[Famous short book by fourth holy imam on moral rights and ethical responsibilities]
“THE TREATISE ON RIGHTS”
By: Imam Zainalabideen [d. 712 C.E.]
In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
God have mercy upon you. Know that God has rights incumbent upon you and that these encompass you in every motion through which you move, every rest which you take, every way station in which you reside, every limb which you employ, and every instrument which you use. Some of these rights are greater than others. And the greatest of God's rights incumbent upon you is what He has made incumbent upon you for Himself the Blessed and the Exalted from His rights. That which is the root of all rights from which others branch out. Then those which He has made incumbent upon you in yourself, from your crown to your foot, according to the diversity of your organs.
He established for your sight a right incumbent upon you, and your hearing a right incumbent upon you, and your tongue a right incumbent upon you, and your hand a right incumbent upon you, and your legs a right incumbent upon you, and your stomach a right incumbent upon you, and your private part a right incumbent upon you. These are the seven organs through which deeds take place. Then the Mighty and the High established for your deeds rights incumbent upon you. Then He established for your ritual prayer a right incumbent upon you, and your fasting a right incumbent upon you, and your charity a right incumbent upon you, and your offering a right incumbent upon you, and your deeds a right incumbent upon you. Then the rights extend out from you to others who have rights incumbent upon you.
And the most incumbent of them incumbent upon you are the rights toward your leaders, then the rights toward your subjects, and then the rights toward your relations of kin. And from these rights branch out other rights. The rights of your leaders are three-fold: The one most incumbent upon you is the right of him who trains you through authority, then the right of him who trains you through knowledge, then the right of him who trains you through property. And each trainer is a leader. And the rights of your subjects are three-fold: The one most incumbent upon you is the right of those who are your subjects through authority, then the right of those who are your subjects through knowledge, for the man of ignorance is the subject of the man of knowledge And then the right of those who are your subjects through property, such as wives and those owned by the right hand.
And the rights of your relations of kin are multi-fold: they hold according to the degree of closeness of the relationship. Then the most incumbent one upon you is the right of your mother, then the right of your father, then the right of your child, then the right of your brother, then the next nearest, and then the next nearest, and the most worthy, and then the next most worthy. Then there is the right of your master who favours you, then the right of the slave the servant whose favours reach you, then the right of him who treats you kindly, then the right of your caller to prayer, then the right of your prayer leader, then the right of your sitting companion, then the right of your neighbour, then the right of your companion, then the right of your partner, then the right of your property, then the right of the debtor who must pay you back, then the right of your creditor who demands his debt to be paid back, then the right of your associate, then the right of your adversary who has a claim against you, then the right of your adversary against whom you have a claim, then the right of him who seeks your advice, then the right of him whose advice you seek, then the right of him who seeks your counsel, then the right of him whose counsel you seek, then the right of him who is older than you are, then the right of him who is younger than you are, then the right of him who begs from you, then the right of him from whom you beg, then the right of him who wrongs you either verbally or physically, then the right of him who does something to make you happy either verbally or physically whether intentionally or unintentionally, then the right of the people of your creed, then the right of those under the protection of Islam, then all rights hold which are incumbent upon you according to the vicissitudes of life and the availability of means.
Therefore blessed be the one whom God helps fulfil the rights which He has made incumbent upon him and whom He grants success therein and guides him.
Rights of God
1-THE GREATEST RIGHT OF GOD
Then the greatest right of God incumbent upon you is that you worship Him without associating anything with Him. When you do that with sincerity, He has made it binding upon Himself to give you sufficiency in the affairs of this world and the next and to keep for you whatever of them that you like.
2- THE RIGHT OF YOURSELF
And the right of yourself incumbent upon you is that you employ it in obeying God; then you deliver to your tongue its right, to your hearing its right, to your sight its right, to your hand its right, to your leg its right, to your stomach its right, to your private part its right, and you seek help from God in all that.
3- THE RIGHT OF YOUR TONGUE
And the right of the tongue is that you consider it too noble for obscenity, accustom it to good, direct it to politeness, do not use it except in situations of needs and benefits of the religion and this world, and refrain from any meddling in which there is little to be gained, and there is no security from its harm that accompanies its small benefits. It is the witness to and the evidence of the existence of the intellect. The demonstration of an intelligent person's intellect is through his reputation of good speech. And there is no power but in God the High, the Great.
