Rafed English

The era of duty-centeredness has ended and the modern man is in pursuit of his rights

Adopted from the book : "Freedom; The Unstated Facts and Points" by : "Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi"

Some say: In view of the development and progress that have transpired in the various periods in the life of man as well as the new beliefs, outlooks, and intellectual and facility structures that have emerged for the modern human civilization, today religion must be in pursuit of expressing the rights of human beings, and not presenting duties and mandatory orders.

Since they were facing the system of slavery and the rule of force and despotism, the human beings of the past used to shoulder responsibilities and duties determined for them. Yet, now the age of slavery has ended, and the era of his sovereignty and divine vicegerency [khilafatulla-h] has arrived. Today’s human being is not in pursuit of duty, but rather in pursuit of getting and exercising his rights.

Indeed, modernism and the new civilization have created a high wall between us and the human beings of the past who were subjects, slaves, servants, and beasts of burden for others. Therefore, the modern man has closed the book account of duty- and responsibility-centeredness—which belonged to the period of barbarism and intransigence—and is endeavoring to claim his rights.

Nowadays, talking about duty and performance of responsibility is retrogression and returning to the pre-modern era, and in this age, which is that of talking about human rights and by the blessings of democracy man has been delivered from slavery and exploitation, the time has come for the ancient religions, which emerged conducive for the age of slavery and concerned with duty and responsibility, to leave the scene, and we should formulate the new religion that talks about the rights of human beings.

Reply

That it can be said absolutely that today’s man is only in pursuit of right, and not duty, is a misleading and idle talk, for the philosophers of law also say: No right is ever established for a person unless a duty is realized reciprocally for others. For example, if the right to have clean and unpolluted air for the citizens is established, the other citizens are duty-bound not to pollute the air. So, if all have the right to pollute the air, the right to have clean air will become meaningless.

By the same token, if a person has the right to expropriate his properties, the others must be obliged not to expropriate his properties; otherwise, the right to make use of properties will not be actually realized.

In the same manner, every right proved for a person necessitates a duty that he has with respect to others. If a person has the right to benefit from public utilities, he is reciprocally duty-bound to render public services, accept (public) responsibilities and duties, and not be a burden for others.

Therefore, right and duty require each other, and the statement that human beings are only in search of right and do not accept duty is rejected.

Considering the fact that all divine and non-divine scholars and philosophers of law in general do not negate responsibility and duty and in fact they acknowledge the existence of duty and commitment, we will find out that the “duty” referred to in the statements of the skeptics is the “divine duty”.

The spirit of their statements refers back to this point: God is not supposed to set a duty for us, or else, according to them also, it is escape from the social duties vis-à-vis rights that the individuals have, for these duties are accepted by all the wise men. What I have said is substantiated by the fact that they have unambiguously said that the mastership [mawlawiyyah] and servanthood [‘ubu-diyyah] relationship, the issuance of order on part of the master, and the need of obeying him are all appropriate for the culture of slavery.

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