Islam is a comprehensive religion which attempts to mould the human personality into an integrated whole on the foundations of piety and righteous deeds. These values together with the basic tenets of faith viz, belief in the Unity of Allah. the Day of ]udgement, Muhammad (SAS) as the last Prophet of Allah. all other prophets, divine books and angels, offering prayers five times a day. fasting during the month of Ramadhan, giving ‘alms and performing Haj Pilgrimage constitute the fundamentals of Islam. These values and should be embedded in the character of Muslims and should guide their behavior in every sphere of activity whether politics or administration, business or profession, religion or social interaction etc.. and should mould their attitude towards the strong or the weak, the rich or the poor. these virtuous qualities constitute the hallmark of Muslims and denote their identity who have thus been described in the Quran as the best of peoples evolved for mankind enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in God”
(Ale-lmran-The family of Imran-llI:1lO). The Quran is very emphatic that mere profession of faith and offering prayers five times a day is not adequate to be identified as a Muslim unless they are matched by righteous deeds. This has been forcefully expressed in the Quran (Al-Baqra-The Cow) wherein some of righteous deeds have also been specified: “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 and the angels and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who asks and for the ransom of slaves, to be steadfast in prayer and practise regular charity, to fulfil the contracts which ye have made, and to be firm and patient in pain or suffering ) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic, such are the peoples of truth and God fearing,”
(A I – Baqra – the cow – II : 177). It is this adherence to charity, piety, truth and other righteous deeds that Islam stands for and the Muslims have been commanded to adhere to them steadfastly. The Quran thus stresses the unity of thought and action, for an evil thought generates satanic action and a perverse action can make the thought foul. Both the Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAS) epitomize. This harmony of thought and action, faith and righteous deeds. The Prophet (SAS) never deviated from these norms even under the most trying circumstances.
Quranic Injunctions : The Concept and Character of Righteous Deeds:
Islam is very tolerant in its out look. It does not approve of compulsion in religion Al-Baqra – the cow – II : 257, and does not discriminate in the dispensation of justice on the basis of caste. community and religion. However it is not prepared to treat spiritual and material lives as separate entities since the backing of spiritual values are since non for the development of healthy and honest worldly life. They complement each other, and therefore, cannot he treated as independent of each other. The Quran, therefore stresses repeatedly that faith (Iman) should lead to noble deeds and that faith is incomplete if it is not supported b such deeds. The Quran is replete with such verses that “give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness”, Al – Baqra, the cow II : 25. It is repeated a number of times in Al-Baqra – the cow; Al-E-lmran — Family of lmran — III : 57; I — Nissa — woman — IV :17 3:
Al-Airaf – The Heights – VII : 42, Hud – Xl: 23; A 1-Kahaf – The cave – XVII:1 07: Taha XX:75 and other verses. Thus righteous deeds have been made an in— separable part of the Islamic faith.
It has been observed that proper incentives and rewards lead to better performance by individuals or groups of individuals in all fields of human activity whether scientific research, industrial or agricultural production, social arid cultural activities etc. The offer of incentives and rewards generates healthy competitive spirit which yields excellent results. This concept of rewards to the believers for their virtuous deeds has been introduced in the Quran to motivate people to act righteously. This reward however largely pertains to life hereafter where men and women with righteous deeds will be the “companions of the garden, therein to dwell for ever’. The life hereafter, according to the Quran, is the ultimate destination of mankind4inlike the transitory, earthly abode. The incentives which are being offered by Allah viz. promise of a comfortable and blissful life in heaven after death, are to induce people to live a noble life in this world in order to -sure its peace, progress and prosperity.
While offering incentives Allah makes man accountable for his conduct on this Earth. The validity of the concept of accountability is acknowledged universally. Once a person has been charged with a specific responsibility he/she is accountable for its / compenent execution. As for instance the Manager of a factory, the Vice-Chancellor of a University, the Prime Minister of a country etc are accountable in their respective spheres of responsibility. They are liable to be punished by their respective authorities if they fail to discharge their responsibilities sincerely, honestly and efficiently. Numerous examples have been cited in the Quran for the accountability of individuals or groups of individuals. The two specific examples are those of Solomon who has been praised in the Quran for his righteous deeds and of Pharaoh who has been condemned outright for his arrogance and blasphemy against Allah. They were rewarded or punished for their respective deeds since they were held responsible for them. Islam emphasises the point that Man as the Vicegerent of Allah on the Earth was accountable for his deeds and misdeeds. While submitting to the Supremacy of Allah he should adhere to the performance of righteous deeds which should lead to peace, progress and prosperity for the entire humanity and not of one at the cost of other. Thus the exploitation of one race of community by a more dominant race or community is not permissible in Islam.
