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A Global Ethics for a Globalized World.

Byline: Anis Ahmad

Abstract

Islamic ethics recognizes the role of intuitions, reason, customs and traditions, so long as all these draw their legitimacy from the Divine principles. First and foremost is the principle of coherence and unity in life. The second foundational ethical principle is the practice of justice or equity, fairness, moderation, beauty and balance in life. Then come respect, protection and promotion of life. The role of reason and rational judgment in human decision-making is also important. Protection of linage and dignity of genealogy, too, has relevance to people of the entire world. These divinely inspired ethical principles of Islam - transcending finitude of human mind and experience - are not local, regional or national on their origin. Their universality makes them globally applicable, absolute and pertinent in changed circumstances and environment. They are human friendly and offer appreciable solutions to human problem in this age of globalization. - Eds.

A phobia generally stands for an obsession or an intense fear of an object or a situation, like dog phobia, school phobia, blushing phobia. Phobias are associated with almost any psychiatric condition but are most often related with anxiety or obsessional states leading to queer compulsive behavior. Islamophobia, a pegurative terminology, used more frequently in post 9/11 era, refers to a reactionary understanding of Islam and Muslims as dogmatic, fundamentalist, less civilized, anti-rational, backward, destructive and terrorist. Islam is perceived through the prism of news and media as a faith which prescribes all those things which conflict and negate the western value system and pose a threat to the western civilization and rationality. This conceptual and psychological problem of the western statesmen, media experts, think tanks and researchers is not recent. Islam and Muslims have been for centuries regarded rivals, enemies and opponents of the west.

For the past two centuries, at the least, a political, intellectual and cultural encounter, between the west and the Muslim world, has taken place. In this encounter the west was has been on an offensive and the Muslim world took mostly a defensive approach. With the rise capitalist economy, secular political system and liberal intellectual tradition in the west, the western imperialism penetrated its political, economic and cultural colonialism deep in the Muslim world. One symbol of it was that the official and commercial language of the colonizer replaced the native languages. Consequently in some Muslim lands (Algerian, Tunis, Morroco) French because practically their first language and Arabic become secondary; In the Pakistan sub-continent, Sudan, Malaysia, South Africa and Nigeria whenever the British colonialism ruled, English because official language. Similarly Italian and Dutch languages were popularized among in Libya and Indonesia.

Adoption of a foreign language had its socio-cultural implication on the Muslim people. At the same time their relationship of the colonizer and the colonized also persuaded the colonizer to understand the mind of the colonized and take necessary measures to keep the colonizer subjugated. In order to understand and control the colonized, imperialists tried to learn about the native languages and cultures. This persuaded the British, French, Italian and Dutch, to create centers for study of the Orient with focuses on study of language and culture of the natives. They also trained a generation of native scholars who subscribed to the western mind-set, research methodology and its basic assumptions.

All known civilizations have their distinct concepts of good and bad. Even those considered as "uncivilized" and heathens believe in certain norms and values. They generally respect their elders and love children, they value honesty and disapprove cheating. Traditionally, local customs and traditions, after continuous practice, evolve into norms and laws. These norms and laws define for them what is good or bad behavior. When ethical behavior is considered an obligation and duty, it is called deontological ethics. Furthermore while determining right or wrong, one may take up an objective or subjective approach. Those who think good and right can be known like natural objects, or that right and wrong can be empirically verified are called ethical naturalists. While those who think right or wrong are a matter of emotions, or attitude of a group, are termed emotivists.

Those who hold to non-cognitivism and think that attitudes of a group determine ethicality or non-ethicality of a judgment are called ethical relativists.

The word ethics [ethickos in Greek, from ethos meaning custom or usage] as a technical term also refers to morals and character. Moralis was used by Cicero, who considered it the equivalent of the ethikos of Aristotle with both referring to practical activity . Ethical behavior in general means good conduct, acting with a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, and virtue and evil. Philosophers classify ethics in various categories, for example Normative ethics deals with "building systems designed to provide guidance in making decisions concerning good and evil, right and wrong..." .

