The Rights Of Others

The Right Of The Master On His Slave

The right of your master (mawla) who has favoured you [by freeing you from slavery] is that you know that he has spent his property for you and brought you out of the abasement and estrangement of bondage to the exaltation and comfort of freedom. He has freed you from the captivity of possession and loosened the bonds of slavehood from you.

He has brought you out of prison, given you ownership of yourself, and given you leisure to worship your Lord. You should know that he is the closest of God’s creatures to you in your life and your death and that aiding him with your life and what he needs from you is incumbent upon you. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of The Freed Slave

The right of the slave (mawla) whom you have favoured [by freeing him] is that you know that God has made your freeing him a means of access to Him and a veil against the Fire. Your immediate reward is to inherit from him- if he does not have any maternal relatives- as a compensation for the property you have spent for him, and your ultimate reward is the Garden.

The Right Of One Who Does A Kindly Act

The right of him who does a kindly act (dhu l-ma’ruf) toward you is that you thank him and mention his kindness; you reward him with beautiful words and you supplicate for him sincerely in that which is between you and God. If you do that, you have thanked him secretly and openly. Then, if you are able to repay him one day, you repay him.

The Right Of The Mu’adhdhin

The right of the mu’adhdhin is that you know that he is reminding you of your Lord, calling you to your good fortune, and helping you to accomplish what God has made obligatory upon you. So thank him for that just as you thank one who does good to you.

The Right Of The Imam In The Ritual Prayer

The right of your imam in your ritual prayer is that you know that he has taken on the role of mediator between you and your Lord. He speaks for you, but you do not speak for him; he supplicates for you, but you do not supplicate for him. He has spared you the terror of standing before God. If he performs the prayer imperfectly, that belongs to him and not to you; but if he performs it perfectly, you are his partner, and he has no excellence over you. So protect yourself through him, protect your prayer through his prayer, and thank him in that measure.

The Right Of The Sitting Companion

The right of your sitting companion (jalis) is that you treat him mildly, show fairness toward him while vying with him in discourse, and do not stand up from sitting with him without his permission. But it is permissible for him who sits with you to leave without asking your permission. You should forget his slips and remember his good qualities, and you should tell nothing about him but good.

The Right Of The Neighbour

The right of your neighbour (jar) is that you guard him when he is absent, honour him when he is present, and aid him when he is wronged. You do not pursue anything of his that is shameful; if you know of any evil from him, you conceal it. If you know that he will accept your counsel, you counsel him in that which is between him and you. You do not forsake him in difficulty, you release him from his stumble, you forgive his sin, and you associate with him generously. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of The Companion

The right of the companion (sahib) is that you act as his companion with bounty and in fairness. You honour him as he honours you and you do not let him be the first to act with generosity. If he is the first, you repay him. You wish for him as he wishes for you and you restrain him from any act of disobedience he might attempt. Be a mercy for him, not a chastisement. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of The Partner

The right of the partner (sharik) is that if he should be absent, you suffice him in his affairs, and if he should be present, you show regard for him. You make no decision without his decision and you do nothing on the basis of your own opinion, but you exchange views with him. You guard his property for him, and you do not betray him in that of his affair which is difficult or of little importance, for God’s hand is above the hands of two partners as long as they do not betray each other. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of Property

The right of your property (mal) is that you take it only from what is lawful and you spend it only in what is proper. Through it you should not prefer above yourself those who will not praise you. You should act with it in obedience to your Lord and not be miserly with it, lest you fall back into regret and remorse while suffering the ill consequence. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of The Creditor

The right of him to whom you owe a debt (al-gharim alladhi yutalibuka) is that, if you have the means, you pay him back, and if you are in straitened circumstances, you satisfy him with good words and you send him away with gentleness.

The Right Of The Associate

The right of the associate (khalit) is that you neither mislead him, nor act dishonestly toward him, nor deceive him, and you fear God in his affair.

