These are some of the distinct features of Islam, which make it necessary for modern man to seek his salvation through this ideology:
First, it must be well understood that Islam is not a mere ideological vision. It is a practical system of life that fully appreciates all the genuine needs of humankind and tries to realise them.
Second, in trying to meet the genuine requirements of man, Islam effects perfect balance between all areas of life and activity. It starts with the individual maintaining a balance between the requirements of body and soul, reason and spirit and in no case allows one side to dominate the other. It does not suppress the human instincts in order to make the soul ascend the higher planes, nor does it allow man, in his efforts to fulfil his bodily desires, to stoop down to the low level of animalism and hedonism. On the contrary, it makes them both meet on a single higher plane, doing away with all the internal psychological conflicts that threaten the human soul or set a part of it against the other parts.
In the social sphere, it proceeds to achieve equilibrium between the needs of the individual and those of the community. It does not allow an individual to transgress against other individuals, or against the community. Nor does it allow the community to commit transgression against individuals. It also does not approve of one class or group of people to enslave another class or group of people. Islam exercises a beneficent constraint on all these mutually opposed forces, prevents them from coming into collision with one another, and harnesses them all to co-operate for the general good of humankind as a whole.
Thus, Islam strikes a balance between different sectors of society and between different aspects of existence, spiritual as well as material. Unlike Communism, it does not believe that economic factors, i.e. the material aspect alone, dominate human existence. Nor does it contribute to what the pure spiritualists or idealists say, claiming that spiritual factors or high ideals alone are sufficient to organise human life. Rather, Islam holds that all these diverse elements put together, form what is called human society; and that the best code of life is that which takes note of all these, making full allowance for body as well as reason and spirit, arranging them all in the framework of a harmonious whole.
Third, it must always be kept in mind that Islam has an altogether independent existence of its own as a social philosophy and an economic system. Some of its outward manifestations may on the surface appear to resemble those of Capitalism or Socialism, but in fact, it is far from being the one or the other. It retains all the good characteristics of these systems, yet is free from their shortcomings and perversions. It does not extol individualism to that loathful extent which is the characteristic of the modern West. It was from this germ that modern Capitalism sprang and institutionalised that concept of individual freedom, where man is allowed to exploit other individuals and the community only to serve his personal gain. Islam guarantees personal freedom and provides opportunities for individual enterprise, but not at the cost of society or ideals of social justice.
The reaction to Capitalism has appeared in the form of Socialism. It idolises the social basis to an extent that the individual is reduced to an insignificant part of the social machine with no existence of his own. Therefore, the community alone enjoys freedom as well as power, the individual has no right to question its authority or demand his rights. The tragedy of Socialism and its variants is that they assign to the State absolute powers to shape the lives of the individuals.
Islam strikes a balance between the two extremes of Capitalism and Socialism. Being appreciative of their role, Islam harmonises the individuals and the State in such a way that individuals have the freedom necessary to develop their potentialities and not to encroach upon the rights of their fellowmen. It also gives the community and the State adequate powers to regulate and control the socio-economic relationships to guard and maintain this harmony in human life. The basis of this whole structure as visualised by Islam is the reciprocity of love between individuals and groups; it is not erected on the basis of hatred and class conflict, as is the case with Socialism.
It may also be pointed out here that this unique system of life as visualised by Islam, did not originate as a result of any economic pressure, nor was it an outcome of some mutually conflicting interests of antagonistic groups of people. It was revealed to the world as the ordained system of life, at a time when men attached no particular importance to economic factors, nor did they know anything about social justice in the sense we know it in modern times. Both Socialism and Capitalism are much later developments. Islam presented its scheme of social reform much before any of the social movements of our times. It guaranteed the basic needs of man – food, housing and sexual satisfaction – more than 1400 years ago. The Noble Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Whosoever acts as a public officer for us (i.e. the Islamic State) and has no wife, he shall have a wife; if he has no house, he shall be given a house to live in; if he has no servant, he shall have one; and if he has no animal (a conveyance), he shall be provided with one. Anyone who takes more than this has exaggerated (i.e. taken more than he deserves).” [Ahmad]
This historical announcement of fundamental human rights not only contains those rights voiced by many a revolutionary in our times, it adds to them some more as well, without necessitating any inter-class hatred, bloody revolutions, and without rejecting all those human elements in life that do not fall under the above three heads: food, housing and family.
These are some of the salient features of the Islamic code of life. They are sufficient to show that a religion with such laws and principles, that is comprehensive and includes the complete human existence, emotions, thoughts, actions, worship, economic dealings, social relationships, instructive urges and spiritual aspirations – all arranged in the framework of a single harmonious but unique system of life, can never lose its usefulness for mankind. Nor can such a religion ever become obsolete, as its objectives are the same as those of life itself and therefore, destined to live on so long as there is life on this planet.
Considering the existing state of affairs in the contemporary world, humankind cannot reasonably afford to turn its back upon Islam or reject its system of life. Humankind is still afflicted with the most savage and odious forms of racial prejudices. Surely, the world in the twentieth century has yet a great deal to learn from Islam. Long ago, Islam freed humanity from all racial prejudices. It did not content itself with the presentation of a beautiful vision of equality alone, but it achieved in practice an unprecedented state of equality between all people, black, white or yellow, declaring that none enjoyed any superiority over the others except in virtue and piety.
It not only freed the black from slavery, but also fully recognised their rights to aspire even to the highest seat of authority in the Islamic State. They could become the heads of the Islamic State. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Listen and obey even if a black slave be appointed as your superior, so long as he should enforce amongst you the Law of Allah (God).”
