The Social Conduct of a Muslim

The Social Conduct of a Muslim 

by Shaikh Musa Ibrahim Menk 

Posted on the 'Net for the benefit of all Muslims by Muhammed Desai (Islam.tc)

Allah Ta'ala Says, "Your Lord has declared that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents. If one or both of them attain old-age in your life, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them with words of honour. "
(Holy Qur'an)  

The Holy Qur’an says...

(Al-Ahqaaf-1 5)
 
"Your Lord has declared that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents. it one or both of them attain old-age in your life, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them with words of honour.  And, out of kindness, lower the wing of humility for them and say "My Lord, have mercy on them as they cared for me when I was little.,,

(Bani lsraeel-23, 24)
 
"Do not kill your children for fear of poverty.  We provide sustenance for you and for them."

(Al-An'aam-1 51)
 
"When news is brought to one of them, of the birth of a female, his face darkens and he is filled with inward
grief."
(An-Nahl-58)

"And give to the near relative, his due right."

(Bani Israeel-26)

"it is He who created you from a single soul and therefrom made his mate, in order that he may dwell with her (in comfort)."

(Al-aa'raaf-189)

"And live with them (wives) in kindness, for if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah has placed abundant good in it."

(An-Nissa-19)

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other and because they spend of their wealth (for the support of women).  So the righteous women are obedient and protect (the husbands interests) in his absence, as Allah has protected them."

(An-Nissa-34)

"it is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West, but righteousness is he who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, and the Prophets; and to give (of one's) wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk (relatives), orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, to those who ask and for setting slaves free...

(Al-Baqarah-1 77)"

"Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk (relatives), orphans those in need, the neighbour who is close (in relation), the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer and those whom your right hand possesses (slaves)..."

(An-Nisaa-36)

"The believers are but a single Brotherhood.  So (make peace and) reconcile between your two (contending) brothers; And fear Allah that you may receive mercy."

(Al-Hujuraat-10)

IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SOCIAL CONDUCT

The first thing in the Guidance brought to mankind by the Holy Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam was the Call to Faith and Divine Unity.  After it, he used to give instruction and advice concerning the moral and practical spheres of life to those who had accepted the Call.

These teachings of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam can basically, be divided into two parts.  The first part is related to the rights of Allah.  It tells what the claim of Allah is upon the believer and what the duties of the believer are in that regard, and how this claim should be discharged and how the obligations are to be fulfilled.

The second part consists of the teachings related to the rights of men on each other, and the duty they owe to all created beings in general.  How man is to fulfil his social responsibilities and act towards all individuals or groups or any other creature with whom he may come into contact in the different walks of life.

The question of the rights of Men is more important in the sense that if we disregard them, i.e. in fringe on rights of anyone or do some other injustice to him, then Allah has not kept the forgiving of it in His own hands but has declared that amends are to be made for it in this life by referring back to the person we have sinned against and to give him his due or to seek his pardon, otherwise we will have to repay him in the hereafter, which indeed, will cost us very dearly.

In a hadeeth, narrated by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam says: "Whoever may have done an injustice to a brother, or defamed him or transgressed against his rights in any other way should set right the affair with him on this very day, in this very life- before the day of Judgement-when he will 'have no dinars and dirhams (money) to settle the claim.  If he will possess a stock of good deeds, the aggrieved will be recompensed from it in relation to the injustice done to him.  And in case he is empty-handed in the matter of good deeds, the sine of the Eiggrieved will be thrust upon him. (thus justice will be done that Day)."

In another hadeeth, Ayesha (R.A.) reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said, "The books of deeds (in which the sins of the people are recorded) will be of three kinds.  Firstly, the one that will never be forgiven, and it is Polytheism (Shirrk).  Allah has declared in Holy Qur'aan that, in no case shall He forgive the sin of Polytheism.  Secondly, that which Allah will not pass over without doing justice.  These are the mutual wrongs, injuries and violations of rights, and Allah will surely have them repaid.  Thirdly, the sins which are of little weight and importance in the sight of Allah.  These are the lapses that are, exclusively, between the believer and the Creator; the decision concerning them is wholly in His hands and He will punish or forgive the sinners as He likes."

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS ON PARENTS

Social commandments begin with the birth of a child, hence we begin with the Prophet's Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam sayings regarding birth and the duties of parents to the newborn child.
 
Saying of Adhaan (in the ears of a new-born child).

Abu Rafey (R.A.) relates that "I saw the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam saying the adhaan of salaah in the ear of his grandson, Hasan, when the child was born to his daughter Fatima."
 
Commentary: In this hadeeth only the saying of adhaan has been mentioned, but in another hadeeth reported by Husain (R.A.) the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam prescribed the saying of adhaan in the right ear and iqaamah in the left ear (of the new-born child, and also mentioned its auspiciousness.  He said, that on account of it, the child remained safe from infantile epilepsy.
 
As these ahaadeeth show, the primary claim of a child on his parents is that his ears, and through his ears, his head and heart are made aquainted with the name of the Almighty and His Oneness and with the Call of Faith and salaah.  The best way to it, evidently, is that adhaan and iqaamah are said in his ears, as these impart the knowledge of spirit and the fundamental practices of Islam in a most effect manner.

Tahneeq

When a child was born in the family of the Sahaaba (R.A.), they would take it to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam so that he would bless it, and apply the pwlpof a date chewed by him, to its palate, which the Sahaaba believed would help to keep the child safe from evils and bring it good fortune.  This is called 'Tahneeq' in Islamic terms Ayesha (R.A.) narrates that "The people used to bring their new-born children to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and he would bless them and perform the Tahneeq."

This shows that when a child is born in a Muslim home, it should be taken to a virtuous, pious person to receive his blessing and have the Tahneeq done.  It is one of the sunnah practices that have now sadly become extinct.

Aqeeqah

In almost all the communities of the world, the birth of a child is considered a blessing and some ceremony is held to celebrate the event.  Besides being natural, it also serves a special purpose, and makes it known, in a suitable and dignified manner, that the father has accepted the child as his own and there is no doubt or suspicion in his mind concerning it.  It shuts the door to many Mischiefs that can arise in the future.  The practice of aqeeqah was observed among the Arabs, even during the Age of lgnorance, for this very reason.Thehair on the child's head was shaved off and its weight equivalent was sacrificed as a mark of rejoicing - which was a characteristic feature of Millat-u Ibrahim (the religion of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.)) While preserving the practice in principle, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam gave appropriate instructions, and he set an example of how it was to be done.

It is reported by Buraidah (R.A.) that "During the Age of Ignorance", when a child was born to anyone of us, we used to slaughter a goat and smear the head of the child with its blood.  Later, after the dawn of Islam, our practice became, (on the advice of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) that we sacrifice a goat of aqeeqah on the seventh day after the birth of a child, and shave the head of the infant, and apply saffron on it."

Since, as we have seen, the aqeeqah served as a useful purpose in many ways, and was also in keeping with the spirit of Islam and, perhaps, like the rituals of Hai, it was among the remaining practices of Millat-u-Ibrahim, the Prophet

Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam preserved the reality of aqeeqah, but corrected the backward practices that had become associated with it.

The aqeeqah ceremony was also observed by the Jews, but they sacrificed an animal only in the case of a male child - which was indicative of the lesser value placed on girls in the pre-Islamic times.  The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam corrected this too, and enjoined that the aqeeqah of girls should also be performed, like that of the boys.  However, keeping in mind the natural difference between the two sexes, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam laid down that while one goat was to be sacrificed in the aqeeqah of a female child, two should be sacrificed in the aqeeqah of a male child - provided that one's financial position permitted it.

It is reported by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn-ul-Aa's (R.A.) that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "To whomsoever a child is born, and he wants to perform a sacrifice of aqeeqah on behalf of it, he should sacrifice two goats for a boy and one for a girl."

