MORALITY IN ISLAM

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CONTENTS

  1. Humility
  2. Altruism and Generosity
  3. Faithfulness and Trustworthiness
  4. Grace and Refinement
  5. Service
  6. Jihad and the Struggle against Terror

Islam is not solely a way of life comprised of belief and worship. In addition to belief and worship, it is a system of exceptionally delicate criteria minutely arranging every sphere of life such as civil obligations, morality and in particular observing rights and rule of law. For Islam is the religion of truth sent by Allah Almighty – Who created humankind and Who, therefore, knows them better than they know their own selves – to instruct them how they are to live in this world.

Consequently, one of the most important parts of Islam is mu’amalat, or the practices in worldly affairs, which regulate the relationships among people.

Mu’amalat, expresses the part of Islamic jurisprudence which falls outside the domain of worship, or the completion of the law. We can also express this as “the principles of Islamic jurisprudence which regulate the relationships of a person with other people and with society”.

Islam has delineated the roles, responsibilities and rights of human beings as well the penal sanctions to be implemented in the event of violations of these, in every sphere from the private and daily life to the domestic life of individuals making up society, from kinship and relationships with one’s neighbours to commercial and economic activities, from instruction, training and educational services to the rules of social intercourse ensuring social peace and order.

That is to say, just as a Muslim must live their individual life in line with Islam, they are required to regulate their social life and relationships with others according to the Divine commandments. Hence, they must enable Islam to prevail in every facet of their lives. One who is unsuccessful in this cannot attain the disposition of a righteous believer. Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“One who mistreats those under his authority and care will not enter Paradise.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 29:1946; Ibn Maja, Adab, 10; Ahmad, I:7)

‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, says:

“Do not be misled by a person’s prayers and fasting.

[Consider instead], are they true in speech,

Are they trustworthy when something is entrusted to them (for safekeeping),

Do they observe the limits of the religiously permissible and prohibited in their worldly engagements?” (Bayhaqi, Kitab al-Sunan al-Kubra, VI:288; Shu’ab al-Iman, IV:230, 326)

A man praised another when in the presence of ‘Umar. ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, asked,

“Have you ever travelled with the person whom you praise?” The man answered,

“No.”

“Have you conducted business with him?”

“No.”

“Have you been their neighbour?”

“No.”

Upon these, ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, said,

“By Allah – there is no god but He – you do not know him!”[1]

Our books of jurisprudence elucidate the rulings pertaining to civil obligations at full length. By virtue of these rulings, worldly life is regulated and all people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, are protected from injustice and oppression.

In order for the rulings pertaining to worldly transactions to be implemented, Allah Almighty has established penal sanctions in both the world and the Hereafter and has declared these. Considering not merely the worldly dimension of their dealings but also the otherworldly dimension, a true believer strives to live in piety, in line with Allah’s approval.

  • Morality

Islam also has a dimension of morality that adds profundity and consistency to personal and social life.

The aim of Islam is to transform humankind into a virtuous civilisation. The realisation of this is possible only through the acquisition of an elevated level of morality and, in so doing, to acquire virtue. Hence, after belief and action, Islam has placed most importance on ethics and morality.

Encompassing sincerity in belief and worship, morality also comes to mean the reflection of this attitude on relationships with other human beings and treating them with compassion, magnanimity, respect, justice, sincerity and grace. This is because it is not possible to totally isolate a person’s relationship with Allah Almighty from their relationships with other human beings.

Good character perfects belief, embellishes life and enables one who possesses it to draw near to Divine approval. As being a person of high morality amounts to being adorned with the beautiful Divine attributes, it is at the same time an indicator of nearness to Allah Almighty.

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“Allah, glorified and exalted be He, has allotted you your characters just as He has allotted you your provisions. Allah Almighty gives worldly things to those whom He loves and those whom He does not love, but He gives religion only to those whom He loves, so he who is given religion by Allah is loved by Him…” (Ahmad, I:387)

In this Prophetic Tradition we see how intimately connected are ‘religion and morality’ and how they are even used interchangeably.

Again, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, states:

“Gabriel, peace be upon him, said that Allah said, ‘Verily, Allah has chosen this religion for Himself. Thus nothing is appropriate for your religion except generosity and good character. Ornament, therefore, your religion with them’.” (Haythami, VIII:20; ‘Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz, VI:392)

The true jewel, which makes a person human, is good character. How beautifully Shaykh Sa’di puts it:

“All that possesses eye, ear and mouth is not Adam. Many satans there are who appear in the form of the children of Adam. The true Adam is the person with good character. Beauty in countenance and other adornments resemble the fleeting embroideries in the world.”

Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi describes the evil predicament of those deprived of good character and morality in the following way:

“If hundreds of savage lions came together, they could not commit the evil perpetrated by those corrupt and ignorant who seize eminent positions.” (Mathnawi, IV, couplet 1441)

“Whatever befalls one by way of grief, sorrow and hardship, these come by way of presumptuousness, shamelessness and insolence. One who is shameless, presumptuous on the path of the Beloved is also an obstacle on the path of others. Such a person is not brave but cowardly.

By means of (spiritual) propriety, the Heavens became full of light, and by means of (such) propriety the angels became innocent and pure.” (Mathnawi, I, couplets 89-91)

For this reason, Muslims have placed great importance on propriety and good character. Traveller to the Ottoman lands, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, relates how the Turks followed their Prophet’s path of peace in their day-to-day lives and how they resented profanity and quarrel.[2]

Islam has brought the best of character in every field of life. A few of these will be touched upon by way of example:

1- HUMİLİTY  (Back to Content List)

The start of good character is a person’s knowing their place, their being humbled and even seeing themselves to be lower than they are so as to stifle their carnal self. This situation at the same time ensures that a person becomes more assiduous and hardworking in life.

Above and beyond everything else, a sense of humility leads a person to spiritual reverence and humble submission before Allah Almighty. A person who feels the power and majesty of the Almighty even slightly, understands their own weakness and impotence. They contemplate the fact that they have come to the world with zero capital, that is, without having paid any price. They realise that all the possibilities and capacities they possess belong to Allah, glorified and exalted be He. In every state, they turn to and seek refuge in Him saying, “O my Lord!” They come to understand that Allah Almighty, the Creator of all things, knows, hears and sees all thoughts, words and actions. They live in the consciousness of constantly being under Divine watch, so much so that they reach the point where they spend their every moment as though they were seeing Him. They are freed of all wrongs and attain a distinguished life with each moment adorned with deeds of righteousness.

A humble person places value on Allah’s servants, loves them, approaches each of them with affection and displays the virtue of being able to forgive their shortcomings. However, it is exceedingly difficult for these states to be observed in a self-conceited person.

Allah Almighty declares:

“Spread your wings (to provide care and shelter) over the believers who follow you (in practicing Allah’s commandments in their lives).” (Shu’ara 26:215)

“The (true) servants of the All-Merciful are they who move on the earth gently and humbly, and when the ignorant, foolish ones address them (with insolence or vulgarity as befits their ignorance and foolishness), they response with (words of) peace, (without engaging in hostility with them).”(Furqan 25:63.)

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has also stated:

“Allah revealed to me that we should be humble amongst ourselves and none should show pride upon the others. And it does not behove one to do so…”  (Muslim, Janna 64)

“He who is humble for the sake of Allah by one degree, Allah will elevate him one degree, until he reaches the highest degrees and he who is arrogant toward Allah, Allah will lower him one degree until he reaches the lowest of low degrees.”(Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 16)

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, held servanthood to Allah above everything else. One of the narrations detailing this preference is the following:

Gabriel, peace be upon him, sat with the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and looked at the sky, and he saw an angel descending. Gabriel, peace be upon him, said: ‘This angel has never before descended, since he was created.’ When he came down, he (i.e. the angel) said:

‘O Muhammad, your Lord has sent me to you and He asks, Shall He make you a Prophet-king or a Prophet-slave?’

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, turned to Gabriel, peace be upon him, who said:

‘Be humble before your Lord, O Muhammad.’

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

“I wish to be a Prophet-slave,” and thus displayed an extraordinary example of humility. (Ahmad, II:231; Haythami, IX, 18, 20)

After this incident until his demise, Allah’s Messenger never took his meals while leaning against something. (Haythami, IX:20)

To those who paid him excessive honour, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, used to say,

“Do not elevate me above the rank which Allah, the Exalted, has determined for me, for He has made me a servant before making me a Messenger.”  (Haythami, IX:21)

Even if slaves used to invite him to share bread made of barley, he would accept their invitation[3] and would even greet children.[4]

According to Anas‘ accounts the Prophet would visit the Helpers (Ansar) from time to time and upon arriving at their homes would greet the children separately, place his hand upon their heads and make supplication for them. (Nasa’i, Kitab al-Sunan al-Kubra, VI:90)

WHAT İS SUFİSM?

Anas, may Allah be well pleased with him relates the following concerning the Prophet’s humility and moral perfection:

“I served the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me as much as ‘uff’ [i.e. in disappointment] if I did something wrong. He never asked me, if I had failed to do something, ‘Why did you not do it?’ and he never said to me, if I had done something wrong, ‘Why did you do it?'”

During one of his expeditions with his Companions, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked them to slaughter a sheep when it was time to have food prepared. One of the Companions said,

“O Messenger of Allah, I will slaughter it.” Another one of the Companions said,

“O Messenger of Allah, allow me to skin it.” A third said,

“O Messenger of Allah, I will cook it.” So, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said,

“I will collect wood for the fire.” The Companions said,

“O Allah’s Messenger! We can do that too! There is no need for you to exhaust yourself.” But despite their insistence, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, said,

“I know that you can do it for me, but I do not like to be privileged. Allah dislikes seeing a slave of His privileged among others.” So he went and collected fire-wood.

Again, during one of his travels, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, set up camp in order to perform the prayer. He proceeded to the place where they would observe the pray and then returned. The Companions asked,

“O Messenger of Allah, where are you going?”

“I am going to tie my camel,” he replied. The Companions said,

“We can tie your camel, O Allah’s Messenger! Do not trouble yourself thus.” Upon this the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, replied,

“Let one (who is able) not seek help from people, even if it be to chew the end of their tooth stick (miswak) [i.e. until the twig forms bristles].[5]

The Companions, who were raised in the educational climate of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, were of the same character and morality. During his Pilgrimage, ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, would serve those with him and would take their camels out to graze while they were asleep. This was the result of his (moral) perfection and the beauty of his character.

Tabi’un scholar Mujahid ibn Jabr says:

“When I was in the company of Ibn ‘Umar I wished to serve him, but he used to serve me.”(Abu Nu’aym, Hilya, III:285-286)

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, once went out with some of his Companions to send Mu’adh ibn Jabal, may Allah be well pleased with him, off to Yemen as Governor. Mu’adh, may Allah be well pleased with him, was upon the mount while the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, walked alongside his riding beast. Mu’adh expressed his unease saying,

“O Messenger of Allah! I am riding, while you are walking. Can’t I get down and walk with you and your Companions?” Consoling him, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, revealed to him the actual concern weighing on his mind:

“O Mu’adh, I desire that these steps of mine be steps taken in the way of Allah.” (Diyarbakri, Tarikh al-Khamis, Beirut n.d., II:142)

Such an exemplar was the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in humility. His concern was not in regard to his own person but was – even to the detriment of his own health – that humankind be guided and attain happiness in this world and the Hereafter.

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, used to see to his own tasks himself and would help his family in household chores. An examination of the relevant narrations reveals the following:

The Prophet used to wash his own clothes, milk his sheep, mend his own garments, repair his shoes, sweep his house, tie and feed his camel, eat together with his servants, knead dough and carry home the goods that he purchased from the market. On one occasion, when Abu Hurayra, may Allah be well pleased with him, attempted to carry the garment that he had bought, he said,

“It is more proper that a person carry their own things themselves; however, if they are unable to do so, their Muslim brother (or sister) can assist them,” and did not allow him to do so. (Haythami, V:122)

The Prophet’s entering the city during the conquest of Makka, the Prophet’s greatest conquest, with his army more that ten thousand strong is a monumental model of humility. The Companions who were present describe this state thus:

“During Makka’s conquest, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was at the head of the army. On his triumphant entry into Makka, such was his deep submission and humility before Allah that his beard touched the packsaddle of his camel. He was prostrating before Allah in thankfulness and saying constantly,

“O Allah, there is no life, but the life of the Hereafter.” (Waqidi, II:824; Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

The following example of ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, is another illustration of such humility:

It is related from ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Mulayka that Ibn ‘Abbas asked permission to visit ‘A’isha before her death, while she was on her deathbed. She said,

“I fear that he will praise me,” (and thus did not want to grant him permission). When it was said to her,

“He is the cousin of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and one of the leading Muslims,” she said, “Give him permission.”

He asked,

“How are you feeling?” She replied,

“Good, if I am God-revering and pious.”

He said,

“Allah willing, you are upon (the path of) goodness, being the wife of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he did not marry any virgin other than you and proof of your innocence was revealed from heaven.”

‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr entered after him and she said,

“Ibn ‘Abbas came and praised me. ‘Would that I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten, completely forgotten!‘ (Maryam 19:23)  (Bukhari, Tafsir, 24:8)

As is evident, ‘A’isha’s every word and action exudes her noble character, humility, fear of Allah and piety.

Let us end this discussion with a final example:

The Prophet’s beloved grandson Hasan, may Allah be well pleased with him, once circumambulated the Ka’ba and then performed two units of prayer beside the Station of Abraham (Maqam al-Ibrahim). He then placed his face against the Station and began to weep, repeating the words,

“O Lord, this weak servant has come to Your door. O Allah, this helpless slave begs at Your door, this beggar, this needy soul…”

He then left on his way stumbling across some people who were trying to placate their hunger with dry pieces of bread. He greeted them and they in turn invited him over to join their humble meal. Hasan, may Allah be well pleased with him, sat with them and said,

“Had I not known that this bread was charity, I would have joined you.”

He instead invited them to join him at his own house and they set off together. The Prophet’s grandson fed and clothed them, placing some money in the pockets of their garments.” (Abshihi, al-Mustatraf, Beirut 1986, I:31)

2- ALTRUİSM AND GENEROSİTY  (Back to Content List)

Selfishness or egocentrism has no place in Islam. Islam has forbidden selfishness. In this world that we share, we are obliged to consider others at least as much as we consider ourselves. We must wish for them what we wish for ourselves. In particular, we must take a close interest in the weak, needy and forlorn for we are all the servants of the One God. Our Lord demands us to be of assistance to one another:

“And spend (in Allah’s cause and for the needy) out of whatever We provide for you before death comes to any of you and he says: ‘My Lord! If only You would grant me respite for a short while, so that I may give alms, and be one of the righteous!’ But never will Allah grant respite to a soul when its appointed term has come. Allah is fully aware of all that you do.” (Munafiqun 63:10-11)

“O you who believe! (So that you may enjoy solidarity and discipline, as a cohesive, peaceful community) spend (in Allah’s cause and for the needy) out of what We have provided for you (of wealth, power, and knowledge, etc.) before there comes a Day when there will be no trading nor friendship (which will bring any benefit), nor intercession (of the sort you resort to unjustly in the world). The unbelievers – it is they who are wrongdoers (those unable to discern the truth, who darken both their inner and outer world, and who wrong, first and most of all, themselves).” (Baqara 2:254)

“…Whatever you spend (in Allah’s cause and in alms), He will replace it.” (Saba 34:39)

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has encouraged altruism with the following words:

“The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Allah will take care of the needs of anyone who takes care of the needs of his brother. Allah will dispel the anxiety on the Day of Judgement of anyone who dispels the anxiety of another Muslim. On the Day of Judgement Allah will veil (the faults) anyone who veils (the faults of) another Muslim.” (Bukhari, Mazalim, 3; Muslim, Birr, 58)

It does not befit the Muslim to think only of themselves and disregard others for the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“One who sleeps while his neighbour is hungry is not a (perfected) believer.” (Hakim, II:15; Haythami, VIII:167; Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad, 112)

Muslims have centred their lives around this Prophetic warning. Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, explains:

“There were seven homes, all of which were needy. Someone sent a sheep’s head to one of these homes. The owner of the house sent it to his neighbour, believing them to be more in need of it than they were. With the same thought, the second neighbour sent it to the third. After the sheep’s head had gone from house to house, it came back to the first home to which it was sent.” (Hakim, II:526)

Spending their wealth for the servants of Allah is higher in the eyes of Muslims than spending it on themselves. One of the most poignant examples of this is the following episode:

The Prophet’s household once slaughtered a sheep. Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, asked,

“What remains of it?” ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, said,

“Only the shoulder blade remains.” Upon this the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, replied,

“In reality, only the shoulder blade is gone and all the rest remains.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 33:2470)

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, advised ‘A’isha as follows:

“Do not turn away the needy O, ‘A’isha, even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and draw them near to you, Allah will draw you near Him on the Day of Judgement.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 37:2352)

After hearing these words, she displayed exemplary altruism and selflessness throughout her life. Her nephew ‘Urwa ibn Zubayr said of her:

“…She would not keep anything which came to her from the provision of Allah but that she would give it in charity…” (Bukhari, Manaqib, 2)

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to advise his entire community in selflessness. One such example is related by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, may Allah be well pleased with him:

“Once when we were on a journey with the Prophet, a man came on a camel of his and began to look to his right and left.  The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

‘Anyone who has a spare mount should prepare it for someone who does not have a mount to ride, and anyone who has extra provision should prepare it for someone who does not have any provision,’ and he mentioned the different categories of property until we thought that none of us had any right to anything in excess of our needs.” (Muslim, Luqata, 18)

Allah, exalted and glorified be He, declares:

“…They also ask you what they should spend (in Allah’s cause and for the needy). Say: “What is left over (after you have spent on your dependents’ needs).” Thus does Allah make clear to you His Revelations, that you may reflect.” (Baqara 2:219)

That is to say, Allah Almighty tests us, His servants, with regard to whether we spend out of the bounties that He has bestowed upon us.

Spending in Allah’s cause is one of the most important means bringing a believer near to their Lord. Hence, the Almighty declares:

“You will never be able to attain godliness and virtue until you spend of what you love (in Allah’s cause, or to provide sustenance for the needy)…”(Al-‘Imran 3:92)

  • An All-Encompassing Altruism

Altruism necessitates engagement with not only the material needs of human beings, but all their problems and hardships.

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was at the forefront when embarking upon military expeditions and during battle and everyone else used to take refuge in him.[6] On the return, he would follow the convoy from behind, assist those enfeebled and with difficulty walking, allow them to ride pillion on his camel and would entreat Allah for them.[7]

A noteworthy example in this regard is the following incident:

Allah’s Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, went to the market to buy a shirt for himself for four dirhams. He put it on, praised Allah and returned. On his return from the market, he encountered one of the Helpers who said,

“O Allah’s Messenger, clothe me and Allah will clothe you with garments of Paradise.”

Then the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, took off his shirt and put it on that Companion. Then he himself went to the market to buy another shirt for himself for another four dirhams. He had two dirhams remaining.

On his way back, he came across a slave-girl who was crying.

“Why are you crying?” he asked. She replied,

“O Messenger of Allah! My master gave me two dirhams with which to buy flour from the market. I don’t know where I lost that money. Now I don’t have the courage to go back home.”

He gave her the remaining two dirhams in his possession. He later saw that the girl was still crying and asked her,

“Why didn’t you go home?” She said,

“O Messenger of Allah! It is too late for me to return and I am afraid that they might beat me.”

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, walked with her until they reached her house. He stopped at the door and called out its residents with greetings of peace. They recognised his voice but did not respond. He offered greetings a second time and again there was no response. Upon his third greeting they came out in great joy. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, asked,

“Did you not hear my first greeting?”