The Right Of The Adversary Who Has A Claim Against You

The right of the adversary (khasm) who has a claim against you is that, if what he claims against you is true, you give witness to it against yourself. You do not wrong him and you give him his full due. If what he claims against you is false, you act with kindness toward him and you show nothing in his affair other than kindness; you do not displease your Lord in his affair. And there is no strength save in God.[1]

The Right Of The Adversary Against Whom You Have A Claim

The right of the adversary against whom you have a claim is that, if your claim against him is true, you maintain polite moderation in speaking to him and you do not deny his right. If your claim is false, you fear God, repent to Him, and abandon your claim.

The Right Of One Who Seeks Advice

The right of him who asks you for advice (mustashir) is that, if you consider that he has a correct opinion, you advise him to follow it, and if you do not consider it so, you direct him to someone who does consider it so.

The Right Of One Whose Advice You Seek

The right of him whom you ask for advice (mushir) is that you do not make accusations against him for an opinion which does not conform to your own opinion. If it conforms to it, you praise God.

The Right Of One Who Asks Your Counsel

The right of him who asks your counsel (mustansih) is that you give him your counsel, but you conduct yourself toward him with compassion and kindness.

The Right Of The Counselor

The right of your counselor (nasih) is that you act gently toward him and give ear to him. If he presents you with the right course, you praise God, but if he does not agree with you, you show compassion toward him and make no accusations against him; you consider him to have made a mistake, and you do not take him to task for that, unless he should be deserving of accusation. Then attach no more importance to his affair. And there is no strength save in God.

The Right Of The One Older Than You

The right of him who is older than you (kabir) is that you show reverence toward him because of his age and you honour him because he entered Islam before you. You leave off confronting him in a dispute, you do not precede him in a path, you do not go ahead of him, and you do not consider him foolish. If he should act foolishly toward you, you put up with him and you honour him because of the right of Islam and the respect due to it.

The Right Of The One Younger Than You

The right of him who is younger (saghir) is that you show compassion toward him through teaching him, pardoning him, covering his faults, kindness toward him, and helping him.

The Right Of The One Who Asks

The right of him who asks (sa’il) from you is that you give to him in the measure of his need.

The Right Of The One Who Is Asked

The right of him from whom you ask is that you accept from him with gratitude and recognition of his bounty if he gives, and you accept his excuse if he withholds.

The Right Of One Through Whom God Makes You Happy

The right of him through whom God makes you happy (surur) is that you first praise God, then you thank the person.

The Right Of One Who Does Evil To You

The right of him who does evil to you is that you pardon him. But if you know that your pardon will harm him, you defend yourself. God says,

Whosoever defends himself after he has been wronged – against them there is no way. (42:41)

The Right Of The People Of Your Creed

The right of the people of your creed (milla) is harbouring safety for them, compassion toward them, kindness toward their evildoer, treating them with friendliness, seeking their well-being, thanking their good-doer, and keeping harm away from them. You should love for them what you love for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself. Their old men stand in the place of your father, their youths in the place of your brothers, their old women in the place of your mother, and their young ones in the place of your children.

The Right Of People Under The Protection Of Islam

The right of the people under the protection [of Islam] (dhimma) is that you accept from them what God has accepted from them and you do no wrong to them as long as they fulfil God’s covenant.


[1] Zayn al-‘Abidin’s personal qualities of forbearance and pardon are often cited in the sources. Once a man cursed him to his face, but he ignored the man. Then the man shouted: ‘I mean you’! The Imam replied: ‘And from you I am turning away,’ alluding to the Qur’anic verse:

Bid to what is honorable and turn away from the ignorant (7:199).

If anyone reviled him, he would say: ‘If I am as you say, I ask God to forgive me, and if I am not as you say, I ask God to forgive you’. (A’yan, pp.194, 193).


The Treatise On Rights By Imam Zayn al-Abideen (A.S)