Commentary: As is evident in this hadeeth, aqeeqah is not obligatory, but it is among the Mustahab acts, i.e. those acts which are recommended and rewardable but are not binding or compulsory.  In the same way it is not
necessary to sacrifice two goats for a male-child.  It is better to sacrifice two, if one can afford it, otherwise, one is enough.
 
In some ahaadeeth, the giving away in charity of silver equal in weight to the child's shaved hair, or its price in cash, is also mentioned, in addition to the sacrifice of the animal.  This too is Mustahab and not compulsory.

The command to perform the aqeeqah on the day of the birth has not been given, perhaps for the reason that, at the time the family is occupied with the needs and comforts of the mother and the shaving of the hair (head) can also be harmful to the child.  Generally, after a week the mother gets well and does not need special attention and the baby, too, becomes strong enough to go through the shaving of the hair.

In some other ahaadeeth, it is said that the child should also be named on the seventh day, together with aqeeqah, but from a few other ahaadeeth it appears that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam had named children even on the day of their birth.  There is, as such, no harm in naming the child before the seventh day, but if it has not been done, the child should be named on the seventh day, together with the aqeeqah.

The aqeeqah ceremony, as we've seen consists of two acts: the shaving of the hair (head) and the sacrifice of the animal.  There is a peculiar link between the two acts and these acts are among the religious practices of Millat-u-ibrahim.  In Haj, too, they go together - where the pilgrims have their hair (head) shaved after the Adhiyah.  Thus, aqeeqah also, is a practical demonstration of our association with Nabee Ibrahim (A.S.) and of the fact that the child, too, is a member of the same community.
 
Tasmiya

That the child be given a good name is also an obligation of the parents.

Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "It is also a claim of the child on his father that he gives him a good name and teaches him good manners."

In another hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "on the Day of Resurrection, you will be called out by your name and the name of your father. -The call will be:- so and-so, son of so-and-so, therefore, give good names."

From these sayings and the practices of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, we get the guidance that it is the responsibility of the parents to give names to their children or have them named by a pious person.

Religious upbringing

All the prophets, and, lastly the Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam have stressed that the brief earthly stay of a human being is an introduction to the everlasting life of Eternity.  It, therefore, follows that a greater attention is paid to the betterment of prospects in the life to come and attainment of happiness in the Hereafter than to the affairs and interests of this life.  Thus, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement.

It is related by lbn Abbas (R.A.) that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Have your children utter, first of all, the Kalima of Laa-ilaha-iliallah, (i.e. let these be the first words that they speak), and emphasize upon them to utter the same Kalima at the time of their death."

Commentary: The child begins to receive the impression of what it sees or hears from the time of its birth.  The saying of adhaan and iqaamah in the ears of a newly-born infant, also, gives a clear indication of it.  This hadeeth shows that when a child begins to speak, it should be taught to utter the Kalima, as a first step towards its education.  It further tells that when the dying moment is near, a person should, again be urged to pronounce the same Kalima.  Blessed indeed is the man who when he utters the first words, on coming into this world, it is the Kalima, and the same Kalima is on his lips when he departs.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character."

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Show respect to your children and adorn them with good manners." Showing of respect to one's children denotes that they should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection.

In another hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "When your children attain the age of seven, insist upon them to offer salaah (regularly), and when they are ten years old, punish them if they do not, and have separate beds for them (to sleep on)."

Commentary: Children generally, develop the faculty of understanding at the age of seven, and it is time that their feet were set on the path of the worship of Allah.  They should, therefore, be told to offer Salaah regularly when they attain that age.  At ten, their powers of discretion and intelligence are fairly advanced and they begin to approach maturity.  At that time, the observance of Salaah ought to be enjoined strictly upon them, and they should be taken to task, in an appropriate manner, if they fail to do so.  They should further be required to sleep on separate beds and not together (which is permitted up to the age of ten).
 
All these, in brief, are the rights of children, both boys and girls, on their parents, and the parents will have to render a full account in respect of them on the Day of Reckoning.
 
Showing kindness to daughters

Even now daughters are considered an unwanted burden in some societies and instead of rejoicing, an atmosphere of grief and disappointment is produced in the family at their birth.  This is the position, today, but in the pre-Islamic times the daughters were positively considered a shame and disgrace among the Arabs, so much so that even the right to live was denied to them.  Many a hard-hearted parent used to strangle his daughter to death, with his own hands, when she was born, or bury her alive.  The Qur'aan says:
 
'When news is brought to one of them, of the birth of a female, his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief.
He hides himself with shame, from the people, because of the bad news he has had. (Asking himself): shall he keep it in contempt or bury in the dust.  Ah: What an evil choice they decide."
 
Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Whoever becomes the father of a girl, he should neither hurt her nor treat her with contempt nor show preference over her to his sons in kindness and affection. (Both boys and girls should be treated alike.) Allah will grant him Paradise in return for kind treatment towards the daughter."
 
It is narrated that a very poor woman, with two daughters, came to Ayesha's (R.A.) place to beg.  By chance, Ayesha (R.A.) had only one date with her, at that time, which she gave to the woman.  The woman broke the date into two parts and gave one part each to the girls.  She did not eat anything of it herself.  When after some time, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam came, Ayesha (R.A.) related the incident to him, upon which he remarked:

"The believing man or woman upon whom there is the responsibility of daughters  and he or she discharges it well and treats them with affection, the daughters will become a means of freedom, for him or her, in the hereafter.

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A. vy.) said "The believer who bears the responsibility of two daughters and Supports them till they attain Puberty, he hand, that as and I will be close to one Another like this on the Day of Judgement." Anas (R.A.), adds that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam showed, by joining the fingers of his the fingers were close to one another, in the same way will the believer be close to him on the Day of Judgement.
 
Abu Saeed Khudri (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Whoever bears the responsibility of three daughters or sisters or even of two daughters or sisters, and bears it well, and looks after their training and welfare properly, and then, gets them married, Allah will reward him with Paradise."

In these ahaadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has not only stated that kind treatment was the natural right or claim of the daughters, but, also that the believers who fulfilled the obligation towards them in a good and proper manner would be rewarded with Paradise in the hereafter.  He, further, gives the joyful tidings that such a man will be close to him, on the Day of Judgement, as the fingers of a hand are, when joined together.

Treating all the children equally

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has emphasised that parents should be just and fair to all the children, particularly in matters of gifts and kindness, and it must not be that while one gets more the ' other gets less or nothing.  Besides being desirable in itself, equality to all the children also meets the demands of justice and equity which is pleasing to the Almighty.  Besides, if discrimination is made among the children and one is favoured more than the other, it will lead to ill-will and jealousy, and nothing but evil can arise from this.  The child who is discriminated against will bear a grudge against the father, - the painful consequences of which, are easy to imagine.
 
Narrates No'man ibn Bashir (R.A.), "My father took me to the Prophet (SA.W.) and said (to him), "I have given a slave to this son of mine." The Prophet enquired, "Have you given the same to all of your sons?" "No," my father replied.  The Prophet, thereupon, said, "It is not correct.  Take it back.""

In another version, of the same hadeeth, The Prophet asked, "Do you want all your children to be equally devoted to you?" "Yes, of course," he replied.  The Prophet said "Then do not act like that (let it not be that you give some property to one child and exclude the others.)"

In yet another version it is added that the Prophet remarked, "I cannot be a witness to an act of injustice."

In this hadeeth, it is enjoined upon parents not to discriminate among their children when it tomes to giving them something as a gift etc.  This has been condemned by the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam as unist and unfair.  Some of the learned people have gone to the extent of calling it Haraam, but the majority of them hold the view that though it is not Haraam, it is Makrooh, and highly undesirable.

