An overview of leadership
Responsibility in Islam
5 min read

In the article The Shepherd”, we’ve already seen that we are all responsible-without exception. As the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,  

“Every single one of you is a shepherd and every single one of you is responsible for his flock.” 

A Muslim leader can be successful in life only if he’s aware of his different responsibilities and does the best of what he’s capable of to fulfill them. 

The Concept of Amanah 

In Surat Al Mu’minun, Allah listed the qualities of successful believers. One of them is about Amanawhich includes responsibilities, trusts, and promises. 

“And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive” [Quran 23:08] 

Just like a shepherd keeps a constant watch on his flock to prevent something bad from happening, the successful believer is extremely vigilant regarding his responsibilities, trusts, and promises.  

When the believer focuses on his responsibilities, he doesn’t have time to preoccupy himself with other people’s faults and flaws. If he does, he’s not fulfilling his Amana as he should. 

Amanah has been mentioned in another verse: 

“Truly, we did offer Al ­Amanah (the trust or moral responsibility or honesty and all the duties which Allah has ordained) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah’s Torment). But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results).” [Quran 33:72] 

Compared to the universe that rejected free will, human beings have a choice in fulfilling their responsibilities. They can choose to submit to God or not, to manage themselves in a decent way or not, to take care of their people and the rest of the creation or not.  

Humans have been dignified. They have abilities that not even the skies, the earth, and mountains have- to handle the Amanah.  

Humans are unjust because of the difference between what they do (failing to respect the rights of God, oneself, people, and the rest of the creation) and what they are capable of. The ignorant amongst humans is the one who doesn’t know his potential or doesn’t even try to discover it and rise to it. 

There are 3 necessary qualities to fulfill the Amanah: 

Knowledgeyou can’t take care of an obligation if you don’t know about it or not conscious of it. 

Freewill: even if we are free to reject our responsibilities, they remain on us and we are accountable for them. 

Capacity: taking responsibilities doesn’t mean going beyond your capacity. 

“God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.” [Quran 2:286] 

What are we responsible for? 

The use of Time 

Time is so valuable in Islam, that Allah swore by it in Surat Al-Asr. He said: 

“By the declining day, man is [deep] in loss, except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness.”  

The renowned scholar Al-Shafi’i said: 

“If the people were to reflect upon Surat al-‘Asr, it would be enough for them.” 

Time is a blessing from God. From the beginning, He gave us tools to calculate it. The sun is our clock, the moon our calendar (for Muslims). 

“The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation” [Quran 55:5] 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said:  

“There are two blessings which many people lose: Health and free time for doing good.” [Sahih Al Bukhari] 

Most of us are time wasters. Only a few benefits of it. The intelligent one is the one who is conscious of how precious time is and develops a sense of urgency in the use of it. Whenever time is lost, it can never come back. 

To be responsible is to have respect for time. 

Leading a balanced life 

Muslims are supposed to lead a balanced life. Islam advocates for moderation – finding the center point between two extremes. 

“Thus We have made you a nation justly balanced” [Quran 2:143] 

In Surat Ar-Rahman, Allah says that he set a scale on the sky as a reminder to live a balanced life.  

“And the sky He raised and imposed the balance. That you do not transgress within the balance.” [Quran 55:7-8] 

The balance between the spiritual and the worldly life: 

“Seek the home of the Hereafter by that which Allah has given you, but do not forget your share of the world.” [Quran 28:77] 

The balance between worship, body needs, and family duties: 

In a hadith Al-Bukhari, Salman said to Abu Darda,  

“You have a duty to your Lord, you have a duty to your body, and you have a duty to your family, so you should give each one its rights.” Abu Darda came to the Prophet and told him what happened. The Prophet said, “Salman is correct.”  

Moderation in charity: 

“They are those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, but follow a middle way between them.” [Quran 25:67] 

On multiple occasions, Islam emphasizes on living in a balanced and moderate way. When choosing between two extremes, the Muslim picks the middle path. He doesn’t eat and drink over the limits, he doesn’t become a workaholic at the expense of his family, he doesn’t give his all to this life and forget the next one… 

Finding balance is our responsibility. 

Implications 

When we become responsible for our time and strive to find balance, everything falls into place. It becomes easier to fulfill our responsibilities towards: 

  • God: performing acts of worship, serving a community, spreading awareness about Islam, and contributing to the wellbeing of humanity. 
  • Oneself: – The Body needs the right food, to stay in good shape, and to have the necessary rest.

                    – The Mind needs to be recharged with beneficial knowledge and rest, to be used in thinking and reflecting. 

                    – The Heart needs to be nurtured with emotions from the loved ones. 

                  – The Soul needs to be fueled with the connection to Allah. 

  • Other people: This category includes our different roles in life (family, work, social). Each role requires to perform certain duties in a certain time. 
  • The rest of the creation: Allah put humans on earth to be His trustees. It is part of every Muslim duty to take care of this planet (environment, nature) and not to be wasteful of its resources. 

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