The Islamic Shari’ah prescribes directives for the regulation of our individual as well as collective life. These directives touch such varied subjects as religious rituals, personal character, morals, habits, family relationships, social and economic affairs, administration, rights and duties of citizens, judicial system, laws of war and peace and international relations. In short, it embraces all the various departments of human life.
THE MORAL SYSTEM OF ISLAM
Moral sense is inborn in man and through the ages it has served as the common man’s standard of moral behavior, approving certain qualities and disapproving others. While this instinctive faculty may vary from person to person, human conscience has given a more or less uniform verdict in favor of certain moral qualities as being good and declared certain others as bad.
Morality: The Verdict
In Islam FAITH is imperfect without MORALITY
- Faith is such a power that it keeps men away from low attributes and lowly acts, and encourages them to achieve high attributes and clean morals. That is why whenever Allah the Almighty called his slaves towards virtue or whenever He wanted them to hate evil, He declared it as an essential requirement of the Faith in their hearts. For example when He; in Quran, commands men to adopt righteousness and to speak truth, He addresses them as “O you who have faith” (or “O you who believe”):“O you, who have faith, fear Allah and be with the truthful people.” Holy Qur’an (Chapter 9 Verse 119)
- Allah’s Messenger has nicely explained it that when faith is firm and belief is strong, then strong and lasting moral will be developed, and if the moral character is low then faith will accordingly be weak
- A man, who is immodest and ill-mannered and who adopts bad habits without caring for others, is like the person about whom the holy Prophet has said: “Modesty and faith are twins. Someone who gives up one has to lose the other too.”
- Once the Prophet passed by a man who was scolding his brother about his immodesty. The Prophet advised him to let him go as modesty was a branch of faith
- A man who harasses his neighbour and makes him suffer any kind of damage is called cruel and stonehearted by the religion. In this connection the decision of the Prophet is: “By God, he cannot be a Believer; by God, he cannot be a Believer; by God, he cannot be a Believer. He was asked: ‘who’? He answered: ‘He from whose misdeeds his neighbour is not safe.’ – (Bukhari)
|The holy Prophet advised his companions to keep away from the talk that is trash, the acts that are wicked, and the deeds that are senseless. He says: “A person who believes in Allah and the Hereafter should speak about good things or else should keep quiet.” – (Bukhari)|
In this way through the truth of faith and by means of its perfection noble qualities are nurtured and developed and they are guarded and kept secure till they bear fruits.
|It is narrated by Imam Ahmed (RA): “One person asked the Prophet: ‘0 Messenger of Allah a certain woman is very famous for her prayers, fasting and many charities, but she talks rudely with her neighbours. Tell me, what will be her fate?’ He replied that she would go to Hell. Then that person asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Another woman does not do much by way of prayers and fasting; gives pieces of cheese in charity and does not harm her neighbours.’ He replied: ‘She is of the Paradise. “(Bukhari)|
This reply gives an idea of the high value attached to good character. It also shows that charity is a collective prayer whose benefit reaches the society. For this reason there is no room for any reduction in them.
The Holy Prophet peace be upon him did not merely answer a casual question that explains the relationship between morality and the religion, shows its connection with the correct forms of worship, and forms the basis of reform and improvement in the world and salvation in the next world.
Quran has declared the following qualities as the path of welfare by which a man can enter the Paradise.
|“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise 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 anger, and pardon (all) men ;for Allah loves those who do good.” – Holy Qur’an, Surah 3 Verse 133-134|
Morality for Individuals
One day the Holy Prophet peace be upon him asked his dear companions whether they knew who was poor. They answered that poor was one who had no dirham or dinar (money)’ He said: “In my community, the poor is that man who would appear on the Day of the Judgment before Allah; he had offered prayer; he had paid Zakat; he had observed fast; but he would have abused somebody, he would have falsely accused some one; he would have unauthorisedly taken some one else’s property; he would have murdered some one; would have hit some body. All his virtues would be given to his victims. If his virtues are finished before his wicked deeds are finished, then the errors and sins of the victims would be given to him and he would be thrown into the Hell.” (Muslim)
The Prophet has explained by quoting an example. He said that the best moral character melts errors like water and bad morals spoil man’s record as vinegar spoils honey.
Identification of Hypocrite
What will be the value of religiousness without good morality! How is it possible that a man should belong to Allah and at the same he should be a victim of corruption?
This relationship between faith and morality is clearly shown in the hadith of the holy Prophet (pbuh):
“The man who has these three habits is a hypocrite even if be observes fast, offers prayers, performs umra (pilgrimage), and calls himself a Muslim: when be talks he speaks untruth, when he makes a promise he does not keep it, and when he is given something in trust, he commits dishonesty.” – (Muslim)
He (pbuh) has also said: “There are four habits, in whosoever they are, he will be a complete hypocrite. If anyone of these habits is found in a man, he will have one habit of disruption till he gives it up when something is given to him in trust he commits dishonesty, when he talks he tells lies, when he makes a contract be deceives, and when be quarrels he starts abusing. – (Bukhari)
Morality for Humanity
Every Muslim has been made responsible to employ good manners in dealing with all the citizens of the land unhesitatingly, for every Muslim it is necessary that he should be truthful in dealing with the Non-Muslims. Similarly good qualities like charities keeping one’s promise, tolerance, decency, generosity, co-operation, etc. are to be brought into play while dealing with Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.
