Fundamentals of the Islamic Ethics
Selected and compiled by Vladimir Antonov
Translated from Russian into English by Mikhail Nikolenko
Islam is one of the three major religious systems on the Earth.
But this is not the only reason why we need to speak about Islam in Russia. Islam expresses the ethics of the attitude of man to God in laconic and methodologically true form.
Moreover, the attitude to God, which was taught by Jesus Christ, was realized in Islam and not in mass Christianity.
This is why it is in the field of Islam's activity (namely, in Sufism) that there are many sound spiritual schools on the Earth now.
What is Islam, specifically?
Historically, it has the roots in Judaism and Christianity. Islam esteems the Jewish prophets, Jesus Christ (in Arabic — Isa). It calls its followers to God-the-Father (in Arabic — Allah) as the Jewish prophets and Jesus understood Him. The Quran — the main holy book of Islam — contains their sayings and description of their acts. The narration in the Quran is communicated through the prophet Muhammad from God, Who gives Muhammad both personal advice and explanations on the correct understanding of Him (God) and the Path to Him.
What is the newness of Islam? Why God did not spread Christianity in the regions that are covered nowadays by Islam?
The matter is that many people calling themselves Christians strayed from the Teaching of Jesus Christ even at that time. And the modern mass Christianity has lost God, and its followers can be called Christians only relatively — only because they continue to observe the ancient Christian rites.
… Let us compare it to India. The people of India have Bhagavad Gita where there is a detailed description of what is God (in Sanskrit — Ishvara) and what man has to do in relation to this. But in India too the majority of people are unable to accept the concept of monotheism (due to the fact that in any region of the Earth the people of the early stages of psychogenetical development are in majority). So, nowadays, the followers of the mass Hinduism and Buddhism of Mahayana worship not Ishvara, Who is so vividly represented in Bhagavad Gita, but the pagan fictitious "gods": Ganesha, Kali etc., with corresponding iconography. And in some degenerated branches of the Buddhism this tendency has gone so far that for God there was left no room and He is denied completely.
But people relying on the Judaic and Christian Bible turned out to be in even a worse situation since these books do not contain any description of God which can satisfy the inquiries of man on the intellectual search: there God is depicted so that He becomes an object of belief and not an object of knowledge.
Therefore, return to the pagan form of religious outlook, which is more convenient for young souls, was even easier among people involved in Christianity.
The loss of God in the mass Christianity manifested in the fact that God preached by the Judaic prophets and Jesus as the main object of attention, aspiration, and love, was superseded by the pagan cults of Nicholas the Wonder-worker and others "patron saints", by the cult of the earthly mother of Jesus, who was, undoubtedly, a remarkable and virtuous woman, but could not understand and accept what her Son taught; once she even counted Him insane (Mark 3:21,31-35). And the main essence of the Teaching of Jesus about aspiration to cognition God-the-Father was superseded… by prayerful panhandling.
It came to the point when in the Russian Orthodoxy the Universal Primordial Consciousness is pictured as an old man sitting on a cloud, and the Holy Spirit — as a pigeon.
And even more, many modern Russian Orthodox people in the center of attention have demons, warlocks, vampires. And the temple for them became a place for cultivating mystical fear, a place of damnations, hatred, and not the school in which one learns to love people and God.
It is important to note, that the pagan tendency was legalized by the Orthodoxy already in the liturgical tradition where very good, but not Divine woman Maria, the mother of Jesus, is called "my all-blessing Queen", "Our Lady", and we are her slaves, with no hope to receive help from anyone, only she can help (God, as one can see, in this case is of no importance).
And, seeing the beginning of this tendency, God once again repeated through the prophet Muhammad, that people have to concentrate attention on the Total Universal God-Creator and devote their lives to Him.
The word "Islam", by the way, is translated as "obedience to God", and the word "Muslim" — as "devoted oneself to God".
The essence of Islam is expressed in two formulas: "La ilaha illallah" — "there is no god but God" and "Allahu akbar" — "God is great" (of course, "great" not in the sense, that He is such a notable, fearsome, and mysterious person, whom one has to respect and be afraid of, but that the Divine Consciousness has really no foreseeable borders in the universe and that God is really the Almighty Creator and the Governor of destinies of the entire Creation and destiny of every one of us).
Having the example of degeneration of faith of many Christians Muslims even decided to take such extreme measures as interdiction of pictorial and sculptural images of people and animals, so that one does not get tempted to worship them (this interdiction was slightly softened only recently).
One may ask: why it is so important — to direct the attention mainly at God-the-Father, instead of, say, Jesus Christ or another Avatar? It turns out, that it is really of principal importance from the standpoint of the methodology of spiritual perfection. It is so because only the strict monotheism predisposes to actualization in mature adherents of the need to study and explore practically the multidimensional structure of the Creation and to making their search of the Creator, the Purpose, the Teacher being directed to the depths of this structure, instead of being directed "on a plane" in coarse spatial dimensions, what is peculiar to pagans.
Though we value so highly the theological concept of Islam, at the same time it is necessary to warn the readers against a non-critical attitude to what may be preached by some Muslims or their groups. Even the fact, that in the Islamic world by there is no consent about many religious questions, demonstrates that only God knows everything, but people make mistakes.
Let us note also that the Quran is intended only for laying and strengthening the foundation of the true faith in man, so that adherents may then advance on the religious Path. In Islam the step of gaining and strengthening the faith and learning the religious discipline is called shari'ah. On this stage — so that not to repel the masses of potential adherents — the Quran did not require from them even renouncing the habitual for the population of this region of the Earth "killed" nourishment, which is incompatible with the higher steps of advancement on the religious stairway — tariqah, etc.
There is obviously no sense to introduce into the modern life of all people those rules of conduct, which God gave through Muhammad to concrete group of people in the concrete historical period, besides on the background of constant military actions. It makes sense to call people not to petty observance of the rules of everyday life stated in the Quran, which concern the matters of what to eat, how to dress, and how to marry, — but to encompassing the essential principles of attitude to God.
Below we give some most important citations from the Quran (with several minor clarifications; based on the Russian translation by I.J. Krachkovskiy) and Sunna. Reading them, one should not forget that the word "Allah" is the Arabic equivalent of words "God-the-Father", "Ishvara", "Tao", "Primordial Consciousness" and others synonyms.
In the name of Allah, the loving, the compassionate!
1:1. Praise to be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds
1:2. the loving, the compassionate,
1:3. the Ruler in the Day of Judgment!
1:4. You we worship and You we ask for help!
1:5. Lead us on the straight path!
2:22. … Do not set up any one as equal to Allah…
2:107. Do you not know that Allah's is the power over the Heaven and the Earth, and that besides Allah you have no protector or helper?
2:115. To Allah belongs the East and the West, therefore, whithersoever you turn, there is Allah's Countenance…
2:117. He is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and when He decrees a matter, He says to it: "Be!" and there it is.
2:142. … Say: "To Allah belong both the East and the West; He leads whom He likes on the Straight Path!"
2:147. The Truth is from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the doubters!
2:148. Every one has a direction to which he turns. Therefore strive to outrun each other in good deeds! Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all, surely Allah has power over all things!
2:154. And do not speak of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "Dead!", nay, alive! But you do not perceive.
2:155. We try you with something of fear, hunger, lack of property and lives and fruits; and gladden the patient,
2:156. who, when a calamity befalls them, say: "Verily, we belong to Allah and to Him we return!":
2:157. those are they on whom are blessing from their Lord, and mercy, they go the right path.
2:163. And your God is one God, there is no god but He; He is the loving, the compassionate!
2:165. And there are some among men who take others besides Allah, as equal (to Him); they love them as they love Allah. And those who believe love Allah more…
2:216. … It may be that you hate a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, — verily, Allah knows, and you do not know!
2:256. There is no compulsion in religion. The Straight Path has become clearly distinct from delusion. He who rejects worshipping idols and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break off…
2:264. … Allah does not lead on the Straight Path the unbelieving people!
2:271. … Allah is aware of what you do!
2:282. … And fear Allah; verily, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things!
3:2. Allah, — there is no god but He, -the living, the self-subsisting!
3:3. He sent down to you the Scripture in truth, confirming the truth of that which was sent down before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this, as a guidance for the people…
3:5-6. Verily, from Allah nothing is hidden on the Earth or in the sky. He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He likes…
3:28. Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends… And whoever does this, he shall have nothing of Allah, unless you be cautious of their fear. Allah cautions you about Himself, (for) to Allah is the return.
3:54. … Allah is the best of schemers.
3:60. The Truth is from your Lord, so be not a doubter!
3:73. … Say: "Verily, the direct guidance is the guidance of Allah…"
3:80. And He will not command you to take the angels and the prophets for lords…
3:110. … And if the people of the Scripture had believed it would have been better for them. There are believers among them, but the most of them are transgressors.
3:113. Not all of them are alike: among the people of the Scripture there is a staunch community…
3:150. … Allah is your Protector and He is the best of helpers!
3:157. And if you are slain or die in the way of Allah then forgiveness from Allah and mercy is certainly better than what you amass.
3:169. And never reckon those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive! They are provided sustenance from their Lord.
3:176. And let not those grieve you who run to unbelief: for they can do no harm to Allah…
4:36. And worship Allah and do not set up anyone as His partner. And do good to the parents and to the kinsfolk and to orphans and to the needy and to the neighbor of your kin and to the neighbor not of your kin, and to the fellow-neighbor and to the wayfarer… Verily, Allah does not like those who are proudly boastful,
4:37. who are niggardly and enjoin people to be niggardly and hide what Allah has given them of His grace!…
4:78: If some good befalls them, they say: "This is from Allah"; but if evil befalls, they say: "This is from you". Say: "All things are from Allah!" Why these people cannot understand that which they are told?
4:79. … Whatever good befalls you, it is from Allah, and whatever bad befalls you, it is from yourself.
4:111. … And whoever incurs sin, he incurs it against himself: verily Allah is knowing, wise!
4:175. … Those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him, He will let them to enter into His mercy and grace and lead them to Himself on the straight way.
5:15. O people of the Scripture! Our Messenger has come to you to explain much of what you conceal in the Scripture…
5:17. They disbelieve who say that Allah is the Messiah, the son of Maryam …
5:59. Say: "O followers of the Scripture! Do you take revenge on us for aught but that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?
5:67. … Verily, Allah does not lead straightly the unbelieving people!
5:72. They disbelieve who say: "Allah is the Messiah, the son of Maryam". But the Messiah said: "O children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord!"
5:73. They disbelieve who say: "Allah is the third one of the three", whereas there is no god but the One God…
5:116. And Allah said: "O Isa, the son of Maryam! Did you say to men: 'Take Me and My mother for two gods besides Allah'?" He (Isa) said: "Glory to You! How could I say what I have no right to say? If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is in my heart, and I do not know what is in Yours. Verily, You are the knower of the concealed.
5:117. I did not say to them aught save what You enjoined Me with: "Worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord!"…
6:17. And if Allah touch you with affliction, there is none to take it off but He…
6:32. The life of this world is naught but a play and amusement; the abode of the hereafter is for those who are godfearing. Do you not then understand?
6:51. … There is no guardian or protector … besides Him… !
6:106. Follow what is revealed to you from your Lord: "There is no god but He", and turn away from the polytheists.
7:7. … We are never absent!
7:27. … Verily, We made the shaitans to be the patrons of those who do not believe!
7:42. As for those who believe and do good — We impose on any soul only that which it can bear — they are the dwellers of paradise…
7:180. Allah's are the most beautiful names , call Him by them, and leave alone those who dissent about His names. They will be requited for what they do!
9:51. Say: "Nothing happens to us except what Allah has predestined for us. He is our Protector!" And let the believers rely on Allah!
9:116. Verily, Allah's is the power over the Heavens and the Earth! He brings to life and makes to die; and there is not for you any guardian or helper besides Allah.
10:12. And when evil touches man, he calls on Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove the evil from him, he passes on as though he had never called on Us for the evil that touched him…
10:44. Surely Allah does not do any injustice to men, but men are unjust to themselves.
10:107. And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He. And if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace…
11:15. Whoever desires this world's life and its finery, We will help them to finish their deeds therein, and they will not be underpaid.
