الجمعة، 10 أغسطس 2012

Ethics and Morality in Islam Part I

Ethics and Morality in Islam Part I
(Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC, delivered this Friday speech on February 27, 1987)The prophet mohamed said('I have been sent only for the purpose to complete good behavior

One of the most important aspects of a Muslim's life is for him to have a high standard of morals. Since the beginning of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was mainly concerned with teaching and disciplining Muslims to have the best manners and the best personal characteristics. His personal life and behavior were reflective of his teachings, which were reveled to him by Allah (S.W.T.). In the Noble Qur'an , in surat Al-Qalam, Allah (S.W.T.) describes prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) saying: what can be translated as, “And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” (Verse 4)

The prophet's (S.A.W.) high standard of manners made him a model for all Muslims to follow. The prophet (S.A.W.) used to emphasize how important good manners are for Muslims. For example, Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet mentioned the following:

    “The best of you is the best among you in conduct.”

In another authentic narration, the prophet (S.A.W.) mentioned that:

    “The heaviest thing to be placed in the balance of a believing slave on the Day of Judgment will be good behavior. And Allah hates the one who uses bad language.”

Someone once asked the prophet (S.A.W.) what deed would lead a man to paradise, and he answered:

    “Taqwa of Allah (piety) and good conduct.”

In other hadiths t he prophet (S.A.W.) made distinctions among Muslims based on their behaviors; the prophet (S.A.W.) said:

    “The most perfect man in his faith, among the believers, is the one whose behavior is the most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.”

He even clarified that people will be on different levels in Paradise based on their good manners saying:

    “The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is the best in conduct…”

Now we shall talk about ethics in Islam, and how it is different from other ethical systems today.

Unlike other systems, the ethical system in Islam derives from a divine source. This divine source is the revelation from Allah (S.W.T). Therefore, this system cannot be changed, or manipulated to fit our desires. It applies no matter what the time or place. This system has not been changed for thousands of years, it cannot be changed today, and it will never change until the Day of Judgment. No one, no matter who, has the authority to change or alter this system, even if the whole world wants to change it. What was considered good morals in the past will remain as good moral throughout time. What was considered, as bad moral in the past will remain as bad morals forever, even if society accepts it as a norm. The system of ethics is not affected by cultural norms, because Allah (S.W.T) is the One who determined what is acceptable and not acceptable.

The Noble Qur'an is very detailed and clearly mentions the significance of good manners, just like it mentions the importance of belief, the importance of worship, and all our daily affairs.

The Noble Qur'an mentions several good acts of morality repeatedly, for example:

    Dealing with your parents in the best manner

    Being nice to your relatives and neighbors

    Taking care of orphans and the poor

    Telling the truth and being honest

    Being sincere in all of your intentions

    Fulfilling your promises

    Treating all people fairly

The Noble Quran goes as far as to teach us the way that we should walk. Allah (S.W.T.) says, in surat Luqman, what can be translated as, “And, be moderate in your walking.” (Verse 19), and in surat Al-Furqan, Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “ And the servants of the most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in modesty.” (Verse 63), and also, i n surat Al-Isra', Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “And walk not on earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither slit nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.” (Verse 37)

The Noble Qur'an even tells us the proper etiquette of visiting one another . Allah (S.W.T.) says, in surat An-Noor, What can be translated as, “O you who believe! Enter not house other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them that is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find no one therein, still, enter nor until permission has been given. And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you, and Allah is All-knower of what you do. There is no sin for that you enter (without taking permission) houses uninhabited (when) you have any interest in them. And Allah has knowledge of what you reveal and you conceal.” (Verse 27 to 29)

The Noble Qur'an also teaches us the way we should behave in a gathering, Allah (S.W.T.) says, in surat Al-Mujadilah, what can be translated as, “O you who believe! When you are told to make room in assemblies do so, Allah will provide enough room for you.” (Verse 11)

If we were to actually practice the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) we would find that there are many lessons to learn when eating and drinking, dressing and sleeping, traveling and greeting, taking permission, even sneezing, yawning and even more.

And unlike other ethical systems, Islam's moral system is a very detailed and complete package. Islam addresses every aspect of human life, no matter how minor. It is a complete package—it does not lack anything that needs to be completed nor does it have any defects that need to be amended.