The holy Quran has commanded us not to indulge in such debates with the Jews and the Christians that may encourage mutual enmity, clashes and quarrels. It says:
|“And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.”.”- Holy Qur’an Chapter 29 Verse 4|
And the followers of Moosa and Issa (Moses and Jesus) were asked, expressing wonder, whether they are indulging in this kind of argumentation and polemics?
“Say: ‘Do you argue with us about Allah when He is our Lord as well as your Lord? We are accountable for our deeds and you for yours so we are sincerely (dedicated) to Him’.” – (Chapter 2 Verse 139)
It is a famous incident of the biography of the Prophet that he owed something to a Jew, The Jew demanded repayment and in a very harsh tone said: “O Sons of Abdul Muttalib! You people unnecessarily delay the repayment of your loans.” At that place the Prophet’s companion Umar bin AI-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) was also present. He decided to teach the Jew, who insulted the Prophet, good manners, and drew his sword from the scabbard. But the Messenger of Allah silenced Umar saying: “I and he deserve better treatment, teach him to demand his money in a better way and advise me to repay it in a refined manner.”
Islam has commanded to deal justly and fairly even if the opponent may be a wrongdoer or a non-believer. Allah’s Messenger has said:
“The prayer of the oppressed is answered, if he is wicked and wrongdoer, its ill effects will go against him.” – (Ahmed)
In another Hadith it is stated: “Even if the oppressed person is an infidel, there is no obstruction between his prayer and its answer. Give up doubtful things and adopt those matters in which there may be no doubt.”
In the light of these authorities and the commands, Islam has advised its followers not to mal-treat their ideological and religious opponents. In connection with the insistence on treating the followers of the other religion kindly, there is one more hadith:
Hazrat Ibn Umar says that a goat was slaughtered in his house. When he came home he inquired whether the gift was sent to the neighbouring Jew or not? He further says: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah as saying’ Jibril’ (Angel of Allah) had been regularly insisting on me to treat my neighbours kindly, so much so that I surmised that the neighbour would be made a recipient of the inheritance.” – (Bukhari)
Similarly Islam has ordered that its followers should be kind to their relatives, even though they may have rejected this religion, which they have made their own. Therefore, following the Truth does not mean that the rights of the relatives may be usurped: “But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.” – Holy Qur’an Chapter 31 Verse 15
Morality for the Nation
As regards the importance and need of morality at the public and collective level, Islam says that the progress and the survival of the nations, the nourishment and the development of their civilization and culture, and the consolidation of their power and strength depend on morality. If the people have good and excellent moral character, then all these good qualities will be found in them, but if their moral character is at lower levels then kingdom and rule will soon end.
“Nations live till their morality lives. When their moral character declines, they also decline,”
This reality is fully explained in a hadith in which the Prophet says to the people of his nation that although they have control over the whole of Arabia, and are in a position to decide the fate of the people of the country, as they hold an important position, their power can be maintained on the pillar of morality only.
Anas bin Malik says: “We were sitting in a house where some members of the Ansar and Muhajir were present, The Messenger of Allah came into the room and everybody tried to make room for him near his own seat. Then he proceeded towards the door and stood taking support of the door and said:
“The leaders will be from the Quraish, and I have great right on you and they have also a right on you as they would do. When they would be requested to show mercy, they would show mercy. When they would give a judgment, it would be based on justice. And when they would make a covenant, they would honour it. He who does not do like this, there would be on him the curse of Allah, of the angels and of all the people” – (Tibrani)
This saying of Holy Prophet peace be upon him unambiguously shows that any person, community, nation or government would be deserving of as much honour and respect as they would be the representatives of the best qualities in this world and would be striving to achieve high objectives.
If a government flaunts the label of Islam and Quran but the people are not satisfied with it, if it does not decide their matters justly, if it is not kind to the needy and does not honour its covenant, then it should be understood that in this government Islam and Quran are merely names, and this government is bereft of Islam’s basic values and it deserves to be cursed from every corner of the earth and the skies.
It is a famous saying of Imam Ibn Taimiyah: “Allah guards the justice-loving government, even if it is the government of the Non-Muslims, and destroys the tyrant government, even if it is the government of Muslims.”
In the light of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed pbuh,we understand that morality is part of faith. If any nation loses its honour in the eyes of Allah or commands no respect among the people, it so happens because of its losing good moral character and becoming deprived of decent and honourable traits.
So, let us gear up to lead a life of excellent morals and gain the pleasure of Almighty Allah (God) along with an everlasting place in Paradise.