“O Messenger of Allah!” they exclaimed, “Indeed we heard you! We loved to hear your voice again and again. And your greeting is a means of blessing for us. This was the reason for our delay. May our father and mother be your ransom, O Allah’s Messenger! What is it that brings you here?”

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, said,

“This young girl feared that you might punish her.”

Upon hearing these words, the master of the house said,

“O Allah’s Messenger! Seeing that you have honoured our home, we have set her free!” The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, then gave them the glad tidings of Paradise and said,

“All praise is due to Allah. I have not seen any ten dirhams more blessed than these. With them, Allah clothed His Messenger and one of the Helpers and freed a slave-girl.  All praise is due to Allah! It is He Who has favoured us thus through His power.”  (Haythami, IX:13-14)

The Companions possessed the same nobility of character. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, was once in retreat (i’tikaf) in the Prophet’s Mosque, when a man approached, greeted him and sat down beside him. Ibn ‘Abbas said,

“You appear sad and downcast,” and the following conversation took place between them:

“Indeed, O cousin of Allah’s Messenger. I am indebted to So-and-so but, by the one who lies buried here (i.e. Allah’s Messenger), I do not have the means to repay it.”

“Shall I speak to them on your behalf?”

“If you please.”

Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, put on his shoes and was about to leave when his companion called out to him saying,

“Have you forgotten that you are in retreat? Why have you left the mosque?” Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, said with tears swelling in his eyes,

“No, I have not forgotten, but I heard the words of the Noble One who has only recently departed from among us, upon him be peace and blessings, who said:

“Whoever works to fulfil the needs of his brother, this is better for him than performing i’tikaf for ten years. And whoever performs i’tikaf for (just) one day, seeking Allah’s good pleasure, Allah will create three trenches between him and the fire of Hell. Each trench is wider than the distance between the Two Wings (the expanse of the East and West).” (Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman, III:424-425. Also see, Hathami, VIII:192)

Bayazid al-Bistami, may Allah sanctify his secret, relates another notable example of the altruism introduced with Islam.

“There were thousands of friends of Allah in our day, but the mission of the Qutb (Supreme Saint) of the Age was given to a blacksmith by the name of Abu Hafs. I went to his shop to ascertain the wisdom behind this. I found him to be extremely troubled and asked him the reason why. In intense grief, he said,

“I wonder if there is anyone who has a greater affliction than mine, a person who is more troubled than I am? I wonder what will be the state of all these servants of Allah on the Day of Judgement?”

He then began to weep and caused me to weep along with him. In curiosity, I asked,

“Why are you so grieved at the people’s being subjected to punishment?”

Abu Hafs replied,

“My nature was kneaded with the yeast of compassion and mercy. If all the punishment of the denizens of Hellfire were placed on me and they were forgiven, I would be excessively pleased and rid of all my worry…”

With this, I understood that Abu Hafs was not one of those who said, “Me, me, me!” but was of the temperament of Prophets who said, “My community, my community!” I stayed with him for some time during which I taught him some chapters of the Qur’an. I reached a spiritual degree, however, that I could not in forty years of learning and insight. My inner world was filled with spiritual blessing. I came to understand yet again that the status of Supreme Sainthood is another mystery entirely. Virtue is acquired not only through knowledge and a great amount of worship, but through these being transformed into wisdom and with Divine grace and regard. It must also not be forgotten that in his being the focus of this Divine regard and grace is the blessing of compassion and mercy having becoming his nature.”

  • Generosity in Ottoman Society

Fifteenth century traveller to Anatolia Bertrandon de la Broquière states:

“The Turks were well-meaning people who respected one another. More often than not, I witnessed them inviting a poor person who was passing by to join them for their meal. This is something that we just never do.”[8]

English traveller Sir Charles Fellows also relates that he was received with hospitality from people in every sphere of Ottoman society, from the Pasha to the Turkish peasant living in his tent pitched in the mountains, and that treated him thus without expecting anything in return. According to him, the sole concern of the Turks, their “universal law” was to “feed the stranger” without any differentiation of religion, nation, rich or poor.[9]

Nineteeth century English traveller Frederick Gustavus Burnaby praises the hospitality and generosity of the Turkish peoples even affirming that they “carry this virtue to excess”. He states:

“Sometimes after having admired a horse, I have been surprised to find that the steed has been sent to my stable, with a note from the owner, entreating my acceptance of the animal.”[10]

Thus, the human being must be filled with compassion, mercy, love and feelings of altruism towards all the creation of Allah, and especially human beings. These qualities will be the means to their reaching a lofty rank before Allah Almighty.

3- FAİTHFULNESS AND TRUSTWORTHİNESS  (Back to Content List)

Faithfulness denotes constancy in intention, word and deed, and to act in sincerity and earnestness.

Trustworthiness refers to being reliable and demonstrating a dependable character.

Islam has considered lying as one of the cardinal sins and has absolutely prohibited it. Failure to keep one’s word, inconsistency in action and seeing the deception of others as acceptable are extremely harmful qualities that are signs of hypocrisy. The greatest source of the affliction and tribulation which befalls human beings are such evil qualities, or in short, lying. This being the case, accustoming others to truthfulness and trustworthiness and raising new generations upon this elevated character, is a duty incumbent upon each and every one of us. For the foremost of all the beautiful qualities of the Prophets, sent as an example to all humanity, and the righteous are truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Allah Almighty shows the path of deliverance and prosperity as follows:

“O you who believe! Act in reverence for Allah and piously, without doing anything to incur His punishment, and always speak words true, proper and straight to the point, that He will make your deeds good and upright and forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has surely attained to a mighty triumph.” (Ahzab 33:70-71)

“O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to Allah in reverence for Him and piety, and keep the company of the truthful (those who are also faithful to their covenant with Allah).” (Tauba 9:119)

“…and fulfill the covenant: the covenant is surely subject to questioning (on the Day of Judgment you will be held accountable for your covenant).” (Isra’ 17:34)

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“Promise me the following six things and I will promise you Paradise:

  1. Speak the truth when you talk;
  2. Keep a promise when you make it;
  3. When you are trusted with something fulfill your trust;
  4. Avoid sexual immorality;
  5. Lower your gaze (in modesty); and
  6. Restrain your hands from committing injustice.” (Ahmad, V:323)

Truthfulness and trustworthiness are the essence of Islam. And so, Sufyan ibn ‘Abd Allah, may Allah be well pleased with him, said to Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings:

“Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I could not ask from anyone but you.” He said,

“Say, ‘I have believed in Allah’ and then and then be upright.” The man said,

“Messenger of Allah, what is the thing you fear most for me?”

He took hold of his tongue and then said, “This.” (Ahmad, III:413. Also see, Muslim, Iman, 62; Zuhd, 61; Ibn Maja, Fitan, 12)

Abu Musa, may Allah be well pleased with him, had asked:

“Messenger of Allah, whose Islam is best?” He said,

“The one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe.” (Bukhari, Iman, 4, 5, Riqaq 26; Muslim, Iman 64, 65)

Again, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:

“He who is not trustworthy has no Belief.”  (Ahmad, III:135)

The Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, happened to pass by a heap of eatables (corn). He thrust his hand in that (heap) and his fingers were moistened. He said to the owner of that heap of eatables (corn):

“What is this?” He replied,

“Messenger of Allah! These have been drenched by rainfall.” To which the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, remarked,

“Why did you not place this (the drenched part of the heap) over the corn so that people might see it? He who deceives is not of us. (Muslim, Iman, 164)

Islam has taken truthfulness as a basis even in matters that people deem to be trifling. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amir, may Allah be well pleased with him, narrates:

My mother called me once, whilst the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was at our home and she said,

“Come here, I will give you something.” Thereupon the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, asked,

“What did you want to give to him?” She replied,

“Dates.” The Prophet then said,

“Had you not given him anything, it would have been recorded (for you) as a lie.”  (Abu Dawud, Adab, 80:4991; Ahmad, III:447)

Lying has even been prohibited when speaking in jest. Some of the Prophet’s words of counsel and warning in this regard are as follows:

“A servant’s belief in Allah is not complete until he abandons lying, both in jest and earnestness, and arguing even if he be in the right.” (Ahmad, II:352, 364; Haythami, I:92)

“Woe to him who lies to make people laugh. Woe to him, woe to him!” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 80:4990; Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 10:2315)

Even unbelievers have benefited from the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Muslims. The Prophet’s Companion Hudafa, may Allah be well pleased with him, narrates:

“I set out with my father Husayl (from Makka to Madina), but we were caught by the Qurayshi polytheists. They said,

‘(Do) you intend to go to Muhammad?’ We said,

‘We do not intend to go to him, but we wish to go (back) to Madina.’ So they took from us a promise in the name of Allah that we would turn back to Madina and would not fight on the side of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. So, we came to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, and related the incident to him. He said,

‘Both, of you proceed (to Madina); we will fulfil the covenant made with them and seek Allah’s help against them.’ This is the reason why I could not participate in the Battle of Badr.” (Muslim, Jihad, 98)

One of the countless examples that can be provided in this regard is the following:

After the Battle of Uhud , leader of the enemy Abu Sufyan shouted loudly, saying,

“I adjure you by Allah, ‘Umar, have we killed Muhammad?” ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, said,

“By Allah, you have not, he is listening to what you are saying right now.” Abu Sufyan replied,

“I regard you as more truthful and reliable than Ibn Qami’a.” (Ibn Hisham, III:45; Waqidi, I:296-297; Ahmad, I:288; Haythami, VI:111)

Those who live as truthful and reliable people in the world will receive their true due on the Day wherein everyone will be in most need and where no one will be of any avail to anyone else. They will attain salvation by means of these noble characteristics which will run to their aid in their most trying times. Allah Almighty describes that Day saying,

“…This is the Day when their truthfulness (faithfulness and steadfastness) will benefit all who were true to their word (to Allah).”[11] Again, as stated in a Qur’anic verse:

“…and all men and women honest and truthful in their speech (and true to their words in their actions)… for them Allah has prepared forgiveness (to bring unforeseen blessings) and a tremendous reward.” (Ahzab 33:35)

“In consequence, Allah will reward the truthful ones for having been true to their covenant…” (Ahzab 33:24)

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, states that truthfulness will lead a person to eternal happiness:

“Truthfulness leads to piety and piety leads to the Garden. A man should be truthful until he is written down as truthful with Allah. Lying leads to deviance and deviance leads to the Fire. A man will lie until he is written down as a liar with Allah.”  (Bukhari, Adab, 69; Muslim, Birr, 103-105)

Islam prohibits the doing unto others those things that one does not wish upon themselves. In that case, a person who does not want to be deceived or be treated unjustly must embrace truthfulness and trustworthiness for deliverance is in honesty and truthfulness. Consequently, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“Speak the truth even if it entails your own ruin, for assuredly therein is deliverance and prosperity.” (‘Ali al-Muttaqi, III:612/6855)

4- GRACE AND REFİNEMENT  (Back to Content List)

Islam demands a sincere grace removed from show to be dominant in the life of a Muslim. It is necessary to observe the rules of courtesy and cultivation in one’s dress, manner of one’s sitting and standing, walking and talking, gaze, in giving and asking for something, in short in every kind of social intercourse, even in thought and feeling. So much so that a Muslim must not hurt anyone in anyway whatsoever and must not be hurt by anyone. How beautifully a poet expresses not hurting others and the virtue of being able to forgive those that hurt you:

The true purpose of human beings in this garden of the world is thus:

Neither is anyone offended by you, nor you by anyone.

In other words, a Muslim must know how to forgive the coarseness that is committed against their person. They must be engaged in the constant endeavour to become deserving of Divine forgiveness by constantly forgiving others. As declared in a Qur’anic verse:

“Let not those among you who are favored with resources swear that they will no longer give to the kindred, the needy, and those who have emigrated in Allah’s cause, (even though those wealthy ones suffer harm at the hands of the latter). Rather let them pardon and forbear. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.” (Nur 24:22)

An excellent example in every way, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is also a perfect model for us in grace and refinement. ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, states:

“There is no one more exalted in character that Allah’s Messenger. Such that whenever one of his Companions or household called him, he readily responded. It is by virtue of his exalted character that Allah Almighty revealed the verse, “You are surely of a sublime character, and do act by a sublime pattern of conduct.” (Qalam 68:4)  (Wahidi, Asbab, 463)

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was a compassionate, polite, gentle, soft-hearted individual. In response to a vulgar man’s repeatedly shouting out to him, “Muhammad, Muhammad!” he replied each time, in a gentle and compassionate manner,

“What is it that I can do for you?” and fulfilled his need. (See, Muslim, Nadhr, 8; Abu Dawud, Ayman, 21:3316; Haythami, IX:20)

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, used to educate a person who displayed coarseness in behaviour without embarrassing or insulting them. Even if he knew the individual in the community who did something unbecoming, he would direct focus to his own person, beginning his sentence with,

“What is it that I see you [doing such-and-such]?”[12]

Sometimes he would employ the third person, saying,

“What is the matter with the people that they say such and such?” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 5:4788)

Another one of the innumerable examples of the Prophet’s grace and courtesy is the following:

While the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was walking a man who had a donkey came to him and said,

“Messenger of Allah, ride,” and the man moved to the back of the animal. Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said,

“No, you have more right to ride in front on your animal than me unless you grant that right to me.” He said,

“I grant it to you.” So he mounted. (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 58:2572)

Another one of the requirements of Islamic decorum is to exercise utmost care not to cause trouble or anguish to others. Mu’adh ibn Anas relates:

“I fought along with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in such and such battles. The people occupied much space and encroached on the road (by randomly placing their belongings). The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sent an announcer to announce among the people:

“Those who occupy much space or encroach on the road (or cause injury or hardship to a believer) will not be credited with jihad.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 88:2629; Ahmad, III:441)[13]

In another Tradition in which he invites human beings to gentility, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, says:

“Whoever steps over the necks of the people on Friday (in order to reach the front row of the mosque), he has taken a bridge to the Fire.” (Ahmad, III:437)

The Prophet’s kindness to women can be illustrated with the following example:

During a journey, the driver of the camels, by the name of Anjasha goaded them on with his singing.[14] In view of the possibility that the delicate constitutions of the females seated on the camels might be affected, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, said:

“O Anjasha, take care lest the crystals break!” (Bukhari, Adab, 95; Ahmad, III:117)

The Companions were such gentle people that Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be well pleased with him, reported, “that people knocked on the door of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, using the tips of their fingernails.” (Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1080)

This incident also serves as vivid demonstration of the delicacy and grace of the Companions:

Caliph ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, sat with some people in a house wherein Jarir ibn ‘Abd Allah, may Allah be well pleased with him, was also present. ‘Umar detected an odour and said to those present:

“Let the one from whom this smell comes take the ablution at once.” Jarir then said,

“O leader of the believers, would it not be better for everyone present here to take the ablution?”

Filled with admiration for his civility, ‘Umar said to him,

“May Allah have mercy on you! How noble you were in the Age of Ignorance, and how noble you are in Islam!” (‘Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz, 8608)

Great courtesy is required when helping the needy and one must be in a state of gratitude towards them for it is through their means that one is able to attain Divine approval and pleasure. When my late father Musa Efendi, may Allah sanctify his secret, and my uncles used to spend in the way of Allah, they used to display great care and grace. On the envelopes in which the prescribed annual alms and charity was placed they would write, “Thank you for your acceptance.”

When they were to present something to the poor, they would first package these in the finest possible way and would present these with an admirable delicacy, without causing any offence and in a manner pleasing to those who were to receive them. The receiver would be joyous and the giver at peace. One would accept the offering acknowledging its coming from Allah, and the other would be jubilant at having consigned this Divine trust to its rightful place.

Similarly, in Ottoman society, the distribution of food to martyrs’ families in sealed containers and in the dark is an immensurable example of sensitivity and delicacy. This serves as an exceptional lesson in grace and propriety for generations to come.

Furthermore, the “Stones of Charity” invented to enable the impoverished to receive the money required to fulfil their needs without any discomfort is the result of an unrivalled refinement.

Having a small hole burrowed on top, these stones would be placed in suitable places throughout the neighbourhood. Those well-to-do could spend in the way of Allah ‘without their left hand knowing what their right hand has given,’ by placing their charity in the holes at the top of these stones, under the cover of darkness.

The virtuous and honourable poor of the neighbourhood would later take only as much money as they needed and nothing more. When their situation improved, they would place many times more than what they had taken from there, in return.

None other than those in need would take of these monies despite their being left out in the open. Hence, a seventeenth century French traveller reports that he monitored a stone with money on it for exactly one week and that he did not observe anyone come to take from it in charity.

  • Manner of Speech

Courtesy and grace holds especial importance in one’s speech. Commanding His servants to possess refinement in their manner of walking and talking, Allah Almighty declares:

“Be modest in your bearing, and subdue your voice. For certain the most repugnant of voices is braying of donkeys.” (Luqman 31:19)

Again, He declares:

“…and speak kindly and well to the people…” (Baqara 2:83)

“And say to My servants that they should always speak (even when disputing with others) that which is the best…” (Isra’ 17:53)

Islam forbids superfluous and vulgar speech and disapproves of excessive speech. Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, has said,

“Let one who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak of good or keep silent.” (Muslim, Iman, 77)

Allah and His Messenger advise human beings to speak in a language that is concise and eloquent, and with words that are very carefully selected.[15]

Again, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has stated:

“Some eloquent speech possesses the power of magic.”  (Bukhari, Nikah, 47)

That is to say, some words produce a bewitching effect on the heart. This is only possible through command of language and effective word choice. The pinnacle of such power is observed in the Qur’an with the Qur’anic verses each at the peak of eloquence and rhetoric, constituting a profound miracle. It is essential, therefore, to benefit from the Qur’an’s wisdom-laden address.

The Qur’an places great importance on what needs to be said where, or the etiquette and manner of speech, such that it commands the following:

  • Speaking even to the oppressor ‘with gentle words’;
  • Speaking to those in need ‘gently and well-meaning’;
  • Addressing one’s parents ‘in gracious words’;
  • Speaking ‘words true, proper and straight to the point’ to all people;
  • Speaking in ‘an honourable way’ to the orphan and the needy; and
  • Using ‘profound words touching their very souls’ when guiding others.

Thus, Islam has introduced the most effectual principles enabling human beings to be polite, graceful, understanding and genteel. Muslims who observe these principles will lead felicitous lives in both abodes and will attain neverending prosperity. As for those who reject these principles and seek to live according to the principles placed by mortal beings, their felicity is short-lived and they are consequently dragged to an eternal wretchedness.

5- SERVİCE İN ISLAM  (Back to Content List)

Belief in Allah requires one to be compassionate for one who believes in Allah Almighty loves Him and obeys His commands. Moreover, in time, they gradually come to love everything that is concerned with Him. In the Qur’an, Allah Almighty reminds of His attributes All-Merciful and All-Compassionate the most and incessantly commands compassion towards His creation. In this case, both a believer’s obedience to the Divine command as well as their assuming the character traits of God. A heart deprived of compassion, however, is an unfortunate heart estranged from Allah.

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, once affectionately kissed his grandson Hasan, may Allah be well pleased with him, on his cheek. Aqra’ ibn Haris, who was seated next to him, said,

“I have ten children and have never kissed any of them.”

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, looked at him and said,

“The one who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhari, Adab, 18)

Again, Bedouin came to the Prophet and said,

“Do you kiss children? We do not kiss them.” The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“There is nothing I can do if Allah has removed mercy from your hearts.”  (Bukhari, Adab, 18)

After the Battle of Hunayn, some captives were brought to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, among whom was a woman who had lost her own child. Whenever she found an infant among the captives, she held affectionately it to her chest and suckled it. Before this great tableau of compassion, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“Can you imagine this woman casting her child into the Fire?'”