Islam guides our morals that deal with the individual, the community, and Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It also guides us on how to deal with rulers and how to honor and respect scholars; Islam even directs us on how to act during times of peace and war.

It even guides us on the treatment of animals. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said:

    “Fear Allah when you treat the animals, take care of them, keep them in good health no matter whether you ride on them or are raising them for their meat.”

    In another hadith, the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “…when you slaughter an animal, make your slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to the animal (in order to reduce the pain).”

    The companions once asked the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) “Do we earn reward if we treat animals in good manner? He answered: “Yes; surely, you earn rewards whenever you treat any living being in a good manner.”

No other ethical system can match up with Islam's ethical system. Only Allah (S.W.T.) Al-Hakeem, with His great wisdom, could have made such a system that teaches humans how to deal with every aspect of their lives. This is because Islam is not a man made system; it is the deen of Allah, He (S.W.T.) made it complete and integrated. Only Allah (S.W.T.) Al-A'leem with His great knowledge that is infinite. No man has, can or will ever come up with a system that is so perfect. If you want a successful and happy life, then just apply Islam to it, and you will have wonderful results.

there is other concepts of this ethical system, and how balanced and moderate it is. This system is neither extreme nor deficient; it is in the middle between two extreme groups:

The first extreme group of people is the idealists. They look at the human being as if he is very angelic. These people's ethical system is unrealistic, and humans could not put this system into practice. They place humans in a very high position.

The second extreme group of people is characterized by their pragmatic system of ethics. They look at human beings as if they are animals, or animal-like. They believe that humans have a nature similar to beasts. They view humans as being very low. To them, humans follow only their own desires and instincts, just as animals do.

In view of the ethical system in Islam, man is a combination of many things:

He has a physical, real life body . He has instincts and certain physiological needs . He also has a mind with psychological desires and needs. He has a need for spiritually. And he has the tendencies to do both good and evil

One of the duties that Allah (S.W.T.) orders us to do is to struggle to do good and to always purify our souls. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Ash-Shams, what can be translated as, “And by Nafs (soul) and Him who proportioned him in proportion; then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him; truly he succeeds who purifies himself, and truly he fails who corrupts himself.” (Verse 7 to 10 )

In Islam, the human is composed of both a spiritual and a physical body. Physically, the first human, Adam, was created from soil. He was then made spiritual, when Allah (S.W.T.) put in him a secret formula that would make him honorable and His most special creation. In surat Al-Hijer, Allah talks to His angels, in what can be translated as, “ When I have fashioned him ( Adam ) and breathed into him of my spirit, then fall (you) down prostrating your selves unto him.” (Verse 29)

Therefore, it is necessary to have a balance between desires and spiritual needs. In addition, we should have a good balance between the requirements of Deen and the requirements to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The following are a few examples from history, when humans went to an extreme, not balancing their materialistic desires, and forgetting about their other needs:

Allah (S.W.T.) described them in the Noble Qur'an when He says in surat Al-An'am, what can be translated as, “And they say: there is nothing except our life on this earth, and never shall we be raised up again.” (Verse 29)

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Also, in surat Al-Kahf, Allah (S.W.T.) tells us a story about a man who cared only about his materialistic desires. This man owned two bountiful gardens; in the following discussion between him and his friend, he says, what can be translated as, “More wealth have I than you, and more honor, power and men. He went in to his garden in a state unjust to himself. He said: I deem not that this will ever perish. Nor do I deem that the hour of judgment will ever come.” (Verse 34) This man believed that his gardens would last eternally, but Allah (S.W.T.) sent a thunderbolt, that destroyed his garden, cutting off his supply of water. This is the story of one man who cared only about his materialistic life more than anything else.

The Noble Qur'an also gives us another example in the story of Qaaroon. In surat Al-Qasas, (verse 67 to 82), Allah (S.W.T.) gives Qaroon a very bountiful treasure, however, the keys that would unlock this treasure were so heavy, that even the strong men couldn't carry it. However, he behaved arrogantly towards his people. Therefore, Allah (S.W.T.) caused the earth to swallow him and his home. Qaroon had no friends to protect him from Allah's wrath.

