One of the common mistakes that is seen in those who are working for Islam is that they lose balance of all the things they are responsible for. We know that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Every one of you is a shepherd and every shepherd is responsible for his/her flock.”
Our “flocks” can be different things at different times but we should always keep some priorities in mind as well as a guiding principle.
In relation to priorities there are several overlapping circles of development and responsibility:
- The individual
- The family
- One’s local community
- The greater society
- The rest of the world
These are in order of importance, however, they are not mutually exclusive. If one is working at the individual level on some of their issues, it does not mean that they cannot give anything to their family or community. The priorities do give us guidelines for change though. We are fooling ourselves if we think that we are going to change any of the latter things in a substantial way while failing with the beginning priorities. It is possible that one can have varying levels of engagement with a number of these at once, but certain parts will shift and take precedence depending on time and circumstance.
In our context it is usually the first two that get neglected. People work very hard for programs in the community and for others but when it comes to their own development and their responsibilities to their families, they come up short. Often times this is not a problem of time, but rather how we use our time, but that is a different lesson.
Some of our individual responsibilities that need to be watched out for:
- The quality of our prayers
- Our daily remembrance of God, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He)
- Our manners and character development
- Our education
- Our professional development
- Our physical and mental health
Family is its own responsibility whether a child, parent, or spouse. All of us have roles and responsibilities towards our loved ones and they should not be neglected.
So we should keep these priorities in mind and balance between them with fluidity and integrity as things come up.