your neighbours say you have done good you have done good, and when you hear them say-you have done bad-you have done bad.   (Ibn Majah)

4.   Ibn Abbas reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: He is not a (true) believer who eats his full, while his neighbour lies hungry by his side.   (Mishkat-ul-Masabih)

5.   Sa’ad-b-Abi Waqqas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Of the good fortune of a Muslim gentle man, there are a specious abode, a good neighbour and a pleasant conveyance.   (Ahmed)

6.   Messenger of Allah said: No man is a (true) Muslim till his heart and tongue accept Islam, and does not (truely) believe till his neighbour is safe from his injuries.   (Ahmad)

7.   Hasan-b-Sufyan reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The neighbours are three (classes): a neighbour who has got single right; a neighbour who has got double rights, and a neighbour who has got triple rights. The neighbour who has got triple rights is a Muslim neighbour having relation: for him there is the right of neighbourhood, the right of Islam and the right of relationship. As for one who has got double rights, he is a Muslim neighbour; for him there is the right of neighbourhood and the right of Islam; and as for one who has got single right, he is a polytheist neighbour:   (Abu Nayeem)

8.   Amr-b-Shuaib reported from his father who from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah said: Do you know what the duties of a neighbour are? Help him if he seeks your help, give him succour if he seeks your succour, give him loan, if he seeks your loan; give him relief if he is needy; nurse him if he falls ill; follow his bier if he dies; cheer him if he meets any good; sympathise with him if any calamity befalls him; raise not your building higher so as to obstruct his air without his permission; harass him not; give him when you purchase a fruit; if you do not do it take it secretly; and let not your children take it out to excite thereby the anger of his children.  
   (Ibn Adi in the Kamel and Khorati in Makareme Akhlaq)

9.   Ayesha asked: O Messenger of Allah! I have got two neighbours. To whom among these two shall I send present? He said: To one who is nearer to you of the two in respect of door.   (Bukhari)

10.   Abu Zarr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When you cook broth, increase its water and give it to your neighbours.  
   (Muslim)

11.   Abu Hurairah reported that a man asked: O Messenger of Allah! Such and such a women is reputed for much prayer, and fasting and alms-giving, but she offends her neighbours with her tongue. He said: She will go to Hell. He enquired: O Messenger of Allah! Such and such a woman is reputed less for her fasting, alms-giving and prayer but she gives alms of the remainders of curds and she does not offend her neighbours by her tongue. He said: She will go to Paradise.  
   (Ahmad, Baihaqi)

12.   Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The neighbour who has got the best right to pre-emption shall be waited for though he be absent, provided the path of both is the same.  
   (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

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VII – Rights of the Poor and the Needy

Children of Adam are but parts of the same body. If a limb of a body is injured, the whole body responds to it by fever and sleeplessness. Similarly if a man falls in distress, it will be the duty of everyone to respond to him with succour and relief. As a religion of humanity, Islam obliges its followers to help their fellow – beings who are overtaken by calamities, who are suffering from poverty, hunger and want and who are in need of food, drink, clothing and abode. If the teachings of Islam are acted upon, poverty can be eradicated from the face of the earth.

Following are the Verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet of Islam which are self-explanatory and which throw ample light on the rights of the poor and needy persons.

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: That which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do; Lo! Allah is Aware of it.  
   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 215

2.   (Alms are) for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah, who cannot travel in the land (for trade). The unthinking man accounteth them wealthy because of their restraint. Thou shalt know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatsoever good thing ye spend, Lo! Allah knoweth it.   ––2: Al-Baqarah: 273

3.   And when kinsfolk and orphans and the needy are present at the division (of the heritage), bestow on them therefrom and speak kindly unto them.   ––4: An-Nisa: 8

4.   And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbour who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbour who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful.   ––4: An-Nisa: 36

5.   The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise.   ––9: Al Taubah: 60

6.   Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and squander not (thy wealth) in wantonness.  
   ––17: Bani Isra’il: 26

7.   That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and His messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, that it become not a commodity between the rich among you. ……   ––59: Al-Hashr: 7

8.   And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphans and the prisoner, for love of him.   ––76: Ad-Dahr: 8

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: One who strives for the widows and the poor is like one who fights in the way of Allah. He said: I shall regard him as one who stands up (for prayer) without rest and as one who fasts without break.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

