These duties can be described as follows:
THE DUTY OF MAN TOWARDS HIS PARENTS
Parents are the means of the creation of a child and the imparters of his initial education and training; therefore, the holy religion of Islam has placed a great deal of emphasis on children's obeying to them and on their respect to an extent that the Almighty Allah has commanded the people to be kind and generous to their parents right after mentioning Tawhid (the Oneness of Allah) and states: "And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him and has commanded goodness to your parents...(17:23)."
In ahadith enumerating mortal sins, misconduct towards parents ranks second to shirk (polytheism). The Almighty Allah states: "...If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) "ugh" nor chide them, and speak to them generous words. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: 'O my Lord! have compassion on them, similar to what they had on me when they brought me up (when I was) little' (17:23-24)."
How well did an old woman say to her child when she saw him powerful and bulky.
If you recalled your childhood When you were helpless in my arms, You would not treat me unkindly today As you are a brave man and I am an old woman.
In the holy religion of Islam, obedience of the parents is wajib except in the case when they order the children to give up one of the wajib deeds of religion or perform a religiously haram act. It has been proven by experience that those who tease their parents do not remain happy and prosperous in their lives and consequently they will not attain salvation.
THE RIGHTS OF PARENTS
In a family circle, the relationship of parents to their children is like that of the roots of a tree to its branches because the continuity and survival of the branches of the tree depend upon its roots. Parents are also the founders of the children's life. Since the human society is comprised of the two categories, i.e., parents and children, parents are the main roots of the human society.
Besides being an utmost ingratitude and cowardice, misbehaviour towards the parents and annoying them also cause the decadence of humanity and the annihilation of the society. This is because the disrespect of children towards their parents will be reflected by the parents in the form of unkindliness and disfavour towards them. On the other hand, if the children look towards their parents with disrespect and lowliness, they cannot expect anything better from their own children and will not depend upon the help of their children when they reach the age of debility and infirmity. Thus they naturally become disappointed to form a family, as is the case with many of the young people of the present age.
Generalization of this kind of thinking will definitely obstruct the path of regeneration and reproduction, because a wise man will never devote his valuable life to nurture a young tree from whose fruits he will not benefit, under whose shadow he will not sit, and that looking towards it will render him no benefit but grief and anguish. We might assume that the governments can encourage the people to set up families by giving them various rewards and incentives and thus eliminate the problems of regeneration and reproduction; but it should be noted that the social methods and customs that are devoid of natural backing (like parent-children affection) cannot last.
Besides this fact, not benefiting from one of the natural instincts will inevitably deprive man of a series of pure spiritual pleasures.
THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN ON PARENTS
The works that a man must perform for someone who is the beneficiary are called huquq (rights) and the works that a person must perform are called duties, orders, and obligations. For instance, it is the duty of an employer to pay the wages of his employee and it is the right of the employee to receive it after performing a task for him. If the employer does not pay the wages, the employee can demand it and defend his right.
Since man is created in such a manner that his life is not everlasting in this world and because willingly or not he dies after some time, Allah has established the method of reproduction, has provided people with the means of reproduction, and has directed man's inner feelings towards it in order to safeguard the mankind from total annihilation.
It is because of this overall mobilization that man naturally considers his child to be an inherent part of himself and assumes his child's survival to be that of his own. For this very reason, man goes through all kinds of endeavours and makes efforts for the comfort and happiness of his children and endures various hardships, for he considers the annihilation of his child or his child's personality to be his own annihilation or the annihilation of his own personality.
Indeed, man obeys the order of the world of creation which demands the survival of mankind. Thus it is the duty of parents to implement the order enjoined by conscience and religious laws with regard to their children and to bring them up very well, so that they may grow into decent human beings. Parents are also duty bound to consider rightful for their children those things that they consider rightful for themselves from the viewpoint of humanity. Some of the duties of parents are as given below.
