Social Rights


In this chapter, rights of some categories of persons on a Muslim such as parents, children, relatives, orphans, neighbours, etc. are described in the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

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 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 Almighty 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 mother regarding the pains of pregnancy and her privations regarding rearing of the children; whereas the Prophet has declared that Paradise is near the feet of the mother.

Some of the verses of the Qur’an pertaining to the rights of the parents are given as under:

1)     They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend (in Allah’s way). Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer………(2:215)

2)     Worship Allah and join none with Him and be kind to the parents, and to near relatives, and to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbour………(4:36)

3)     And your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him and that you be kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain to old age with you, say not ‘uff’ (a word of disrespect) to them nor repel them, but speak to them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of humility in mercy and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they brought me up when I was a little child.   (17:23-24)

4)     And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents – His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness and it takes two years to wean him – Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is (your) final return.   (31:14)

5)     Please also refer to verses 4(11), 29(8), 46(15) of the Qur’an.

Following Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad throw light on the rights of the parents: -

1)     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)

2)     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))

3)     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)

4)     Asma’a-bint 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)

5)     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)

Rights of Children

            Just as obedience to parents have 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 spending their hard earned money on 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. The parents are recommended to perform aqiqah or birth ceremony, provided they can afford, by sacrificing a goat or goats. Immediately on birth, proclamation of Allah’s name should be made in their ears and honey or some sweet thing should be given to them for suckling. 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 to be taught how to perform their religious obligations like Prayer. Of all the gifts which the children receive 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.

            Spending money 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 of slave. According to Islamic law of inheritance, children are entitled to prescribed shares in the estate left by their deceased parents.

            Please refer to the following verses of the Qur’an:- 2(233), 4(11), 17(31). Some of the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad which highlight the rights of children are:

1)     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))

2)     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)

3)     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)

4)     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)

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, and who does not oppose him regarding herself and her riches. The Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam have especially enjoined upon the Muslims to treat their wives very kindly and nicely. 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.

            Husband and wife have mutual rights of inheritance. In case of death of the husband, wife is entitled to inherit one-fourth of his estate if the husband leaves no child. But in the case of children, the share of the wife would be one-eighth. On the other hand, when the wife dies leaving no child, the share of the husband would be equal to one-half of her estate; but if she leaves children, the share of the husband would be one-fourth.

            Briefly speaking, the rights of husband over wife include: that she should be obedient to her husband; that she should be faithful to her husband; that she should not refuse her husband to herself and her property; 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; 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 with a view to reform, and that he should give her agreed dower and provide her house, food, clothes, etc.

            Please refer to the following verses of the Qur’an: 2(187), 2(228), 4(4), 4(12), 4(34), 30(21). Kindly also keep in view the following Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which enlighten us about the rights of husband and wife over each other:-

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, she 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.      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)

3.      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)

4.      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)

Rights of Kinsmen

            Islam 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.

            The Qur’an stresses the rights of near relatives and kinsmen in following verses:

1)     They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend (in Allah’s way). Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and near kindred and orphans.   (2:215)

2)     And when the relatives and the orphans and the needy are present at the time of the division (of the heritage), bestow on them out of it and speak kindly unto them.   (4:8)

            Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined on his followers to honour the blood relations and accord them good treatment. He said:

1)     Abu Hurairah reported: 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, Muslim)

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

Rights of the Orphans

            According to the Traditions of Prophet of Islam, 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. 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 best home of the Muslims is one wherein there is an orphan who is treated well.

            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 charity and Allah would certainly 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 sin would go to Hell. Please refer to the following verses of the Qur’an: 2(215), 2(220), 4(2), 4(6), 4(8-10), 8(41), 17(34), 76(8).

Rights of Neighbours

            Islam attaches paramount importance to the rights of neighbour. The Qur’an enjoins upon the believers to show kindness to their neighbours (4:36). The duty to neighours is only next in importance to your duties towards parents and near kindred. According to traditions, duties towards neighbours include: That the neighbours should be accorded kind treatment; that they should be safe from one’s injuries caused by actions or words; that one should send presents and food to one’s neighbours however small it may be; that in case of sickness they should be looked after and every sort of help should be extended to them.

            Some jurists of Islam have held 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 conferred by Islam is an important right which was not known before in any part of the world.

            Following traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) bring in focus the rights of a neighbour:

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: Gabriel did not stop to advice me about neighbour till I thought that he would soon make him an heir.   (Bukhari, 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)     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; smpathise 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 Majah)

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 enjoins upon its followers to help their fellow-beings who are suffering from poverty, hunger and want and who are in need of food, drink, clothing and shelter.

            Al-Qur’an the holy scripture of Islam, exhorts Muslims to spend their wealth for the poor and the needy (2:215), and show kindness to them (4:36). According to the Qur’an (51:19 and 70:24-25), the beggars, the poor and the destitute have due share in the wealth of the well-to-do. The Qur’an has specified a share for the poor and the needy in the spoils of war (8:41) and in the fai income of the Islamic state (59:7). It praises those Muslims who feed with food the needy wretch, the orphans and the prisoner for love of Allah (76:8). According to the Qur’an, alms (Zakat and Sadaqat) are only for the poor and the needy ……… (9:60), and the Qur’an commands the believers to give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer……… (17:26).

            Ahadith (Traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about the rights of the poor are:

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.   (Tirmizi, 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)     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)

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

Rights of the Sick and Disabled

            Nursing and visiting the sick is compulsory (Fard) in cases when the sick man is about to die for want of care and attention. It is Fard Kefayah (Compulsory on the community as whole) in case of pressing need for 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 sick man is in good grace of Allah and his prayer is accepted, they should request him to pray for their welfare in turn.

            The Qur’an and Hadith have 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 revcovery, 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. 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 permittied to postpone her fasting during menstruation. The sick and disabled have been exempted from participation in Jihad.

            Kindly refer to following verses of the Qur’an: 2:183, 2:196, 2:222, 4:43, 5:6, 48:17



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