A Contemporary Manual of Quranic Ethics


Farzana Hassan Shahid


Muslims Against Terrorism (M-A-T), Ontario


Aamir, Ali and Maryam,

and those who wish to imbibe Quranic virtues in their daily lives.


" Lo! This Quran guideth unto that which is straightest, and giveth glad tidings unto the believers who do good works, that theirs will be a great reward".(Quran )


Table of Contents


1 Foreword

2 Introduction _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

3 Virtues dealing with interpersonal relations----------------------

4 Virtues that develop Taqwa----------------------------------------

5 Islamic and Biblical Morality: A Comparison----------------------

6 Islam and certain Controversial Ethical Issues--------------------

7 Islam and Human Rights--------------------------------------------

8 Islam and the Ethics of Warfare.

9) Afterword.

10) A summarized list of Quranic virtues------------------------------



As a Muslim woman living in the West, I have undertaken to write this small treatise with a few primary objectives in mind. First, to the best of my knowledge, Islamic morality and its ethical principles have thus far not been explored and examined in a composite form. Most books on Islam deal with its system of beliefs, and the ritualistic aspects pertaining to them. Ethics and morality are given only a secondary or passing reference. Second, while writing this booklet, I have kept the Muslim youth of today, foremost in mind, particularly those who are living in the West, as I feel they are currently being subjected to influences that are foreign, or at least not Islamic in origin.

It is the youth who are going to shoulder the social and political responsibilities in the coming decades of the twenty-first century. They should therefore try to rediscover those aspects of their Islamic heritage, which convey the moral message of the Quran, with utmost clarity and simplicity. I discern a serious gap in our understanding of the true spirit of the Quranic message, which has prompted me to write this small treatise. The material collected is primarily from the Quran, as that is the fountainhead of all our religious and moral values, as well as a source of guidance and moral rectitude to millions of Muslims. I have therefore compiled the various verses of the Quran that deal with ethical and moral issues under different headings, in the hope of presenting them in a readable and accessible form.



I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to my brother Saleem, to my friend Mrs. Ruth Haq and to Maulana Asif Qasmi, Ameer Jamia Islamia, Canada, for assiduously reading my manuscript, as well as for their many helpful suggestions. I would also like to thank my father Dr. Ali, for his innumerable scholarly ideas and suggestions, which facilitated the completion of this work.

In addition, I would like to thank my mother, Dr. Parveen, for having raised me with Islamic values, my sister Irfana, for her immeasurable love and support, my husband Shahid, for being a constant source of inspiration, and my children: Aamir, Ali and Maryam, for providing so much purpose in my life.



In any discussion on the philosophy of ethics, the most difficult problem is to devise a system of morality that would be fair to all, because there are basic and intrinsic limitations of human nature, which have all pervading and universal implications. For instance, it is often said that man is by nature ambitious, aggressive and selfish. Most of the conflicts that have kept human societies sociologically and politically turbulent, are ultimately attributed to these weaknesses, which are not confined to a particular age, or stage of civilization. Any human being, at any time in his life, can become ambitious and aggressive, and can make self-interest his life’s greatest goal. If one examines most of the philosophical systems that have evolved in human civilization for the betterment of society, one finds that they are basically an exercise to explore certain means and methods by which these weaknesses in human nature can be corrected or curbed. Buddha’s noble truths, the philosophy of Confucius, and indeed the entire philosophical spectrum of Greek thought, provide a clear proof that the focal point of the philosophical inquiries of these great minds, was to minimize the impact of the above mentioned self destructive propensities of human nature. The sum and substance of these inquires, gives a reader a clue, that in order to bring humanity on the path of righteousness, one has to give each individual a chance to understand that he cannot lead a complete and enriched life, only by living for himself. He must look into his own nature, recognize his limitations and weaknesses, and try to correct them. All the prophets and philosophers whose teachings have left a permanent mark on human civilization, have also pointed out, that the evil in human nature is overwhelming, though it is not entirely indestructible. With conscious effort and education, the selfishness in man can be tamed and tutored so that instead of being a liability to society he can live as an asset to it. The history of human kind, gives ample evidence that through proper care, thoughtful organization and discipline, societies and social systems, have always been able to reform themselves. All they need is moral guidance, and the desire to implement it in their daily lives.

Philosophy unquestionably, is a vast field of moral and humanistic thought, but if we think carefully, in the final analysis, we realize that religion is a more dependable moral and ethical system for human beings to seek guidance from. It has happened many a time in history, that whenever human beings have been given a calling in the name of religion, they have always responded favorably. It is now accepted as a common truth that present day western societies, with their secular ideologies and their industrial civilization, have reached the heights of material prosperity and intellectual attainments. But nobody can doubt that even in this hour of the day, religion is still a very powerful passion among people of all shades of opinion and background, and if morality today has to have some impact on our individual and collective existence, it must have a religious basis. For Muslims, it is very easy, because Islam, judged by any standard, provides the finest code of ethics and morality. All we need to do is to know it and practice it. The source of Islamic ethics is the Quran and Sunnah (Practice) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and we are all familiar with the fact that these two sources are still cherished by millions of Muslims as the highest pinnacle of their religious and moral life. Unfortunately, the present day tragedy of the Muslims is that they are ignorant of these two important sources of moral instruction. They have also reduced Islam into a mere ritualistic exercise, which it was never meant to be. All in all, it is a practical code of ethics and a pragmatic manual of guidance. These are the same principles which were applied by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, fourteen hundred years ago, and it is through them that he turned the ignorant citizens of Mecca, who were then morally corrupt, into the greatest of human beings. They became so dynamic and progressive that within a hundred years after the death of the Prophet pbuh, the greatest Muslim empires in history were spread from Spain and Morocco in the West, to Malaysia in the East. From total selfishness they all adopted a spirit of self-sacrifice. If this message could work as a miracle for the men and women of the days of ignorance (Jahillliyah), one wonders why it would not be effective today, when the awareness of Islam is far greater than it was at that time.

The Holy Quran, which provides us guidance in this regard, is Allah’s revealed message to humankind. It contains verses pertaining to belief in the oneness of Allah, and in the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, as His last messenger. It is known as the "Furqan"(discriminate), because it brings to light the distinctions between good and evil, and truth and falsehood. The Quran sheds light on ethical and moral principles, and describes how human beings must conduct their affairs among themselves. The verses dealing with ethical principles include issues such as interpersonal relationships, Muslim virtues, and the mode of conduct to be adopted in social and business dealings. Muslims believe that these principles are meant for the entire human race and for people from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. This contention has its basis in the belief that Islam is the culmination of all of the Abrahamic faiths, and its precepts universalize the reforms introduced by the earlier prophets. They also go a step further by making them complete and comprehensive.

Any discussion on Quranic ethics must take into account the philosophy behind the teachings of Islam. It is important to bear in mind, that in Islam there is no dichotomy between the spiritual and the practical aspects of human life. In the Quran, spiritual advice is given in conjunction with practical advice. What a man does in his daily affairs, whether it is social, professional or economic, has a direct bearing on his spiritual development, and will determine his fate in the hereafter. Conversely, the spiritual development will have a direct bearing on what he does in his daily affairs. Thus "Amal" (action) is an integral part of the Islamic doctrine. The Quran therefore is a book not only of religious injunctions and beliefs, but also of laws and ethical codes, and must be viewed in totality. The shape of the Muslim community is determined, not merely by rituals. Religious acts such as Salat(Prayer), Som(Fasting) and Zakat(Charity) are considered binding on Muslims not only as a means of worship, but also as a means of creating an environment of social harmony, cooperation and self discipline.

Thus the issue of ethics, or Khuluq (character or conduct), appears in the Quran on several occasions. In this regard the Quran states about the character of the Prophet pbuh:

"..Thou (Muhammad) (standest) on an exalted standard of character"

(Quran: 68:4)

It is ethics and character that distinguish a human being from other life forms and which account for his exalted status among Allah’s creations. The Quran states:

"Verily the most honoured of you, in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you."

And again:

"He who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed."(Quran: 49 : 3, 47:2)

The question may arise as to why there is a need for religious ethics, when there are man made laws to regulate human behavior. This can be answered in two ways. First, Islam maintains that ethics has a major role to play in human lives, and the Quranic ethical code deals with aspects that human laws may not touch upon. Secular laws may not provide universally accepted moral systems and ethical standards. It is religion that gives them a uniform standard, consistency in application, and permanence. Left individually, people would be free to formulate their own codes of ethics, which may undergo change from time to time as societies evolve. What is good today may be considered evil tomorrow. Furthermore, in Islam, every individual has the responsibility to promote a healthy society, and as a whole, the community has the obligation to take care of its poor and needy. Thus Islam places responsibility on the individual, as well as the Ummah(Muslim Nation) collectively, to create a model society for the rest of the world to emulate. This is indicated by the following verse of the Quran: :

"You are the best qualified community that has been raised by mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid wrong doing and ye believe in Allah. (Quran 3:110)"

Second, in the global age we live in, morality, or the lack of it, is no longer a personal affair. Injustice, cruelty, brutality, breach of trust etc., have become parts of national policies, where practices such as "ethnic cleansing" are performed periodically. In some countries, justice and rights are awarded only to one particular ethnic group. It therefore becomes the responsibility of religion to provide a universally accepted morality, and it is up to religion to educate the conscience of the masses, in this respect. Islamic morality emphasizes justice for all. It enjoins upon its followers a respect for differences, be they religious, racial or political.

Thus the Quran’s collective morality enunciates ethical principles for the entire Muslim community, as illustrated by the following verse:

"Allah says; O ye who believe, stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses for fair dealings, and let not the hatred of others to you incite you to swerve to wrong and depart from justice."(Quran 5:8)

It is important to mention that the ethical and moral conduct enjoined by Islam is attainable and practical. Islam considers the weaknesses of human nature. It therefore does not advocate a life of denial, such as that proposed by the Buddhist faith. Buddhism is basically a religion for monks and priests, who alone can live by its strict codes. Islamic morality also provides a contrast with Christian ethical ideals, because whereas Christianity emphasizes personal morality, Islam considers the general good of society as well, by introducing the concept of "istehsan" or common good. For example, the Christian ideal of "turning the other cheek," may be a very noble thing for an individual, but collectively speaking it may give license to the evil elements of society. Here the smaller good is sacrificed for the sake of the larger good of society. What Islam proposes therefore is balance, making it the only philosophy that can have universal appeal. Since the Quran recognizes human frailties, it acknowledges the fact that human beings have the capacity to do evil as well as good. Therefore the Quranic approach avoids extremes. It is practicable and accepts that worldly pleasures within limits are justified.

It is also important to mention that since Allah is the ultimate Sovereign of the universe, His law embodied in the Quran has the only valid authority. Muslims are accountable to Allah alone, and since ethics in Islam has a Divine source, it is considered inviolable. By being answerable to Allah, man has to strive to the highest level. Submission to the will of Allah means submission in every aspect of life. Furthermore, because sovereignty belongs to Allah alone, all men in the sight of God are equal. This philosophy is a potent safeguard against undesirable human traits such as cruelty and arrogance, and is instrumental in breaking all unethical barriers that separate human beings from each other. Thus rewards and punishments are conferred by Allah on the rich and poor, educated and uneducated, black or white, alike.

The Quranic terminology for what is considered right and wrong, further sheds light on its ethical philosophy. The terms used for right and wrong are "Maruf" and "Munkar, respectively. "Maruf" means something which is recognized by generality to be good. "Munkar" on the other hand means something which is not accepted by society. It is clear from this, that Quranic ethics is based on principles that are universally acknowledged as right. As Islam gives righteousness of conduct great importance, it details Muslim virtues in the Quran at great length. The following verses of the Quran demonstrate the significance and importance of righteous conduct in Islam, while urging Muslims to compete with one another in good actions:

"And each one hath a goal toward which he turneth; so vie with one another in good works. Wheresoever ye may be, Allah will bring you all together. Lo! Allah is able to do all things." (Quran; 2 :148)

In Surah Al e Imran, the same idea is reiterated forcefully, as righteous people are described by Allah..

" They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. They are of the righteous." (Quran,3;114)

Allah defines such people as being triumphant, who adopt the following virtues:

"(Triumphant) are those who turn repentant (to Allah), those who serve (Him) those who praise (Him), those who fast, those who bow down, those who fall prostrate(in worship), those who enjoin the right and who forbid the wrong and those who keep the limits(ordained) of Allah -and give glad tidings to believers."(Quran;9;112).

The value of good deeds is yet again stressed as follows:

"Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo!good deeds annul ill deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful"(Quran:11 :114)

The Quran places much more importance on good deeds than it does on material success or worldly power. The following verses illustrate this point:

"Whoso desireth power(should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good works ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt; but those who plot iniquities, theirs will be an awful doom; and the plotting of such folk will come to naught." (Quran 35:10)

"Wealth and Children are an ornament of the life of the world. But the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord’s sight for reward, and better in respect of hope. (Quran 18, 46 ).

Having thus emphasized the importance of good works, the Quran further details the characteristics that constitute righteous conduct, in the following words:

"Lo men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe, and women who believe, and men who obey, and women who obey, and men who speak the truth, and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere, (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble, and women who are humble, and men who give alms, and women who give alms, and men who fast, and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty, and women who guard their modesty, and men who remember Allah much, and women who remember--Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward."(Quran 33:35)

The above mentioned moral qualities listed in the Quran in the form of injunctions, were clearly demonstrated by the Holy Prophet PBUH in his conduct and character as a great exemplar and role model for the rest of the community. From his early life he had a great reputation for unblemished honesty and integrity in his dealings with the tribal communities around him, and he was generally known by his titles: Sadiq (the Truthful) and Ameen (the Trustworthy). These were the very qualities that attracted Khadija, his first wife, who employed him to manage her business and commercial affairs. At Medina where he immigrated later, he built a model society imbued with these cherished ethical ideals, so that posterity could emulate them and form a model community. Even after fourteen hundred years, Muslim communities around the world consider that early Medinan society to be ethically the most luminous in the history of Islam. It is known as the Khayr al Qurun, (the best of age) as it established lasting social and political institutions for the harmonious function of society. Some of the characteristics of that society are as follows.

