The topic chosen by us for our Ethics and Fiqh for Everyday Life (UNGS 2050) assignment is “The Ethics of Islamic Life.” The main objective of this assignment is to fulfil the requirement for the subject. However, we have our own reasons for choosing this particular topic and one of them is to gain more knowledge about ethics. As we know, ethics in one of the most important elements in our life as it indicates the level of our civilization. Moreover, when speaking about ethics particularly in Islamic life, we are the Muslims actually carrying a huge responsibility to portray ourselves as a role model as we are living in the name of our religion. Our actions, words as well as conducts are no doubt being observed by the world as the teaching of Islam. Therefore, it is a must for us to know what is the ethics in Islamic life so we can apply it in our daily life as practising Muslims. Realising the responsibility as mentioned above, we choose this topic as we want to discover as much as possible how to live in the correct way as practising Muslims. On the other hand, the objective of this assignment is to provide the knowledge of ethics in Islamic life to other people other than our own self. This is also can be considered as a small step of dakwah from us as we would like to point out the right ethics in Islamic life. As mentioned above, the Muslims are being observed by the world in terms of actions therefore we hope by providing this work, it may contribute to others as well to open the eyes of the world on how beautiful the teaching of Islam is. Other than to our own self and other Muslims, this worls may also can provide a simple understanding to the non-Muslims as well. This topic of Ethics in Islamic Life basically talks about how the practising Muslims should live their life according to the teaching of Islam. The teaching of Islam here particularly means the ethics or way of life that have been ruled out by the divine revelation, Al Qur’an and Sunnah as well as from the other sources such as Muslim scholars. The discussion revolves around the Sunnah versus ethics, significant of ethics via Muslim 1|Page
perspectives, ethics in the sense of devotion issues arise regarding ethics of Muslim in western country.
Definition of Ethics, Islamic and Ethics in Islamic Life.
The general meaning of ethics is a set of principles of the right conduct. Ethics, sometimes known as philosophical ethics, ethical theory, moral theory, and moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct, often addressing disputes of moral diversity.1 Therefore in simpler words we can say that ethics is how we live our life as well as the way we deal with other creature of the earth or towards certain circumstances. When talking about how we live our life that bring ethics closer as one of the fundamentals value in our life. Therefore ethics can be defined as the way we live. On the other hand, Islamic means anything relating to Islam. In defining Islamic, we must define the term ‘Islam’ in the first instance. Islam is derived from the words Salam which means peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.2 Therefore, Islamic means anything that relating to the urge of following commands of Allah S.W.T. In combining the words ethics and Islamic, it can be concluded that true meaning of Ethics in Islamic Life means the state of being in right conduct and observing the life according to the will of Allah. In simple words, it can be put that living our life as Allah command us to.
Sunnah Vs Ethics
In today’s society, one of the major problems that we face is undoubtedly moral degeneration. In the past prophets were sent to nations which were morally degenerated. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammad states that he was sent to complete moral virtues. We learn from the Quran that the nations which could not save themselves from the vortex of immorality, despite having prophets sent to them, were punished severely with divine retribution. In today’s world, where science and technology has rapidly developed, where new weapons of mass-destruction are created daily, the importance of ethical values certainly has become more important.
The word “ethics” comes from the Greek word “ethos” meaning habit or custom. Generally, Islamic ethics is the ethical system formed by the teachings of the Qur’an and explained by the Prophet (s.a.w) through action and words. Ethics deals with those standards that prescribe what man got to do. It also addresses virtues, duties and attitudes of the individual and the society. In addition, ethics is related to customs, traditions as well as beliefs and worldviews. Notably, there are other fields, such as law, human feeling and culture, which address the same subjects that ethics address. For instance, it is true that ethics and human feelings are closely related to each other. However, being ethical is not to follow one’s feelings and desires. Indeed, human feelings might frequently go against ethics and deviate from moral standards of right and wrong.
Similarly, law and ethics are principle-guided fields. Both of these fields prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society or fairness. Though law covers a wide spectrum of ethics, nevertheless, being ethical does not necessarily mean to follow what the conventional law requires. In addition, ethics is also not confined to the standards of behaviour (culture) which our society accepts. It is true that in 3|Page
any society majority of them accepts standards that are ethical, but being moral does not necessarily mean the same as doing whatever the society accepts. Good examples are to be found in the cases of drug abuse, smoking, bribery and dictatorship. This is because these habits are practiced by some societies or subgroups, but regardless of how many societies practiced, these habits are immoral in the eyes of many ordinary human beings and societies.
Ethics means “good character” or good human behaviour (al-akhlaq al-fadilah). In this understanding ethics is the human character that prescribes to refrain from immoral conducts such as cheating, corruption, discrimination, lying, stealing, murder, assault, slander, rape, fraud, and etc., and enjoins virtues of honesty, compassion, sincerity and loyalty. Therefore, a man that has a good character can be seen as an ethical persona. Islamic morality is aimed at the individual forming a just and honest personality in general and a “Muslim identity” in particular. The only guide to this morality is the life of Prophet Muhammad. It is an undeniable fact that the Sunnah (practices) of Prophet Muhammad is an important factor in developing such a Muslim identity. It is clear that Muslim nations, which can be very diverse in terms of race or culture or which can be very distant to each other regionally, have the same general moral values. The word Sunnah is derived from the root ([ سنsa-n-na] Arabic), meaning smooth and easy flow or direct flow path. The word literally means a clear and well-trodden path. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah is the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and interpretations of the Quran. Muslims follow Prophet Muhammad’s way of life as he is the best example and teacher for mankind.
Allah has informed in the surah Ali Imran that the Prophet had the characteristic of teaching the Qur'an and purifying mankind:
“Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.” (Surah Ali Imran: 164)
When the Prophet (s.a.w) was asked how to determine the moral quality of human conducts, particularly, how to know which human conduct is right and which one is vice, he replied: “righteousness (al-birr) is a kind of human disposition (husnul khuluq) and vice (ithm) is what rankles in your heart and you disapprove that people should come to know of it.”
The Qur’anic account of human character consists of two dimensions of the human persona; the first dimension includes those positive attributes of man, such as al-bayan (intellectual discourse), al-Ilm (knowledge and understanding), al-taqwim al-hasan (natural disposition) and al-nazar and al-itibar (reflective power), and the Qur’an associates these attributes with the human nature (fitrah). The second dimension is the negative behaviours of man such as dha’if and al-ya’us (weak and easy give up), halu’ and manu’ (selfish and egoist), ajul and qatur (haste and niggard), zalum and jahul (forgetful and injustice) and jadal and halu’a (argumentative and impatient).
According to the Qur’an, positive attributes of human persona are part of the human disposition which is given to man by Allah (s.w.t), while the negative behaviours are attributed to the human desires which man develops in the subsequent ages of his life. Akhlaq (ethics) is understood as a disposition which is both internal as well as external; ethics is not just a personal affair but it is also interpersonal as well as social matter. On one 5|Page
hand, Islamic ethics enjoins takiyah al-nafs (self-purification), which is continuous process of intellectual and spiritual enhancement of human psyche.
While on the other, Islam ethics calls the individual to improve his or her relations with other members of the community, and other creatures of Allah (s.w.t) in general. With this respect, in order to create awareness towards ethics, the personality of a Muslim should make him a well-liked and respected person. A person is only well-liked and respected if he behaves well, is polite and gracious, respectful of and considerate to others. Thus, a Muslim is advised, among others, to be friendly, forgiving, compassionate, generous and helpful, and also to be inclined towards chivalry and gallantry, to give rather than to take, to sacrifice rather than to grab, to make way for others’ need, to say kind motivating words, to be humane to one and all.
Sunnah and ethics are something that is closely related to each other. We can see that the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad or his way of life is exemplary and ethical and should be followed by all mankind. Sunnah such as eating with the right hand, respecting the elders, sadaqah and many other are all ethical. Imam Malik, one of the greatest Islam scholars, compared the Sunnah of the prophet to the ark of Noah and said : The Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) is like the Ark of Noah. Whoever embarks upon it reaches salvation and whoever refuses is drowned." Therefore, we can conclude that following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad in our daily life can make us be a better and an ethical person.
Significant of Ethics in Muslim Perspective
In the school of Islam, man is ethically obliged to go towards God who has all attributions of beauty and glorification while preserving all legitimate individual and social liberties as well as all individual and social right.3 The Qura’an also have emphasize the importance of ethics towards others on the following verse:
“And pursue the right course in your going about and lower your voice; surely the most hateful of voices is braying of the asses.”4
“And the servants of the Beneficent Allah are they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace”5 Islamic ethics defined as "good character," historically took shape as a successful amalgamation of the Qur'anic teachings, the teachings of the Sunnah of Muhammad, the precedents of Islamic jurists (Sharia and Fiqh), the pre-Islamic Arabian tradition, and nonArabic elements (including Persian and Greek ideas) embedded in or integrated with a generally Islamic structure.
The foundational source in the gradual codification of Islamic ethics was the Muslim understanding and interpretations of the Qur'an and practices of Muhammad. Its meaning has always been in context of active submission to Allah, performed by the community in unison. The motive force in Islamic ethics is the notion that every human being is called to "command the good and forbid the evil" in all spheres of life. Muslims understand the role of Muhammad as attempting to facilitate this submission. Another key factor in the field of Islamic ethics is the belief that mankind has been granted the faculty to discern God's will and to abide by it. This faculty most crucially involves reflecting over the 3
Behruz Rafiee, 2004, Ethics in Islam, Tehran, pp 1-2
Al Qur’an, 31:19
meaning of existence. Therefore, regardless of their environment, humans are believed to have a moral responsibility to submit to God's will and to follow Islam as demonstrated in the Qur'an.
Historically, Muslims derive their Islamic ethics from the Qur’an and the Hadith. The Qur’an contains several commands Muhammad’s followers must obey. The Hadith presents Muhammad as the exemplary human whom Muslims must imitate in all respects. “Muhammad was only a mortal being commissioned by God to teach the word of God and lead an exemplary life,” writes Hammuda Abdalati. “He stands in history as the best model for man in piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue.” .
The concept of morality in Islam centers around certain basic beliefs and principles. Among these are the following: (1) God is the Creator and Source of all goodness, truth, and beauty. (2) Man is a responsible, dignified, and honorable agent of his Creator. (3) God has put everything in the heavens and the earth in the service of mankind. (4) By His Mercy and Wisdom, God does not expect the impossible from man or hold him accountable for anything beyond his power. Nor does God forbid man to enjoy the good things of life. (5) Moderation, practicality, and balance are the guarantees of high integrity and sound morality. (6) All things are permissible in principle except what is singled out as obligatory, which must be observed, and what is singled out as forbidden, which must be avoided. (7) Man’s ultimate responsibility is to God and his highest goal is the pleasure of his Creator.
From an Islamic perspective, it was clarified that the purpose of human life is to worship God, by leading this worldly life in harmony with the Divine Will, and thereby
achieve peace in this world, and everlasting success in the life of the hereafter. Muslims look to the Glorious Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet as their moral guides. The Glorious Qur’an says:
“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of 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; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice 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 people of truth, the Allah-fearing.” [Al-Qur’an 2:177] This verse underscores the Islamic belief that righteousness and piety is based, before all else on a true and sincere faith. The key to virtue and good conduct is a strong relation with God, who sees all, at all times and everywhere. He knows the secrets of the hearts and the intentions behind all actions. Therefore, Islam enjoins moral behavior in all circumstances; God is aware of each one when no one else is. It may be possible to deceive the world, but it’s not possible to deceive the Creator. The love and continuous awareness of God and the Day of Judgment enables man to be moral in conduct and sincere in intentions, with devotion and dedication.
The Glorious Qur’an also says:
“ the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which ye have no knowledge.” [Al-Qur’an 7:33]
It is interesting that the Qur’an refers to “sins and trespasses against truth or reason”. It is an indication of God’s blessing to every human being, of an innate moral sense. Such a moral sense, when uncorrupted by family or society, is what leads people to commendable acts of virtue. Islam aims to enhance and amplify the moral sense in every human being and adorn the individual’s character with the noblest of virtues. The Islamic moral principles therefore, appeal naturally to the human intellect, while elevating the pursuit of morality to the level of worship. This is because Islam holds every action that is done with the goal of attaining of God’s pleasure to be worship. In short, when viewing Islamic ethics, Muslims see Muhammad as the exemplary human being, the one all people should seek to imitate. Along with more general virtues, the Five Pillars of Practice form a core of Islamic ethics. In addition to many motivations for ethical behavior, anticipation of final judgment is the strongest.
