Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Being Good or Bad : Islamic Human Values


Islam has established a number of fundamental rights, valid for all humanity and must be observed and respected under all circumstances. To this end, Islam provides not only legal guarantees but also a very effective moral system. Thus in Islam anything that leads to the well-being of the individual or society is morally good, and everything that is injurious to him/it is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns against too much formalism. We read in the Holy Qur’an:  “Virtue does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west; virtuous are those who believe in God and the Last Day, the angels and the Book and the prophets, who give for the love of God help to their relatives and to orphans and the needy and travellers, and those who ask, who free captives, who observe prayer, who practice alms-giving, who fulfill the commitment they assume, who show patience in adversity, in hard times and in times of violence. Those are just and fear the Lord.” (2: 178)

We have here a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing believer, who obeys to (and implements) the salutary precepts, but without ceasing to gaze upon the love of God and love of as fellow human beings. We have received four precepts:

a) Our faith should be true and sincere.
b) We must be prepared to show it by acts of charity towards our fellow human beings.
c) We must be good citizens.
d) Our soul must be firm and steadfast in all circumstances.

This is the criterion upon which all individual behaviour is judged as good or bad. This criterion is somehow the nucleus around which revolve all the elements that constitute the moral conduct of each person. Before establishing moral precepts, Islam seeks to firmly implant in man’s heart the conviction that he is in constant contact with God who sees him at all times and in all places, that he can hide from the world, but not of Him; he can fool anyone, but not God, he can escape the clutches of anyone except God.


Thus, doing what pleases God is the first goal of human life. Islam has thus placed the highest possible standard of morality, opening the moral evolution of humanity to unlimited perspectives. Seeing in the divine revelation the first source of all knowledge, Islam gives permanence and stability to moral principles, although leaving a reasonable margin for adaptations and innovations, excluding perversions, deviations, promiscuity, the atomistic relativism or loosening of the moral life. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God that would encourage man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgement, it provides a force that allows everyone to adopt a moral and honest conduct, with all his heart and soul.

It does not try to invent, through some false originality or innovation new moral virtues or to downplay the importance of well-known moral norms. It does not confer either an exaggerated importance to certain standards, while neglecting some other without reason. It includes all the commonly known moral virtues and with a remarkable sense of balance and proportion, it assigns to each a place and a suitable function in the overall scheme of life. It widens the horizon of human life, both individual and collective – his domestic life, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legislative, educational and social fields. It covers the whole of his existence, from his house/home to life in society, from the table to the battlefield, from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of his life is exempt from the universal and infinitely wide application of moral principles of Islam. Thus, thanks to this supremacy of morality, all things in life, instead of being dominated by selfish and petty desires, are governed by moral norms.

Islam erects a system based on all that is good by rejecting all that is bad. It urges men not only to practice virtue, but also to make it triumphant and eliminate vice, to strive for good and prevent evil. It wants the supremacy of the verdict of consciousness, which ordains that virtue be not subject to evil.

Let’s see some basic moral teachings relating to different aspects of the life of a Muslim. They cover both a wide range of the personal moral conduct of the Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.

1. LOVING MEN FOR ALLAH

The Prophet (pbuh) reports these words he attributes to Allah: “My love is promised to those who love each other for My sake to those who advice each other for My sake, who go out to visit each other for My sake, and who give each other for My sake.”

Loving for the sake of Allah is sharing one’s property and time as proof of brotherhood; it is also visiting, caring, helping and smiling. Simple daily acts of solidarity which Allah holds in high importance.

In a living Muslim community, the faithful must express/manifest love. “Of the two men,” said the Prophet (pbuh) “who love each other for the sake of Allah, the most beloved of Allah is the one who loves the other one more.”

2. CHOOSING ONE’S FRIENDS

Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Choose your friends carefully,” “I liken,” he said, “the good and the bad companion to the musk seller and the blacksmith. If you go around with the first, he will eventually give you or sell you a part of his goods, and somehow you will feel the fragrance. To go around with the second equates you risking either burning your clothes or smelling the bad odours coming from him.”

Therefore, it is recommended to frequent the good people, to cultivate good relations with the morally best. The youths must respect the elderly and all must respect the human species.

