Know your rights and perform your duties
Why is there widespread social and political upheaval in our present world? It is not due to injustice as is commonly assumed.
Why is there widespread social and political upheaval in our present world? It is not due to injustice as is commonly assumed. It is due to an unrealistic concept of justice and an obsession with an unrealistic concept of human rights.
People are living in a state of over-expectation and when they find that their expectations are not fulfilled, they react.
This reaction begins from negative thinking, and then it takes the shape of protest and, finally, it takes a violent turn. The solution lies in reconsidering and correcting the generally accepted concept of human rights. This is where to begin.
In the 20th century, many movements were launched to champion human rights. But perhaps, there has been no significant movement based on human duties. Through the media, human rights movements gradually spread all over the world.
Now everyone is obsessed with the concept of human rights; they have become rights conscious. This is against the law of nature. The law of nature is based on the 'give and take' principle.
But the human rights concept has gone in a contrary direction — 'taking without giving'— if not consciously, then unconsciously.
Under the influence of these movements, now everyone talks of ideal justice. But our world is a world of competition where ideal justice cannot be achieved. According to the law of nature, only working justice is achievable in this world and not ideal justice.
The only workable formula is that everyone should accept working justice. This will give one enough time to direct one's energies towards more important issues.
This law of nature is based on high wisdom, that is, everyone should be content with their needs and divert their ambitions to spiritual and ideological development.
So, the best formula for a successful life is: as regards material things, to remain contented, and in spiritual matters, to be idealistic.
This is the only formula that gives one peace of mind and prevents a person from indulging in negative thinking. It frees one from the desire to complain and helps in developing positive thinking.
The two-point formula to live a successful life is: material 'status quo-ism' and spiritual idealism… A Hadith of the Prophet says: 'A believer should be duty conscious, and as far as his rights are concerned, he should ask of them from God.'
It is a believer's duty to give to others what is due from him, and regarding his rights, he should ask for them only from God. Instead of being only rights conscious, he should also be duty conscious. One person's duty is another's right.
So, if we all follow the principle of being duty conscious, automatically our rights will be taken care of. Nevertheless, complete justice and total fairness are not possible in this imperfect world.
God has promised these only in the Hereafter, where He will give to every person every atom's worth of what is due to him. Thus, we must continue to do our duty faithfully. Islam wants us to build a duty conscious, rather than a rights conscious society.