Islam's Moderateness in Ethics


Islam holds an intermediate position in terms of ethics. It never views man with an eye of pure good or evil; i.e., man in Islam is neither an angel nor a devil! Instead, Islam deals with man in a manner consistent with human instincts and nature. Man in Islam is a free creature entrusted with duties, capable of obedience and / or disobedience, and has bodily and spiritual needs. For example, if a human is assaulted, Christianity calls for over-leniency and pardoning for the Holy Bible reads, "But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also," and "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you." Undoubtedly, it is a laudable outlook of perfection, but lacks balance since man, by nature and inherent characteristics, tends to defend itself, fight back and seek revenge against any insult or humiliation. So, if an assault takes place, and the victim is forcibly requested to forgive and press no charges, this would definitely require such victim to restrain their anger and wrath unwillingly; a condition that would naturally be followed by attempts to vent their spleen once appropriate.

However, Islam is but a realistic, pragmatic and balance religion; a fact manifested in its intermediate stance on this issue. Islam attends to human inclinations to revenge and retaliation, thus allowing the victim to commensurately fight back so that legal redress does not turn into a condition of outrageous vengeance and transgression. Allah Almighty says, "So whoever transgresses against you, then transgress against him in like (manner) as he transgressed against you…", and "And the recompense of an odious deed is an odious deed the like of it…" While allowing a room for fighting back, Islam urges a victim to be clement and forgiving; i.e., it asks them to move their inclination to revenge to a much higher level of humane conduct.

This is clearly demonstrated by the following:

(1)       Fighting back is termed 'transgression' in Islam as can be derived from the said verse "…then transgress against him in like (manner) as he transgressed against you…", and 'odious deed' as can be derived form the other verse "…is an odious deed the like of it…", although that fighting back, naturally speaking, should not be not so termed. It is rather an implied call for clemency and forgiveness so that a Muslim would naturally avoid transgression and odious deeds, and uphold clemency and forgiveness, instead.

(2)       Islam provides for 'commensuration' in fighting back, stresses the same and warns against any excessiveness. In fact, this is another call for clemency and forgiveness since a pious Allah-fearing Muslim would normally be worried should such precise commensuration is not met due to a compelling inclination to avenge 'two eyes' for an eye! Therefore, a Muslim would otherwise prefer forgiveness and clemency particularly as Allah, glorified and extolled be He, addresses pious and noble feelings in the victim as saying, "… and be pious to Allah, and know that Allah is with the pious."

(3)       Islam tells us that clemency and forgiveness should be prioritized as Allah Almighty says, "… yet whoever is clement and acts righteously, then his reward is up to Allah. Surely He does not love the unjust."

Islam further advises for a higher and nobler position by not only urging clement attitudes, but also by urging for dealing righteously with the assaulter and challenging an odious deed with a good one rather than acting 'eye for an eye' for a good deed would remove causes of enmity and wipe out rage motives. Allah Almighty says, "… yet whoever is clement and acts righteously, then his reward is up to Allah…", and "And not equal are the fair deed and the odious deed. Repel with that which is fairest; then, only then, he between whom and you there is enmity will be as if he were an intimate constant patron. And in no way will anyone be granted (such fairness) except the ones who (endure) patiently; and in no way will anyone be granted it except an owner of a tremendous fortune (in the Hereafter). And in case an incitement form the Satan ever incites you, then seek refuge in Allah; surely He, Ever He, is The Ever-Hearing, The Ever-Knowing." Other verses read, "… and (are) the repressors of (their) rage, and are the clement towards (their) fellow-men; and Allah loves the fair-doers" , and "And indeed who (endures) patiently and forgives, surely that is indeed (an act of true) resolve concerning His Commands. " The Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said, "My Lord has commanded me to enjoin you with nine (enjoinments)," among which is "to be clement towards he who did me injustice, give he who deprived me (of any thing), and to maintain a good relation with my severer… "This how Islam strikes that balance between extremism and remissness; an intermediate stance between two extremities.


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