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Characteristics of Morals in Islam
Mohamed Helal 221

Characteristics of Morals in Islam

Characteristics of Morals in Islam[1]
 

     Islamic manners have unique characteristics that tell them apart from other value systems developed by secular societies and philosophical schools of thought. Here are some of the most important characteristics of the system of Islamic manners:

1. It gives a detailed account of ethical issues no matter how complex and numerous. On the one hand, Islam preaches comprehensive moral values as shown in the following verses:

“Surely God commands justice and fairness and bringing charity to a near kinsman, and He forbids obscenity, maleficence and iniquity. He admonishes you that possibly you would be mindful.” (Qur’an, 16:90)

“Say to My servants to say that which is fairest.” (Qur’an, 17:53)

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says,

“Fear God wherever you are, do good deeds on the wake of doing bad ones; the former will wipe out the latter; and behave decently towards people.” [2]

“A believer will attain by her/his good behavior the rank of one who prays during the night and observes fasting during the day.”[3]

     In this regard, both the Noble Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition refer to a long series of good and bad manners, which can be discussed in huge volumes.[4]

2. Islam emphasizes that we must adhere to good manners towards both the means adopted and the objective sought, under all circumstances and in all situations. Islamic values are totally against the proverb that says, "The end justifies the means." Indeed, Islam prohibits any act of impiety even if it would lead to a noble end or achieve a righteous deed. God says,

“In case they ask you for help towards victory in religion, then you have to help them towards victory, except against a people between whom and you there is a compact; God is Ever-Beholding whatever you do.” (Qur’an, 8:72)

     Although this latter verse commands Muslims to help their fellow oppressed Muslims to achieve victory, it makes an exception based on moral grounds that if such help constitutes a breach of a covenant, which Muslims have made with disbelievers or oppressors fighting their fellow Muslims, then Muslims should abstain from helping their fellow Muslims. That is because the means of that help is the breach of a covenant, which is an illicit treacherous act. Islam indeed prohibits committing a treacherous act even though this might be against disbelievers.

3. Islamic values are closely related to religion and piety. God says,

“So complete your covenant with them till their (extended) period.” (Qur’an, 9:4)

     Furthermore, Islam considers keeping one's promise, even with the enemies, an act of piety which, God Glory be to Him, loves. The Prophet (PBUH) also says, “There is no faith for the one who cannot be trusted, and there is no religion for the one that does not fulfill his promises.”[5] Thus, good manners and religion cannot be separated in Islam. As previously mentioned, religion is all about good manners and it is one of the highest objectives of Islam to perfect good manners.[6]


[1] Prof. Aḥmad Muḥammad Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, “Essential Features of Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 184.

[2] At-Tirmidhi’s Sunan, 4:355. It is also reported by the six authentic collections of Hadiths.

[3] Abu Dawud’s Sunan, 5:149; It is also reported by the six authentic collections of Hadiths.

[4] See examples of these manners in Abdul-Kareem Zidan, op. cit., pp. 78-84.

[5] Imam Ahmad’s Musnad, 3:135, 154, 210. It is also reported by the six authentic collections of Hadiths.

[6] See Abdul-Kareem Zidan, op. cit., p. 86.

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