According to the Quran, forgiveness is a quality with a Divine radiance, and the Prophet PBUH was known to have an abundance of it. In Mecca his enemies often harassed and persecuted him, but he was never enraged and seldom retaliated. Verbal abuses were heaped upon him and he and his companions were publicly insulted and humiliated, but he forgave his enemies and instead, prayed for their forgiveness and moral rectitude. Even when he suffered physical injuries at their hand, he considered patience and forgiveness as the last defense mechanism against them.

The moral and material welfare of the poor and the indigent was uppermost in his mind. The same charity and enduring generosity towards the poor was reflected in the character of his great companions like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. Zainab, the wife of the Prophet pbuh, was known for her charitable acts and concern for the poor. She was known in Medina as "the mother of the poor." Zakat(Poor Due), the only tax mentioned in the Quran, was institutionalized in that society. It was collected regularly and distributed carefully among such people, who had been mentioned in the Quran as appropriate recipients of charity. This arrangement eradicated most of the exploitative practices such as usury, which were prevalent in pre-Islamic times.

Restraint was another characteristic of the Prophet pbuh. He was offered wealth and authority many times by the Qureish on condition that he abandon the message of Allah. They even offered him the position of ruler, but the Prophet PBUH was free of all such worldly desires.

Perhaps a real test of virtue and character comes with a display of conduct towards one’s enemies. The Prophet pbuh established many good examples for us to follow, particularly after the victory of Badr. First, he prohibited the desecration of dead bodies,

which at that time was the prevalent custom in Arabia. Furthermore, Muslims were ordered to take excellent care of all the prisoners of war for whom they had been made responsible. There were reported incidents when Muslims went without food, just so that the prisoners could eat well. Later on the prisoners were set free, even if they were not

rich enough to pay the ransom money. Some literate prisoners were freed on the condition that they would make ten other muslims literate.

Although slavery was not abolished outright by Islam due to socioeconomic reasons, its practice was curtailed and regulated to the extent that the rights of slaves were guaranteed and specified. They were to be treated with the utmost kindness and fairness. They were to be freed without obstacles whenever the situation warranted.

Equitable conduct and fairness in dealings were constantly being stressed by the Prophet pbuh. On one occasion a Sahabi (Companion) was sitting with the Prophet pbuh, and his son walked in. The man kissed him and seated him on his lap. Later on his daughter walked in as well, but the man did not show her any affection. The Prophet pbuh at once noticed the discrimination and said to him "Should you not have treated

them both the same"

The Prophet of Islam set the best example of an equitable attitude towards daughters through his own conduct. He had great affection for his own daughters and once said about Fatima:

"My daughter is my flesh and blood. Anything which worries her will be a source of anxiety for me and any word which causes her pain will surely cause me agony"(Tirmizi, Abwab-ul Munaqab)

Because the Prophet of Islam was very conscious of maintaining equality between the genders, mosque schools were established for both girls and boys in Medina, and women were not barred from pursuing their interests as long as they fell within the confines of Islam.

Simplicity of lifestyle was a trait often promoted and urged by the Prophet pbuh. We find the greatest example of it when we recall the episode of the conquest of Syria. The vanquished citizens had laid down a condition that they would relinquish the keys of the city only to the Caliph of Islam in person. In order to accomplish this mission,Hazrat Umar, who was then caliph, therefore set out for Syria accompanied by one attendant. Both men took turns riding the camel throughout the entire journey. When they arrived near Bait al Maqdis, it was the servant’s turn to ride, while the caliph held its reins. The crowd that had gathered to receive Hazrat Umar, was shocked to see that the Caliph walked beside the camel whereas the servant rode it. They had never seen such humility in a leader before.

Upon arrival he also assured the citizens of full protection under law, whether they were believers or otherwise. Many people accepted Islam in Syria readily, after having witnessed such loftiness and strength of character.

In the time of those early Muslim societies, Islamic ideals began to flourish, as Muslims now had political power and the independence to practice these values freely. In teaching good ethical conduct, older family members played an important role. Children

were taught modesty, respect for others, good manners, truthfulness and kindness. We must try to replicate that original Islamic society and its ideals, because the Prophet (PBUH) was himself its leader.


Virtues Dealing with interpersonal relationships

Islamic virtues may be divided into two broad categories: those that deal with man’s relationship to man, and those that develop strength of character, and require "Taqwa". (self-discipline). This chapter deals with virtues pertaining to interpersonal dealings. It is

evident that these are manifold, and that Islam places great emphasis on virtuous conduct towards fellow human beings. Thus "Haqooq-ul Ibad"(The rights of Allah’s servants) is of utmost significance in Islam, and bears testimony to the fact that Islam is also a religion of this world. The Quran abounds with verses enjoining decency of conduct towards fellow Muslims, and tolerance towards members of other faiths, as is detailed below.


It is a commonly held view that, poverty next to sickness, is the biggest threat to humankind. Extreme poverty has existed every where in the world during various stages of history, and still continues to exist in many parts of the world. The ghastly plight of the poor under the Hindu discriminatory social system, was one of the reasons, Buddha left

his place of birth to search for truth, which among other things would prescribe some remedy against poverty. Similarly Christian ethics has listed the spirit of charity as a great social virtue and moral principle. Islam as the last of the Divine messages of Allah, has

also taken a very comprehensive view of poverty, and the Quran and Sunnah have recommended numerous measures to alleviate its pain and anguish in a society. There is a consensus among the commentators of the Quran, that Zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, is a very effective moral and financial defense against the destruction caused by poverty.

Thus, of all Islamic virtues emphasized in the Quran, charity is perhaps the one mentioned most frequently. The Holy Book repeatedly enjoins upon Muslims to give generously to the poor, so that inequality of wealth is somewhat eliminated. The Quran states that for Muslims, Prayer and Zakat are of comparable significance. That is why the

two are often mentioned side by side. There are innumerable verses in the Quran which urge Muslims to be mindful of the poor, helpless and needy. These verses leave no doubt about the importance of Zakat and Sadaqa for the legal, moral and economic betterment of the Muslim Ummah. The following are some verses of the Quran that deal with this issue.

" Establish worship, pay the poor due, and bow your heads with those who bow"(Quran2:43).

" And remember when we made a covenant with the children of Israel,(saying);Worship none save Allah(only), and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor due. Then, after that ye slid back save a few of you, being averse."(Quran 2:83).

" Your friend can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor due, and bow down (in prayer)"(Quran 5 :55).

" And strive for Allah with the endeavor which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham(is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship,

pay the poor due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper!(Quran 22:78).

In the following verses, those who spend freely in Allah’a cause, are being praised by Allah.

"The steadfast, and the truthful, and the obedient, those who spend and (hoard not), those who pray for pardon in the watches of the night". (Quran 3:17).

The following people are yet again mentioned by Allah, as being righteous:

"Such as persevere in seeking their Lord’s countenance and are regular in prayer and spend of that which We bestow upon them secretly and openly, and overcome evil with good. Theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home.(Quran 13:22).

"Establish worship and pay the poor due and whatever of good ye send before for your souls, ye will find it with Allah. Lo! Allah is seer of what ye do."(Quran 2:110).

" It is not righteousness that ye turn faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets, and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincerer. Such are the Godfearing"(Quran 2;177).

Charity is made an obligation for those who cannot fast the prescribed 30 days of the month of Ramadan.

"(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey,(the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need. But whoso doth good of his own accord, it is better for him and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know"(Quran 2 :184).

The Quran specifies the categories of people who are to be considered appropriate recipients of generosity. The following are some verses that explain this point further:

" They ask thee (O Mohammad) what they shall spend. Say: That which ye spend for good(must go)to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is aware of it.(Quran 2 :215).

"(Alms are) for the poor who are straightened for the cause of Allah, who cannot travel in the land(for trade). The unthinking man accounteth them wealthy because of their restraint. Thou shall know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatsoever good thing ye spend, lo! Allah knoweth it.(Quran2 ;273).

"The Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and(for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is Knower,

Wise.(Quran 9:60).

" And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphans and the prisoner, for love of Him"(Quran 76;8).

Talking about good Muslims, the Quran states;

"And in their wealth the beggar and the outcast had due share"(Quran 51; 19).

"And in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged, for the beggar and the destitute"(Quran 70 ;24,25)

In the verse below, the Quran clearly specifies the amount that is to be spent in charity and almsgiving.

" And they ask thee what they ought to spend. Say: that which is superfluous. Thus Allah maketh plain to you (His) revelations, that haply ye may reflect."(Quran 2:219)

Allah provides incentives to people by promising them great rewards, so as to encourage them to practice charity.

"Who is it that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan, so that He may give it increase manifold? Allah straiteneth and enlargeth, Unto him ye will return."(Quran 2 :245)

"Whoso bringeth a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof, while whoso bringeth an ill deed will be awarded but the like thereof; and they will not be wronged"(Quran 6:160)

There are certain parameters and ethical boundaries set by the Quran that a person must not cross while practicing charity. The act of charity must be accompanied by humility and must not be executed as a favor to the one receiving it. The following verses elucidate this point.

"Those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent; their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

"A kind word is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement."

"O ye who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by reproach and injury, like him who spendeth his wealth only to be seen by men and believeth not in Allah and the Last Day. Hs likeness is as the likeness of a rock wheron is dust of earth; a rainstorm smiteth it, leaving it smooth and bare. They have no control of aught of that which they have gained. Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk." (Quran 2:262, 263, 264.)

In the following two verses, the Quran brings to light the importance of spending only that which is good, towards a charitable cause. Most individuals give away in charity only items which they deem not fit for their own use. Allah warns against this attitude.

"O ye who believe. Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which we bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad(with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when you would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute Owner of Praise." (Quran 2:267).

"Ýe will not attain unto piety until ye spend of that which ye love. And whatsoever ye spend, Allah is aware thereof."(Quran.3: 92)

The Quran also recommends that charity be given privately, not only to prevent engendering arrogance on the part of the person giving alms, but also to preserve the interest of the receiver, as it might cause the latter embarrassment.

"If ye publish your almsgiving, it is well, but if ye hide it and give it to the poor, it will be better for you, and will atone for some of your ill-deeds. Allah is informed of what ye do."(Quran 2:271)

" Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, by stealth and openly, verily their reward is with their Lord and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve."(Quran 2:274)

" Think not that those who exult in what they have given, and love to be praised for what they have not done--think not they are in safety from the doom. A painful doom is theirs."(Quran 3:188).

Allah also urges creditors to forego their debts as almsgiving, if the borrowers are experiencing hardship. This is indicated by the following verses:

" And if the debtor is in straightened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease;. and that which ye remit the debt as almsgiving would be better for you if ye did but know."(Quran 2: 280).

Charity is a virtue that the Quran urges Muslims to display in times of abundance as well as in times of adversity. The following verse illustrates this further:

"Those who spend(of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good"(Quran 3:134).

"And let not those who hoard up that which Allah hath bestowed upon them of His bounty think that it is better for them. Nay, it is worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the Day of Resurrection. Allah’s is the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Informed of what ye do."(Quran 3 :180).

Muslims must also urge one another to be charitable, and the poor-due is to be instituted by the State.

"There is no good in much of their secret conferences save(in) him who enjoineth almsgiving and kindness and peacemaking among the people. Whoso doth that, seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall bestow on him a vast reward"(Quran 4:114).

"Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship and pay the poor-due and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity. And Allah’s is the sequel of events."

(Quran 22:41).

Last but not least, Muslims are urged not to let anything distract them from the remembrance of Allah, the performance of Salat and the paying of Alms.

"Men whom neither merchandise nor sale beguileth from the remembrance of Allah and constancy in prayer and paying to the poor their due; who fear a day when hearts and eyeballs will be overturned" (Quran 24:37)



The quality of Forgiveness, in any culture and society, is considered a sign of generosity. It facilitates the peaceful flow of human interaction and reduces resentment and revolt in interpersonal relationships. This is a particularly admired trait among people

who hold positions of authority. Such individuals, who are also by nature forgiving, get more compliance from their juniors and subordinates and therefore prove to be more effective in their roles. The Quran has stressed this quality many times as a necessary

ingredient in the smooth functioning of society.

However, Islam permits retaliation commensurate with the extent of wrong done to an individual, even though it states that forgiveness in any case is a more appropriate choice. A forgiving attitude strengthens social ties. This is a quality that was demonstrated time and again by the Prophet PBUH, as he forgave the crudest of insults and abuse. He lived up to the following Quranic injunctions fully.

"Praised are they who restrain their anger and pardon the faults of others; and God loves those who do good to others"(Quran 3:134).

"If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient."(Quran 15:126).

Further stressing this quality, the Quran states;

"Those who spend(of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good."(Quran 3 :134).

"It is not for a believer to a kill a believer unless(it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake, must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile to you, and he is a believer, then the penance is to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from Allah. Allah is knower Wise."(Quran 4 :92).

According to the above quotation from the Holy Quran, it can be inferred that even blood money can be waived as charity. The emphasis is on forgiveness rather than compensation for a wrongdoing. In the following verses, Allah urges Muslims to forgive, as Allah forgives them their sins.

" If ye do Good openly or keep it secret, or forgive evil, lo Allah is Forgiving, Powerful."(Quran.4:149). Again talking about the Jews and their treachery towards Muslims, the Quran states.

"And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou will not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly."(Quran 5:13).

Here again the emphasis is on forgiving even the crudest of offenses. The Quran narrates the story of Adam’s two sons and how the one did not retaliate the other’s evil actions .

"But recite unto them the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (the one) said: I will surely kill thee. (the other) answered: Allah accepteth only from those who ward off( evil) (Quran 5: 27).

"Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, lo I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds"(Quran 5:28).

Again Allah urges Prophet Mohammad PBUH to adopt forgiveness rather than retaliation as the preferred line of action.

"Keep to forgiveness(O Mohammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant"(Quran 7:199).

In Surah Noor, Allah again urges Muslims to forgive others, as He would forgive their sins.

"And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear not to give to near of kin and to the needy, and to fugitives for the cause of Allah. Let them forgive and show indulgence. Yearn ye not that Allah may forgive you? Allah is forgiving. Merciful."(Quran 24:22).