It must, however, be emphasised that the command applies only to a situation where the preferential treatment is based on a consideration that is not lawful or justifiable in the eye of the Shariah, otherwise no blame will be attached to it.  For example, if a child is physically handicapped and cannot earn his livelihood like his brothers, a special favour to him will not be incorrect, but to an extent it will be essential and worthy of Divine reward.  Similarly, should any child dedicate himself to the cause of Imaan or public welfare and have no time to look after his economic needs, it would also be correct and deserving of reward, to make a reasonable allowance for him over the other children.

There is no harm if preference is shown to one of the children with the consent of the others (ie the brothers & sisters).

In a hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam says, "Treat all your children equally in regard to free gifts.  If I were to show preference in this matter, I would show it to daughters. (If equality was not necessary and binding, l would have declared that more be given to daughters than to sons.)"

It can be concluded from this hadeeth that though, after the death of the parents, the shares of daughters in ancestral property is half of the sons, in their life-time, the share of both the sons and the daughters is equal.  Therefore whatever the parents give to the sons, in their life-time, should also be given to the daughters.
 
Responsibility of marriage

It is the duty of parents to arrange the marriage of their children when they come of age.  The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has stressed that it should be taken seriously and with a full sense of responsibility.  Abu Saeed Khudri and Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) narrated that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Whoever is blessed by the Creator with children should give them good names, a good training, teach them good manners, and arrange for their marriage when they attain the age of puberty.  If he does not pay due heed to it and fails to get them married, on reaching marriageable age (due to negligence) and they take to ways that are forbidden, the father will be held responsible for it."

Commentary:- In this hadeeth the marriage of the children, too, on their attaining the marriageable age, has been made a responsibility of the father.  But alas we are growing increasingly indifferent to it mainly because we have made marriage a most tiresome and expensive affair by following and adopting the customs of others.
 
If we follow the good example of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and begin to perform marriages as he had performed his own marriage or the marriages of his daughters, the whole ceremony will be as easy and simple, as it is for a Muslim to observe and fulfill the Friday prayers.  Blessings will then flow from it - of which we have deprived ourselves, through thoughtless imitations of un-islamic societies.
 
PARENT'S RIGHTS OVER CHILDREN

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallamhas laid stress on the rights of parents and duties of children, in the same way as he has stressed the rights of children and the duties of parents.

To be obedient to parents i and to show kindness to them has been enjoined along with the Oneness and Worship of Allah, in the Holy Quraan, in such a manner that it appears that among human deeds, to obey parents and treat them with respect and kindness is next only to Divine Worship.
 
The Quraan says, in Sura Bani Israail: "Your Lord (The Creator) has ordained that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents."
 
Parents are the Heaven and Hell of the Children

In a hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said that the parents of a person are his Heaven or Hell.
 
This shows that if a person obeys his parents and attends to their needs and comforts and keeps them happy, he will attain Paradise.  On the other hand, if he is rude and disobedient to them and offends them by ignoring their feelings or by causing them grief in any other way, his place shall be in Hell.
 
Pleasing the Parents causes Allah's pleasure

Anyone who seeks to please Allah should earn the good pleasure of his parents.  To keep the parents well pleased is essential since their anger and displeasure will lead to Allah's anger and displeasure.  The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of the Creator and in his displeasure, lies the displeasure of the Creator."
 
Here the mother has not been mentioned, but, according to many other ahaadeeth, the right of the mother with regard to service and kind treatment is even higher than that of the father.  Therefore, her pleasure or displeasure will carry an equal significance.
 
Curse for not looking after aged parents.

The time that the parents need to be looked after most carefully is in their old-age, and to serve them devotedly in that state is most pleasing toallah and it is an easy way to attain Paradise.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "May he be disgraced, may he be disgraced, may he be disgraced." "Who?" The Sahaaba enquired.  "The person whose parents, or anyone of them, attain old-age during his life-time and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted an d dutiful to them)!"

Therefore, anyone who gets an opportunity to serve his parents in their old-age and does not avail himself to it (to attain Paradise), undoubtedly, he is a most wretched person.

Serving the parents is preferable to Jihaad

When the parents of a person are in need of his help and attention, then it is preferable for him to serve them than to go to Jihaad.
 
A person once came to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and said that he wanted to participate in the Jihaad.  The Prophet asked him "Are your parents alive?" "Yes, they are alive" he replied.  The Prophet said.  "Then strive in their service and assist them at the time of their need. (This is your Jihaad.)"
 
Commentary: Perhaps, there was reason for the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam to believe that the parents of the person concerned were in need for help and attention, that is why he told him to go and take care of them, because in these circumstances service to the parents was more important.
 
However, it must not be misunderstood that anyone whose parents are alive should not take part in Jihaad, and that only those whose parents have died. should do so.  In fact, the parents of many of the Sahaaba who took part in Jihaad, were living.

The mother's claim is greater

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrates that a person asked the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam "Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kind treatment?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother, and again your mother, and once again your mother.  After her, is the claim of your father, then that of your near relations, and then of the relations next to them." This, obviously, shows that where care and kind treatment are concerned, the claim of the mother is greater than that of the father.

It appears to be the same in the Qur'aan too.  In many instances, the pain and the suffering which the mother has to bear during pregnancy, at childbirth, and in the bringing-up of the children, has been mentioned along with the emphasis of expressing kindness to parents.
 
Paradise lies at the mother's feet

In one hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has clearly stated that a person's Paradise lies at his mothees feet.  By serving her well and being obedient to her, one can attain Paradise.

In some other ahaadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has explained that serving the mother, the maternal aunt and maternal grandmother, are among the acts by whose piousness, even the repentance of a great sinner and evil-doer is accepted and he is forgiven.
 
Treatment towards polytheist parents

If anyone's parents are polytheists, and they want him to follow their faith, he should refuse, but he should continue to be kind and respectful to them.

Asma bint Abu Bakr (R.A.) relates that her mother had come to Madinah, from Makkah, to meet her.  Her mother followed the Pagan customs and beliefs, so Asma (R.A.) enquired from the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam as how she was to treat her whether she should have nothing to do with her, as she was a Pagan, or treat her like a daughter should, and show kindness to her.  The Prophet told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mothers due, from a daughter.

Parents' rights after their death

The rights of parents do not come to an end with their death.  In fact, some of their rights take effect after their death, and it is a religious obligation for the children to fulfill them.
 
 As explained before, obeying one's parents and treating them with respect and affection is great virtue - and atones for one's sins.  Similarly, to ask Allah to have mercy on them after their death, is an act which brings comfort to them in their graves and serves to atone for one's sins.
 
After the death of one's parents among other duties, should be to pray for their forgiveness and treat their relatives and friends with due respect.
 
Abu Usaid Sa'idi (R.A.) relates that a person came to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and asked him "O Prophet of Allah, are there some rights of my parents, on me, which I have to fulfill even after they have died?" "Yes" the Prophet replied, "These are to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfill the promises they have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship from their side and to be respectful to their friends.

In the Quraan, Muslims have been urged to pray for the salvation of their parents as shown in the verse. And say, "My Lord.  Have mercy on both of them, as they cared for me when I was little."
 
Advantages of obedience to parents

The real reward for serving the parents, with great attention, is Paradise and the pleasure of Allah.  But the Almighty bestows a special favour, in this world too, on the believer who fulfills the parents' rights devotedly.

Jabir (R.A.) reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Allah prolongs the life of a person who obeys his parents and serves them devotedly." In another hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said, "Obey your parents and treat them with kindness, your children will be kind and obedient to you.

Great sin for disobeying the parents

Just as the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam declared, that serving ones parents well is an act of great virtue, he condemned the showing of disobedience to them, or harming them, as a most serious and detestable sin.

