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Adler's Individual Psychology and Separation of Task and Islāmic Texts on Self-accountability

Coffee + Hatred

I have been reading a book on the philosophy and individual psychology theory of Alfred Adler, more specifically, "separation of tasks". That is, each individual is responsible for their own tasks and mustn't interfere with the tasks of others. An example of this tasks is being likeable. Your task, as an individual, is to be you (i.e., be pleasant) - whether a person likes you or not, that is their task. Forcing others to like you (by changing who you are solely to please others) will lead to unhappiness. As they say, you can't please everyone. You can't be 100 different "you" to please 100 different individuals.


Which then lead me to think about self-accountability. That is, blaming others and our environment as a way to escape responsibilities and accountability (i.e., our task). I then came across a Verse that inspired me to further look in to the Revelations (i.e., Qur’ān and Sunnah).


The purpose of this article is to look at what we can find within the Islāmic Texts and Message in regards to self-accountability and responsibility. Does it do us any good by blaming others and our environment for failing to complete our own tasks?


I would like to begin by defining our task. Our (each individual’s) task, and dare I say, our ultimate task is to worship Allāh:


[1] وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُون


And we know that worship is not limited to "praying" but encompasses all forms of submission and obedience (i.e., following the Sharī'ah of Allāh) in a personal or individual level:


[2] قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىَ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ




اِنَّ الۡمُسۡلِمِيۡنَ وَالۡمُسۡلِمٰتِ وَالۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ وَالۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ وَالۡقٰنِتِيۡنَ وَالۡقٰنِتٰتِ وَالصّٰدِقِيۡنَ وَالصّٰدِقٰتِ وَالصّٰبِرِيۡنَ وَالصّٰبِرٰتِ وَالۡخٰشِعِيۡنَ وَالۡخٰشِعٰتِ وَالۡمُتَصَدِّقِيۡنَ وَ الۡمُتَصَدِّقٰتِ وَالصَّآئِمِيۡنَ وَالصّٰٓـئِمٰتِ وَالۡحٰفِظِيۡنَ فُرُوۡجَهُمۡ وَالۡحٰـفِظٰتِ وَالذّٰكِرِيۡنَ اللّٰهَ كَثِيۡرًا وَّ الذّٰكِرٰتِ ۙ اَعَدَّ اللّٰهُ لَهُمۡ مَّغۡفِرَةً وَّاَجۡرًا عَظِيۡمًا[3]




[4] وَمَنۡ يَّعۡصِ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوۡلَهٗ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلٰلًا مُّبِيۡنًا


That being said, the Dīn promotes self-accountability or personal accountability. That is, you are solely responsible for your tasks or your own actions. You cannot simply abandon your task (i.e., worship, submission and obedience) and blame others or your environment.


[5]وَقَالَ الشَّيۡطٰنُ لَـمَّا قُضِىَ الۡاَمۡرُ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ وَعَدَكُمۡ وَعۡدَ الۡحَـقِّ وَوَعَدْتُّكُمۡ فَاَخۡلَفۡتُكُمۡ​ وَمَا كَانَ لِىَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡ سُلۡطٰنٍ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ دَعَوۡتُكُمۡ فَاسۡتَجَبۡتُمۡ لِىۡ​ ۚ فَلَا تَلُوۡمُوۡنِىۡ وَلُوۡمُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَكُمۡ​ ؕ مَاۤ اَنَا بِمُصۡرِخِكُمۡ وَمَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ بِمُصۡرِخِىَّ​ اِنِّىۡ كَفَرۡتُ بِمَاۤ اَشۡرَكۡتُمُوۡنِ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ​اِنَّ الظّٰلِمِيۡنَ لَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ اَ لِيۡمٌ


Shaytān will denounce responsibility and accountability for the actions of those who followed him. For he merely called you to his way and it was up to you – as an individual – to follow him or to reject his call.


[6] وَّلَاُضِلَّـنَّهُمۡ وَلَاُمَنِّيَنَّهُمۡ وَلَاٰمُرَنَّهُمۡ


If this is the case with the Head of Kufr, whose main purpose and mission was to lead us astray, then how can we pass on the accountability to others who are merely Shaytān’s followers?


As for blaming our surroundings and environment:


اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ تَوَفّٰٮهُمُ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ ظَالِمِىۡۤ اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ قَالُوۡا فِيۡمَ كُنۡتُمۡ​ قَالُوۡا كُنَّا مُسۡتَضۡعَفِيۡنَ فِىۡ الۡاَرۡضِ​ؕ قَالُوۡۤا اَلَمۡ تَكُنۡ اَرۡضُ اللّٰهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُوۡا فِيۡهَا​ؕ فَاُولٰٓـئِكَ مَاۡوٰٮهُمۡ جَهَـنَّمُ​ وَسَآءَتۡ مَصِيۡرًا


اِلَّا الۡمُسۡتَضۡعَفِيۡنَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَآءِ وَالۡوِلۡدَانِ لَا يَسۡتَطِيۡعُوۡنَ حِيۡلَةً وَّلَا يَهۡتَدُوۡنَ سَبِيۡلً


[7] فَاُولٰٓـئِكَ عَسَى اللّٰهُ اَنۡ يَّعۡفُوَ عَنۡهُمۡ​ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُوۡرًا


There is always something we, as individuals, can do. As implied by the Verses mentioned above. It is also noteworthy to mention, that for those who were capable but did not act, Allāh has mentioned their destination. As for those who were indeed weak and unable, Allāh did not make an unrestricted forgiveness, in fact Allāh said MAYBE or PERHAPS they would be forgiven.


Furthermore, as Ibn Rajab[8] has mentioned (as a commentary on the following Hadīth ul-Qudsī), the slave of Allāh has been commanded to blame no one but himself for the sins he has committed.


[9] يَا عِبَادِي إِنَّمَا هِيَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ أُحْصِيهَا لَكُمْ ثُمَّ أُوَفِّيكُمْ إِيَّاهَا فَمَنْ وَجَدَ خَيْرًا فَلْيَحْمَدْ اللَّهَ وَمَنْ وَجَدَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ فَلَا يَلُومَنَّ إِلَّا نَفْسَهُ


I would like to conclude with one more Verse – and there are more Verses and Ahādīth in regards to self-accountability which I have not included – which inspired me to write this article.


[10] مَنِ اهۡتَدٰى فَاِنَّمَا يَهۡتَدِىۡ لِنَفۡسِهٖ وَمَنۡ ضَلَّ فَاِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيۡهَا​ ؕ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرٰى


Ibn Hazm also noted in his Al-Akhlāq wa'l-Siyar:

“Blessed is the man who knows his own faults better than others know them”


And before one can know his faults he has to accept that they are his faults and that blames no one but himself.


[1] Sūrat adh-Dhāriyāt, Āyah 56
[2] Sūrat al-Anʿām, Āyah 71
[3] Sūrat al-Aḥzāb, Āyah 35
[4] Sūrat al-Aḥzāb, Āyah 36
[5] Sūrah Ibrāhīm, Āyah 22
[6] Sūrat an-Nisā’, Āyah 119
[7]Sūrat an-Nisā’, Āyāt 97-99
[8]Jāmi’ Al-Ulūm wal-Hikam 2/53
[9]Sahīh Muslim, Bāb Tahrīm adh-Dhulm (Chapter: The Prohibition of Oppression)
[10] Sūrat al-Isrā, Āyah 15

Topic starter Posted : 27/12/2020 12:33 pm