Charity and Help to the Poor and the Needy:
Among the righteous deeds charity and helping the poor and needy occupy a pre-eminent position. In Al-Baqra – the cow – II: 277. it has been pointed out that the believers who perform righteous deeds and establish regular prayer and regular charity will have their reward with their Lord’, Similarly in A l-Taubah – Repentance-IX:7 1, the believers, men and women, have been called as ‘Protectors of one another, they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil. They observe regular prayers and practice regular charity. and obey God ad His Apostle.”
Charity in the name of Allah multiplies one’s own wealth as the Quran points out that “Those who spend their substance in the way of 11ah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has a hundred grains. God giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth.”
Al-Baqra – The cow – II 261. But charity should not be ostentatiously done for that may cancel its solemn effect. Hence, AlIah, warns the believers that “cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity for by injury- like those who spend their substance to be seen of men hut believe neither in God nor in the Last Day”
(Al – Baqra – the cow – II: 264).
Honesty and Integrity:
Honesty in every sphere of activity is repeatedly stressed in the Quran and much more so with the orphan’s property. It is categorically ordained that “come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it until he attain the ageof full strength.”
Al-Anam – Cattle – VI : 152; also in BaniIsrail – Children of Israil – XVII :34. Hence the Quran warns of severe punishment to all those who “unjustly eat up the property of the orphans eat up a fire into their own bodies, they will soon be enduring a blazing fire” Al- Nisa – women – IV : 10. This “blazing fire” will not only be the destination of those who eat up the orphan’s property but also of those who betray the trust, act dishonestly and unjustly.
The Quran condemns with equal vehemence the breach of trust as it does the misuse of orphan’s property. It is highlighted in Al-Nisa The women – IV : 58, that God doth command you to render back your trusts to those whom they are due and when ye judge between man that ye judge with justice.
This point is again stressed in Anfal – The Spoils VlI:27. “0 Ye that believe betray not the trust of God and the Apostle nor misappropriate knowingly things entrusted to you”.
The Muslim is commanded firmly to be honest and straight forward in his dealings with others. He should never allow any one even to feel that he has been dealt with unfairly. Allah, therefore, enjoins upon Muslims to “give full measure and weigh with the balance that is straight. That is the most fitting and most advantageous in the final determination’,
– Bani – Israil – Children of Israil – XVII:35. The believers have been repeatedly asked in a number of other verses to deal honestly with others in every respect and not to withhold from them what is justly due. This is stressed again in Al-Airaf- The Heights – VIII 5, “give just measure and weigh nor withhold from the people the things that are their due and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order; that will be best for you if ye have faith.”
It may be observed that the Quran which contains the commands of Allah has clearly linked faith with the right conduct in thought, action, attitude, and behaviour.
Divine Dispensation of Justice:
The divine dispensation of justice does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the king and the beggar, between •the high and mighty, and the meek and the lowly. The basic principle is equity with justice. The guilty must be punished irrespective of the position one occupies. We have it on the authority of the Quran that even the father of Prophet Abraham, son of Prophet Nuh, and wife of Prophet Lut were not spared. Despite their strong family relationship with the prophets of their age, they were severely punished for their blasphemous acts against Allah. In this divine dispensation of justice even the prophets have not been spared. Prophet 3ohanes (Yunus) was severely reprimanded for his hasty action in anger and even Prophet Muhammad (SAS) was cautioned when he frowned at a poor blind man (Abdullah Un-Ummi-Maktiya) who had come to seek enlightenment while the Prophet was busy talking to rich Pagan Quraish leaders. This is what the Quran has to state on this matter: (The Prophet) frowned and turned away because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive admonition and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards himself self-sufficient to him dost thou attend; though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly and with fear (in his heart), of him wast thou unmidful. By no means (should it be so) for it is indeed a message of instruction, therefore let hoso’ wiIl keep it in remembrance.’LXXX: 1 – 12 ).