When asked about the major sins, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied." To associate anyone with Allah, to disobey the parents, to kill unlawfully and to give false evidence."

The above-mentioned acts have been condemned as 'Akbarul-Kabaair' ie the most serious of the major sins.  The order in which the Prophet said them, shows that the disregard of parents rights is next, only, to Polytheism (Shirrk) and it is even more serious than murder.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "To abuse one's parents is also a major sin." He was asked "Can anyone abuse his parents?" "Yes," the Prophet replied, "If a person abused someone else's parents and that person, in retaliation, abused his parents, - then it is as though he himself had abused his parents."
We can imagine, from this, what an important place respect for parents occupies in the moral and social teachings of Islam, and how careful one should be about it.

RIGHTS OF OTHER RELATIVES

Besides parents' rights, a great emphasis is also laid on the rights of other relatives.  In Islamic terms, 'Silah-Rahimi' is used to denote 'good treatment towards the relatives'.

In the Quraan, where the Muslims are enjoined to show kindness to parents, they are also required to treat the other relatives with love and sympathy and to pay due regard to their rights as well.

As we have seen in a previous hadeeth, the foremost claim on a person is that of his mother, then of his father, and then grade by grade, of the other relatives.  Therefore through relationship, the relatives' rights come after that of the parents.

Allah has declared, "I am Allah, I am Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), I have created the bond of kinship and named it Rahim,-which I have derived from the root of my name of Rahman.  Thus, whoever, shall join it (ie.  Rahim), I shall join him, and whoever will break it, I shall break him."

The Almighty has designed the system of birth in such a way, that whoever is born, is tied to the bonds of kinship-and these bonds carry certain claims and rights.  Thus, whoever fufills these claims, by being kind to his relatives and treating them well, Allah will "join him" i.e. He will make him His own and bestow His favour and mercy on him.  And whosoever will violate these claims, Allah will "break him" i.e. He will have nothing to do with him.

Fulfilling the rights of relatives

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the world (i.e. to live long) - he should be kind and helpful to his relatives."

Basically, there are two ways of being kind and considerate to relatives.  One is by giving them monetary assistance, when needed, and the other is by devoting a part of one's time and energy at their service.

Family quarrels, which generally arise from the disregard of the relatives' rights, affect a man's health and make it difficult for him to concentrate in his work.  Those who treat their relatives well and are helpful to them, are free from tensions of this kind and they are happier and more peaceful.

Violation of relatives' rights

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "Whoever violates the rights of relatives, shall not go to Paradise."

Commentary:- This hadeeth, alone, should be enough to make us realise the importance of 'Silah-Rahimi'.  It shows that the violation of the relatives' rights is so detested by Allah, that with its filthiness, no one can enter Paradise.  It is only when a person (believer) has received his punishment or has been forgiven, that the gates of Paradise will be opened for him.

Showing kindness to those who sever relations.

Often, there are people who care little for the bonds of relationship and are rude and unjust in this respect.  Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has enjoined to continue to treat them well and fufil the obligations, irrespective of what they do and how they behave.

Abdullah ibn Umar(R.A.) relates from the Prophet (S.A.W.), "He does not fulfil the claim of Silah-Rahimi who shows no kindness in return for the kindness shown to him.. The person who really fulfills the claim is he who treats his relatives well even when they are mean and unjust to him.

When the violation of the rights of relatives is returned in a similar manner, the evil will spread in the society -- while if it is returned with kindness, it may lead to their correction and it will assist in the promotion of Silah-Rahimi, in the life of the community.

MUTUAL RIGHTS OF HUSBAND AND WIFE

The significance of marriage and the aims and advantages that are associated with it are self-evident.  Peace of mind and a happy life are greatly dependent on the mutual relationship that develops between husband and wife.

The main objects of marriage are that both parties enjoy the pleasures of life with purity, (which can only be possible through wedlock) and that the continuity of the human race be, and is, maintained with dignity.  These objects can be realised best when the relations between husband and wife are good and there is love, sympathy and good understanding between them.

The main purpose of the Prophet's teachings, regarding the rights and duties of marriage, is that the marriage proves to be a source of joy and satisfaction to both husband and wife, that their hearts remain united and that the aims of the marriage be attained in the best possible manner.  According to the Prophet's teachings, the wife should regard her husband over and above everyone else and she should remain faithful to him.  She should leave nothing to be desired with regards to devotion and earnestness and should believe that, for her, the happiness of both worlds lies in his good pleasure.  The husband, on his part, ought to consider his wife as a blessing of Allah and he should give her, ungrudgingly, his love, hold her in high esteem and look after her needs and comforts to the best of his ability.  If she makes a mistake, he should over look it and try to correct her with tact and patience.

Obedience and loyalty to the husband

Ayesha (R.A.) says that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "The greatest claim on a woman is that of her husband and the greatest claim on a man is that of his mother".

In the marriage agreement it is necessary that the husband has the position of leadership.  Man has been declared the head of the family in the Islamic Shari'ah and great responsibilities have been assigned to him.  The Qur'aan says'Men are the protectors and maintainers of women".

As for the women, the commandment is that they obey the husband as the head of the household and fulfil the domestic duties.  Regarding them, the Qur'aan says "The righteous women are obedient and protect (the husband's interest) in his absence, as Allah has protected them."

If the wife fails to submit to her husband, and instead of serving him devotedly, she adopts an attitude of defiance and stubborness, then it will be disastrous for both and they will be losers in this world and the hereafter.

The Prophet (S.A.W.), therefore, stressed upon the wives to be loyal and faithful to their husbands and to seek their pleasure, -(A great reward has been promised for this, in the hereafter.)

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "If a woman offers five times daily prayer, keeps the fasts of Ramadhan, guards her honour and obeys her husband, then she will enter Paradise by whichever gate she pleases."

Commentary:- Here, loyalty and obedience to the husband has been mentioned along with the Swalaah and Fast.  It denotes that, in the Shariah, submission to the husband is as important as the principal duties of Islam.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "A woman who dies in the state that her husband is pleased with her, shall go to Paradise."

It should be noted here, that, if a man is displeased with his wife, without any fault of hers, she will be innocent in the sight of Allah and the responsibility for annoyance shall rest with the husband.

Advice on kind treatment to the wife.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) advised, "O people.  Follow my advice concerning the kind treatment of wives. (I order you to treat your wives with kindness and love).  The woman has been created from the rib, and the rib is curved, by nature, and the greatest curve is in its upper part.  If you try to straighten the curved rib by force, it will break, and if you leave it alone, it will remain curved forever. So follow my advice and treat your wives kindly and well."

If a man dislikes his wife for some reason, he should not adopt an attitude of terms of divorce, but he should look for hatred towards her, and start thinking in the good qualities in her, and learn to admire her because of them.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said, "No believing man hates his believing wife.  If there is a bad quality in her, there will also be a good quality." This is the claim of Faith on a believing husband and the privilege of a believing wife.
Addressing the Muslims, the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The best of you are those who are best to their wives."
It is related by Ayesha (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Good among you are those who are good to their wives; and I, on my part, am very good to my wives."

This shows that there is a special goodness in treating one's wife well. To make the advice more effective, the Prophet added that he himself was good and considerate to his wives.

RIGHTS OF NEIGHBOURS

Apart from a man's parents, children and near relatives, there also exists a permanent association and contact between him and his neighbours.  The state of his association - be it good or otherwise has a great influence on his life and morals.  The Prophet (S.A.W.) had attached great importance to this and has constantly urged the Ummah to pay due regard to the rights of neighbours to the extent that he had declared good neighbourliness to be part of Imaan (Faith) and an essential requisite for salvation.

