Indeed all praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we rely solely on Him. We seek His refuge from the evil in our souls and from our wicked deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, He is One, with no partners, and I testify that Mohammad (ﷺ) is His Messenger and His slave.
The paper is divided into five parts:
- Part 1 - Introduction: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (1)
- Part 2 – Deen ul Islam & Foundation of Ethical code: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (2)
- Part 3 – Muslim Character Building through faith: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (3)
- Part 4 – Pillars of Islam, Morals & Character Building: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (4)
- Part 5 – How to attain high morals standards: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (5)
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PILLARS OF ISLAM & DEVELOPMENT OF EXCELLENT MORALS & CHARACTER
PART 2: DEEN UL ISLAM AND FOUNDATION OF MORAL CODE
Islamic Civilization created a huge impact on global scene. Some writers charge that Islamic Civilization is influenced by nations that lived prior to it, especially roman civilization. And that Arabs only added a mix to it. They try to link its root to Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Babylonians etc. This is a mistake on their part.
Though nations do get influenced with customs and prior cultures but Islamic civilization is original in nature and it’s build on principals that were not borrowed from any other civilizations. However, what can be added is that Arab customs and traditions became part of secondary dealings and became part of civilization.
Some people consider Civilization as intellectual state, ethics, morals, culture, customs, tradition, science, art, industry, governance, politics etc. The fact is that these are not the fundamental of a civilization but the results and gains of it. These are the produce of core fundamentals that is the soul of a civilization20.
Hence, it is important when one reviews a civilization it looks at the fundamental principles and its basis. For instance,
- Believes and Thoughts:
- Concept of Creation and Human’s status in relation to creation: What is the concept of creation of universe and relationship between us (human) and universe?
- Objective of Life and end result of our struggle: What is the purpose of our existence in this universe, and why are we doing this entire struggle? What is that objective and end game that we are running after?
- Believes and thoughts: What are the founding principles upon which Human character development shapes up? What kind of mindset this civilization is building? What is the relationship between the ultimate objective and this special type of character building?
- Human development, Moral Standards and Ethical Code: What kind of human being it is creating? What kind of ethical and moral standards its setting for this human to live and achieve that ultimate objective. And though that civilization is building of a nation, but the individual humans are those who collectively build a nation. And building strong characters, ethics, morals and values in individual humans is what builds a strong nation.
- Collective System (of governance, justice, protection and dealings): Lastly, what kind of relationship it builds between various members of the nation. What is relationship between family members, between neighbor, between friends and society, rulers and ruled, judge, politicians, industrialist, businessman, priest, and common man etc. what are their rights and boundaries?
Mawdudi states that Civilization is build upon these five essences and so as Islamic Civilization. Hence, it is important to understand how an Islamic civilization approaches character building in light of these fundamentals. We will briefly discuss some of these points, but mainly focus on our original topic in relating Five Pillars of Islam with Human Development and Character Building.
First determine status of Human in this Universe
In order to understand morality and ethical code, first we must answer what is our status in this universe?
However, people often jumped to subsequent question that what is the criterion of right and wrong for human conduct? What is the ultimate good that human should direct their energy?
The fact of matter is that in order to answer the second question, they must first answer the first question, i.e. what is human’s real position and status in this universe? We cannot really define “Standards of conduct” until we correctly determine our position and purpose on earth21.
Islam answers this question up front that Humans are the Khalifa22 of Allah (swt) on Earth. Everything on universe belongs to Allah alone and that what human own they are not real owner, but they are entrusted by their Lord. Allah (swt) has appointed man as vicegerent on earth and granted him lease of life to test and trial him. And on Day of Judgment each human will be judged and held accountable. And Allah (swt) will not only judge human for how he utilized things that Allah entrusted with him, but also all public dealing and social conduct.
Second most important fact that Islam teaches is that Human is a servant and not the master. Once these two facts are fully understood, and we understand our relationship with God and status on Earth then only we can address morality and ethics.
Humans are servants and not Master
Let’s first understand that Humans are not Master, but merely a servant of God. Human is vicegerent of Allah (swt) on Earth, and he is not the owner or lawmaker on Earth. His job is to implement the commands of Allah. It is not his role that he becomes arrogant and becomes the master himself and then enslaves the rest of human population. And once he declare himself master he oppresses other humans either by force or by making laws that gives him right to enjoy higher status. Like we see today that some powerful groups join forces to enact law that allows them higher status in business to accumulate and amass wealth.
The true justice is when no human is allowed to enforce his law on other human. When Laws are from other source than human themselves; A source that is neutral; A source who is the Creator of everything. How can this be a justice that 51% people enforce their opinion on 49% people in the name of majority decision!, or 75% enforce it on 25%?. Whatever the ratio is, one party enforces their opinion on other party. And how can we treat it as justice until and unless that the decision maker is neutral.