Objectivity in dispensing justice particularly when relations are involved. is most difficult to accomplish. Its accomplishment is considered the hail mark of a Muslim for, he is not expected to give up the path of justice even if it may adversely affect him personally or his family members. In such delicate situations man is advised against following the lust of his hearts. This warning is conveyed forcefully in !M-Maida The Table Spread V : 9 0 ye who believe stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God even as against yourselves or your parents, or your kind, and whether it be (against) the rich or the poor for God can well protect both. Follow not the lusts of your hearts lest ye swerve and if ye distort justice or decline to do justice verily God is well acquainted with all that ye do.
A Muslim is cautioned not to allow his personal prejudices to obstruct the path of justice for that will displease Allah immensely. This is pointedly referred to in Al-Nisa – women – IV : 1 35. wherein a believer has been sternly told to stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from Justice. Be just that is next to piety and fear God for God is well acquainted with all that ye do.’
Respect for Parents:
Islam attaches great importance to the institution of parenthood which has been treated with great deference in the Quran. Muslims have been enjoined to treat their parents with love and affection. The Quran warns the believers nay the entire mankind that “Join not anything as equal with Him (God). Be good to your parents, kill not your children on plea of want; We provide sustenance for you and for them. come not nigh to shameful deeds whether open or secret; take not life which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law,”
(Al-Anam – The Cattle VI 151. In addition to this general reference for kindness towards parents the Quran specifically commands man to be kind to his parents for ‘In pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth,” Al-Ahqaf, The Wind – curved sand hills – XLVI : 15. This is repeated in Luqman, XXXI : I 4, “We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in year twain was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and my parents. To Me is (thy final) goal.’
It is the greatest honour that Allah can bestow on parents when mankind is commanded to be grateful to their parents as they are grateful to Allah. Parents are to be shown reverence but they are not to he worshipped.
Allah alone is worthy of being worshipped “Yet be kind to parents, whether one or both of them attain old age in their life. Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Lord bestow on them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood”,
Bani Israil – Children of Israil XVII : 23 – 24).
Adherence to Commitments:
Commitments once made are to be treated as sacrosanct. They should not be broken even though they have been made with one’s enemy. A .Muslim should honour his word and keep his promises irrespective of the circumstances in which they have been made. There are numerous verses in the Quran to guide the conduct of Muslims in this respect. In Al-Saf – The Ranks – LXI : 2 – 3. Allah chides believers for making promises which they cannot keep and warns “grievously odious is it in the sight of God that ye say that which ye do not”.
A Muslim is encouraged to “fulfill the convenant of God where ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them indeed you have made God your surety, for God knoweth all that ye do’,
Bee – XVI : q). Again in Al-Maida – Table Spread – V : 1, a Muslim is commanded to fulfill all obligations, for those that keep plighted faith and act right – verily God loves those who act right”
(Al -E-lmran – The family of Imran – III : 76). The breach of contract has not been permitted even if it has been entered into with pagans: “But treaties (are) not dissolved with those pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements to the end of their term for God loveth the righteous’
Al – Tauba – Repentance – 1X : . A Muslim should not initi2t the cancellation of contracts. That will be an unrighteous act and will invite the displeasure of Allah. For those who fulfil their commitments Allah offers the incentive of His love. This pleasure of Allah is the greatest blessing one ought to seek in this world.
Condemnation of Shameful Deeds and Evil Practices:
Islam forbids all unrighteous and shameful deeds such as killing of the innocent, playing mischief, adultery, gambling, wine-drinking, backbiting. arrogance etc., The Quran repeatedly admonishes Muslims to refrain from these sinful acts. As for instance in Hud XI : 85 we have been warned that ‘nor withhold from the people the things that are their due, commit not evil in the land with intent to do mischief.”
This warning has been registered again in Shoara – The poets – XXVI: 18 3. “And withhold not things justly due to men nor do evil in the land working mischief.
These sinful acts create a chain reaction and one sin leads to the committal of another. Of these sins adultery is considered most disdainful and hence the Quran proclaims “Nor come nigh to adultery for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil opening the road (to other evils),
(Bani Israil — The Children of Israil – XVII :32). – Since adultery has been called a heinous crime, stringent punishment has been prescribed for those who commit adultery. But before these punishments are executed the act of adultery should be fully established. There are rigorous rules regarding this, so that the people are n t wrongly punished.
