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How Islam views personal responsibility

When people decide not to be responsible, society becomes chaotic and fraught with problems. When there is no sense of accountability in parents, children, politicians or communities, then people suffer. The Prophet Muhammad said "I have been sent to complete the qualities of good character".

In Islam, being accountable and responsible is paramount. Parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children, to teach them properly, even to name them with good names. The Prophet Muhammad said "You will be called on the day of judgment by your names and your fathers’ names, so therefore, choose beautiful names". All this means that they will have a good footing for when they are older by teaching them properly from when they are young.

With the media attention on crime the spotlight is currently on the youth, but parents also have a responsibility, just as society does. When young people see that the common culture implies that you can do what you like, or they feel that they are not responsible or accountable, then chaos rules.

Many verses in the Quran mention calling for good and speaking out against evil. "The believers, men and women, are friends and helpers of one another, they encourage good and prevent evil, they perform prayers and give the charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise." (Quran chapter 9, verse 71)

This means that collectively, the society is responsible for itself in maintaining a healthy environment. Islam teaches values of respect and responsibility, so people should have respect for one another, not insulting each others beliefs. Lying is wrong and honesty is right. Youngsters should respect their elders. People should look after their elderly parents and not abandon them to old people’s homes etc. Society in the West is primarily concerned with the individual and his rights - which emanates from fundamental secular enlightenment principles. Islam has a view of society which is communal, securing the rights of the community and the individual together.

The Messenger Muhammad said "Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: The Imam (ruler) of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband's home and of his children and is responsible for them".

Responsibility and accountability go together like a hand and a tight fitting glove. As the narration above shows, political accountability is primary in Islam, with responsibility in the other aspects of society a close second.

So, people should be responsible and accountable during their time in this world. They are accountable to their fellow citizens for upholding the Islamic values and conduct. They are also accountable to Allah on the Day of Judgment when they will be questioned about what they used to believe, say and do.