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  • Akhlaq refers to the standard behaviour or code of conduct which an individual is expected to uphold or observe according to his or her society.
  • Therefore Islamic morality refers to the code of conduct prescribed by the Quran and Hadith which a Muslim is expected to adhere to.
  • The Islamic moral system stems from its primary creed of belief in One God as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
  • Islam considers the human race to be a part of God’s creation, and as His subjects.
  • From an Islamic perspective, the purpose of human life is to worship God, by leading this worldly life in harmony with the Divine Will, and thereby achieving peace in this world, and everlasting success in the life of the hereafter.
  • Muslims look to the Glorious Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet as their moral guides.
  • Morality in Islam addresses every aspect of a Muslim life, from greetings to international relations.
  • Muslims must not only be morally healthy, but also contribute to the moral health of the entire society.
  • The almighty Allah says:“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in God; and if the followers of the book had believed it would have been better for them; of them(some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.”[Q: 3:110]
  • The prophet (P.B.U.H) summarized the conduct of a Muslim when he said:
    My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of Allah, whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich, to reunite friendship with those who have broken off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right.
  • The glorious Qur’an says:
    It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing.”[Q: 2:177]
  • This verse emphasizes the Islamic belief that righteousness and piety is based on a true and sincere faith.
  • The key to virtue and good conduct is a strong relation with God, who sees all, at all times and everywhere.
  • He knows the secrets of the hearts and the intentions behind all actions.
  • Therefore, Islam enjoins moral behavior in all circumstances.
  • It may be possible to deceive the world, but it’s not possible to deceive the creator.
  • Morality in Islam centers on certain basic beliefs and principles as follows:
    • Allah (S.W.T) is the creator and source of all goodness, truth and beauty.
    • Man is a responsible, dignified and honorable agent of his Creator.
    • Allah (SW.T) has put everything in the heavens and the earth in the service of mankind.
    • By His Mercy and Wisdom, Allah (S.W.T) does not expect the impossible from man or hold him accountable for anything beyond his power. Nor does Allah (S.W.T) forbid man to enjoy the good things of life.
    • Moderation, practicality and balance are guarantees of high integrity and sound morality.
    • All things are permissible in principle except what is singled out as obligatory, which must be observed and what is singled out as forbidden, which must be avoided.
    • Man’s ultimate responsibility is to Allah (S.W.T) and his highest goal is the pleasure of his Creator.

Dimensions of Islamic Morality

  • In the beginning of this chapter, we have learnt that Akhlaq involves moral values and that Allah (S.W.T) always wants us to lead a pious life.
  • Islamic morality is measured in two ways: Maarufat (virtues) and Munkaraat (vices)
  • It entirely deals with the relationship between man and the other and creatures of the universe, man and his innermost self.
  • The Muslim’s relationship with Allah (S.W.T) should be one of love and obedience, complete trust, stead fastness and active devotion;it is this kind of behaviour that should inspire and nourish morality at the human level.
  • In relating to his fellow men, a Muslim should show kindness, care and respect to relatives, neighbours and strangers whatever their status in the society.
  • He must also honor the legitimate rights of others as much as he fulfills his own.
  • A Muslim should also use nature for the benefit of humanity as signs of Alaah (S.W.T) without waste of humility as signs of Alaah (S.W.T) without waste or excess.
  • A Muslim's moral obligation is also to stand for what is right and fight what is wrong, seek what is true and abandon what is false, uphold what is wrong, seek what is beautiful and wholesome and avoid what is indicent.
  • To him, simplicity and compassion are his trademarks, while he keeps away from arrogance and pride.
  • A man once asked the prophet (S.W.T) on virtues and he replied.
    Ask your heart. Virtue is that which satisfies the soul and comforts the heart, And sin (evil), is that which perturbs the soul and troubles the heart even if people should pronounce it lawful.”(Ahmed &Dearani)
  • Islamic morality (Akhlaaq is divided into two dimensions
    • Maarofoat (The Virtues )
    • Munkaraat (The vices )

a) Maaroofaat [the virtues]

  • These are deeds or practices which are permitted in Islam.
  • They could be in the form of actions gestures or statement.
  • A Muslim is encouraged to acquire these virtues.
  • The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “The most perfect amongst you in faith is the best of you in behavior.”
  • Examples of Maarufat:
    • Visiting the sick and escorting the deceased to the grave.
    • Feeding the poor.
    • Honoring the aged.
    • Trustworthiness: Muslims have to be people who keep their words in any promise, contracts among others.
    • Having contentment [Qanaa]or satisfaction with whatever Allah[sw] has decreed for him/her.
    • Self control
    • Contentment
    • Patience
    • Trust in responsibility
    • Truthfulness

b) Munkaraat [the vices]

  • These are all kinds of bad practices or deeds that are prohibited in Islam.
  • These vices can be in the form of actions gestures or statements.
  • Allah (S.W.T) has prohibited all forms of Munkaraat whether practiced in the open or in secrecy.
  • Allah (S.W.T) says: “Say: The things that May Lord has indeed forbidden are: Shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He Has given no authority and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.”[Q: 7:33]
  • Examples of Munkaraat
    • Arrogance and pride.
    • Slander and gossips.
    • Telling lies.
    • Calling one another by offensive nicknames.
    • Dissatisfaction and lack of contentment.
    • Looking down upon others because, class or wealth, race etc.
    • Wishful thinking.
    • Drug and substance abuse.
    • Gambling and games of chances.
    • All forms of sexual perversions.

