All praise is due to Allah the Almighty. We praise Allah, thank Him and seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds. Whomever Allah guides, there is no one to mislead him and whomever He misleads, there will be no guide for him. And I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah Alone, without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
After the praise and salutation, the moral values are one of the most important foundations in the construction of human being, since they deal with all aspects of individual and social behavior. They guide an individual and direct his behavior to the beneficial path, motivating him to rise to the ranks of perfection and to strive seriously in obtaining the excellent qualities and virtuous practices, which represent a social necessity that ensures for the people an atmosphere of coexistence in security and stability, solidarity and cooperation.
The flaws that inflict individuals and the misfortunes that encircle the people and the country are not but only the results of absence of moral values from our daily life, and our failure in employing them in shining the personal talents and the lack of their use in guiding the behavior of people.
Furthermore, the moral values in Islam are the pillar of the duty of calling to Allah the Almighty. Through the strong ethical dealing, Allah (Glory be to Him) opened to this religion inactive hearts, blind eyes and deaf ears. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you.” (1).
The enemies of Islam have realized the importance of ethics and their impact in guiding the lives of Muslims and strengthening the bonds of love and confidence between them. Therefore, they tried their best and devised all kinds of power and available sources and means to destroy and demolish them. For this purpose, they utilized many methods; the most important of them are as follows:
1 – They worked to cut the link of moral values from their original sources, showing interest in philosophical ideas and by exalting the intellectuals who adopted them. They tried to distort and deny the authentic studies based on the Glorious Qur’an and blessed Sunnah, looking down on their adherents.
2 – They endeavored to facilitate the forbidden desires that weaken the link of a Muslim with his Lord and undermine his faith in Allah and destroy his belief in the Hereafter, so that a Muslim would become lazy in achieving any virtue and will remain uninterested in any righteous practice.
Undoubtedly, some of their conspiracies were successful. That is why, Muslim societies today have witnessed as a result of internal and external factors a change in the concepts and a loss of balance and an alteration in the values; eventually, the virtue became an evil and the evil became a virtue. And many people indulged in prohibited lusts being deviated from the right path without any sense of guilt or any desire to reform. While they are ignorant of sources of learning and they are unaware of models that should be followed. Thus people were divided and led by selfish desires and the methods of people became conflicting. They turned their faces to the east and west accompanying the caravan and escaping from criticism and avoiding any confrontation. So, it has become an urgent need to highlight the moral values of Islam, explaining their original sources, their distinctive characteristics, their live examples and their obvious effects on Islamic systems.
Some Motives for Choosing this Topic:
It is noteworthy that many studies of the preceding scholars in the field of ethics preferred to follow philosophical methodologies in their researches, being influenced by the Greek philosophy, whilst some of them attempted to make a reconciliation between the Greek philosophy and the provisions of the Shari`ah as was done by Miskawayh. (2)
Furthermore, some great figures of Islamic Mysticism also contributed to this field, notably Al-Ghazali who has been regarded as a junction between Muslims and philosophers. He has a philosophy mingled with Islam and an Islam mingled with some philosophy.
As for the recent studies, they also lacked interests in this aspect; the tendency of recent studies can be elucidated in the following points:
1 - Many of them take the works of the previous intellectuals and make them proposals for their studies, such as the studies that were accomplished on Ibn Miskawayh and Al-Ghazali.
2 - Some of them preferred to study this subject with preaching purposes.
3 - Many of the authors remained contented with assigning a brief chapter on values and ethics in the books of civilization, beliefs and Islamic culture.
However, there are some valuable and useful studies in this area, including the thesis of Dr. Muhammad `Abdullah Daraz, namely “The Constitution of Ethics in the Qur’an” and the thesis of Dr. Miqdad Yaljin, entitled “The Moral Trend in Islam” but my reference to them was very limited for many reasons my research plan and field of study differed from them.
Due to the importance of this aspect and taking in my account the significance of a number of its subjects as whole that needed research and study in order to establish the origin of the issues, I chose to write on this topic.
This research includes an introduction, a preamble, two chapters and an epilogue.
- The introduction outlines the importance of this subject, the reasons for this choice and the methodology that was followed in this research.
- The preamble draws attention to the efforts of the Muslim Scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) in this field including; the interpreters of the Glorious Qur’an, the authorities of Hadith and the Muslim jurists.
- The first section deals with the subject "Moral Values of Islam" that contains two chapters:
The first chapter was devoted to present the concept of moral values of Islam and introducing its sources. Its first sub-chapters include a definition of the values and ethics in the terms of Arabic language and the terminology. After that, the intended meaning of the moral values has been determined, followed with the chosen definition.