11:16. These are they for whom there is nothing but fire (hell) in the next life, and vain is what they did herein, and nothing is what they worked.
13:36. And those to whom We have given the book (Quran) rejoice in that which has been sent down to you… Say: "I am commanded that I should worship Allah and not set up anyone as His partner; to Him do I call and to Him is my return!"
16:119. … Verily, your Lord — to those who did an evil in ignorance, but then repented and redressed the wrong — verily, your Lord after that is forgiving, merciful!
17:23. And your Lord has decreed that you shall worship none but Him, and do good to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them "pish!" nor shout at them, but speak to them a generous word.
17:24. And lower unto them the wing of humility out of mercy and say: "O Lord! Have mercy on them, as they care for me when I was little".
17:26. And give to the near of kin his due and to the needy and to the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully,
17:27. for the squanderers are the brothers of devils…
17:29. And do not make your hand to be tied to your neck nor stretch it forth to its utmost stretch , lest you become blameworthy, miserable.
17:30. Verily, your Lord provides abundant sustenance for whom He pleases and whom He gives. Verily, He is ever seeing, aware of His slaves.
17:37. And do not walk on land haughtily…
18:110. Say: "I am a man like you; the Revelation has been sent down to me that your God is One God. Therefore, whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and in worshipping the Lord he should not join any one to Him.
20:8. God! — there is no god but He; His are the most beautiful names.
20:46. He said: "Fear not, I am with you, I do hear and see"…
21:35. Every soul tastes of death; We try you by evil and good for probation; and to Us you will be brought back.
22:75. Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men…
28:50. … Who is more astray than he who followed his passion without any guidance from Allah? Surely Allah does not lead on the Straight Path the unjust people!
28:59. And your Lord never destroyed the towns until He had sent there a messenger, reciting to them Our communications (for turning people to righteousness). And We never destroyed the towns except when their people were unrighteous!
31:21. And when it is said to them: "Follow what Allah has sent down", they say: "Nay, we follow that on which we found our fathers"…
31:22. And whoever turned himself to Allah and does good, he indeed has grasped a firm handhold…
31:23. And whoever disbelieves, let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, then will We explain them what they did…
32:11. Say: "The angel of death, who is in charge of you, takes you in death, and then to your Lord you will be brought back.
32:12. And could you but see when the guilty hang down their heads before their Lord: "Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard, therefore send us back, so that we may do good! We are (now) sure of the truth.
32:20. And as for those who are wicked, their abode is the fire (of hell). Whenever they desire to go out from it they are brought back into it, and said: "Taste the chastisement of the fire (of hell) which you called a lie!"
32:21. And We will make them taste of the nearer punishment before the greater punishment that perhaps they may return!
33:5. … There is no sin on you in what you did by mistake, but (there is sin) in what intended (evil)…
33:16. Say: "Running away will not help you if you run away from death"…
33:41-42. O you who believe! Remember Allah, remembering frequently, and glorify Him morning and evening!
35:41. Surely Allah upholds the sky and the Earth lest they come to naught…
37:182. And all praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
39:42. Allah takes the souls at the time of death, and that which has not died (yet) during its sleep; He takes those whose depart He has decided and sends the others back till an appointed term. Verily, there are signs in this for people who reflect!
39:55. Follow the best that has been sent down to you from your Lord…
39:66. … Worship Allah and be thankful!
40:60. And Lord said: "Call upon Me, I will answer you"…
41:6. Say: "I am only a man like you; it was revealed to me that your God is one God, therefore follow the straight way to Him and ask His forgiveness…"
41:8. And those who believe and do good, they shall surely have a reward inexhaustible.
41:46. Whoever does good, it is for himself, and whoever does evil, it is against himself…
41:51. When We show favor to man, he turns aside and withdraws; and when evil touches him, abundant are his prayers.
42:10. … Allah, my Lord, on Him do I rely and to Him do I turn.
42:13. … Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns (to Him).
42:30. And whatever affliction befalls you, it was incurred by your hands; and He forgives much.
42:48. … and surely when We make man taste mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; and if an evil afflicts him on account of what his hands have already done, then man is ungrateful.