Significance of Islamic Morality

  • Islamic morality is intended to build in a Muslim a sound mind, peaceful soul and a strong personality.
  • Islamic morality is meant to build in the human being a sound mind and body and a peaceful soul.
  • It makes a Muslim have a distinctive Islamic personality when interacting with others.
  • Islamic moral values are meant to cultivate in a Muslim the best character in the most whole some manner.
  • It strengthens the bonds between human beings and Allah thus developing a strong taqwa.
  • Islamic morality guards the Muslims external behaviors and his manifest deeds to be in line with Allah (S.W.T) the teachings of Islam.
  • It shields a Muslims from evil since it guards his external behavior and his manifest deeds to be in line with Allah(S.W.T)
  • It promotes positive thinking by guiding individual Muslims to be occupied with constructive ideas and serious pursuits of how to lead a positive life on this earth and the hereafter.
  • It discourages a Muslimfrom practicing prohibitions such as use of intoxicants.
  • The Munkaraat have been prohibited by Allah (S.W.T) for the spiritual and mental well being of man as well as for the moral and material benefit of humanity.
  • It promotes peace and harmony in the society in that the prohibitions discourage vices.
  • It generates affection and respect between the members of the family and the society in general hence promoting brotherhood.
  • Allah has promised rewards for those who abide by the Islamic morals and avoid evils deeds.

Amr bil Ma’ruf Wa Nahyi Anil Munkar. (Enjoining good and forbidding evil)

  • Allah (S.W.T) commanded Muslims to always enjoin good and forbid evil in the society.
  • Commanding of good should start with self-restrain.
  • This means avoidance of those acts which displease Allah.
  • Being a practical religion, Islam teaches the Muslims to strive to follow the religious teachings and abide by its code of conduct and ethics.
  • Allah says, “Let there arise in you a band of people inviting to all that is good,enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong:They are the ones to attain felicity.”[Q: 3:104]
  • The prophet (P.B.U.H) also emphasize on the importance of morals in a hadith reported by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri who says that the messenger of Allah says, “He of you who sees an abomination should change it with his hand; if he could not, then with his tongue; if he could not, then in his heart; and this is the faintest in faith.” (Muslim)
  • Islam is a complete way of life and a very practical religion.
  • Even though it is enshrined in laws, beliefs and practices, morals form the basis of each and every act of Ibada’.
  • For example Islam prohibits the use of intoxicants as they interfere with normal functioning of the body and mind hence one cannot attend to his religious duties.
  • It is also very important to keep off evil so that we can preserve the purity of the soul and have it more concentrated on performing ibadah.
  • Muslims should keep reminding each other of the good things expected from them and talk about the evil things and how they can avoid them.
  • And Allah tells us in the Quran, “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”
  • On the other hand,the soul of the human being is very subtle to temptations which arise from weaknesses to remain firm and steadfast in the path of Allah.
  • The environment we stay in may also affect our morals and divert us from the good path.
  • If for example you walk with friends who smoke, you need a very strong conviction and Iman(faith) so that you are not tempted to smoke.
  • But in as much as you may not be smoking,it is your religious duty to command good and forbid evil.
  • Therefore you should remind your friend of the evils of smoking.
  • There are various ways in which a Muslim can command well and shun evil.
  • Examples of such ways are;
    • observing the five daily prayers,
    • fasting during the month of Ramadhan,
    • speaking the truth,
    • visiting the sick,
    • giving out charity,
    • advising those doing the wrong among others.


Morality based on Iman and Swalihat

  • The good morals of anybody are shaped by the faith that he possesses and the dutifulness towards his creator.
  • Surat ul Asr supports that:
    I swear by the time (Asr) surely man is in great loss, save those who believe and perform good deeds and exhort each other on truth and exhort each other to endurance[Q:103:1-3].
  • Iman thus takes the first preference before good deeds.
  • Good deeds that are not accompanied with Iman are known to have no reward before Allah.
  • Consider those who do good things just to be seen and praised, the corrupt people who do good things in exchange of various favors not to mention the philanthropists who give a lot of wealth for pleasure without bringing the intention of doing it for the sake of Allah.
  • Such deeds usually may lead to actions that are forbidden according to the doctrine of Islam.
  • Obedience of Allah’s commandments leads to righteous deeds in that in order for you to perform them, you should first fear Allah.
  • Iman and Swalihat cannot be separated because they are interdependent in their functioning.
  • Therefore in Islam, faith and good deeds go hand in hand.
  • Abu Said Al-Khudri (R.A) narrates that he heard the prophet (P.B.U.H) says: Whenever anyone of sees anything contrary to Allah’s approval, he should change it with his hand, or if he cannot, then by his tongue, if he cannot, then by his heart and that is the weakest faith.”
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