Muslim scholars of Shari`ah including the commentators of the Glorious Qur’an, experts of Hadith and Muslim jurists had good efforts in the field of moral values. Their studies and researches, especially, the studies of the commentators of the Glorious Qur’an are connected directly to the Book of Allah and the blessed Sunnah that contain a lot of ethical commands and moral directives.
This statement does not mean to survey all those efforts and review them; it intends only to draw the attention to the interests of the predecessors in this important field and their advancement in addressing many of these points and issues in their studies.
The strongest evidence on their interest in the field of morality and ethics is represented in their independent compilations that contained the etiquettes especially etiquettes for the students of some sciences or for those in charge of some duty or occupations, like; A’adab Hamalat Al-Qur’an (The Etiquette of the Qur’an Memorizers), A’adab Al-Muhaddith (The Manners of the Expert of Hadith), A’adab Al-Faqih Wal-Mutafaqqih (The Manners of the Jurist and student of Islamic Jurisprudence), A’adab Al-Qadhi (The Manners of the Judge), A’adab Al-Mufti (The Manners of Mufti), A’adab Al-Katib (The Manners of the Writer) and A’adab Al-Wazir (The Manners of the Minister), and so on. (1)
The Contributions of the Commentators of the Glorious Qur’an:
The Commentators of the Glorious Qur’an have explained the verses containing the moral teachings that are many and innumerous. They dealt with them through analysis, interpretation, examples and evidence; they were interested in contextualizing the Hadith and narrations that were related to the meaning of those ethical teachings in order to encourage people for abiding with them and stimulate them to work accordingly.
For example, Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) (2) talked about the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an:
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous. 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.” (3)
After Ibn Kathir outlined the meaning of these verses, he mentioned more than a dozen of Hadith that guide to these noble and lofty ethics and assert their merits, including the following Hadith:
- The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace of Allah and His blessings be upon him) said: “The strong man is not by the wrestling; but the strong is the person who controls himself at the time of anger.” (4)
- In another narration by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that a man said to the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace of Allah and His blessings be upon him) “Advise me.” The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace of Allah and His blessings be upon him) said: “Do not become angry.” (5)
-And the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace of Allah and His blessings be upon him): “A person’s wealth shall not be decreased by charity and no slave (of Allah) suffers injustice and is patient with it except that Allah adds to his honor; whoever adopts humility for the sake of Allah, Allah elevates him.” (6) And others Hadiths that were mentioned by him (may Allah have mercy on him). (7)
Some of the Muslim scholars contributed to the field of ethical values and moral values in the context of their commentaries on the definitions of sciences, particularly who devoted their attention to the Islamic rulings such as Imam Al-Qurtubi (8) (may Allah have mercy on him). (9)
However, their studies and researches in the field of moral issues did not come in an arranged and coordinated form, rather they were dependent on the context of the verses and their locations in the Glorious Qur’an.
(1) See: Haji Khalifah, Kashf Az-Zunun `An Asma’ Al-Kutub Wal-Funun, vol. 1, pp. 38, 48, Dar Al-Fikr, the edition of the year 1402 A.H.
I have noted this point here, because some compilers who compiled in the field of ethics for some sciences were famous with other branches of science, such as Imam An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) the author of A’adab Hamalat Al-Qur’an (The Etiquette of the Qur’an Memorizers) who is counted amongst the experts of Hadith and not amongst the commentators of the Glorious Qur’an.
(2) He is Isma`il ibn `Umar ibn Ad-Dimashqi, an expert of Hadith, a historian and jurist, who died in Damascus in 774 A.H. See: Al-I`alam, by Az-Zarkali, Dar Al-`Ilm Lil Malayin, Beirut, edition 7th, 1986. Vol. 1, p.320.
(3) A’ali `Imran, verses: 133-134.
(4) Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. See: Ibn Hajar, Fath Al- Bari, vol.10 p.518, Dar Al-M`arifah, Beirut. See also: An-Nawawi, commentary on Sahih of Muslim, vol. 5, p. 468, Dar Ash-Sh`ab, Cairo.
(5) Reported by Al-Bukhari. See: Ibn Hajar, Fath Al- Bari, v.10 p.519.
(6) Reported by At-Tirmidhi and others with similar words. See: Al-Mubarakpoori, Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi Sharh Jami`a At-Tirmidhi, Al-Maktabah As-Salafiyyah, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, edition 2nd, 1385 A.H. vol.6 p. 616. And see: Al-Albani, Sahih Al-Jami`a As-Saghir and the additions to it, Al-Maktab Al-Islami, Beirut, edition 3rd, 1402 A.H. vol.3, p.61.
(7) Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-`Azim, Dar Ihya’ At-Turath Al-Islami, Beirut, 1388 A.H. vol.1, pp. 404-406. And see other examples in Jami`a Al-Bayan Fi Tafsir Al-Qur’an, by At-Tabari, Dar-Al-M`arifah, Beirut, 1406 A.H. vol.5 pp.206, 209 and vol. 6 pp.31-32. And Jami`a Li Ahkam Al-Qur’an by Al-Qurtubi, Dar Ihya’ At-Turath Al-Islami, Beirut, 1965 A.H. vol.2 p.174 and vol. 4 pp. 250-253.
(8) He is Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Ansari Al-Khazraji Al-Andalusi Al-Maliki, one of the leading commentators and jurists, who died in 671 A.H. See: Shadharat Adh-Dhahab Fi Akhbar Man Dhahab by `Abdul Hayy ibn Al-`Imad Al-Hambali, Al-Maktabah At-Tijariyah, Beirut, vol. 4 p. 10 and Al-I`alam, by Az-Zarkali, vol. 5 p.322.
(9) See, for example Jami`a Li Ahkam Al-Qur’an by Al-Qurtubi, vol.18 pp.27-28.