The Companions replied, “No, no long as she has the power not to cast it.”

Then he said,

“Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.”   (Bukhari, Adab, 18)

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, later unconditionally released these captives numbering six thousand.

Thus, serving the servants of Allah most loved by Him and whom He always approaches with compassion is one of the most fundamental principles of Islam. Service to the created with a view to worshipping Allah is tantamount to worship of Allah itself.

Service is meeting the need of a powerless or impoverished person. It implies rushing to the aid of everyone and concerning oneself with their plight and hardship for the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, has stated:

“The best amongst you is the one who is most beneficial to human beings.” (Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman, VI:117; Ibn Hajar, Matalib, I:264)

Abu Musa, may Allah be well pleased with him, narrates:

“Allah’s Messsenger, upon him be peace and blessings, would wear a garment of coarse wool, milk his own sheep and entertain and honour his guests.” (Hakim, I, 129:205)

Service is a social duty of servanthood that the Almighty demands from His servants. Just as Allah has absolutely prohibited arrogance, pride and self-conceit, He does not want His servants to lead selfish lives. He wills His servants to be altruistic and pledges enormous rewards for the believers who engage in service to others. Hence, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, states:

“…Allah helps the servant so long as he helps his brother… and he who is slow to good deeds will not be hastened by his lineage.” (Muslim, Dhikr, 38; Ibn Maja, Muqaddima, 17)

“Whoever attains a white hair while in the path of Allah, it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgment.” (Tirmidhi, Fada’il al-Jihad, 9:1635; Nasa’i, Jihad, 26)

“An evening spent in the way of Allah or an morning is better than this world and everything it contains…” (Bukhari, Jihad, 6)

It is a given that one who serves, as opposed to one who is served, will be more prosperous in both the world and in the Hereafter. Hence, the people of wisdom have said:

“The people who are truly happy are those who know how to be of service to others.”

In that case, we are in need of service to others in order to attain perfection and felicity in both worlds. Consequently, we must be deeply indebted to those people we serve for they are a means to our acquiring nearness to Allah Almighty.

6- JİHAD AND THE STRUGGLE AGAİNST TERROR  (Back to Content List)

It is Allah, glorified be He, Who created human beings, animals and all other beings alongside the entire universe and Who sustains and regulates it in wondrous order and fashion. He has sent the religion of Islam to regulate the relationships of human beings – to whom He has bestowed reason and will – with one another and their treatment of other creatures. That is to say, Islam is a Divine and true religion. Anyone who examines Islam with a fair mind would acknowledge this.

Allah, exalted and glorified be He, is beyond all deficiencies, limitations and imperfections. Thus, He never wills disorder and corruption, or terrorism and evil. And so, when making mention of the hypocrites and the wicked, He declares:

“When he leaves (you) or attains authority, he rushes about the land to foment disorder and corruption therein, and to ruin the sources of life and human generations. Surely Allah does not love disorder and corruption.” (Baqara 2:205)

Again, prohibiting His servants to seek, condone or wait for an opportunity for such disorder and corruption, Allah Almighty declares:

“…Do not seek corruption and mischief in the land, for Allah does not love those who cause corruption and make mischief.” (Qasa 28:77)

Allah, glorified be He, is most compassionate to His servants and always wills goodness, mercy and prosperity for them. He deems violations of the rights of others as being of the greatest of crimes. So long as the servant does not forgive such a crime, Allah will not forgive it either. The Almighty approaches even His sinning servant with forgiveness and compassion. He makes known the fact that speaking ill of them behind their back is a major sin and fiercely warns against this.

Accordingly, it is not at all possible for Islam – sent by Allah Almighty for the peace and happiness of humanity – to desire and condone the killing of innocent people.

Islam sees the protection of the life property, honour, intellect and progeny of every human being as indispensable.

For this reason, an examination of history reveals that the person who struggled most with terrorism was the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. His twenty-three years of Prophethood were invariably a struggle against terror. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, constantly struggled against terror levelled against the human being, terror against animals and terror against the environment. He always held observing the rights of each and every individual, whether unbeliever or believer, as fundamental. Consequently, through his efforts, the entire world attained repose; the deserts that had formerly become a blood bath found peace and the history of humanity witnessed a civilisation of virtue the likes of which it had never seen before.

This being the case, certain groups set out to use Islam in juxtaposition with the word terror, one of the greatest calamities of our time. Whereas terrorism and anarchy have been established upon heartlessness and in no way do they require such exalted sensibilities as morality and principle. Terrorism has no tears, no compassion and conscience. Islam, however, is predicated upon mercy and compassion. In the Qur’an, Allah Almighty instils His Names All-Merciful and All-Compassionate the most, or in other words His universal mercy encompassing all creatures. Islam is a religion of humanity and civilisation which issues law and justice. Those who learn Islam properly perceive immediately the unfounded nature of even using its name in the same sentence as the word terror.

It is Allah Who has given life and it is only He Who can take it. It follows that unjustly taking a life is a most great crime committed against Allah for in the eyes of Islam, every life holds a value equal to all humanity. Allah, glorified be He, declares in the Qur’an:

“…He who kills a soul unless it be (in legal punishment) for murder or for causing disorder and corruption on the earth will be as if he had killed all humankind; and he who saves a life will be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind…” (Ma’ida 5:32)

A powerful deterrent that Islam has placed with a view to discouraging members of society from committing murder is retaliation wherein the violation of the law is proportionate to the infliction of punishment which such violence entails. In the event of there being several accomplices to the crime, each and every one of them are dealt the same punishment.[16] Killing someone else to one side, a person’s taking their own life has even been prohibited and suicide has been counted among the major sins. The punishment to be dealt for this has accordingly been presented in rather dire terms.[17]

Due to Islam’s regarding the human being to be so lofty, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, even used to exert utmost endeavour not to contend against his enemies. He made all kinds of accommodation in order to reach agreement with them; he would not be the side to start war and when the enemy waged war, he would descend upon them. When he was forced to fight, he applied insightful strategies in order for minimal loss of life. More often than not, he would compel his enemies to surrender without any bloodshed and would subsequently forgive them.

And so, when he conquered Makka without a single drop of bloodshed, all his enemies had surrendered however he forgave all of them and declared,

“Today is a Day of Mercy. You may go, you are free!” [18]

Subsequently, he inquired about the sons of his bitterest enemy, Abu Lahab, asking his uncle ‘Abbas,

“O ‘Abbas, where are your brother’s two sons ‘Utba and Mu’attib? I cannot see them.” ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, replied,

“They withdrew to the side, together with other Qurayshi polytheists.” He said,

“Bring them to me.”

‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, rode off in search of Abu Lahab’s sons. Upon finding them, he said,

“Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, invites you.” They hastened to ride with ‘Abbas and came to the Prophet’s presence. When he invited them to embrace Islam, they immediately accepted, pledging their allegiance to him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah be well pleased with him, was most pleased with their entering Islam. Taking them each by the hand, he took them to Multazam[19] and made a long supplication for them. He then returned with a great joy visible on his face. ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, thus remarked,

“O Messenger of Allah, may Allah make you eternally joyful! I see great joy reflected in your face.” The Prophet said,

“Indeed! I had beseeched my Lord for these two cousins of mine, and He gave them to me.”

‘Utba and Mu’attib, may Allah be well pleased with them both, never left the Prophet’s side. They went with him to Hunayn, in Makka’s surrounds, and took part in battle alongside him. Even when the battle turned against them during the Battle of Hunayn, they refused to leave the Prophet’s side. Mu’attib, may Allah be well pleased with him, even lost an eye when defending Allah’s Messenger.[20]

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, granted amnesty to many leading Makkans who fled, like these two, invited them and forgave them all.[21]

Allah’s Messenger,upon him be peace and blessings, did not wish harm even upon those who refused to believe in him and entreated Allah for their descendants to perceive the truth and believe in the One True God. As the saying goes, “Where there is life, there is hope.” When you take the life of others, you remove any possibility of hope in their knowing and believing in Allah Almighty.

And at last, Allah Almighty brought life out of death and allowed the realisation of Prophet’s prayer. By virtue of Divine mercy, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, pursued such an extraordinary statesmanship that the majority of his bitterest enemies became Muslim at will; similarly, the children of virtually all of them also believed and became individuals at the peak of humanity. When we look at the Prophetic Traditions and the narrators conveying the laws of Islam to us, we observe the fact that the forbears of most of them were polytheists. Even the children of individuals who harboured the fiercest hostility towards the Prophet later became great Muslim scholars.

One of the principles introduced by Islam is that a person cannot bear the burden of another’s crime. Allah Almighty has frequently repeated this ruling:

“No soul, as bearer of burden, bears and is made to bear the burden of another.”[22]

Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, charged a delegation of ten people, with Madinan ‘Asim ibn Thabit at their head, with teaching and gathering intelligence. The Lihyan tribe closely pursued this delegation with close to one hundred archers. Eight of these Companions were martyred, with Khubayb and Zayd ibn Dathina being taken prisoner. The Makkan polytheists took them and sold them in Makka. Khubayb was bought by the sons of Harith ibn ‘Amir, whom he had killed in the Battle of Badr. Khubayb remained a prisoner with them until they agreed upon killing him.

During his time in captivity, Khubayb asked to borrow a razor from one of the daughters of Harith with which to shave himself. Giving the razor to her three-year-old son, she told him to give it to the prisoner. The woman relates what ensued as follows:

“He took a son of mine who had gone to him when I was inattentive. I found him sitting on his thigh and the razor was in his hand. I was so alarmed that Khubayb noticed it in my face and he asked,

‘Are you afraid that I will kill him? I would never do such a thing.’

