Secondly: the Meaning of Al-Akhlaq (the Ethics).
1 – The word Al-Khuluq (the ethic) in Arabic language:
The root-word of Al-Akhlaq is Khuluq. Ibn Al-Faris says in this connection: “the word Kuluq consists of three Arabic alphabets: Al-Kha’, Al-Lam and Al-Qaf, that has basically two meanings: the first is to measure something and the other is smoothness in something.
- As for the first meaning, the Arabs say: “Khalaqtu Al-Adima Lis-Siqa’’”(I measured a leather to cut it for a water bag). The word Khalaqtu here means to measure. This word has been used in this meaning by an ancient Arabic poet, Zuhayr (1) who used the word Yakhluqu, a derivative of the same word referring to the meaning of measuring.
The word Al-Khuluq also belongs to the same root-word which means nature or behavior as man has been measured and designed by Allah (Glory be to Him) on a nature and was created according to it. The same word is used for lying as a lie is always created, invented and measured by the liar before he talks. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “and you (Takhluquna) (produce) a falsehood.” (3)
- The Second Meaning is smooth, as the Arabs say: “Sakhratun Khalqa’” (a smooth rock). (4)
Ibn Manzur (5) quotes Abu Bakr Al-Anbari who said (6): “The word Al-Khalq in the usages of Arabs has two meanings; one of them denotes to create something that has no match. And the other is synonymous with measuring. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “So blessed is Allah (Ahsanul-Khaliqin), the best of creators.” (7) (Ahsanul-Khaliqin) here originally means the best of designers.” also the word has been mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an, when Allah (Glory be to Him) quoted the words of the Prophet `Isa (peace be upon him) while addressing his people: “And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that (Akhluqu) I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah.” (8) The word Akhluqu in this blessed A’yah means that he designed from clay like a bird, it does not mean that the Prophet `Isa (peace be upon him) created it from nothing. (9)
Furthermore, the word Al-Khuluq denotes the manner, nature and behavior. (10) Also it refers to the interior qualities of a person. Ibn Manzur said: “As the word Al-Khuluq denotes the interior figure of a person i.e. his soul, its qualities and its inner meanings, the same the word Al-Khalq denotes exterior figure of a person, its qualities and external meanings. (11)
In addition to that, Ar-Raghib said: “The both words Al-Khalq and Al-Khulq were derived from the same root-word; however, Al-Khalq is related to the aspects, shapes and figures that are perceived by the eyes, while Al-Khulq is related to the abilities and characters that are perceived by the mind. (12)
2 – Ethic in Philosophy:
There are mainly two trends in the philosophical studies that attempted to discover the concept of morality:
The First represents the traditional philosophical theory of morality, which considers ethics as a science of standard i.e. a branch of science that studies the standards that should be the examples for human behavior. Thus it lays down the laws, regulations and the lofty principles for human acts.
This trend is the reliable to the majority of the experts of ethics in understanding this science and determining its methodology.
The second trend represents the manmade theory that was adopted by some sociologists who regard ethics just as rules of conduct that are recognized by a group of people in any period of history. (13)
The philosophers of Islam had a good part in formulating the definition of the ethic in its relation to the human nature and its relationship with human behavior.
Miskawayh defined ethic and said (14): “A condition in the self of a person that calls him to actions without thinking or planning.” Furthermore, he added: “some of these conditions are natural and stamped in the constitution of a person, while some of them are attainable through training and habituating. (15)
Moreover, Al-Ghazali (16) said in this connection: “Ethic is a condition deep-rooted in the personality of a person, from which the acts originate easily without any need of thinking or planning, if the condition is a origin of praiseworthy (in Shari`ah or in common sense) acts this condition is called good ethic but if the originating acts are evil then the origin or the condition is called a bad ethic. (17)
(1) He is Zuhayr ibn Abi Salma Rabi`ah ibn Rabah Al-Muzani, from Mudhar tribe, a wise amongst the poets during the pre-Islamic days, he died before the declaration of the Prophethood by the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). See: Al-Isabah by Ibn Hajar, vol. 3 p.279 who mentioned him in the biography of his son Ka`ab (may Allah be pleased with him). See: Al-I`alam by Az-Zarkali, vol. 3, p. 52.
(3) Al-`Ankabut: 17.
(4) Ibn Faris, Mu`ajam Maqayis Al-Lughah, vol. 2, pp. 113,114.
(5) Muhammad ibn Mukrram ibn `Ali ibn Manzur Al-Ansari, the African, a prominent scholar, literary and authority, he was born in 630 A.H. and died in 711 A.H. See: Ad-Durar Al-Kaminah Fi A`ayan Al-Mi’ah Ath-Thaminah by Ibn Hajar, Matba`ah Majlis Da’irah Al-Ma`arif Al-`Uthmaniyyah, India, first edition, 1350 A.H, vol. 4p. 262, see also Al-I`alam, vol.7 p.108.
(6) Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Qasim ibn Bashar Al-Anbari, an authority, literary, expert of recitation of the Glorious Qur’an and a specialist of Arabic grammar, who died in Baghdad in the year 328 A.H. See: Siyar A`alam An-Nubala’ vol.15, p. 274, Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah, vol. 11, p.196.
(7) Al-Mu’aminun: 14.
(8) A’li-`Imran: 49.
(9) Ibn Manzur, Lisan Al-`Arab, vol. 10, p. 85.
(10) Ibn Manzur, Lisan Al-`Arab, vol. 10 p.89 and Al-Ferozabadi, Al-Qamus Al-Muhit, vol. 3, p. 229.
(11) Ibn Manzur, Lisan Al-`Arab, vol. 10, p. 86.
(12) Ar-Raghib Al-Asfahani, Al-Mufradat Fi Gharib Al-Qur’an, p.158.
(13) Dr. Mustafa Hilmy, Al-Akhlaq Bayn Al-Falasifah W Hukama’ Al-Islam (Morality between Philosophers and Wises of Islam), p.10. And Dr. At-Tawfiq At-Tawil, Usus Al-Falsafah (The Foundations of Philosophy), p. 372.
(14) Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Y`aqub who was interested in philosophy and logic, he was from Ar-Rayy and died in 421 A.H. Al-I`alam, vol., p. 211.
(15) Miskawayh, Tahdhib Al-Akhlaq Wa Tathir Al-A`araq, Al-Matba`ah Al-Misriyyah, first edition, vol.1, p. 41.
(16) Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad Al-Ghazali At-Tusi, who was given the title Hujjat-ul-Islam (Proof of Islam) a mystic and philosopher who was born in the year 450 A.H. and died in the year 505 A.H. in Khurasan. See: Jamal Ad-Din Al-Asnwi Ash-Sha’fa`i, Tabaqat Ash-Shafa`iyyah, Matba`ah Al-Irshad, Baghdad, 1391A.H. vol. 2, p. 242, and Shadharat Adh-Dhahab, vol.4, p.10.
(17) Al-Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum Ad-Din, Dar Al-Ma`arifah, Beirut 1402 A.H. vol. 3, p. 53.