In the second section, I dealt with the sources of Islamic values where I stated the validity of instinct and conscience as a source of moral values. Furthermore, I draw the attention to the status of the Glorious Qur’an and the blessed Sunnah, showing that they are the criteria according to which all behaviors and acts are weighed and examined, whatever agrees with them is right and good and whatever defies them is useless and evil.
In another sub-chapter, I dealt with Al-`Urf (general custom), Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (Public Interests or matters about which the Shari`ah has not made an express prescription) and Al-Istihsan (preferring one opinion over another on the basis of one's finding it to be more appropriate.). I explained the status of each and every one of these sources and their right value to rely on them as the sources of moral values in Islam. I have assigned a concise and brief definition for each source of these sources alongside the opinions of Muslim scholars.
The Second Chapter is devoted to talk about the characteristics of the values of Islam and their principles. It dealt with the most prominent characteristics of Islamic values, pointing out to some outcomes of each characteristic of these values. In this regard, I was eager to limit my discourse to the intended and particular characteristic; I have been forced to do so, lest the discussion would be driven to what is related to other features.
In another sub-chapter under this chapter, I addressed the principles of moral values in Islam, i.e. Al-Halal (permissible) Al-Haram (unlawful) Al-Mubah (an act that is neither commanded nor prohibited by Shari’ah) Al-Mustahabb (desirable acts) Al-Makruh (disliked) and At-Tafadhdhul (meritorious acts). In this context, I have explained why these provisions have been regarded as ethical principles; highlighting their importance as well as the necessity of observing these principles and adhering to these rulings have been elucidated.
- As for the second chapter, it discusses ‘The Outcomes of Moral Values of Islam’ that include two sub-chapters:
The first sub-chapter outlines the effects of the values of Islam in formulating the Muslim society. In its first part, I discussed their impact on human behavior followed with some relevant unique examples, living models and good results. They were demonstrated through the actual practices and practical applications of the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) his companions and their successors.
The second sub-chapter sheds light on its impacts on the society, showing the most prominent of these results by discussing the Islamic values related to the family system, ethics of dealings and ethics related to the issues of peace and war. In this context, I pointed out to the importance of moral values in all these aspects elucidating the good effects of these values if they are put into practice, and their negative results and their dire consequences if they are neglected or breached.
The second chapter sheds light on the effects of moral values of Islam in the formulating the human society in general. It deals with the most important impacts of moral values of Islam on human societies, whether they adhere to them by themselves or live under their sovereignty or shade themselves with their shadows, or who mix in with the people of these values, or who benefited from their origins.
- And the epilogue that contains the most important results of this study.
In addition to that, I was abided by some methodologies in this study; the most important of them are as follows:
- I preferred to return to the original sources in every field that I needed to refer or to quote.
- I tried my best to quote only the Hadith and narrations that are authentic, because they are plenty and enough, also they are more reliable in reference, stronger in argument and more effective.
- Mostly I pointed out to the status of Hadith if the Hadith did not exist in both Al-Bukhari and Muslim or in one of them, referring to the authentication of the scholars who were involved in this field whether from the previous or contemporary experts. Sometimes, I preferred only to point out to the presence of the Hadith in some of the books containing the authentic Hadiths such as Al-Jami`a As-Saghir, Addition to Al-Jami`a As-Saghir, and Sisilah Al-Ahadith As-Sahihah by Al-Albani.
Generally, I also referred to the Commentaries of the encyclopedias of Hadith, like: Fath Al-Bari and `Awn Al-M`abud, etc. because they are the most frequently referred books. They include the authentication of Hadith, commentary on their meanings and details about the prominent scholars who narrated the Hadith. Therefore, I was contented to mention only some of these commentaries not all, intending to shorten the discussion in a method that fulfills the need. However, the narrations of Al-Bukhari and Muslim were exception from this rule; in this case, I have specified the location of Hadith in each of them.
- I was careful of briefing the examples and proofs in a concise manner.
- Every chapter was preceded by a preamble that verifies the meaning and explains the intention and removes any ambiguity or doubt the may exist.
Thereafter, I thank Allah Almighty who guided me to this topic, and helped me to accomplish it, asking Him His more bounty.
Dr. / `Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-`Amr
(1) Surah A’li-`Imran: 159
(2) See: Dr. Ahmad `Abdur-Rahman Ibrahim, Al-Fadha’il Al-Khuluqiyyah Fil-Islam (Moral Virtues in Islam), Darul `Ulum, Ar-Riyadh, the First Edit., the year 1402 A.H. p. 17, and Dr. Zaki Mubarak, Al-Akhlaq `Ind Al-Ghazali (Ethics in the Writings of Al-Ghazali), Al-Maktabah Al-`Asriyyah, Beirut, p. 58.