To Serve, Allah's Help, Rights and Obligations

Issue 792 » May 30, 2014 - Shaban 1, 1435

Living The Quran

To Serve
Ya Sin (Ya Sin) Chapter 36: Verses 60, 61

"Children of Adam, did I not command you not to serve Satan? He is to you an open enemy. And serve Me alone, this is the Straight Way."

While explaining this verse in his al-Tafsir al-Kabir, Imam Razi points out that "do not serve Satan" means "do not obey Satan". It is not only forbidden to prostrate before him; it is equally forbidden to obey him. Hence, obedience to someone amounts to serving him. After making this point, Imam Razi asks: "If ibadah means obedience, then what is meant by the command 'to obey Allah, and His Messenger and those in authority among you'?" Does it mean that we are required to serve and worship the Messenger and those in authority among us? Imam Razi responds to this by saying that obedience to the Messenger and to those in authority among the Muslims amounts to serving and obeying God only if the order to obey is in accord with God's command. Obedience to them, however, will be reckoned as serving and worshipping them [rather than God] when people obey them in matters where obeying them has no sanction.

Imam Razi adds: "The angels prostrated before Adam at God's command, [and since it was in compliance with God's command], this was an act of worshipping none other than God. Imam Razi continues: "If someone were to come to you and ask you to carry out a command, consider whether this command conforms to God's command or not. If it does not conform to God's command, then his companion is Satan. In such a case, if one obeys him one is guilty of worshipping that person and his Satan. Likewise, if a person's self prompts him to do something he should consider whether God's Law permits that act or not. If that act is not permitted, then his self itself is Satan or Satan's companion. In case he follows the prompting of his own self, one is guilty of worshipping one's self."

Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, vol. IX, pp. 268, 269

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Allah's Help

"Allah is helping the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother." [Muslim]

If Allah is helping a person, is there anyone or anything that can repel Allah's help? Is there any greater help than the help that can come from Allah? How can one achieve that magnificent help? It is by turning to his brethren and helping them. As he helps his brothers, Allah will help him.

This hadith gives a picture of what the ideal Islamic society should be like. It is a society in which its members help and assist one another. The different members of society should be working together and helping one another for everything that is good and righteous. They should help each other fulfill their needs and they should assist each other to make life easier for all.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 1325, 1326


Rights and Obligations

The word haqq is often said to convey a basic meaning regardless of definitions. Haqq (right) in the Quran occurs in several places and carries a variety of meanings, which include justice, right as opposed to falsehood, a legal claim, an obligation, something that is proven and an assigned portion. The many meanings of haqq in the Quran may sometimes cause ambiguity, and even misunderstanding. For instance the shared meaning of haqq between a right and an obligation has persuaded Western Islamologists to draw the unwarranted conclusion that Islam recognizes only obligations but no right inhering in the individual. This is tantamount to turning a blind eye to the affirmative stance of the Quran and Sunnah on the rights of the individual, including his right to life, right to justice, right to equality, right of ownership, right to sustenance and support within the family, parental rights, right of inheritance and so forth.

Islam's commitment to justice and its advocacy of human dignity could not be sustained without the recognition of rights. However, Islam's perspective on rights and liberties is somewhat different from that of constitutional law and democracy and their underlying Western postulates. Islam, like other world religions, is primarily concerned with human relations. In ordinary life, people do not live primarily in terms of rights against others but in terms of mutual relationships involving love, compassion, self-preservation and self-sacrifice in pursuit of happiness and peace for themselves and their loved ones. The religious traditions teach people, with good reason, that such things are not a matter of course nor are they always a question of rights. This would partially explain why most religions tend to emphasize moral virtue, obligation, love and sacrifice even more than the individual's rights and claims.

Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 201, 202