Quarterly: Issue No 83
Rajab 1438 / March 2017
MORALITY IN ISLAM
Firstly, we must understand that the ethical system in Islam is derived from a Divine Source. This Divine Source is the revelation from Allah, and is applicable at all times until the Last Day. Therefore, this system cannot be changed or manipulated to suit one’s own selfish desires. No one has the authority to change or alter this system, even if the whole world gets together and redefine some aspects of ethics in Islam. What are considered as good morals in the Noble Quran and authentic Ahadith will remain as good morals throughout the passage of time. In the same way, what is considered as bad morals will also remain so forever, even if some people in society accept it as a norm. The system of ethics in Islam is not affected by cultural norms, because Allah is the One who determines what is acceptable and what is not.
Amongst other things on which the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) laid great stress after Imaan – and maintained that salvation of mankind is dependent upon them – is that man cultivate good manners and noble qualities of both mind and character, avoid evil and unseemly behaviour by keeping away from vicious habits and practices. In Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem; wherever the objects of the raising up of the Sacred Prophet are defined; it also emphasizes that it was to cleanse his followers and to purify them. For example:
“Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Surah 2 Al-Baqarah: Verse 129). One of the most important aspects in a Muslim’s life is to uphold high moral standards. Since the very beginning of Islam, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was mainly concerned with teaching and disciplining Muslims to have the best manners and good personal characteristics. Good manners and noble qualities enjoy a place of crucial importance in the structure of Islamic teaching.
Perfecting manners and good personal characteristics was one of the main objects for which the sacred Prophet was raised up. The Prophet (SAW) himself said:
“I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.” (Musnad Ahmad). His personal life and behaviour were reflective of his teachings, which were revealed to him by Allah. Allah (SWT) Himself describes our beloved Prophet (SAW) in the Noble Quran by saying:
“And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (Surah 68 Al-Qalam: Verse: 4)
The “good moral character” referred to here is comprehensive. It includes how we conduct ourselves with our Lord, how each of us relates to his or her self, and how we react with other people.
The Prophet's high standard of manners and great moral character made him the role model for all Muslims to follow. The Prophet (SAW) emphasised the upholding of good manners for Muslims as follows:
Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not indulge in loose talk nor did he like to listen to it. He used to say, “The best of you is the best among you in conduct.” (Bukhari)
In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAW) mentioned that:
“Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.” (Tirmidhi)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was asked about the deed which will be foremost to lead a man to Jannah. He replied, “Fear of Allah and the good moral conduct.” Then he was asked about indulgence which will admit a man to Hell-Fire and he answered, “The tongue and the genitals (private parts).” (Tirmidhi)
In other narrations, the Prophet (SAW) made distinctions among Muslims based on their behaviour; the Prophet (SAW) said:
“The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be one who is the best of you in manners; and the most hateful among you to me and the farthest of you from me will be the pompous (show-off), the garrulous (chatter-box), and Al-Mutafaihiqun.” The Companions asked him: “O Messenger of Allah! We know about the pompous and the garrulous, but we do not know who Al-Mutafaihiqun are.” He replied: “The arrogant (proud) people.” (Tirmidhi)
The importance of good manners in the Noble Quran has been detailed and clearly defined just like it mentions the importance of belief, worship and other daily affairs.
There are many ways to exhibit good character. However, it all goes back to four essentials.
1. Patience: It takes patience to be gentle and kind under trying circumstances. It takes patience to swallow back anger and exercise self-restraint. It is necessary for the qualities of forgiveness, pardon, and self-restraint. Fasting is the companion of patience. The month of Ramadan is an invitation to forgive, forget, and renew our relationships with family, co-workers, and neighbours with whom our affections have become strained.
2. Decency: This quality helps people abstain from base and ignoble behaviour and turns their hearts to that which is noble and high-minded.
3. Courage: This quality inspires people to greatness and generosity and prevents them from succumbing to anger and rash behaviour.
4. Justice: This quality applies to dealing with oneself as well as others. This includes being moderate and just in all types of our behaviour.
The Noble Quran mentions several good acts of morality repeatedly, some of which are:
O you who believe! Respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered...” (Surah 8 Al-Anfaal: Verse 24)
O you who believe! Repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (Surah 66 At-Tahrim: Verse 8)
Truthfulness: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are true.” (Surah 9 At-Tawbah: Verse 119)
Trustworthiness: “Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due…” (Surah 4 An-Nisaa: Verse 58)
“And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech - in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless.” (Surah 7 Al-A’raaf: Verse 205)
“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them (harshly), they say (words of) peace”. (Surah 25 Al-Furqaan: Verse 63)
Justice: “O you who believe! Be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Surah 5 Al-Maa’idah: Verse 8)
Self-restraint: “Who spend (in the cause of Allah) during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good.” (Surah 3 Aal Imraan: Verse 134)
Kindness to parents: “And your Lord has decreed that you do not worship except Him; and to parents, good treatment. When one or both of them reach old age (while) with you, say not to them (so much as), "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (Surah 17 Al-Israa: Verse 23)
Visiting one another: “O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you granted permission and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded.” (Surah 24 An-Noor: Verse 27)
Gentleness of Speech: "Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good (words) and establish prayer and give zakaah." (Surah 2 Al-Baqarah: Verse 83)
Avoid backbiting: “O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion. Indeed, some suspicion is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (Surah 49 Al-Hujuraat: Verse 12)
O Allah! Help us to see the weaknesses within ourselves and help us to overcome them.
Do not leave us without Your assistance for a moment. Ameen!
I request your sincere du'aas.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir