Acts, Rights, Obligation and its Classification

As a plural of fai’l, af’aal means the doing of a man, in terms of heart, tongue and limbs. These acts may be classified into:

 1). Natural acts (Hissi)

 Acts of mind (Qalbi)

 Physical acts (Af’aal)

 2). Juristic acts (Shar’i).

They can be classified into:

  1.  Voluntary and Involuntary acts
  2. Acts creating rights and acts extinguishing rights
  3. Revocable and irrevocable acts.

When these acts are classified as per religious purposes, they take the form of obligatory and forbidden. The obligatory may be further divided into, Farz and Wajib, of which’s performance results in spiritual merit(sawab) and the nonperformance results in punishment(azab),

while their further classification may be in the shape of farz-e-kafaya, mandoob, mustahib and nafal.

Natural Acts:

Natural acts include acts of the body or physical acts as well as acts of the mind.

An act of the body consists of the motion of some limb of the human body, such as utterance of words, eating, drinking striking, and so on. One of the obvious properties of such an act is that it is perceptible to persons other than the doer which makes it differ from an act of the mind such as believing, acknowledging, intending, wishing and the like.

Human tribunals cannot deal with an act of the mind by itself, for the simple reason that they cannot seize upon it.

Juristic Acts:

A juristic act may be described as an aggregate of more than one natural act of one or more persons that the law treats as one act, such as iman or act of faith or belief, salat or prayer, a contract of sale or hire, an offence of sedition and the like.

Juristic acts generally are divisible into insha’at or originating acts, akhbarat or information and i’tiqadat or acts of faith.

Originating acts and information are physical acts, while acts of faith are mental acts. The object of an originating act is the production of a legal result, such as sale, marriage, divorce, manumission etc.,

and the object of information is to describe an event, such as the testimony of a witness in court, an admission which is a testimony against one’s self, the narration of a tradition and the like.

Acts creating rights and acts extinguishing rights:

Lawful acts generally are again divided into ithbatat or creative acts, that is, acts creating rights, for example, a sale, a lease, a gift, etc., and isqatat or acts extinguishing rights, such as release, divorce, manumission, etc.

Revocable and irrevocable acts:

Originating acts are of two kinds, those whose legal effect can be undone, that is, revocable acts, such as sale, lease, etc.,

and those whose legal effect cannot be undone, that is irrevocable acts such as divorce, manumission and vow.

Such originating acts as creating legal relations are called ‘uqudat or contracts and acts cancelling or annulling contracts are called fusukhat such as avoidance of a sale in the exercise of an ‘option’.


Right is the authority of a man recognized by Sharia to control the actions of a person in a particular manner against whom it exists and the latter is under an obligation to act in that connection as required.

Right is something to which one is entitled under the law. It is a power of free action or a combination of certain privileges and certain duties on some other person. The rights in Islam are given by the Almighty and enforced and protected by the State.

Classification of Rights:

Rights are classified in Islamic legal science into five major categories:

  1.  Pure Rights of God (Huqooq Ullah)
  2.  Pure Rights of Men (Huqooq Ul Ibad)
  3.  Combination of both Rights with Predominance of the First.
  4.  Combination of both with Predominance of the Second.
  5. Rights of State

Pure Rights of God (Huqooq Ullah):

 They are purely the rights of Allah and involve benefit to the public at large, hence also termed as “public rights”, as they are not meant to benefit a particular individual.

These are referred to God due to the magnitude of risk involved in their violation and of comprehensive benefits which result from their fulfilment.

One cannot say that God will get benefit from these rights, as God is above these, yet they are associated with God and their fulfilment is required and enforced in the name of the Almighty by the state.

Public rights prevail in the following cases:

Acts of Devotion and Religious Observance:

They include matters of pure faith and other consequential duties of Muslims e.g. salat, fast, haj, zakat etc.

Perfect Punishments (Aqoobat-e-Kamila):

They are punishments which have been prescribed by the Almighty. They are termed as Hudood e.g. Zina, Theft etc.

Imperfect Punishments (Aqoobat-e-Qasira):

They are depriving a man who has killed another of his right of inheritance if he is the legal heir of whom he murdered. These are imperfect as they do not inflict any physical suffering.

Atonement and Expiations:

 They have the nature of both devotion and punishments e.g. Kaffara for non-fulfilment of certain obligations in the form of releasing a slave etc.

Imposts and Religious Taxes:

They also have a sense of worship e.g. Fitrana, Zakat, Ushr etc and also in some cases sense of punishment such as Jizya.

Independent Rights:

These are the rights which exist by themselves, such as 1/5th of the booty obtained in religious wars, which are reserved by the law for distribution among the poor.

Rights of Men (Huqooq Ul Ibad):

These are purely personal in nature (that’s why called private rights) and are given to each and every individual who is living under the jurisdiction of an Islamic State.

Their enforcement and protection are the duty of the State. Their enforcement is at the option of the person whose right has been infringed. They are two types:

  1.  Purely personal in nature, where the person whose right is violated can forgive or take action under the law,
  2.  Where communal rights and personal are mixed but personal are dominated, such as intentional murder.

Classification of Private Rights:

 The rights of men (or private rights) are mainly concerned with a particular individual. They are more or less the same as those prevailing in Western jurisdictions, such as:

  1. Right of personal safety (Nafs)
  2. Right of reputation (Hurmat)
  3. Right of ownership (Malkiat)
  4. Right of family and marital rights (Zojiat)
  5. Succession and inheritance (Tarka)
  6. Rights of lawful acts (Tasarrufat)
  7. Contracts (Aqd) etc.

Combination of both Rights with Predominance of the Public Rights:

Matters in which the rights of the community and the rights of individuals are combined but the public rights supersede come under this head.

Such as Qazf, where an individual punished who imputes unchastity to another falsely, belongs to this class. Because it reduces the honour of one of the members of the community and also the private right of the individual infringed as it destroys his privilege in society.

Combination of both rights with Predominance of the private rights:

 Matters in which both public and private rights are combined, but private rights are predominance are Qisas or retaliation.


 An obligation is the duty of a person, the non-performance of which is punishable. These obligations when looked through the implication of law are:

  1.  Towards God;
  2.  Towards State; or
  3.  Towards individual,

Or they can arise due to man’s own conduct, act or admission, and in certain cases due to violation or infringement of someone’s rights.

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