(1) Parents must establish and make firm the foundation of praiseworthy ethics and decent attributes in the natures of their children from the very first day that they begin to understand words and signs. They must not frighten their children with superstitious subjects as much as they can. They must prevent them from committing evil and unchaste acts. The parents, too, must avoid lying, ill-speaking, and using bad language and obscene words in front of the children. The parents should perform decent deeds, so that the children might be brought up as chaste and magnanimous people. Parents must endeavour and show motivation and justice, so as to transfer to their children the love for justice and humanity through the law of "the transfer of ethics" in order to keep their children away from oppression, meanness, and selfish ness.
(2) Parents should patronize their children for their eating, sleeping, and other requirements for living until they attain the age of discernment. They must have consideration for the physical health of their children so that they may have a healthy body and a strong mind and temper ready to be educated and trained.
(3) Parents should put their children under the care of a teacher from the time they get aptitude for education (usually from seventh year of their age). Parents should make every effort to place their children. under the care of a decent teacher, so that they may get good and desirable impressions from what they hear and so that such a teacher would become the source of inspiration and cause the refinement of their spirit, the purification of their soul, and the cultivation of their ethics.
(4) Parents should take their children along with them to gatherings in order to familiarize them with social customs and praiseworthy etiquette when their age calls for participation in social gatherings or family visits.
RESPECT FOR THE ELDERS
It is also required to respect the elders, as the Holy Prophet (SA) states: "The glorification and respect for the elders is the glorification and respect for Allah."
MAN'S DUTY TOWARDS HIS RELATIVES
The paternal and maternal relatives, who have a consanguineous and near relationship, are the natural means for the formation of the society. Due to the similarity of blood and cells, man becomes part of a family. For the sake of this unity and natural relationship, Islam orders its followers to observe the kinship bonds with kindness. Strong recommendations have been made in the Qur'an and the ahadith of religious leaders in this respect. The Almighty Allah states: "...And be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you (4:1)."
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "I enjoin my Ummah (people) to observe the kinship bonds with kindness. Even if the relatives are separated from one another by a year-long distance, they should not disconnect the kinship bonds of their relationship."
MAN'S DUTY TOWARDS HIS NEIGHBOURS
Since neighbours very often come in contact with one another due to the proximity of their residential area and naturally - as they constitute a larger family, the good behaviour and the misbehaviour of one of them will have more effect on other neighbours than that of all others.
He, who spends the night with clamour in his house, does not annoy anyone residing in the remote corner of the city, but he disturbs his neighbour's peace. A wealthy man who spends his life in feasting and drinking in his beautiful palace is far away from the sight of the poor, but he burns the heart of his indigent neighbour living in a clay-hut. Surely, a day will come when this wealthy man will duly be punished. For this reason, taking care of the neighbours has been highly emphasized in the holy religion of Islam.
The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: "Jibril recommended to me about the neighbours to such an extent that I thought the Almighty Allah would appoint one's neighbour as one of his heirs." He also stated: "whoever believes in Allah and in Ma'ad, never does injustice to his neighbour, lends him money if he asks for it, and shares his grief and happiness. One should not annoy his neighbour even if he is an unbeliever."
He also states: "He, who hurts his neighbour, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise and he, who disregards the rights of his neighbour, is not my follower. Whoever has had enough to eat and does not help his neighbour after knowing that he is hungry, is not a Muslim."
MAN'S DUTY TOWARDS THE INFERIOR AND THE POOR
There is no doubt that the establishment of a society is to fulfil the needs of the individuals. The most important duty of the members of any society is to help the helpless and the weak and to eliminate in some way the needs of those who are unable to eliminate these by themselves.
It has been thoroughly clarified nowadays that the carelessness of the rich towards the difficulties of the poor is the greatest danger that can destroy a society and that the rich will be the first victim of this danger.
Taking this danger into consideration, fourteen centuries ago, Islam ordered the rich to distribute a portion of their wealth among the poor and the helpless annually. If the said amount is sufficient to eliminate the needs of the poor, it is recommended that the rich donate as much as they can for the cause of Allah so as to improve the living conditions of the poor.
The Almighty Allah states: "By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend (benevevolently) out of what you love... (3:92)."
The ahadith on the subject of serving the humanity are innumerable. The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: "The best of men is one who is more beneficial for the people." He also stated: "In Ma'ad, a person who has taken greater steps towards charitable acts for the servants of Allah will be placed in a higher status before the Almighty Allah."
