Ethical and Moral Foundation of Life and Society

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Ethical and Moral Foundation of Life and Society

The life of an individual and society are based on and guided by certain fundamental ethical and moral principles. These principles are drawn basically from Divine Knowledge. Some of these principles are as follows

The Principle of Knowledge and Truth

The first principle is the principle of knowledge, wisdom, guidance or truth. No individual and no society is free from knowledge, wisdom, guidance or truth. A genuine, reasonable, meaningful, correct, good life of an individual and society are those which are knowledge based. Hence, Prophet Abraham made the following supplication:

[And then Abraham prayed] “My Lord, endowed me with knowledge and wisdom and join me with the right course and grant me an honourable reputation among posterity. 26: 83-84

In fact, this is the first foundational basis of ethical and moral life of man and society. Neither life nor society can be developed based on ignorance, conjecture and speculation. Life and society must be developed on the basis of truth and reality. One can recognize and identify truth and reality only on the basis of knowledge ad wisdom. Hence, Prophet Abraham’s supplication of increase in knowledge and wisdom seems to be reasonable and correct. Increase in knowledge, wisdom, true understanding and true discernment are the facts of life. In line with the supplication of Prophet Abraham, the Prophet Muhammad [peace be on them] also made the same kind of supplication. He said: “O Allah, give me the ability to see things as they really are…”

It is also prayed: “O God! Grant me the company of the righteous in this world and raise me among the righteous in the Hereafter.” The prayer that someone be raised with the righteous in the Hereafter amounts to praying for salvation. This should, indeed, be the supplication of everyone who believes in the Hereafter and in accountability to God. Yet even as far as this world is concerned, a pious person hopes that God will save him from living in the company of perverse and wicked people and will join him with the pious. When society becomes corrupt to the core, a pious person is not simply tormented when he sees the effects of immorality around him. He also suffers because it becomes difficult for him to maintain his own moral purity. This explains why he who is pious remains in a state of distress until either the society in which he lives is reformed or he forsakes that society and finds for himself another in which Truth and righteousness prevail. [vol. 7, p. 79]

Prophet Abraham prayed that posterity might remember him as a pious and righteous person rather than as someone who was wicked and who had left a trail of wickedness behind him. He prayed that God might grant him the ability to do those good deeds by dint of which his life might serve as a guiding light for humanity, that he might become one of the benefactors of humankind. Clearly, this was not a supplication for fame and personal esteem but for attaining that true and lasting eminence which is only achieved by the performance of substantively good deeds. A person attaining to a high station obtains two worldly benefits. First, by virtue of such eminence, humanity is provided with a good and inspiring role model which helps guide those who seek to live righteously. Second, this good example left by one man continues to benefit countless millions by inspiring them to do good, and by dint of that good example that man continues to reap rewards for all the good deeds done by others under the influence of that good example. On the Day of Judgment, millions of human beings will vouch for the fact that such and such a person had caused a spring of good deeds to flow, springs from which generation after generation of people quenched their thirst for righteousness. [vol. 7, p. 79]

Hence, we are instructed that we should pray:

O ‘Lord! Increase me in knowledge.’ 20: 114

We realize we humans are weak,...
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