2.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: O Allah! let me live a poor man, die a poor man and resurrect me in the company of the poor. Ayesha enquired: Why, O Messenger of Allah? He said: Verily they will enter Paradise 40 years before the rich. O Ayesha! Don’t turn away the poor (without giving) although it be a piece of date. O Ayesha! Love the poor and let them come to you. For verily Allah will take you near (Him) on the Resurrection Day.   (Trimizi, Ibn Majah)

3.   Haresha-b-Wahab reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Shall I not inform you about the kings of the inmates of Paradise! “Yes” said they, ‘O Messenger of Allah! He said, Every weak and poor man laden in dust and disheveled in hairs.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

4.   Abu Hurairah reported: The Almighty Allah will ask on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam! I was sick and you did not visit Me. He will reply: O my Lord! How could I have visited thee when thou art the Lord of all the worlds. He will say: Did you not know that so and so of My servants was sick, but you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would surely have found Me with him? O son of Adam! I asked you food, but you did not give me food. He will reply: O my Lord! How could I have fed thee, when thou art the Lord of all the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that so and so of My servants asked you food, but you did not feed him? Did you not know, that if you had fed him you would surely have found that with Me? O son of Adam! I asked you drink, and you did not give me drink. He will reply: O my Lord! How could I have given thee drink when Thou art the Lord of all the worlds? He will say: So and so of My servants asked drink of you and you did not give him drink. Did you not know that if you had given him drink, you would surely have found that with Me?   (Muslim)

5.   Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is a key for everything and the key of Paradise is love for the poor.  
   (Darqutni)

7.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The best charity is to satisfy a hungry belly.   (Baihaqi)

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VIII – Rights of the Sick and Disabled

Nursing and visiting the sick is compulsory (Fard) in cases when the sickman is about to die for want of care and attention. It is Fard kefayah (compulsory on the community as a whole) in case of pressing need of nursing. If one Muslim performs this nursing at the time of dire need, the whole community is absolved from the responsibilities, but if none of them takes care of the patient the entire body of the Muslims will be responsible and suffer for the sin thus committed. Nursing and visiting the sick is sunnah in case of general sickness and disease without grave anxiety for life (Gazzali’s Ihya). The great Prophet himself discharged this important duty without making any distinction between high and low, servant and master, rich and poor, Muslim and non-Muslim.

In nursing the sick, some rules are to be observed. Patient should be allowed to rest. Noise should not be made, neither prolonged conversation should be made with him or in his presence. The person visiting the sick should have a short sitting. Diet which is conducive to the health of the sick person and which he desires to have should be given to him.

Those who visit the sick have been advised by the Holy Prophet to pray for the health and recovery of their sick brother. Since the sickman is in good grace of Allah and his prayer is accepted, they should request him to pray for their welfare in turn.

Islam has given some concessions to the sick persons from the performance of religious obligations. A sick person can defer fasting and if he suffers from a permanent illness and has no chances of recovery, he can give ransom for not fasting. If he feels some problem in performing ablution (Wadu) for prayer, he is permitted to perform dry ablution. If he is sick or has got some ailment in the head during Hajj and gets his head shaved off before sacrificing, he can expiate the irregularity by paying ransom. In case a person is suffering from some grave disease and is unable to stand for prayer, he can pray while sitting or lying in the bed. Menstruation is also considered by the Qur’an as illness. Thus, a menstruating woman is exempted from performing conjugal duties to her husband. She is also exempted from prayer and certain rituals of pilgrimage. She is permitted to postpone her fasting during menstruation. The sick and disabled have been exempted from participation in Jihad.

Now let us have a look on the relevant verses of Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet of Islam.

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off (evil); Fast a certain number of days; and for him who is sick among you, or on a journey, the same number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need.   ––2: 183

2.   Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Makkah) for Allah. And if ye are prevented, then send such gift as can be obtained with ease, and shave not your heads until the gifts have reached their destination. And whoever among you is sick or hath an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or almsgiving or offering.   ––2: 196

3.   O ye who believe when you rise up for prayer wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. And if ye are unclean, purify your selves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet or ye have had contact with women, and ye find no water then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces, and your hands with some of it.  
   ––5:6

4.   The Qur’an treats menstruation as illness and so exempts a menstruating woman from performing her conjugal obligations towards her husband. The Qur’an says: They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed.   ––2:222

5.   There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is their blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war).   ––48:17