4- THE RIGHT OF YOUR HEARING
And the right of hearing is to keep it pure by not making it the direct pathway to your heart, except for noble words that establish some good in your heart or grant you a noble trait. Indeed hearing is the gateway through which various concepts reach the heart —whether good or evil. And there is no power but in God.
5- THE RIGHT OF YOUR SIGHT
And the right of your sight is that you lower it before everything, which is unlawful to you. And that you abandon using it, except in situations in which you can take heed in such a way that you gain insight or acquire knowledge by it. Indeed sight is the gateway to learning.
6- THE RIGHT OF YOUR LEGS
And the right of your legs is that you walk not with them toward that which is unlawful to you. And you should not direct them in the way that will lead the person they carry to being debased. Your legs will carry you in the direction of the religion and they will help you go ahead. And there is no power but in God.
7- THE RIGHT OF YOUR HAND
And the right of your hand is that you stretch it not toward that which is unlawful to you. Should you do so, you will be chastised by God in the future. And you are not secure from the blameful tongue of the people now, either. Do not prevent your hands from performing what God has made obligatory for them. You should honour your hands in such a way as to prevent them from engaging in many of the deeds that are not allowed for them. You should let them engage in many deeds that are not harmful for them. If they are now used by the intellect and with honour now, then they are bound to receive a good reward in the future.
8- THE RIGHT OF YOUR STOMACH
And the right of your stomach is that you make it not into a container for a little of that which is unlawful to you or a lot of it. You should be determined to eat what is lawful and not exceed the bounds of strengthening to the extent of belittling your stomach to the point that you loose your manliness. And you should restrain it whenever you are extremely hungry or thirsty, since getting really full will cause indigestion, sluggishness, indolence, and it will hinder you from nobility and any good deeds. And drinking too much will make you feel drunk, light-headed, ignorant, and take away your manliness.
9- THE RIGHT OF YOUR PRIVATE PART
And the right of your private part is that you should protect it from everything that is unlawful for you and help it by lowering your eyes- this is certainly the best way to help it. And you should also remember death often, And threaten yourself with God and try to make yourself fear God. Maintaining one's decency and receiving help in so doing are possible by God's help. There is no strength or power but in Him.
Rights of Deeds
10- THE RIGHT OF YOUR PRAYER
Then the right of your ritual prayer is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of God and that through it you are standing before God. And when you realize that, then you will stand in the station of him who is lowly, vile, beseeching, trembling, hopeful, fearful, and abased, and you will magnify Him who is before you through stillness, and bowing of the head, and humbleness of the limbs, and yielding of the wing, and by saying the best supplications to him by yourself and beseeching Him to save you from the responsibilities which rest on your shoulders-surrounded by your faults and exhausted by your sins. And there is no power but in God.
11- THE RIGHT OF FASTING
And the right of fasting is that You should know it is a veil, which God has set up over your tongue, your hearing and your sight, your private parts and your stomach, to protect you from the Fire. This meaning is asserted in the tradition: “Fasting is an armor against the Fire.” Thus if your parts can calm down within the veil of fasting, you have hopes of being protected. But if you leave them agitated behind the veil and let them lift the sides of the veil, then they will look at things that are not lawful for them to look at -that incite lust and powers that are beyond the limits of being God-fearing. It is not safe for you to break through the veil and leave it. And there is no power but in God.
12- THE RIGHT OF PILGRIMAGE
And the right of pilgrimage is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of your Lord and a flight to Him from your sins; and through it your repentance is accepted and you perform an obligation made incumbent upon you by God.
13-THE RIGHT OF CHARITY
And the right of charity is that you should know that it is a storing away with your Lord and a deposit for which you will have no need for witnesses. Then once you know this you will be more confident of it if you donate it in secret than if you donate it in public. It is more appropriate for you to do privately what you now do in public and keep the affairs between you and Him secret under all circumstances. And you should also not take your hearing and sight as witnesses for the donations that you make in charity as if you have the most trust yourself. It should not be as if you are not sure that your donations will be returned to you. Finally you should not remind others of your favours since you have done so for yourself. If you remind them of your favours, you will not be immune from being similarly reminded of others' favours to you. Moreover this will prove that your intentions were not pure. If you had pure intentions you would not remind anyone of it. And there is no power but in God.
