Duties and laws of Islam
Man requires a law in his social life, interactions and condition of relationships with others, occupation, professions and ownership, kinds of monetary transactions, marriage and family relations, securing social peace, rights of the individuals of the society, absence of injustice and oppression, prevention of tyranny and obstructions, punishing the criminals and opponents, guardianship and determination etc.
In the same way, in personal and inward life of man also, it is necessary that there should be a proper procedure of connection with the Lord of the universe, process of worship acts and rituals of servitude, recognition of the factors of success and misfortune, awareness of the good and bad morals and knowledge of method of development and perfection of the self is in dire need of the guidance of the Lord of the universe.
Since the creator of the universe was aware of the astonishing aspects and secrets of the body and soul of man and He knew about their different needs, he framed and designed the necessary laws and rules and sent them through the prophets. In the same way, he issued programs and necessary commandments to guarantee spiritual and ideal success, and sent them to human beings through the prophets. This collection has been entrusted to man in the form of a code of duties and explanation of responsibilities. That which has come to the people from God through the prophets is in form of rules and regulations or in the form of commands and prohibitions.
Laws and commandments of Islam, which are wide ranging and of different kinds are discussed and studied in books of traditions, jurisprudence, Quranic commentary and morals. Here, we would be content only to mention the classification of laws:
Laws of duty (Taklifi) and laws of situations (Waz’i)
Laws of Islam are divided into two groups: Laws of duty (Taklifi) and laws of situations (Waz’i).
Laws of duty (Ahkam Taklifi)
The laws of duty include those duties, which contain obligation, prohibition, desirability, undesirability and simple permissibility. Below, we explain each of them in brief:
Obligation (Wajib): A person, who is capable (Mukallaf) is duty bound to perform it and to omit it would make him a sinner and liable to punishment.
Prohibition (Haraam): A person, who is capable (Mukallaf) is duty bound to avoid it and to commit it would make him a sinner and liable to punishment.
Desirability (Mustahab): An act, performing which, is recommended and earns divine rewards, but omitting it does not make one punishable.
Undesirability (Makruh): An act, which in the view of Islam is detestable, but yet if someone commits it, he or she is not liable for any punishment.
Simple permissibility (Mubah): An act, doing and not doing which is same in the view of religion.
Laws of duty (Ahkam Taklifi) are called as such, because they impose duties on a person in the form of dos and don’ts.
Laws of situations (Ahkam Waz’i)
Laws like the law of marriage, property, ownership, freedom, slavery, guardianship, representation, conditionality, restraint, partiality, causality, evidentiality, validity, invalidity are called as ‘Laws of situations’. These laws do not impose any duty or responsibility, on the contrary, they are issues, which Islam has framed and related various effects to them.
Laws of Servitude (Ahkam Ta’abbudi) and Laws of Mediation (Ahkam Tawassuli)
Laws of Servitude (Ahkam Ta’abbudi)
It means those things, the correct and valid performance of which depends upon the intention (niyyat) of proximity to God. That is, if the obligatory action is performed solely with the intention of approaching the Divine, without any worldly, material motive, it is correct and valid, and if not, it is not valid. Some servitude (Ta’abbudi) obligatory acts are: Obligatory Prayer, obligatory fasting, ritual bath after sex (Ghusl Janabat), ablution (Wudhu) dry ablution (Tayammum) for Obligatory Prayer, Obligatory circumambulation (Tawaaf), Obligatory Hajj, Zakat and Khums.
Recommended acts of servitude (Ta’abbudi) are: Recommended Prayer, recommended ritual bath (Ghusl) and ablution (Wudhu), recitation of Quran, supplication, devotions, recommended Hajj and Umrah, Ziyarat of the tombs of the Holy Prophet (s) and the Holy Imams (a) etc.
In all of the above, it is necessary that one should have sincerity of intention and his sole aim should be to gain proximity to Almighty Allah. If he or she performs any of these acts for show off, not only they be invalid, he or she is supposed to repeat them once more.
Laws of Mediation (Ahkam Tawassuli)
Any act, which is performed for another act and in which intention of gaining divine proximity is not required, is called as Act of mediation (Tawassuli). It is either obligatory or recommended.
Obligatory mediation (Wajib Tawassuli)
Like: Holy war (Jihad) in the way of God, defense of Islam and Islamic territories, defense of the oppressed, enjoining good, forbidding evil, fulfilling an oath, funeral rituals, repayment of debts, maintenance, reply to greeting (Salaam) and saving the life of a Muslim.
Such acts are obligatory mediation (Wajib Tawassuli); if they are performed with the intention of gaining divine proximity, they are rewardable and if they are not performed with this intention, they are not rewardable.
