, by SYED AKBAR HASSAN
Last week, we had studied ayaat 23 and 24 of Surah Bani Israil in which social values in Islam are mentioned in the 3rd and 4th ruku – in the form of dos and donts. According to Abdullah Bin Abbas, these dos and donts are actually the Qur’ānic version of the Ten Commandments of the Torah. The 3rd ruku beginning with ayat 23 – as the first hukm (commandment) – was once again a reminder for us (and which is the basic lesson of our Deen) that we “should not worship anyone but Him”. So, the first and foremost principle is that Allah alone is the Master, Sovereign and Law-giver. These were the basic principles and foundation on which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) practically established the moral, cultural, and political systems and an ideal society in Madinah.
The second hukm is that our attitude towards our parents must be of great consideration. If one or both of them live with us in their old age we must not say even uff to them nor rebuke them. It is for this situation that the Qur’ān says in ayat 24 “…And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour”. We must speak kind words to them and treat them with humbleness and kindheartedness and should always pray: “Lord, be merciful to them just as they brought me up with kindness and affection.” Husne Sulook with our parents is the basic and most important social value in Islam rather we should say for the whole of humanity. Alhamdulillah, we living in India, Pakistan and in this subcontinent are very fortunate that husne sulook with parents do exists but see what is the situation in western countries. There they have the concept of old age houses where children put their parents when they get old. Only on Christmas, that, the parents wait and expect to meet their children and their family.
Now before proceeding to the next ahkam let us understand a practical problem in a family with regard to husne sulook. It may be the parents have become too old and their habits turned more like a child. They ask or demand which they should not otherwise. Now, the son who is looking after him also has a wife and she too has some rights. This gives rise to some conflict between the mother and the bahu (son’s wife). It happens in our part of the world - we find that some mothers have special attachment to daughters (may be because they are away after their marriage and no longer live with their mothers).
On the other hand their approach towards their bahu is a bit tricky as they somewhere in their heart feel that their son’s attention towards them is not like before and it has been divided among the love of his wife and children. This bias towards beti (daughters) and bahu (the wives of their sons) results in undue demands of mothers for their daughters with their sons. It becomes a cause of big social problem and dilemma – what to do and what not to do. If he gives attention to his parents, wife feels ignored and vice versa.
We are supposed to be just to all. We do have our duty towards our parents also and at the same time have to fulfil the rights of our wives as well. In such conditions, it may be so that we have to perforce refuse some of the wishes of our parents for which there may be guilt feeling in our mind and heart. For this very condition the ayat 25 of Surah Bani Israil says: “Your Lord best knows what is in your minds. If you live righteously, He surely forgives and turns towards all such people as are penitent and obedient.” This is the balance that we find in the Holy Qur’ān on getting closer to it.
Just imagine a person caught up in such a dilemma – where his mother wants something which entails injustice to his wife. So the above ayat says not to feel guilty as Allah knows what is there in our hearts. If within we are on the right path and pursuing justice and not being cruel to anybody – if we don’t mean disrespect to our parents – we must not become guilty conscious. Thus, Husne Sulook (respectful behaviour) and obedience to and performance of the rights of parents comprise the most important element of the material education and moral training in the Islamic society and civilization.
Now after understanding around 2 and a ½ ayat on husne sulook with our parents, the next hukm as mentioned in the next ayat is regarding our relatives. From family now the society extends to our relatives and from relatives to the tribes and from there to the nation and it may further extend to humanity at large. As we have discussed earlier first dimension of a family is marriage i.e. wife and husband. Now Allah gives them their children, and with them a second dimension comes into existence. Then the third dimension is brothers and sisters. So as to keep a family intact and strong, first, there must be strong bound of love, affection, mutual trust and regard among wife and husband. The stronger it is the stronger and ideal is the family. We have discussed in detail about the second dimension i.e. parents and children.
So the next hukm is about our brothers, sisters, close relatives and the less privileged in the society. It says: “Fulfil your obligations towards your relatives and the indigent and the wayfarer and do not be a spendthrift.” It is our love, concern, care and sympathy for our fellow beings that is of immense importance for a strong social and moral value in our society. There is one hadith that states that “whosoever is deprived of the sympathy has been deprived of all good”.
We had detailed discussion on this subject while trying to understand ayat 177 of Surah Al-Baqra where we have been advised to spend on six heads and also about the sequence in which we should spend our money or give sadqua. Our close relatives have the first right and then comes yateem (orphans), masakeen (needy), wab-nis-sabeel (wayfarer), was-sa-e-leen (beggars), wa-fir requab (ransom of slaves/freeing people from debt). It is our duty to always remain concerned, extend help and look after our close relatives and help them before they ask for it - just for the pleasure of Allah. Our own likes and dislikes should never stop us (or make us selective) from helping and spending our wealth on our relatives – we must do so in any case for the sake of Allah only. There must not be any feeling of charity or ihsan while helping or spending on the above but we should consider it as their right and our duty.
The conception of rights should be so extensive that every one of us should consider that all other human beings have rights on us and our property so that we should serve them with the idea that we are rendering our rights and are not doing any favour to anybody. Therefore, to be in a position to fulfil our obligations towards our relatives, yateem, masakeen, wab-nis-sabeel, was-sa-e-leen, wafir requab we are categorically advised here in this ayat not to be a spendthrift (tabzeer) what you have.
Tabzeer (spendthrift/squander) is a new word while we had understood a word israf (extravagance) in Glimpses of a Matured Personality – I published a few weeks back. Israf is to spend beyond our needs but tabzeer is even worse. Tabzeer is to throw away our money on things which are not needed at all – just to show off our riches and status to the people. Unless we save ourselves from israf and tabzeer we may not have surplus money to spend on our relatives and others as mentioned in this very ayat 26 (let alone for the propagation of Deen) and tabzeer is so bad that the very next ayat says: “because the spendthrifts are the brethren of Satan and Satan has been ungrateful to his Lord”.
Thus, the social values in Islam impress upon us that we should not reserve our earnings and our wealth exclusively for ourselves but we should do our utmost to fulfil our own necessities of life in a moderate way and render the rights of our relatives, neighbours and other needy persons as well. This attitude will help create the spirit of cooperation, sympathy and justice in the Muslim Ummah.