In the Name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful

MORALITY in ISLAM

 

Islam has laid down universal, fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. In order to achieve these rights, Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus, whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam, and, whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of Allah (God Almighty), and, the love of humanity, that it warns against too much of formalism. We read in the Holy Qur'an:

"If is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah (God Almighty), and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets; to spend of your wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of those in bondage; to be steadfast in prayer, and to practise regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic, such are the people of truth, the God-fearing."
(English translation, Holy Qur'an 2:177).

We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing person in this verse. One should obey Divine regulations, but one should also fix one's gaze on the love of Allah (God Almighty) and the love of one's fellow human-beings.

In a broad sense, we are given four basics:

a) Our faith should be true and sincere;
b) We must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow human-beings;
c) We must be good and progressive citizens, supporting social organizations; and
d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.

This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgement provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions, Islam seeks, to firmly implant in one's heart the conviction that one's dealings are with Allah (God Almighty) Who sees us at all times and in all places; that one may hide oneself from, the whole world, but, not from Him; that one may deceive everyone, but, one cannot deceive Allah (God Almighty); that one can flee from the clutches of anyone else, but, not from that of Allah (God Almighty).

Thus, by setting Allah's (God Almighty's) pleasure as the objective of one's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge, Islam gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and reverence of Allah (God Almighty), which will impell one to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in Allah (God Almighty) and the Day of Judgement, Islam furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul.

Islam does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues, nor does it seek to minimise the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause. It takes up all the moral virtues, and, with a sense of balance and proportion, assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of a person's individual and collective life - one's domestic associations, one's civic conduct, and one's activities in the political, economic, legal, educational and social realms. It covers one's life from home to society, from the dining table to the battle-field and to peace conferences - literally, from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of being dominated by selfish desires and petty interests, are regulated by norms of morality.

Islam stipulates for us a system of life which is based on all good and is free from all evil. It invokes the people, not only to practise virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate vice, to encourage good and to forbid wrong. Islam requires that the verdict of the conscience should prevail, and, that virtue must not be subdued to play second fiddle to evil. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into a community and given the name. "Muslim" (an Arabic word meaning, "a person who submits his/her will to the Will of God Almighty). The singular object underlying the formation of this community (Ummah) is that it should make an organized effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.

Here we furnish some basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Muslim's life. They cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct of a Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.

God-Consciousness

The Holy Qur'an mentions god-consciousness as the highest quality of a Muslim:

"The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah (God Almighty) is (the one who is) the most righteous of you."
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 49:13).

Humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one's promises are moral values which are emphasized again and again in the Holy Qur'an. We read in the Holy Qur'an:

"And Allah (God Almighty) loves those who are firm and steadfast." - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 3:146).

"Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous - those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity or in adversity, who restrain their anger, and pardon (all) persons - for Allah (God Almighty) loves those who do good."
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 3:133-134).

"Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong and bear with patient constancy whatever befalls thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs. And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at people, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah (God Almighty) loveth not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the donkey."
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 31:17-19).

In a way which summarises the moral behaviour of a Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said.

"My Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer has given me the commands: to remain conscious of Allah (God Almighty), whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased, to show moderation, both, when poor and when rich; to reunite friendship with those who have broken it off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right."

Social Responsibilities

The teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since, a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations, Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness, and, defines the responsibilities and rights of various relationships. In a widening circle of relationships, our first obligation is to our immediate family - parents, spouses and children - then to other relatives, neighbours, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, Muslims, all human beings and other creation of Allah (God Almighty).

Parents

Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching, and, is a very important part of a Muslim's expression of faith.

"Thy Lord, Creator and Sustainer hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer! Bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.'"
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 17:23-24).

Other Relatives

"And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: but squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift."
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 17:26).

Neighbours

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

"He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry, and he is not a believer whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct."

Actually, according to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a Muslim has to discharge his/her moral responsibility not only to his/her parents, relatives and neighbours, but, to the entire human race, animals and trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly, cutting trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden, unless, there is a very good reason and a very pressing need for it.

Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realise its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-fearing people, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence and discipline, and, uncomprising against falsehood. It induces feelings of moral responsibility, and, fosters the capacity for self-control. Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.


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