As regards this issue, we would cite some words of a khutbah delivered by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the Islamic Society of Orange County (California, USA) on 23 Safar 1424:
“Almighty Allah says: “But those will prosper who purify themselves, glorify the name of their Lord, and (lift their hearts) in Prayer. Nay (behold), you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring. And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelations), the Books of Abraham and Moses.” (Al-A`la: 14-19)
Our daily challenge is how to live in this world in the way of the Prophets of Allah, all the Prophets of Allah from Adam to the last and final Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon all of them). The way of the Prophets of Allah was one and the same. They came to give the same message and followed basically the same principles and values. The way of the Prophets was not the way of kings or rulers, the way of politicians and military commanders, the way of the rich and comfortable people. The way of the Prophets was different from what the world expects or from what we are used to seeing and observing in this world.
The way of the Prophets was to uphold the real and permanent over the ephemeral and transitory, the spiritual over the material, the moral and ethical over that which brings quick profit or results. The way of the Prophets was not the way of power but the way of inner strength and energy. Their way was not the way of worldly pomp and glory but the way of humble devotion to Allah and service of humanity.
It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “My Lord gave me nine bits of advice and I give them to you. He advised me:
1. To be sincere whether in private and in public;
2. To do justice whether in anger or in happiness;
3. To be moderate whether in riches or in poverty;
4. To join (in relations) with those who (try) to cut me off;
5. To give to those who deprive me;
6. To forgive those who do wrong to me;
7. That my silence be thoughtful;
8. My speech be mindful (of Allah);
9. My vision be to take admonition.” (Reported by Razeen)
These are some very important bits of advice that Allah gave to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He lived by them throughout his whole life. He was a perfect example of these virtues. He also gave these bits of advice to us. These bits of advice contain the basic ethics of Islam. Islamic ethics are not ordinary ethics; they are divine and prophetic. The ethical principles given here require special effort, training and sacrifice. It is not easy or simple to live by these principles, but they have lasting values and they bring eternal blessings.
This is our daily challenge. Our challenge is how to live by these ethics in our daily life. The challenge is not to live by these values and principles in a situation of ease and happiness, but to live by them in all circumstances. The challenge is to live by these principles, teach them to our younger generation, and to form and build a community of faithful who are willing to dedicate themselves to them. These ethics can be elaborated as follows:
1. Al-Ikhlas (Sincerity) The first principle of Islamic ethics is sincerity, which means purity of the heart and purity of the mind (intention). It means truth and honesty. Sincerity is in every situation, whether alone or in public. There are many who are not sincere. They live the life of hypocrisy (nifaq). There are some who show themselves very sincere when in public, but in their private life when others are not watching them, their behavior changes. Real sincerity comes from the fear of Allah. In another version of this hadith, it is mentioned that Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The fear of Allah (khashyah) in private or in public.”
2. Al-`Adl (Justice) Justice and fair dealing are necessary with all people, with friends and foes alike, in happiness as well as in anger. Sometimes it is easy to talk of justice in the situation of comfort when there is no commotion or conflict, but the real challenge is to uphold justice even in relation to those who make you angry. Justice even to those who hate you and who never stop opposing and mistreating you. Justice not only in words, but in words and deeds both.
3. Al-Qasd (Moderation) It is to follow the middle path. Moderation should be in everything, not only in financial matters but in every aspect of life. In tight situations people become extremist, upset and afraid. In affluence also people lose control over themselves. The rich do not see the need for moderation, but moderation is good for all people in all circumstances.
4. Silat al-Rahim (Keeping the ties of kinship) These are family ties. This means keeping good relations between all members of the family and taking care of those who are in need. The challenge is not only to help those relatives who are nice or who give, but to give also to those who withhold and do not give anything on any occasion. Family is moral commitment. One should not be good to family members only when they are good, but one should be good even to those relatives who do not treat you well.
5. `Ata’ (Generosity) Believers are always generous. They give to all and everywhere. There is a great reward in helping people in their needs. However, the extraordinary character is to give to those who
do not give and to give to those also who purposely deny and deprive us.
6. Al-`Afw (Forgiveness) It is not easy to forgive those who do wrong to us. Islam teaches that one should forgive as much as possible, but the greatest forgiveness is when one pardons while he is capable of taking revenge and punishing. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has given us the best example of this value. He was ever willing to forgive his enemies.
7. Fikr (Thinking and reflection) It is good to be silent as much as possible, to speak only when it is necessary. But silence should be with thinking and reflection.
8. Dhikr (Remembrance of and speaking of Allah) Our tongue is a great gift of Allah to us. We are distinguished from animals because we can use our tongue. We should use our tongue to praise Allah and give thanks to Him, but we should also keep Allah in mind whenever we open our mouth. A lot of sins of the tongue, such as lying, backbiting, gossip, bad words, etcetera come because we do not remember Allah.
9. `Ibrah (Learning and taking lessons) Our eyes and minds must remain open to understand things and to take lessons from the events around us. We should be very thoughtful always.”