Allah not only urges Muslims to forgive, but also recommends that they go a step further, by doing good to people who have wronged them. This is the rationale offered by the Quran in this matter:

"The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity,(will become) as though he was a bosom friend." (Quran 41:34).

As Allah is Himself forgiving, He urges mankind to do the same in the following verses.

"And those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wrath, forgive"

"The guerdon of an ill deed is an ill the like thereof. But whosoever pardoneth and amendeth, his wage is the affair of Allah. Lo! He loveth not wrongdoers."

"And verily whoso is patient and forgiveth Lo!that, verily, is (of) the steadfast heart of things." (Quran 42: 37,40,43).

Finally Allah will forgive the sins of Muslims if they themselves resort to forgiveness.

"O ye who believe! Lo! Among your wives and your children there are enemies for you, therefore beware of them. And if ye efface and overlook and forgive, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful"(Quran 64:14).

From the above discussion, certain ethical principles regarding the virtue of forgiveness can be deduced. First,Islam avoids extremes like "tooth for tooth" or "turning the other cheek". Islam on the other hand provides a more balanced and practical approach. The objective is to provide the maximum good for the largest group of people. Forgiveness used indiscriminately can foster the evil elements of society, as it gives them undue license. On the other hand, excessive discipline can also prove to be ruinous for the morale of a community. Therefore the Quran says:

"The recompense of an evil deed is punishment proportionate to it, but whoever forgives and amends he shall have his reward from Allah."(Quran 42:40)

In a well known Hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"There may well be persons who through forbearance and forgiveness get the same degree(of merit) as those who keep the fast and perform the prayer".

Hazrat Ali, the cousin, son-in-law and fourth Caliph of Islam also once said,:

"Do not feel ashamed to forgive and forget. Do not hurry over punishments and do not be pleased and proud of your power to punish. Do not get angry and lose your temper quickly over the mistakes and failures of those over whom you rule. On the contrary, be patient and sympathetic with them. Anger and desire for vengeance are not

going to be of much help to you in your administration."


In every moral code currently in vogue, there is special emphasis on kindness as a powerful instrument that makes interaction among humans gainful, and gives richness and ethical beauty to social dealings. It facilitates human understanding and reduces the chances of friction and conflict, which abound in practically every walk of human life.

Islam enjoins kindness towards all individuals, but towards certain categories, such as parents and orphans, this quality is particularly stressed by the Quran. This was the advice given to the "Children of Israel" as indicated by the following verse:

"And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel,(saying):Worship none save Allah(only), and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor due. Then after that, ye slid back save a few of you, being averse."(Quran 2:83).

Kindness must always be shown when dealing with parents and near of kin.

"It is prescribed for you, when one of you approacheth death, if he leave wealth, that he bequeath unto parents and near relatives in kindness. (This is ) a duty for all those who

ward off (evil)"(Quran 2:180).

The Quran enjoins kindness towards all the following categories of people:

"And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbor who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbor who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveler and the wayfarer and (the slave) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful."(Quran 4:36).

Kindness must never be forgotten towards parents even when they attain old age and have become a liability on a person.

"Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and(that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain to old age with thee, say not "Fie" unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word."(Quran 17:23)

"And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little."(Quran 17:24).

The same idea is reinforced in the next two verses:

"And we have enjoined upon man concerning his parents. His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks unto me and unto thy parents, Unto Me is the journeying."

But if they strive with thee to make thee ascribe unto Me as partner that of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who repenteth unto Me. Then unto Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what ye used to do." (Quran 31:14,15).

From the above verses, it is clear that kindness towards parents is still imperative, even if they happen to be misguided in matters of religion.

The importance of kind actions is further stressed in the Quran, which refers to Prophet Luqman’s advice to his son, in the next verse.

"O My dear son! Establish worship and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity, and persevere whatever may befall thee. Lo! that is of the steadfast heart of things."(Quran 31:17).

Acts of charity must also be accompanied by words of kindness.

"Those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent; their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve."(Quran 2:262).

"And when kinsfolk and orphans and the needy are present at the division(of the heritage), bestow on them therefrom and speak kindly unto them."( Quran 4:8).

The Quran enjoins on Muslims to speak kindly to the downtrodden or the intellectually impaired.

" Give not unto the foolish(what is in) your (keeping of their) wealth, which Allah hath given you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it, and speak kindly unto them."Quran 4:5).

In the marital relationship, the man has been given the responsibility to protect and to provide for his wife, and to some degree, be responsible for her actions. The man therefore has been put in a position of authority over the woman. Nevertheless, he is to discharge his position of authority with kindness, taking care never to abuse it. The following two verses explain this point.

"O ye who believe! It is not lawful for you to forcibly inherit the women(of your deceased kinsmen), nor(that) ye should put constraint upon them that ye may take away a part of that which ye have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye hate a thing

wherein Allah hath placed much good" (Quran 4:19).

"If a woman feareth ill-treatment from her husband, or desertion, it is no sin for them twain if they make terms of peace between themselves. Peace is better. But greed hath been made present in the minds (of men). If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do"(Quran 4:128).

Allah forbids wrongful oppression of any sort. In the following verse, it is said:

" Say; My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no warrant hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not."(Quran 7: 33).

Allah in the Quran urges the Prophet of Islam to stress kindness among believers in their daily actions.

"Keep to forgiveness(Mohammed), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant."(Quran 7:199)

And again:

"Tell My bondsmen to speak that which is kindlier. Lo! the devil soweth discord among them. Lo! the devil is for man an open foe."(Quran 17: 53).

"And lower thy wing (in kindness) unto those believers who follow thee."(Quran 26: 215).

In Surah Yousaf, after the narration of the story of Prophet Yousaf’s suffering, patience, endurance and forgiveness, the Quran states the following:

"They said: It is indeed thou who art Joseph? He said: I am Joseph and this is my brother. Allah hath shown us favor. Lo! he who wardeth off(evil) and endureth(findeth favor) for verily Allah loseth not the wages of the kindly."(Quran 12: 90).

All those in a position of authority are not only to embody kindness in their own conduct, but they must also enjoin it among their subjects. Authority must never be abused in positions of government and administration. If the government officials are not sympathetic to the needs of the masses, politics will remain unstable giving rise to despotism or anarchy.

"Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship and pay the poor-due and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity. And Allah’s is the sequel of events"(Quran; 22; 41).

Again in another verse, Allah enjoins kindness towards near of kin and towards friends.

"The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are(as) their mothers. And the owners of kinship are closer one to another in the ordinance of Allah than(other) believers and the fugitives(who fled from Mecca), except that ye should do kindness to your friends. This is written in the Book(of nature)"(Quran 33: 6).

Allah warns against severe punishment in the hereafter, to those who commit acts of brutality.

"The way(of blame) is only against those who oppress mankind, and wrongfully rebel in the earth. For such there is a painful doom."(Quran 42 :42).

With regard to kindness and consideration, Allah commands mankind to refrain from such acts as derision, backbiting and slander.

" O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they(are), nor let women(deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil doers."(Quran 49: 11).

"O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Ye abhor that(so abhor the other) And keep your duty (to Allah) Lo Allah is Relenting. Merciful."(Quran 49:12).

Towards people of other faiths, the following verse suggests tolerance and kindness as the preferred line of action to be adopted by Muslims.

" Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers"(Quran 60 : 8).

The Quran enjoins kindness on Muslims, even during divorce proceedings, when it is often forgotten:

"When ye have divorced women, and they have reached their term, then retain them in kindness or release them in kindness. Retain them not to their hurt so that ye transgress(the limits). He who doth that hath wronged his soul. Make not the revelations of Allah a laughing stock (by your behavior), but remember Allah’s grace upon you and that which He hath revealed unto you of the Scripture and of wisdom, whereby He doth exhort you. Observe your duty to Allah and know that Allah is aware of all things."(Quran 2: 231).

"Then when they have reached their term, take them back in kindness or part from them in kindness, and call to witness two just men among you, and keep your testimony upright for Allah. Whoso believeth in Allah and the Last Day is exhorted to act thus. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him"(Quran 65 : 2).

Although kindness must always be practiced in one’s dealings with people, it is nevertheless subject to certain conditions in Islam, as indicated by the following verse:

"Sympathy and cooperation are enjoined upon you towards deeds of goodness and pity, but you must not cooperate towards sinful or transgressive deeds"(Quran 5:2).

"And plead not on behalf of any people who deceive themselves; God does not love anyone who is treacherous and sinful"(Quran 4:107).

From the above it appears that indiscriminate use of sympathy and kindness is bound to encourage sin and crime in a community. Again Islam strives to maintain a healthy balance in society in each and every facet of human dealing.


In worldly matters, truthfulness, uprightness and honesty in dealings of every kind, are stressed repeatedly in the Quran. Great damage is done to a society when dishonest practices such as cheating or misappropriation are rampant. Dishonesty breeds ill-will, and pollutes the atmosphere of a society. Truthfulness and fair play on the other hand promote harmony. Ideally, human beings must not be motivated by greed and selfishness and therefore must not distort information and deliberately misguide others. Unfortunately, the accumulation of worldly riches for one’s own benefit is a common practice, often leading people to succumb to dishonest temptations. The Quran says:

"know that in your wealth and your children are a temptation and that Allah is He with whom there is a mighty reward."(Quran 7:28)

The Prophet PBUH embodied honesty and integrity in his daily dealings. His titles were Sadiq and Ameen, necessary qualities whether one is testifying in a court, doing business, or even dealing with people socially. These principles of honesty were strictly adhered to by the Prophet’s successors as well. In their official correspondences, they advocated and insisted on honest conduct in administration and other areas of governmental activity. Anybody with a dishonest record was immediately reprimanded. One such example was set when Hazrat Umar admonished Khalid bin Walid for his extravagance and lavishness. He also forbade the acceptance of gifts by officials, which in his opinion were a form of bribery. The following verses of the Quran stress the value of honest conduct and have great relevance in courts of Law, particularly.

" Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth"(Quran 2:42).

" If ye be on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then a pledge in hand(shall suffice). And if one of you entrusteth to another let him who is trusted deliver up that which is entrusted to him (according to the pact between them). And let him observe his duty to Allah. Hide not testimony. He who hideth it, verily his heart is sinful. Allah is aware of what ye do"(Quran 2: 283).

Allah describes truthfulness and honesty as qualities that make a human being successful in His sight, as follows.

"The steadfast and the truthful, and the obedient, those who spend(and hoard not), those who pray for pardon in the watches of the night."(Quran 3: 17).

One must be honest even if one’s own interest is at stake, as is evidenced by the following verse:

"And whoso committeth a delinquency or crime, then throweth(the blame) thereof upon the innocent, hath burdened himself with falsehood and a flagrant crime."(Quran 4:112).

"O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both( than ye are). So follow not passion lest ye

lapse(from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do"(Quran 4:135).

The above mentioned verse also suggests equality for all human beings under the law, in spite of their economic status. The law is to be regarded as the same for rich and poor alike. Similar ideals are to be practiced in business dealings, as the following verses suggest.

"O my people! Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods. And do not evil in the earth, causing corruption."(Quran 11:83).

" And weigh with the true balance"

"Wrong not mankind in their goods, and do not evil, making mischief, in the earth."(Quran 26: 182-183).

Allah deprecates deceit and falsehood in the following verse:

"That (is the command ). And whoso magnifieth the sacred things of Allah, it will be well for him in the sight of his Lord. The cattle are lawful unto you save that which hath been told you. So shun the filth of idols, and shun lying speech."(Quran 22: 30).

Allah praises those who embody the following practices in their conduct.

"Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance"(Quran 103:3).

And finally Allah condemns the actions of dishonest people in the following verses:

"Woe unto the defrauders"

"Those who when they take the measure from mankind demand it full,"

"But if they measure unto them or weigh for them, they cause them loss."(Quran 83:1,2,3).

Thus honesty and truthfulness demand that a person should act unselfishly. In order for honesty to be effective it has to be genuine, and not a mere act of expediency resulting from fear or injury. Honesty and truthfulness must also be a habit of mind, rather than something practiced as a result of a need. The Prophet PBUH once said, "No man can attain a firm faith, unless he develops strength of character, and that cannot be achieved unless one acquires the habit of speaking the truth"


To fulfill one’s pledges, oaths and promises, to be straightforward in one’s dealings, words and actions is what constitutes integrity. A man or a woman is considered a person of integrity if he or she is scrupulously honest in his dealings and decision making. Without these qualities, systems and societies disintegrate very fast. It was due to this inherent importance of integrity, that prophets, philosophers and saints of all ages listed it as one of the greatest characteristics a human being could possess.

The Quran has stressed these virtues repeatedly as the following verses suggest and regarding written or verbal oaths, Allah says;

"Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths. But He will take you to task for that which your hearts have garnered. Allah is Forgiving, Clement."(Quran 2:225).

"Nay, but (the chosen of Allah’s ) is he who fulfilleth his pledge and wardeth off(evil); Lo! Allah loveth those who ward off(evil)"(Quran 3:76).

The importance of keeping one’s promises is so crucial that a broken pledge requires expiation. This is evidenced by the following verse:

"Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest. The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and for him who findeth not ( the

wherewithal to do so) then a three days’ fast. This is the expiation of your oaths. Thus Allah expoundeth unto you His revelations in order that ye may give thanks."(Quran 5:89).

Allah commands Muslims to guard and uphold their trusts in the following verses;

"O ye who believe! Betray not Allah and His messenger, nor knowingly betray your trusts" (Quran 8:27).

Yet again, one must be straightforward in one’s dealings, and not utter half truths;

"O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point;"(Quran 33:70).