14- THE RIGHT OF THE OFFERING
And the right of the offering is that through it you purify your will toward your Lord, and expose yourself to His Mercy, and His approval and not the eyes of the observers lower than Him. If this is so, you will neither be hypocritical nor extravagant. You will only intend the offering for God's sake, and know that God wishes your ease, and does not wish your hardship. He also wishes His creatures to take it easy, and does not wish them to suffer hardships. Likewise, modesty is better than arrogance, for there lies extravagance and falsehood in the arrogant, while there are no formalities or falsehoods in the humble and the servile, since they are creatures and they exist in nature. There is no power but in God.
Rights of Leaders
15- THE RIGHT OF THE POSSESSOR OF AUTHORITY
Then the right of the possessor of authority is that you should know that God has established you as a trial for him. God is testing him through the authority God has given him over you. And you should sincerely provide him with your advice. And you should not quarrel with him while he has full dominance over you, for thereby you cause your own destruction and his, too. And you should be humble and courteous for his gifts to attain his satisfaction with you, so that he will not harm your religion. And you should seek God's help in this regard. Do not oppose his power and do not resist him. Should you do so, you would have disobeyed him and disobeyed yourself: thus exposing yourself to encounter his evil and expose him to destruction by you. Thus you will deserve to be considered to be as his assistant acting against yourself and as his partner in what he does to you. And there is no power but in God.
16- THE RIGHT OF THE TRAINER THROUGH KNOWLEDGE
And the right of the one who trains you through knowledge is glorifying him, and respecting his meetings, and listening well to him, and being responsive to him, and helping him for yourself in the knowledge that you need by freeing your mind for him, and presenting your understanding to him, and purifying your heart for him, and fixing your eyes on him by means of abandoning leisures and diminishing lust. And you should know that regarding what he teaches you, you are considered as his messenger to teach when you meet the ignorant ones. Therefore, it is binding upon you to render on his behalf properly, and not cheat in the fulfilment of his mission, and strive to deliver what you undertake. And there is no power but in God.
17- THE RIGHT OF THE TRAINER THROUGH OWNERSHIP
And the right of him who trains you through ownership is similar to the right of the possessor of authority over you. Except this one has a right which that one does not: being that you are bound to obey him in every matter, whether small or big, except for what would lead you to abandon incumbent rights of God, or in what would intervene between you, his rights and the rights of the people. And once you fulfil them, you can commit yourself to his rights and engage in fulfilling them. And there is no power but in God.
Rights Of Subjects
18- THE RIGHT OF SUBJECTS THROUGH AUTHORITY
Then the right of your subjects through authority is that you should know that you have authority over them due to your power over them, and that they have been made your subjects through their weakness and humility. What do they deserve whose weakness and humility made them your subjects, and made your authority over them effective. They do not disobey you by their own might and power. They cannot find a supporter against your power except [by God], by His Mercy and Protection, and patience. How proper it is for you to recognize that God has granted you this increased might and power with which you have subdued others. You should be thankful to God. And God will increase His Graces to those who thank Him. And there is no power but in God.
19- THE RIGHT OF SUBJECTS THROUGH KNOWLEDGE
And the right of your subjects through knowledge is that you should know that God established you over them through what He has granted you of knowledge and what He has granted authority over His treasures of wisdom. If you do well in what God has given you authority over and treat them the same as the treatment of the treasurer, a sympathetic counselor who respects his master in the affairs of the slaves, the steadfast good-doer who, when he sees one who is needy, takes some of the property that he has control over to give away. Then you will be matured. And will be hopeful and faithful. Otherwise you will be regarded as betraying Him, and unjust to His creatures, and exposing yourself to God's seizing His Graces and Power from you.
20- THE RIGHT OF THE WIFE
And the right of your subject through matrimonial contract is that you should know that God has made her repose, a comfort and a companion, and a maintainer for you. It is incumbent upon each of you to thank God for the other and realize that the other one is God's blessing for you. It is obligatory to be a good companion for God's Blessing, and to honour her and treat her gently. Yet, your right over her is more incumbent and she must obey you in every matter that you like or detest- except in acts of disobedience to God. She should enjoy the rights of mercy and intimacy, as she is an object of tranquility. You should care for her through consummation of the lust that must be consummated. And that is surely great. And there is no power but in God.
21- THE RIGHT OF YOUR SLAVE
And the right of your subject through being your slave is that you should know that he is a creature of your Lord and is made of the same flesh and blood. And you only own him, but you are much too inferior to God and you have not created him. And you have not created his hearing and sight, nor do you provide his daily sustenance; rather it is God who gives you sufficiency for that. Then He subjugated him to you, entrusted him to you, and provisionally consigned him with you. So protect him there, and treat him well just as well as he has treated you, and feed him with what you eat yourself, and clothe him with what you clothe yourself. And do not burden him with what he cannot withstand. And if you dislike him, you ought to let him go and replace him, but do not torment God's creature. And there is no power but in God.
Rights of Relations of Kin
22- THE RIGHT OF YOUR MOTHER
Then the right of your mother is that you should know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, and she fed you with the fruit of her heart -that which no one feeds anyone, and she protected you with her hearing and sight, and her hands and legs, and her hair and skin and all her other organs. She was highly delighted to do so. She was happy and eager, enduring the harm and the pains, and the heaviness and the grief until the Mighty Hand expelled you out of her and delivered you out to the earth. She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, and if she was naked as long as you were clothed, and if she was thirsty as long as you drank, and if she was in the sun as long as you were in the shade, and if she was miserable as long as you were happy, and if she was deprived of sleeping as long as you were resting. And her abdomen was your abode, and her lap was your seat, and her breast was your supply of drink, and her soul was your fort. She protected you from the heat and the cold of this world. Then you should thank her for all that. You will not be able to show her gratitude unless through God's help and His granting you success.
23- THE RIGHT OF THE FATHER
And the right of your father is that you should know that he is your root and you are his branch. And without him, you would not be. Whenever you see anything in yourself which pleases you, you should know that your father is the root of its blessing upon you. So praise God and thank Him in recognition of that. And there is no power but in God.
24- THE RIGHT OF THE CHILD
And the right of your child is that you should know that he is from you and he will be ascribed to you in this world through both his good deeds and his evil deeds. And you are responsible for what has been entrusted to you in teaching him good conduct, and guiding him toward his Lord and helping him to obey Him on your behalf and for himself. Then you will be rewarded for so doing, and you will be punished. Then regarding his affairs, act like one who will be proud of bringing him up in this world, and one who is excused by His Lord for what is between you and him for taking good care of him, and the good results you achieved. And there is no power but in God.
25- THE RIGHT OF THE BROTHER
And the right of your brother is that you should know that he is your hand that you extend, and your back to whom you seek refuge, and your power upon whom you rely, and your might with which you compete. Take him not as a weapon with which to disobey God, nor as a means with which to violate God's rights. And do not neglect to help him against his own self and support him against his enemy, and intervene between him and his devils, and give him good counsel, and associate with him for God's sake. Then if he obeys his Lord and is responsible towards Him properly it is fine. Else God should be more preferable and more honourable to you than he is.
Rights of Others
26- THE RIGHT OF MASTER ON THE FREED SLAVE
Then the right of your master who has favoured you is that you should know that he has spent his property for you and has brought you out of the abasement of slavery and its desolation, and has brought you into the honour of freedom and its sociability. And he has freed you from the captivity of his own possession and has released the bonds of his slavery from you. And he has led you to smell the scent of honour, and has brought you out of the prison of subjugation, and has repelled hardship from you, and has extended to you the tongue of fairness, and has liberated you to freely move about in the whole world, and has given you ownership of yourself, and has freed you from captivity, and has given you the freedom to worship your Lord. And for this he has suffered a decrease in his fortune. Then you should know that he is the closest creature to you after your relations of kin, in your life and after your death, and that he is the most meritorious creature to receive your assistance and support, and your help for God's sake. Therefore do not prefer yourself to him regarding any of his needs.
27- THE RIGHT OF THE FREED SLAVE ON HIS MASTER
And the right of the slave whom you have favoured is that you should know that God has established you as his supporter, and shelter and assistant, and refuge, and He has established him for you as the means and as a mediator between you and Him. Then by freeing him, he will protect you from the Fire. And this is the reward you get from him in the future. And your immediate reward is to inherit from him if he does not have any relations of kin. There is a compensation for the property you have spent for him, and respecting his rights after you spent your property. Then if you do not respect his rights, there is the fear upon you that his inheritance would not be purified for you. And there is no power but in God.
28- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHO TREATS YOU KINDLY
And the right of him who treats you kindly is that you should thank him and acknowledge his kindness; and spread the good word around about him, and sincerely pray for him between you and God the Praised One. Then if you do that, you have thanked him both in private and in public. Then if you are able to practically recompense him, Do recompense him. Otherwise you should be determined to do so later.
29- THE RIGHT OF THE CALLER TO PRAYER
And the right of your caller to prayer is that you should know that he is the one reminding you of your Lord, and is calling you to your good fortune, and is your greatest helper in fulfilling an obligation that God has made incumbent upon you. Therefore thank him for that just as you thank one who does some good to you. And if you are upset with him at home due to this, you should not accuse him for this since his act is for God. And you should know that he is one of the Blessings of God to you. There is no doubt about it. Then you should kindly treat God's Blessing, by praising God for him under all circumstances. And there is no power but in God.
30- THE RIGHT OF THE RITUAL PRAYER LEADER
And the right of your leader in your ritual prayer is that you should know that he has taken on the role of a mediator between you and God and appeared in the presence of your Lord on your behalf. And he speaks for you, but you do not speak for him; and he supplicates for you, but you do not supplicate for him; and he has beseeched for you and you do not beseech for him. And he has spared you the anxiety of standing before God and the question of interrogation for your prayer, but you do not spare him that. Should he perform the prayer imperfectly, he is held responsible for that not you; and if he makes a mistake during the prayer, you will not be his partner in it, and there is no superiority in this for him over you. Then he protected you through himself, And he protected your prayer through his prayer. Therefore thank him for this. And there is no power nor any strength but in God.
31- THE RIGHT OF YOUR SITTING COMPANION
And the right of your sitting companion is that you should treat him gently, and warmly welcome him, and be fair while talking with him, and do not take your eyes off of him when you are looking at him, and pronounce your words clearly to help him understand what you say. And if you are the first one to go and sit with him, you can leave him when you wish. However, if he is the first one to come and sit with you, he can leave you when he wishes to. And you should not leave him without his permission. And there is no power but in God.
32- THE RIGHT OF THE NEIGHBOUR
And the right of your neighbour is that you should be as a guardian for him when he is absent, and you should honour him when he is present, and you should assist and support him in both situations. You should not pursue any of his imperfections, and you should not seek any of his faults. But if you should discover any of his faults unintentionally, you should take the role of -regarding what you know- a fortified stronghold and a veiling screen. You should guard them in such a way that none of his defects can be discovered even if they are thoroughly inspected through spears. And you should not eavesdrop on him, and you should not forsake him during times of hardship. And you should not envy him when he receives a blessing.
Pardon his deviation and forgive his mistakes. And do not lose your temper when he behaves out of ignorance with you. And do not stop to be his supporter, and answer those who scold him. And divulge for him the deception of those who counsel him, and associate with him in an honourable manner. And there is no power nor any strength but in God.
33- THE RIGHT OF THE COMPANION
And the right of the companion is that you should act as his companion with nobility as much as you can. You should at least treat him with fairness and honour him as he honours you, and guard him as he guards you, and do not let him be the first one to deal with the other one with honour. And if he does so, you should do something for him in return. And you should not neglect the friendship that he deserves in the least bit. You should commit yourself to advise him, care for him, and help him perform the acts of obedience to his Lord, and help him restrain himself from any act of disobedience of his Lord that he might attempt. Then be like a mercy upon him, and not as a chastisement. And there is no power but in God.
34- THE RIGHT OF THE PARTNER
And the right of the partner is that you should take care of his affairs in his absence. And you should treat him equally when he is present. And you should not make any decisions on your own without considering his opinion. And you should not act according to your own opinion before discussing it with him. You should safeguard his property, and advise him against cheating whether there is honour or disdain in it, since it has been transmitted to us: “God's hand is with partners as long as they do not cheat.” And there is no power but in God.
35- THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY
And the right of your property is that you should not attain it except by legitimate means and you should only spend it for legitimate causes. You should not spend it improperly, you should not use it wrongfully, and you should not use what is from God in ways other than in His way and make it as a means to approach God. And you should not prefer to use it for one who does not show gratitude instead of using it for yourself. It is better that you do not leave it for others as inheritance who might use it not to obey your Lord, and then your wealth may be considered to be as an assistance for them in so doing. Or you may bequeath your property to one who spends it in the way of obedience to God in ways better than you do. Then he will gain the benefits, and you will be left with the sins, and the regret, and blame yourself for the ill consequence. And there is no power but in God.
