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Faith and Moral Qualities

“Faith and Moral Qualities”

Al-Azhar Magazine - June 1971

When a man is required to believe in God is really required to make himself possessor of the highest moral qualities. He must set before himself the highest and purest deal of which the heart of man can conceive, and make his conduct conform to that ideal. The belief in God brings man closer to Him and makes His existence felt as reality in his life. Then man can feel the presence of Divine Being and realize this truth in every moment of his everyday life and have the closest relations with his Creator.

Such a realization of the Divine Being creates a change in the life of man, making him an irresistible spiritual force in the world. The clearest and surest evidence relating to the existence of God is afforded by Divine revelation, which not only establishes the truth of the existence of God, but also casts a flood of light on the Divine attributes, without which the existence of the Divine Being would remain mere dogma.

It is through this disclosure of the Divine attributes that belief in God becomes the important factor in the evolution of man, since the knowledge of those attributes enables him to set before himself the high ideal of imitating Divine morals. It is only thus that man can rise to the highest moral eminence.

The belief that God is the real Maker and Nourisher of all the worlds, so His worshipper, His servant and His obeyer will do his utmost to serve the cause of humanity, and exercise care even for the dumb creation. The true believer knows that God is Loving and Affectionate to His Creatures, so one who believes in Him and His attributes will be moved by the impulse of love and affection towards His creation. He also knows that God is Merciful and Forgiving. So His servant must be merciful and forgiving to his fellow beings. Without this ideal there is a void in man’s life.

To take the examples of great prophets and reformers, who brought about a moral and even material, revolution in the world, and have lifted up humanity from the depths of degradation to the greatest heights of moral and material prosperity. These examples only show to what heights man’s soul a yearning after it maker, the instinct to turn God for help; there is implanted in it the love of Him for Whose sake it is ready to make every sacrifice.

The role of belief in God and the true relationship with Him, in the elevation of man is clear from the living example of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). A solitary man arises in the midst of a whole nation which is sunk deep in all kinds of vice and degradation. He has no power at his back, not even a man to second him. Without any preliminaries at all he sets his hand to the unimaginable and apparently impossible task of the reformation, not merely of that one nation but, through it, of the whole humanity. He starts with the One Force, the Force of Divine, which makes possible the impossible. The cause was Divine, and it was on Divine help that its success depended; As it is clear from its first revelation:

ٱقۡرَأۡ بِٱسۡمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ (١) خَلَقَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ (٢) ٱقۡرَأۡ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلۡأَكۡرَمُ (٣) ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلۡقَلَمِ (٤) عَلَّمَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ مَا لَمۡ يَعۡلَمۡ (٥)

It means: “Read in the name of thy Lord Who created, created man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who taught by pen: Taught man the which he knew not.”  (96:1-5)

With every new dawn the task grows harder, and the opposition waxes stronger, until to an onlooker, there is nothing but disappointment everywhere. But his determination grows stronger with the strength of the opposition end, while in the earlier revelation there are only general statements of the triumph of his cause and the failure of the enemy. Here are a few verses of the Holy Quran addressed to the Prophet:

مَآ أَنتَ بِنِعۡمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِمَجۡنُونٍ۬ (٢) وَإِنَّ لَكَ لَأَجۡرًا غَيۡرَ مَمۡنُونٍ۬ (٣)

It means: “By the grace of thy Lord thou are not mad. And thou shall surely have a reward never to be cut off”.                                                                                                             (68: 2-3)

And:

فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِيُسۡرًا

It means: “Surely with difficulty is ease.”

And:

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ (٣) وَلَلۡأَخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكَ مِنَ ٱلۡأُولَىٰ (٤) وَلَسَوۡفَ يُعۡطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرۡضَىٰٓ (٥)

It means: “Thy Lord has not forsaken you nor does He hate you; And what comes after is certainly better for thee than that which has gone before and soon will thy Lord give thee so that thou shall be well pleased.” (93:3-5)

And:

إِنَّا لَنَنصُرُ رُسُلَنَا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ فِى ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَيَوۡمَ يَقُومُ ٱلۡأَشۡهَـٰدُ

It means: “Surely We help Our apostles, and those who believe , in this world’s life and on the day when the witnesses shall stand up.” (40:51)

And

وَعَدَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مِنكُمۡ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ لَيَسۡتَخۡلِفَنَّهُمۡ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ ڪَمَا ٱسۡتَخۡلَفَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمۡ دِينَہُمُ ٱلَّذِى ٱرۡتَضَىٰ لَهُمۡ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّہُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ خَوۡفِهِمۡ أَمۡنً۬ا‌ۚ يَعۡبُدُونَنِى لَا يُشۡرِكُونَ بِى شَيۡـًٔ۬ا‌ۚ وَمَن ڪَفَرَ بَعۡدَ ذَٲلِكَ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ

It means: “Allah has promised to those of you to believe and do good that He will make them rulers in the earth as He made rulers those before them, and that He will establish for them their religion which He will, after their fear, give them security in exchange.” (24:55)

After the general statements of the Divine Help behind the apostles the Holy Quran refers to the failure of their enemies:

تَبَّتۡ يَدَآ أَبِى لَهَبٍ۬ وَتَبَّ (١) مَآ أَغۡنَىٰ عَنۡهُ مَالُهُ ۥ وَمَا ڪَسَبَ (٢) سَيَصۡلَىٰ نَارً۬ا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ۬ (٣) وَٱمۡرَأَتُهُ ۥ حَمَّالَةَ ٱلۡحَطَبِ (٤) فِى جِيدِهَا حَبۡلٌ۬ مِّن مَّسَدِۭ (٥)

It means: “The power of Abu Lahab will perish and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not exempt him. He will be plunged in flaming fire, and his wife, the wood-carrier, will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fiber.” (111: 1-5)

And:

إِنَّآ أَعۡطَيۡنَـٰكَ ٱلۡكَوۡثَرَ (١) فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَٱنۡحَرۡ (٢) إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ ٱلۡأَبۡتَرُ (٣)

It means: “Lo! We have given thee abundance; so pray unto thy Lord and sacrifice. Lo! It is thy insulter (and not thou) who is without posterity”. (108: 1-3)

And:

إِذَا جَآءَ نَصۡرُ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡفَتۡحُ (١) وَرَأَيۡتَ ٱلنَّاسَ يَدۡخُلُونَ فِى دِينِ ٱللَّهِ أَفۡوَاجً۬ا (٢) فَسَبِّحۡ بِحَمۡدِ رَبِّكَ وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرۡهُ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ ڪَانَ تَوَّابَۢا (٣)

It means: “When God’s success and triumph comes and thou see mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops. Then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and forgiveness of Him. Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy.” (110: 1-3)

The belief in the Existence and Oneness of God is a source of man’s upliftement, making him conscious of the dignity of human nature. It also will inspire him with the grand ideas of the conquest of nature and of the equality of man with man, so the numerous attributes of the Divine Being are really meant for the perfection of human character. The Divine attributes really serve as an ideal to which man must strive to attain.

The man who seeks to attain to perfection must do good even to those of the fellow men from whom he has not himself received, and does not expect to receive, any benefit. The believer knows that God is the Lord, Fosterer and Nourisher of the worlds. Keeping that as an ideal before himself, he must endeavor to make the service of humanity the object of his life. When he knows that God is conferring benefits on human beings and showing them love without them having done anything to deserve it, then he must also do good for others without having received any return.

According to Islam, belief is not only a conviction of the truth of a given proposition, but it is essentially the acceptance of a proposition as basis for action. Iman (Belief) really signifies the acceptance of a principle as a basis for action, and every doctrine of Islam answers to this description. Thus there are not mysterious, no dogmas and no faith which does not require action. So every article of faith means a principle to be carried into practice for the higher development of man. Just as Iman is the acceptance of the truth brought by the prophets so kufr (unbelief) is its rejection.As the practical acceptance of the truth or the doing of a good deed is called Iman or part of Iman. So the practical rejection of the truth is called kufr or part of kufr.

It is quoted a report in the traditions of the Prophet relating to Abu Dharr who said the he abused a man, addressing him as the son of a Negro woman, upon which the prophet remarked: “Abu Dharr! Thou finest fault with him on account of his mother, surely thou art a man in whom is Jahiliyya (the pre-islamic or non-islamic character). Bu. 2:22. The dividing line between Iman and kufr or between a believer and an unbeliever, is confession of the existence of God and His authority, and the prophet hood of His messengers. In all Religious Books the existence of God is taken almost as an axiomatic truth. The Holy Quran, however, advances numerous arguments to prove the existence of a Supreme Being Who is the Creator and Controller of this universe.

The Holy Quran chiefly deals with the three kinds of arguments. Firstly, the arguments drawn from creation, which may be called the lower or material experience of humanity. Secondly, the evidence of human nature which may be called the inner experience of humanity. Thirdly, the arguments based on Divine revelation to man, which may be called the higher or spiritual experience of Humanity.

The argument from creation simply shows that there must be a Creator of this Universe, Who is also it Controller. The testimony of human nature precedes a step further, since there is in it consciousness may differ in different natures according as the inner light is bright or dim.

Among these three material, inner and spiritual experiences of humanity only revelation that discloses God in the full splendor of His light and shows the sublime attributes which man must emulate if he is to attain perfection, together with the means where by he can hold spiritual and moral relation with the Divine Being. The instinct to turn to God for help; the readiness to make every sacrifice for His sake and the unqualified submission to the Will of his Maker and Nourisher, will implant in the man noble ideals and great moral qualifier.

 
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