With these preliminary observations on the meaning of the term, we may look briefly on the axiological and teleological aspects of ethical behavior. The axiological or value aspect subsumes that ethical behavior is to be considered good. The latter simply means that the ultimate objective and purpose of an action should be achievement of good. In either case western and eastern ethical thought consider social consensus, at a given time, as the source of legitimacy of an ethical act. Though certain ethical values apparently carry universality e.g. truth, the question, what is truth as such, whether truth is practiced for the sake of truth, or to avoid a personal harm, or for the collective benefit of a society, can be approached from different perspectives.

In Western thought Bishop Joseph Butler (1692-1752 C.E.) held that a person's conscience, when neither polluted nor subverted or deranged intuitively, makes ethical judgments. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 C.E.) is known for his taking law as the basis of ethics; therefore here ethical behavior, for him, is a matter of a categorical imperative. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832 C.E.) considered the greatest good of the greatest number of the people as the goal of ethics. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903 C.E.) evolved the concept of evolutionary utilitarianism. Edward A. Westermarck (1862-1939 C.E.) pleaded the view of ethical relativism thus considering ethical systems as a reflection of social conditions. While William of Ockham (1290-1349 C.E.) regarded ethics as having religious origin in the will of God where the Divine command declares what is right or wrong.

Except for a handful of religious thinkers and philosophers, those in the East or the West consider intuition, collective good or social conditions responsible for considering an act good and ethical or bad and immoral. Nevertheless certain concepts such as justice, beneficence and non-malfeasance are commonly agreed as basic ethical principles in the West. Islamic ethics on the contrary draws its legitimacy from Divine revelation or Wah}i. The Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunnah provide universal ethical principles with specific instructions on what is good, therefore permissible and allowed (h}alal), what is desirable (mubah}) and what is bad and impermissible (h}aram) as well as what is disliked (makruh).

These two comprehensive terms, h}alal and h}aram cover all possible areas of human activity wherein one exercises ethical judgment, and thus acts morally or immorally. Ethical boundaries (h}udud) are drawn to indicate areas to be avoided. A vast area of mubah} also exists where under general universal Divine principles, Maqas}id al-Shari'ah or objectives of the Divine law, individual and collective rational, logical and syllogistic reasoning (ijtihad) leads to judgments and positions on emerging bio-medical and ethical issues.

The basic difference between the Eastern and Western ethical philosophy, and the Islamic ethical paradigm can be illustrated with the help of a simple diagram.

Sociologist, anthropologists and historians of culture trace origin of ethical values of a people in their physical environment. With the change in space and time, values and norms are also expected to change. The norms and values of a pre-industrial society and a post-modernist society are not expected to be similar. Social, economic and political evolution is supposed to cause basic changes in the value system of a people who go through this process. Values and norms, therefore, are considered relative to socio-economic change. Truth, beauty and justice are, therefore not absolute but subject to environmental change and evolution. Man is supposed to adjust his behavior and conduct accordingly.

Islamic ethics recognizes the role of intuitions, reason, customs and traditions, so long as all these draw their legitimacy from the Divine principles of Shari'ah. No customs or traditions contrary to the principles of Shari'ah can serve as the basis of social, economic, political, legal and cultural policies and practices. Social development and progress is subservient to Shari'ah. Divine legislation (Shari'ah, in the strict sense of the word) is neither a product of social evolution nor particular to a place, people, society or historical context. Its principles are operational in all seasons and in a variety of human conditions.

Islamic ethics is founded on divine principles of shari'ah (the maqas}id) which can be summarized as follows: First and foremost is the principle of coherence and unity in life (tawh}id). It simply means that human behavior has to be coherent, unified and not contradictory and incoherent. If it is ethical to respect human life, the same principle should be observed when a person deals with his friends or adversaries. Justice, truth and thankfulness should not be selective. If a person declares that Allah is the Ultimate Authority in the universe, then His directions and orders should be followed not only in the month of Ramadan and in the masjid or within the boundaries of the Ka'bah, but even when a person is in the farthest corner of the world one should observe Allah's directions in one's personal life, in economic activities, social transactions, as well as in political decision making. Unity in life or tawh}id in practice, therefore, is a value and norm not particular to a place, time or people.

