The First Section: Meaning of the Moral Values of Islam and their Sources

The First Topic: The Meaning of Moral Values of Islam

To get the meaning of moral values in Islam, we present the first definition of values and ethics in general with reference to the philosophy, because the moral values have been included in their topics.

First: The Meaning of the Values

1 – The Word ‘Al-Qiyam’ (Values) in Arabic Language:

The Arabic word ‘Al-Qiyam’ (values) is a plural form of the word ‘Al-Qimah’ (1) (the value). In fact, the word ‘Al-Qimah’ includes the letter Al-Waw, that is why Arabs say “Qawwamtu Ash-Shay Taqwiman” (I straightened something) since you put something in the place of another thing. (2)

Originally, the word ‘Al-Qimah’ (value) consists of the Arabic Alphabets; Al-Qaf, Al-Waw and Al-Mim as was said by Ibn Al-Faris (3). This word is used in Arabic language by two ways; with Al-Waw and with Al-Ya’, but when it is used with the Alphabet Al-Waw, like ‘Qawm’ and ‘Aqwa’m’, it denotes a group of people; and sometimes this word is borrowed and used in other meanings. But when it is used with Al-Ya’ like ‘Qama’ and ‘Qiya’man’, it denotes standing or determining. (4)

Furthermore, Al-Qamus says regarding this word: “The word ‘Al-Qimah’ is singular form of ‘Al-Qiyam’, the Arabs say ‘Ma Lahu Qimah’ (It has no value) when something changes and loses its value. But when the word is pronounced ‘Al-Qawam’, it denotes Justice or livelihood, but if it is pronounced as ‘Al-Qiwa’m’, it denotes the system of authority, the administration of the government or the pivot of power. (5)

In addition to that, Ar-Raghib (6) says in Al-Mufradat: “The word ‘Al-Qiyam’ and ‘Al-Qawam’ refer to anything that supports something else to make it stand and to make firm, like a pillar or support, because they hold up and support.(7) Allah (Glory be to Him) said: “And do not give the weak-minded your property, which Allah has made (Qiyaman) a means of sustenance for you.”(8)

2 – The Values in Philosophy:

Value in philosophy through objective angle, refers to some distinctive qualities that make something worthy of evaluation whether it is much or little, but if it is worthy of evaluation in itself, its value is an absolute one, however, if it is worthy of evaluation as a means to get something else then its value is relative and instrumental.” (9)

Generally, the researchers in the models and categories of values return to three qualities; the truth, the goodness and the beauty, (10) although this division is not agreed upon reality between the researchers, as several of them have added to this some more new values, while others raised doubts around some of these values. (11) Although the division of values into three categories; the truth, the goodness and the beauty was acceptable to the most of the philosophers who dealt with the problem of value. (12) On the other hand, the philosophy of ethics is always concerned about searching for the good.

The philosophers disputed on the nature of value in these qualities:

- Some of them view that the quality is fixed in the nature of words, deeds and things. Therefore, it is permanent and does not change with the changes of circumstances or situations. This is the opinion of the rationalist idealists. (13) Therefore, those qualities are obtained for their own sake.

- However, other philosophers concluded that these qualities are ascribed by the human mind to the words, deeds and things in accordance with the conditions and circumstances. Therefore, they differ according to the mentality that evaluates the values. And this is the opinion of naturalists. (14) (15).

Anyway, the latest philosophical trends suggest that these values are permanent and absolute and not relative or temporary. (16)


(1) Al-Firozabadi, Al-Qamus Al-Muhit, Dar Al-Fikr, Beirut, vol.4 p.168.

(2) Ibn Al-Faris, Mu`ajam Maqayis Al-Lughah, edited by `Abdus-Salam Haron, the 2nd edition, 1392 A.H. vol.5, p.43.

(3) He is Ahmad ibn Faris ibn Zakariya Al-Qazwini Ar-Razi, one of the experts of language and literature, who was born in 329 A.H. and died in 395 A.H.

(4) Ibn Al-Faris, Mu`ajam Maqayis Al-Lughah, vol.5 p.43.

(5) Al-Firozabadi, Al-Qamus Al-Muhit, vol.4, p.168.

(6) He is Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Mufadhdhal Al-Asfahani or Al-Asbahani, who is known by Ar-Raghib, a literary person amongst the wise scholars, who resided in Baghdad and died in 502 A.H. See: Al-A`alam, vol. 2 p. 255.

(7) Ar-Raghib Al-Asbahani, Al-Mufradat Fi Gharib Al-Qur’an, Dar Al-M`arifah for printing and publishing, Beirut, pp. 416, 417.

(8) An-Nisa’:5.

(9) Dr. Jamil Saliba, Al-Mu`ajam Al-Falsafi, Dar Al-Kitab Al-Libnani, the first edition, 1971, vol. 2, p. 213.

(10) Dr. Tawfiq At-Tawil, Usus Al-Falsafah (Foundations of the Philosophy), Maktabah An-Nahdhah Al-Misriyyah, the 3rd edition.

(11) Some of them such as Schiller added a fourth value that is the religious value, while others added the psychological value and historical value; on the other hand,  Montag and others were skeptical whether the reality would be regarded as an intrinsic value or not, beside other views. See the details of this subject in Usus Al-Falsafah, by Dr. Tawfiq At-Tawil, p. 304, and Nazariyat Al-Qimah Fil-Fikr Al-Mu`a’sir (The Concept of Value in Contemporary Thought) by Dr. Salah Qunsuwah, Dar Ath-Thaqafah, Cairo, 1981, pp. 47, 48.

(12) Dr. Salah Qunsuwah, Nazariyat Al-Qimah Fil-Fikr Al-Mu`a’sir, pp. 47, 48.

(13) The Idealistic Rationalism is a school of philosophy that is based on the denial of the experience by the five senses as a source of knowledge. They deny them to be the source or basis the perception of the permanent facts and absolute values. According to them, the mind or sixth sense is the only tool by which they are recognized and discovered. Therefore, the existence of any thing is dependent merely on the intellect. The opposite school of this philosophy is the realistic trend. The first one puts the highest principle or the loftiest value in ethics that should be the criteria for human behavior. See: Majm`a Al-Lughah Al-`Arabiyyah (Arabic Language Academy), Al-Mu`ajam Al-Falsafi, Al-Hay’ah Al-`A’mmah Li Shu’un Al-Matabi`a Al-Amiriyyah, Cairo, 1399 A.H., p. 170, and Dr. Salah Qunsuwah, Nazariyat Al-Qimah Fil-Fikr Al-Mu`a’sir, p. 109.

(14) The naturalists belong to the naturalist school of philosophy that returns everything to the nature alone and it explains everything in the light of nature, bringing all phenomena back to it, excluding any possibility of any cause beyond the world of nature. This school of philosophy explains the moral life as an extension of the biological life, regarding the highest value as an expression of the needs of an individual or his instincts. See: Majm`a Al-Lughah Al-`Arabiyyah (Arabic Language Academy), Al-Mu`ajam Al-Falsafi, p. 177.

(15) Ibid. p.151.

(16) See: Dr. Tawfiq At-Tawil, Usus Al-Falsafah, p. 305.


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