Recommended Mediation (Mustahab Tawassuli)
Such types of acts were themselves aimed at by the religious authority of Islam even if they are not performed with the intention of gaining divine proximity. So much so that if they are performed with the intention of gaining divine proximity, they carry rewards and if they are not performed with that intention, the actual aim is achieved although they would not earn any reward. Following are some examples of the same:
Cooperating in public welfare, doing a good turn to the parents, helping the weak, respect for the teacher, kindness to children, respect of elders, maintaining good relations with ones kindred, serving the public, solving the problems of people, fulfilling the needs of Muslims, entertaining guests, nice behavior with people, nice manners, pleasing the believers, visiting the sick, visiting Muslim brothers, teaching and training and propagating knowledge, taking care of the orphans, nice behavior with one family members, participating in Muslim funerals.
Universal and Sufficing obligations (Wajib ‘Aini wa Kifai)
Another way in which the obligations are divided is into Universal and Sufficing obligations (Wajib ‘Aini wa Kifai).
Universal obligations (Wajib ‘Aini): Is that, which is obligatory on each and every individual, like prayer and fasting, Hajj, Zakat, Khums, etc. in such way that if one performs it, others will not be absolved.
Sufficing obligations (Wajib Kifai): Sufficing obligation is that, which is obligatory on some general Muslims, and which, when performed by one of them, is no longer obligatory on any of them. But if none of them perform it, all would be punishable; like in case of: funeral rituals, holy war, defense of Islam, enjoining good and forbidding evil, being involved in necessary occupations like: medicine, judiciary, agriculture, business etc.
On the basis of this, if one or some people cultivate these occupations according to the requirement, others are absolved from that responsibility. But if all omit it, or only if some cultivate it as are not sufficient, all of them would be culpable.
Specific and multiple choice obligation (Wajib T’ayuni wa Takhiyiri)
Obligations are divided into two groups in yet another way:
Specific obligation (Wajib T’ayuni): It is an obligation, which becomes obligatory to be performed specifically. Like: Prayer, fasting, Hajj, etc.
Multiple choice obligation (Wajib Takhiyiri): In this case, the duty bound person is given the choice to perform one of the two or more acts; like the penalty of not keeping a fast during the month of Ramadhan, which is either of the following three: To free a slave, to feed sixty poor people or to keep sixty fasts. The duty bound person can perform any of the three.
In Islam, some acts are considered taboo and if one commits them he or she is promised divine chastisement. Like: To kill those whose murder is prohibited by Allah, adultery, homosexuality, oppression, usurping property of others, stealing, misappropriation, drinking wine, paying or accepting usury, eating unlawful animals, eating dead animals (animals not slaughtered in the Islamic way), looking at unrelated ladies, breaking oaths, making allegations, lying, backbiting, picking faults, paying and accepting bribes, consuming impure foods, fleeing from the battlefield (in Jihad), omitting obligatory duties and other numerous acts.
Such acts are introduced in Islam to be forbidden acts and Muslims are duty bound to avoid them.
Laws of Islam are not fully explained in two groups: obligatory acts and forbidden acts; on the contrary they are extensive and they exist in every individual and social matter. We would only mention some general subjects as follows:
Impurities and Purifying agents
The following eleven things are essentially impure according to Islam and a Muslim is expected to keep himself pure from them; they are: urine, feces, unlawful meat animals, semen, dead body, blood, land dog and pig, alcoholic beverages, barley beer, infidel and sweat of an animal that persistently eats impurities.
Purifying agents: Purifying agents means those things which purify that which has become ritually impure. They are also eleven in number, the most important of them being water. It is not possible here to mention all the details, therefore those who are interested may refer to books of jurisprudence and code of Islamic laws.
Laws of transactions are also extensive in Islam and we can only mention some of their general topics: Acquisitions, buying and selling, different types of charitable deeds, interest, right of mediation, rentals, contracts, gifts, endowments, proxies, foreign exchange, loans, partnerships, leases, payment of reward, lease land to a farmer, Musaqat, agency, inheritance, bequests, mortgage, revival of wastelands, ownership, surety, bails, trusts, gleanings and usurpation etc.
Islam is also having detailed laws in the various sections of the family life of Muslims; and there are very specific and commands in some matters. We mention a few of them by way of example:
Marriage, dower, mutual rights of the spouses, nursing and laws related to children, maintenance, marital discord, divorce, waiting period after divorce, waiting period after the death of the spouse, etc.
Guardianship and rulership
Islam has also legislated detailed and extensive laws with regard to mastership and rulership; some of which are as follows:
Origin of Islamic guardianship and rulership; and the reasonings of its validity, description of Islamic rulership, requirements of the ruler, discretions of the ruler, duties of the ruler, process of selection of the guardian, duties of officials of the Islamic government, public property and government budget, taxes, Zakat, Khums, Jihad, judiciary, testimony, retaliation, penalties, blood monies, etc.
Laws related to foods and drinks
Laws like: Conditions of religiously lawful slaughter, the person who slaughters, conditions of hunting etc.
 Musaqat means that a person agrees with someone that for a specified time, the fruit-bearing trees owned by him, or those which are under his discretion, will be given to that person so that he cares, tends and waters them. In return, that person will have the right to take an agreed quantity of fruits. This transaction is called Musaqat.