Hence Allah (swt) said: أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ – “Is not Allah the Best of judges?”23 and said: إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلاَّ لِلّهِ يَقُصُّ الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْفَاصِلِينَ - “Judgment lies with Allah alone. He declares the Truth, and He is the best judge”24 .
Thus, Islam teaches us that the true Master is Allah (swt), and we are only his slave. We have no right to become master of Allah’s creation, neither do any other human or jinn has that right to claim. To claim this right is considered rebellion against Allah’s rule and success of human in this world depends of his obedience to Allah’s command as his vicegerent.
Some arrogant people who have become master of other by self declaring that right using force; they claim that this is their land and if people don’t like their oppressive law they can leave and find another land. This is most arrogant stature a human can take. The land belongs to Allah, the Earth belongs to Allah, and the Universe belongs to Allah. Why not these so called masters find another universe of their own which they build from their own hands and live there? Did they create this Earth to claim such right?
Allah (swt) said: قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاء وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاء وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاء وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاء بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ إِنَّكَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ – “Say (O Muhammad): "O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honor whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things”25
Human Creation and opposition forces
Humans are Khalifa of Allah (swt) on Earth. When Allah (swt) decided to create Adam he told the Angles: وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً قَالُواْ أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ - “Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, "I am going to appoint a vicegerent [Khalifa] on the Earth." They humbly enquired, "Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the Earth? We are already engaged in hymning Your praise, and hallowing Your name".” 26
After He (swt) created Adam, He ordered all angles and jinn to “prostrate before Adam”. All angles followed the order, but Iblees [Satan] refused Allah’s order and became arrogant and disobedient. Iblees (Satan) said: "I am not the one to prostrate myself to a human being, whom You created from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud."27 Allah (swt) out-casted Iblees and cursed him said: قَالَ فَاخْرُجْ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّكَ رَجِيمٌ - وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ اللَّعْنَةَ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ - “(Allah) said: "Then, get out from here, for verily, you are Rajeem (an outcast or a cursed one). And verily, the curse shall be upon you till the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)."”28
Iblees (Satan) asked for respite, and Allah (swt) in his wisdom allowed him time until Day of Judgment. Iblees (Satan) swore that he will mislead human on earth. He said: “…"O my Lord! Because you misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead them all, Except Your chosen, (guided) slaves among them”[al-Hijr 15:39].
Allah (swt) replied to Iblees (Satan): قَالَ هَذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ - إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلاَّ مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ - “… This is the Way which will lead straight to Me. Certainly, you shall have no authority over My slaves, except those who follow you of the Ghaween (Mushrikoon and those who go astray, criminals, polytheists, and evil-doers, etc.).”[al-Hijr 15:41-42] 29
From this story of creation of Human, we can conclude:
- Human is vicegerent of Allah (swt) on Earth, hence he is in need of Guidance of Allah. This guidance is needed to provide collective system for governance, justice, protection and way of living on earth.
- The Satanic forces those oppose human are actively in place to misguide and mislead. Hence, Allah (swt) must help Human with His guidance to build a strong character that can defend him against satanic forces, both individually and collectively as a society.
- That a protection mechanism is needed to protect one human from other, if they start to violate each other’s right and start the bloodshed on Earth. These mechanisms on one hand include laws of governance and justice, and on other hand building a mindset that believes in mutual existence. And that one human doesn’t harm other nor gets harmed by other. And that one man can only ask other to be obedience to Allah and follow his laws and commands, but doesn’t enforce his own laws on others. And the true justice is only when no human force his own law on other human but that all agree to follow laws of the Creator.
Understand Purpose of our creation
To summarize lengthy discussion here is brief outline of purpose of our creation and human life cycle in six steps:
- Life is a test: The reason Allah (swt) send us to earth is to see which ones of us are truly obedient and which ones are rebellious. As Allah (swt): الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ – “[He] who created death and life to test you”30. Hence, life is a test to proof our allegiance to Allah (swt) and demonstrate our utmost commitment, loyalty and obedience towards him.
- Obedience to Allah ‘alone’: The objective of this test is unflinching loyalty and obedience of Allah (swt) by obeying His commands and following His Messengers. As Allah (swt) described that the sole purpose of our creation was to be obedient to him. وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ – “And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” 31
- Purification of Soul is the outcome: A person who submit himself to Allah’s command and follows his guidance makes Tazkia-un-Nafs (تزكية النفس), means that he achieves the state where his outward actions and his inward believes all align with Shariah of Allah (swt), and he has cleansed his soul of any evil doings according to Shariah Will of Allah (swt) (المشيئة الشرعية). No one will enter Paradise except with a purified soul.
