I was watering the plants this morning (droopy plants…the weather has been scorching here), and while performing this task, I was reminded of something that was taught by my mother regarding our faith, which became a cornerstone for my daily practice. It’s the concept of the dual relationship.
For me, as a Muslim, I have a relationship and responsibility to serve God by worshiping him and adhering to His commandments as stipulated. That relationship is intimate and is one-to-one between my creator and me.
However, it doesn’t end there, and this is where most people would misunderstand their obligations. Their obligations do not cease at the level of the personal relationship with the creator, but they continue into the aspects of life as a human being living on this god-given Earth.
This is where the second relationship comes in; we have to take care of the environment and to ensure that we help those around us when it is within our power. We must also do our best to ensure that the world is a better place to live in. This also means that we need to strive to become better people, not only for enlightening ourselves with God’s wisdom, but also to be in a better position to do more good things to improve the world.
Taking it into a leadership context, each person has to become a ‘Khalifah’ or a leader of his/her domain to ensure that justice, goodness, and compassion prevail within the person’s sphere of daily life. Waiting for things to happen is not going to bring any changes, and each person is required to be pro-active in order to improve the conditions around them. It is said in the Quran that God will not change the fate of a nation unless they strive to improve themselves first. That is the condition.
Directly Asking Forgiveness from God
Muslim belief states that when a person has offended God, the person can ask forgiveness from God directly. However, if the person has transgressed and hurt others, he/she would have to ask forgiveness from those that he/she has hurt. A person who is pious and yet maligns and mistreats others around him/her, having little regard for the environment and other living beings created by God, will only fulfill half of the equation. One aspect of the relationship shouldn’t be confused with the other.
And this dual relationship has always reminded me to keep things in balance.