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free captive.   (Mishkat-ul-Masabih)

2.   Ali reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: There is no Musim who visits a Muslim in sickness at morn except that seventy thousand angels pray for him till evening; and if he visits him in evening, except that seventy thousand angels pray for him till morning. He will have a garden of fruits in Paradise.   (Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

3.   Abu Sayeed reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When you go to sickman, remove his anxiety about his death; that cannot avert anything, but it will comfort his soul.  
   (Ibn Majah, Tirmizi)

4.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso visits the sick, a proclaimer proclaims from Heaven: May you be happy, may your walking be pleasant and may you be accommodated in a house of Paradise!   (Ibn Majah)

5.   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah visited a sickman and asked him: What do you desire? He replied: I desire a loaf of barley. The Holy Prophet said: Who has got a loaf of barley should send it to his brother. Then the Prophet said: When any sick man from amongst you desires anything, let it be given to him to eat.   (Ibn Majah)

6.   Umar-b-al-Khattab reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When you visit a sickman tell him to pray for you, and his prayer is like prayer of angels.   (Ibn Majah)

7.   Ibn Abbas reported: Short sitting and little noise when visiting an invalid is a part of sunnah.   (Razin)

8.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The Almighty Allah would ask on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam! I was sick and you did not visit me. He will reply: O my Lord! How could I have visited Thee when Thou are the Lord of all the worlds. He will say: Did you not know that such and such of My servants was sick, but you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would surely have found me with him?……   (Muslim)

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IX – Mutual Rights of Seniors and Juniors

Those people who are senior in age are expected, rather obliged, in an Islamic society to be kind and affectionate to those who are junior to them in age. As they have grown wiser by experience, they should guide the young and let the juniors profit from their experience. The seniors must guide their juniors not only by words but also by deeds. They should set in their dealings the examples of goods conduct for the juniors to emulate. The general duty assigned by Islam to every Muslim about bidding good and forbidding wrong should be particularly discharged by the senior in respect of juniors.

Those who are junior in age should give honour and respect to their elders and seniors. It is said those who show honour to the elders would get honour in their old age. According to another saying, to honour an old man is to honour experience; to honour a Muslim is to honour Islam; to honour a Hafiz (person who memorizes the Qur’an by heart) is to honor the Qur’an and to honour a just king is to honour justice. Honour and respect to the elders can be shown by saluting them when you meet them, standing in their honour when they come near you and by obeying them when they bid you. You should also learn from their experience.

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which enjoin upon the seniors and Juniors their mutual rights and duties are:

1.   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He is not of us who is not kind to our juniors, and shows no respect to our elders, nor bids what is good and forbids what is wrong.  
   (Tirmizi (Rare))

2.   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: If a young man shows honour to an old man on account of his age, Allah will create for him at his old age someone who will show him honour.   (Tirmizi)

3.   Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Of the glorifications of Allah, certainly it is the honour shown to an old Muslim, the bearer of the Quran (by heart) without treachery therein and keeping aloof from it; and the honour shown to a just king.   (Abu Daud)

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X – Rights of One Man Over Other

In an Islamic society one human being owes certain duties to and enjoys corresponding rights over another human being irrespective of ties of blood, friendship, religion race, colour or nationality. Such duties owed by a Muslim to humanity in general which, no doubt, come after a Muslim’s duties towards God, towards parents and relatives and towards Muslim brotherhood, are very important and binding. These duties alongwith their corresponding rights spring from the fact that all human being belong to the same human specie and they come from the common parents Adam and Eve. This fact has been emphasized by the Qur’an in many of its verses. At one place the Qur’an says: “O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women.” …… (4: An-Nisa:1). At another place the Qur’an reiterates this fact: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you … (49: Al-Hujrat: 13). Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet of Islam, in his farewell address delivered during last pilgrimage, declared: “O people! Verily your Lord is one and your father is one. All of you belong to one ancestry of Adam and Adam was created out of clay. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for non-Arab over an Arab; nor for white over the black nor for the black over the white except in piety.”

