The Hadiths in the Prophetic Sunnah about ethics are more detailed and extensive than in the Glorious Qur’an. When the experts of Hadith assumed the task of classification and compilation of those Hadith, they laid down independent chapters and sections on the ethical aspect in their books. For example, Imam Al-Bukhari (1), (may Allah have mercy on him) has specified a section on etiquette in his book Sahih, as well as, Imam Muslim, (2) devoted a part of his Sahih for the Hadith of etiquettes and lofty morals. At-Tirmidhi (3) also assigned some chapters to etiquette and joining the relatives in his book Jami`a. The same method was followed by others who compiled in the field of the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him).
One of the manifestations of their interests in this field is evident when we find that the prominent scholars of Hadith have included the Hadiths of morals and ethics in their independent books that are two types of compilations:
The First: the compilations that are assigned for the manners of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) such as Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyyah (The Qualities of the Prophet Muhammad) by Imam At-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy on him) and Ktibab Akhlaq An-Nabi Wa A’adabuh (The Book on the Ethics of the Prophet and his Etiquettes) by Al-Asbahani (may Allah have mercy on him). (4)
The Second: The general compilations on Islamic morals and ethics, such as Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (The Unique Etiquette) by Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) and Makarim Al-Akhlaq Wa Ma`aliha’ (The Noble and Lofty Morals) by Al-Hafiz Al-Khara’iti (5) (may Allah have mercy on him).
Moreover, a group of prominent scholars and experts of Hadith, like Al-Qurtubi, Ibn `Abdul-Barr (6), An-Nawawi and Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar and others were interested in compiling commentaries on encyclopedias of Hadith, therefore, they dealt with Hadiths containing the ethical values through their explanation, analysis and comments. They are characterized by a high degree of accuracy as they were based on the Glorious Qur’an and the blessed Sunnah.
The Contributions of the Muslim Jurists
The endeavors of Muslim jurists in this field do not differ from scholars of other fields except that the issues of the morality have not been studied in separate chapters, rather they were included into some suitable chapters, like the chapter of marriage, the chapter of expenses, alimonies, cohabitation, divorce, and so on, where they give emphasis to the ethics and the necessity of implementing them in the practical life, with warning on negligence and breaching of them followed with statement of damages and consequences or provisions that result from them.
As for their leading endeavors, they are represented in their separate compilation on the Islamic etiquettes and moralities, like Adab Ad-Dunya Wad-Din (The Etiquette of the Worldly and Religious Life) by Al-Mawardi and Al-A’adab Ash-Shar`iyyah Wal-Minah Al-Mar`iyyah (The Islamic Etiquettes and the Applicable Manners) by Ibn Al-Muflih. (8) However, they were not purely concentrated on the ethics pertaining to public dealing only, rather, they involved other subjects such as the topic of fear of Allah, the issue of hope, contentment, repentance and provisions of the dress, food and so on. Perhaps one of the reasons that led them to include such subjects into their compilation was their perception of the Islamic ethics and morality in its broad sense that includes entire human relationship, whether it is with his Lord, or with himself or with the people. (9)
(1) He is Muhammad ibn Isma`il ibn Ibrahim ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Jua`fi, Abu `Abdullah Al-Bukhari, a distinct scholar in memorizing the Hadith and an authority in understanding the meanings of Hadith, who died in 256 A.H. See: Ibn Hajar, Taqrib At-Tahdhib, a study and comparison by Muhammad `Awwamah, Dar Ar-Rasheed, Halab, the first edition, 1406, p. 468.
(2) Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim Al-Qushayri An-Nisaburi, a prominent memorizer of Hadith and the compiler of the authentic encyclopedia Sahih Muslim, who died in 261 A.H. See: Taqrib At-Tahdhib, p. 529.
(3) Muhammad ibn `Isa ibn Sawrah At-Tirmidhi, a well-known expert of Hadith who died in Tirmidh, 279 A.H. See: Adh-Dhahabi, Siyar Aa`lam An-Nubala’, edited by Shu`yb Al-Arna’wut, Mu’assasat Ar-Risalah, Beirut, 4th edit. 1406 A.H. vol.13 p. 270, also see: Tqrib At-Tahdhib, p. 500.
(4) He is `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`afar, Abu Muhammad who is known as Abu Sheikh Al-Asbahani, an authority of Hadith from Asbahan who died in 369 A.H, Siyar Aa`lam An-Nubala’, vol.16 p. 276.
(5) He is Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ja`afar ibn Muhammad As-Samiri Al-Khara’iti, an expert of Hadith and a compiler who died in Yafa in the year 327 A.H. See: Siyar Aa`lam An-Nubala’ vol. 15 p. 267 and Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah, by Ibn Kathir, Maktabat Al-Ma`arif, Beirut, vol.11 p. 190.
(6) He is Yusuf `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Al-Barr An-Nimri Al-Andalusi Al-Qutubi Al-Maliki, an expert of Hadith from Morocco who died in the year 463 A.H. See: Siyar Aa`lam An-Nubala’ vol. 18 p. 153 and Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah vol. 12 p. 104.
(7) He is `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Habib Abul-Hasan Al-Mawardi, the most respected judge of his time who died in the year 450 A.H. See: Shadharat Adh-Dhahab, vol. 3 p. 285, and Al-A`alam vol. 4 p. 327.
(8) He is Muhammad ibn Muflih ibn Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, Al-Hanbali, the most knowledgeable person of his era about the school of jurisprudence of Imam Ahmad, who died in 763 A.H. see: Shadharat Adh-Dhahab, vol. 6 p. 199 and Al-A`alam vol. 7 p. 107.
(9) It would be mentioned –by the grace of Allah- when we shall present the definition of morality in terminology, in the beginning of this study.
Note: I have avoided presenting examples and evidence here lest they would be repeated; also I have mentioned them in the folds of this research which clarify the points mentioned in this preamble in a general method.