The establishment of Justice is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of human civilizations. Technically it means the implementation of laws with impartiality, and punishment of criminals who violate laws, by causing injury and damage to the lives and persons of others. But to be absolutely just, goes beyond the

scope of law. Human behavior is a very complex phenomenon and there are a large number of economic, social and psychological factors that govern human dealings. Even in the strictly judicial process, it becomes extremely difficult to determine with absolute mathematical precision, the guilt and wrongdoing of an individual. It is for this reason that in every legal system, an elaborate manual of evidence and testimony is maintained, and presiding judges are given discretionary power to use common sense, when either laws or evidence are foggy and doubtful. Islam too, has laid down certain principles of equitable conduct for its followers. It enjoins on believers equity and justice in their personal as well as public dealings. This means treating all individuals with respect, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, male or female. The language of the Quran in this regard is nondiscriminatory and it has stressed that superiority is to be considered only on the basis of piety and commitment to Allah. In this regard, it has strongly denounced the burying alive of daughters, which was a practice prevalent in Arabia before the advent of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) in fact always urged his followers to treat their daughters with the same degree of love and responsibility as they treated their sons. The following Hadith is an example of that noble ideal:

"Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive and does not maltreat her and does not favor his sons over her, God will enter him into paradise"

Justice and equitable conduct are enjoined especially on those believers who are in a position of authority. A social and political climate in which a sense of justice prevails is conducive to human growth and development. The Holy Prophet PBUH laid great emphasis on the quality of equitable conduct. In one of the traditions it is said

"Verily the dearest of men near Allah on the Resurrection Day and the nearest of them before Him for company will be a just ruler"

Justice involves defense of the rights of individuals with courage and conviction. Weak officers have very little chance of performing their duties justly. The following verses shed light on this point.

" O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or(your) parents or (your kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (than ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do."(Quran 4:135).

"O ye who believe ! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of a people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo Allah is informed of what ye do.(Quran 5:8).

" Listeners for the sake of falsehood! Greedy for illicit gain! If then they have recourse unto thee (Muhammad), judge between them or disclaim jurisdiction. If thou disclaimest jurisdiction, then they cannot harm thee at all. But if thou judgest, judge between them with equity. Lo! Allah loveth the equitable.(Quran 5:42).

" And approach not the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better, till he reacheth maturity. Give full measure and full weight, in justice. We task not a soul beyond its scope. And if ye give your word, do justice thereunto, even though it be (against) a kinsman; and fulfill the covenant of Allah. This he commandeth you that haply

ye may remember.(Quran 6:152).

" O my people! Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods. And do not evil in the earth, causing corruption.(Quran 11:85).

Parents can teach equity and justice at home by treating all their children alike. It is the duty of the children in return that they treat both parents with respect. Philosophically, the concept of justice in Islam also means a sense of balance in conducting affairs of the state and the community. The Quran says:

"He raised up the heavens and He set the Balance"(Quran 42:16).

Thus imbalance of any kind would be against the spirit of justice in Islam. Justice creates a sense of proportion, encourages ethical conduct, and is a safeguard against impious acts, in general.

Good Manners:

Politeness and good manners are characteristics universally acknowledged as signs of civility. These qualities in a community ensure peace and harmony and save people from many ugly situations. Politeness is also a safeguard against arrogance,

particularly for those in positions of authority. Thus the Quran applauds mannerly conduct as follows.

"They are most honored by God who are the best in conduct. Those who are most dutiful to God and are fraternally polite with one another,"(Quran 49:13).

The following are references to civil conduct contained in the Quran.

The Quran urges polite conversation:

" Allah loveth not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who hath been wronged. Allah is ever Hearer, Knower."(Quran 4:148).

"Tell my bondsmen to speak that which is kindlier. Lo! the devil soweth discord among them. Lo! the devil is for man an open foe."(Quran 17:53).

"Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice. Lo! the harshest of all voices is the voice of the ass"(Quran 31:19).

Respect for the privacy of others is enjoined in the following verse of the Quran.

"O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you three times ( before they come into your presence). Before the prayer of dawn, and when ye lay aside your raiment for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. Three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for them or for you at other times, when some of you go around attendant upon others (if they come into your presence without leave). Thus Allah maketh clear the revelations for you. Allah is Knower, Wise.

" And when the children among you come to puberty then let them ask leave even as those before them used to ask it. Thus Allah maketh clear His revelations for you. Allah is Knower Wise."

"No blame is there upon the blind nor any blame upon the lame nor any blame upon the sick nor on yourselves if ye eat from your houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your father’s brothers, or the houses of your father’s sisters, or the houses of your mother’s brothers ,or the houses of your mother’s sisters, or (from that) whereof ye hold the keys, or(from the house) of a friend. No sin shall it be for you whether ye eat together or apart. But when ye enter houses, salute one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and sweet. Thus Allah maketh clear his revelations for you, that haply ye may understand."(Quran 24: 58, 59, 61).

The Prophet PBUH exemplified good manners in his daily conduct and we must rely on his Sunnah for complete and comprehensive guidelines regarding good manners. His Sunnah indicates that Muslims are to greet each other with kindness and warmth as part of civilized behavior. Thus for Muslim salutations, there exists an elaborate system, based on the Sunnah of the Prophet and the verses of the Quran. Regarding greeting eachother the Quran says:

"When ye are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with one better than it or return it. Lo! Allah taketh count of all things."(Quran 4 :86).

This is the traditional way of greeting:

Assalam o Alaikum"(Peace be upon you) to which the reply is "Wa Alaikum Assalam" (And upon you Peace)

The following rules must also be applied when greeting each other.

1) The person entering a room must greet those inside.

2) The younger should greet the elders.

3) The rider should greet the walker.

4) The walker should greet the one standing

5) The one standing must greet the one sitting.


In the dynamics of human systems and organizations, it is observed that their efficiency and effectiveness is often marred by intolerance. It is regarded as one of the major pollutants of human relations. Therefore one is not surprised that all ideologies on human ethics emphasize the cultivation of tolerance as a major sign of civility and human progress. Moreover, tolerance generates goodwill, understanding and harmony among people. It is only through harmony and understanding, that peace and order can be guaranteed and made self perpetuating. Tolerance is also considered to be an essential element for political stability. It is often the lack of it that causes the rise of dictators and despotic rulers. Intolerance produces resentment and revolt, which often results in the use of force and tyranny on the part of those who are in power. Tolerance is also considered to be the hallmark of 20th century liberal democracies, and is regarded as the quality that distinguishes a dictatorship from a democracy. It is also a force, which is needed in every area of human activity, for the smooth working of every human institution, starting with the family, and going to the height of the UN, wherever human beings are working, planning and executing policies. It is with these thoughts that we turn to the Quran for guidance.

While discussing the rise and fall of the Muslim Civilizations, historians have listed sectarianism in Islam as one of the most destructive factors that led to their downfall. Even a cursory glance on sectarianism in Islam can give a clear idea that it is basically a product of intolerance. We preach tolerance to the rest of the world, but we refuse to practice it among ourselves. There are dozens of sects in Islam and if each one of them remains geared to intolerance, the impact of sectarianism will never disappear. If we look into the substance of sectarianism we will easily find that it will not cost anything to any sect, to develop an attitude of tolerance towards other sects. No matter which sect one belongs to, they are still fundamentally Muslims, as they all worship one God and believe in one book which they consider to be the revealed word of God, and follow the same Prophet whom they consider to be the best role model for every Muslim.

Tolerance is not merely enjoined in the Quran to be practiced among Muslims alone. They have also been told to be very tolerant towards the non Muslims as well. There are express injunctions in the Quran to support the above viewpoint, which was exemplified in the conduct of the Holy Prophet PBUH. During the early period of the Islamic society in Medina, the Prophet gave to the Jews many rights and the freedom to practice their religion. It was the increasing hostility of the Jews which later led to their expulsion from Mecca.

The Quran details the mode of conduct that a Muslim must adopt in their relationships with people of other faiths. Although the preferred religion for mankind is Islam, Muslims are not allowed to inflict their beliefs on others or start any kind of aggression or even be derisive of beliefs and opinions different from those of Islam.

The Quran expresses the following opinions about the people of the book.

" They are not all alike. Of the people of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate( before Him) ."

"They believe in Allah and the last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. They are of the righteous."(Quran 3:113,114.).

It is not for the Muslims to cast judgment on beliefs other than one’s own, and the following verses amply illustrate this point.

"O ye who believe!. When ye go fourth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace; "Thou art not a believer" seeking the chance profits of this life(so that ye may despoil him).With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus(as he now is ) were you before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever informed of what you do."(Quran 4:94).

" Lo ! those who believe(this revelation), and those who are Jews, and the Sabeans and the Christians and The Magians and the idolaters Lo! Allah will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo! Allah is witness over all things."(Quran 22:17).

Even if Muslims encounter deceit or treachery from the people of the book, they must overlook it and act in a kind manner. This attitude is endorsed in the following verse of the Quran.

"And because of their breaking of the covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly."(Quran 5:13)

Regarding peoples of other faiths and their places of worship the Quran expressly states the following:

"Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah, lest ye wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance. Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do."(Quran 6:108).

Muslims are commanded to abide by any pacts that they make with the idolaters.

"Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty(unto Him)."(Quran 9: 4).

Allah permits Muslims to interact with members of other faiths, provided they do not blatantly or consciously harm the cause of Islam. The following verse affirms this view.

" Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers."(Quran 60: 8).

Islam advocates peaceful conduct in every walk of life, unless there is a threat to the cause of Islam. Societies are considered civilized if they are able to resolve their differences through peaceful and lawful means. The Quran expresses this view very

forcefully in the following verse.

"Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. (Quran 2;190).

"And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. (Quran 2; 193)

The Prophet exemplified this mode of conduct, in the many treatise he drew up with the Kuffar( Non believers.) The wars that were fought during his lifetime were defensive wars, mainly to protect the lives and liberty of the Muslims. The Quran says:

"Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till(to be) the Jews, and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe(to be)those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud."(Quran 5:82).

Muslims must argue and preach their religion to non believers, in a civilized way only.

"Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is best aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go upright."(Quran 16:125).

Thus the entire emphasis in the Quran is on tolerance and goodwill between Muslims and non Muslims, and amongst Muslims themselves.

Virtues that Develop Taqwa

The following qualities, although they impinge on human aspects dealing with interpersonal relationships, mostly require personal restraint and inner strength of character. They develop spirituality and piety, and are particularly acceptable in the sight of Allah. All the virtues detailed below, require tremendous strength of character, such as endurance, courage and chastity, to name only a few. Here are some of these exemplary virtues.


No code of ethics would be complete without emphasizing the utmost importance of humility as a spiritual imperative of human conduct. Arrogance is indeed an unpleasant trait, which can put an indelible stigma on the human personality. There are no two opinions about the fact that arrogance makes an individual’s conduct unacceptable. Humility, on the other hand, puts dikes of defense against this ethical erosion. A humble person has an attractive personality and friends and acquaintances tend to gravitate towards him or her. Such indeed was the personality of the Prophet of Islam.

The Prophet of Islam, in spite of being the chosen one to deliver Allah’s final message to humankind, was the most humble man, in every sense of the word. His demeanor, his lifestyle, the clothes he wore, and just about everything else he did, reflected the basic Quranic principles of humility and modesty. It is the duty of every

Muslim to emulate the Prophet PBUH and obey the following verses of the Quran, because Allah specifically mentions humble people as the only one’s truly benefiting from prayer.

"Seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is hard save for the humble minded."(Quran 2:45).

Allah warns boastful people about their conduct,in the following verses:

"Think not that those who exult in what they have given, and love to be praised for what they have not done--Think not they are in safety from the doom. A painful doom is theirs."(Quran 3:188).

"Assuredly Allah knoweth that which they keep hidden and that which they proclaim. Lo! He loveth not the proud"(Quran 16: 23).

"And walk not in the earth exultant. Lo! thou canst not rend the earth nor canst thou stretch to the height of the hills."(Quran 17: 37).

Allah speaks of those believers who bow down in humility.

" They fall down on their faces, weeping, and it increaseth humility in them"(Quran 17: 109).

In Surah Maryam, the Quran lists humility as one of the many traits of Prophet Yahya.

"And dutiful towards his parents. And he was not arrogant, rebellious"(Quran 19: 14).

As indicated by the following verses, Allah loves those who avoid immodest behavior.

"And those who will not witness vanity, but when they pass near senseless play, pass with dignity"(Quran 25:72).

"And when they hear vanity, they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant"(Quran 28: 55)

In Surah Luqman, the father gives his son the following advice:

"Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward folk, nor walk with pertness in the land. Lo! Allah loveth not each braggart boastful"

" Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice. Lo! the harshest of all voices is the voice of the ass" (Quran31: 19).

It is the quality of humility that makes government and bureaucracy accessible to the masses. This in turn leads to an atmosphere of trust and confidence which is essential to the smooth functioning of government. The Prophet PBUH and the pious caliphs, exhibited the trait of humility in their respective administrative roles. Caliph Umar in particular, warned his officers of arrogant behavior that could lead to their isolation.

Therefore the Quran is adamant about humility, stressing that ultimate power belongs only to Allah.


Patience and endurance are ethical qualities which are important, and are needed at all levels of human existence i.e. individual, local, national and international. Most of the books on ethics state, that it is often the lack of patience in human interaction, that causes violence and hostility. Philosophically, it has also been mentioned, that an individual who loses patience is the one who is labeled as a trouble monger. Patience is also a very vital psychological trait, that controls human passions and emotions which often ignite ugly situations and force people to be aggressive and violent.

A patient person is also strong in endurance. In times of crisis, physical incapacity or material hardship, this quality would prove to be particularly beneficial. In other words patience helps human beings to minimize their suffering, which is the lot of many. The ability to endure and be patient in adversity is a great moral equipment, as life is often full of difficulties and suffering. In the Islamic code of ethics, based on the Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet PBUH, there is great emphasis on this vital quality.

Prophets of old were repeatedly subjected to trials, from Allah to test and see who would be steadfast in faith. Cases in point are the trials of Prophet Ayub (Job), who suffered many afflictions, and Prophet Yaqoob(Jacob) when Prophet Yousaf (Joseph) was taken away from him. The Prophets accepted their trials as the will of Allah. The following verses reflect the Quranic viewpoint on endurance and patience:

"We shall prove you, by afflicting you in some measure with fear, and hunger, and decrease of wealth, and loss of lives and fruit. Those who prove patient under such misfortunes are to be given good tidings of God’s reward-- to those who, when a misfortune befalls them"(Quran 2: 156).