The rights which one enjoys upon another man and the duties which one owes to his fellow being have been detailed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his following Ahadith:

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Jarir-b-Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah is not kind to one who is not kind to men.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

2.   Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: (As for) the kind, the Merciful is kind to them. Be kind to those who are in this world; then those who are in heaven will show kindness to you.   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

3.   Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: I have indeed seen a man loitering in Paradise in the matter of a tree which he cut from the middle of a road, which was giving trouble to men.   (Muslim)

4.   Jaber reported: A bier was passing, and the Messenger of Allah stood for it. We also got up with him and asked: O Messenger of Allah ! verily she is a jewess. He said: Death is surely terrible. So when you see a bier, stand up.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

5.   Abu Hurairah reported that it was questioned: O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate against the polytheists. He replied: I have been sent not to curse, but I have been raised up as mercy.  
   (Muslim)

6.   Abdullah and Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The creation is the family of Allah. So the dearest of the creation of Allah is he who is the best to His family.   (Baihaqi)

7.   Abu Omamah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: No servant loves a servant of Allah except that he honours his Glorious and Almighty Lord.   (Ahmad).

8.   Ali-b-Hasan reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The main part of wisdom after religion is love for men and doing good to everyone, pious or sinner.   (Darqutni)

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XI – Rights of Women

Discussion of rights of women in brief is being separately made here as many critics, especially the human rights activists, are blaming Islam these days for having conceded to women just inadequate rights. (For detailed reference, author’s book “Women’s Rights in Islam” can be consulted).

Women had practically no rights in the ancient and medieval civilization like that of Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, early Christians, Hindus, Chinese and Pagan Arabs. Before the advent of Islam, the women were treated no better than animals or chattels. In many countries of the world they were generally regarded as slaves or at the best as domestic servants whose chief duty was to serve the men and please them by satisfying their sexual appetite. Like a piece of property, a woman was a marketable commodity and subject of testamentary disposition. The philosophers of antiquity for quite some time remained engaged in interesting debates over issues like: Whether a women is a human being? Whether she possesses a human soul? etc. In the matters of marriage, divorce, ownership of property, inheritance, the women were given hardly any rights. Polygamy was common in almost all societies with no restrictions as to the number of wives a man could have at a time. Birth of a daughter was considered a bad omen and a matter of shame in a family particularly among the pagan Arabs who preferred to dispose her by burying her alive. Such was the miserable plight of women at the time of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Islam raised status of woman from that of chattel to human being. According to Islam, man and woman proceed from the same stock, they are the members of the same species and they are born of the same parents. The Qur’an says: “O Mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single soul, created of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women …”(4:1). God created Adam and from him created Eve and from this pair of human beings, He spread abroad a multitude of human beings. God has created everything in pairs (Al-Qur’an 51:49) and the man and woman form one pair among the creations of God. Man and woman are members of humankind and the Qur’an has invariably called them spouses of each other or helpmates and companions of each other. As human beings, man and woman are equal having the same human rights and obligations. Man and woman, when they are united, constitute a family. Man is the father and bread-winner of the family while woman is the mother and mistress of the house, managing the house and bringing up the children. Role of both is equally essential for the cause and advancement of humanity. Women’s role in the society and the household is that of a mother, wife, daughter and sister. We would discuss the rights conferred by Islam on a woman in these roles as under:

As a Mother: In the position of mother, a woman enjoys unique status of honor and respect in the Muslim society.

The first and foremost duty of human being is to worship Allah. Next to this is the duty of respect and obedience to one’s parents. The Qur’an says:

(i)   And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto him. (Show) kindness unto parents……  
   (4: 36)

(ii)   Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain to old age with thee, say not “fie” unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little……  
   (17: 23-24)

Thus the above mentioned verses of the Qur’an place duty to parents only next to one’s supreme duty towards God. Among parents, mother’s place in respect of obedience has been elevated much above that of father because mother shares the major portion of privation and suffering for the children. In the following verses the Qur’an especially mentions the services of a mother in the bearing and rearing of a child. The Qur’an says:

(i)   And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents-His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years-Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying.   (31:14)

(ii)   And we have commended unto man kindness towards parents. His mother beareth him with reluctance. And bringeth him forth with reluctance, and the bearing him and the weaning of him is thirty months….   (46:15)

Following traditions (Ahadith) of the Prophet of Islam highlight the status of a mother and exhort the believers to respect and be obedient to their mothers in order to earn high rewards from Almighty Allah:-

(i)   Mugirah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah made unlawful to you disobedience to mothers, burying alive of daughters, and refusing help. And he disliked for you frivolous gossips, frequent questions and squandering property.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

(ii)   Muawiyah-b-Ja’hemah reported that Ja’hemah came to the Messenger of Allah and said: I intend to join a battle and have come to you for consultation. He enquired: Have you got mother? Yes’ replied he, He said: Then keep near her, because Paradise is at her feet.   (Ahmad, Nisai, Baihaqi)

(iii)   Bahaj-b-Hakim reported from his father who from his grandfather who had reported: I asked: O Messenger of Allah! who is to be most obeyed? He said: Your mother. I asked: Who is next? He said: Your mother. I asked: Who is next? He said: Your mother. I asked: Who is next? He said: Your father; and then your nearer relations and then your near relations.   (Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

Mother is the focus of attintion for all the members of the family in a Muslim home and her opinions carry a lot of weight in all family matters. Apart from respect and esteem, a mother enjoys many legal rights. She is enttled to receive share in inheritance from her children and in case she does not possess any adequate means of livelihood her children are obliged by Islamic Shariah to provide her maintenance according to means.

As a Wife: Allah has created everything in pairs and man and woman form a pair. The Qur’an says: “And Allah has made for you mates of your own nature, and made for you out of them, sons and daughters…… ” (16:72) God has created relationship of love and affection between these two members of human pair and the Qur’an calls a wife as a tilth of her husband because husbands are blessed with children through them. At another place the Holy book of Islam emphases the close relationship between husband and wife by calling them garments of each other. It says: “Permitted to you on the night of fasts is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments……” (2: 187).

The Qur’an therefore enjoins upon the believers to accord good and kind treatment to their women. The relevant injunction is: “Treat them kindly, if you hate them it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it” (4: 19). The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said: Let no believing man hate a believing woman.; If he hates one trait of her character, he shall be pleased with another that is within her”. (Muslim). According to another tradition reported by Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith is he who is the best of them in conduct, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives”-(Tirmizi). A virtuous wife is a great blessing and a favour of God, and the Prophet of Islam has said: “Next to fear of Allah the believer finds nothing good for him than virtuous wife. If he bids her, she obeys him; if he looks at her she gives him pleasure; if he gives her a promise, she fulfills it, and if he is absent from her, she guards herself and his property – (Ibn Majah).

The woman enjoys many rights in Islam. The Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, says: “And woman shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable……” (2: 228). Her rights as a wife regarding marriage, dower, divorce, inheritance, maintenance, etc. have been guaranteed by Islam. These rights are briefly stated as follows:

1.     Marriage, according to Islamic law, is contract between husband and wife and wife is an equal partner in this contract. No marriage can be contracted without free will and consent of the bride. She can have her conditions and terms settled in the contract of marriage and the husband would be legally bound to honour and fulfill the stipulated terms of the agreement.

2.     She has got absolute rights to get dower (Mahr) from her husband. Dower is a bridal gift which may be in cash or in kind. No maximum or minimum limit has been prescribed in respect of quantum of dower. However it is an essential part of marriage contract and is payable compulsorily by the husband to his wife.

3.     A wife has got certain legal protections in respect of capricious and arbitrary use of her husband’s power of divorce. In some unavoidable situations, she is entitled to get divorce through the court on some legal grounds. She can get khula (a kind of divorce) by surrendering a part or whole of her dower (Mahr) to her husband. She can exercise power of divorce herself if the same has been conceded to her in the contract of marriage.

4.     A wife is one of the legal heirs of her husband and after the death of the latter she is entitled to inheritance in the estate of the deceased. The Qur’an says: “……And unto them belongeth the fourth of that which ye leave if you have no child, but if ye have a child then the eighth of that which ye leave ……”   (4: 12)

5.      A wife is entitled to get maintenance from her husband such as food, clothing and residential place, besides love and good treatment. Following Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam stress the rights of women regarding food, clothing and human treatment:

(i)   Hakim-b-Muawiyah from his father reported: I asked: O Messenger of Allah! what right has the wife on one among us got over him? He said it is that you shall give her food when you have taken your food, that you shall clothe her when you have clothed yourself, that you shall not slap her on the face, nor revile (her), nor leave(her) alone except within the house.  
   (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)

(ii)   Jaber-b-Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with trust of Allah and made their private parts lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them that they entertain nobody to your beds which you dislike. If they do this, give them a beating without causing injury. They have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to means.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