During the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAS) female children had little chance to survive in Arabia. Their birth was considered a disgrace for the family and hence treated with contempt. Islam comes heavily against this brutal practice.
The act of killing an innocent life whether infant or adult is considered inhuman and strongly condemned and forbidden in the Quran: Kill not your children on plea of want,/provide sustenance for you and for them; come not nigh to shameful deeds whether open or secret, take not life which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus doth He command you that ye may learn wisdom.
Al- Anam – The Cattle – VI : 151. It was in the light of this dictate of the Quran that the killing of female child among the Arabs was forbidden by Islam.
Similarly other evil practices among the Arabs such as usury, gambling etc.. were condemned outright and banned. There is a clear directive against usury. “O ye who believe deour not usury, doubled and multiplied but fear God that ye may (really) prosper”
Al – E – Imran – Family of Imran – III : 130. Because of the obnoxious nature of usury the believers have been firmly cautioned that “0 ye who believe, fear God and give up what remains of your demand for usury if ‘.‘e are indeed believers; if ye do it not, take notice of war form God and His apostle but if ye turn back, ye shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly,”
Al – Baqra – the cow – II : 27S-279. The believers have been advised to write off the loan completely or else grant sufficient time to the debtor if he is in difficulty: “If the debtor is in a difficulty grant him time till it is easy for him to repay But if ye remit by way of charity that is best for you if ye only know”
Al – Baqra-the cow – II : 2S0. We know the debilitating effect of interests on the economy of the countries. All the developing countries of the world are heavily indebted to the developed countries and international banking agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank etc. They have not been able to take off mainly because of the heavy burden of interest since most of the income generated through development goes towards debt servicing including payment of interests. As against this the West European Countries, who were completely devastated during the Second World War, received Marshall Aid from USA, without interest, immediately after the War for reconstruction and development. They registered phenomenal progress within five years and repaid within a decade the entire aid received from the USA. The disastrous effect of loan with interest has been clearly visualized in the Quran hence the declaration of war by Allah and his Apostle against this disgusting practice.
Similarly the Quran has come down heavily against drinking and gambling. Both are very bad habits. Those who indulge in gambling and drinking inevitably, tend to exceed the limits with disastrous consequences for their health and for their family. When a person is in a drunken state he is not conscious of his acts and deeds. Hence in the early phase of Islam, Muslims in a drunken state were asked not ‘to draw near unto prayer when ye are drunken till ye know that which ye utter,”
Al-Nisa – Women – IV : 43. Man is subsequently cautioned that in them, drinking and gambling, is great sin and some profit for men. But the sin is greater than profit,”
A1—Baqra – the cow – II : 219. nd finally, they have been strictly instructed to refrain from drinking and gambling for these are devilish acts. “0 Ye who believe: strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed”,
Al- Maida – Table Spread – V : 90. The most poignant example of the catastrophic effect of gambling is provided in the Indian epic Mahabharata where Yudhistra in the act of gambling not only lost his kingdom but staked and lost his wife Drupadi also who was humiliated in the royal court of Hastinapur. Hence in Islam strong drinks which lead ‘intoxication and gambling have been treated as unrighteous deeds and therefore banned for Muslims.
Disapproval of Pride, Arrogance, Insolence etc:
Islam has set high moral standards for the believers and is not prepared to compromise on them. It is not prepared to accept even the mildest dilution of these values. Thus Islam condemns strongly such sly and evil acts as back-biting, mocking at others, insolence, pride and arrogance. As regards mocking at others it is pointed out that ‘0 ye who believe let not some men among you laugh at others, it may be that the latter are better than the former nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other by offensive nicknames, ill seeming is a name connoting wickedness (to be used of one) after he has believed; and those who do not desist are indeed doing wrong,”
Al – Hujurat – The private apartments – XLIX ii. In the same vein a Muslim is asked to avoid a life of suspicion, of spying on each other and of speaking ill of others behind their backs. The persistence in this malicious deed is not only sinful but according to Quran is like consuming the flesh of one’s own brother which is most abhorring The Quran thus asks that ‘0 Ye who believe avoid suspicion (as much as possible) for suspicion in some case is a sin and spy not on each other behind their backs; would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother ? Nay ye would abhor it”
Al – Hujurat – The Private Apartments – XLIX 12.