42:49. Allah's is the power over the sky and the Earth; He creates what He pleases; He grants to whom He pleases daughters and grants to whom He pleases sons.
42:50. Or He joins them: men and women; and He makes whom He pleases barren…
46:3. We did not create the sky and the Earth and what is between them two save with truth and for an appointed term…
59:20. Not equal are the dwellers of the fire (hell) and the dwellers of the paradise. The dwellers of the paradise are they who achieved success.
59:21. Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would have seen it humbly split asunder because of the fear of Allah. Such parables We set forth to men that they may reflect.
59:23. He is Allah, there is no god but He — the King, the Holy, the Peace, the Faithful, the Guardian, the Great, the Mighty, the Supreme; glory be to Allah…!
59:24. He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Teacher. His are the most beautiful names. He is praised by whatever is in the sky and on the Earth. He is the great, the wise!
84:6. O man! You aspire to your Lord with striving and you will meet Him!
87:1. Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High…!
* * *
And now let us acquaint ourselves with some hadiths — statements of the prophet Muhammad and of God through him, which are recorded in the books of the Holy Tradition of Islam — Sunna (cited from "Condition of faith. Hadiths" Tumen, 1991):
Good education is the best legacy, which can be handed down to children.
Speak always the truth, even if it is not profitable for you.
That, which you know, share with others and teach them.
Him who pitied no one none will pity.
Be not a burden for people.
Do not sit down between two sitting people without first asking their permission.
Be economical and do not bring yourselves to destitution.
Do not do things, which then make you conscience-stricken.
The riches consist not in quantity of goods, but in the breadth of the soul.
The knowledge is a treasure the key to which is inquiry.
Step aside from a fool.
Avoid intoxicating drinks…
Calmness is a gain; confusion is a loss.
Do not be hurry in taking decisions and provide for consequences.
Do not judge anyone from assumptions or if you have doubts.
Exhort every one to not do evil.
If you have to punish the guilty never strike him in the face.
He who wakes up lately closes for oneself the door to prosperity.
Any bribe is a sin and an odious source of income.
He who has flared up should break off immediately.
An inhospitable person is an inferior person.
Repay to those who made good to you.
It is a virtuous deed — to forgive the one who offended you, to give to the one who refused to give to you, to stretch a hand of peace to the one who quarrels with you.
O man! If you are not satisfied with the small, the great can satisfy you neither.
Do good deeds without creating buzz.
Do not wish death to yourself or to others.
The one who does not thank people will thank Allah neither.
Everything created by Allah is fine, though people not always understand it.
Allah created diseases, but He also created medicines for them.
Allah is generous and likes generous people.
For everything there is a way. The way to paradise is opened by knowledge.
Do not be lazy to go for knowledge even to distant China because gaining knowledge is the main duty of a Muslim.
Panhandling is an indecent occupation.
Begin a meal remembering about Allah and be not choosy with food.
Gates to wellbeing are under lock. The key to it is work.
To divine and to believe the words of diviners, foretellers, and sorcerers is meanness.
A bad person is characterized by the following features: he lies in conversation, does not keep his promises and, feeling impunity, does base deeds.
Pay to a worker for his work before his sweat dried up.
He who is mild, behaves well, does not harm others will never be touched by the fires of hell.
An hour spent for gaining useful knowledge is more pleasing to Allah than a whole night spent for praying.
In any time try to be pure…
Specially for men:
Be kind to women…
A noble one is kind to women; a low one is guileful to them.
If you are called by the father and the mother at the same time come first to the mother.
* * *
And in conclusion let us cite one more hadith in which God outlines the steps of one's approaching to Him and Merging with Him.
We should comment that death in it should be understood not as the death of man's body, but as the death of egocentrism in man and his isolation from God. For one can unite with his God-Beloved only by sinking into Him.
He who searches for Me — will find Me.
He who found Me — will cognize Me.
He who cognized Me — will fall in love with Me.
He who fell in love with Me — will conceive passion to Me.
To him who conceived passion to Me — I too will conceive passion.
Him who is in love with Me I will kill,
And to him whom I killed I will pay a ransom for the blood.
I Myself am the ransom for his blood.