(iii)   In his famous Farewell Address, delivered at Arafat on the occasion of last pilgrimage in 10 A.H., the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared: “Well then, people! Verily there are rights in favour of your women which are incumbent upon you, and there are rights in favour of you which are incumbent upon them. As to what is incumbent upon them in your regard, is that they should not let your beds be trampled by others than you, should not allow those to enter your houses whom you do not like without your authorization, and should not commit turpitude. If they do commit that, then God has given you permission to reprimand them, to separate yourself from them in beds, and to strike them but not hard. If they abstain and obey you, then it is incumbent upon you to provide their food and dress in accordance with good custom. And I command you to treat women well, because they are like captives in your houses, possessing nothing for themselves, and you, on your part, take them as a deposit from God, and permit yourselves the enjoyment of their persons by means of a word of God. Have therefore the fear of God with regard to women, and I order you to treat them well. Attention! Have I communicated? O God, be witness!”  
   (Ibn Hasham quoted by Dr. Hamidullah)

As a Daughter: The Qur’an, in the verses 58 and 59 of its chapter 16, draws a very vivid picture of the pagan Arabs on the birth of a daughter. It reads: “When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on!-“ (16: 58-59). As the practice of killing female children and burying them alive is evil and very much inhuman, the Qur’an not only condemned it but also abolished it. The Qur’an says: “Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you: Verily the killing of them is a great sin-“ (17:31). Slaying of daughter is such a heinous crime that on the day of Judgment, Almighty God will not like even to talk to a murderer of female children. Evidence of the girl-child who was buried alive would be sufficient for punishing the killer.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) raised the status of daughters by promising high reward for those in the Hereafter who accord kind treatment to them, and also by setting good example of his own good treatment with his daughters. Following Ahadith of the Prophet (PBUH) are quoted on the subject of treatment of daughters.

(i)   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers.   (Muslim)

(ii)   Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet said: If one brings up three daughters or sisters, teaches them good manners and treats them kindly and lovingly till they no longer need his help, Allah will make Paradise obligatory for him. One man said: that if he has two? He replied: And he also. Ibn Abbas said that if the people had enquired about one, the Prophet would have said the same thing.   (Sharai Sunnah)

(iii)   Ayesha reported: A woman came to me, while there were two of her daughters with her. She was begging of me, but found nothing from me except one date which I gave her. She divided it between her two daughters and she herself did take nothing out of it. Then she got up and went away. The Holy Prophet came and I informed him (of it). He said: Whoever suffers for any thing on account of these daughters and (still) treats them with kindness, they will be a shield for him from Hell.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

(iv)   Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: If anybody has got a female child, and he does neither bury her alive, nor treats her unjustly, nor prefers his children (meaning male children) to her, Allah will admit him in Paradise.   (Abu Daud)

(v)   Soraqa-b-Mailk reported that the Holy Prophet said: Shall I not teach you the best form of charity? – (Maintaining) your daughter who has been returned to you, who has got no earning member except you.   (Ibn Majah)

(vi)   Ayesha reported: I have seen none more resembling in manners, guidance and conduct. (in another narration-in talk and speech) of the Holy Prophet than Fatimah. Whenever she came to him, he used to stand up for her and then take her by the hand, kissed her and would make her sit in his seat.  
   (Abu Daud)

The daughters are entitled to share in the estate left by their deceased father or mother alongwith other legal heirs. The Qur’an commands: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half-(4:11)

As a Sister: Islam assigns an honourable status to a women in her position as a sister. She is entitled to as good a treatment from her parents as her brothers. According to an authentic tradition reported in Abu Daud, the Prophet of Islam has exhorted his followers not to discriminate between their male and female children and give the children equal treatment in love and material things as far as possible. In case of death of parents or the disability or old age of parents, the responsibility of bringing up sisters and providing for their living devolves upon their brothers. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has urged his followers to bring up their sisters, teach them good manners and accord them kind treatment. Following tradition throws light on this fact:

Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet said: If one brings up three daughters or sisters, teaches them good manners and treats them kindly and lovingly till they no longer need his help, Allah will make Paradise obligancy for him. One man said: What if he has two?; He replied: And he also. Ibn Abbas said that if the people enquired about one, the Prophet would have said the same thing.   (Sharai Sunnah)

According to the Qur’an, the sister is entitled to receive share in inheritance. If the deceased (man or woman) leaves no parents and no child and has a brother or a sister on mother’s side (uterine), the sister and brother would get on sixth each. And if they are more than two, they would share in one-third.   (4:12)

If a man dies childless and is not survived by parents, but leaves behind full or consanguine sister, she would be entitled to one-half of the estate and in case of two or more such sisters, they would share equally in two-third of the estate. But if there are brothers and sisters both, the share of two females would be equal to that of one male.   (4: 176)

Marriage with a sister has been prohibited by the Qur’an (4: 23). Thus the evil custom of marriages of brothers with sisters prevailing in many old civilizations was abolished by Islam.