Three Categories of Neighbours

In a hadeeth, related by Jabir (R.A.), the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said "Neighbours are of three kinds.  Firstly, the neighbour who enjoys only one right (and as far as rights are concerned) he is of the lowest grade.  Secondly, the one who enjoys two rights and thirdly the neighbour who enjoys three rights.  The neighbour with only one right is the Polytheist (i.e. a non-Muslim neighbour with whom there are no family ties).  The neighbour with two rights is the neighbour who is also a Muslim (as such he has a claim as a neighbour as well as a fellow Muslim) and the one with three rights is the neighbour who is a Muslim and a relative - he has a claim as a neighbour, as a fellow Muslim and as a relative".

This hadeeth clearly explains that the obligation to live in peace and harmony with neighbours, as demanded in the Holy Our'aan and the Traditions, also includes the non-Muslim neighbours.  Theytoo have a claim to our kindness and sympathy.  We treat the animals with kindness and we have been warned against ill treating them, then what of our fellow humans - more so our neighbours.  It will be significant to note that in all ahadeeth (Traditions) mentioned, with regards to the basic rights of neighbours, no distinction had been made between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Emphasis on the Rights of Neighbours

It is reported, on the authority of Ayesha (R.A.) and lbn Umar (R.A.) that the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The Angel Jibra'il (A.S.) counselled me so frequently regarding the rights of the neighbour that I feared, he too would be declared an heir."
 
This hadeeth shows that Angel Jibra'il (A.S.) brought commandments from Allah, concerning the rights of the neighbour so frequently and stressed the need to be kind and courteous to him with such force and regularity that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) thought that the neighbour also will be made an heir i.e. just as parents, children and near relatives inherit the property left by the deceased, he thought that the neighbour, too, will be given a share in it.

Note:- The purpose of this hadeeth is not merely to state a fact, but rather it is most effective way of highlighting the importance of the neighbour to the Muslims.

Importance of good treatment to neighbours (it is an essential condition of Imaan - faith)

It is narrated by Abu Shurayh (R.A.) that the Prophet (SA.W.) said "Whoever believes in Allah and the final day (Day of Judgement) it is essential that he does not harm his neighbours and whoever believes in Allah and the final Day it is essential for him to entertain his guest with kindness and generosity and whoever believes in Allah and the Final Day it is essential that he speak what is good or otherwise remain silent."

Amongst other points this hadeeth explains that it is essential for the true believer to be mindful of his neighbours at all times so that he does not harm him in anyway.  It also gives us an idea of the value placed on the rights of neighbours by the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W).

In another hadeeth related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "By Allah, he is not a true believer, By Allah, he is not a true believer, By Allah, he is not a true believer (three times).  He was asked 'Who?" Upon which he replied, "The one whose neighbours do not feel secure from his mischief and evil."

The construction and manner of the hadeeth shows how agitated the Prophet (S.A.W.) must have been when he said this.  The essence contained in this hadeeth is that the Muslim whose character is such that his neigbhours expect nothing but evil from him and they live in fear of being hurt or harmed by him, cannot be regarded as a true and faithful believer - he doesn't deserve the title of Muslim or Mu'min.  On another occassion the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said that such a person (whose neighbours do not feel safe on his account) shall not go to Heaven.

Note:- In the language of Prophethood, when special emphasis is laid on a deed, the customary way of putting it is to say that whoever neglects it etc. is not a true believer, and he shall not go to Heaven.  It should be understood that this does not imply that he has actually been thrown out of the fold of Islam and now the laws of lnfidelity (Kufr) will apply to him, and that in the hereafter he will be treated as an infidel, but rather this is an emphatic way of explaining that such a person does not possess the true spirit of Imaan which is the glory of a Muslim and is pleasing to Allah.  The particular phrasing is used to lend greater force to the matter.

In yet another hadeeth, related by Anas (R.A.), the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "He has not affirmed faith in me (i.e. he is not a true follower) who eats to his satisfaction and sleeps comfortably at night while his neighbour goes hungry - and he is aware of it."

How astonishing that such a wide gap has occured between these teachings and traditions and the actual conduct of the Muslims as a whole!  It is extremely difficult for an unknowing person to believe that such, really, were the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.).

Nevertheless, these traditions and teachings explain clearly the importance of good and kind treatment to neighbours and they are a clear admonition to those who remain indifferent to the needs and difficulties of their neighbours and care nothing for them.

Certain specific rights of the neighbours

Mu'awiya lbn Haidah relates that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The rights of the neighbour upon you are that; If he falls ill you visit (and take care of) him; if he dies you attend his funeral (and take part in the burial arrangements); if he commits an evil deed, you prevent it from being known (i.e. do not give publicity to it); if he is favoured by good-fortune, you congratulate him; if a calamity befalls him, you grieve in sympathy with him; and that you restrain from erecting your building higher than his in such away that the passage of fresh air is blocked from his house (unless you obtained his consent) and further, (you take care that) the aroma of your cooking pot does not cause sorrow to him (and his children) except that you send some of it (the food) to him."

The specific rights mentioned above are easily understood but the last two require special attention:- One should be careful, while building a house (or any building) that the walls are not so high as to cause discomfort to the neighbours by obstructing the free flow of air into their place (or in any other way) unless of course one has obtained prior consent of the neighbours.

Let us note that this was the teaching of The Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) more than fourteen hundred years ago, but we as Muslims tend to forget or rather ignore this, and we readily accept government, municipal or council laws on the same issue - (that the consent of neighbours should be obtained prior to any construction)!  How unmindful and indifferent we seem to be!

The other point is that on6 should try his level best not to let the aroma of one's cooking pot reach the neighbours' household - lest they are aroused by the delicious smells and desire to eat the same while they cannot afford it - this will cause grief to them.  To restrain the aroma from travelling is obviously not easy, hence one should make it a point of sending some of the food (when a delicious meal is cooked) to the neighbours.  It is reported on the authority of Jabir (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said "Whenever gravy is cooked in anyone's house, he should increase the broth (by adding water) and then send some to his neighbours."

Caring for the moral and religious status of neighbours

The foregoing sections dealt with the material welfare of neighbours - paying regard to their needs and feelings etc., hereunder is an explanation of the caring for their moral and religious welfare, which is also a right of the neighbour.

On one occassion the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said "What has happened to those, whom Allah has favoured with the understanding of faith and religious knowledge, and they do nothing by way of teaching it to, their neighbours (who are in need of it) or creating an awareness in them?.  They neither give good counsel, nor discharge the duty of enjoining what is good and lawful, and forbidding what is bad and prohibiting.  And what has happened to the uninformed ones that they make no effort to learn from their neighbours?

By Allah it is the duty of those who possess the knowledge to impart it to their neighbours (who are wanting in it) - through good counsel and by enjoining what is lawful and forbidding what is prohibited.  I n the same manner it is the duty of the ignorant and uninformed to acquire the knowledge from their neighbours (who are learned) and to take advice from them - otherwise, (if neither party does its duty) a severe punishment will befall them in their very existence."

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has thus enjoined upon the people of all localities and regions, who possess the understanding of faith and religious knowledge, to impart it to those living in the neighbourhood and to work for their moral and spiritual instruction and improvement.  On the other hand he has charged those who are lacking in this field to maintain a regular contact with men of faith and knowledge so as to benefit from their company.

Unfortunately, due to the neglect of this hadeeth and its likes, a vast majority of Muslims lack (are wanting in) religious knowledge and attachment to Allah and His Messenger (S.A.W.).

RIGHTS OF THE WEAK AND POOR

In the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) the importance of respect for the rights of the weaker and poorer sections of society, - the needy, the orphans, the widows, the destitute and downtrodden etc. - has also been stressed.  To care for their needs and look after their well being has been described as a virtue of the highest order and the Prophet (S.A.W.) has given the tidings of- a vast reward in this regard.