Pride arrogance and insolence are also disdainful acts. The Muslims are warned sternly that “Swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth for God loveth not arrogant boaster”,
-Laqman, XXXI : 18. Humility is the hallmark of a Muslim for expression of pride and insolence can be self destructive and, therefore, the Quran warns “Nor walk on earth with insolence for thou cannot not rent the earth asunder, nor can reach the mountains in height”.
(Bani – Israil – Children of Israil – XVII: 37. In this regard the parable of Korah (Qaroon) who was a very rich person among the people of Moses is most instructive. He always took pride in the wealth accumulated by him and walked with insolent pride among his people some of whom even envied him. He eventually sank into the earth under the weight of his own wealth and sin which was a punishment meted out to him by Allah and then the people of Moses realised that Korah (Qaroon) was penalized for his guilt of pride and insolence.
It is therefore abundantly clear that Islam has set forth for the Muslims. high moral standards and ethical code of righteous deeds covering the entire gamut of their life. They have been firmly asked to adhere to justice and honesty, to truth and commitments, love and respect for parents and other human beings, and to helping the poor and needy. Further they have been wearned to refrain from shameful deeds which can lead to self destruction and invite the displeasure of Allah such as pride, arrogance, adultery, suspicion, mocking at others, addiction to intoxicating drinks, gambling etc. Islam expects of its adherents of conform to these high moral values and ethical codes of conduct. The ‘Muslims will lose their identity if they deviate from these spiritual values and will cease to be ‘the best of peoples evolved for mankind enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, believing in God.”
Prophet Muhammad (SAS) : The Perfect Exemplar of Righteous deeds:
Prophet Muhammad (SAS) reflected the spirit, the meaning and the interpretation of the Quran. He was the ultimate in epitomizing the spirit and character of Islam. There was no contradiction in his thought and action, precept and practice, in his worldly and spiritual life. They were in perfect harmony. He had attained the pinnacle of both spiritual glory and human nobility. He sought the pleasure of Allah by offering prayers and serving the mankind. His character was in total conformity with the righteous deeds as prescribed in the Quran. In short he symbolised in totality the spirit of the Quran which lent strength and refinement to his character which was without blemish. The brilliance of his achievements during his life time has remained unmatched and unparalleled, even to this day, in the history of mankind. That the character of Prophet Muhammad was of great piety and unimpeachable integrity it testified by the Quran wherein it is proclaimed that “Thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character,” Al – Qalam – Pen – LXVIII : 4. The entire life of the Prophet was a confirmation of this proclamation. He stood by his commitments, always protected the weak, helped the needy, could never be provoked to anger, was always just and fair. His spiritualism fortified the nobility and strength of his character which he maintained not by leading the life of a recluse but by living an active life and struggling through it with courage of conviction, dedication, and total submission to the will of Allah.
His sense of honesty and personal integrity were above board. Even from his childhood he had earned the little of 1—Al-Ameen (the honest). Precisely for this reason the warring chiefs of Makka accepted his arbitration for fixing the black stone (Hijr-E – Aswad) at the junction of two walls of kaba when it was being reconstructed in 60.5 AD, (Talib Hashmi : l95 : P 12l; and Khadija. the rich widow merchant of Makka, who was later married to Prophet Muhammed (SA.5), agreed to Al-Ameen leading her trading caravan which under his leadership was extraordinarily profitable.
Equality of Man Before Allah:
Equality of Mar-i before Allah irrespective of his position and wealth, colour and caste has been repeatedly stressed in the Quran and was firmly adhered to by Prophet Muhammad (SAS). Despite his status as the Prophet of Islam and ruler of Madina he never hesitated to d any work for his people and in the cause of Islam. While the Mosque of Madina was under construction he was among the workers carrying load for laying the foundation or raising the wall of the Mosque (Zafrullah Khan, l930 P : 84). Similarly, on the eve of the Battle of the Trench he was also with his companions digging trenches and helped them in even breaking blocks of boulders r hard rocks which his companions failed to break or remove (Martin Lings — 1933 — P 217). Prophet Muhammad was willing to lend a helping hand whosoever asked for it. One of his companions in Madina, Khabbab bin Arat, had gone out on a warring expedition. There were no male members in his family. The female members of the household had difficulty in milking their goats. They represented this to the Prophet (SS) who himself milked their goats every morning till the return of Khabbab, (Talib Hashmi – 1935 : 123).