3. IMITATE THE PROPHET (PBUH)

Imitating the Prophet (pbuh) regarding acts of worship is an obligation for every Muslim. Here it concerns daily behaviour which reveals the nature of character and updating of morality.

Muhammad (pbuh) was goodness personified and had respect for all; his respect for man was great. One day the funeral procession of a Jew came to pass him, and he immediately stood up. His companions questioned him on his gesture, to which he replied: “Is it not also a human soul?”

Feeling like the prophet (pbuh) and behaving like him is to let oneself imbibe love and radiate it. It is getting rid of selfishness, as well as the acquisitive and sensualist instinct, intolerance and angry attitudes. It is also to serve man.

4. IMITATE THE FAMILY-LIFE BEHAVIOUR OF THE PROPHET (PBUH)

The Prophet (pbuh) in his family was a good father and a good husband. He helped his wives, and shared the innocent game of his family. With regard to children, he had a great affection for them.

Aisha, the blessed wife of the Prophet was asked about the conduct of the prophet at home. “He was,” she said “at the service of his family at home.”

Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) narrates that one day he saw the two grandsons of the Prophet (pbuh), Hassan and Husayn, astride the back of the august Messenger of Allah. Umar said: “What a good horse you have there!” “And what good riders they are!” the Prophet (pbuh) added.

So this man who built an unparalleled community, which was surrounded by the respect of rigorous and austere men, was a man full of sweetness. Being Prophet and head of state, yet he let himself be moved by a child’s whim and he also perfectly played the role of the tender husband. We must therefore make the effort to imitate him.

5. HONOURING THE PARENTS

Duty to honour father and mother comes immediately after the duty to worship Allah without associating with Him false gods. The Quran places great emphasis on it; the Hadith too. Especially the mother is assigned to our piety. This is because birth comes naturally through the same channel as the birth of the body.

6. MARITAL LIFE

To marry in Islam has not only the aim to lead an independent life in the privacy of the couple; it is mainly a way to access a responsibility and respectability highlighted by a moral and legal status that discourages celibacy. Islamic marriage makes of marital duty a highly regarded act, but continence vis-à-vis other women (strangers) is to be strictly maintained. Man (the believer) should lower his eyes, and should avoid talking in private to a foreign woman. Family life in Islam is made of genuine affection, is the basis of decency, responsibility, modesty and chastity.

7. HONORING ONE’S NEIGHBOUR

Good neighbourliness and respect for the privacy of the neighbour are strongly recommended. Our neighbour like our parents is entitled to our care and special treatment. Caring for him and cultivating his friendship is a duty. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The angel Gabriel came to recommend me good treatment to the neighbour with such insistence that at one point I thought he would give him right of inheritance.”

8. SEEKING LAWFUL GAIN

We are bound not only to work for a living and to care for our family, but also and especially to acquire it (our livelihood) by legal means. The worker must do his job with the utmost scruple of honesty and truth. He is controlled not only by the discipline of the employer, but also by domestic legal rule. Moral rectitude and incorruptibility of consciousness are necessary conditions in the workplace. We must make the effort to banish at all cost the spirit of gain and that also with the least effort.

9. BE MODEST

Modesty is the central virtue of faith in Islam. “To each religion its virtue,” said the Prophet (pbuh) “and that of Islam is modesty.”

Modesty implies respect for oneself and others. This intimate feeling of respect puts us in friendly communication and fairness with ourselves and with others, and governs our relationship with the Creator.

10. LEARN TO BE SILENT

To remain silent is an essential virtue in terms of human relations. Animosities often originate from a misplaced word, insults uttered, and aggressive verbal manifestation.

A whole ethics of speech has been taught by the Prophet (pbuh); it is a very serious sin to report unverified rumours/talks, foment discord, to speak ill of someone who is not present, to insult one’s neighbour. He even ordered not to insult animals.

When you have nothing constructive, good or seemly to say, it is better to remain silent.

So, every good Muslim, especially we the Muslims in the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam, we have the duty to implement the moral codes of Islam such as taught by our Lord and our beloved Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). Insha-Allah. May God Almighty help you all present to achieve in this effort. Ameen. 

-Jalsa Salana Réunion, June 2014: Closing Speech by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib(atba) of Mauritius. 

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