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Ethics in the sense of devotion
According to the oxford dictionary, devotion6 gives meaning of religious worship, worship, religious observance like payers and etc. In this discussion, we will focus on ethics in the sense of devotion. As we all know, ethics is a good manner. So, the main issue in ethics in the sense of devotion is what is the good manner that people will do towards religious worship. The devotion in Islam is something that we do intention for the sake of Allah s.w.t and fully submission towards him as our Creator.
“Do not give witness or credence to falsehood or immorality and if they happened to pass by vain or harmful speech they pass by with honor and dignity.” (Qur’an, 25:72) Since the early generations our scholars have differed slightly over the meanings carried in this verse. Some of the great scholars from the early generations said Al-Zoor specifically refers to polytheism, which means that a Muslim would not go to, take part in or support a polytheistic ritual. Similarly we would never show acceptance to or validate polytheistic beliefs.7
As we said about the verse, a true servant of the Merciful lives for something greater than his or her self.
It means that as a practicing Muslim, it is greatly disturbing and disheartening when we know people who identify themselves as Muslim yet do not pray, fast, give their yearly obligatory alms (zakat), seek knowledge or support the message of God: the basic pillars of Islam. This group of people often justifies their lack of spiritual devotion and obedience with the claim that since they do not commit major sins, they are still good Muslims who love God. Is it their love for God that leads them to disobey Him? To not make any attempt to build a relationship with Him the way He decreed?8
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/devotion http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/character/stand-for-something/ 8
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The discussion of ethics in the sense of devotion will focus on the Islamic devotion like ethics in respect of mosque, ethics in reciting the Quran, ethics in Ramadan, ethics in zakat and sadaqah and ethics in performing Hajj.
When we talk about ethics in respect of mosque, it means that we are discussing about a good manner or adab in the mosque as to show a respect because mosque is the most noble and sacred to the Muslim. The best portion of the earth in the sight of god is that upon which a mosque is raised. The distinctive feature of the devotee of God is that he loves the mosque. The Holy Prophet p.b.u.h has observed:
“The man whose heart is devoted to the mosque will rest under the shade of heaven”. (Hãdìth Bukhari)9
There are a lot of ethics that our beloved prophet had taught us. He taught us to do service to the mosque where to keep the house of God populated. As a Muslim, to render service to the mosque and keep it populated is a sign of faith. 10Allah have stated in his Book:
The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided. (At-Taubah,9:18)
Besides that, ethics that we as Muslim should do is to keep the mosque clean and tidy. It can be done by sweep the place and clean out all dust or filth. Go Burn incense, especially on Friday so that the whole mosque becomes fragrant with the aroma of the incense. The Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h observed:
“To sweep the mosque; to keep it tidy and clean; to cast out all dust and filth from the mosque; to burn incense in the mosque, especially to make the place fragrant with the aroma of the incense on Fridays —all these are acts which lead to Paradise”. (Ibn Majah)11
Etiquettes Of Life In Islam, Muhammad Yusuf Islam, (Pakistan) 3rd Edition (1990) Ibid.,pp.108
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Moreover, go to the mosque in a state of fear and trepidation is also considered as ethics in the sense of devotion. Say “Assalamu Alaykum” (peace be upon you) during entering the mosque. Sit down quietly and pray in such a manner that your heart should be filed with the awe of the Greatness and Glory of God. Those who enter the mosque laughing and talking are careless and impudent; the hearts of such people are devoid of the fear of God. But some people in their bid to join the congregation before they lose any Raka’ah rush forward into the mosque. This act is contrary to the sanctity of the mosque. Whether you are able to join the Raka’ah or not, walk in the mosque with poise, dignity and in humility; avoid hurried movement.12
On the other hands, we should sit down in the mosque in peace and avoid worldly talk, shout or make noise, to cut jokes and raise laughter, to discuss bazaar rates, to comment on the worldly affairs or to strike business deals in the mosque is a sacrilege. Where mosque is a place of Divine Worship; use it for the purpose of offering devotions to God only.13
Upon the entering the mosque, put the right step in and say ‘Peace and blessing of Allah be on the Holy prophet and then say the following prayer. The holy Prophet p.b.u.h observed: “Whenever any of you enters the mosque, he should say’peace and blessings of Allah be on the Holy Prophet and then say this dhua,14
تح ال لهم
رحم تك أب واب ل ى اف
“Oh God! Open the gates of Mercy for me”
Then, after entering the mosque, say two Raka’ah of supererogatory prayers. These two Raka’ah are described by the term ‘Tahiyyat ul-Masjid”. Similarly, whenever you return from a journey, go first to the mosque and say two Raka’ah of supererogatory prayers and then proceed to your home. It is also a Sunnah that Our Prophet always do when he return from a journey. Rasulullah used to go first to the mosque and offered supererogatory prayers and afterwards proceeded home15.
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And before coming out of the mosque, put your left step out and say this dhua,16 Besides ethics in respect of mosque, we also discuss on ethics of reciting the Qur’an. The Quran, the book of God, has been preserved by God from tampering and change. Recite Al-Quran is one of the deeds that Allah s.w.t ordered us to do in order to purify and get rewards from Him.
We all know from the Quran and the Hãdìth about the countless rewards and benefits of praying and reciting Quran during the nightly prayers (last one third of the night) As is stated in the Hãdìth narrated by ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them both), in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Whoever recites ten aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays a thousand aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 635).
Imaam al-Bukhaari used to pray qiyaam and tahajjud at night until the time of suhoor, and he would read between a half and a third of the Quran, and complete it at suhoor every third night17.
As we all know, recite the Holy Qur’an with eagerness and fervor and put all your heart and soul in the recitation is also an ethics. Be understood that, love of the Qur’an means love of God. The Holy Prophet p.b.u.h affirmed:”The best form of worship for my followers is recitation of the Qur’an. “
Other than that, we should engage ourselves in the recitation of the Qur’an most of the time and never feel weary of reciting the Holy Book. As the Holy Prophet p.b.u.h has affirmed : “ God has ordained that any man who engages himself in the recitation of Qur’an so constantly that he finds no time to send prayers to me, I shall provide him more without asking than those who ask”. (Tirmidhi)
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Further than this, Rasulullah p.b.u.h observed: “ The servant gets nearest unto God by means of reciting the Qur’an. (Tirmidhi)
Whereas , it will instruct the people to recite the Holy Qur’an and Rasulullah also observed : “The man who has studied the Quran and recites it daily can be likened to a basket full of musk whose sweet smell is making the whole atmosphere fragrant. And the man who studied the quran and does not recite it may be likened to a bottle full of musk whose mouth has been sealed with a stopper”. (Tirmidhi)18
The most important thing that we should aware is our behavior when recite the Quran. Suppose sit cross-legged with your face towards the Qiblah and recite the Quran with your head bowed, with utmost care, complete attention, eagerness of heart and in a proper manner19. As Allah s.w.t affirms that :
“This is a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” (Sad, 38:29) Furthermore, do not recite in an extremely loud or very low voice, keep our voice at a medium pitch20. As Allah s.w.t ordains :
Say, "Call upon Allah or call upon the Most Merciful. Whichever [name] you call - to Him belong the best names." And do not recite [too] loudly in your prayer or [too] quietly but seek between that an [intermediate] way. (Al-Isra’, 17: 110) Then our discussion will be further on ethics in Ramadan. Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner
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reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives. There are as many meanings of Ramadan as there are Muslims. The third "pillar" or religious obligation of Islam, fasting has many special benefits. Among these, the most important is that it is a means of learning self-control. Due to the lack of preoccupation with the satisfaction of bodily appetites during the daylight hours of fasting, a measure of ascendancy is given to one's spiritual nature, which becomes a means of coming closer to God. Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur'an, giving charity, purifying one's behavior, and doing good deeds. The ethics include during the month of Ramadan is start preparing our mind from the month of Sha’aban for according a befitting reception to Ramadan. Keep fasts frequently before fifteenth of Sha’ban. Saidatina ‘Aisya radiallahuanhu relates: “Rasulullah used to keep fasts more often in Sha’ban than in any other month”. Moreover, do take special interest in offering devotions during the month of Ramadan. In addition to obligatory prayers, make it a point to observe supererogatory prayers also. Make a firm resolve to win the maximum favor of God. God has reserved His special favors and blessings for this great and propitious month. On the final day of Sha’ban, the Holy Prophet p.b.u.h in a discourse on the blessings of the month of Ramadan affirmed: “O people! A great and blessed month is going to set in on you. Each night of this month is better than a thousand months. God has made fasting obligatory during this month and has ordained Tarawih as a supplementary prayer. Any man who performs a single obligatory act during this month, he shall received a reward equal to the reward of seventy obligatory acts during other months”21.