The Makkan polytheists took Khubayb and Zayd to Tan’im, ten kilometres from Makka, and brutally killed them, such that the number of spear wounds could not be counted on their bodies. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 28, 10; Jihad, 170; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, I:418)

In other words, Islam penalises only the perpetrator and does not allow anyone other than the person committing the crime to come to grief. It prohibits going to extremes and exceeding the bounds when punishing the criminal. It is stated in a Qur’anic verse:

“Do not kill any soul, which Allah has made forbidden, except in just cause. If anyone has been killed wrongfully and intentionally, We have given his heir (as defender of his rights) the authority (to claim retaliation or damages or to forgive outright). But let him (the heir) not exceed the legitimate bounds in (retaliatory) killing. Indeed he has been helped (already and sufficiently by the provisions and procedures of the Law).” (Isra’ 17:33)

“If you have to respond to any wrong, respond (only) to the measure of the wrong done to you; but if you endure patiently, it is indeed better for the patient.” (Nahl 16:126)

Just as seeing jihad as being comprised merely of war is not reflective of the truth, it is also deficient with respect to the meaning and scope of jihad provided in the Qur’an and the Sunna. Denoting ‘exerting an effort and endeavouring,’ jihad can be actualised with all kinds of means such as the heart, tongue, the hand, wealth, life, culture, economy and arms. Islam demands human beings to engage in jihad more so with a sincere heart and soft words. Those who undertake this duty are advised in the Qur’an to use touching and eloquent expression. (قَوْلًا لَيِّنًا، قَوْلًا بَلِيغًا) It enjoins the believers to endeavour with their wealth and lives for hearts to be revived through union with Allah Almighty.

Islam deems peace as the norm or as the natural order. The greatest indicator of this is the following: The Qur’an names the Treaty of Hudaybiya, which imposed stringent conditions against the Muslims as a “Manifest Victory” (Fath al-Mubin) and this “Victory” has become eponym of one of the Qur’anic chapters.

The battles undertaken by the Prophet were all battles of defence. They were carried out for the purpose of either driving back assaults against the Muslims or to thwart the preparations for attack, which determined through intelligence gathering. Going to Badr, where the first major battle was held, the Prophet’s intention was not to fight but to stop a caravan prospering with the property and belongings usurped from the Muslims and with whose profit an army would be equipped to fight against them. The caravan escaped by changing route; however, when the Makkan forces, having left Makka and travelling four hundred kilometres to the outskirts of Madina, rejected repeated offers of conciliation, battle was inevitable and victory was achieved. (Waqidi, I:61-65)

The Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Trench were battles that were fought right at Madina’s feet. The Makkan polytheists were aggressive and extremely hostile. They gathered forces left and right of the city in order to exterminate the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, however, fought battles in defence of Madina. Moreover, by having a trench dug around the city, he reduced loss of life to naught.

The Battle of Mu’ta and the expedition to Tabuk were conducted in response to the killing of an envoy and to stave off the enemy preparing for attack. Yet, there was no conflict at Tabuk and the forces returned after certain agreements were reached.

The Conquest of Makka was realised as a result of the Makkans’ breach of the Treaty of Hudaybiya and also constitutes the restoration of the rights of the emigrant Muslims that were violated. This constitutes a peace movement unparalleled in history as well as a conquest of hearts for there was neither plunder, nor killing, nor exile, nor reprisal, nor blood feud in the conquered city. Far from it, all of these were forgiven unconditionally, despite the oppression, persecution and torture which had been perpetrated for more than a decade.

Similarly, the other battles of the Prophet were carried out in opposition to an attack or to thwart the enemy in preparation for war.

When Muslims are forced to fight the enemy despite all their efforts for conciliation, they are obligated to act within set legal guidelines. They cannot harm children, women, the elderly, religious leaders, civilian workers, places of worship, animals and trees. They are only able to use arms against combat troops. They cannot, however, torture them.

Whenever the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was to dispatch a military force and appointed anyone as leader of the detachment, he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him, and would then declare:

“Fight in the name and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who reject Him. Do not embezzle the spoils. Do not break your pledge. Do not oppress. Do not mutilate. Do not kill children.” (Muslim, Jihad, 3; Ahmad, V:352, 358)

In other narrations, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, states:

“…Do not kill children or people who devote themselves to worship in churches! Do not destroy churches or cut down trees. Do not destroy houses.”[23][24][25]

“A woman was once found slain in one of the expeditions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, at once forbade of killing women and children.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 148; Muslim, Jihad, 24, 25)

At the Battle of Hunayn, the Banu Sulaym formed the vanguard and were led by Khalid ibn Walid. During the expedition, he encountered the body of a woman who had been killed. He said,

“This is not one with whom fighting should have taken place.” So he sent a man and said,

“Tell Khalid not to kill a woman, child, the elderly or a hired servant.”[26]

When the Prophet was informed that some children had been killed also he was deeply grieved and, showing marked displeasure, said,

“Why are some today so determined on killing that they even kill children?” One of those present asked,

“O Messenger of Allah, are they not the children of polytheists?” Upon this, the Prophet said,

“Are not the best of you the children of polytheists?” He then continued,

“Take heed! Do not kill children! Do not kill children! Every child is born with a natural disposition [to the true religion]and remains so until their tongue gives them power of expression. Then their parents make Jews or Christians of them.” (Ahmad, III:435)

Taken captive by the Turks in the Battle of Mohács (1528), Bartolomej Georgijević detailed in his work on the customs and traditions of the Turks:

“There is such a firm discipline in the Ottoman army during war that no soldier can dare to do any injustice. One who perpetrates injustice is punished without pity. There are sentinel and those posted to establish order… Even a single apple is not picked from a tree along the routes without the permission of their owners.” (Onur Bilge Kula, Alman Kültüründe Türk İmgesi, Ankara 1993, 164)

The lands in the surrounds of Gebze (situated 30 miles east of Istanbul on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara) through which Sultan Yavuz Selim‘s army travelled on their expedition to Egypt, were abounding in vineyards and orchards. Sultan Yavuz Selim was lost in thought:

“I wonder if my troops have taken grapes or apples without the permission of their owners?” Then calling the Commander of the Janissary corps, he commanded,

“It is my decree that the packsacks of all my Janissaries, cavalry and vanguard troops are searched. If there are any among them in whose packsack an apple or bunch of grapes is found, bring them to me at once!”

Taking immediate action, the Janissary Commander had all the packsacks thoroughly searched. Subsequently coming before the Sultan, he said,

“My lord, we did not find a trace of apples or any other fruit.”

The Sultan was most pleased with this news. A great burden was lifted from her shoulders. Raising his hands, he entreated Allah saying,

“O Allah, endless praise and thanks be to You! You have favoured me with an army that does not consume from the unlawful.” Then addressing his Commander, he said,

“Had my troops plucked fruit unlawfully, I would have abandoned this campaign as conquest is not possible with an army that eats the unlawful.”

As a result of such spiritual standing, manifestations of Divine aid and grace were constantly a friend to him.[27]

As is evident, Islam prefers peace first and foremost, and when war becomes inevitable, it commands measure, justice and humaneness and not exceeding the legitimate bounds. For Allah, exalted and glorified be He, declares:

“Fight in Allah’s cause (in order to exalt His Name) against those who fight against you, but do not exceed the bounds (set by Allah), for surely Allah loves not those who exceed the bounds.” (Baqara 2:190; Ma’ida 5:2)

If Islam does not consent to the killing of innocent people and those not actively participating in combat even during war, how can it allow the killing of innocent people outside warfare?

  • War in Islam like the Scalpel in the Hands of the Surgeon

It is possible to say that Islam is, in its entirety, a struggle against terror. In Islam, going to war to shed blood and seize land is forbidden. The sword can only be used as a means to removing oppression and to facilitate the guidance of the people. A sword that does not serve this purpose is only a scrap of metal.

In other words, jihad is like the scalpel in the hands of the surgeon. It is used to stop those who create mischief and corruption and who destroy people for their own vested interests. In the same way that a limb with gangrene is amputated for the soundness of the entire body, evil that is beyond rehabilitation are also removed from society for the peace and security of all humanity.

Allah Almighty declares:

And when they went forth against Goliath and his forces, they prayed: ‘Our Lord, pour out upon us steadfastness, and set our feet firm, and help us to victory over the disbelieving people.’ So they routed them by Allah’s leave, and David killed Goliath, and Allah granted him kingdom and Wisdom, and taught him of that which He willed. Were it not that Allah repelled people, some by means of others, the earth would surely be corrupted; but Allah is gracious for all the worlds.” (Baqara 2:250-251)

“If only there had been among the generations before you (of whom some We destroyed) people with lasting qualities (such as faith, knowledge, virtue, and good deeds, whose goal was what is lasting with Allah, the eternal life of the Hereafter, and) who would warn against disorder and corruption on earth! Among them only a few, included among those whom We saved, did this. But those who did wrong (against Allah by associating partners with Him, and against people by violating their rights) were lost in the pursuit of pleasures without scruples, and were criminals committed to accumulating sins. And it has never been the way of your Lord to destroy the townships unjustly while their people were righteous, dedicated to continuous self-reform and setting things right in the society.” (Hud 11:116-117)

  • No Compulsion in Religion

Islam wills that truths is conveyed and communicated to the people; however, under no circumstances does it force them to accept these.[28] For Allah, glorified be He, wills that His servants, whom He has sent to the world to be tested, are free. Those accepting Islam must accept it with their own free will and those rejecting it must reject it with their own free will for them to be either rewarded or punished in the Hereafter.[29] Such being the case, fighting against powers that prevent the communication of the message of Islam to human beings and prevent their investigating it with their independent will, might sometimes be required, as they impose restrictions on the freedom of people who do not believe and force them to stay away from Islam.