Caring for the Orphan

According to the Holy Traditions the best Muslim's home is the one wherein an orphan is supported and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst is that home wherein an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.

It is related by Sahl ibn Saad (R.A.) that Rasuluilah (S.A.W.) said "Whoever supports an orphan from among his own or any other family, he will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are close to each other" Sahl (R.A.) says that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) made a motion of his index and middle fingers (while he said this) and there was only a little space between the two.

In another hadeeth the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) made a provision:- "provided he is not guilty of an unpardonable sin."

This hadeeth explains the status, in the hereafter, of that bondsman who accepts the responsibility of supporting an orphan belonging either to his own family or any other family with whom he has no particular blood tie.  Which makes the fact clear that the promise of salvation and entry into paradise is subject to the condition of not committing a misdeed, such as polytheism, murder etc. which is not pardonable.

Abu Harairah (R.A.) reports that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) stated "Whoever carresses the head of an orphan (in affection), solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand, and whoever treated an orphan (boy or girl) with goodness and kindness, he and I will be close to each-other in Heaven as these two fingers" The Prophet (S.A.W.) made a gesture with his fingers as explained above.

It is therefore clear that the glad tidings on showing kindness to orphans are dependent upon the condition that the loving and kindly treatment is wholly with the intention of earning the pleasure of the Almighty.

Attending to the needs of the widow and the destitute

Abu Harairah (R.A.) relates that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever strives to relieve the widow, the distressed and the needy, he is as one who does Jihaad in the path of Allah (in terms of reward and blessings)"

In another version of the same hadeeth the Prophet is quoted to have said "He is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers."

Jihaad is a deed of utmost merit in Islam, similarly the act of spending one's days in fasting and nights in prayer is greatly rewardable.  But in the above hadeeth the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has stated that the same is the worth, value and reward of a person who takes pains to help the weak and needy, or a helpless widow, by spending his wealth on them or by sincerely trying to draw the attention of others to their problems and difficulties.

Visiting the sick and feeding the hungry

In a hadeeth reported by Abu Moosa Ash'ari (R.A.), The Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives."

Besides mention of feeding the hungry-which is a deed of compassion and kindheartedness, this hadeeth also contains an injunction for visiting the sick and obtaining the freedom of those who are (unlawfully) held prisoners." In common terms 'visiting the sick' simply denotes enquiring after one's health but here (in Arabic) it is used in a broader sense and includes also the caring and arranging of treatment for the sick, if necessary, and if one is able to do so.
The rewards and blessing for these deeds is (once again) very great, and enviable indeed is the lot of those who feel for the less fortunate brethren and are willing to help them in any possible manner.

Treatment of slaves and servants

(1) General teachings of the Prophet (S.A.W.)

Slavery was a common practice in Arabia, and almost all over the world, before the time of Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.). Victorious nations of the time considered the people captured by them, in battle, as a "commodity" - not as human beings - and used them mercilessly for their own advantage.

The beloved Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) urged and encouraged the people to free the slaves, by declaring the freeing of slaves an act of highest virtue and an act by which sins are forgiven.  On the other hand he enjoined on all not to drive them like animals.  He explained that their basic needs, like food and clothing., Should be taken care of in a deserving manner.

He, in fact, constantly warned the Muslims that they will be called to account, in the hereafter, if they failed in their duty to be just and merciful to the slaves and servants.  He emphasized this to such an extent that it is reported by Ali (.R.A.) that the last words, spoken by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), (at the time of his death) were, "Observe salaah (the prayers), Observe salaah And fear Allah with regards to your slaves and servants."

This shows the importance that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) attached to their rights - that he even stressed its significance upon his followers at the time of his departure from this world.

History tells that the entire course of the lives of slaves and servants was transformed, as a result of these teachings, and their human dignity was restored to them.

Many of them rose to be great scholars and leaders holding high posts of office.  Eventually the whole world was influenced by this guidance and slavery became a thing of the past.

(2) Kind and merciful treatment

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said, "Food and dress are the right of the slave and he should not be assigned to task which may be beyond his capacity."

These points constitute the fundamental rights of slaves and servants- that one should fulfill their basic need for food and clothing in kindness and should be merciful in assigning any work to them.

In another hadeeth, the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, "They are your brothers (the slaves and servants).  Allah has placed them under your authority.  So he who has a brother under him should feed him and clothe him as he himself does, and should not take from him any work that is beyond his power. lf he does tell him to do such work then he should also join in it - (and help him)."

Here the slaves and servants have been declared to be the brothers of their masters, and therefore deserve treatment like brothers - are not both of them, servant and master, the children of Adam, after all!

In yet another striking hadeeth, Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "When your slave or servant prepares food for you and lays it for you - while he has suffered the inconvenience of heat and smoke when cooking-you should ask him to sit down and share the meal.  If the food is in a small quantity (and cannot suffice) at least give him a morsel or two there from (at least a little)."

(3) Policy of forgiveness

Furthermore Rasuluilah (S.A.W.) constantly emphasized the need to adopt a policy of forgiveness with servants-This is very clear from the hadeeth narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.) that once a person came to the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) and asked "O Prophet of Allah!  To what extent should we forgive the mistakes and faults of our slaves and servants?" The Prophet (S.A.W.) remained silent whereupon the man repeated this question.  The Prophet (S.A.W.) again, remnained silent and when the man asked for a third time, he replied "Seventy times a day."

Evidently the figure, seventy, does not denote the exact number here but a servant should be forgiven even if he makes a mistakes often.  "Forgiving" in this Hadeeth means that the punishment should not be inflicted on servants in a spirit of vengeance.  But there is no harm, however, if they are taken to task with politeness in view of their correction - which would actually be for their own good.

Note:- On the occassion of this incident, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) remained silent when the question was asked for the first two times - this should be for the reason that he wanted the questioner to realise the redundancy of his enquiry.  To forgive the mistakes of one's servants is an act of virtue which makes one deserving of Divine mercy, hence one should always be prepared to excuse their faults - as much as possible.

(4) Revenge and account to be taken for cruel treatment to slaves and servants.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) say "Whoever beats the slave or servant unjustly, revenge will be taken from him on the Day of Judgement."

Abu Mas'ood (R.A.) narrates that "Once I was beating my slave when I heard a voice behind - (saying)" Oh Abu Mas'ood!  Remember that Allah has a greater power and authority over you than you have over the poor slave" I turned around and saw that it was the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) whereupon I said "Oh Prophet of Allah - he is now free for the sake of Allah (I have set him free)." The Prophet (S.A.W.) observed that "Be informed that had you not done so (i.e. set him free) you would be consumed in the fire of Hell!"

(5) Loyalty of slaves and servants to their masters

Whilst enjoining the masters to be fair and generous in their treatment of the slaves and servants, The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) also emphasized upon the slaves and servants their duty to remain faithful to their masters.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, "it is a matter of great success and good fortune for a slave or servant that Allah raises him from this world (gives him death) in a state that he is a worshipper of the Creator and he is loyal to his master."

In another hadeeth related by abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "When a slave or servant is faithful to his master and also worships his Creator, he is deserving of a double reward (in the hereafter)."

The principal feature of The Holy Prophet's teachings is that he urges each class and individual to fulfil the rights of others with a full sense of responsibility and consider it a source of good fortune in both the worlds.  He, thus, enjoins upon the masters to fear Allah in respect of their slaves and servants, (by treating them fairly and kindly) and he enjoins upon the slaves and servants to be loyal and sincere to their masters.

Behaviour of the old and young towards each other

In every society there are some members who are senior in age and others who are junior to them.  The Beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) has, also, explained (in his teachings) what their mutual behaviour should be.  Stated below are a few ahaadeeth regarding this aspect of social conduct, which may appear insignificant to some people, but plays an important part in promoting a happy and peaceful life, both at family and community levels.
In one hadeeth the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have stated that "He is not of us, who is not affectionate to those who are younger than him and is not respectful to those who are older." In another hadeeth he said, "Whoever does not show affection to the young, and respect to the old, is not one of us."

