• Wheatley
    1.3k
    It's often that said the one should be a productive member of society. Don't be lazy, and do what you're told. You are not entitled to anything, no handouts. You must earn your keep. Don't expect a free ride from nobody. Work your tail off, and earn more. Chase after the dollar. Stay motivated. Etc.. Few of us stop to think about this expectation society has on us. Why should I be a productive member of society?

    I don't believe that I'm obligated to do anything for society. I had not choice on being born. I had no choice but to rely on my parents to raise me from when I was an infant. It's not my fault that I happen to live in a society that provides me with benefits, such as roads and schooling. The argument that since society provides me with benefits, it wouldn't be right if I provided nothing in return, is complete bullshit. It's like those people who only give because they expect something in return. Much better to give because you care, not because you are playing a game quid pro quo.

    I feel not obligation to contribute to society. The only reason why I would do anything for society is because I care about other people, not because there is any moral obligation because there isn't.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    It's not my fault that I happen to live in a society that provides me with benefits, such as roads and schooling.Wheatley

    The problem is that you live in a society that functions on the level you dismiss. Not everyone expects something in return. In fact I imagine most never want to go to hospital, call the police, an ambulance or fire service or ask their neighbour for help.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    I feel not obligation to contribute to society.Wheatley

    In order to get arbitrary people to provide you with goods and services, you will have to pay them with money that you received for providing other arbitrary people with goods and services.

    Your participation in that exchange is your main contribution to society. According to Islamic law, you are supposed to distribute 2.5% of your yearly capital gains to the poor and needy. If you are in the designated age range, you may possibly be drafted to defend your community. As far as I know, there is no other obligation to contribute anything else to society.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    As far as I know, there is no other obligation to contribute anything else to society.alcontali

    Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “ do good to parents, and to relatives and orphans, and the needy, and the near neighbour and the distant neighbour and the companion of your side and the wayfarer and to your male and female servants." Surah Nisaa Verse 36

    "Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment." (Abu Dawud)

    So where in your scripture does it say that the sum total of all that is encompassed by the terms "do good", and a lack of cruelty, defence of rights, burdens more than they can bear... all that, is covered by a 2.5% alms, and nothing else?

    Or am I quoting from the 'wrong' scripture? Should I track down the Selfish Bastard version of the Quran?
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    Whoever is cruel and hardIsaac

    It is debatable if not being "cruel nor hard" needs to be counted separately as a contribution to society. Furthermore, it is not a one-sided thing. You reciprocate by not being "cruel nor hard" to others because they are not "cruel nor hard" to you.

    So where in your scripture does it say that the sum total of all that is encompassed by the terms "do good", and a lack of cruelty, defence of rights, burdens more than they can bear... all that, is covered by a 2.5% alms, and nothing else?Isaac

    You can also give voluntary charity ("sadaqah") in addition to the 2.5% mandatory levy on net capital gains ("zakaat"), but such contribution to the wider society is not mandatory albeit certainly commendable.

    I do not believe that the Quran mentions other unconditional contributions to wider society.

    While people may surely confer unilateral benefits because of kinship to extended family, all other social arrangements and transactions are naturally of a tit-for-that nature, unless specifically mentioned otherwise, i.e. you do something for me and I do something for you, as agreed.

    Seriously, other people do not owe you anything. If they give something to you for free, make sure to gratefully consider that as an exception and not the rule.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    it is not a one-sided thing. You reciprocate by not being "cruel nor hard" to others because they are not "cruel nor hard" to you.alcontali

    Where's you're scriptural support for opposing the general instruction to "do good" which is not so curtailed in that section?

    I do not believe that the Quran mentions other unconditional contributions to wider society.alcontali

    I've literally just cited them. You must "do good" top parents, relatives, orphans, the needy and neighbours. You must not be cruel or hard, you must protect other's rights, not burden them with more than they can bear...

    And that's just the general proscription to non-muslims (apart from the fact that you have to shelter them if they seek refuge, take them safely to their destination, treat them with dignity and respect...). Duties to fellow Muslims are even more strict.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    You must "do good" top parents, relativesIsaac

    These beneficiaries are not the wider society. We obviously and clearly distinguish between people who are kin and other people who are not kin.

    orphans, the needy and neighboursIsaac

    That is covered by zakaat and sadaqah.

    And that's just the general proscription to non-muslimsIsaac

    Charity to non-muslims is covered by sadaqah, and according to some interpretations also by zakaat, but that last part is debatable.

    Duties to fellow Muslims are even more strict.Isaac

    No, they are not particularly strict. They are common sense: 59 examples of how the Quran tells Muslims to behave.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    That is covered by zakaat and sadaqah.alcontali

    Charity to non-muslims is covered by sadaqah, and according to some interpretations also by zakaatalcontali

    I didn't ask you about charity. I asked you about the clear instruction to "do good". Are you saying that the sum total of what the Quran considers covered by all that is "good" is a proportional financial payment? If so, I want to see your scriptural support for that assertion, that "do good" according to the Quran, is synonymous exactly with "pay money to" and nothing more.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    I didn't ask you about charity. I asked you about the clear instruction to "do good". Are you saying that the sum total of what the Quran considers covered by all that is "good" is a proportional financial payment? If so, I want to see your scriptural support for that assertion, that "do good" according to the Quran, is synonymous exactly with "pay money to" and nothing more.Isaac

    I am not the right person to ask for an in-depth ḥukm (حُكْم) on jurisprudential matters. A good site to ask for this kind of jurisprudential ruling (according to the hanafi madhhab) is:

    http://efiqh.com/ask-a-question-2/

    The Sharī‘ah ruling given is based specifically on the question posed and should only be read in conjunction with that question. Due to the number of queries received, please allow a minimum of 10 days for your question to be answered. If there are more than two questions asked or the question requires a detailed research, please allow three to four weeks for your response.

    eFiqh.com provides answers to questions relating to Sharī‘ah. These questions and answers are placed for public view on eFiqh.com for educational purposes only. However, many of these answers are unique to a particular scenario and should not be relied on or treated as a basis to establish a ruling in another situation or another environment. eFiqh.com bears no responsibility with regards to these questions and answers being used out of their intended context. Any information relating to a persons identity has been removed.
    — efiqh.com: Ask for a jurisprudential ruling

    There are at least a dozen other popular "online mufti" sites (and hundreds of less popular ones) where you can ask for a jurisprudential advisory.
  • Isaac
    2.9k


    So you don't even know what the instruction means? How do you know how to treat your neighbours, the needy etc if you don't even know what "do good" means? And why are you advising people on what their obligations are in society when you don't have sufficient expertise, I thought people just making stuff up based on what they reckon was all "systemless bullshit" to you? Is that what you're engaged in now?
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    The argument that since society provides me with benefits, it wouldn't be right if I provided nothing in return, is complete bullshit.Wheatley

    Another way to look at it is that everyone DOES contribute. If "contribute" means more than our career and spitting out babies, then everyone contributes by existing. Didn't this OP just contribute to the lives of those of us who choose to respond?

    Overall though, I think I agree with your general sentiment.

    The only reason why I would do anything for society is because I care about other people, not because there is any moral obligation because there isn't.Wheatley

    For me, "because I care" is the only real reason for an obligation.
  • Qwex
    366
    Powerful people may become mad at you if you are immoral.

    You don't really need to contribute, just don't annoy the wrong people.

    Will your lack of contribution hurt you? Nah.

    You're very insignificant. So you're right. No moral obligation to society. However, society and life are different; immoral actions here, may hurt you.
  • Congau
    224

    That’s right, you have no moral obligation to society at large since you have never willfully committed yourself to it. An obligation can only arise when you make the equivalent of a promise to someone. When you sign a lease, you are obligated to pay the rent to your landlord.

    We usually don’t have to worry so much about paying back to society what we have received since the taxes we are forced to pay take care of that whether we want to or not. If you are in a situation where you receive more than you give you are probably in unfortunate circumstances (unless you are a child) and you don’t need the additional blame for not contributing.

    You should probably still contribute, not because it’s an obligation but for personal mental health reasons. Most people find it satisfactory to be a part of a larger system, a well-working society. But if you are sure you don’t find any satisfaction in that, so be it.

    Also, if you try to escape from what society requires you to pay, you risk getting into a habit of personal greed and that may not be good for your moral well-being. It’s like stealing from a large supermarket: you can’t hurt the supermarket by running away with a few items, but it wouldn’t be a good habit to acquire.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    So you don't even know what the instruction means? How do you know how to treat your neighbours, the needy etc if you don't even know what "do good" means? And why are you advising people on what their obligations are in society when you don't have sufficient expertise, I thought people just making stuff up based on what they reckon was all "systemless bullshit" to you? Is that what you're engaged in now?Isaac

    As you seem to be interested in particular details of Islam, I was simply referring you to religious scholars who will be more than happy to answer your questions. As I wrote before, Islamic law limits unilateral individual obligations to wider society beyond the extended family to a very reasonable burden. Therefore, if you want something from other people you will generally have to compensate them.
  • frank
    5.2k
    And why are you advising people on what their obligations are in society when you don't have sufficient expertise,Isaac

    You were asking for scripture. You have to be a Muslim scholar to propose to interpret the Quran or other sacred scriptures. It involves learning the version of Arabic those texts were originally written in.

    A regular Muslim will still be up to speed on what is obligated and what isn't. Sunni Islam stopped evolving sometime around the 10th Century, so if we think of culture as a language, the language of the Quran is old. That world is gone.

    But the holy scriptures aren't the limit of a Muslim's ethical life. It's just that some legislation, for instance, has to be done in a secular way. Some Muslim scholars maintain that Islam is best suited to and best flourishes as a feature of an otherwise secular world.

    So simmer down.
  • A Seagull
    621
    It's not my fault that I happen to live in a society that provides me with benefits, such as roads and schooling.
    I feel not obligation to contribute to society.
    Wheatley

    Absolutely right! If you don't want to contribute then don't.

    I am quite happy to toss a few extra coins in the hat to cover for you, not because I expect anything particular in return. But because I want to live in a community where there is schooling and health care for everyone, where I can pass people in the street and share a smile. And because I am confident that what goes around comes around. And because I can. And because I know other people do the same. And because other people have covered for me in the past.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I am quite happy to toss a few extra coins in the hat to cover for you, not because I expect anything particular in return. But because I want to live in a community where there is schooling and health care for everyone, where I can pass people in the street and share a smile.And because I am confident that what goes around comes around. And because I can. And because I know other people do the same. And because other people have covered for me in the past.A Seagull

    I only believe the bolded bit to the extent that we impact the world we live in (if I directly help a poor person I don't expect direct help for myself someday...but the action helps me to live in the type of community I want to live in...which I suppose could be exactly what you meant), but everything else deserves a big :up:
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    You were asking for scripture.frank

    I thought he was just asking for justification of a belief. Why does that require a Muslim scholar? Sure they may have had to do the initial interpretation, but surely they explain reasons to the believers? Especially for believers that are going to go out and practice Muslim apologetics.
  • frank
    5.2k
    I thought he was just asking for justification of a belief. Why does that require a Muslim scholar? Sure they may have had to do the initial interpretation, but surely they explain reasons to the believers? Especially for believers that are going to go out and practice Muslim apologetics.ZhouBoTong

    I think alcontali was justifying it by pointing to scholars. That's appropriate. Is alcontali trying to convert us all to Islam?
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I think alcontali was justifying it by pointing to scholars. That's appropriate. Is alcontali trying to convert us all to Islam?frank

    Yes, but it shows that they just believe it because they were told it is right. Only the scholars can understand why, right?
  • frank
    5.2k
    Yes, but it shows that they just believe it because they were told it is right. Only the scholars can understand why, right?ZhouBoTong

    I think it's because they believe the 7th Century Arabic contains some flavor that's important to understanding. Maybe we could get @alcontali to explain further.

    A Muslim scholar isn't a clergyman in the Christian sense. He's not a preacher and he doesn't have special authority to tell people what to think. He's respected because he's put so much energy and time into putting himself into a position to comment on the Quran in the traditional way.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    Maybe we could get alcontali to explain further.frank

    I think that is exactly what Isaac was looking for :grimace: (not explain the workings of Islam, but why he felt that specific point was correct)

    But I think that is 3 posts in a row of me assuming the thoughts of another poster...so I should probably stop that...carry on :smile:
  • Coben
    1.6k
    So you don't even know what the instruction means? How do you know how to treat your neighbours, the needy etc if you don't even know what "do good" means? And why are you advising people on what their obligations are in society when you don't have sufficient expertise, I thought people just making stuff up based on what they reckon was all "systemless bullshit" to you? Is that what you're engaged in now? — Isaac