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XII – Rights of Non – Muslims

Islam has abolished all distinctions and discriminations based on race, colour, nationality, language or caste. It brings all people together on a purely human basis and at the same time grants them full freedom to practice the religion of their choice. The Qur’an says: “There is no compulsion in religion……”(2: 256). It commands the Prophet of Islam to tell the non-believers: “unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” (109:6). The Prophet (PBUH) gave absolute religious freedom to the Jews of Madinah and Christians of Najran. He always enjoined upon his followers to protect the non-Muslims and strictly observe the rights granted to them by Islam. The tolerance shown by the Muslims and liberal and benevolent treatment given by them to the non-Muslims forms a glorious chapter in the annals of man.

Before elaborating the rights of the non-Muslims in the Islamic state, let us have a glance over the relevant Verses of the Qur’an, Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam and some documents of Islamic history.

Verses of the Holy Qur’an:

1.   There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is, henceforth, distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm hand-hold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.   ––2: 256

2.   “… The food of those who have received the scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of those who received the scripture before you (lawful for you)…”   ––5:5

3.   Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein …   (15:47)

4.   Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way.   (16: 125)

5.   And argue not with the people of the scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better.   ––29: 46

6.   Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them – (all) such are wrong-doers.   ––60: 8-9

7.   Say: O disbelievers!
I worship not that which ye worship;
Nor worship ye that which I worship.
And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Unto you your religion and unto me my religion   ––109: 1-6

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   “If you fight against a people and overpower them, and they agree to pay a fixed indemnity or annual revenue (Kharaj) to you in order to save their lives and those of their progenies, then do not take a penny more than the fixed amount, because that will not be valid.”   (Abu Daud)

2.   “Beware! Whosoever is cruel and hard on such people i.e., (“contractees”) or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can endure, or realizes anything from them against their free - will, I shall myself be a complainant against him on the Day of Judgement.”   (Abu Daud)

3.   “Observe scrupulously the protection accorded by me to non-Muslim subject” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have remarked on his death - bed.  
   (Al-Mawardi quoted by Dr. Hamidullah)

The documents and treaties:

1.   Soon after his migration from Makah to Madinah in the year 1. A. H. (622 – A.D.), the Prophet of Islam issued a document which is known in history as the Charter of Madinah. The portion of this charter concerning the Jews of Madinah reads as under:

“Whoever among the jews follows us shall have help and equality; they shall not be injured nor shall any enemy be aided against them. The Jews maintained their religion and the Muslims their’s. Among the Jews (belonging to different tribes), so with their adherents: those who transgress ad behave unjustly and sinfully hurt but themselves and their families. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The close friends of jews are as themselves. Each, if attacked, shall come to the help of the other. The valley of Yathrib (Madinah) shall be sacred and inviolable for all who join this Treaty. Strangers under protection shall be treated on the same grounds as their protectors.”

2.   Relevant portion of Prophet’s letter to the Christians of Najran which spells their rights in detail is as under:-

“To (the Christians of) Najran and the neighboring territories, the Security of Allah and the Pledge of His Prophet are extended for their lives, their religion and their property … to those present as well as the absent ones and others besides: there shall be no interference with (the practice of) their faith or their observances, nor any change in their rights or privileges; no bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any monk from his priesthood, and they shall continue to enjoy everything great and small as heretofore; no image or cross shall be destroyed; they shall not be oppressed or suppressed: they shall not practise the rights of blood – vengeance as in the Days of Ignorance; no tithes shall be levied on them nor shall they be required to furnish provisions for the troops, nor shall troops be quartered on them.”

Rights granted:

Briefly speaking, the following rights were granted and guaranteed to the non-Muslims by Islam and the early Islamic state which should be honoured by the Modern Islamic state also:

1.     The lives, person, honour and properties of the non-Muslims are protected by the Islamic state in the similar manner in which the same are protected in case of the Muslims.