Patience and endurance are described by a noted Islamic scholar and philosopher, Ibn Taimiyyah as follows:

"fortitude, restraint on anger, willingness to pardon people, check on evil desire and abstention from indulgence (in luxury) and from frowning"

Again the Quran urges Muslims to be patient, in the following words.

"Seek help in patience and prayer and truly it is hard save for the humbleminded." (Quran 2:45).

In the following verses Allah includes patience and endurance as one of the qualities that constitute righteousness.

"O ye who believe! Endure, outdo all others in endurance, be ready and observe your duty to Allah, in order that ye may succeed."(Quran 3:200)

In Surah Nahl, endurance and patience are recommended as the better action, instead of retaliation or punishment.

"If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient."(Quran 16:126)

In Surah Asr, the Quran defines those Muslims as being successful, who urge one another to truth and endurance.

"Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth , exhort one another to patience" (Quran 103 :3)

It is clear from the above quotations from the Quran, that patience and endurance are multifaceted and must be demonstrated in all walks of life. For those who enjoy positions of authority, a display of this quality is paramount. A tradition of the Prophet says:

"When God wishes the welfare of a community, he blesses it with officers who are patient and largehearted."


Courage is a quality applauded by the Quran on many occasions. It is not to be confused with acts of bravery alone, which would tend to limit its connotations. Courage on the other hand is a bent of mind and attitude, and a way of life, based on principles of rationality. A courageous person has the quality to defend his rights against oppression of any sort. It is also the quality to accept the criticism of others. The Quran therefore says:

"The true brave are those who lose not their hearts but stand firmly and behave patiently under ills and hardships and in battles--those are they who are true(to themselves) and those are they who guard themselves against the displeasure of their Lord.(Quran 2: 177).

In Islam there is no formal hierarchy in governments and organizations. Although distinctions among juniors and seniors are present, all are answerable to Allah alone. This kind of environment enables juniors to freely criticize their bosses for acts of commission

or omission. This kind of healthy criticism indicates a system that is tolerant and in essence, democratic. The courage to criticize one’s seniors, and their open-mindedness to accept criticism, were exemplified in the lives of the four Caliphs. When Hazrat Abu Bakr became the Caliph, he strongly urged his people to criticize him for any lapses. Thus all the pious Caliphs were constantly subjected to open criticism for their policies by the public. The masses felt they were doing their duty in pointing out shortcomings. Hazrat Umar once said "O people let him among you who sees any deviation in me set it right." A man in the crowd stood up and answered "By God if we saw in you deviation we would rectify it with our swords." To that Umar answered, "Praise God who created in this Ummah him who would rectify with his sword my deviation."

A similar incident is quoted about Hazrat Muawiya’s failure to pay allowances to the public. Abu Muslim al Khawlani, an eminent citizen of his time, pointed out to Muawiyah that he had no claims to royal possessions. Muawiya is reported to have readily accepted this criticism by saying "Abu Muslim is right. This is not the result of my toil, nor my father’s. Come forward for your allowances." Thus it was this kind of political environment that fostered courage of conviction among the public, aided by the knowledge that true sovereignty and power rests only with Allah.


Restraint is a quality, which encompasses abstinence from evil and impious acts and moderation in one’s habits. It is the constant duty of every Muslim to embody this line of action in his or her daily conduct. The details of this conduct are elaborated in the following verses of the Quran.

"Nay, but the( chosen of Allah is) he who fulfilleth his pledge and wardeth off(evil) for lo! Allah loveth those who ward off (evil)(Quran 3:76).

"Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah. And if the people of the scripture had believed, it had been better for them. Some of them are believers; but most of them are evil-livers"(Quran 3:110).

As the following verses would indicate, moderation is repeatedly recommended by the Quran.

"O ye who believe, squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you"(Quran 4:29).

The following verses also suggest restraint in social dealings.

"Allah loveth not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who hath been wronged. Allah is ever Hearer, Knower."(Quran 4:148).

"Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no warrant hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not."(Quran 7:33).

Allah enjoins upon Muslims restraint in the following situations.

"Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty, We shall provide for them and for you. Lo! the slaying of them is a great sin".

"And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way."

"And slay not the life which ‘Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped."

"Come not near the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better till he come to strength; and keep the covenant. Lo! of the covenant it will be asked"(Quran 17:31, 32, 33, 34).

"The spread of rumors and slanderous talk is strongly condemned by the Quran. The following verses warn against this attitude and conduct. Lo those who traduce virtuous, believing women(who are) careless, cursed are they in the world and the Hereafter. Theirs will be an awful doom." (Quran 24:19).

In the above verse, the reference is to Hazrat Ayesha, the Prophet’s wife, and the daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam. Hazrat Ayesha having lost her necklace on one of her travels, went back searching for it. She was spotted by a companion of the Prophet PBUH, who then accompanied her back to her travel party. This lead to the spread of vicious rumor and gossip in the community, that Hazrat Ayesha

had been unfaithful to the Prophet PBUH. The above verse, and the one that follows, exonerates her from any wrongdoing.

" And those who malign believing men and believing women undeservedly, they bear the guilt of slander and manifest sin."(Quran 33: 58).

Yet again Allah warns against excess and enjoins the following conduct.

"And those who, when they spend, are neither prodigal nor grudging; and there is ever a firm station between the two"

And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of ) justice, nor commiteth adultery--and whoso doth this shall pay the penalty."(Quran 25:67,68).

Again restraint must be observed in the following situations:

"O ye who believe! If an evil liver bring you tidings verify it, lest ye smite some folk in ignorance and afterward repent of what ye did. O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are) nor let women(deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil doers."

"O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Ye abhor that(So abhor the other)! And keep your duty (to Allah) Lo!Allah is Relenting, Merciful." (Quran 49: 11,12)._


It is a commonly known fact that men tend to practice anger and violence on issues of minor concern. This tendency can have ruinous effects on the peace and stability of the home or of the community. Thus Muslims are commanded to settle their disputes in a peaceful and conciliatory fashion,if and when the injury is not of an extreme nature. The following verses of the Quran, elucidate this point.

"And when they hear frivolous discourse which they fear might lead to some quarrel, they do not listen to it, but pass on with dignity, and do not pick up quarrels on trifling matters."(Quran: 25: 72).

"Repel the evil deed which is vain or frivolous with such a better answer, as to make the person between whom and ourselves there was enmity or discord to become as though he was a bosom friend"(Quran:41:34).

Violence of any sort has been condemned by the Quran, unless it be of a defensive nature.

The Quran states: Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty."(Quran 9:4)


One virtue that characterizes a Muslim is chastity. In current times, where moral license has reached its limit, it is even more imperative that we uphold this virtue in our daily lives. Immorality is at the route of many ills in society. Teenage pregnancies, divorce, rape and adultery all work to disrupt the basic fiber of a stable home life. It is because of these ills that homes become dysfunctional, leading to other ills, such as abuse or domestic violence. The Quran is so strong in its condemnation of immorality and lewdness, that it has suggested the most severe punishments to curb this evil.

"As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to their houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way (through new


"And as for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is Relenting Merciful.(Quran 4:15,16).

To preserve the moral fiber of society, Allah forbids men to marry women who are in close blood relationship to a man. Thus the following categories are prohibited.

"And marry not those women whom your fathers married, except what hath already happened(of that nature) in the past. Lo!it was ever lewdness and abomination, and an evil way."(Quran 4:22).

"Forbidden unto you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your father’s sisters and your mother’s sisters, and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, and your foster mothers, and your foster sisters, and your mothers-in-law, and your step daughters who are under your protection(born) of your women unto whom ye have gone in--but if ye have not gone in unto them, then it is no sin for you(to marry their daughters) and the wives of your sons who(spring) from your own loins. And (it is forbidden unto you) that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened(of that nature) in the past. Lo! Allah is Forgiving Merciful(Quran 4:23)

"And all married women(are forbidden unto you save those(captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery." (Quran 4:24).

To promote the virtue of chastity in a society, the Quran commands its followers to adopt modesty in their demeanor and apparel.

"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what ye do."(Quran 24: 30)

" And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husband’s fathers or their sons, or their husband’s sons or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that yea may succeed."(Quran 24: 31).

From the above quotations,it is evident, that the Quran regulates with specific injunctions, the behavior of men and women, when they come in contact with one another.


Islamic and Biblical Morality: A Comparison

Although Islam is unique in its moral and ethical ideals and therefore beyond comparison,a comparative analysis nevertheless, of different ideological concepts, is always a rewarding exercise, as it clears perspectives and enhances understanding. It is

particularly so if the comparison is focused on a critical issue like morality, which has been of absorbing interest and concern to prophets, saints and sages from times immemorial. For the purpose of this book, it would be more pragmatic if we confine this analysis to the three leading monotheistic faiths i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which have their roots in the revealed scriptures of the Semitic prophets of antiquity-- a chain which according to Islam, started with Adam and came to an end with the Holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH).

If one studies the canonical rules and regulations of the three faiths, it can easily be found that there are very many broad similarities and common ethical parameters, which the believers of the three faiths are expected to put into practice in their daily lives.

All the three religions mentioned above are monotheistic in essence and emphasize the unity of God who is the Creator, Sustainer and Provider. Moreover, he is Omnipotent and Omnipresent. They also believe that the human being is the cream of His creation, but there is an inherent duality in man’s nature, because he has been given the liberty to choose between good and evil. The human being has an immeasurable power to do good, but at the same time he has an unlimited capacity to do evil as well. The purpose of religion is to facilitate his path to discover good and keep him fortified in his struggle to curb his evil propensities. It is also a part of the religious instruction of the three faiths, that to be a good human being, it is not enough to confine one’s spiritual activities to worship alone. It is equally important to deal justly and morally with his fellow human beings and it is only when he does this that his mission on life would be considered fulfilled. Furthermore, all the three monotheistic religions have a belief in the Day of Judgment, when human beings will be rewarded for their good deeds and punished for the evils they perpetrated. Thus all the three faiths have laid down specific codes of ethics, in which human beings have been given a clear picture of right and wrong.

Both Judaism and Christianity exhort men to decent behavior. This is indicated by the following verse of the Old Testament.

"Thou shall not covet they neighbor’s house, thou shall not covet they neighbor’s wife, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s."(Exodus, 20,17).

About Justice and Truth, the Biblical scriptures express the following:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"(Exodus,20,16).

"Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous, that which is altogether in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven."

"So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you."(Matthew 5,6).

Islam also urges its followers not to publicize their good actions only to be praised by men. However, it does not prohibit Muslims to give charity publicly. Here it recognizes the value of setting good examples for others.

God Himself is a role model for the adherents of the three faiths. The scriptures of the three religions make it abundantly clear, that He is a God of mercy, peace and compassion.

The Judaic scripture lays down that since God is good, His people also must be good. There is no salvation, either in the here or the hereafter without a good life, which stands for a moral life. According to the Jewish religious tradition, the impact of morality is such, that even if the heathen or a pagan were to adopt a path of righteousness, he would be equal to the religious high priest in nobility, dignity and decency. The Ten Commandments of Moses, which are the heart of the Jewish ethical code is a document of enduring value in the study of morality. The ten commandments have both negative and positive aspects, and the combination of both will make human life happy and peaceful. Mr. F.G. Herod has explained the philosophy of the Ten commandments in the following words :

"The Ten commandments emphasize the negative side of this law: ‘Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet.’ But even these commandments, if they were kept, would make the world a much happier and safer place in which to live. Elsewhere in the Torah we get the positive side of man’s duty to his neighbor. Every man

has a right to live, to work, to have food and shelter, to hold possessions, and to have leisure and freedom. The employer must pay a fair wage and the employee gives a fair return for it. The treatment of one’s enemies, whether Jew or Gentile must be merciful. ‘if

thine enemy be hungry, give him bread, if he be thirsty give him water. Kindness should extend even to lower animals, which if sick should be cared for with the consideration given to human beings."

At another point in the Torah, the Jewish nation is given the following injunction, which provides a broad guideline for righteous behavior.

"Just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."(Deutronomy,16,19,20).

In the history of religious philosophy, Christianity has a very significant role to play as it has world-wide implications due to the number of its adherents. At the turn of the twenty- first century, it has the largest following, spread over all the continents. This is so partly because when Christian nations started colonization in Asia and Africa, they left a powerful network of Christian missionaries there. These missionaries have vast establishments and they run extremely modern and well equipped hospitals, schools and colleges for the social and economic uplift of the millions of poverty stricken native

people. In these missionary establishments, thousands of dedicated and devoted nuns,like the late Mother Teressa, as well as priests work tirelessly to spread the word of God, and inculcate principles of Christian charity, mercy, justice, peace, humility and simplicity.

Max Weber, a famous German historian of comparative religion has concluded that the present day Western industrial civilization is basically a product of the Protestant and Calvinistic ethics of Christianity, which preaches frugality, cooperation and compromise as the key to progress and economic prosperity. Christianity, like Islam and Judaism is divided into many sects, but every sect subscribes to the basic moral principles of the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Christian church has always been a haven of peace and happiness in times of physical, economic and social difficulties, for its community. It has also been noticed that whenever the church has gone astray and its officials have neglected the path of God, communities have suffered serious setbacks in all the major areas of collective life. Christian ethics preached piety and simplicity. But it is a fact of history that during the Middle ages, Popes became rich and lived like princes in palaces, luxuriating in material prosperity which was a lifestyle quite contrary to the teachings of Jesus. They waged wars of aggression against rulers, which often caused widespread misery for the common people. Many a time they acted irresponsibly and it is even said that during the Black Death in England, they simply abandoned the people and ran to the countryside for personal safety.

But this happened only when people had forgotten the teachings of Jesus and faith had been replaced with superstition. The Christian church has, however, always shown a considerable resilience in its moral framework and takes a quick turn for recovery to its pristine truth and morality, and the Christian spirit of charity and justice again resurface with their traditional strength and vitality. It is said that the traveling preachers called friars were living examples of morality. During the course of their travels they often addressed groups of people and dwelt at length on the issues of poverty, chastity and obedience. The entire essence of their discourses can be summed up in the "Beatitudes", which were a part of the sermon that Jesus delivered on the Mount. These are as follows:

"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

"Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully.

Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them.

Happy are the pure in heart; They will see God.

Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them His children!

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted."

Jesus again enjoins upon his followers courage and patience in the face of adversity and persecution in God’s name.

"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew,10,21).

Peter, a disciple of Jesus, is reported to have asked Jesus about forgiveness, to which the messenger of Allah, replied.

" Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven,"(Matthew 18,21-22).

Again Jesus urged His disciples to "love their enemies"

" You have heard that it was said, "Love your friends, hate your enemies." But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the sons of your Father in heaven. For He makes his sun shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you, if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect."(Matthew 43, 44).

From the above it is clear that Christians have a very high ethical standard expecting perfection out of its followers. About love and compassion Jesus said,.

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’(Mark,12,31).

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’(John,13, 34).

The following are some other teachings of Jesus, as reported in the Gospel of Matthew.

About anger and enmity Jesus said,

" You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder’. Anyone who does will be brought to trial. But now I tell you whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trail, who ever calls his brother "you good for nothing"! will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell." (Matthew 5; 21).

From this verse of the Bible it appears that Jesus was warning his followers not to harbor any resentments towards near of kin. Christianity advocates resistance to evil, under all circumstances, as indicated from the following verses from Matthew, and Jesus

enjoins his followers to remain peaceful and tolerant towards others.

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"(Matthew,5,5).

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. "(Matthew; 5, 39-41).

Islam does not endorse this viewpoint, simply because it would give unnecessary license to the criminal elements of society.

About Chastity the Bible says:

" Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, "Thou shalt not commit adultery"; but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in heart."(Matthew; 5, 27-28)

Islam was the youngest of the three faiths, but it formulated a very comprehensive system of ethical ideals. The Quran, its holy Scripture, discusses moral ideals with encyclopedic vision and profundity. As stated earlier, all the three religions enjoin

decency and virtuous conduct to their followers. However, the distinguishing features of Quranic morality are its completeness and balance. Islam favors moderation in practically all aspects of life, thus avoiding extremes. The above quotations from the Bible and our discussion in the previous chapters about Islamic morality, reflect a certain degree of commonality between the faiths, as well as some points of departure. Islam confirms Biblical morality first, and then expands it. Where there are extremes it eliminates them, so as to make the tenets of Islam more practicable. Christianity demands an extremely high degree of morality and is idealistic in essence. Perhaps Jesus had to resort to this approach due to the extreme moral decay in that society and also because the Jews were under Roman subjugation. "Turning the other cheek" would have been a more practical approach. They were deliberately not asked to retaliate against a power much stronger than them. Islam on the other hand exhorts men to forgive and ignore the follies of others, but advocates that unlimited resistance to evil can give it undue encouragement. Therefore the Quran favors punishment commensurate with the offense, so as to check the spread of evil in society. Once again this is done in the interest of balance, and the larger good of society.

Catholicism, which is a major sect of Christianity, favors celibacy and monasticism, whereas Islam encourages marriage as a healthy institution, again keeping in mind the frailties of human nature. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers to make "eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake."(Matthew 19,12). This approach tends to be unrealistic as it suppresses some of the most powerful human needs, such as that of marital love. Catholicism regards the body as vile, and shuns material and bodily needs because they detract from spirituality. Islam on the other hand recognizes them as valid within reason, and justifiable within limits.

Catholic monks and nuns, live in monasteries and convents and never marry. Although there are different types of orders in Catholicism who live for altruistic purposes and selfless devotion to humanity, there are many who are locked up from the world and do little to ameliorate the lot of humankind. Islam on the other hand deprecates a life of denial. It believes that human instincts are basically good, but must be controlled and channeled. Islam desires that man appreciate the many gifts bestowed on him by Allah, and by doing so celebrate His Divinity. Islam seeks to make the individual socially responsible and attuned to the needs of his community. The Holy Prophet said "A Muslim who lives in the midst of society and bears inconvenience for the sake of others is better than one who shuns society and does not bear inconveniences for others." He also declared monasticism to be unIslamic.

Islam, Polygamy and Slavery.

It is an undeniable reality of life, that societies are not stagnant, and therefore evolve and change with time. The demographics, cultural aspects, norms, values, and hence the requirements of those societies also change. It is a commonly held view among Muslims, that the principles of Islam are valid for all times and all places. This is so because these principles exemplify eternal truths that remain constant in any day and age. The applicability of these principles also show flexibility to accommodate change, with the requirements of changing societies. There is always room for fresh solutions and "Ijtihad" and "fatwa" (religious decision) are being performed in our present day to address the changing dynamics of Islamic societies all over the world. It is therefore important to examine the historical and cultural significance of certain Quranic verses, in order to better understand them and to better apply them. It is also essential to perform an in depth study of the principles behind the revelation of a these verses, bearing in mind that Islam is a religion which protects the weak and exhorts Muslims towards an equitable treatment of all, irrespective of race, nationality, social standing, profession or gender. Any law or social practice, which seems to contradict these basic principles of the Quran, has to be subjected to reexamination. In our present day and age, societies are vastly different from what they were in the time of the Prophet pbuh. They have acquired a complexity, which has no precedence in history. It is in light of this development that issues such as Polygamy have to be reviewed. It is also maintained that Islam did little towards the abolition of slavery. This is an erroneous view and therefore a brief discussion regarding slavery has been included in this chapter.


The word "polygamy" means multiple marriages contracted at the same time, by an individual. It is used to describe both "Polygany", which is the simultaneous marriages of several women to one man, and "Polyandry," (One woman married to several men simultaneously.) In modern usage however, Polygamy and Polygany are used interchangeably, to describe a man’s multiple marriages to several women, as the institution of Polyandry is practically non-existent in the world, today.

Islam permits a limited Polygamy. The Quranic verse taken from Surah Nisa reads as follows;

" If you feel that you will not be able to deal justly with the orphans, then marry women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you will not be able to treat them justly then only one, or those(concubines), whom your right hands

possess, that will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice.(Quran 4:3)

It is important to examine the above verse in its historical context. It was revealed after the battle of Uhud, in 625. A.D as a result of which several Muslim men were killed and consequently numerous Muslim women were widowed. They were left without proper means or resources, to enable them to take care of their many orphaned children. In order to provide a safe environment, for these women and children, the Quran allowed Polygamy, but with stringent conditions. It was not to be construed as a license for men, which is often the view of orthodox interpreters of the Quran, but more as an added social responsibility for them. Since Justice was a necessary moral condition for a man to contract multiple marriages, it was meant as a deterrent for the unlimited practice of polygamy. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his learned commentary of the Quran says: "This condition is most difficult to fulfill, I understand the recommendation towards monogamy"(Ali, A.Y., p.179)

Unfortunately Muslims, especially ruling classes among them, have at times misused this allowance, which was meant to be contextual and not normative for all times. Their conduct suggests a deviation from the strict Islamic code, and a disregard for its difficult condition. Keeping in view this strict condition, there is a view among many scholars, that Islam permits polygamy only in times of extreme hardship or great gender imbalance. In such a situation, the practice of Polygamy would prove to be an asset to society, preventing social evils such as prostitution, adultery or rape. Thus considering the strict condition and the special circumstances under which Polygamy is permitted, it should not be regarded as "Legitimized Promiscuity", but a practicable remedy for other evils.

With regard to Polygamy, Islamic societies are currently beginning to take a closer look at the original message of the Quran. They are beginning to realize that Islam has never encouraged Polygamy, just to favor men over women. The view now is becoming more and more accepted that the original intention of allowing Polygamy was indeed to provide protection to women in order to safeguard their position and respectability in society.

A discussion on Islamic polygamy also warrants some research into the cultural practices of the Arabs of the Jahilliyah. Before the advent of Islam, these men practiced an unlimited polygamy, where little or no responsibility was assumed for the maintenance of the many wives or of the welfare of children born from such unions. There was no law or ethical code regulating the behavior of men with respect to their multiple marriages. Divorce was rampant and arbitrary, and many women suffered the fate of being socially rejected in their communities. With the revelation of the Islamic injunctions in Surah Nisa, not only were restrictions laid on the unlimited practice of polygamy, but a strict moral condition was introduced, which a man would have to fulfill, if he chose to marry a second, third, or fourth time.

In this context it is important to note that the Prophet of Islam remained married to one woman alone, his beloved wife Khadija, for twenty-five years. It has been alleged by many western orientalists that the Prophet PBUH was a promiscuous man, having several wives. What they fail to consider is that during the prime of his life and youth, the Prophet PBUH remained monogamous and utterly devoted to his wife. Most of his marriages were contracted between the age of 58 and 63, and these too were done only to provide protection to women who were divorcees or widowers. The wives of the Prophet were looked upon as "mothers of the faithful." Therefore the Prophet did not divorce any of them after the limit of four wives was imposed on Muslims in Surah Nisa. These women would not have been able to marry other Muslim men after being divorced, hence the Prophet was exempt from the restriction of marrying only four wives.

In modern times, social trends seem to favour monogamy among Muslim men, and statistically there are very few who marry four wives, let alone even two. Also,in countries such as Tunisia, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, more legal restrictions are being laid on polygamous marriages. Tunisia only allows a man to marry again if the needs of widows or orphans are to be met. In Pakistan, a married man has to obtain a permission from an Arbitration Council if he wishes to marry a second time. It is the Council that decides whether his criteria for wanting to do so are in line with "physical infirmity, physical unfitness for conjugal reasons and insanity". While some may argue that these are unnecessary restrictions which governments do not have right to impose on a man, they are nonetheless instituted with the larger interests in mind, which is to guarantee, social justice for all their citizens according to Quranic principles, irrespective of gender.

Islam and the Abolition of Slavery:

Unfortunately, slavery, or human bondage has existed as an institution, in every era of human history, and in many societies. In Arabia, as well as in Persia and the Roman empire, it was an economic institution, due to a flourishing slave trade. Slaves were treated brutally by their owners, who denied them their basic human dignity.

However, after the advent of Islam, conditions changed dramatically for the slaves. Although the Quran did not explicitly outlaw slavery, it provided numerous ways to eliminate this evil, gradually. An outright abolition of the institution, would have meant a total economic as well as social collapse of that society, and would have resulted in conditions similar to what occurred in the American South,

when the blacks were freed. However after the advent of Islam, numerous steps were taken to free the slaves in stages, which in effect did result in the total abolition of slavery. The following are two of many verses of the Quran regarding slavery.

"And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?-it is freeing the bondsman; or giving of food in the day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent down in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, constancy and self restraint, and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion ( Quran :90 ;12-17).

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West, but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, to spend 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.(Quran 2;177).

The freeing of slaves, was made mandatory as atonement for certain sins. Slaves in Islamic society were also allowed to purchase their freedom, by the wages of their service or by imparting knowledge to the children of their masters. If a master mistreated his slave he would forfeit his right to own him, and the freeing of that slave would become mandatory. While such steps were being taken to free existing slaves, Muslims were prohibited from acquiring new ones through trade. The only new slaves that were acquired were as a result of wars, and those too were freed at the earliest opportunity. The Prophet of Islam acquired 225 slaves as a result of war, but he freed them the same day. The freeing of slaves was made an aspect of Zakaat, and many companions would purchase slaves from slave owners just to free them, thus acknowledging the equality of all human beings. One such companion was Hazrat Abdr Rehman bin Auf, who freed 30,000 slaves during his lifetime. These steps eventually lead to the gradual but definite abolition of slavery.

The Holy Prophet made it mandatory for all Muslims to treat those still in bondage, with kindness. They were to be considered as members of the family rather than servants, pending their release. In order to set an example for the Muslims, the Prophet not only adopted a slave, Hazrat Zaid, but later, also arranged for him to be married to his cousin Zainab, who was the daughter of the Quraish, a most eminent tribe of the Meccan Arabs, A Hadith of the Prophet on this issue reads as follows;

"Your slaves are your brethren. So if any one of you happens to have a slave, let him give him the same food that he himself eats, and the same clothes that he himself wears. And do not give them such work as is beyond their power to perform, and if you ever happen to give them such work, you should help them in doing it" (Bukhari, Sahih, Kitab-ul Itq).

In another Hadith, the Prophet strongly condemns the institution of slavery.

"Very wicked are those who sell and purchase human beings."

Nowhere in history has the institution of slavery existed in such a humane form as it did in that first Islamic society under the leadership of the Prophet PBUH. Slaves such as Bilal and Zaid were highly respected in that first Islamic society. Islam

raised the status of the slaves so much, that there existed a slave dynasty called the "Mamluks", which ruled Islamic civilization for a long time. In the Quran, of those who are mentioned by name, are 27 Prophets, The mother of Jesus,(Maryam), and Zaid the slave.

Islam and Human Rights

Near the end of the 20th century, and at the advent of the 3rd millennium, it is universally acknowledged that the affirmation of human rights has become the most demonstrable mark of the level and standard of human civilization. From the grass-roots, right up to the governmental level, every civilized society is resounding

with the demand and aspiration of fundamental human rights. Its implementation too is being constantly advocated. The denial of human rights is considered politically sacrileges and socially disastrous. Hence, the movement in this direction has been accelerated, and commitment to its concept fortified, since the adoption of the Charter

of Human Rights by the majority of nations.(1948).

The present day world wide awareness of human rights is generally attributed to the Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the United Nations. This document is now being considered an integral part of the Charter. When the Charter was being drafted at the San Francisco conference, all the leading statesmen and jurists who had

assembled, were convinced that one of the basic causes of the failure of the League of Nations during the inter war period was, that its covenant failed to focus on human rights. It was therefore their belief that the constitution of the new international organization should be much more broad based, and should not confine its inquiry to mere political interaction among nations, but should also undertake an inquiry into what happens within the territorial jurisdiction of the sovereign state. They believe that the large scale atrocities, such as the Holocaust, could have been averted if these nations had been subjected to international surveillance and pressure regarding human rights. Many believe that it was the denial of human rights that gave rise to autocratic regimes and produced horrible ideological tyrannies, which crippled millions of human beings. Hence, soon after its inception, as a legal entity, The United Nations turned to the basic question of human rights. The history of the Post World War development of the United Nations, provides testimony that its concern about this matter was so deep, intense, and all pervading that it appointed a permanent commission on fundamental rights, to which all member states would subscribe voluntarily. This document currently contains all the desired and fundamental rights, with detail, and maximum moral emphasis on their necessity.

