A Believer Is Aware of Their Responsibility

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Responsibility

“Each of you is a shepherd, and all of you are responsible for those under your care: the head of state is a shepherd and is responsible for those under his authority. Every individual is a shepherd to his family and is responsible for them. A woman is a shepherd in her husband’s household and is responsible for what is under her supervision. A servant is a shepherd of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for your flock.”1

In this hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explains that, regardless of their position, a believer should possess a sense of responsibility. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) likens a believer to a shepherd. Just as a shepherd is responsible for almost everything in his flock, similarly, a believer is responsible for those under his care. A leader is a shepherd to his subordinates. A man is a shepherd to his family. A woman is a shepherd to her home and children. Consequently, everyone is like a shepherd and everyone is responsible for those they oversee.

Yes, we are quoting the commentary of this hadith, which eloquently expresses that a believer is a person of responsibility, directly from M. Fethullah Gülen’s work Sonsuz Nur:

Rai refers to someone who watches over, protects, and takes care of something. A shepherd is called “rai” because he grazes the animals entrusted to him in the safest and most suitable places, prevents them from being caught by wolves or birds of prey, and is deeply concerned with them if they face any danger. While performing this sacred duty, he maintains his natural purity, remains free from selfish desires, and feels deep compassion and vast mercy towards his flock, sharing in their suffering and delighting in their happiness. Similarly, there is such a relationship between a head of state and his people.”

The head of state and his representatives, in various positions, are responsible for overseeing and caring for those under their authority, sharing their joys and sorrows, preparing a happy future for them, and addressing their difficulties.

Similarly, this relationship is also relevant between the head of a household and family members. The head of a household is primarily responsible for providing food, clothing, and suitable housing. Additionally, they are responsible for education, upbringing, good manners, and ensuring both worldly and spiritual happiness.

The same applies to the relationship between a woman and her husband; a woman is responsible for managing the household, safeguarding her husband’s property and honor, much like a shepherd is responsible for his flock.

The duty of a servant to protect and manage his master’s property, and the duty of a child to preserve the wealth, honor, and dignity of their father, are all related to the concept of “rai” (shepherd) and “raiyya” (flock). It can be said that, in the eyes of religion, there is no one exempt from being either a “rai” or a “raiyya”. In one aspect, everyone is like a shepherd, and in another, like a member of the flock. Even if there is no specific flock for a “rai” to oversee, they are still responsible. Indeed, everyone is obligated to protect and take care of their own self, intellect, all their senses, and all their faculties as entrusted to them.

What is the Sense of Responsibility in İslam?

Islam is the only life system, among all known systems and religions, that has detailed and announced everyone’s responsibilities—from the head of state to the servants working in our homes—even during a time when dreams of democracy had not yet been conceived. It is not possible to present another system that rivals Islam in this regard.

The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) states that “the head of state is responsible,” and he lists his responsibilities, boundaries, duties, and obligations one by one. He reminds men and women of their responsibilities and assigns specific duties to each in their respective domains. He speaks of the responsibilities of a father to his child and the child’s responsibilities to the father, highlighting the rights and obligations of both sides. Furthermore, considering the developments in the world, he addresses the rights and responsibilities of servants and workers at a time that could be considered very early, offering a solution to a social problem long before the societal upheavals in human history.

Here is another example of the prophetic expression of numerous issues, succinctly conveyed in a few words, which occupy substantial space in legal books, ethical and educational treatises, sociological and legal works—from the mutual rights of the head of state and his subjects (mostly detailed in books known as Ahkâm-ı Sultaniye), to the rights of children and parents, and from the rights of spouses to those of workers and employers!2

The following historical incident related to this topic is truly instructive! Abu Uthman an-Nahdi narrates: “The respected Umar had appointed a man from the Banu Asad tribe to a position. The man came to the respected Umar to receive his appointment document. At that moment, one of Umar’s own children came to him. Out of compassion, the respected Omar kissed his child. The man said, ‘O Commander of the Believers! Do you kiss your children like this? (This is surprising!) By God, I have never kissed any of my children in my life.’ The respected Omar responded, ‘If mercy has been removed from your heart, what can I do for you? God only has mercy on His merciful servants. If you do not show compassion to your own child, how will you show mercy to the people? Therefore, by God, your compassion for the people will also be limited. Return our appointment order. From now on, you cannot be my officer.’ The man returned the appointment order, and the respected Omar dismissed him from his position.”3

Selcuk Camcı

Selçuk Camcı, a graduate of Theology in 1992, specialized in the Hadith Department for his master’s degree and is currently a doctoral student in Islamic law. He worked as an editor for religious publications, including the New Hope Magazine. He also received Chaplaincy training in the United States.

Footnotes

1.Bukhari, Friday 11; Muslim, Construction 20; Abu Dawood, Construction 1

2.M. Fethullah Gülen, Infinite Light, 1/286-287

3.Bayhaqi, The Branches of Faith 9/41

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