How can also the world of today ignore the message of Islam, stricken as it is with the evils of imperialism and tyranny with all their barbarous attributes? Islam alone can help humankind shake off these chains. It is opposed to imperialism and all forms of exploitation. The way Islam treated the people of the countries it conquered was so generous, just and sublime that the eyes of “civilized” Europe can hardly penetrate those heights. We may in this regard cite the famous decision of the Caliph ’Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, to whip the son of ’Amr bin al-‘Aas, the victorious general and honoured governor of Egypt, as he had beaten an Egyptian Copt without any legal justification. This shows the social liberty and human rights that were enjoyed by the subjects of the Islamic State.
Then there is the evil of Capitalism that has poisoned all life. Its abolition and the need to rid humanity of its evil consequences again call for Islam.
Fourth, Islam prohibits usury and hoarding which, taken together, form the mainstay of the Capitalist economy. This, in other words, means that Islam alone can effectively check the evils of Capitalism as it did check them 1,400 years ago.
Finally, the world with the shadows of war still hanging over it cannot but turn towards Islam – the only way to establish and maintain real peace on this earth. The era of Islam has in a way just started, not ended; it is not a spent force, but a living dynamic force, its future is as bright as its great historical past is glorious, when it illumined the face of earth at a time when Europe was still groping its way in the dark recesses of Medievalism.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
Morality in Islam
One of the most important aspects of a Muslim’s life is to have high moral standards. Since the beginning of Islam, Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was mainly concerned with teaching and disciplining Muslims to have the best manners and personal characteristics. His personal life and behaviour were reflective of his teachings, which were revealed to him by Allah. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah describes Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, saying (what means): “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” [Qur’an, 68:4]
The Prophet’s high standard of manners made him a model for all Muslims to follow. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to emphasise how important good manners are for Muslims. He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam has said: “The best of you is the best among you in conduct.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
In another authentic narration, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, mentioned that: “The heaviest thing to be placed in the balance of a believing slave on the Day of Judgement will be good behaviour. And Allah hates the one who uses bad language.” [Al-Bayhaqi]
Someone once asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, what deed would lead a man to paradise, and he sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam answered: “Piety and good conduct.”
In other narrations the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, made distinctions among Muslims based on their behaviour; the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The most perfect man in his faith, among the believers, is the one whose behaviour is the most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” [Ahmad]
He even clarified that people will be on different levels in Paradise based on their good manners saying: “The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is the best in conduct…” [Ibn An-Najjaar]
Now we shall talk about ethics in Islam, and how it is different from other ethical systems today.
Unlike other systems, the ethical system in Islam derives from a divine source. This divine source is the revelation from Allah. Therefore, this system cannot be changed, or manipulated to fit our desires. It applies regardless of time or place. This system has not been changed for thousands of years, it cannot be changed today, and it will never change until the Day of Judgement. No one has the authority to change or alter this system, even if the whole world wants to do so. What was considered good morals in the past will remain as good morals throughout time.
What was considered as bad morals in the past will also remain so forever, even if society accepts it as a norm. The system of ethics is not affected by cultural norms, because Allah is the One who determines what is acceptable and what is not.
The Noble Qur’an is very detailed and clearly mentions the significance of good manners, just like it mentions the importance of belief, worship, and all our daily affairs.
The Noble Qur’an mentions several good acts of morality repeatedly, for example:
Dealing with one’s parents in the best manner
Being nice to one’s relatives and neighbours
Taking care of orphans and the poor
Being sincere in all of one’s intentions
Fulfilling one’s promises
Treating all people fairly
The Noble Qur’an goes as far as to teach us the way that we should walk. Allah Says (what means): “And, be moderate in your walking…” [Qur’an: 31:19] Allah also Says (what means): “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in modesty, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.”[Qur’an, 25:63]
The Noble Qur’an even tells us the proper etiquette of visiting one another. Allah Says (what means): “O you who have believed! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded [i.e., advised].” [Qur’an, 24:27]
The Qur’an also teaches us the way we should behave in a gathering, Allah Says (what means): “O you who have believed! When you are told: ‘Space yourselves’ in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you…” [Qur’an, 58:11]
If we were to actually practise the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, we would find that there are many lessons to learn when eating, drinking, dressing, sleeping, travelling, greeting, taking permission, even sneezing, yawning and other seemingly trivial acts.
Unlike other ethical systems, Islam’s moral system is a very detailed and complete package. Islam addresses every aspect of human life, no matter how minor. It is a complete package - it does not lack anything that needs to be completed nor does it have any defects that need to be amended.
The Islamic religion guides our morals that deal with the individual, the community, and Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It also guides us on how to deal with rulers and how to honour and respect scholars. Islam even directs us on how to act during times of peace and war.
It goes as far as guiding us on the treatment of animals. Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Fear Allah when you treat the animals: take care of them, keep them in good health whether you ride on them or are raising them for their meat.”[Ahmad]
In another narration, Prophet, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “…when you slaughter an animal, make your slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to the animal (in order to reduce the pain).” [Muslim]
The Companions once asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, “Do we earn reward if we treat animals in a good manner? He answered: “Yes, surely you earn rewards whenever you treat any living being in a good manner.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
No other ethical system can match Islam’s one. Only Allah, with His great wisdom, could have made such a system that teaches humans how to deal with every aspect of their lives. This is because Islam is not a man-made system; it is the religion of Allah. He made it complete and integrated. No man has, can or ever will come up with a system that is so perfect. If you want a successful and happy life, then simply apply Islam to it, and you will have wonderful results.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
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