Belief is a blessing that can only be attained with free will. It is not possible to make people believe with force and coercion. Those who are thus compelled can only be hypocrites. Islam, however, deems hypocrisy as worse than unbelief. For this reason, Muslims throughout history have not forced anyone to enter Islam and have even left the captives in their possession at liberty in this regard. Ziyad ibn Jaz’, present during the conquest of Egypt, relates:

“…Then [after the battle]we assembled all those captives who were still in our care, and the Christians among them were grouped together. Then we began to bring forward every single man from among them and we gave him the choice between Islam and Christianity. When he chose Islam, we all shouted, “Allah is Great,” even louder than we had done during conquest, and we gathered him within our ranks. (We now shared the same rights and responsibilities.) When he opted for Christianity, the Christians would pull him back into their midst, while we imposed the poll-tax (jizya) on him. However, we experienced great anguish at this, as if one of us had joined their ranks…” (Tabari, Tarikh, I:512)

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, through various instruction, exhortation and practices, demanded that captives be treated well and prohibited their torture and torment. He indicated that it was not proper to use force against captives even for the purpose of obtaining information from them.[30] Muslim jurists too affirm the immorality of tormenting captives in such ways as depriving them of food and water. (Kasani, Badai’ al-Sanai’, 1406, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, VII:120)

Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr’s brother Abu ‘Aziz was the standard-bearer of the Makkan polytheists at Badr. He was taken captive and relates the compassion and mercy the Muslims showed to him as follows:

“Having been taken captive during the Battle of Badr, I was handed over to a group of the Ansar. Upon returning from Badr, whenever I sat with my captors for lunch or dinner, they would offer me the bread and themselves have dried dates, in obedience to the Prophet’s recommendation to treat us well (with bread being the more luxurious item of food than dates). Whenever any of them obtained a piece of bread, he would immediately offer it to me.  When I politely refused to have it, thus returning it to (one of) them, they would return it to me insisting that I eat it and on not account take it back.”  (Ibn Hisham, II:288; Haythami, VI:86)

Also from among the captives, Abu al-‘As ibn Rabi’ and Walid ibn Walid, too, reported to have been treated in the same way. According to an account of one of the Qurayshi captives Yazid, on the way to Madina, captives were mounted on the riding beasts while the Muslims walked. (Waqidi, I:119)

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, did not hold all prisoners taken captive during the Battle of Badr together in one place Instead, he divided them up among his Companions one-by-one and advised them to host them as guests in their homes and treat them with warmth and generosity. (Ibn Hisham, II:288)

Following consultation in this regard, these captives were released in return for ransom. The ransom for those who were literate among them was to teach ten Madinan children how to read and write. Those unable to do so were released unconditionally. (Ahmad, I:247; Waqidi, I:129; Ibn Sa’d, II:22)

During the Battle of Hunayn, many prisoners were taken from the Hawazin tribe. Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded Busr ibn Sufyan to procure clothing for the prisoners. Busr subsequently clothed all the captives with the garments he purchased. Out of respect for his foster-aunts, the Prophet first released the prisoners falling to his share as well as to the share of the descendants of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Upon this, the Companions too released their share without ransom. To those Muslims who declined to forego their shares, Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, vowed personally to pay their ransom. In this way, six thousand prisoners were released unconditionally. Moreover, of the war spoils obtained, 24,000 camels, 40,000 sheep and 4,000 uqiyya of silver (approximately 500 kilograms) were returned.  (Ibn Hisham, IV:135; Waqidi, III:943, 950-954)

Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, similarly released without ransom a great number captives taken during other battles.[31]

The Prophet took advantage of every opportunity to release prisoners of war. During the month of Ramadan, for instance, he would release all captives and would meet the needs of all those who asked from him. (Ibn Sa’d, I:377)

Abu Bakr, may Allah be well pleased with him, spent most of his wealth in the way of emancipating slaves and captives. Displeased with his son’s using his wealth in this way, his father Abu Quhafa said to him one day,

“Son, I see you constantly freeing weak and powerless slaves. Since this is what you seek to do, why don’t you free some strong slaves among them so that they can defend and protect you?”

Abu Bakr, may Allah be well pleased with him, most nobly replied,

“Father, my sole aim in doing this is to earn the good pleasure of Allah. In setting them free, I seek only the reward before Allah.”

The following Qur’anic verses were revealed in praise of Abu Bakr’s generosity:

“Then, as for him who gives (out of his wealth for Allah’s good pleasure), and keeps from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety, And affirms the best (in creed, action, and the reward to be given), We will make easy for him the path to the state of ease (salvation after an easy reckoning), (Layl 92:5-7)[32]

Islam is the religion of peace and salvation that Allah has sent to all humanity. And the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, is the Prophet of Mercy that the Almighty has bestowed upon all the worlds.

Allah Almighty declares:

We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but as an unequalled mercy for all the worlds.”  (Anbiya 21:107)

Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be well pleased with him, noted the following in relation to this verse:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, mercy will be decreed for him in this world and in the Hereafter; whoever does not believe in Allah and His Messenger, will be protected from the Divine punishments that were dealt to former civilisations, such as earthquakes, faces becoming transformed and stones raining down from the skies. This is the mercy in the world that they will attain by virtue of Allah’s Messenger.” (Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, V:486; Haythami, VII:69)

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, beseeched his Lord to protect his community from ruin through wide-scale famine, drowning and to be secure from mass destruction.[33] From the time he was sent as a Prophet, all human beings are his community.[34] On account of this, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, protects all humanity from cataclysmic disasters.

In one of his Traditions, the Prophet states:

“The most beloved of people to Allah is the one who brings most benefit to the people.”  (Hathami, VIII:191)

Hence, Muslims strive for the welfare of all humanity. They work for the good of all human beings, not differentiating between religions, and assist the downtrodden, acting according to the principle of loving the created simply because of the Creator. Due to their love of Allah, they love all the human beings that He has created. They interfere in the affairs of no one, whatever their belief, provided they do not commit injustice and restrict other’s freedom of thought.

Upon an examination of history, we see that the civilisation of Islam never attempted to obliterate other civilisations. To the contrary, it took on the elements that were in line with its own values and developed them. It protected those under its administration. Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Zoroastrian cultures were protected in the Madinan State established by the Prophet, during the era of the Four Righteous Caliphs, under Umayyad and Abbasid rule, and in Andalusian, Indian and Ottoman societies. If Islam had worked solely for the welfare of its own followers, than at the very least, some of these civilisations in question would have been erased from the annals of history.

Islam’s acceptance of others and its distinguished horizon of understanding was experienced by many a race, religion and nation in the African, Asian and European continents.

There are many examples which demonstrate that Islam embraces all humanity. One such example is the following: Caliph ‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, wrote to Malik ibn Harith, whom he appointed as Governor of Egypt, instructing him as follows:

“Habituate your heart to mercy for the people and to affection and kindness towards them. Do not stand over them and regard them like a beast over a herd, since they are, without exception, of two kinds, either your brother in religion or your like in creation. Human beings can err and make mistakes. They may act wrongly, wilfully or by neglect. So, extend to them your forgiveness and pardon, in the same way as you would like Allah to extend His forgiveness and pardon to you… Do not set yourself against Allah, for neither do you possess the strength to shield yourself against His displeasure, nor can you do without His mercy and forgiveness. Do not regret any act of forgiveness, nor rejoice over any punishment that you may mete out to any one…”[35]

In Islam, the property, life and honour of the people, including those of the unbelievers, are forbidden.

Even cursing people, let alone killing them, is something that is denounced in Islam.[36]

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, always advised tenderness and compassion and forever condemned violence, roughness and despotism. He said:

“Allah has made me a generous and noble servant, and He did not make me an obstinate tyrant.” (Abu Dawud, At’ima, 17:3773)

“Allah did not send me to be harsh, or to cause harm, but He sent me to teach and make things easy.” (Ahmad, III:328)

Indeed, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was sent to perfect good character and to confer goodness and beauty upon all humanity.

This sublime character that he displayed as a statesman towards a Jewish subject who set to trap him, is filled with a great many lessons:

A group of Jews visited the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said,

as-Samu ‘alaykum” (death be upon you, instead of as-salamu ‘alaykum, or peace be upon you).

Understanding their meaning, ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, retorted from behind a screen,

“And on you and may Allah curse you and be angry with you!”

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who was sent to perfect good character, intervened and said,

Gently, ‘A’isha. You must be kind and beware of harshness and coarseness.”

She said,

“Messenger of Allah, did you not hear what they said?” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“Did you not hear what I said? I answered the same to them, and what I said about them will be answered and what they said about me will not be answered.” (Bukhari, Adab, 38)

According to another narration, the Prophet also said to ‘A’isha,

“Gently, ‘A’isha. Allah loves kindness in all things.” (Bukhari, Isti’zan, 22)

Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be well pleased with him, said:

“The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not use abusive or obscene language nor did he curse people. If he wanted to blame one of us, he would say,

‘What is wrong with him! May his brow be dusty!’ “(Bukhari, Adab, 38, 44)

Constituting a supplication, this Prophetic expression means, ‘May your forehead be dusted with the prostration of Prayer.’

The following incident also demonstrates that there was no room for harshness, incivility and offence in the life of the Prophet:

A man (one of the hypocrites) asked permission to visit the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. When he saw him from afar he said (with a view to protecting the people from his evil),

“An evil brother of his tribe! An evil brother of his tribe!”

When the man sat, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was cheerful with him to his face and expansive to him.  When the man left, ‘A’isha said to him,

“Messenger of Allah, when you saw the man, you said such-and-such about him. Then you were cheerful to him and expansive to him.”

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“‘A’isha, when was it my habit to speak coarsely? The person with the worse position with Allah on the Day of Rising is the one whom people leave because of his evil.”  (Bukhari, Adab, 38)

The wickedness of the man mentioned here later increased and eventually, during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, may Allah be well pleased with him, he was taken captive while fighting against the Muslims. It was then understood that the Prophet’s remark concerning him was a miracle pertaining to the future.[37]

Such being the case, it is not possible for Muslims to participate in an act of terror due to their faith. If some show terrorist activities as though they had something to do with Islam, this claim is either a treachery purposefully perpetrated to denigrate Islam, or is a great negligence and ignorance.

EPILOGUE  (Back to Content List)

By virtue of their predisposition to truth and reality, the human being does approve of the obscure and unknown. Constantly curious of the truth, they strive to research the truth and are in pursuit of it, for the things that they do not or cannot know render them spiritually bereft and suffering.

