Among the matters that cannot be regulated by the government are ethical and moral values. These ethical and moral values cannot be forced by law on people; they can only be realized through individual and collective awareness and education. Ethical and moral values are derived foremost from religion. Punishing someone for failing to meet specific ethical standards is impossible because standards differ from person to person due to differences in religion, culture, and so on. These values contribute to the formation of a healthy and disciplined society. Any country’s rules can only be followed if one has strong ethical and moral values. Our behavior demonstrates our loyalty to our country and reflects our ethical and moral values.
It is worth noting that the Prophets of God play a vital role in ethical and moral reformation. Whenever a prophet has appeared, we see that the world has changed for the better. The religion of Islam is critical in setting specific standards. By studying the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), we see practical examples that we can follow to achieve a fulfilling life. The teachings of Islam are a source of motivation to acquire and practice ethical and moral values. The Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), writes that, according to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), the fact that the teachings of Islam have been given the highest status among all prophets by Allah has shown us the highest moral standard. His teachings cover all of the laws that must be followed to live a healthy and happy life (1). Morality begins with our intentions, and Islam focuses on finding purity through intentions.
Islam emphasizes moral values so that it has a profound impact on people. Islam addresses immorality in society to treat a problem before it even appears. When we receive a favor or assistance from someone, we are taught to say “thank you.” Islam emphasizes the importance of this matter, stating that a person who is not thankful to others is not grateful to God. One of the essential obligations of every Muslim is to thank God. This shows that we can only be grateful to God if we are thankful to others.
This also implies that when we express gratitude to others, we should do so from the bottom of our hearts, and it should be reflected in our every action and word. This promotes healthy connections in society and harmony because being thankful to others inspires others to do the same. The following Hadith (saying of the Prophet (sa)) emphasizes the importance of morality: “The heaviest thing which will be put on the believer’s scale (on the Day of Resurrection) will be good morals” (2).
The Holy Prophet (sa) established rules for every aspect of life, such as the standard of conducting business, the etiquette of meeting others, of family life and of eating and drinking. The Qur’an instructs us to act in specific ways in various situations, such as when interacting with our parents: “Thy Lord has commanded, ‘Worship none but Him and show kindness to parents. If one of them attain old age with thee or both of them, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but always address them with excellent speech’” (3). This commandment outlines the moral standard that should be followed in treatment of elderly parents, and it helps to build a disciplined and healthy lifestyle that begins at home.
The Islamic teachings brought by the Holy Prophet (sa) also established ethical and moral reformation standards. The Holy Qur’an says: “Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Generous, Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he knew not” (4). Education and seeking knowledge of all kinds are considered vital in Islam because they allow us to reform ourselves intellectually, ethically, and morally, in turn affording us opportunities to impart knowledge to others too. Islam’s teachings are founded on equality, fairness, justice, and freedom of speech, contributing to high moral standards.
One Hadith from the Holy Prophet (sa) instructs all Muslims not to harm anyone in any way:
“Abdullah Bin Amr Bin al-As is reported to have said: “Verily a person asked the Messenger of Allah, who amongst the Muslims was better. Upon this, [the Holy Prophet]remarked: ‘From whose hand and tongue the Muslims are safe’” (5).
By following this injunction, everyone feels safe, and their rights also are protected.
On several occasions, the Qur’an discusses moral standards, such as:
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend [in the cause of Allah]in prosperity and adversity, who restrain anger and who pardon the people, and Allah loves doers of good. And those who, when they commit any sexual immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins, and who can forgive sins except Allah? And [those who]do not persist in what they have done while they know” (6).
The blessed companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) practiced morality to the highest degree, just as he taught them. The first example is of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra), the first Caliph of Islam. Reiterating instructions of the Holy Prophet (sa) about Jihad, he told his military commanders:
“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for guidance on the battlefield: Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path; You must not mutilate dead bodies; do not kill women, children, or aged men; do not cut down fruit trees; do not destroy inhabited areas; do not slaughter any of the enemies’ sheep, cow, or camel except for food; do not burn date palms, nor inundate them; do not embezzle [e.g., no misappropriation of booty or spoils of war] nor be guilty of cowardliness. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone” (7).
The second example is “The Treaty of Umar,” which is a law enacted by the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar Farooq (ra), to protect the rights of Jews and Christians (8). Another example of the standard of obedience by the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) was when they heard that alcoholic beverages were prohibited, the companions instantly spilled the wine, and it is narrated that wine was flowing in the street of Madinah (9).
Islam defined rules of inheritance, rights of women, elderly, children, animals, minorities, and many other rights that had previously not been described in detail, if at all. These laws were created by the Holy Prophet (sa) under Divine guidance. He put these laws into practice, which had never been discussed in any scripture before incorporating Islamic teachings into all aspects of one’s life, resulting in a peaceful society based on excellent moral values.
Ethical and moral values play an essential role in bringing harmony to society, helping human beings to flourish in every way. Some practices, such as decision-making consultations and democracy, are now considered the central pillar of an advanced society. Ethical and moral reformation demonstrates the people’s intelligence and sensitivity to establishing a just and righteous society. Around 1,500 years ago, the Holy Prophet (sa) established a tremendous ethical and moral reformation, from which the larger world population is still benefitting.
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Surmah Chashm-e-Aryah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, p.71 footnote
- Bulugh Al-Maram Min Adillat Al-Ahkam, The Comprehensive Book, Book 16, Hadith 1566
- The Holy Qur’an (17:24)
- The Holy Qur’an (96:4-6)
- Sahih Muslim, Book 1, No: 64
- The Holy Qur’an (3:134-136)
- Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA
- Tareekh At-Tabari volume:2/449
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Number 4620
Last modified: March 2022