When we start discussing about Islamic Ethics during week 6 lecture, my first thought was about the ethics before Islam which was 1400 years ago. We discussed in the order of ethics before Islam, ethics through Islam and also the honor as an ethical value in Islam. After that, we moved on with our discussion about the period of Fatra which is in between two prophecies when there was no religious obligation and it is also the latency period between Jesus and the prophet Mohammed. Then, the next discussion was about the period of Sadr-al-Islam which is from the bath when Mohammed was raised to the succession of the Prophet by the first four caliphs. There were Muslim conquests, and the fitna which is the civil war during that period.
Some interesting parts of the lecture started when we reached our discussion to the part of the changes in the ethical views of Islam. There were number of stages of the change that we have got to know including:
abandonments of some very common practices,
redefinition of moral virtues Makarim al-Akhlaaq,
introduction of the five pillers of Islam, and
the birth of Muslim community which is called umma.
Then, I also learnt how we could relate the ethical values of Islam to other aspects of our daily life. We discussed on the background of Islam, as there are three main parts. Firstly, Aqidah which is about faith and believe, second one is Shari’ah which is about practice and activity and lastly, we discussed on Akhlaq which focus on morality and ethics.
When we look at Islamic ethics, there are other three more parts Akhlaq which is ethics and it indicates moral philosophy, Khuluq and lastly, Arabic term, ADAB which is about manner and also indicating actual practices. Whenever we talk about ethics in Islam, we talk about good character and behavior which is the fundamental behavior for Muslims.
Our lecture got more interesting in questions and answer session. The first one is by one of our lecturers saying: “Whose Islam is the best?” As it is mentioned, the best of Islam is for the one who avoids harming the people with his tongue and also with his hands.
Moreover, during the lecture we discussed on some different views of Muslim philosophers on Islamic ethics. Al-Farabi (d.950 CE) once said: “Islamic ethics is a science that studies the state of human soul.” And another one, Al-Ghazali (d. 1111 CE) said: “Ethics is a science of virtues and the way to acquire the wellbeing of the soul, and the vices and the way to guard the soul against them.” After that, we discussed on the scope and principles of Islamic ethics, tasks and the fundamental ethical principles of Islam which are about unity, equilibrium, freedom and responsibility.
We ended our lecture of week 6 with some interesting questions from students with the brilliant answers for each of those questions. And it really makes me think deeply about my religion and help me to understand more about what I do not know before.