36- THE RIGHT OF THE CREDITOR
And the right of him to whom you owe is that you should pay him back if you have the means to do so. You should meet his need, make him rich, and avoid putting him off and procrastinating. The Prophet, may God's peace be upon him and his household, said: “Procrastination is oppression for the rich.” But if you are in hardship you should satisfy him by using good words. You should gently ask him and send him away with gentleness. You should not take his property and mistreat him too. That will surely be mean. And there is no power but in God.
37- THE RIGHT OF THE ASSOCIATE
And the right of the associate is that you should not mislead, or cheat him, lie to him or fool him, and you should not trick him. And you should not treat him as an enemy does -who alienates all his friends. If he trusts you, you should be very careful of yourself for his sake, and realize that cheating the intimate ones is like usury. And there is no power but in God.
38- THE RIGHT OF THE ADVERSARY THE RIGHT OF THE CLAIMING ADVERSARY
And the right of the adversary who has a claim against you is that if his claim against you is true, you should not nullify his proof and not abolish his claim. And you should dispute against yourself on his behalf and be a fair judge against yourself, and give witness to his right against you without the witnessing of any witnesses. This is the right of God that is made incumbent upon you. But if what he claims against you is false, treat him with patience and remind him to fear God, and implore him to his religion. And by reminding him of God you should help reduce his fury against you. Avoid using indecent words and yelling at him since this will not eliminate the animosity of your enemy but it will result in your suffering from the sin he commits against you. And it will also result in his sharpening of the sword of animosity towards you, since indecent words will cause evil but good words will eradicate evil. And there is no power but in God.
THE RIGHT OF THE CLAIMED ADVERSARY
And the right of the adversary against whom you have a claim is that if your claim against him is true, you should use pleasant words while you are filing your claim, since hearing the claim is harsh for the defendant. And you should provide your evidence with lenience, and respite, and with the clearest statements, and with absolute gentleness. And you should not dispute with him over gossip lest your proofs will be voided and you will lose the opportunity to prove them. And there is no power but in God.
39- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHO SEEKS YOUR ADVICE
And the right of him who seeks your advice is that you should exert all efforts to advise him if you can provide him with a good opinion, and suggest to him to choose what you would have chosen if you were in his shoes. You should do so with mercy and with lenience since lenience will eliminate fear while rudeness will eliminate friendliness. But if you do not have any good advice for him, you should refer him to someone else whom you know and trust his advice yourself. You should spare no efforts to guide him towards the good and do your best to advise him. And there is no power but in God.
40- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHOSE ADVICE YOU SEEK
And the right of him whose advice you seek is that you should not accuse him when he gives you advice which does not conform to your own opinion. It is quite natural that opinions are divergent and people have various views about their affairs in which they disagree. You are free not to accept his advice if you doubt it. However, you are not permitted to accuse him of providing you with ill advice as long as you consider him to be of those worthy of consultation. Do not stop thanking him for the thoughts and the good advice he has given you. And if it was appropriate for you, you should thank God for it, accept it from your religious brother with gratitude, and be ready to act similarly for him should one day he seek your advice. And there is no power but in God.
41- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHO SEEKS YOUR COUNSEL
And the right of him who seeks your counsel is that you should give him your counsel as much as you think he can bear. And you should talk with him with such gentle words that he listens to you and you should use such words that his intellect can understand. This is because for each person's intellect there is a certain way of talking, which he can comprehend and respond to. You should choose having mercy as your course of action. And there is no power but in God.
42- THE RIGHT OF THE COUNSELOR
And the right of your counsellor is that you should treat him gently, then you should be whole-heartedly attentive to him, and open you ears for him so that you understand his counsel. And then study it deeply and if what he presents to you is right, you should praise God for it, and accept it from him and acknowledge his favour. But if what he presents to you does not agree with you, you should be kind to him and make no accusations against him; and you should know that he spared no efforts to provide you with the best advice, but he made a mistake. Unless he deserves to be accused in which case you should not trust him under any circumstances. And there is no power but in God.
43- THE RIGHT OF THE OLDER ONE
And the right of him who is older than you are is that you should respect him because of his age, and honour his submission to God if he is one of the noble ones in Islam. You should recognize his seniority and stop confronting him in disputes and should not surpass him or walk ahead of him, and you should not treat him foolishly. If he should treat you foolishly, you should put up with him and honour him to respect his being an older Muslim. This is because the respect for one's age is according to how long he has been a Muslim. And there is no power but in God.