- Judgment Day is the accountability: One that day we all stand in front of Allah (swt) to give account of our deeds. Good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished. In His Devine wisdom Allah (swt) may choose to forgive the sinners, but He will not forgive anyone who made partners to His Majesty.
- Reward is either Paradise or Hell: That Allah (swt) records all events during our life in the book, He has appointed over us angles who maintains a record of our activities. On day of Judgment they will awarded a success in their right hands or a punishment in their left hand. This is reward from the creator. Those who have lived their life according to His commands will be placed in the Paradise where they will enjoy for eternity, and the wretched and evil doers will be punished in hell for eternity.
- Choice is ours: Hence, we have some choices to make in this life. Allah (swt) not only explained us purpose of our creation and objective of our life but also gave detailed account of end outcome, that if we obey him and follow his commands He will reward us. Then He gave us free will to choose. And our success depends on making the correct choices.
Based on above discussion we conclude that the foundation of Islamic Ethical Code is as following:
- The ultimate goal and purpose of human life on earth is to represent the Creator (Allah) and succeed in the test or trial that He (as the Creator) has put forth to us.
- The good or bad, right or wrong, and righteous or evil can only be determine through the guidance provided by the Creator. That the true estimation of what is wrong or right, and what is success and failure, and what is truth and false hood cannot be defined by self in short view of worldly paradigms.
Allah (swt) said: فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا - “Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him;”32 That in order to understand wrong or right, one can’t take one dimensional view based on limited vision of life and self pleasure. Rather, it should be understood under bigger picture with ultimate goal and purpose of our life, and our standing in here-after.
These moral standards should be based on larger time spam then only the context of our own life. It "should include all people that lived before and will live after. It should be applicable to all times under all circumstances. And they should be applicable to all kinds of people, all races of people, and all classes of people (rich or poor etc). They should take into consideration behaviors and attitude of different people and their moods at different times, when they are happy and when they are sad.
Who is the one that can define such comprehensive moral and ethical standards? Who is that can understand all humans of all times under all circumstances?
The truth and fact is that no one can but only the Creator – The Allah (swt) himself - The All-Mighty. No else really can. And if any one claims it, he lies.
- The Creator (Allah) provided us with His Guidance through His Messengers and revealed His Books, during the course of history. These are the real guidance, as they are directly from the Creator. Using His guidance we can distinguish right from wrong and define ethical code for social conduct.
- The Satanic forces will work against humans and misguide us. We must cling to the Guidance of the Creator (Allah) to defeat the satanic forces.
- The true moral and ethical value lies in honest submission to commands of the Creator (Allah). That Allah (swt) is the most compassionate, the most merciful and the most just of all. All Humans are equal in his eyes. He is absolutely free from all injustices, narrow mindedness, cruelty, wickedness, callousness, bigotry, and partiality. He is also the Creator of all things. Off all people and kind, He knows best, what is the most suitable moral and ethical code for human is. He knows best, what law is the most just and equal for all. Hence, the true moral standard in essence is what is defined by the Creator (Allah) himself.
- And what motivates us to bind with that Ethical and moral code is the accountability that lies in here after. That all of us will stand before the Creator (Allah) and He will judge us for our actions and choices that we made here.
END OF PART 2.
PART 3: CHARACTER BUILDING THROUGH FAITH. Pillars of Islam & Ethics (3)
- Islamic Civilization and its principles and origin (اسلامی تہذيب اور اس کے أصول و مبادي) – Abu Ala al-Mawdudi
- Ethical View Point of Islam – Abu Ala al-Mawdudi. (Address delivered at Islamia College, Peshawar, on 14th February 1944.)
- “'Khalifah' or vicegerent is one who exercises the authority delegated to him by his principal, and does so in the capacity of his deputy and agent. Hence, whatever authority he possesses is not inherently his own, but is derived from, and circumscribed by, the limits set by his principal. A vicegerent is not entitled to do what he pleases, but is obliged to carry out the will of his master. If the vicegerent were either to begin thinking himself the real owner and to use the authority delegated to him in whatever manner he pleased, or if he were to acknowledge someone other than the real owner as his lord and master and to follow his directions, these would be deemed acts of infidelity and rebellion” [Tafheem]
- Quran, Chapter 95:9 At-Tin (The Fig)
- Quran, Chapter 6:57 Al-An'am (The Cattle)
- Quran, Chapter 3:26 - Ale-Imran (Family of Imran)
- Quran, Chapter 2:20 - Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
- Quran, Chapter 15:33 - al-Hijr
- Quran, Chapter 15:34-35 - al-Hijr
- Quran, Al-Baqarah 2:30 – 2:40, Al-Hijr 15:25 – 15:42
- Quran, Chapter 67:2
- Quran, Chapter 51:56
- Quran, Chapter 91:8