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Subjective Responsibility

  • “‘Objective responsibility’ refers to the duty and responsibilities determined by the measures of Islamic theology, which are based on the principle of ease in the essence of Islam and are valid for everyone. On the other hand, ‘subjective responsibility’ refers to the duties and line of responsibility every individual undertakes and determines for themselves within a frame of conscientious criteria, as a result of their personal feeling, sensing, cognition, and evaluations.”1)
  • “In modern jurisprudence, attribution of damaging behavior to the fault of a certain person is termed as ‘subjective responsibility,’ but there is no such term in the methodology of Islamic jurisprudence. One of the two words in the phrase ‘subjective mukallafiyyah’ is of Latin and the other is of Arabic origin. There should be nothing wrong in terming an important depth of the issue of responsibility with the word ‘subjective,’ nowadays commonly used in Turkish. The term ‘subjective responsibility’ is not included as a term in books of Islamic jurisprudence methodology. However, the idea we try to refer with this term both guided the lives of all righteous Muslims of the classic period, and it took and important place as an important consideration in the works of almost every scholar of Islamic jurisprudence. While Imam Shatibi compares the judgments established in the periods of Mecca and Medina in his work Al-Muwafaqat, he points out that the Meccan judgments were in a way open ended for subjective responsibility and saintly personages generally led their lives by taking as basis commandments of the Meccan period.”2)
  • “It should not be forgotten that subjective responsibilities are special to people at certain levels: those who have a share of knowledge of God, who know God well, who believe Him in the true sense, who pitch their tent on one of the levels of certainty in faith, and heroes of closeness to God. In this respect, people in general are responsible for the conditional servanthood whose boundaries were drawn within a narrow frame, namely, for the objective commands that concern all. Pushing an average person to following the line of subjective responsibility means overburdening that person and will be a behavior contradicting the truth of ‘Facilitate, do not make things difficult.’ Directing a person who has not yet freed himself from physicality will mean bringing him under too heavy a burden and breaking his back.”3)
  • “With respect to his own horizons of spiritual knowledge, the immensity of his knowledge of God, and his deep relationship with God, the Pride of Humanity followed a transcendent course of servanthood. To the degree of his immensity at servanthood, he had a different relation with God Almighty and the realms beyond; we term this as ‘subjective responsibility’ or ‘subjective servanthood with utter submission.’ Remember that the Messenger of God did not generalize this relationship and did not expect everyone to follow the same high standards. In order not to make things difficult for people and not to burden them with a greater responsibility than they can bear, he always showed the way of ease and drew attention to the ease in the essence of religion. However, he fulfilled servanthood in its heaviest fashion and thus pointed to the horizons of deep worship in wholehearted submission. He did this for certain people willing to target high horizons.”4)
  • “Harith al-Muhasibi has begun to gain recognition in recent years. May God be well-pleased with those who helped in bringing a personage like him to the forefront. One of his important works, Observing the Rights of God (Ar-Riaya li-Hukukillah) was published in Turkish. Harith al-Muhasibi demonstrates in his writings that he is as attentive as can be regarding issues like, sincerity vs. showing off about one’s good deeds, and as deep as can be at his self-criticism and self-supervisions. He is a giant figure who always opted for following maximum piety when observing religious commands and refraining from the forbidden; he believed in undertaking a subjective responsibility. He even agonized about improper thoughts that passed through his mind, as if he committed a major sin—let alone an actual act he committed or attitude he displayed. He reviled himself with an understanding as, ‘If my mind had really been pure, how could there be such impurity there?’ He continuously brought his soul to account with profound scrupulousness.”5)
  • “In terms of objective responsibility, you are not accountable for the sin of someone building an opinion of you based on conjecture and negativity. However, in terms of subjective responsibility, there is an aspect of compassion and affection. If we truly feel a deep affection and attachment toward all believers, and wish not to cause their mouths, eyes and ears to do wrong, it is important for us not to make them commit sin in terms of subjective responsibility. When there are apprehensions, doubts, and hesitations in their minds, eliminating them is a necessity of our compassion and affection for believers. Let us show fastidious care not to push others to negative thoughts and feelings of envy.”6)
  • “… according to the methodology of Islamic theology (Kalam) individuals are not responsible for thoughts that occur to them. That is, in terms of objective responsibility, if individuals do not pronounce such things openly, do not let their eyes willfully look at forbidden sights, and do not commit anything practically with their hands, mouth etc., what passes through their mind will not be recorded as sin. This is the criterion for ordinary people like us. As for the distinguished servants, from a perspective of subjective responsibility, even the pollution of their imagination calls for repentance and asking forgiveness. In this respect, the most perfect guide to be followed was the most ascetic person in the world. For example, you are drinking tea. While sipping your tea, which tastes so pleasant with the sugar and lemon you added, you take great delight in it. If you do not question yourself right away by asking yourself, ‘What if my God does not like me doing this…’ and do not ask for forgiveness for the possibility of doing something unbecoming in your subjective judgment, then it means you are not giving your position its due.”7)
  • “If God Almighty let one advance up until the door of a private chamber for His special servants, then that person is supposed to observe subjective responsibilities by being more sensitive to servitude. In the chapter ‘On Sincerity’ (Ikhlas), the Honorable Sage Bediüzzaman says ‘One who destroys this sincerity falls from the pinnacle of friendship. They may possibly fall to the bottom of a very deep pit. They cannot find anything in between to cling on to.’8) That is, responsibilities are proportional to a person’s spiritual rank.”9)
  • “For example, if others perform forty units of Prayer a day, together with the Sunnah Prayers, you should think, ‘Having been honored with abundant Divine blessings, I should do as much as eighty units a day,’ and thus ascend to the immensities of subjective responsibility.”10)
  • “… everyone should perform a servitude in accordance with the steps of the luminous spiral stairs from through which God Almighty elevates them. Therefore, those who are on such a spiral stairs cannot think that they are doing their duty just by performing the obligatory actions like ordinary people. To the extent of the knowledge and blessings they have attained, they should attain a deep servanthood. You can call it ‘subjective responsibility’ if you like.”11)

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M. Fethullah Gülen, Ölümsüzlük İksiri, (Kırık Testi-7), İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2011, p. 157.
Ibid., p. 158.
Ibid., p. 164.
M. Fethullah Gülen, Vuslat Muştusu, (Kırık Testi-8), İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2011, p. 41.
M. Fethullah Gülen, Cemre Beklentisi (Kırık Testi-10), İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2011, pp. 82–83.
Ibid., p. 196.
Ibid., p. 245–246.
Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2013, p. 227.
M. Fethullah Gülen, Yenilenme Cehdi (Kırık Testi-12), İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2013, p. 115.
M. Fethullah Gülen, Mefkûre Yolculuğu (Kırık Testi-13), İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2014, p. 128.
M. Fethullah Gülen, Dert Musikisi (Kırık Testi-16), New Jersey: Süreyya Yayınları, 2019, p. 258.
subjective_responsibility.txt · Last modified: 2022/08/14 11:26 by Editor