If a comparison is made with Confucianism for example, one finds that in Confucianism (founded by Confucius: 551-479 B.C.E.), there is great emphasis on the noble person (chuntzu). The noble person is expected to observe certain values like humanity, benevolence and compassion (jen); righteousness (yi), filial piety (xiao) and acting according to "rules of propriety" in the most appropriate manner, or observing ritual and ceremony (li).

Jin or human heartedness and yi or righteousness together build a person of high moral quality . Righteousness and human heartedness in Confucianism are not for the sake of any utilitarian end. Righteousness has to be for the sake of righteousness. This reminds us of the Kantian categorical imperative, or following ethics as a legal obligation. Confucianism does not accept ethical relativism. In other words, ethical behavior and a righteous person stand for "principled morality".

The Confucian term li is often translated as "ritual" or "sacrifice". The fact of the matter is that it stands for more than doing a ritual in the prescribed manner. Confucius, in response to one of his students, is reported to have said: "in funerals and ceremonies of mourning, it is better that the mourners feel true grief, than that they be meticulously correct in every ceremonial detail." Ethics in practice appears a major concern of Confucianism. It also indicates that ethical consciousness and a desire for ethical and moral conduct and behavior is a universal phenomenon.

Thus according to the Islamic worldview, ethical and moral behavior (taqwa, 'amal-s}aleh), observing what is essentially good (ma'ruf) and virtue (birr) is an obligation. Reasoned ethical judgment is the basis of man's relation with his Creator as well as the basis of serving and interacting with His Creation .Every human action is to be based on ma'ruf and taqwa, which are the measurable manifestations of tawhid or unity in life. Man is neither an economic entity nor a social animal, but an ethical being. Allah informed the angels before the creation of the first human couple that He was going to create His khalifah, vicegerent or deputy, on earth. Allah did not say a "social animal" or an "economic man" or a "shadow of god/monarch" or one "obsessed with libido" was going to be created. khalifah conceptually means a person who acts ethically and responsibly. Therefore Man in the light of the Qur'an is essentially an ethical being.

This realization of the unity in life, is the first condition for being a believer in Islam and this principle has global application. Hence not only for a Muslim but also equally for a Buddhist, Confucian, a Christian, or a Hindu it is important to liberate oneself from contradictions in conduct and behavior. Specifically for a Muslim observance of one and the same ethical standards is a pre-requisite for Iman or faith. An authentic Prophetic h}adith states:

It is reported on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) observed: one amongst you believes (truly) till one likes for his brother or for his neighbor that which he loves for himself."

The Qur'an in several places underscores unity in action or unity in behavior and profession as the key to ethical and moral conduct.

"O Believers! Why do you say something which you do not do? It is very hateful in the sight of Allah that you say something which you do not do."

Unity in life as the first core teaching of Islam also happens to be the basis of what have been called objectives of the Shari'ah (maqas}id al-Shari'ah). Since unity in life means elimination of dual standards of ethics and morality and development of a holistic personality, its applicability and relevance is not particular to be Muslims. Needless to say the objective of shari'ah are essentially objectives of humanity as such truly global. The Qur'an invites the whole of humanity to critically examine human conduct and behavior, and through the application of tawh}id, create harmony, balance, coherence and unity in human conduct and social policy. This principle was not a tribal, Arabian or Makkan practice. It was revealed to the Prophet that the Rabb or Naurisher of the whole of human community is Allah alone, therefore He alone to be taken as Transcendent creator and sustainer of the whole universe and mankind.

The Qur'anic terminology Allah is not an evolved form of ilah but proper and personal name of Transcendent creator of mankind. Islamic law similarly was not a matter of Arabian customs traditions assigned normativeness by Islam. Islam cause to Islamize the Arabs and non-Arabs. It never wanted to Arabize the non-Arabic speaking world community.

The second foundational ethical principle, and an important objective of the Shari'ah is the practice of 'adl (justice) or equity, fairness, moderation, beauty and balance in life. 'Adl (justice) is one of the major attributes of Allah, for He is Most Just, Fair and Compassionate to His creation. At the same time, it is the principle operating in the cosmos, in the world of vegetation, in the animal world, sea world as well as in humanity at large. The Qur'an refers to the constitution of man regarding this principle:

"O man! What had lured you away from your Gracious Rabb, Who created you, fashioned you, proportioned you."

