Islam has placed extreme emphasis on our duties towards fellow-men. Every individual who affirms his belief in God and in the Day of Accountability has been charged with the responsibility of being careful about the rights of men (huquq al ‘ibad). God, in his infinite mercy, may forgive any lapse in respect of His Own rights (huquq Allah). In this domain only shirk (associating partners with Allah) has been declared as unforgivable. But in the case of the rights of men, we have been warned that for this there will be a heavy reckoning to pay in the Hereafter. Let us look at two important ahadith of the Prophet (SAW) relating to this subject:
The first of these has been reported by Sahih al-Bukhari on the authority of Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA). Says the Prophet (SAW):
“If any one has committed any kind of excess against any of his brothers (fellow-men) or damaged his honour or encroached upon his rights in some other manner, he should make amends for it now, in this life before the arrival of the day when he cannot compensate for it with dirham and dinar (money). On that day, if he has any fund of good deeds to his credit, a part of it (proportionate to the damage caused by him) will be seized from him and transferred to his victim. But if he has no good deeds at his disposal, the evil deeds of his victim will be loaded on to him.”
The second hadith occurs in Bihaqui on the authority of Hazrat Aaishah (RA). She reports the Prophet saying:
“Account deeds (relating to sins) are of three types. The first of these contains the unforgivable sin, shirk, about which Allah says that He does not forgive associating partners with Him. The second consists of excesses committed against others. These Allah will not leave alone unless accounts are settled. The third list of sins originates from man’s carelessness about Allah’s Own rights. These He may choose to forgive or punish.”
Examining our conduct in the light of these ahadith, we realise how non-serious we are about the rights of others. Most of us do not care about how our wealth and possessions are acquired. We are particularly least attentive towards harming the honour of others. We take our conversation very lightly. A single word, a slight twist in intonation, a simple gesture, a mere insinuation may do irreparable damage to the honour of a fellow-man, not to speak of backbiting and slander.