Obedience, Remembering the Dead, Personal Accountability

Issue 757 » September 27, 2013 - Dhul-Qida 21, 1434

Living The Quran

Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 32

"Say, 'Obey God and the Messenger.' If they turn their backs, God does not love the unbelievers."

In his commentary of the verse Imam Ibn Kathir says that his verse indicates that to disobey God's Messenger is to reject the faith. God does not love anyone who may be described as an unbeliever, even though he may claim to love God.

In his well-known biography of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim writes: "There are well documented reports of many a person from among the people who follow other religions or idolaters who have admitted that the Prophet was a messenger from God and that whatever he said was the truth, but they nevertheless did not become Muslims by that mere admission. When we consider this fact we are bound to conclude that to be a Muslim is much more than the mere knowledge or even the admission of the truthfulness of the Prophet's message; that knowledge and admission must be combined with conscious obedience of the Prophet and the implementation of his religion in every aspect of life."

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 2, p. 66

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Remembering the Dead

The Prophet, peace be upon him, has strongly recommended that the dead should be remembered only for their virtues and not for their failings. The seriousness of this type of insult is emphasised by the fact that the dead are unable to defend themselves against attacks on their personal integrity and good name. The Prophet has thus instructed the Muslims to 'mention only the virtues of your deceased ones and avoid talking about their misdeeds'. [Mishkat]

In yet another Hadith he directs the believers to 'avoid reviling the dead as, by doing so, you hurt the feelings of their living relatives'. [Mishkat]

To relate all this to the moral character of the believer, the Prophet has elsewhere declared that the avoidance of insulting others is indicative of the strength of one's character and faith. 'The believer is not abusive, nor is he a slanderer, nor does he curse.' [Mishkat]

Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 180, 181


Personal Accountability

One reason why taking responsibility and holding ourselvs accountable is challenging is that we live in an increasingly victimized society. To practice accountability is essentially a 180-degree turn from this basic, overwhelming cultural phenomenon of victimization. As the Russian proverb says, "Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan."

On the other hand, this is also a reason why taking responsibility is so powerful in building trust. While victimization creates dependency and distrust, accountability creates independence and trust. And the geometric effect is powerful. When people - particularly leaders - hold themselves accountable, it encourages others to do the same. When a leader says, "I could have done that better - and I should have!" it encourages others to respond, "Well, no, I was really the one who should have noticed that. I could have supported you more."

This is also true in a marriage or a family. When someone says, "I'm sorry I spent that money impulsively. That wasn't in harmony with our agreement," or "I shouldn't have yelled at you. That didn't show respect," or, on the other hand, "I committed to you that I'd be there, and I was," that acknowledgement of accountability encourages others to be accountable for their own behaviour. It also creates an environment of openness and trust.

Compiled From:
"The Speed of Trust" - Stephen M. R. Covey, p. 203