It may be observed that the Prophet through his insistence on righteous deeds also strongly reiterates the Quranic injunction that faith alone will not lead one to heaven unless it is reinforced by righteous deeds. He once told his companions that “By God not one single person will enter heaven unless he performed righteous deeds” (Paighamba– E – Akhlaq, 1983, P:47). This is also borne out by the verdict given by Prophet on the fate of two lady companions, one of whom offered regular prayers, charity, and alms but was of sharp tongue and used to offend her neighbours with pungent remarks, and the other one offered only the minimum number of prayers, but was softspoken, helpful to others and never offended any one. The Prophet remarked that the former was benefit of piety and will find a place in hell, whereas the latter will enter heaven on account of her pious deeds (Bukhari Quoted in Paighamber – E – Ikhlaq, 1985, P: 216).
Protection of the Innocent and Orphans:
The Quran strongly enjoins upon Muslims not to harass. and deal fraudulently with any one and lend full protection to the property of the orphans. The Prophet adhered to it religiously. Even before the declaration of his Prophet hood he had joined an Order of Chivalry (Hilf-al-Fudul) “whose members swore to come the help of any and every person oppressed in the town (Makka) (M.Harnidullah-l974:7), and the Prophet was ever proud of being a member of this Covenant. Since his on inherent characteristics of fair play honesty, integrity and humanness were being strongly reinforced by the Quranic injunction he could not suffer any one being cheated or harassed In the early phase of his prophetic mission two incidents strongly testify to this and in both the cases a most powerful pagan Quraish leader was involved viz . Abul Hakam bin Hasharn (Abu Jahal). Once Abu Jahal attempted to cheat and harrass an outsider from Macca who had care to Macca to sell a fine breed of three carrels Abu Jahal would not agree to give the right price for the carrels nor would he let any one buy them. The harrassed outsider raised this matter openly in the courtyard of Kaba where luckily Prophet Muhammad was sitting with some of his companions As soon as he heard the Arab Bedouin he bought those three carrels for the price quoted by the Bedouin and sternly warned Abu Jahal not to repeat these mean tricks again Fighting for the cause of the oppressed is innate to Islam to which Prophet Muhammad subscribed magnificently In another instances Abu Jahal was found oppressing an orphan boy y misappropriating his property. Protection of orphans property is enjoined upon Muslims and they are sternly warned against its misappropriation. This orphan boy once complained to Prophet Muhammad that Abu-Jahal had usurped his wealth after his father’s death and had pauperized him to such an extent that he could not even buy clothes to cover his body. The Prophet immediately took the orphan boy to Abu house and forced the latter to return to the orphan his legitimate property
Generosity and Kindness of the Prophet:
In matters of charity, generosity, kindness, fairness and justice Islam has been most secular and Prophet Muhammad practiced it most scrupulously. There are numerous instances of his unbiased generosity towards non-Muslims and even to the pagan Arabs. As for instance once the daughter of legendary Hatim Tai, a very noble, charitable, and generous character, appeared before the Prophet as a prisoner of war. Prior to the pronouncement of any judgment on her fate she introduced herself to the Prophet as the daughter of Hatim Tai who was a noble soul, most hospitable, always helped the poor and needy, fed the hungry and clothed the naked and never allowed any beggar to go empty handed from his house. She, therefore, appealed to the Prophet that being the daughter of a noble generous tribal chief she may be spared the agony and humiliation of being dishonoured as a prisoner of war. The Prophet was touched and told her that her father bore the qualities of a true Muslim and had he been a Muslim he would have prayed for him. Hatim Tai’s daughter was set free by virtue of the righteous deeds of her father (Paigharrbar E-Ikhlaq 1985. PP:46-47). In another case Hazrat Asrra an elder sister of Hazrat Hafsa wife of the Prophet, approached the latter to seek his guidance if she could help her poor mother who was an avowed Kafir (Pagan Makkan) but was in need of help. The Prophet readily assented for not only the lady seeking assistance was poor but was also her mother. The Quran has enjoined upon Muslims to be respectful to their parents even if they happen to be non-Muslims (Bukhari and Muslim quoted in Paigharrbar-E-Ikhlaq, P:223, 231).