The occasion for the stating of the second hadeeth, as related by Anas (R.A.) was once when an elderly person came to meet Rasulullah (SA.W.) and the people present in the gathering took some time to make way (clear a path in their midst) for him to go up to the Prophet (SA.W.) - i.e. they did not move quickly enough as the old person's age would have required.

Therefore, these ahadeeth show that anyone who wishes to remain attached to the Holy Prophet (SA.W.) and his faith should treat those who are younger, to him, with affection and mercy, and those who are older with respect and honour.
 
It is related by Anas (RA.) that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "For the young man who will honour an old man because of his age, Allah will appoint men who will honour him in his old age."
 
This hadeeth explains that, although the reward for showing good manners and respect to one's elders will be in the Hereafter, the Almighty bestows His favours to such people in this world too.

RIGHTS OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD
 
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), like all earlier Apostles, was chosen and bestowed with Divine Faith and Heavenly Guidance.  Those who responded to his call by accepting his Message, naturally, went to form a separate community - which came to be known an "Ummat-um-Muslimah" the Islamic Fraternity and Brotherhood.

During the Prophet's life-time the Ummah served as his right hand assisting him in the preaching and propagation of the Islamic Faith to mankind.  After his death, the Ummah had to fulfil this sacred mission, till the end of time, as his "deputy." The fulfilment of this responsibility not only requires possession of qualities of firm belief, devotion to Allah Almighty, piety, righteousness, enthusiasm etc, but also strong bond of unity amongst the members, of the Ummah - where their hearts remain united and they act like a single body.  They should behave like a fraternity, bound together by ties of religious solidarity, bortherly love and kind feelings.  If, on the other hand, the Muslims were to be divided among themselves, and if instead of unity and solidarity there is a discord and disunity, they cannot be regarded as worthy of such a task.

Due to this very reason, the Prophet (S.A.W.) took special pains to stress upon the members and different classes of the Ummah (i.e. all muslims), the need to  behave towards each other as brothers - helping one another fulfilling the claims arising from the common bond.  This emphasis by Rasulullah (S.A.W.) was all the more necessary because the Ummah includes people from various countries, races, tribes and social ranks, each with their own ethnic, cultural, linguistic or temperamental features.

Islamic Unity Enlikened To a Strong Building

It is related by abu Moosa Ash'ari (R.A.) that The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The connection between Muslims is like that of a strong building - one part strengthens another." The Prophet (S.A.W.) then showed this by interlocking the fingers of one hand with those of the other (that muslims should remain united and combined - thereby strenghthening one another).

In the above hadeeth, by enlikening Muslim unity to a strong building, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has in effect urged the Ummah to form a fortress by uniting where each Muslim will be a "brick" and the closeness and coherence amongst Muslims should be like that of bricks in a building.  He then demonstrated, interlocking the fingers of both hands that the Muslims should remain together and blend into a single body.
 
In a hadeeth, narrated by No'man Ibn Bashir (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said that "The Muslims (the Ummah) are like the limbs of a man, where if the eye hurts the whole body feels pain and if the head hurts, the whole body feels pain and suffering."

This hadeeth, also seeks to emphasize the desired unity of the Ummah.  "All for one and one for all" should be the Muslims' motto.  They should be prepared to assist one another and even share the sorrows and problems of each other.  In fact, in yet another hadeeth mention is made of the fact thatjust as it is necessary for a believer (muslim) to be loyal and devoted to Allah, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), the Holy Qur'aan and the Islamic government; it is an essential condition, for being a faithful Believer, not to remain indifferent to the difficulties and problems of the Muslims but to take a genuine interest in them.  As related by Huzaifah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever does not take an interest in the affairs and problems of the Muslims, he is not of them.  And whoever's state is such that, each morning and evening, he is not loyal and earnest to Allah, his Apostle, His Book, the Islamic ruler and towards the Muslims, as a whole, he is not of them."

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was so stem with regards to the mutual relationship of Muslims, that he even took pledges for brotherly feeling and sincerity towards. all muslims.
 
It is related by Jabir lbn Abdullah (R.A.) that he said "I had taken a pledge at the hand of Rasuluilah (S.A.W.) to observe Swallah (prayers), to pay Zakaah (charity due) and to be a sincere well-wisher of every Muslim." The Fact that the Prophet (S.A.W.) took the pledge or promise from the companions, for being a sincere well - wisher of the Muslims together with that of observing Swalaah and Zakaah which are important pillars of Islam - shows the importance attached by him to the matter.
 
Some Special Rights and Claims

Besides the general kind treatment, brotherly love etc. to be extended to fellow Muslims, there are certain specific rights and claims to be fulfilled.
 
It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "There are five claims of a Muslim upon a Muslim: to return his greetings when he greets; to visit him when he falls ill; to attend his funeral; to accept his invitation to a meal and to pray for him, when he sneezes, by saying 'yarhamukallah' (May the mercy of Allah be on you)."
 
The five things mentioned in the hadeeth a reacts which not only give expression to, but also promote brotherly feelings between Muslims and therefore special attention should be paid to them. In another report, some other acts are specified too-which shows that the claims described here are by way of example only and not conclusive.
 
Anas (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) once said "I swear by the Holy Being in whose power my life is, any one of you cannot be a true believer unless he desires for his fellow-brother what he desires for himself."

To feel earnestly for a Muslim brother, to the extent of preferring for him what one prefers for oneself has been classed as a prerequisite for complete faith.  So, anyone who claims to be a Muslim, but is lacking in this aspect, he in fact does not possess the reality of Faith (imaan).

Defending The Honour of Muslim

The honour and dignity of a Muslim is precious in the sight of the Almighty and therefore it is a grave sin to abstain from defending and protecting it, let alone disgracing him or treating him disrepectfully.  The defence of a Muslim's honour, when it is at stake, is in fact a virtuous and rewardable deed as explained in the hadeeth related by Jabir (R.A.), that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The Muslim who forsakes a fellow Muslim brother (and does not come to his assistance) at a time when his honour is at stake, will be denied the help of Allah when he is greatly in need of it, whereas the Muslim who stands by a fellow Muslim at a time when his honour is at stake, - Allah will grant him His assistance when he will need it most."
 
In another hadeeth, reported by Abdullah Ibn Umar (R.A.) the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Every Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he should neither harm him, nor should he leave him alone when others treat him unjustly (he should help him).  Whoever will fulfil the need of a fellow brother, Allah will fulfil his need, and whoever removes the distress of a fellow Muslim, Allah will remove his distress on the Day of Judgement, and whoever will hide (keep secret) the faults (and shame) of a fellow Muslim, Allah will keep his sins secr'et on the Day of Account."
 
Both these reports show the value and respect that should be attached to the honour and good name of a Muslim.
 
A Muslim is like a Mirror unto a fellow Muslim

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "A Believer is a mirror to a fellow-believer and he is his brother, he removes his defect (or deficiency) and guards him from behind. (In cases where he is unaware etc.)." Just as a mirror reflects every blemish on the face of a person (and shows it to him), similarly every believing Muslim should act as a mirror to his fellow-brother by informing him of any faults or weakness that he may observe in him.  He should do this with a sincere heart and, as explained in the previous section, should most definitely refrain from spreading this to anyone else (i.e. he should keep it secret).  And since the hadeeth classes the fellow-believer as his brother, it will be his duty to protect him, to the best of his ability, from any evil or danger, that he may be unaware of.

Mutual Hatred, Jealousy, Back-biting etc., is strictly Forbidden

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) strongly condemned acts which create mutual hatred like suspicion, contempt, jealousy, back-biting etc. and warned the Ummah, in all earnestness, against the painful consequences of such habits.
 