2.     The non-Muslims have complete freedom of religion and worship and to maintain their places of worship. They are also free to impart religious educations to their children.

3.     The non-Muslims have complete freedom to enjoy and maintain their culture, language, custom, mode of life, dress, etc.

4.     They enjoy judicial autonomy and have their mutual and personal matters settled through their personal and religious law.

5.     All the treaties and agreements made by the Islamic state with them are fully honoured.

6.     The poor and destitute among the non-Muslims are entitled to financial assistance from the state exchequer like the poor Muslims.

7.     The non-Muslims are given benevolent and kind treatment and the Muslims can establish intimate social relations with them. The Muslims are allowed to marry the virtuous women of the people of the scripture; whereas food of the Muslims is permitted (Halal) for them and their food is permitted (Halal) for the Muslims.

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XIII – Rights of Slaves or Servants

Islam abolishes all distinctions and discrimination based on colour, race, caste, place of birth, blood, wealth, etc. and establishes bondage of brotherhood, fraternity, equality among all human beings.

Common descent of the human beings was emphasized by the Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, which declared; ye (proceed) one from another……” (4:25) Common parentage of humankind was mentioned by the Qur’an when it said: “O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from the twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women……” (4:1). The Prophet of Islam, in his famous Sermon delivered during the Farewell pilgrimage announced: “You are all children of Adam and Adam was created from dust……” Islam treats all the human beings as equal since they have common parents and they come from the same human stock. There is no distinction between Arab and non-Arab, between white and black, between master and slave, and between rich and poor in Islam. Thus there is no superiority for master over the slave merely because of his being master. If a slave is more pious and virtuous than his master, he is superior in the sight of Allah.

The Qur’an enjoins upon the believers to show kindness to the slaves. The Prophet (PBUH) has given instructions to his followers that they should treat the slaves like their own children and should give them food out of what they eat. The Muslims should consider the slaves like brothers. The slaves must be provided food, clothes and residential place. They should not be entrusted with a work which they are unable to do. If the assignment is difficult, the master should assist the slave. The Prophet declared that the worst of the men is he who beats his slave and does not help him in performing a difficult task. If a slave makes mistakes, he should be pardoned as many as seventy times a day. In case he disobeys, he may be sold but no punishment should be inflicted on him. False allegations should not be made against an innocent slave. One who treats a slave badly will not enter paradise. The families of the slaves should not be separated from them.

Let us now reproduce the relevant verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of the Prophet to highlight Islamic view on this subject:

Verses of Qur’an:

1.   And serve Allah and ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbour who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbout who is not of kin, and the fellow – traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess.   ––4: An-Nisa: 36

2.   It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood – money to the family of the slain ……   ––4: An-Nisa: 92

3.   The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, wise.   ––9: At-Taubah: 60

4.   And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid-servants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them of His bounty. All is of ample means, Aware.  
   ––24: An-Nur: 32

5.   ……And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you……   ––24: An-Nur: 33

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

1.   Abdullah-b-Umar reported that a man came to the Holy Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! how many times shall we pardon a servant? He remained silent. Then he asked the question to him again, but he remained silent. Then it was asked for the third time, he replied: Pardon him 70 time every day.   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

2.   Abu Zarr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Your brethren-Allah has placed them under your hands; whosoever’s brother Allah has placed under his hand, let him feed him out of what he himself eats, let him clothe him out of what he clothes himself with; and let him not be entrusted with a work which will overcome him. If he entrusts him with what will overcome him, let him assist him therein.  
   (Bukhari and Muslim)

3.   Rafe-b-Makis reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Good treatment with persons under your control brings fortunes, and bad treatment with them misfortunes.   (Abu Daud)

4.   Abu Hurairah reported that the Holy Prophet said: Shall I not inform you of the worst of you! – One who eats alone, scourges his servent and refuses him help.   (Razin)

5.   Abu Hurairah reported that the messenger of Allah said: A slave shall get his food and clothing and shall not be troubled with work but what he is capable of.   (Muslim)

6.   Abu Bakr Siddiq reported that the messenger of Allah said: One who treats badly with those under authority shall not enter Paradise. They enquired: O Messenger of Allah! have you not informed us that this people will certainly be the foremost of the peoples in respect of slaves and orphans? ‘Yes,’ replied he, ‘so honour them as you honour your children, and give them food out of what you yourselves eat……   (Ibn Majah)

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