The General Assembly of the United Nations,through many of its resolutions has reaffirmed the importance of this declaration and has suggested to the member nations, adherence to it in their internal and external policies, insisting, that this is the only way to make humanitarianism an integral part of international life. Unfortunately it did not design any effective machinery to implement the cardinal principles of this document. The result is that like the rest of the Charter, the Declaration of Human Rights is still considered to be a moral document only, with no legal authority. This notion also finds its roots in western secular philosophy, stating that matters of governing ought not to be polluted by religious principles. It is a matter of common knowledge that in spite of the presence of the Commission on Human Rights, a large number of nations violate human rights on a daily basis with impunity. It would be much more helpful in this matter, if these nations could be punished and declared guilty of such violations. The United Nations must create legal, political, and economic instruments to punish these nations. Furthermore, the experience of recent years has shown that nations, like individuals need to be indoctrinated into the ideology of humanitarianism, but this objective cannot be fully achieved if they rely on secular philosophies alone. It must be a part of their religious faith and spiritual heritage. It is with these thoughts that we approach the issue of Human Rights in Islam.

It is unfortunate that among western circles, Islam is being viewed as a baneful ideology which encourages militancy, fanaticism and intolerance. Any person even with a cursory knowledge of the Islamic doctrine can say with confidence, that such a view is based on the total misunderstanding of the pristine principles of Islam.

At this crucial point in history, the world at large and Muslims in particular are reexamining these principles. If we approach the Quran, which is the supreme source of the principles of Islam , without prejudice, we have ample proof, that this is a religious philosophy which has delineated with clarity, many of the fundamental rights, so cherished today.

Since the issue of human rights was paramount for Islam, all except one Muslim nation adopted the (UDHR) as part of their national policy. The UN document was however, later amended to incorporate Muslim ideals, first in 1981 and later at the Cairo convention of 1990. Here, the same rights, were reaffirmed, with certain contentious issues remaining, which pertained to the status of women, marriage, minorities and freedom of religion.

What are Basic Human Rights?

The Preamble of the Charter of Human Rights states that the people of the world must have " faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small." It also stresses "fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, language and

religion." In other words, the preamble states that human rights are the basic standards, which if denied would result in people not being able to live in dignity. It recognizes that all human beings, irrespective of race gender or religion are equal in dignity and rights.

Thus, there are two fundamental elements of human rights i.e. the dignity of an individual, whether it is a man or a woman, and a representative social order. The latter component of this definition was expressed several times in the ideologies of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Such terms as ‘representative government’ and ‘dictatorship of the proletariat" came to be recognized by all. It was hoped that through practicing these philosophies, the political, economic and educational advances of the masses could be ensured. It is through these means, that the political aspirations of the people would be accounted for, and their safety guaranteed. The charter reaffirms the rights to liberty, safety, the right to own property, equality before the law, privacy and freedom of movement. It will be noted that Islam too has enunciated these very principles more than fourteen hundred years ago. The sources of what constitutes basic human rights in Islam, are found in The Quran as well as the Sunnah(Practice) of the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH. The following are the fundamental human rights that the Quran affirms as inviolable.


Islam advocates that only Allah has the right to take away life. Therefore murder is considered a heinous crime to which Allah’s limits (Hadood) apply. The Quran maintains that whosoever commits a murder against one individual, it is as though he has killed the entire community. Therefore each human life is considered irreplaceable.

" If anyone slew a person--unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole people. If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people" (Quran. 5: 32).

Islam does not give the individual the right to take even his own life and suicide too, is considered a grave sin, for which there is no pardon.

Islam gives each individual the right to expect that his or her life will not be threatened in any shape and form. All other rights become meaningful only if a person is alive and his or her life is not being plagued by a constant fear of annihilation, either sudden, accidental or premeditated. To put up further fortification for the protection of this right, the Quran in its injunctions on Hadood(Limits), has insisted on exemplary punishments for those who commit such heinous crimes. To be further judicious in this matter, the Quran has, protected the victim from the confusion and complexities of legal technicalities by including the defendants or relatives of the victim of Manslaughter, in the process of decision making against the culprits. It is a matter of common knowledge that very often due to legal interpretations and technicalities, perpetrators go unpunished. By putting exemplary punishments as an integral part of Quranic law, Islam has provided a deterrent against any such repetition by any potential culprit in this kind of criminal action.


According to Islam, all individuals whether they are male or female, have a right to be treated with respect. This involves a respect for their person, property, life, dignity and privacy, because it is a universal desire of every individual to maintain his or her

Peace of mind, against infamy and ridicule caused by false allegations or fake assumptions. A basic psychological need for all human beings, is to fulfill their inherent capabilities, and most social psychologists now agree that a person with a low self esteem always tends to be short on his commitments and emotional satisfaction. In order to safeguard against such eventualities, Islam enjoins upon Muslims to negate all deities, and accept only Allah as the Supreme Deity. The Muslim does this by reciting the Kalima Tayyaba( There is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is the apostle of Allah). In doing so he automatically attains an equal footing with other human beings, and is therefore not only worthy of respect but must respect them as well. In doing so, man is also entitled to have a direct relationship with Allah, without the intercession of other human beings. This enables man to maintain his dignity and self-respect in his private as well as his social dealings.


In every discussion on human rights, liberty is stressed as the most important of fundamental rights. It gives men and women dignity and richness in their lives. It is for this reason that the subjection of individual by individual, or slavery, is considered an unpardonable crime.

Islam took great measures towards the abolition of slavery in Arabia,

because it recognized the right of freedom for each individual, as inviolable. In Surah Muhammad, the Quran states that prisoners of war are to be set free "either by an act of grace or against ransom" (Quran 47;4).

Since prisoners of war at that period in history, were the main sources of acquiring slaves, the outcome was a complete

abolition of slavery.

The question of liberty is however more complicated than just the subjugation of men by other men. Although the human being should be free to live his or her life the way he desires, he is dependent on others for his sheer survival and basic needs. He must therefore not only, safeguard his own freedom, but also respect the freedom and

rights of others. History abounds with examples of individuals who have abused the rights of others, by denying them the basic right to freedom. Liberty by all human beings has to be practiced according to a system, which will ensure that a person in power, or a person of evil disposition will not exploit it for his own gains. Freedom,

within the Islamic context has to be limited by the laws and restrictions that the Shariah (Islamic Law), places on the Muslim man or woman.


To seek knowledge, whether it is of a religious nature or otherwise, is stressed in the Quran for all Muslims. Again there is to be no discrimination between men and women. There is a prayer contained in the Quran for mankind, "my lord increase my knowledge". A famous saying of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) states that one

should endeavor to seek knowledge even if one " has to go for it to China." Thus the early Muslim society of Medina saw a rise in centers of learning, where both religious and non religious education was imparted to children, both male and female. Also Hazrat Ayesha, the Prophet’s wife, was regarded as one of the most erudite ladies of her time.


The Quran recognizes the ownership of whatever is contained on earth to be that of Allah alone. Therefore every creature of Allah has the right to partake equally of what is owned by God. This is not to be confused with the Communist ideology, where the ownership rests with the state. Every individual in Islam, has the right to work for a living, and those in authority have no right to confiscate the fruit of their

earnings, or other basic necessities of life. The history of past centuries and the rise of Communism has provided abundant evidence that the state’s monopoly on production and distribution of goods and services, could become as pernicious as the monopolistic evils of despotism that characterized the Middle Ages. The state is also being run by human beings, and Islam recognizes that people have a tendency to save and hoard. By placing the monopoly of property in the custody of God, Islam has protected human beings against the acquisitive and exploitative propensities of man, and has given a strong warning to believers against hoarding.


Each individual has the right to obtain redress and justice in the event of a wrong being done to him. On the other hand, an accused individual has the right to a fair trial, within the parameters of Islam, and his crime must be proven by stringent regulations regarding witnessing. No individual is to be discriminated against on the basis of race or gender. However a slave girl would receive half the punishment of a crime of adultery, as opposed to a free woman.

The rights of Minorities.

The rights of minorities have also been safeguarded within the Islamic state. Except for some aberrations, Islamic history contains examples of tolerance towards non Muslim minorities within the Islamic country. Non Muslims thus rose to very high positions in the state and made numerous contributions to the growth and development of Islamic culture. They were also allowed complete freedom to practice

their religious and personal affairs.

A passage of the Quran says that Muslims must show patience towards the minorities, even if they try to change their belief into disbelief.

"Many of the People of the Scripture long to make you disbelieves after your belief, through envy on their own account, after the truth has become manifest unto them. Forgive and be indulgent(towards them) until Allah give command. Lo, Allah is able to do all things."

Muslims are also discouraged from arguing with non muslims on religious matters, as the following verse of the Quran indicates:

" Lo! ye are those who argue about that whereof ye have some knowledge: Why then argue ye concerning that whereof ye have no knowledge? Allah knoweth. Ye know not. (Quran: 3:66 ).

The status of minorities under the jurisdiction of an Islamic state is protected by a covenant between the two parties. They are accorded protection and safety if they accept the legal authority of Islam, and consciously show no disrespect to the Prophet, the Quran, and its Message. They are forbidden to sell Muslims articles like wine or the flesh of the swine. For all other crimes and illegal actions they are treated equally by the law, and are subject to the same punishments as Muslims. Under the law they cannot inherit from a Muslim, but that restriction applies to Muslims as well, who cannot inherit from Non Muslims. Non Muslims are not punished for drinking, unless

any one of them is found drunk publicly. In this respect they are privileged and are treated as independent communities. All their internal affairs are to be regulated by the laws of the religion which they practice. They are exempted from the Penal system of a Muslim state to the extent it contradicts their own religious laws. They are also exempted from military service and the payment of Zakat, in lieu of a tax called Jizya.

Islam and the Rights of Women:

Islam is a religion which upholds justice and equality for both men and women alike. The Prophet of Islam single handedly ameliorated the lot of women during his lifetime. He was the greatest revolutionary of all times, awarding to women, the right to respect, ownership, the right to keep their maiden name, protection, as well as the right to engage in business dealings, which are rights the west only began to recognize in the twentieth century. Women in his life time were truly emancipated, intellectually, physically and socially. It is however a sad irony that the Prophet’s PBUH revolutionary spirit was thwarted later on in history, and religious doctrine came to be interpreted in a chauvinistic fashion. Thus Muslim societies withdrew some of the rights from women, which were theirs legally. It is no less ironic that women, in many modern Islamic societies, are subjected to the severest injustices, all in the name of Islam. They are the ones most often victimized in terms of human rights violations. In many Islamic societies, social vices such as rape, forced prostitution, forcible confinement, forced marriage are rampant. Women are being killed by their husbands in the name of "honor" merely on a suspicion of adultery, and such killings are not considered a crime. This is in direct opposition to the intent and spirit of the Quran.

The oppression of women has existed in every single society and Muslim societies are not peculiar in this regard. In India for example, girls are discriminated right from the time of their birth and the rate of female infanticide is shockingly high. Even amongst educated classes, the birth of a girl does not bring the same amount of elation as does that of a boy. Many fathers marry off their minor daughters so as to quickly absolve themselves of their responsibility. The issue of dowry is also an area of concern for the majority of Indian families. Although the law prohibits dowry, the practice prevails socially and for many families it remains a pressing problem.

Women seem to be suffering all over the world. In many western countries, most of the poorest of the poor happen to be women and the children they look after. The problem of rape, domestic violence and incest are rampant in these so called first world countries, as well.

As said earlier, the Prophet of Islam was a pioneer in ameliorating the lot of women during his lifetime. This spirit ought to have been adopted by later Muslim societies. It could also have served as a model for other societies. But the statistics continue to shock us both in the West and in Islamic countries, where many forms of oppression continue to prevail.

It is in light of the above disparity between the intent of the Quran, and the practice of Muslims, that a re-examination of certain doctrines and beliefs believed to be Quranic in origin, must be undertaken. If women continue to be discriminated against, as they have been in history, the Quranic vision of an equitable society will not be


Islam and Children’s Rights

"And know that your possessions and your children are a test, and that with Allah is a mighty reward." (Quran 8:28).

The above verse from the Holy Quran sums up a parent’s relationship with his or her child. Children are both a test and a trust from Allah. Therefore anything that is entrusted to an individual, is to be treated with care and dignity. Thus Allah has guaranteed that children, being the most vulnerable members of any society, ought to be treated with the appropriate attitude. Child rearing can both be a rewarding as well as a frustrating experience. Although a parent’s love for a child is instinctive, the challenges of modern living at times

overwhelm many well meaning parents. The cases of child abuse have hence multiplied in many societies, both Islamic and Non Islamic. In order to offset this challenge, Allah has promised for Muslims a reward accompanied by support, as is shown in the following verse.

"No soul shall be taxed with more than its capacity. No mother shall be injured on account of her child, nor a father on account of his child.(Quran 2: 233).

What can be construed from the above is that parents have the right to check the inappropriate behavior of their children, keeping in mind that this has to be done with love. We find many examples from the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), that he was very tolerant in his dealings with people, particularly younger individuals. He often ignored the minor errors and follies of his companions and of his young

servant Anas bin Malik. The Prophet (PBUH) was very kind to all children in general, and often played with and loved his grandchildren. This however does not mean that when severe forms of punishment are warranted, such as corporal punishment, they cannot be exercised by a parent. Even in this regard there are guidelines available from the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). He himself never hit a woman or a child, but he suggested that if this is to be done, the tender parts of the body should be avoided, and the blow should not be so severe as to leave a mark on the skin.

Islam and the Ethics of Warfare.

By: Farzana Hassan Shahid.