It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Do not be suspicious, for suspicion is the height of falsehood, nor bear a grudge or enmity against each other, nor be jealous of each other, nor indulge in backbiting nor dig into secrets of one another, nor try to (unreasonably) excel one another, but 0 Bondmen of Allah!  Live like brothers as the Lord has commanded."
 
The evils mentioned above are highly detrimental to the growth of good and friendly relations.  They cause ill-will and produce bitterness in the hearts.  They breed hatred and enmity and leave no room for the development of goodwill and fellowship which the common religious bond demands.

DUTIES TOWARDS MANKIND IN GENERAL AND TO ALL OTHER CREATED BEINGS

In the foregoing sections, those ahaadeeth and instructions were discussed which govern the mutual behaviour of Muslims.  The Holy Prophet's (S.A.W.) teachings and sayings also deal with the manner of our conduct in respect to all mankind and even the other creatures of Allah Almighty.
 
It is related by Jareer Ibn Abdullah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Those whose hearts are devoid of mercy for others, will not obain the mercy of Allah."
 
The word "others" used in the hadeeth, in--!Lldps not only the Muslims but the non-believers too.  Everyone, indeed, has a claim to kindness and compassion, no matter what class or community he may belong to.  True -sympathy and kindness towards the non-believers and wrong-doers, however, would demand that first of all, a sorrow and concern is felt in the heart at their plight and transgression and an effort is made to save them.  Besides this, in cases of physical or wordly want and suffering, we are commanded to be kind and helpful to them.
 
This hadeeth actually imparts a stern warning to those who do not treat their fellow-men with kindness and compassion and remain indifferent to their needs and difficulties.
 
In another hadeeth, narrated by Abdullah Ibn Amr (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said "The Most-Merciful (i.e. Allah) will have mercy on those who are merciful.  Show compassion to the dwellers of the earth, then the One who dwells in the heavens (Allah) will show compassion to you!"
 
A strong emphasis to show kindness and mercy to all the creatures of Allah on earth, with whom one comes into contact, is contained in the hadeeth. lt first tells that there will be a special mercy of Allah on those who are merciful and then gives assurance that the Almighty will show compassion to those who are compassionate to His creatures.  This emphasis, to show kindness and compassion to the "dwellers of the earth", not only includes men of all faiths and nationalities, but also the animals and other creatures.

A similar hadeeth has been reported by Anas (R.A.) and Abdullah Ibn Masud (R.A.) -The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "All creatures are the 'Ayaal' (family) of Allah.  The most beloved to Allah, amongst H is creatures, is the one who is good to His 'Ayaal' (family - i.e. creatures)-,'
 
Those who are dependent on a person for the necessities of life (like food, clothing etc.) are called his 'Ayaal'.  Therefore, in this regard, all the created beings are the 'Ayaal' of the Creator - Allah.  He is the sole Cherisher and Sustainer.  The above hadeeth, thus explains that whoever shows kindness and sympathy to the creatures of Allah will be deserving of His love and mercy.
 
Kindness to Animals

The Holy Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.), like the earlier Prophets, permitted the use of those animals created for the purpose of riding or carrying loads and permitted the use of flesh of those animals which have been declared clean for food.  This actually, is a blessing of Allah Almighty and is in accordance with His commands.  But at the same time, as explained earlier, these creatures should be treated with kindness and mercy.

Abu Hurairah (R.Aj-related the narration of the Prophet (SA.W.): "Once, a traveller (during the course of his journey) came upon a well.  Feeling thirsty, he went down into it- drank water and came out. (There was no rope nor bucket).  On coming out he saw a dog that was licking the wet earth (around the well).  The man took pity and went down (into the well- again), filled his boot, held it by the teeth, came out and gave water to the dog to drink.  This (simple) service to the thirsty dog pleased Allah to an extent that He blessed the man with salvation (forgave him all his sins)".  Abu Hurairah (R.A.) says that upon hearing this, the companions (sahaabah) enquired "Oh, Prophet of Allah is there a reward for us even on removing the distress of animals?" "Yes" replied the Prophet (S.A.W.) "(in fact) on removing the distress of every living being!"

The mercy and benevolence of the Almighty is stirred by the display of such deeds of pity and sympathy- due to which He grants forgiveness and salvation.  It should be noted here that the aim of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam was not merely to narrate the story, but to stress the importance of kindness and compassion to all the creatures of Allah - even to a dog!

Severity of Cruelty to Creatures

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, on the one hand emphasized that all creatures of Allah be treated kindly, and on the other hand warned against cruelty to them explaining that to unnecessarily inflict pain on the creatures is a great sin.

It is reported by Suhail lbn Hanzaliyyah (R.A.) that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam once came upon a camel whose belly had shrunk to its back (due to starvation).  On seeing it he remarked, "Oh people!  Fear Allah with regards to the dumb animals. (i.e. Do not starve them like this).  Ride them while they are in good condition (i.e. well fed) and when you leave them, leave them in the condition that they are well!"

The moral of the hadeeth is that anyone who possesses an animal, should feed it properly and then take only as much work from it as it may bear (nothing beyond its endurance).

Jabir (R.A.) narrates that once The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam saw a donkey that had been branded on the face, upon which he exclaimed "The person who has committed this (cruel) act is removed from the mercy of the Lord (Creator)."

As is still practiced in many places, in those days it was customary to brand animals (like horses, donkeys, cows, etc.), with red-hot irons, as a mark of recognition.  To brand the face of the animals, which is the most sensitive part of the body, by burning a mark on it, is definitely a most cruel act.  The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam felt deeply hurt on seeing that this had been done to the poor animal, which made him ufter the above sentence.  This surely was an expression of severe resentment against such cruelty!

In another hadeeth, related by Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.) the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "A certain cruel, hard - hearted woman will be cast into Hell, (simply) because of (her cruelty to) her cat.  She held it is captivity until it died (due to starvation).  She neither gave it anything to eat, nor set it free so that it could feed on the worms and insects of the earth."

It is clear from this hadeeth that the cruelty to animals is most displeasing to Allah the Almighty, and it can lead one to hell!

These few Ahaadeeth of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam give an idea of the Islamic teachings concerning the treatment of animals- and all creatures, but, it should be remembered that these do not conflict with the command for killing poisonous creatures, such as snakes, scorpions etc. which is actually an act of service to men and to other creatures of Allah. The world has, only recently, realised the need for the prevention of cruelty to animals, but our Holy Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam had taught this to mankind centuries ago!

EPILOGUE

A principal feature of the Holy Prophet's Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam teachings is the emphasis upon every class, group or individual to fulfil the rights of others, with a full sense of responsibility, and consider it a source of good fortune in both worlds.

In the light of all that has been explained, it can confidently be said that our indifference to one another's rights is, to a great extent, the cause of our misfortune.  Furthermore the root cause of all trouble, at the various levels social, economical, legal, educational, political, etc. - is due to the disregard of the rights of others (i.e. not fulfilling them and not attaching an importance to them.) There can be no real peace and happiness, until we all attach an equal importance to the rights and claims of others upon us, as we attach to our rights and claims on them.

May Allah the Almighty grant us all, the understanding and the guidance to fulfil our rights and duties to one another, in the manner that has been explained to us by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and may He create the bond of true and Sincere Unity between us all.

AAMEEN.

The above contents was scanned in its entirety from a freely distributed book called Social Conduct of a Muslim by by Shaikh Musa Ibrahim Menk, published by Africa Muslim Agency and may be contacted at P.O. Box 42802, Fordsburg 2033, Transvaal, South Africa.  Any typos are the result of scanning errors and my failure to discover them.  Let me know of any errors at muhammed@altavista.net.