Each and every one of us have duties to fulfil to ourselves, our loved ones and those around us. Responsibilities that ensure we uphold the rights of everyone in our community and do our part to help create a welcoming space where we all feel heard, cared for and respected.
A famous Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stresses this importance by saying:
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Upholding our responsibilities in Islam means we are looking after our flock – the communities we’re a part of that we nurture and nurture us in turn. We each have a duty to take accountability for our words and actions and do our utmost best to do good and not harm others. As in another hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) also reminds us:
”Man’s feet will not move from their place on the Day of Resurrection before he is asked about his life, in what did he let it perish? About his knowledge, what did he do with it? About his wealth, from where did he earn it, and on what did he spend it? About his body, in what did he wear it out?” (Sahih At-Tirmidhi)
For it is when we appreciate and look after the gifts Allah (SWT) has given us – our health and wellbeing, our community and His beautiful creations – that we grow as individuals and as a society.
Our Responsibilities towards Oneself
Allah (SWT) is the Creator of all that exists and the Sustainer of everything. He is the one that brought us to life in our mother’s womb, granting us our unique traits and abilities. When we look after our health and wellbeing and appreciate ourselves for who we are, we are fulfilling one of our responsibilities of honouring what Allah (SWT) has gifted us.
This also means maintaining our connection with Allah (SWT), as nurturing our spiritual health, through sincere intentions and acts of worship, alongside our physical and mental health has the power to strengthen us and help us find success in this life and the hereafter. For we are reminded in the Qur’an:
“Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. (Al-Baqarah, 2:195)
Allah (SWT) entrusts us to take care of ourselves first and foremost and maintain a constant connection to Him. As it is when we can look after our own through His Guidance that we can also care for others – our community and Allah’s (SWT) creations.
Our Responsibilities towards Our Community
Communities have an important role in shaping our worldviews and values. To be able to connect with and care for one another are honoured traits Allah (SWT) has given all human beings, regardless of their faith, cultural and linguistic background, age or status.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)
In Islam, all individuals are equal in the sight of Allah (SWT), as it is the way we treat others and carry ourselves that matters most in His eyes. Our righteous deeds and being just to ourselves and those around us are what endear us to our Creator and draw us close to Him. A true believer is distinguished by loving his community for the sake of Allah (SWT), sincerely and truthfully, and treating all His creations with respect and kindness.
Our Responsibilities towards Nature
Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an: “And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” (Al-An’am, 6:38)
Just as humans have a great status in Islam, so do all of Allah’s (SWT) other creations. From the animals to the water and trees, Islam recognises their rights and decrees to us to show mercy to them. It is not just on us to torture animals and deplete our natural resources – these are the beloved creations of Allah (SWT) and it is our duty to protect and preserve them.
Everything we see around us has been designed for a purpose by Allah (SWT). We want to look after the nature around us so that our youth and future generations are able to enjoy them and care for them in turn. And it is through showing concern for these beautiful creations of Allah (SWT) that we come back to upholding our responsibility to look after our community and our own wellbeing.
In this life, we are all held accountable for our deeds and how we fulfil the obligations we have to ourselves, our loved ones and the beings around us. Thus, it is our duty to put our time and energy toward ensuring we become responsible individuals, guided by our love for communities and our faith.