    As you seem to be interested in particular details of Islam, I was simply referring you to religious scholars who will be more than happy to answer your questions. As I wrote before, Islamic law limits unilateral individual obligations to wider society beyond the extended family to a very reasonable burden. Therefore, if you want something from other people you will generally have to compensate them.
    alcontali
    Here's the thing...
    you first did give a summation of what is expected with a sense that it was complete. When Isaac pointed out that the Koran includes a very generalized obligation to do good to both those near to you in blood, but also those living nearby and then those in need, you eventually refer him to experts. But you should be interested yourself, since you already made assertions as if you did have knowledge, exactly what the expectations in Islam are. Now presented with a quote that seems to extend that obligation, and a nice point about the likely scope of 'do good' by Isaac, you want to pass the issue on as if it is only his concern and not yours. But it would be odd for you not to be concerned that you potentially misrepresented Islam and would also want, yourself, to go to that website and get a more definitive interpretation.

    Here, you state that Islamic Law limits unilateral individual obligations to a reasonable burden. But that is a very vague description and does not in any way resolve the issue Isaac is raising. One could have more obligation that you presented in the percentage of income and still not be expected to harm yourself or give yourself more than a reasonable burden. In fact a lot of 'doing good' may present no burden at all. It might even be enjoyable or futher one's own aims withing the community. And one could, for example, if one were rich, easily do all sorts of good things to those in need, since one can have, for example, servants take care of many things less well off people must do on their own. I am not suggesting this is what Islam demands, I am saying that you are writing as if you are making something clear when you are not, and instead of acknowledging that Isaac may well be on to something and that your own knowledge about how you as a Muslim should behave may be problematic, since you are going by heuristics that you have implicitly admitted you do not know are correct, you send him off as if he was the one with the issue.


    “A person whose neighbors are not safe from his evil will not enter paradise.”

    “A person is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.” [which does not include a clause for percentages already tithed]

    “The best of neighbors in the sight of God is the best towards his (or her) neighbor.”

    And presumably neighbor is taken in the general sense of someone in the community not of the same blood. Not just the Jones' in the house next door.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    As I wrote before, Islamic law limits unilateral individual obligations to wider society beyond the extended family to a very reasonable burden.alcontali

    Right. I'm just asking for the scriptual support for that statement. That's all. You keep saying how you follow written systems where you don't just make up stuff, but instead have it written down. So where is it written down that a person need do no more than pay their 2.5% alms? You can't support that statement with "I don't know, if you ask a scholar they'll give a ruling". If you don't know, then you're not obtaining your knowledge from a written source are you, you just made it up.

    I think that is exactly what Isaac was looking for :grimace: (not explain the workings of Islam, but why he felt that specific point was correct)ZhouBoTong

    Exactly. I sometimes wonder if I'm talking in a different language, but then someone sane will come along and state the obvious - reassuring me. Thanks.

    I'm asking for some justification for the statement "there is no other obligation to contribute anything else to society". @alcontali has written repeatedly, and very strongly, that he (let's not kid ourselves about his likely gender) does not follow any rules which are not part of a clearly written system. He does not simply make up "system less bullshit".

    "Islamic scholars might say... if you asked them, I don't know" isn't a justification.

    He's respected because he's put so much energy and time into putting himself into a position to comment on the Quran in the traditional wayfrank

    Bullshit. I could spend five minutes on the internet and find you a Muslim scholar who interprets the Quran in just about any possible combination of ways you can think of. There are scholars who think all non-believers are enemies in war, women should remain completely covered, girls should not be educated on pain of death etc. Equally there are scholars who think that Muslims should live in peace with non-Muslims, women should have equal status to men and that education is fine. The idea that there's some 'way' of interpreting these writings which can be acquired through study is utter garbage.

    I didn't just pick those citations out of thin air. I looked up a few Islamic scholar websites which talked about the obligations Muslims had to wider society. Those passages were quoted in support of the scholar's view that Muslims had one of the most stringent and wide-reaching range of obligations of any religion. Completely contrary to @alcontali's view that there were no obligations at all beyond paying a bit of money.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    So where is it written down that a person need do no more than pay their 2.5% alms? You can't support that statement with "I don't know, if you ask a scholar they'll give a ruling". If you don't know, then you're not obtaining your knowledge from a written source are you, you just made it up.Isaac

    There is no endless list of mandatory unilateral contributions to non-kin third parties that rest as a burden on the believer in Islam, if only, because the scripture is not endless. If you want verify the complete enumeration, as I pointed out in an earlier comment, it would be safer to ask a religious scholar ("mufti") for a jurisprudential advisory on the matter.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    There is no endless list of mandatory unilateral contributions to non-kin third parties that rest as a burden on the believer in Islam, if only, because the scripture is not endless. If you want verify the complete enumeration, as I pointed out in an earlier comment, it would be safer to ask a religious scholar ("mufti") for a jurisprudential advisory on the matter.alcontali

    I didn't ask for a list (endless or not), and I didn't ask what Islam actually has to say on the matter.

