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Universal Islamic Values

Publishing Date : 11 December, 2018

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM



Islam teaches us basic values, commitments and principles that are universal in their scope and application because they also form the natural part of the fundamental teachings of virtually every religion and faith including those of traditional and cultural values and upbringing. 



Muslims are expected to put them into practice, adhere to and live by these values and should invite humanity to these principles. These are called hikmah (teachings of wisdom). They are basic and simple for anyone to follow. In an effort to show the universality of these basic principles, Readers will note the use of Biblical references to show that Islam is universal. Some of those values are:

First and foremost is to worship Allah alone

‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him’. (Quran: 17:23). And ‘…do not join in worship others with Allah; for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing (Quran 31: 13). ‘….Worship none but Allah’ (Quran 2:83). In Islam it is an article of faith and belief that Allah is One, the Lord and Creator, who has no partners to share His Divinity; and to only worship Him with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of our lives. Simply put this means that all praise and worship is due to Allah alone:


A Muslim’s life is nothing but total commitment to Allah. Allah is the centre of our life and He is our total and ultimate concern. The Bible says: ‘The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love him with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30).


To be respectful and kind to parents


‘….And that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour……’ Quran 17: 23-24. And: ’We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents…show gratitude to Me and your parents’. (Quran 31: 14).


For Muslims respect and kindness to parents is not just a social responsibility but it is our religious duty and obligation. Our parents deserve to be treated with love, kindness and compassion because not only did they bring us into this world but they also raised and cared for us through our transition from childhood to adulthood. It is our religious obligation to give in return that type of love and commitment.  


Today it is frightening to observe how some ‘children’ (this word children includes adults) treat their elderly parents, shouting, cursing them and even using mental and physical abuse against them. Many parents are seen as a burden and are just ‘dumped’ and left to fend for themselves. It is becoming more common in the so-called developed countries for elderly parents to be seen as a burden to their children and the easiest option is to ‘dump’ them into old age or retirement homes with the lame excuse that ‘they will be better off in the company of people their own age’;


only to visit them on their birthdays or on special occasions, if ever. What a sorry state of affairs. The Bible is also clear about respect for parents; in the Ten Commandments the instruction is ‘honour thy father and thy mother’ and further, ‘Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord’ (Col 3:20)


To be good to relatives, to the poor, to neighbours and to the travellers


‘And render to the kindred their due rights, as also to those in want and to the wayfarer…’ (Quran 17: 27) This is to remind us that we are interconnected as one brotherhood in this world. Social responsibility begins with the family and relatives and it also includes all those who are in need. Therefore our responsibilities extend beyond ourselves and our immediate family members and relatives and but to the society at large.


We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this road through life. Muslims must live a socially responsible life. We must assist others where possible, as Martin Luther King Jnr. Said: An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. The Bible says: ‘… and to love his neighbour as himself’ (Mark 12:33). ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have a treasure in Heaven’. (Matt 19:21)


To take good care of children

‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Quran 66: 6)
In Islam children are much loved, wanted and are regarded as a valuable gift and a trust (amanah) from Allah and we should give grateful thanks to Allah for that Blessing. In raising those children we should always remember our obligations and responsibilities placed upon us by our Creator.  Our children are our future therefore they should be taught Islamic morals, characters, and etiquette from an early age so that it becomes part of their habits.


Children should be taught the principles of humility, tolerance, patience, and other such behavioural traits so that they become morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy Islamic environment to protect their life as well as their spirit and mind, their morals and manners. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it’. (Proverbs 22: 6)


To spend money wisely and not waste resources

‘…but squander not you wealth in a manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones; and the evil one is ungrateful…… (Quran 17: 27). ‘And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who... when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes).’ (Quran 25:63-67)

To some who have spare money extravagance (for mere ‘show’) becomes an inherent streak within them. Muslims should be moderate in their spending habits and neither should they be tight-fisted nor too loose with money. We should aim for a balanced life style so that while being careful of and watching our spending habits we should not become miserly and stingy.


Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Observe the middle course whereby you will attain your objective (that is paradise).” Moderation is the opposite of extravagance. Every individual is meant to earn in a lawful (Halaal) and dignified manner and to spend it in a wise and careful manner. One should never try to impress upon others by living beyond one’s means. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, ‘Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant’. (Quran 7: 31).


This principle can be applied to all resources that Allah has given us. Wise and conscientious use of natural resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.On the love of wealth the Bible says: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some covet after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’.  (1 Timothy 6: 10)

 (Continued next week)

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