Firm Adherence to Commitments:
Prophet Muhammad stood by his commitments like a rock unmidful of the consequences. A classic example in this regard was the treaty of Hudaibiya, between the Prophet and the pagan leaders of Makka. One of the clauses of this treaty’ as that whoso commeth unto Muhammad of Quraysh, without the leave of his guardian, Muhammad shall return him unto them, but whoso cometh unto Quraysh of those who are with Muhammad, they shall not be returned’ (Lings – 1985 : P : 253). Immediately after the treaty was signed Abu-Jandel a Muslim prisoner arrived at the camp of Prophet Muhammad and sought asylum which the latter refused on the ground that “We have agreed on the terms of a truce with these people, and have given them our solemen pledge, even as they have done to us, and we will not now break our word’ (M Lings : 1985, 254). Similarly the Prophet would never exploit a situation to his advantage wrongly even under the most difficult circumstances. At the time of the Battle of Badr when the Muslims were scanty in number and were in dire need to raise their strength; two companions of the Prophet, Hazifa bin Al-Yaman and Abu Hussayl arrived before Prophet (SAS) and prayed to join the battle ranks against the Quraysh of Mukka. They however informed the Prophet (SAS) that on the \\‘ay from Makka to Madina they were arrested by the Pagan Makkans who released them on the condition that they would not join hands with other Muslim to fight against them. The Prophet did not enlist them and advised them to abide by their commitment (Muslim – quoted in Paighambar – E – lkhlaq – I 985 P : 136).
Implementation of the Divine Principle of Justice:
The divine principle of justice vas firmly upheld by Prophet Muhammad (SAS). Once a leading lady of Quraish was caught pilfering and, her hand, according to the Quranic injunction was to be chopped off. Some of the closest companions of the Prophet recommended milder punishment. While declining their request the Prophet remarked “that earlier tribes and peoples were ruined because of their distorted dispensation of justice. The poor would be severely punished for their guilt while the crime of the rich will be overlooked. Even if my daughter were guilty of such a crime I would not have hesitated to inflict the same punishment to her.” (Paighambar-E–Ikhlaq-l 5, P: 79). This divine principle of justice with equity been completely mutilated and distorted in the present socio-political system all over the world. While the rich and influential and their close relatives or associates manage to escape the clutches of justice, the poor and the weak are made to suffer sometimes for crimes they have not even committed.
The Prophet whenever in a politically strong position against his adversaries would refuse to exploit the situation to his advantage. After the conquest of Kaba the Makkan Mohajirs (migrants) who had settled down in Madina returned to Makka and had expected that their houses which were occupied by the Pagans would be restored to them. A brother of one of the wives (Hazrat Zainab) of the Prophet staked his claim for the return of his house but was asked by the Prophet to forsake it which he did. Thus not a single Pagan Makkan was dislodged from the house of the Muslim Mohajirs (migrant).
Unfair Means to Achieve ends Disapproved:
Islam never justified means to achieve ends. The Prophet did never deviate from this principle. A misdeed is a misdeed irrespective of the fact as to who commits it. As for instance, Mogheera bin Shoaiba before his conversion to Islam was with a Non-Muslim trading caravan. He got an opportunity to kill all the members of that caravan and seized their goods. Thereafter, he appeared before the Prophet to profess Islam together with the seized goods. The Prophet welcomed him to the fold of Islam but refused the looted property since it was contrary to the ethical values of Islam. (Paighambar-E-lkhlaq – P 222). Similarly, once an ambassador of the Quraish of Makka came to negotiate with the Prophet. During the course of this meeting he decided to embrace Islam and expressed his desire to do so. The Prophet appreciated his desire to embrace Islam but did not accept him into its fold since he enjoyed the status of the ambassador of the Prophets adversaries, he did not agree to break the convenant for Quran has strongly instructed against the breach of contract. He advised the ambassador to fulfil his assigned mission and go back to his people. Thereafter, if he still felt the urge to join Islam he should come back to him (paigharnbar-E-lkhlaq1985 P: 162).