    I'm asking about your personal justification for your claim that no other obligation existed. Note a claim that no other obligation exists towards the needy (particularly in the light of a clear statement that one must "do good" to them) cannot be supported by saying there is no 'endless' list. Your claim is that there is no list at all, that the sum total of "do good" is exactly synonymous with and completely encompassed by" pay 2.5% of your income to"

    Where is your textual support for that equivalence? You have presumed that "do good" is covered by "pay money to". If you're not just making that up off the top of your head, then you should easily be able to point me in the direction of the scripture which has that equivalence written clearly in it.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    You have presumed that "do good" is covered by "pay money to".Isaac

    Yes, that is how I understood it. I was thinking of unilateral charity payments to the poor and/or needy.

    If you're not just making that up off the top of your head, then you should easily be able to point me in the direction of the scripture which has that equivalence written clearly in it.Isaac

    That amounts to scanning the entire scriptural base for any information that could be relevant in this regard. Again, that is rather something that a religious scholar does. I may be moderately familiar with the knowledge database of existing Islamic advisories but I do not do any serious academic work on the subject and certainly not on a regular basis. The enumeration that you seem to be interested in, could even entail the production of a completely advisory. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, it makes much more sense to forward the question to someone who is used to work on jurisprudential advisories.
  • Isaac
    2.9k


    Why would I forward the question to someone who is used to working on jurisprudential advisories? I'm not remotely interested in the answer. As I've stated probably a dozen times now I'm interested in your personal justification for your personal belief, not whatever some cleric has to say.

    You've made it abundantly clear that you do not do "systemless bullshit" so it follows that you have derived your opinion that "do good" is covered by "pay money to", on the basis of some system.

    So either;

    You're trying to make the utterly ludicrous claim that "do good" just means "pay money to" semantically and no further ruling is needed. I don't think I even need to bother writing out the argument against that option.

    Or

    You personally found out from your scripture that "do good" here just means "pay money to", in which case I don't need to ask for a ruling because you have already done so, just let me know what it was.

    Or

    You haven't found out that "do good" here means "pay money to" you've just made that up off the top of your head, and you do, in fact, do systemless bullshit, you just do it to further your own selfish interests.
  • god must be atheist
    2.2k
    1. If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't come to yours.

    2. Being totally selfish and greedy does not contradict giving back to society. A greedy person is part of society. He is giving to himself, that is, to part of society. Generally, no specifications exist WHICH part of society one must give back to, other than in specific instances of law or of religious law. So one can give back to ANY part of society, and if that given part of society is restricted to the self, then that's still legitimately fulfilling one's duty and obligation, if one exists, to society.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    your personal justification for your personal belief, not whatever some cleric has to say.Isaac

    Well, unlike what Stephen Wolfram seems to believe, I do not believe that it is (generally) possible to discover a syntactic entailment from the foundations of a particular formal system merely by mechanical enumeration. If that were possible, I would simply use a mufti program instead of a mufti person in order to discover the answer. In my opinion, the best that will ever be achieved is mechanical verification, while mechanical discovery will remain a pipe dream.

    Since it requires extensive training and quite a bit of exposure to the subject to successfully discover a jurisprudential ruling, I am not the right person to ask for that effort.

    Such advisory is meant to be an objective statement. Either the ruling necessarily follows from its scriptural foundations or else it doesn't. I do not see what there is to personally believe in that respect. That would simply be too late in the game. Personal belief is more about questions like what scriptural foundations to work from. Once you have picked the scriptures to work from, however, it is no longer a question of personal belief but one of syntactic entailment.
  • Isaac
    2.9k


    Still not answering the question then. I'm not going to ask again, I think it's now quite clear to all that you're just using your religion as post hoc justification for your own selfishness. Doesn't surprise me, religion is mostly post hoc justification for something.
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