In this current day and age, where the threat of nuclear warfare appears to be more real than ever, where superpower politics, countless regional, territorial and ethnic disputes, plague the daily lives of millions of human beings, it has become imperative to address the question of what constitutes a just war, and thereby to examine its underlying ethical and moral principles. The twentieth century has witnessed two horrific wars, during which millions of innocent people lost their lives, either in combat, or as a result of persecution. The age old saying, that " all is fair in love and war" materialized most drastically in the events of the second world war, when Hitler executed his campaign of "ethnic cleansing" by enslaving and killing 6 million Jews. This, however, was not the only act of atrocity committed during World War Two. One needs only to recall the US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which resulted in civilian casualties that have been estimated at a quarter of a million. Other twentieth century wars have allowed ruthless genocide’s in Rwanda, and "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia and Kosovo. Also, the injustice of the prolonged Middle East conflict, has now not only become more apparent, but has also acquired an urgency, because one nation has continued to subjugate another for more than five decades, and has also enjoyed the backing and support of countries, which otherwise espouse freedom, human rights and democracy. Because of this imbalance of power and inequality in resources, some have even justified the legality of terrorism as a form of modern warfare. Some justify it in the name of religion, while others engage in it as a means of furthering their political agenda. The issue of course is whether or not it is backed in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH, or whether it is justifiable according to universal standards of morality and ethics. It is safe to say that no genuine religious, moral or ethical code would condone such atrocities by man towards his fellow human beings, and yet we do not seem to learn from the lessons of history. Wars indeed tend to be cold-blooded, and not only do they bring to surface the worst of human kind, but also, at times, the worst traits in the best of human beings. Very often during times of war, otherwise rational and tolerant human beings act in an irrational manner, viewing everyone in the opposite camp as "the enemy." Thus innocent civilians, including children, are subjected to the worst of tortures, women are raped and disgraced, and men are slaughtered with impunity. Examples of such oppression and hatred abound in the history of human warfare, and yet we also find in the character and conduct of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and his remarkable companions, the best examples of a just and fair enemy. During the formative years of the Islamic community, the Holy Prophet of Islam PBUH, had to fight many defensive wars simply to protect himself and his struggling community from the onslaught of the Infidels. In fact, Islam was born in an atmosphere of violent crisis between the warring tribes of Arabia. Because of this atmosphere of hostilities and animosity, there are many injunctions in the Quran that discuss the ethics of warfare and the appropriate conduct towards one’s enemies. From these injunctions, certain ethical principles can be deduced, which can shed light on the philosophy of warfare in Islam. It is an undisputed fact of history, that the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, himself took part in these wars, but as soon as hostilities were brought to an end, he resorted to non violence, and concluded many treatise with his opponents and other tribes, that eventually established a lasting peace on the soil of Arabia. He derived his strategy from the injunctions of the Quran, which elucidate these principles of warfare, keeping in view the rights of individuals engaged in direct warfare, as well as the rights of innocent civilians.

Contrary to the militant Islam that often catches the attention of the media, mainstream Islam preaches tolerance, forgiveness and compassion. It must be stated at the very outset, that Muslims believe that there is only One God for all of humanity. By doing so they acknowledge that people may be different colors, races and religions, but that they are all human, and the best among them are the ones who are the most "God conscious". This belief is also reflected in the word "Islam", which means "surrender", and is closely related to the word "Salam", which means "peace". The general injunction for all Muslims, whether in times of peace or war is:

"O ye who believe, stand firmly for Allah as witnesses for fair dealings, and let not the hatred of others to you, incite you to swerve to wrong and depart from justice"(5:8)

And again

"If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted, but if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient"(15:126)

The Quran also declares that:

"If anyone murders an(innocent) person, it will be as if he has murdered the whole of humanity. And if anyone saves a person, it is as though he has saved the whole of humanity." (Quran 5: 32)

It is also important to mention that Islam recognizes Judaism and Christianity as revealed religions of God, referring to their followers as" People of the Book." It acknowledges the prophets, Abraham, Jesus and Moses, as well as many others, as true messengers of God. In fact, the Prophet Moses is mentioned in the Quran more often than any other individual. The Quran also acknowledges the peaceful coexistence of religions and declares that "There is no compulsion in religion". History thus can support the fact that Islam was spread around the world as a result of the noble character of its adherents, as they displayed universal goodwill and tolerance towards mankind in general. It is unfortunate that extremist elements do not understand this fundamental principle of the faith, and quote injunctions out of context. Their interpretations are totally contrary to the teachings of Islam, which stresses the importance of consultation with those in charge of running the affairs of states, before undertaking an action. Another important but also often forgotten principle of the Islamic faith is moderation. Islam discourages extremism of any sort, even if it is in the form of worship, as this may keep a person away from his responsibilites twards his fellow human beings. Extremism in thinking and action is wholly contradictory to the Message of the Quran. Hence, in order to exhort mankind towards tolerance and moderation, the Quran declares that it is only Allah’s right to decide between differences in faith or creed.

The Quran States:

"Verily, as for those who have attained to faith (in this Divine writ) and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians,(on the one hand) and those who are bent on ascribing divinity to ought but God,(on the other) verily God will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection,. for Behold! God is a witness unto everything." (22:17)

At the time the Quran was being revealed, the Muslims were a small group of individuals, struggling to survive in a hostile environment. They had to employ all means available to them to protect themselves from their enemies. Hence, although there are injunctions in the Quran that allow the believers to "slay enemies wherever you find them"(4; 89) these injunctions must not be read and practiced out of context, because there is always the condition that hostilities must not be started by Muslims. Also after hostilities have stopped, the following injunction must be obeyed.

"Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them(4:90)

It is evident from this that the only kind of war that is permissible, is one fought in self defense. The following words of the Quran are very clear on this issue.

"Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo Allah loveth not the aggressors."

(2 :190)

Sometimes war becomes a necessary evil when persecution or oppression are to be obliterated, or where the moral fiber of a society is threatened. It then becomes necessary to sacrifice the lesser good in the interest of "Istehsan", a concept in Islam, which means "the Common Good." Thus the Quran says about people who oppress others:

"And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, because persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the inviolable place of worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you there then slay them...... (Quran 2;191)

The Quran states that war is justified when the objective is self-defense or the eradication of evil and persecution. It states:

"Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged, and verily God has indeed the power to succor them" (22;39)

The Quran recognizes the plight of those driven from their homeland or homes as a form of persecution, and states the rationale as to why defensive warfare is permitted. The following verse states:

"Those who have been driven from their homelands against all right, for no other reason than their saying,"Our Sustainer is God".

For if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, all monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques-in (all of) which God’s name is abundantly extolled--would surely have been destroyed(ere now).(22:40).

Once again, war is allowed to fight persecution, as is stated in the next verse:

"And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of God and of the utterly helpless men and women and children who are crying. "O Our Sustainer Lead us forth(to freedom) out of this land whose people are oppressors, and raise for us out of Thy grace, a protector and raise for us, out of thy grace one who will bring us succor." (4: 75)

In Islam, even if a war is to be fought, the Quran exhorts Muslims to resort to forgiveness and show generosity towards one’s enemies. Here it acknowledges the principle that sometimes retribution commensurate with a wrong done, is justifiable, but nonetheless recommends that forgiveness is a better recourse.

"And we ordained for them in that Torah: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth and a (similar) retribution for wounds, but he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins......(5: 45)

In addition to this injunction of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammd prohibited the killing of innocent women and children, or even the destruction of trees on hostile soil, during war.

This brings us to the concept of "Jihad" in Islam. In light of the above mentioned injunctions of the Quran, it is safe to conclude that this is undoubtedly a term that is grossly misunderstood both in the west, as well as by a great number of Muslims. Jihad means "struggle" in Allah’s cause and in matters of religion, whether they are personal, which involves fighting temptations, social, when evil must be eradicated from society, or political, when persecution or oppression have to be wiped out from a community. It does not mean "holy war"as is often reflected by media coverage. The Prophet Muhammad pbuh, referred to battle as being the lesser of the Jihad, saying that the greater Jihad was to reform society and rectify oneself from wrong doing. Yet in matters of religion, the Quran has always stressed that there must be " no coercion in matters of religion.’(2: 256) People are to accept Islam freely and not be forced into accepting its belief system. Moreover, the Quran exhorts Muslims to respect people of all faiths, in particular the People of the Book, meaning Jews and Christians(29:46) Another injunction tells Muslims to respect their churches and synagogues. The entire stress is on tolerance and understanding. No where does the Quran tell Muslims to take up arms where there are no declared hostilities between nations. The lesser jihad, which is a war in self-defense, is to be undertaken only when Islam as a religion is being threatened and the Muslims are going to be obliterated as a nation. If there is no provocation or aggression from the other side, then Muslims are prohibited from beginning hostilities.

Having clarified the concepts of Jihad in Islam, we can analyze the events from history, to see how these principles were enforced and implemented by the Prophet pbuh during the three wars that he personally took part in. Not only was he forced into these wars, he also had to endure several assassination attempts and faced constant opposition from the Quresh and other tribes. This had led the Prophet of Islam pbuh to leave his birth place, Mecca, to migrate to the more welcoming city of Yathrib, which later on came to be known as Medina-tu-nabi. After a long and tiring journey fraught with dangers, the Prophet came to live in Medina. Others had gone there before him and some followed him there later. The community lived in Medina peacefully and contentedly for a while, but soon the pagans of Mecca organized an army and led an invasion of Medina. This first battle, which is known as the "battle of Badr", was fought by a total of 313 Muslims as opposed to an enormous army led by the pagans. In spite of the disparity in numbers, the pagans suffered heavy losses and many of their leaders, including Abu Jahl, were killed in the battle. It is important to bear in mind however, that this was only a defensive war, as the hostilities were started by the pagans, and as soon as they retreated, the Muslims reverted to living their normal lives.

The pagans of Mecca however continued to feel vengeful, and again organized an army, this time five thousand men strong, as opposed to the Muslim army which had a total number of seven hundred men. Again the Muslims fought valiantly and the infidels began to flee. Upon seeing the pagans flee, the Muslims made the mistake of gathering the spoils of war. Unfortunately the infidels saw that the Muslims were now unarmed and unsuspecting, and they returned and launched a surprise attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the Muslim army. The pagans then desecrated the bodies of the martyred Muslims and even mutilated their organs. This was a practice which the Prophet pbuh specifically prohibited to the Muslims. Again this was a war fought only in self-defense.

The city of Mecca too, was conquered by the Muslim army without the need of shedding any blood. The Muslim community regained its strength after the "battle of Uhud", and with ten thousand strong, left for Mecca. The Prophet’s ingenious strategy was to completely surround the city of Mecca. The infidels perceived these forces as a large, invincible army and surrendered without putting up the slightest resistance. Their leader, Abu Sufyan, accepted Islam at that point. After the Muslim victory, the pagans feared that the Muslims would commit the same atrocities that the they had committed with them, but the Prophet pbuh declared a state of general amnesty, thus relieving the pagans of any fears. Many people converted to Islam as result of witnessing such generosity and forgiveness, as well as the kind and civil treatment of all vanquished individuals, whether Muslim or otherwise. Keeping in view the above examples of the prophet’s pbuh conduct during wars, his companions and the four pious caliphs of Islam, continued his tradition of tolerance and civility, and engaged in warfare only to fight persecution, or to defend themselves against their enemies.

Muslims have had a long tradition of non violence and peaceful co existence. They must not abandon the very values that were so cherished by the Prophet pbuh and his companions. They must denounce terrorism and extremism, and adopt the qualities of tolerance and forgiveness, as these were the qualities demonstrated by the Holy Prophet of Islam, in his dealings with non believers and opponents of the Islamic faith.


On the 29th of March 632 A. D. the Holy Prophet of Islam PBUH died, after a brief illness. He had accomplished his mission and conveyed the message of the Quran in every conceivable way, to every available human being who had the good fortune to live at that time. Historians belonging to different nationalities and religious backgrounds are in complete agreement that the moral revolution that he initiated, was one of the greatest achievements of human history. The nation that he found was sunk in barbarity, superstition and countless other moral vices. When he left it, the aristocracy of Mecca, as well as its ordinary citizens, were so reformed that later on when they went to other countries they were always received as moral saviors and God-sent deliverers from the agonies of treachery, deceit and oppression. This small treatise is a only a humble tribute to that great revolution

which changed the moral and ethical destiny of millions of people 1400 years ago. If the same moral message is rediscovered, there is no reason why its intrinsic potency and efficacy will not reform the Muslim societies at the turn of the 21st century. Every sincere and honest observer of the social and moral climate currently prevalent in Muslim societies can easily see that if the message of the Quran in the 7th century completely reformed the jahilliyah of Arabia, it can have the same effect today, as millions of Muslims unfortunately are passing through similar tragic circumstances. It will help Muslims all over the world, particularly the youth who are so vulnerable to wrong and misguided models of other civilizations. If we have to change and give a new moral order to the Muslim communities, we will have to unleash the ethical crusade of the same magnitude, which characterized the efforts of the Holy Prophet {pbuh} and his great companions. Certainly we have a prescription which once proved to be so effective, and there is every reason to believe that even after 1400 hundred years, the prescription has not lost its effectiveness and utility.

We must pray to Allah that he may help us learn the lesson of our own past, and reinterpret and reform the many practices which have done so much damage to our faith and happiness.

A Summarized List of Quranic Virtues

1. Charity: " And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him."

2. Forgiveness: "And those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good"

3. Kindness: " And serve Allah. (show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto thy neighbor who is of kin (unto you ) and the neighbor who is not of kin, and the fellow traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah Loveth not such as are proud and boastful."

4. Honesty: " Hide not testimony. He who hideth it, verily his heart is sinful. Allah is aware of what ye do."

5. Integrity: "Nay, but (the chosen of Allah is) he who fulfilleth his pledges and wardeth off (evil); for lo! Allah loves those who ward of (evil).

6. Justice: "And let those fear(in their behavior towards orphans) who if they left behind them weak offspring would be afraid for them. So let them mind their duty to Allah and speak justly."

7. Good Manners: "They are most honored by God who are best in conduct."

8. Tolerance: "Fight in the way of Allah those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities."

9. Humility: "Think not that those who exult in what they have given, and love to be praised for what they have not done--think not they are in safety from the doom."

10. Endurance: "Seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is hard save for the humble-minded."

11. Courage: "Patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere, such are the God-fearing."

12. Restraint: "Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice."

13. Peacefulness: " Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance."

14. Chastity: " The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with)a hundred stripes. And let not pity for them twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the last day."

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