Ethics In Islam
Virtue And Conduct
VIRTUE AND CONDUCT
Islam is the selected religion of Allaah the Almighty, the Creator of the universe, the Wise.
It is the only religion which deals comprehensively with all departments of human life - both concerning this world and the Hereafter - and laid down perfect principles for overall guidance of mankind. Where Islam has discussed its beliefs of Unity and Prophethood, the methods of offering Prayers, Fasts, Zakaat, Hajj, animal-sacrifice, I'tikaaf etc., and the laws of agriculture, loan, trust etc., it has also constituted the principles of ethics, good conduct, noble manners, amicable disposition and virtuous character, for the education and guidance of masses. Thus, Islam presents a complete and comprehensive code which leads man in every walk of life through its best and perfect laws and rules. That is why if man sincerely follow them in his practical life, he attains the highest status of humanity, which no one can even touch by any other means.
The noble ethical principles of Islam not only decorated the social life of the believers in their lands but also won for them the hearts of enemies and the people of vanquished nations. Once the followers of Islam entered as victor in any land, even of bitterest enemy, all malicious propaganda made against them, as a barbarous and cruel people, automatically fell flat and the vanquished nation welcomed them for their good treatment, refined manners, noble conduct, character and toleration. Consequently, those who once abhorred Islam and its followers owing to misgivings and malignant publicity of their leaders shed all their pride and prejudice and opened their hearts for enlightening them with the truth of Islam. Thus, the Muslims conquered the countries on one hand and won the hearts of the people on the other.
It was also the ethical richness of Muslims which made the Christian inhabitants of 'Hams' weep and moan at the departure of Muslim troops after a short occupation.
During the caliphate of Hazrat Umar Farooq (razi-yal-laa-hu 'an-hu) when Syria was conquered, 'Hams', a city near Halab, was also occupied. But, soon after when the Muslims were vacating that city for some strategic reasons, the eyes of Christian inhabitants were full of tears for their departure. And, when they went away, they prayed for their return as their rulers. By the Grace of Allaah, 'Hams' was soon again in the occupation of Muslims to the great relief and peace of the inhabitants of that city.
Contrary to the conquest of Muslims, if we see the record of other victor nations, we find a different story. When a nation is conquered, the victor generally celebrates the conquest by mass killings, looting and harassing the people of the vanquished country. Naturally, the people of the defeated nation start their struggle to throw away the yoke of slavery from their necks and to regain their freedom. For that they offer great sacrifices, even their blood. But, this never was the case with the vanquished nation when Muslims conquered their country. The vanquished people never thought of defeat but freedom from the atrocities of their own government and establishment of the rule of justice and peace. In fact, the entry of Muslims in their land meant their own uplift in all walks of life. Consequently, once the Muslims occupied a country, there was no resistance from its people. Neither any struggle started against Muslim victors nor any attempt was made for gaining freedom from the rules of Muslims. If one thinks over this popularity and honour of Muslims, he will find that this was all due to their good treatment, noble manners, amicable behaviour and sense of justice and honesty.
The great guide, Hazrat Muhammad (sal-lal-laa-hu 'an-hu alai-hi wa aa-li-hi wa-sal-lam), a mercy for all creatures, was sent indeed as a beautiful pattern of conduct and an exalted standard of character to serve as a beacon light for the people of the world throughout the existence of the present universe. The Kind Prophet is a model for the guidance of mankind in every walk of life on one hand and a security for the peaceful and honourable life in the existing world and the Hereafter on the other. One can succeed in seeking the pleasure of Allaah only by following the pattern of conduct and noble manners and ethics of the Kind Prophet.
The Kind Prophet had said:
"I have been sent to perfect the good and nice conduct."
He also remarked that
'the best among you is he whose conduct is the best.'
But, what is the good conduct?
About good conduct, we shall first realise that the religion before Allaah is Islam. It has come to guide mankind till the Doomsday, and its teachings not only suit all types and climes of people but are equally beneficial and advantageous. In the life of this world, men associate with each other and develop friendly and brotherly relations with their fellow-beings. They are inter-dependent on each other in their affairs and, for the satisfaction of their wants and necessities, the help of each other is needed. They also enter into mutual relationship by intermarriage and thus the people are attached with each other like the links of a chain which are entangled with one another. In other words men develop some rights and privileges on others and vice versa and also duties are fixed on them which they are supposed to discharge in good faith for their mutual benefit. The discharge of the duties and fulfillment of the rights and privileges according to the dictates of Shariah, the kind and honest attitude, the self-tolerance, approbation and good behaviour are known as good conduct of character. All these values of good conduct were symbolised in the person of the Kind Prophet, so that people may easily understand and follow them. The Qur'aan says:
"We have indeed in the Messenger of Allaah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) - (S. 33: 21).
Again, the Qur'aan addressed the Kind Prophet about his ethical perfection and good conduct in the following words:
"And you (stand) on an exalted standard of character." (S. 68: 4).
Consequently, the rise of Islam or entrance of highly arrogant and fastidious Arabs in the fold of Islam was due to the exalted standard of character and beautiful pattern of conduct, with which the person of the Kind Prophet was fully adorned by Allaah and which the faithful followed in obedience to the command of Allaah and His Prophet. Therefore, those who followed the Prophet developed a character and conduct which brought a change in the life of ignorance. As a result, soon the robbers become the guides of caravans and the killers of their daughters felt pride in nursing the orphans because of the blessing of the good conduct and character.
The Glorious Qur'aan and Traditions of Prophet have mentioned many virtues of the good conduct. Allaah says:
"Truly he succeeds that purifies it." (S. 91. 9).
Man should learn that his success, his prosperity, his salvation etc., depend on the purification of his conduct and character. Whereas his failure, his decline and his perdition depend on soiling of his conduct.
The good deed of man comes from the purity of his heart and conduct. Its results in the world are doubled and multiplied by Allaah's Grace and Mercy, but an even greater reward comes from his own presence, his good pleasures, which bring us near to Him. The Qur'aan states:
"If there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from His own Presence a
great reward." (S. IV: 40).
The pious life of the Prophet is a pattern for our guidance in all walks of life. Therefore, his every action, every deed, every gesture etc. have a full chapter of their own, with many sections dealing with all major and minor aspects of human life. As such, it serves a real guidance in the sense of the word for those who seek the path of Truth for adoring their life, both of this world and of the Hereafter.
We propose to present a series of articles on this subject for the guidance and reformation of Muslims, both in their individual and collective capacities. The present article is the first of the instalment. In our next issues, we will describe other aspects of the good conduct of our Prophet.