Forcible Conversion Not Favoured:
Forcible conversion is not favoured in Islam and Quran has certainly proclaimed against it Al-Baqra – the cow – II: 256. It was customary in Madina before the advent of Islam that the Arab women, whose children would not survive, would hand over their surviving children to Jewish family and allow them to be converted to Jewish religion if the child survived.
Thus a number of Arab Children had become Jews. After their acceptance of Islam the Arabs wanted their children to be returned to them and converted to Islam. The Jews protested against this. The case was finally referred to the Prophet for his decision. He left it to the will of the children. There was no forcible conversion. Those of the children who wanted to stay as Jews were allowed to stay as such, and the rest embraced Islam. With his political authority over Madina he could have forcibly converted all the children but he refused to exercise it (Paighambar-E-Ikhlaq-1 98 5-P:224).
Justice and Fairplay with Non-Muslims:
The Prophet was strongly against harassing and oppressing the non- Muslims subjects in a Islamic state. He categorically warned his companions that “Allah will punish all those on the Day of Judgement who will be found guilty of tormenting their fellow human beings” (Paighambar-E-Ikhlaq – 1985 P: 166). He advised his companions to treat the non-Muslim subjects with compassion, respect and as fellow human beings and sternly warned them “against oppressing and torturing the non-Muslim subjects or humiliating them or forcibly depriving them of their rightful possession. If the Muslims were found guilty of any of these reprehensible acts he i.e., Muhammad (SAS) will stand for the Non-Muslims against the guilty Muslims on the Day of Judgement (Abu Dawood vol. 2 quoted in Paighambar-E-Ikhlaq P: 166). Hazrat Omar, the second Caliph of Islam and one of the closest companions of the Prophet, firmly adhered to these norms, as prescribed by the Prophet, towards the Non-Muslim subjects and instructed his official to “fulfil commitments made with the Non-Muslim subjects, fight to protect their life and property. and they should not be assigned tasks beyond their means”, (Bukhari Vol. 4. quoted in Paighambar-E-Ikhlaq – P: 166).
Prophet Muhammad (SAS) performed the most magnimous act towards his enemies after his greatest political and religious victory i.e., the conquest of Makka and the control of Kaba. The Quraish of Macca had tortured him, reviled him, and driven him out and his companions from their homes in Makka and had adopted every stratagem to defeat his mission. Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufyan, had defiled the dead body of Harnza, an uncle of the Prophet, which had grieved the Prophet most. On the consummation of his Mission with the conquest of Makka, the Prophet of Islam announced general amnesty to all Makkans whether they had accepted Islam or not. The victor of Makka announced to the vanquished “verily I say as my brother Joseph spoke to his brothers this day there shall be no upbraiding of you nor reproach, God forgiveth you and He is the most Merciful of Marciful (Yousuf-Joseph: XII:92). This amnesty has no parallel in history. There was no rralice, no ill feeling, no vindictiveness, no massacre, no destruction on the conquest of Makka by Prophet Muhammad (Paigharrbar – E – Ikhlaq – 1985 – PP:184-185). This victory ushered in an era of peace and reconstruction banishing the spirit of hatred and vendatta together with the destruction of the idols of Kaba. There was no forcible conversion but willing and voluntary acceptance of Islam which had established its moral superiority together with political hegemony.
The edifice of Islam and the Identity of Muslims are founded on the ethical values of piety and righteousness as enjoined in the Quran and expressed admirably in the character, attitude, deeds and behaviour of Prophet Muhammed (SAS). These values seem to have been overwhelmed by the current socio-cultural norms contradictory, materialistic ideologies of capitalism, socialism and marxism. This erosion of ethical values and mora norms has coloured the vision of nations most of which are motivated with selfish ends. In order to overcome this depressing international scenario the Muslims ought to reassert their Islamic values to establish firmly their identity and to prove worthy of the Quranic description of being “the best of people evolved for mankind enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong and believing in God.”
Acknowledgement: grateful thanks to Mr. Khwaja Moinuddin, Department of English and Dr. Mohd Ahmad, Reader in Geography, Osmania University who went through the preliminary draft of this article and offered useful suggestions.
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