Issues arise regarding ethics of Muslim in western Country
The modern way of life has given one a much higher degree of comfort and contributed to gracious and spacious living which in its turn contributes to the progress of the world in all directions. Such is the mentality of those who, due to the heritage of European rule, are convinced that Western manners are so inherently superior that our culture must be measured by degree to which we have to adopted them. That is why when Europeans and Americans visit a Muslim country they do not change their mode of dress nor their customs 21
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to conform to those of their hosts rather they expect, as a matter of course, that everyone will bend to their ways. If we Muslims were not so severely afflicted with an inferioritycomplex concerning our indigenous culture, we would do exactly the same. Western ways are not only totally different but contradictory in almost every respect to the teachings of Islam. Those Muslims who live or wish to live in modern Western manner not only advertise their mental and emotional slavery but openly violate the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. Since Islam is a complete way of life sanctioned by Divine authority, it cannot be improved upon by borrowing from any quarter. Muslims who have adopted Western fashions, argue that since Islam is a universal faith, it specifies no particular kind of dress, therefore we are free to clothe ourselves any way we please to conform to the society in which we live. This is a false assumption, because both Quran and Sunnah contain many plain and unambiguous instruction as to how Muslims should dress. The Quran says :
“ He (Allah) has given you garments to preserve you from the heat (and cod ) and coats of mail to preserve you in warfare.” (16:81)22
“ oh children of Adam ! We have indeed sent down for you clothing to cover your shame and for beauty and dress of piety that is best. “ (7:26)23 This means that in Islam the purpose of clothing is : 1) modesty (2) protection against the severity of the climate according to geographical conditions and (3) to enhance the appearance of the wearer. In the Western dress, the prime purposes is, through semi nudity, transparent cloth and very tight-fitting dresses, to exhibit the private parts of the wearer to te maximum advantage.
The Sunnah of the Holy Prophet gives the believer detailed instructions on the proper manner of eating, all of which conflict with the prevailing in the modern Western. Before eating, everyone should see whether the food he is going to take is lawful or unlawful according to Islam. If its unlawful, it should not be taken at all, because the prayer of a man eating unlawful things is not accepted24. Western food includes many kinds of alcoholic beverages and swine –flesh not only taken as such but used in the cooking of other foods as well. Since their animals are not slaughtered by Zabbah, all western meats, except those animals slaughtered by religious Jews, are unlawful. Except for religious Jews, Western people make no distinction between lawful and unlawful foods but eat what they relish for the taste only.
Following Islam, the foods should be placed on dinning cloth on the ground and not on tables as is now the custom. Sitting on dining cloth should be according to the convenience 22
The Holy Quran, surah An-Nahl,verse 81
The Holy Quran, surah Al-Araf, verse 26
Al-Hadis, Maulana al-Haj Fazlur karim,Calcutta,vol II , p.118
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of the eaters, but eating should never be taken leaning against anything ( such as the back of chairs ). The Niyat should be made for taking food for enabling the body the body to do religious duties ordered by Islam and not only for relish. Many hands should participate in the same dish as the blessing of the food lies in the company. The first and foremost duty of a man before eating is to take the name of Allah, because remembrance of Allah in every affair is the keynote of Islam.