The greatest mystery most preoccupying human perception throughout history has been the unknowns relating to ‘death‘ and the ‘realm beyond death‘.

Indeed, human beings, whatever their living conditions, are in a shared agony before death. The eventual fading of all the winding paths of life in the horizon of death causes hearts profound anguish.

Greater even than the miracle ‘life‘ and enveloping human beings and dragging them into its fiery vortex more ferociously, ‘death‘ is the most formidable truth to befall all souls – without exception – in this world; it is for this reason that enabling its unknowns to become known precedes all other human objectives.

For life is a truth as exalted as not to be contained with the distance between the cradle and the grave. If, in response to the question “What is life?” which occurs to human consciousness, is to rise merely the humidity of the soil and the hardness of the tombstone as an answer, what can there be that is more grievous than this?

Only the power of revelation can untie the knot of death and life beyond it, which cannot be fathomed purely with the intellect and human cognition.

What is life? Why was this universe created? What is the reason for the journey to this world and then to the grave? What will happen after death? The only religion providing satisfactory answers to all these questions is Islam. The sole religion enabling human beings to attain peace of mind by illuminating the points of darkness of death and life after death is Islam.

The purpose of life is to be able to attain eternal felicity by living in the spiritual blessing and tranquillity of the truths of the Qur’an and the Sunna. The world is the place of sowing, while the Hereafter is the abode of reaping what one sows. The human being is a traveller to eternity and the world is a guesthouse. That is to say, the world is a fleeting abode of trial in the way of earning eternal happiness. The true life is, with its Paradise and Hellfire, the eternal life of the Hereafter.

While humanity ought to be obliged to all the Prophets and especially the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who conveyed this news of the future, it is most unfortunate that it was received with ridicule, insult and indifference by many heedless individuals. The polytheists and unbelievers, who pursued a life contradicting the wisdom and purpose of their creation, first responded to the Prophet’s news of the Hereafter that he conveyed through revelation with astonishment and confusion; subsequently, they rejected this invitation to eternal salvation which was at variance with their carnality with extreme obstinacy and aversion.

Through the way of life it introduced, Islam put an end to the carnal excesses of the polytheists and made mention of truth, justice, Judgement, resurrection and being called to account and stipulated that evil and injustice would not go unpunished.

Attempts have been made in every age to silence, suppress or imprison to one’s subconscious, via various falsehoods, the questions relating to death and beyond – which have settled in minds like a poisonous snake and have made a person anxious each time it stirred.

Assuredly, this state is the manifestation of a ‘psychology of evasion’ which the carnal self resorts to avoid being crushed beneath the spiritual weight of those truths for which it does not want to answer. However, no truth can be eliminated by fleeing from or neglecting it. On the contrary, one who amuses themselves with such empty solace and who assumes their wretchedness to be happiness fools only themselves. They cannot escape being caught unprepared for death, taken unawares by Archangel Azrail and facing – even if their carnal self does not desire it – the formidable surprises of eternal life…

As there is no more important event for the living than death, it is essential that the majesty pertaining to tidings thereof are duly comprehended. And so, the Qur’an refers to the Hereafter, unanimously communicated by all Divine religions, as the “Awesome Tidings” (Naba al-‘Azim) and has expounded it with multifarious proofs, intellectual, emotional and moral.

Those paying heed to the revelation and duly perceiving tidings of the Hereafter have avoided being deceived by fleeting bounties and have turned away from a false future to a true and eternal one. They have come to perceive that the skies, decorated with chandeliers of stars and the earth decked with assorted adornment and magnificence does not at all give the impression that it is coincidental and without purpose. Far from it, it declares with its tongue of disposition to those with intelligence that much mystery and wisdom is to be found in its every particle.

This universe, which transcends human perception and appreciation and which is furnished with great delicacy and care, constitutes a showcase of manifestations of Divine power and grandeur, with its trees and plants, animals, humans and all its inanimate beings.

A person who beholds themselves, life, the universe and events in the light of revelation with an eye to learn lessons and with wisdom, immediately understands that speaking of an impossibility of the Hereafter before the Divine power and dominion apparent in the creation of all these beings, the continuation of their existence and their being doomed to transience, is an enormously ludicrous and fanciful claim.

It must not be forgotten that a life lived without taking lesson from death is no different to a dark, ominous night. The sun of eternal happiness rises at the end of a life lived in the light of Divine truths and in servanthood to Allah. For this reason, the religion of Islam has advised the constant remembrance of and preparation for death and, as such, its beautification via the removal of its formidable face. In the words of Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, Islam has conveyed the paths of meeting death with the jubilation of, as it were, a “shab-i ‘arus“, or a “wedding night“.

Happy are the believers who are able in their inner worlds to solve the mysteries of death and the afterlife with the light of revelation and who live in the endeavour of properly preparing for death and transforming their Hereafter to an eternal bliss…

May Allah Almighty render us those who attain His good pleasure and approval by learning and practising Islam in the best possible way and who thus acquire tranquillity of heart in this world and neverending felicity in the Hereafter… Amin…

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, Islam The Religion of Truth, Erkam Publications

[1]       Ghazali, Ihya’ ‘Ulum ad-Din, III:312.

[2]       Esther Kafé, “Rönesans Dönemi Avrupa Gezi Yazılarında Türk Miti ve Bunun Çöküşü,” Tarih İncelemeleri Dergisi, II, Izmir 1984, 232.

[3]       See, Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, IX:20.

[4]       See, Bukhari, Isti’zan, 15.

[5]       Muhib al-Din al-Tabari, Khulasa Siyar Sayyid al-Bashar, 19; Qastallani, Kitab al-Mawahib al-Laduniyya, Cairo 1281, I:385.

[6]       See, Muslim, Jihad, 79; Ahmad, I:86, 126.

[7]       See, Abu Dawud, Jihad, 94:2639.

[8]       B. Broquiére, Deniz Aşırı Seyahat, Istanbul 2000, 174.

[9]       Sir Charles Fellows, Travels and researches in Asia Minor, London 1852, 222.

[10]      See, Fred Burnaby, On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Cambridge University Press, 2001, 215.

[11]      Ma’ida 5:119.

[12]      See, Bukhari, Manaqib, 25; Muslim, Salat, 119; Abu Dawud, Khatam 4, Adab 14.

[13]      It should also be noted at this point that in Islam, Jihad is conducted in order to remove oppression and thus restore peace for human beings, as well as to be a means to the guidance of the people. Otherwise, the sword cannot be used to shed blood, for a show of strength or to earn wealth. The true conquest is the conquest of hearts. Conquests based upon the sword and brute force are the shame of humanity. The real conquest is the conquest of hearts, the conquests of service and love and those which carry hearts to Allah. These conquests can only be realised by those who have attained the mystery of humanity and the truths of the human heart.

[14]      Camels are charmed by singing and chanting and camel drivers employ such a device in order to spur on their herds. These songs of the cameleers are referred to as hida’ or huda’.

[15]      Baqara 2:104; Nisa 4:46; Bukhari, Adab 100, Da’awat 6.

[16]      See, Bukhari, Diyat, 21.

[17]     See, Bukhari, Tib, 56; Muslim, Iman, 175.

[18]      See, Ibn Hisham, IV:32; Waqidi, II:835, III:352; Ibn Sa’d, II:142-143; ‘Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz, 30173.

[19]      Multazam: The section of the Ka’ba wall lying between the Black Stone and the door of the Ka’ba. He stood in such a manner that his cheek, chest, arms and palms were against the wall of the Ka’ba, and entreated Allah, widely spreading out his arms and hands. (Abu Dawud, Manasik, 54:1899) In another Prophetic Tradition, he has stated: “Between Hajar al-Aswad and Maqam al-Ibrahim is Multazam. The ill making supplication here will be healed.” (Haythami, III:246)

[20]      See, Ibn Sa’d, IV:60, Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-Kubra’, II:82; Halabi, Insan al-‘Uyun, III:48.

[21]      For instance, see Muwatta’, Nikah, 44-45; Tirmidhi, Isti’zan, 34:2735; Hakim, III:269/5055, 271/5059; Waqidi, II:851-853.

[22]      An’am 6:164; Isra’ 17:15; Fatir 35:18; Zumar 39:7; Najm 53:38.

[23]      See, ‘Abd al-Razzaq, Musannaf, V:220.

[24]      See, Ahmad, I:300; Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir, XI, 224:11562.

[25]      See, Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Awsat, I, 48:135.

[26]      Abu Dawud, Jihad, 111; Ibn Maja, Jihad, 30; Waqidi, III:912.

[27]      Osman Nuri Topbaş, Âbide Şahsiyetleri ve Müesseseleriyle Osmanlı, 166-167.

[28]      See, Baqara 2:256; Yunus 10:99; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 116:2682.

[29]      See, Anfal 8:42; Kahf 18:29; Zumar 39:7; Jathiya 45:15.

[30]      See, Abu Dawud, Jihad, 115; Ibn Hisham, II:255; Waqidi, II:514.

[31]      See, Muslim, Jihad, 132, 133; Abu Dawud, Itk, 2:3931; Ibn Hisham, IV:32; Waqidi, II:559, 560, 835; Ibn Sa’d, II:88, 142-143.

[32]      Ibn Hisham, Sirat al-Nabi, I:341; Tabari, Jami’ al-Bayan, XXX:279 [Layl 92:5-7]; Suyuti, Lubab al-Nuqul, 257-258.

[33]      See, Muslim, Fitan, 19-20; Tirmidhi, Fitan, 14:2177; Abu Dawud, Fitan, 1:4252.

[34]      See, Haythami, I:174.

[35]      Muhyiddin Seydi Çelebi, Buhârî’de Yönetim Esasları, Istanbul 2000, 47.

[36]      See, Muslim, Birr, 84-86; Abu Dawud, Adab, 45.

[37]      Imam Nawawi, al-Minhaj fi Sharh Sahih Muslim, Beirut 1392, XVI:144.

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