By: Editorial Staff
The social system of Islam is distinguished with its fair and unbiased structure which resorts to its source, God, Who equally established its social rights and duties. Everyone in this system enjoys perfect rights and owes appropriate duties. Yet, this is common for all kinds of relationships in Islam, such as marriage which is the religious form for a sound relationship between man and woman. Almighty Allah says,
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (Ar-Rum 30:21)
This Qur’anic verse sets up the foundation of the Islamic social system whose bases are tranquility, affection and mercy between its members. These elements are true only when one observes the various components of that system as a whole which regulate the life of the Muslim community members.
The relationship of marriage, mentioned in the verse, is limited to these rights and duties. Islam laid down equal rights and duties for each one of the family towards the other without any prejudice or inequity. These rights and duties are considered as rules for directing the stream of family to the right way and maintaining its stability and solidity. However, the bases of the construction of the family in Islam remain mutual affection and mercy between its members that surpasses the mere explanation or exchange of different rights and duties with the other ones.
What is more important is not to let any of these rights oversteps the other, as balance is another mainstay of the social system. The below discussion took place between a heedful companion of the Prophet who understood the appropriate allocations of these rights, and another one who made a misunderstood these rights and gave preference to one of them over the other without a due necessity. The heedful one advised his friend not to misplace these because they should be fairly put into practice.
Abu Juhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda’. Salman paid a visit to Abu Ad-Darda’ and found Umm Darda’ (his wife) dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied: “Your brother Abu Ad-Darda’ is not interested in (the luxuries of) this world. In the meantime Abu Ad-Darda’ came in and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Ad-Darda’ to eat (with him) but Abu Ad-Darda’ said: “I am fasting (a voluntary fast).” Salman said: “I am not going to eat unless you eat.” So, Abu Ad-Darda’ ate (with Salman). When it was night and (a part of the night passed), Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (to offer the night prayer) but Salman asked him to sleep and Abu Ad-Darda’ slept. After some time Abu Ad-Darda’ again got up but Salman asked him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman asked him to get up and both of them offered (Tahajjud) prayer. Then, Salman told Abu Ad-Darda’: “You owe a duty to your Lord (God), you owe a duty to your body; you owe a duty to your family; so you should give to everyone his due right.” Abu Ad-Darda’ came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and reported the whole story. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Salman is right”. (Al- Bukhari)
This great hadith explains the importance of understanding the separations and interrelations between these rights as well as seriousness of misplacing or misrepresenting them. If this happens, it will cause disorder in the system which Allah (Glory be to Him) has determined. It is not permissible that one of these rights encroaches upon the other, even if it the right of God as in the case of Abu Ad-Darda’. This is applicable to the whole system of rights, specially the social system. It is not permissible to devour parents’ rights in favor of wife, husband or children rights or vice versa. The Prophet (peace be upon him) approved what Salman said and did saying, “Salman is true.”
Many are the bad outcomes that result from missing balance and understanding of the system of rights. We see fathers who favor the rights of their wives and children, and overlook the rights of their parents spending long times of neglect and desertion without asking about their parents. Also, you might see a wife who left out the rights of her husband in favor of her children which caused her husband to tire of and respond to the whispers of Satan and search for an illegal way for satisfying his needs. As much as meeting the Islamic social rights is extremely required, striking balance between them is also vehemently needed.
In a verse, Allah (Glory be to Him) makes that distinction between these rights, and commands a balance to be done between His rights upon man and the worldly rights of the man. He says,
But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” (Al-Qasas 28:77)
The verse orders not to let the right of God overstep other rights because this is a kind of unfairness which God does not commend. However, in another verse, Allah praises those who have been able to strike this balance between the rights of Allah and other rights. God says,
In houses (mosques), which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored), in them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings. Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from performing Prayer, nor from giving the Zakat. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be overturned (from the horror of the torment of the Day of Resurrection). That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace. And Allah provides without measure to whom He wills. (An-Nur 24:36-38)