Different for now custom, without realize we are had adopted the modern Western manner of eating by using chairs, table knives, forks and spoons. The modern “buffet” were usually prepared for any kind of event now, where guest load up theirs plates with as much as they can eat and then take their food standing anywhere in the house is most repugnant to the Islamic way. Islam demands that every bit of food should be eaten and even a morsel wasted is sinful, whereas according to western etiquette, it is bad manner to eat everything and regarded as the height of cultural refinement to leave a portion of one’s food uneaten on the plate to go to waste. The following Hadith describes in detail the manner of eating according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet :
Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said : None of you shall ever take food with his left hand nor shall drink therewith because the devils eats with his left hand and drinks therewith.
Jabir reported that the Prophet used to lick the fingers and the plates and said, “ You do not know wherein there is a blessing.” – (MUSLIM)
Aishah reported that the Messenger of Allah said , “ Don’t cut meat with a knife because it is the manner of the foreigners, but tear it off with your teeth because it is more tasteful and easy. – (ABU DAUD, BAIHAQI)
In Western, the whole service at the meal is conducted by signals to the servants so if you let go the soup spoon, it is a signal for the servants to take away the soup plate even though you may not have finished eating the soup it is for the host or hostess to indicate where each guest will sit. An attempt is generally made to place a woman between two men and not to put the husband and wife next to each other25. Unless husband and wife or very close relations, Muslim men and women always eat separately and no custom could horrify a practicing Muslims more than to place at a dinner, a strange woman in between two strange men.
The pride of modern Western civilization is its hygienic cleanliness. Western accuse Muslims as being a dirty people. But, when it comes to examine the “ cleanliness” what Western practicing it contrast with the Sunnah. For example, people of the west use the 25
Pakistani Manners and English Etiquette,op cit, pp.35-36
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sanitary wash basin for washing their hands and face and for rinsing the mouth also. In the west, they fill up this basin with warm water and wash and expectorate into the same dirty water. Nothing could be more objectionable to the practicing Muslim than the above advice since, according to the Sunnah, water which has been used once for washing or bathing cannot be used again. That is why the Western style bath for the Muslim is epitome dirtiness. The modern Western “bathroom “ is perhaps the most highly objectionable of all Western ways since to put the latrine in the same room where people bathe is absolutely prohibited by the Sunnah. Another repulsive custom is that the Western latrine compels a man to urinate standing which forbidden in Islam.
Thus one cannot adopt the Western mode of life without violating, if not altogether abandoning, obedience to Islamic injunctions. In commenting on the craze of Muslims to copy alien ways of life -:
Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said : He who imitates a people (meaning the unbelievers ) becomes one of them. –(MUSNAD IBN HANBAL, SUNAN IBN DAUD )
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In conclusion, we can see that ethics in Islamic life covers pretty wide definition and substantial elements. Not only it guides us to be a good practising Muslim, we can also say that ethics make our life easier. For an example, when dealing with other person in ethical way, we can find that the cooperation works out better. Other than ethics bring us closer to Allah S.W.T, ethics also help us being a good and productive person in our daily life. If we live following the ethics as described by the divine revelations and sunnah of Rasulullah, we may be able to live our live better and harmoniously as it teaches us how to react when the problem arise.
In the sense of world today, we can see the increasing number of younger generation that do not take Islamic ethics as their way of organizing their life. It have to be emphasized here that Islamic ethics is the best ethics and since our younger generation is our successor in the world, we have the responsibilities to occupy them with the knowledge of ethics. Let us work together to uphold the Islamic ethical values for our religion and for a better future.
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“Muslims Life In The Present-Day World” ,Salahuddin Ahmed,New Delhi, 1st Edition (2011)
“Etiquettes Of Life In Islam”, Muhammad Yusuf Islam, (Pakistan) 3rd Edition (1990)
“Ethics and Fiqh for Everyday Life: An Islamic Perspective” ,Munawar Haque IIUM Press 1st Edition (2010)
Pakistani Manners and English Etiquette,op cit, pp.35-36
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The Holy Quran, surah An-Nahl,verse 81
The Holy Quran, surah Al-Araf, verse 26
Al-Hadis, Maulana al-Haj Fazlur karim,Calcutta,vol II , p.118 http://www.iqrasense.com/quran/rewards-benefits-and-virtuesof-quran-and-its-recitation.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics#cite_note-iep.utm.edu
Behruz Rafiee, 2004, Ethics in Islam, Tehran, pp 1-2
Al Qur’an, 31:19