Help friends at the time of calamity so that you may have favours of Allah. Somehow you will someday reap the seeds of goodness that you sow today.
MAN'S DUTY TOWARDS THE SOCIETY
As we know, human beings work with joint effort. They take advantage of each others' endeavours to eliminate the needs of their life. The society established by these individuals is similar to a "great man" and each individual is like an organ of this great man's body.
Each organ of the body performs its own specific function and makes up for its own weaknesses by benefiting from the functions of other organs; that is, in its sphere of activity, each organ provides its interests while providing the interests of other organs and continues its life in the light of the life of other organs. If some organs acted selfishly and were of no use to other organs; for example, if while the hands or feet were functioning, the eyes did not cooperate with them or if the mouth only contented itself with chewing and enjoying the food without swallowing it to satisfy the needs of the stomach, man would die and, as a result, the same self-centred and self-seeking organ would also die.
The duty of the members of a society is exactly like the duty of the organs of a body, i.e., man must look for his interests within the framework of the interests of the society. He must consider what benefits the society would derive from his efforts so that by his efforts all are benefited and he also gets benefited. He must defend the rights of others so that his own rights would not be violated.
This is a fact which we realize with our Allah-given nature. The holy religion of Islam, which is established on the basis of nature and creation, does not have the commandments and views other than these on this matter.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "A Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue Muslims are safe."
He further states: "Muslims are brothers and are like a single-hand, single-heart, and single-direction against aliens."
He also states: "Whoever does not care about the affairs of the Muslims is not a Muslim."
For the Battle of Tabuk when the Holy Prophet (SA) set out with the army of Islam for the frontier of Rome, three Muslims did not participate in the battle. After the return of the army of Islam, when these three persons welcomed and greeted the Holy Prophet (SA), the Prophet (SA) turned his face and did not answer their greetings. In the like manner, the Muslims also turned their faces from these three men. No one, in Madinah, not even their wives, talked to them. Consequently, they became helpless and sought refuge in the mountains of Madinah and engaged themselves in repentance and contrition until Allah accepted their repentance after several days and then they returned to the city.
The General Penalty of Sins in Islam
These indecent deeds are called mortal sins in Islam and the Almighty Allah has clearly promised to punish those who commit these sins.
In addition to establishing severe punishments for some of these sins, Allah has excluded those who commit these sins (even once) from the just, i.e., He has taken away from them the honour of being a righteous member of the human society.
Whoever commits a mortal sin loses his justice and gets deprived of the privileges that a righteous member of the society can enjoy. He cannot be in charge of one of the various positions of the Islamic government; for example, he cannot become khalifah or imam al-jama'ah (the imam of congregational salat). His testimony to the benefit or detriment of others is not acceptable. He will remain in this state until he repents and develops the quality of justice in himself once again by constantly having taqwa (piety).
THE ESSENTIALITY OF EMPLOYMENT AND THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Endeavour and work are the base and foundation upon which the world of creation is established and these are the only guarantee for the survival of every creature. The Almighty Allah has equipped His creatures with suitable means with which they derive benefits and avoid losses.
Man, who is the most astonishing and sophisticated design of creation, has more requirements than any other creature. Thus he needs more endeavours with which he could meet his countless requirements and also maintain the family that he should naturally administer.
That is why Islam, which is a natural and social religion, considers working and earning as wajib for the people.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "It is wajib upon every Muslim man and woman to earn halal money for his or her livelihood and subsistence (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 6)."
Islam has not attached any importance to those who spend their lives idly. Whenever the Holy Prophet (SA) saw a man whose strength and capability were surprising, he would ask: "Does he work?" If they said: "No, he is idle.", the Holy Prophet (SA) would state: "To me, he has no respect.", meaning that an idle youth had no value to the Prophet (SA) [Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501.].
In Islam, every individual should choose one of the many professions and industries towards which the Almighty Allah has guided him to choose according to his own aptitude and interest. He should earn his living in this way, carry one of the burdens of society on his back, and try to provide the people with comfort.
The Almighty Allah states: "And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for (53:39)."
In short, Islam has made the strongest recommendations about working and acquiring sustenance and has not disregarded the importance of economic activities even in the most critical moments so much so that Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) said to his friend Hisham: "Even during the war, when soldiers array in line and when the fire of battle is fanned, do not neglect your economic duty and necessary activities for providing your subsistence and follow your financial efforts in such difficult situations (Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 4, p 101.).
Thus idleness due to laziness is strictly forbidden in Islam.
DENOUNCEMENT OF IDLENESS
It is clear from what has been discussed earlier that working and making effort is a right path that creation has provided for man to attain his prosperity by following it. Surely, deviation from the path of creation and nature, no matter how minor it is, will only lead to the detriment of man. In this case, deviation from a matter upon which the very foundation of life is established will lead to nothing but misery in this world and in the Akhirah.
This is why the seventh infallible Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) states: "Do not show sluggishness and tiredness in your work or else you will lose in this world and in the Akhirah."
The Holy Prophet (SA) has cursed those who have got used to idleness and who put the burden of their life on the shoulders of others.
Today, psychological and social experiments have thoroughly clarified that most social corruptions are generated by idleness. It is idleness that disrupts the economic and cultural activities of the society and gives rise to all kinds of moral decadence and superstitions.
AGRICULTURE AND ITS ADVANTAGES
Farming, which is the means for providing food for the society, is one of the most praiseworthy human professions due to its importance. Therefore, Islam has laid down great emphasis for choosing this profession.
The sixth infallible Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS) states: "Farmers would enjoy more respectable positions than others on the Day of Qiyamah."
The fifth infallible Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS) states: "There is no job better than farming and there is no benefit better than the benefit of farming, because benevolents and malevolents grazing animals and birds benefit from it and pray for the farmer."
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "A Muslim who plants a tree or cultivates a land from which people, birds, and grazing animals eat will have the reward of sadaqah (charity)."
Muslims are obliged to use their natural energy to the maximum, i.e., to the point where one of the religious leaders states: "If at the time when the world is to come to an end and the solar system is to collapse any one of you has a small plant in hand, he should plant it if he has enough time to do so (Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501). This means that the idea of the collapse of the world should not prevent you from performing this noble deed.
'Ali (AS) states: "Curse and imprecation of Allah be upon one who has land and water, i.e., one who has natural resources at his disposal but does not use his human skill to take advantage of them and consequently lives in poverty and beggary (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 19)."
It has been repeatedly mentioned under the section on "Beliefs" that the general planning of Islam is that man should worship none except Allah and should not pay homage and bow down to anyone but He Who is the Creator of the world.
All are the creatures of Allah and receive their subsistence from Him. No one has privileges over others except in respect of those things which are done for the sake of Allah.
Every Muslim should have self-confidence and should take advantage of the blessing of independence given to him by the Almighty Allah. Man must use all the means that Allah has bestowed on him to pass his life. He should not rely upon others and consider a partner for Allah and worship a new idol each day. The servant should realize that he eats his own bread and not of the master. He should know that he receives the reward of his labour, not the tip from his master or lord. Every employee should believe that he receives the wages of his hard work, not the gift and gratuity from his boss, his office, the government, or the society. After all, a free man should not rely on and pay homage to any but Allah; otherwise, internally, he will have the same meanness and servitude of polytheism that the idol-worshippers have openly.
Finally, it should be noted that self-confidence means that man should use his intrinsic capability in his life and should not rely on others. It doesn't mean that he should dissociate from the Almighty Allah and consider himself to be really effective as the source of all hopes and desires.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF RELYING ON OTHERS
Relying on others, that is, living on the support of others, means giving up human pride, honour, independence, and freedom. It is the source of all kinds of offences and social misdeeds which originate from meanness and degradation.
Whoever relies on others and fixes his . eyes upon this or that person, indeed offers his will and commonsense for sale, for he should commit flattery and should do whatever (right or wrong, decent or indecent) they demand of him or order him to do.
He should resign himself to any disdain and scorn. He must practise xenophilism, agree to do any injustice and oppression, and at last consider all the limits and human laws as naught.
Asking for help in unnecessary cases is haram in Islam. Financial contribution to the needy, which is a part of Islamic provisions, only applies to those needy people whose earning is less than their expenses or to those who are disabled.