Answered by Shaykh Ashraf Ali al-Thanawi
All praise is due to Allah, who honoured us in His Book with these words;
“Verily Allah commands you to fulfill trust (rights) to its recipients and when you judge between people then judge with justice'Al- Qur'aan
and salutations (Salaat) and peace (Salaam) be upon His Messenger, our leader Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), who made us aware with his words;
“Whoever has oppressed his brother should repay ft before the Day of Qiyaamah) even if it be a Dinaar or Dirham (rand or cent)[Hadith]”
and upon his family and companions who fulfilled what they were commanded by Allah and upon the Ulama of his Ummah.
It is apparent that we as believers have been ordained to fulfill certain rights. Some of these rights of Islam pertain to Allah Ta'ala and some to His servants. As concerns the rights of the servants of Allah, some are Deeni (religious) while others are Dunyawi (worldly) obligations. The worldly rights include that of close relatives, neighbours, colleagues, friends, Elders, the young and of all Muslims in general. It has become predominant that due to lack of knowledge we blatantly disregard these rights, or that we are neglectful in fulfilling these rights. For this reason it was envisaged that a concise booklet should be written in which these rights are discussed. It is hoped that this will lnsha-Allah be beneficial to all of us. This book has been divided into several sub-divisions, each of which deals with a particular topic under discussion.
Rights Of Allah
The first right upon a servant is that due to Allah Ta'ala, Who has blessed us with innumerable bounties and favours and Who takes us out of misguidedness towards Guidance and has promised us enormous reward for our actions.
The rights of Allah Ta'ala, called `Huququllah' are:
Our beliefs regarding the Being and Qualifies of Allah Ta'ala should be in accordance with the Qur'aan and Hadith.
That we should make our beliefs, actions, business transactions, social life and character in accordance to the Pleasure of Allah Ta'ala, and abstain from all those things which lead to His displeasure.
That you give preference to the Pleasure and Love of Allah Ta'ala over all other loves and pleasures of life.
Whatever you have, be it love or enmity for anyone, having good relations or breaking-off of ties, should only be for the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala.
Rights of Ambiyaa and Malaaikah
We have been informed of the `Being' and Qualities of Allah Ta'ala, and what leads to His pleasure and displeasure through means of the Ambiyaa (Prophets), and they through wahi (revelation) conveyed by the Angels. Thus there are certain rights due to them for this favour upon us.
For all that they showed us is, for our Deeni and worldly benefit and to safeguard us from harmful things in both the worlds.
Many angels are appointed to tasks that are
of benefit to us (such as bringing rain) and they fulfill these tasks by the
Command of Allah Ta'ala. Thus the rights due to the Ambiyaa (Alaihimus Salaam)
and the Malaa'ikah are in part, of the rights of Allah Ta'ala.
In particular the favours of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam upon us are the most, thus the rights due to him are also the most.
The rights due to him are:
The rights of the angels are:
To save yourself from all things which displease the angels such as: To keep pictures, to be lax in purifying yourself from janaabat (impurities) and to unnecessarily become involved in Makrooh (disliked) things.
Rights of Sahaaba and Ahle Bayt
The Sahaba Kiraam (Radiallahu Anhum) and the Ahl-eBayt (family of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) have Deeni and worldly attachment directly with Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Therefore fulfilling their rights is also part of fulfilling Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam's rights.
The rights due to them are:
Rights of Ulama and Mashaaikh
The Ulama of the external and internal aspects of Deen are the inheritors and successors of Sayyiduna Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam; therefore their rights are also part of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam's rights.
Their rights are:
Rights of Parents
All the above-mentioned categories of people are the means of our receiving Deeni bounties and favours, therefore their rights were made compulsory on us. On the other hand there are others who are the means of worldly favours and benefit. Their rights have also been commanded by Shari' at.
Foremost amongst them are our parents. They are the means of our being born and living and also our upbringing when we were young (and unable to do anything for ourselves.) Therefore their rights are incumbent upon us.
The rights of parents are:
Rights of Grandparents
The rights of your grandparents according to Shariat are exactly the same as those of your parents, (whether they be living or have passed away). Therefore as you fulfill your parent's rights so too must you regard your grandparent's rights.
Similar is the case that your mother's brothers and sisters are like your mother; and your father's brothers and sisters are like your father in regard to their rights.
Therefore fulfill the rights of these close family ties, as that of your parents, as they are Islamically also your Mahram.
Rights of children
As parents have rights on their children, so to do children have rights on their parents. Your children's rights are:
Rights of a wet nurse
A wet-nurse by virtue of breast-feeding you, is similar to your mother. She too has been accorded rights. Her rights are:
Rights of a stepmother
Due to the fact that your stepmother is married to and has a bond with your father, and we have been commanded to have good relations with our parent's friends, therefore the stepmother also has rights: These rights are those mentioned(previously-Rights of a wet nurse)[ Similarly is the case of a stepfather.]
It has been mentioned in the Hadith that the big brother is similar to the father. Thus, it therefore necessitates that the younger brother is like your children in respect of their rights over you. Therefore, as regards your elder and younger brothers, they have the same rights as that of your parents and of your children respectively. Regard the rights of sisters upon the same principle.
Rights of your family and relatives
In the same manner your close relatives and family also have rights over you. Which concisely mentioned are:
Rights of your Ustaadh and Sheikh
As your Ustaadh and Sheikh are with regard to your internal (character) up bringing, like your father, therefore treat them, their family and relatives as you would treat your father, your immediate family and relatives. From this we understand the need for honouring and respecting our Elders, Sheikhs and teachers. From here a very important point emerges. The students or mureeds are in the category of children of the Sheikh or Ustaadh respectively, their rights with each other are similar to those of brothers and sisters.
Rights of a student or mureed
Since mureeds and students
are like the Sheikh's or Ustaadh's own children, therefore as regards their
spiritual up bringing, compassion and kindness, their rights are like those of
his own children.
Rights of Spouses
To fulfill the rights of the husband and wife respectively, are very important for a happy and fulfilling marriage.
The rights upon a husband are:
The rights upon a wife are:
Rights of an Employer and his Employee
The term "master" here includes 'a king, ruler, his deputy, an employer, etc.' and an "underling" includes 'a subject, servant, employee, etc.'
The rights upon a master are:
The rights on an underling are:
These rights are valid for as long as a person is under the rule or employment of a person. Otherwise he has his own free will.
Rights of the in-laws
In the Qur'aan Majeed Allah Ta'ala has also mentioned the `in-laws' to be amongst your relatives and this type of family relations to be a Ne'mat and bounty from Allah Ta'ala.
From this it becomes apparent that as concerns your father and mother-in-law, brothers and sisters-in-law as well as children from your spouse's previous marriage, have a certain degree of rights.
Therefore as regards them you should take particular care of being kind, good-natured and helpful to them. Also visit them sometimes.
Rights of All Muslims in general
Apart from your relatives and friends, all Muslims in general have certain rights over you. Allaamah Subhaani in `Targheeb wa Targheeb' has mentioned them on the authority of Hazrat Ali (Radiallahu Anhu) to be:
1. Forgive the fault of your Muslim brother
2. Have compassion during their grief and crying.
3. Hide their faults.
4. Accept their excuse.
5. Remove any trouble or difficulty, which has befallen them.
6. Always desire good for them.
7. Guard the love they have for you.
8. Be mindful of their rights.
9. If they are sick then visit them.
10. If they pass away then attend their funeral (Janaaza).
11. Accept their invitation (Da'waat).
12. Accept the gifts they send to you.
13. Return the good they do to you.
14. Be grateful to them for their favours to you.
15. When the occasion arises, assist them.
16. Protect and look after their household and families.
17. Assist them in their need.
18. Listen to their requests.
19. Accept their intercession on behalf of others.
20. Do not make them despair from achieving their aims.
21. When they sneeze and say `Alhamdulillah', then reply by saying 'Yarhamukallah'.
22. Return their lost goods to them.
23. Reply to their Salaam.
24. Speak to them with kindness and with soft and pleasant words.
25. Be kind and bountiful towards them.
26. If they take a pledge while relying on you, then fulfill their pledge.
27. If someone is oppressing them then assist them; and if they are oppressing someone else then stop them.
28. Have love for them and do not have enmity with them.
29. Do not degrade them.
30. Whatever you desire for yourself, desire the same for them.
In other Hadiths this too has been added:
31. At the time when meeting them then make Salaam; and if you shake their hands then that will be better.
32. If coincidently you become angry with someone, then do not stop speaking to him for more than three days.
33. Do not be suspicious or doubt him.
34. Do not be jealous or have enmity and hatred towards him.
35. As far as possible command good and forbid him from evil.
36. Be kind to the young and respect the Elderly.
37. If two Muslims fight then create a truce between them.
38. Do not backbite about him.
39. Do not cause him any harm, neither in his honour nor in his wealth.
40. If he cannot mount his conveyance then give him support and assist him.
41. Do not make him stand up from his place for you to sit down on it.
42. Two people should not speak amongst themselves while leaving a third person out.
An important point to note is that previously all the rights mentioned were for special groups of people. Their rights are over and above and also include the above-mentioned rights.
Rights of Neighbours Companions and Colleagues
Certain groups of people, who have specific relations with you (viz. neighbours, colleagues and companions), enjoy additional rights to those of the general Muslim populace.
Their rights include:
The Ulama have said that just as you have colleagues and neighbours when at home, so too when on travel. That is, you have travel-companions, and they are those people who travel with you when you leave home or those who coincidently join you while travelling.
This too has been mentioned in the Hadith. Their rights too are like those of your neighbours, companions and colleagues at home.
The result of all these rights is this: - that give preference to their ease over your ease. Some people inconvenience many others when travelling on some form of public transport, like a bus, train, plane, etc. This is a very bad habit.
Rights of the Orphans and the Weak
In the same manner those people who are disadvantaged, like orphans, widows, the weak, the destitute, the needy, the sick, the traveller and the beggar, also have some additional rights. They are:
Rights of guests
The guest also has certain rights and they are:
So much is their necessary right and your duty, thereafter for as long as they stay it is a favour of their host upon them. But it is more appropriate for the guest that he should not inconvenience the host, neither by staying for too long, nor by unnecessarily requesting things, nor by interfering in the choice of food, place, manner of serving, etc of the host.
Rights of friends
The Quran Kareem has mentioned that the 'specialties', which exist in, close family ties, as being the same found in friendship.
These are the etiquettes and rights of friends:
An important and noteworthy aspect is that the custom of 'adopting' children, wherein they are regarded in all aspects like your own children, which has become prevalent has no real basis in Shariat. The Islamic legal status of adopted children is no more than that of 'sincere friendship', and it will fall in that category. As for the rest legally speaking, like in inheritance, etc., they do not receive any share. For inheritance is a Shariat command in which man has no say, it is not voluntary, that for whoever you wish you give inheritance and for whoever you wish you disinherit him.
THE LAW PERTAINING TO DISINHERITANCE From this it becomes quite clear that this custom which has become prevalent of disinheriting; that a person says that so and so (of his children or Islamically legal heir) should not receive inheritance and then dies, is completely unlawful and null and void.
As has been explained above inheritance is a command of Shariat and thus obligatory, and not voluntary. [Do not involve yourself in punishment and torment for wealth that is no longer of any benefit to you after your death.]
Rights of our fellow Humans
As a great deal of rights have been ordained in Islam, due to a person being close to you or due to having the same religion, so too some rights are ordained due to us being from the same species. That is, due to being human it is necessary to be considerate of them, even though they may not be Muslims.
Their rights are:
Rights of Animals
Similarly due to being of the same class, some rights are also required. That is as far as the rights of animals are concerned, we should also consider them.
Thus far all the rights mentioned are those that are obligatory on a person from the very beginning. There are other rights which man, of his own choice, makes compulsory upon himself.
There are some, which pertain to `Huququllah' (the rights of Allah Ta'ala).
These are of three types: -
Type one: That right whose means is obedience (to Allah Ta'ala). It is to make a `Nazar'. [Nazar means that you promise that if some work of yours gets done, you will perform a certain Ibaadat or give a certain sum in charity, etc].
If it (i.e. what you promise to do) is from the 'Ibaadat Maksooda' (actual Ibaadat like Salaat, Sadaqah, etc) then to fulfill it is Farz and compulsory. If it is from `Ibaadat Ghair-Maksooda' (like you promise to feed a person) then to fulfill it is Mustahab. If it is on something, which is Mubah (permissible), then the nazar or promise will be regarded as nonsense. If it is on something that is Maasiyat (sinful), then it will be haraam; and to make a nazar on anything other than Allah Ta'ala, is shirk (ascribing partners to Allah Ta'ala).