These are only two examples of people who focus on the materialistic aspects of this life, and nothing else. Now we will talk about those who are on the other extreme. Unlike the others, these people hate the material life, and they forbid themselves from all the pleasant things. These people isolate themselves from the public, and did not put forth any effort to build up society. Some of them even deprive themselves from the basic needs of humans.

Some of these examples from human history are: People like the Brahman Indians, the Manichean Persians and those of the monastery. People of the book invented these monks, and their system isolates them from enjoying life and all productive activities.

Alhemdulilah, Islam calls for humans to build their lives in a balanced and moderate way. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) showed that he was willing to enjoy all permissible things, yet he did not make them his goals of life. He used to do its requirements, and he used to work for the hereafter in a very beautiful and balanced way. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) indulged in all good things of this life, and he did not prohibit these things on himself (S.W.T.) and he used to supplicate: “O Allah, don't make the worldly life the greatest of our interests. O Allah, don't make the worldly life the extent of our knowledge.” In other supplications the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say: "O Allah improve my Deen, which is my safeguard, and improve my life, which I live in, and improve my Hereafter which I will return to.”

The prophet (S.A.W.) requested from his companions that they balance their lives between the requirements of Deen and the requirements of life. In other words, they should make a balance between the rights of Allah (S.W.T.) and the rights of themselves, and others.

One of the companion {Salmam (R.A.)} once noticed that one of his friend {Abu Adrda'(R.A.)} went beyond the limits of worship, by fasting all days and praying whole nights, therefore, ignoring and neglecting his body and family needs. He corrected him.

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Imam Bukhari reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda'. Salman went to visit Abu Ad-Darda' and found Umm Ad-Darda' (his wife) dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied: “Your brother Abu Ad-Darda' is not interested in the luxuries of this world. In the mean time Abu Ad-Darda' came in and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Ad-Darda' to eat with him but Abu Ad-Darda' said: “I am fasting.” Salman said: “I am not going to eat unless you eat.” SO, Abu Ad-Darda' ate with Salman. When it was night and a part of the night passed, Abu Ad-Darda' get up to offer the night prayer but Salman asked him to sleep and Abu Ad-Darda' slept. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman asked him to get up and both of them prayed Tahajjud . Then Salman told Abu Adarda': “Your Lord has a right upon you, your body has a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, your guest has a right upon you, so you should give to everyone his right.” Abu Ad-Darda' came to the prophet (S.A.W.) and narrated the whole story. The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Salman is right.”

A group of the prophet's companions also went beyond the limits of worship. One of them said: I will fast all days. The other said: I will pray all nights without sleeping. And the third said: I will stay away from the woman, so I will never get married. In response to this group who went to an extreme, Imam Bukhari reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, “By Allah, I fear Allah more then you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I fast (some days) and I don't fast (other days), I pray at night and I also sleep (meaning he does not pray all night), and I married, and whoever does not follow my Sunnah (way of life ) does not belong to me.”

And Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) warn us by saying, “Ruined are those who insist on hardship in matters of Deen.” He repeated this three times.

Thus, the companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) learned to make a balance between the needs of life and the need of Deen without being too extreme or conservative. They did not feel that there was any conflict or contradiction between their work for this life and their work for fulfilling their religious duties.

Imam Buhkari reported that Omar (R.A.) had said: “I used to live in Awaaly Al Madinah (an area far away from the prophet's mosque) I could not be present in the Masjid daily. I had an arrangement with one of my neighbors from Ansar to rotate with me, to go to the prophet's mosque. So one day, my neighbor would go to the prophet to learn the revelation and other things. And when he returned he would teach me. The next day I would do the same for him.”

How many of us today are achieving this balance in life? In reality, many of us have fallen deeply into the worldly attractions. We work so hard to have these materialistic attractions, and end up forgetting about the requirements of the Hereafter, except on special occasions.

So let us ask ourselves today, how much time have we spent to please ourselves, and how much time have we spent to please Allah (S.W.T.)?

If you truly look at our situation today, some of us are in a very dangerous position. We have no choice but to follow the right path, the Qur'an , and the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). But remember, the secret is to always maintain balance and moderation.

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