Ethics In Islam
Among the ethical virtues taught by Islam - the sacred and approved religion of Allaah - the virtue of kindness is of greater significance because this is one of the Attributes of Allaah. The Eminent Qur'aan states:
"...but do you good as Allaah has been good to you..." (S. 28: 77)
Allaah has done and is doing immeasurable and unlimited good and kindness to His creations. This is a truth which we daily observe. His kindnesses are innumerable and beyond the scope of our understanding. Whatever is between the earth and the sky and whatever bounties are bestowed on us in this universe are merely a shadow of His Kindness. If we try to count His kindnesses and bounties, we cannot count even a single specimen of a type of bounty what of his all bounties. The Qur'aan emphatically stresses this point in the following Verse:
"...but if you count the favours of Allaah, never will you be able to number them." (S. 14: 34).
Let us take the example of necessaries of life. How vast is this category of human want. To satisfy these wants of one man how many creatures and human beings are steadily busy in serving him in one way or the other. Besides the food, drink and clothes, there are many a want for which Allaah provides him, by His Grace and Kindness, the ways and means of satisfaction. Every period of human life - childhood, youth and old age - is served in one way or the other by parents, relatives, neighbours; other people of the circle, and by those who come in contact to him in various forms. All this is the kindness and favour of Allaah.
Nor his kindness is limited to provide ways and means of satisfaction of our wants but He has also put at our disposal all that is in the heavens and on the earth. He made them obedient to us and appointed them in our service. In Qur'aan He says:
"And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth." (S. 45: 13).
For these exalted conferments, man must prove his loyalty to Allaah and pay his gratitude to Him. Since man has been treated with favour and kindness, Allaah demands from him similar treatment with his fellow beings. In the Qur'aan it is stated:
"Allaah commands justice, the doing of good." (S. 16: 90)
To be kind or to do good to others is a duty for all. Allaah has made the scope of kind and good treatment elastic for man in proportion to his manual strength and financial capacity. As such, the rich and prosperous persons have been enjoined to increase the measure of their kindness and favour to the poor and needy and the strong healthy persons have been asked to help weak, old and ailing people as much as they could. They all should be kind and do good without any discrimination. Their feelings of friendship and animosity shall not guide them in carrying out their duties. The Kind Prophet in his teachings on ethical virtues and good conduct has clearly pointed out that:
"You continue to meet one who breaks off his relations with you; you forgive one who oppresses you; you be kind to one who harms you."
This is the noble teaching of the Kind Prophet which guides us and shows us light at every step and at every point where the violent feelings of revenge, animosity and tyranny are working in our worldly life. To save man and his society, he stressed on him to be kind, polite and good in order to establish peace and create a favourable atmosphere of kindness, humility and sympathy. In this sense only, the true spirit of doing good and being kind can be achieved.
The doing of acts of kindness or conferment of favour or benefit upon one does not necessarily mean financial help, as is generally understood. Whatever may be the nature of help, either in money or kind, amounts to kindness and good. The satisfying of the wants and needs of people, relieving of man from a difficulty or calamity, guiding of a wayfarer, helping of a pedestrian to cross the road etc. are all acts of kindness.
Allaah has not only enjoined on us to be good and kind but has also indicated the category of people and the extent of their right for our kindness, affection, and favour. In other words, He has graded the recipients of our favour and kindness according to their significance for us and for the society. Among the recipients of favour and kind treatment parents top the list. Next come serially the near relatives, orphans, poor, immediate related neighbours; non-related and distant neighbours, wayfarers, slaves etc. The Qur'aan fixes this gradation in the following Verse:
"Serve Allaah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good - to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and what your right hand possess." (S. 4: 36)
This gradation of the recipients of kindness and favour and giving of top priority to parents over others is a noble principle unique to Islam. Why parents have been given priority among the various categories of people? This is because parents are the source of our birth and means of fostering Signifying parents' kind and loving treatment to their child, the Qur'aan has proved in very vivid terms their right for kind and good treatment. It is stated:
"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." (S. 46: 15)
We should not forget that man was not known; he was nothing and not at all in existence. Allaah created him through his father and mother. Can one imagine the pains and discomforts the mother underwent for him while keeping him in her womb and then delivering him with love and affection? Again at the time of birth, he was so lean and thin and he was worthless. He could not creep from his place and was not even able to sit. He knew only crying and sleeping and nothing else. Allaah then made his mother's lap, which was full of love and affection, his cradle and from her chest, which enshrined his love and affection, He created streams of milk to provide his feeding. This feeding enabled him to gain strength and grow, to be able to rise, sit and walk,. The kindness and affection of mother continued on him till he became a strong youth. This protracted services of rearing and nourishing the child from his birth to youth made the parents weak and old. Thus they deserve kind, sympathetic and thanksgiving treatment. We should extend all help and serve them to our best, favour them with good and kind treatment and also pray for them with all humility as directed by the Qur'aan:
"My Lord! Bestown on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (S. 17: 24)
Doing of good to parents and giving them kind treatment is further signified by the Command of Allaah to the faithful whose parents are polytheists. It is a well known truth that there is no more serious sin than polytheism or association of partnership with Allaah. Allaah will forgive by His Grace polytheism or association of partnership with Him. In spite of the seriousness of this sin, He enjoins on the faithful to treat with kindness and honour even their polytheism parents, of course keeping themselves aloof from their polytheistic beliefs and idol worship. The Qur'aan states:
"But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not, yet bear their company in this life with justice (and considerations)..." (S. 31: 15)
To be continued..... Kindness II, Kindness III, Kindness IV.