44- THE RIGHT OF THE YOUNGER ONE
And the right of him who is younger than you are is to be friendly with him, train and educate him, pardon him, and cover up his faults, be patient with him and help him, cover up the guilts of his juvenility because this will make him repent; treat him with patience, and stop quarrelling with him. This will lead him to more sensible conduct.
45- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHO BEGS FROM YOU
And the right of him who begs from you is that you should give him charity if you are certain that he is honest and you are able to fulfil his need. You should also pray to God to relieve him from what has befallen upon him, and help fulfil his needs. But if you doubt his honesty and he has already been accused of (dishonesty), but you are not convinced about this, you will not be sure whether this is one of the plots of Satan who is trying to deprive you from your fortune and cause a blockage between you and your approach to your Lord. Then you should leave him and overlook and should turn him down gently. But if you can overcome yourself in this respect and grant him what he has asked for despite what is presented to you regarding him, then this is due to your resolution in the conduct of affairs.
46- THE RIGHT OF HIM FROM WHOM YOU BEG
And the right of him from whom you beg is that you should accept from him whatever he grants you with gratitude and acknowledges his nobility. And you should accept his excuse if he withholds and think well of him. And you should realize that if he withholds, he is withholding his own property, and that he could not be blamed for withholding his own property. If he is doing wrong, “then man is certainly wrong-doing and unbelieving.”
47- THE RIGHT OF HIM THROUGH WHOM GOD MAKES YOU HAPPY
And the right of him through whom God makes you happy is that if he intentionally made you happy, you should first praise God and then you should thank him accordingly, and reward him for initiating a nobility and be determined to return his favour. But if he made you happy unintentionally, you should praise God, thank Him, and realize that He chose you exclusively for that, and you liked it. He has been one of the means of God's Blessings descending upon you. You should only wish him well since the means of desension of Blessings are themselves Blessings wherever they be, even if unintentionally. And there is no power but in God.
48- THE RIGHT OF HIM WHO WRONGS YOU
And the right of him who wrongs you whether verbally or physically is that it is more appropriate for you to pardon him if it was done intentionally. This would eliminate bad feelings and is the polite way to treat most such people. Indeed God says: “But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong (done) to them, against such there is no blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrongdoing and insolently transgress beyond bounds throughout the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a Penalty grievous. But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.”
The Almighty the High also says: “And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out. But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.” This is so if it was intentional. But if he who wrongs you has done it unintentionally, then you should not oppress him by intentionally insisting on retaliation, lest you would be punishing him intentionally for what he has done unintentionally. You should also be friendly with him and treat him as gently as you can. And there is no power but in God.
49- THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE OF YOUR CREED
And the right of the people of your creed is that you should whole-heartedly provide safety for them, and gently show them mercy, and treat their wrong-doers with patience, and treat them with friendliness, and seek their welfare, and thank those of them who do good to you and to themselves. Their doing good to themselves is considered to be the same as doing good to you. This is because (by so doing) they have not bothered you and have not put you to any trouble. Then you should pray for all of them, and back all of them up with your support. And you should respect each one of them as he deserves: their old men hold the position of your fathers, and their children hold the position of your children, and their youths hold the position of your brothers. You should gently and compassionately care for those of them who come to you. And you should treat your brethren as brothers deserve to be treated.
50- THE RIGHT OF THOSE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF ISLAM
And the right of those under the protection of Islam is that you should accept from them what God has accepted from them, and fulfil what God has established for them under His protection and covenant, and entrust them to Him in what they are required to carry out, and are obliged to do. And you should judge among them with the judgments of God that He commanded for you regarding the conditions of dealing with them, and do not wrong them as long as they honour God's covenant and fulfil their pledge. And the pledge of the Prophet, may God's peace be upon him and his household, is a barrier since it is reported that he said: “I am the adversary of whoever oppresses one who has a treaty." Therefore fear God. And there is no power but in God.
These are the fifty rights that surround you and you cannot evade under any circumstances. It is incumbent upon you to honour them and exert all efforts to fulfil them. You should seek God the Majestic's help in this respect. And there is no power but in God. And all praise is due to God the Lord of the Two Worlds.
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