What is Islam?

by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)

Some of the Ethics of Islam

No religion is without its moral precepts and ethical teachings, but Islam gave them in a more systematized form, and left no branch of ethics untouched. Other religions for the most part confine their mission to some tribe or race, but Islam goes beyond these limits and deals with all international relations. In this respect Christianity is silent. Christianity, like Islam, is of great help in individual upliftment, but Islam governs relations between nation and nation; it is more universal than a tribal creed. The two things in Islam which chiefly excite my admiration are these:

The Prophet laid special stress on the acquirement of knowledge.

“Go to China,”

he would say to his disciples,

“in search of knowledge.”

He also said that the contemplation of man for a while, of doing good to his fellow-beings, was more meritorious than prayer for a whole night. Labour was the second thing which he sanctified. He made it Divine and declared idleness to be a sin.

He would not allow his followers, as others did, to go on a journey or religious mission without a penny in their pockets. A Muslim cannot go even on a pilgrimage to Mecca unless he has means to satisfy his needs. Muhammad did not shut the doors of heaven on a rich man.

Riches, on the other hand, if used to further the cause of humanity, were under his teaching the surest means to secure entrance into heaven. Each man’s assets, including his abilities and powers, are a trust to be used for the benefit of God’s creatures.

The pages of this small book do not leave me room to deal with the aspects of Muslim ethics in extenso. I think I cannot do better than conclude by giving some of the moral and ethical precepts in the following lines extracted from the Quran and Sayings of the Prophet:

“Surely those who accuse chaste believing women unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement” (The Holy Quran, 24:23).

This refers to those who continue to spread false reports concerning chaste women, the gossipmongers in every society. Islam strictly forbids such scandals.

“O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted their inmates; this is better for you, that you may be mindful” (The Holy Quran, 24:27).

The Arabs (before Muhammad) entered houses without permission or knocking at the door. This savage custom was abolished, and the law revealed in this verse laid down the basis of domestic peace and security needed for an advanced society. The law is a clear testimony of the great trust which Muslims have in their womenfolk. It is also a preventive measure against slander.