Rules and Ethical Guidelines
The core precepts of Muslim morality and behaviour are found in the Qur’an and are also guided by the Ahadith.
Islam is a religion of peace (this is implied in the name itself). Salam which means peace is one of the 99 names of God. Islam promotes peace and harmony but it also promotes justice. For example, The Prophet taught Muslims never to initiate a war but also that you have the right to defend yourself.
Any form of injustice is a hindrance to peace hence fighting against it is essential in Islam to preserve the harmony between all of creation. It is important to note that the injustices seen in Islamic societies are nothing to do with Islam but are generally based on culture and traditions. As a matter of fact, such actions are condemned by Islam and will be punishable. The fourth Imam of the Shi’ah, ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (b. 658-9), wrote a treatise of rights (Risalah al-Huquq) in which he outlines different categories of rights of the human being towards God, himself and others. Islam views itself as the champion of the downtrodden. It promotes a just social system in which the weak and the needy are protected. Imam ‘Ali said: ‘He who makes no effort to alleviate the suffering of an oppressed person is an oppressor.’
Women were given rights never accorded to them by past religions and some of which were only adopted by the West in the 20th century. The most important is a woman’s equality to man. The Prophet taught righteousness towards the orphans; in a tradition (hadith), he says that the Prophet himself and the sponsor of the orphan will be neighbours in Heaven.
According to the Qur’an, the poor and the needy have a right in the wealth of the rich which is established through zakah and khums (both of which are to purify one’s earnings by giving a share of it to the poor):
And those in whose wealth is a recognised right. For the (needy) who asks and him who is prevented (for some reason from asking) (Surah 70:24-25).
Giving is one of the most important attributes of a believer. Hence in addition to the ordained zakah and khums, Muslims are encouraged to give charity (sadaqah) out of their own free will. Traditions tell us that when we give in charity God returns it to us tenfold. But when one gives, he should give to others what he likes for himself, the Qur’an says:
By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth Allah knoweth it well. (Surah 3:92).
Today in the UK, charity organizations have been set up to help and protect the poor and the weak such as Islamic Relief, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) as well as Islamic charity shops. Many countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and others have set up orphanages (adoption is forbidden in Islam). As the human being is God’s vicegerent (khalifah), God put everything in existence at his disposal so that he can achieve perfection and to be in harmony with all that surrounds him. As a result, he is accountable for the way he treats his environment. Muslims have great respect for the other creation as everything in existence is a sign of God (Ayah Allah). The Qur’an gives examples of animals and nature so that we learn lessons from them. One such example is how a colony of bees is organised and governed. In addition, there are Islamic rulings (which if not followed, a person is committing a sin) derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah regarding environmental issues for example, it is forbidden to litter. Waste of any kind is forbidden in Islam; the Qur’an condemns those who waste:
[…] eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters. (Surah 7:31).
As with everything else in Islam, the Qur’an and the traditions from the Prophet (and from the Imams for the Shi’ah) form the basis of any discussion. Friendly and respectful dialogue is essential as the Qur’an advises:
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance (Surah 16:125).
Furthermore, since ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the evil’ are items of faith, these issues are the responsibility of every Muslim and to be passive to oppression for instance is a sin. Islam expects us to endeavour to stop every form of evil and to encourage all that is good. Muslim have taken part in peaceful protests (e.g. protests against the Iraq invasion and during the uprising prior to the Islamic revolution in Iran, thousands took to the streets in a peaceful protest when opposition forces began shooting line after line of protesters). They also boycott companies, organizations or countries that carry out, fund or support violations of human rights.