Rafed English

Man in the Midst of Duties

Living together with other members of his species is one of man's natural needs. His innate tendency for collective life is an independent factor that causes him to establish communities.

Human society, too, revolves around the variety and disparity amongst individuals and classes, and in it every individual shoulders particular responsibilities and duties which he must carry out properly. The system of society runs properly when everyone has faith in the responsibilities accepted by him in his work environment and his activities do not trespass the limits of those duties.

The animals do not have to abide by any limits or controls in their life. But man, on the contrary, is surrounded by various kinds of regulations and restrictions, to the extent that they may be said to encompass all the aspects of his life. It is these limits and regulations that distinguish man's life from that of animals.

Every movement and pause creates a certain duty for man and this system of duties regulates human life. In a word, duty is something that extends from the earliest to the latest stages of life and at no point is it possible to draw a line of separation between a person and his multifarious duties. As long as there is any capacity, it is accompanied by duty, and it is only death, when it catches hold of a person, that can close the file of his duties.

Apart from the precepts and laws of religion, man as a matter of principle is by his nature also bound by laws. His relation to values and norms, his characteristic instincts and emotions-all these give rise to duties. Although there may be scattered motives behind the performance of duty, it may be said that the universal laws of reason constitute the axis for the determination of duty. Adherence to the precepts of religion also depends on compliance with rationally inferred laws, because, in social matters and issues of life, the rules and precepts of religion are an elaboration of general rational truths.

That which is difficult is not the identification of duty but rather its observance in practice, which is harder than is ordinarily imagined. In this path, only by the means of a firm and steadfast faith, self-denial and vigilance can one attain the goal.

In the same way as social environment provides the ground for the development and growth of human merits, it also provides an atmosphere conductive to the emergence of many vices. The development and growth of society stagnates and comes to a halt when every individual transgresses the bounds of his duties and neglects his major responsibilities.

Every plant needs particular conditions in order to have a sustained growth and grow to its fully developed stage. However, that which is essential for the growth and development of society is not its geographic location or material conditions; what it requires are particular educational and spiritual conditions that may serve as foundations of a worthy and progressive society.

In a society where the spirit of duty-consciousness rules over the minds of people, purity and righteousness become visible in their intentions and conduct, and in their cognition, thought and practice in all walks of life. Obviously, in such societies aggression, betrayal and violation of others' rights do not flourish nor are given an opportunity to do so. Rather, every individual there opposes and resists vice and crime and prevents them from spreading.

We are not led into trouble except as a result of neglecting our various duties and failing to carry them out. Many people are parsimonious in regard to themselves and their energies despite all the various kinds of means they have at their disposal. For this reason they shun their responsibilities and avoid the tasks which in their view would deprive them partly of their joys and comfort. They are not inclined to devote a part of their time to matters that will be of benefit to others.

This group of people, whose horizon of thought and whose scope of activities is always narrow and limited and revolves around personal and petty matters, become accustomed to these spiritual qualities. That is why they can never undertake great and worthy tasks or exhibit any ability or personal accomplishment in any matter of consequence. As against these is the other group of persons who never take lightly their responsibilities under any condition. They are never shaken or upset by the vicissitudes, reversals and ups and downs of life. They are always prepared to welcome responsibility and generously offer their efforts for the benefit of humanity. They think that the accomplishment of every beneficial and useful task, however demanding on one's effort and time it may be, is the most beneficial thing to do. Accordingly, the wiser a person and the more profound his insight, the greater is his interest and inclination for the fulfilment of duty.

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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