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One unique aspect of the Qur’an is that it always lays stress on duties rather than on rights. There are many verses that tell us to do this or do that. But you will not find a single verse in the Qur’an that encourages human beings to make demands. No verse suggests that people should be able to expect that they can make claims on society. The whole of the Qur’an is based on this norm. One such Qur’anic verse says: God commands justice, kindness, and giving their [due to] near relatives, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and transgression. He admonishes you so that you may take heed! (16:90)

Any ideology based on individual entitlement is unnatural, while any ideology based on duty is natural. Those who are conscious of their own rights will always make demands upon others. Their formula is: Others have to give to us. While the duty-conscious person will always think in terms of self-construction. He will always try to fulfill his own duty. The formula of a rights-conscious person is: They must do it. While the formula of a duty-conscious person is: I will do it. A rights-based ideology is focused upon what has to come from others, whereas a duty-based ideology starts with the self. The rights-based ideology is based on the ‘we and they’ concept, while the duty-based ideology is based on the ‘we and we’ concept.

A rights-based ideology is negative, while a duty-based ideology is positive. A rights-based ideology leads to social anarchy, for it is bound to create different rival classes, while a duty-based ideology leads to harmony, solidarity, peace, and compassion. This same principle is laid down in a saying of the Prophet: “Give to others what others want from you and ask for your rights from God.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 7052) This means that you should fulfill your duty towards others and achieve what you want to achieve through your own efforts. This is the only feasible formula in this world. According to the creation plan of God, this world is based on challenge and competition. No one is going to give you what you want: you have to work hard for everything on your own. That is the law of nature. And there can be no change in the laws laid down by the Creator.

This world is based on the principle of giving and taking, so you have to give something to others before you can expect anything from them. First of all, you have to understand the creation plan of God, and then you have to adjust to it. You have no option but to make adjustments in this world. You cannot mold the world; you can only achieve your goals through adjustment. A person who is obsessed with what is due to him from others will fail to plan his life on a realistic basis. He is doomed to live a life of failure and tension. A duty-conscious person, on the other hand, will fulfill his duties towards others. And according to the law of nature, he will certainly be required by others. It is this fact that reflects in the saying: ‘It is in giving that we receive.’

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