Type two: Those things whose means are something permissible. Like the Kaffaarah (compensation) of an oath (yameen), or the Qazaa of Ramadhan for a traveller or sick person. These rights are compulsory (Waajib) to fulfill.
Type three: The reason for it is due to your having committed some disobedience or sin. Like the Kaffaarah (compensation) for a fast which you broke in Ramadhan without any valid Shari' reason. The commands of these rights are also compulsory (Waajib) to fulfill.
The second type of voluntary rights which a person places upon himself are those which pertain to 'Huqooqul-Ibaad' (the rights of men).
These too, as in the above case are of three types: -
Type one: those whose reason are obedience (to Allah Ta'ala). Like to fulfill a promise made with someone. It is necessary to fulfill this right. To be lax in this is mentioned to be a sign of hypocrisy.
Type two: These are those whose reason are due to it being permissible. Like giving a loan or similar transactions, accepting goods bought, to pay the Mahr, to pay a worker his salary, to return a trust placed in your care, etc.
All these things are Waajib and compulsory.
Type three: Those things whose reason is a sin or disobedience. Like killing someone, stealing something, to breach a trust, to dishonour or degrade someone, to be insulting, to swear at or to backbite someone, etc. To stop all these things and to seek forgiveness from the people concerned is Farz and obligatory. Otherwise in the Akhirat you will have to recompense them by giving them your good deeds, or you will have to undergo punishment for these transgressions.
Whatever rights are still left outstanding on you, if it is from amongst the "Huququllah", and if it is from `Ibaadat' then fulfill it. Like for example if you have certain Namaazes, or Rozas (fast) or Zakaat that has not been paid yet and it is outstanding, then work out how much is outstanding and fulfill it. If due to not having sufficient time or wealth at present you are unable to fulfill it (make Qazaa) immediately, then make a firm intention in your heart that when the opportunity avails and I have sufficient wealth, then I will not delay in fulfilling these duties and making my Qazaa.
If these rights outstanding are "Huququllah", but are due to 'disobedience and sin', i.e. you have not obeyed a command of Allah Ta'ala or been disobedient, then make sincere and true Taubah (repentance) - Insha-Allah everything will be forgiven.
On the other hand, if the rights outstanding belong to the category of "Huqooqul-Ibaad" (the rights of servants), and they are capable of being `recompensed or repaid', such as debts, or if you have not returned a trust, etc.; then repay it or return it immediately or have it forgiven by that person.
If the rights are "Huqooqul-Ibaad" but they are of such a nature that they can only be `forgiven', such as back-biting, etc. then ask the person or people concerned for Ma'aafi (forgiveness) and have it forgiven by them.
If due to some valid Shari' reason, you cannot ask the person directly to forgive you or cannot repay the right due to him, because of, for example him having passed away, etc. then you should always and regularly make dua for his forgiveness and that Allah Ta'ala have mercy on him and grant him a much better and greater recompense. It is not surprising or beyond Him, that Allah Ta'ala will satisfy him on the Day of Qiyamat and have it forgiven. (Note: An important point is that if the person concerned passed away and you owe something to him, such as a debt, it has to be paid to his estate and inheritors.)
Though, if you have the ability to repay it or seek forgiveness and make Istigfar for that person, then do so immediately. Do not delay or be lax in this.
Alternately if there are certain rights of yours, which are outstanding and the responsibility of other people, then those rights for which you have hope of it being repaid or returned, like your debtors, then ask for it politely from those people.
If you have no hope of recovering it from them, or if they are from the category of being `forgiven' only, like their having back-bitten about you, then even though you will be able to claim good deeds from them, but for you to forgive them completely will entail a greater reward for you and is more virtuous and significant.
Therefore it better if you forgive all of them completely, and especially when someone comes and asks you for ma'aafi and forgiveness.
(It is hoped from our Maula-e-Kareem that He too, will forgive us our shortcomings in respect of fulfilling the rights of others due on us.] May Allah Ta'ala give us all the Taufeeq of fulfilling all the rights due on us, whether they be Huququllah or Huqooqul-Ibaad. Ameen.)
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