Social Message

Being responsible before God for one’s own person and to respect creation as a whole, one should offer to all people on the social level the means to fulfill their responsibilities and to protect their rights. So the social message of Islam is born in all people’s consciousness of their obligations to make it possible on the collective level to organize structurally the protection of the rights of all. We may here point to seven for which respect is essential:

1. The right to life and the minimum necessary to sustain it. Every being must have the right, in any society, to the minimum amount of food necessary to live. And we are speaking of living, not surviving. A social organization that does not provide its members with this minimum undermines their integrity as created beings who have to give account of themselves before the Creator.

2. The right to family. Each person has the right to enjoy a family life, and so society, through responsible policies, should make it possible for all people to live with their families in a healthy environment that includes : (1) psychological preparation to assume the responsibility (e.g., opportunities to meet a suitable spouse, premarital counseling, a support system, role models), (2) caring for children (their physical/ mental wellbeing), (3) and ways to keep preserve the family during turmoil. We complain about parents who do not know how to bring up their children, who, as we say, “give up on it,” when they have not been given the means to live and simply be recognized as a mother or father.
3. The right to housing. This right follows directly from the one before. Housing is the first prerequisite for family life, and Islam insists heavily on the sanctity of private space. A society should provide each of its members with a roof; it is a prime responsibility. It is essential to think of adequate local structures: living five or eight to a room is not establishing a household—it is constructing a prison, arranging a suffocation, creating future ruptures and tomorrows full of isolation and marginalization.

4. The right to education. To be able to read and write, and to find through education the ways to identity and human dignity, is essential. A society that does not meet this right has lost its sense of priorities; to put it more clearly, a society that produces illiteracy, whether absolute or functional, scorns the dignity of its members and is fundamentally inhuman.

5. The right to work. People must be able to provide for their needs. For this reason, work, like education, is one of the inalienable rights of a social being, and all people should be able to find their place in the society in which they live. A society that prevents people from working is one that does not respond to the elementary social contract.

6. The right to justice. Justice is the foundation of life in society. This principle of justice applies to all—rich and poor, presidents and populace, Muslims and non-Muslims. It is essential that the social structure guarantee respect for the rights of each person, and this must be expressed in two ways: obviously, judicial power must apply the laws fairly to every member of society, but it is equally important that society be stretch itself to meet all the organizational requirements necessary for the provision of the rights we have already mentioned.

7. The right to solidarity. One cannot have a sense of the Islamic religious world without directly encountering a concept that makes the duty of solidarity central to a living expression of the faith. To be before God is to be in solidarity. One’s duty before God is to respond to the right of human beings. It is the responsibility of each person to participate actively in the life of society.

The various rights referred to do not cover all the factors involved in the individual and social arenas, but they give a clear enough idea of the basic directions that social action should take. The “way of faithfulness” on the social level is a path that should take us daily a little closer to the ideal of justice, which is essential and foremost, and the whole of human activity, in all its parts, must hold to it steadfastly.

Compiled From:
"The Social Message of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan