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Social Responsibility

Thus we are faced with social responsibility. Everyone has obligations to his own family, and we also have them towards society. Individual responsibility here become clear, since the commanding presence of God Alone makes each one of us acutely aware of  his duty throughout the world. The welfare tax redistributes wealth among the poor and needy so that society can function in a just manner . Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an orphan, and so he knew from his childhood how necessary some form of public charity was, and is. Parenthood is a serious obligation and must be assumed in a responsible manner too. Good manners in both private and public are likewise considered to be important. However no duty is overwhelming: ‘God only assigns a soul something it can cope with; it is credited with whatever it has earned, while it is debited with whatever it has brought upon itself.’(al-Qur’an, 2: 286). What one might call our Major Commandments or our responsibilities are well set forth:

SAY: ‘Come close, I will list what your Lord has forbidden you:

  1. Do not associate anything with Him:
  2. And (show) kindness towards both (your) parents.
  • Do not kill your children because of poverty; We shall provide for you as well as for them.
  1. Do not indulge in shocking acts which you may practice openly or keep secret.
  2. Do not kill any person whom God has forbidden expect through (due process of ) law. He has instructed you with this so that you may use your reason.
  3. Do not approach an orphan’s estate before he comes of age except to improve it.
  • Give full measure and weight in all fairness. We do not assign any person to do more than he can cope with.
  • Whenever you speak, be just even though it concerns a close relative.
  1. Fulfill God’s agreement. Thus has He instructed you so that you may bear it in mind.
  2. This is My Straight Road, so follow it and do not follow paths which will separate you from His path. Thus has He instructed you so that you may heed. (al-Qur’an, 6: 151-153)

Economic life must likewise be taken care of in an ethical fashion, especially matters like usury or taking interest, which has always led to abuse. The law and the state must thus be able to function on a basis of justice for everyone.

The ancient nation of  Thamud was warned that even a thirsty camel has its drinking rights (al-Qur’an, 54: 23-30).  Each nation is responsible for what it does (al-Qur’an, 2: 134); the matter of collective responsibility is stated in the verse: ‘God is one to alert any favour He granted any folk until they alter what they themselves have.’ (al-Qur’an, 8: 53 & 13: 11). The principle of collective defence has been bewildering to those people who have attacked an Islamic community: Islam does not preach the idealistic doctrine of the Other Cheek, but instead prefers self-defence tempered with compassion and an attempt at reconciliation, as we learn in the following passage:

Who is finer in speech than someone who appeals to God, acts honourably and says: ‘I am a Muslim.’?

A good deed and an evil deed are not alike: repay (evil) with something that is finer, and notice how someone who is sparated from you by enmity will become a bosom friend!

Yet only those who discipline themselves will attain it; only the very luckiest will achieve it!

Nevertheless if  some impulse from satan should prompt you, seek refuge with God: He is the Alert, Aware! (al-Qur’an, 41: 33-36).

On an individual level, responsible action is encouraged: positive behavior is preferred over negative or destructive conduct; we are promised: ‘Anyone who comes fine deed will have ten more like it, while anyone who comes with evil deed will only be rewarded with its like; they will not be harmed.’ (al-Qur’an, 6:161). Thus we are encouraged to be constructive in our conduct; with women, children and especially orphans, and with the poor and feebleminded, and the wayfarer, all of whom need care and compassion. The hospitality of  Muslim countries has become proverbial: ‘They offer food to the needy, the orphan and the captive out of love for Him: “ We are only feeding you for God’s sake. We want no reward from you nor any thanks.”  ’( al-Qur’an, 76: 8-9).

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