In Islam ethical conduct and virtuous behavior (taqwa) is directly linked with 'adl:

"O Believers! Be steadfast for the sake of Allah, and bear true witness, and let not the enmity of a people incite you to do injustice; do justice; that is nearer to piety...."

'Adl is a comprehensive term. It also includes the meaning of excelling and transcending in ethical and moral conduct:

"Allah commands doing justice, doing good to others, and giving to near relatives, and He forbids indecency, wickedness, and rebellion: He admonishes you so that you may take heed."

Though generally taken to mean legal right of a person, 'adl has much wider implications. At a personal level it means doing justice to one's own self by being moderate and balanced in behavior. Therefore if a person over sleeps or does not sleep at all, starves in order to increase spirituality or to lose weight, or on the contrary, overeats and keeps on gaining weight, in both cases, he commits z}ulm or injustice to his own self. 'Adl is to be realized at the level of family. The h}adith of the Prophet specifies that one's body has a right on person similarly his wife has a right on a person. One who is kind, loving, caring and compassionate toward family is regarded by the Prophet a true Muslim. 'Adl has to be the basis of society. A human society may survive despite less food but no society can survive without 'adl or fairness and justice. 'Adl in economic matters means an economic order with oppressions, monopoly and unfair distribution of wealth.

It also demands political freedom and right to association, difference of opinions, criticism and right to elect most suitable person for public position. If a political system does not provide freedom of speech, respect for difference of opinion and practice of human rights it cannot be called a just political order. The capitalist world order, because of its oppressive nature cannot be called an 'adil order. It remains a z}alim order so long it does not provide the due share of the laborer.

'Adl in a medical context means professional excellence in one's area of competence and specialization, for the simple reason that 'adl means doing a thing at its best. It implies devoting full attention to the patient in order to fully understand the problem and coming up with the best possible remedy. It also means prescribing a quality medicine with least financial burden on the patient, and avoiding unnecessary financial burden on a patient by prescribing irrelevant laboratory tests or high cost medicine when a less costly medicine can do the same. Thus if in one single area proper attention is not paid, it is deviation from the path of 'adl.

The third vital global ethical principle and one of the objective of the Shari'ah is respect, protection and promotion of life. It too has wider and vital implications for the whole of mankind. This principle is drawn directly from the Qur'anic injunction that saving one human life is like saving the whole of mankind, and destroying one single life, unjustly, is like killing the whole of mankind. This Qur'anic injunction makes it obligatory on every believing Muslim to avoid harming life or killing, except when it is in return for committing manslaughter or causing lawlessness in society.

Since the word used in the Qur'an is nafs which means, self, soul, individual human being, it is not particular to the Muslims or people of a particular faith, creed or ethnicity. No individual or group of human beings can be killed, or their life harmed without an ethical, objective and legal justification. It also means that life when even in its developmental stage is equally honorable and valuable. A fetus hence has the same sanctity as a full-grown human being. Therefore any things that can harm the fetus is also to be avoided in order to ensure quality of life is not marginalized. For example if a female during pregnancy uses alcoholic beverages, or drugs or even smokes, medically all these are going to harm the fetus, and thus effect the quality of life in future of a child yet to harm.

Not only this, but the principle has further serious implications even for environmental policies. It is also directly relevant to the manufacturing and production of pharmaceuticals. If the quality of pharmaceuticals is not controlled, their use is bound to harm life.

This principle is also related to public policy on population. It does not allow state to interfere in the bedroom of a person and impose an embargo on childbirth, or allow abortion. These are only a few serious ethical issue directly related to the principle of value of life.

Obviously these are universal applications of this principle and not confined to the followers of Islam.

The fourth major ethical principle relates to the role of reason and rational judgment in human decision-making. The fact that human beings should have reasoned judgments, and rise above emotional behavior, blind desires and drives is a major concern of the Shari'ah. Consequently Islam does not permit suspension of freedom of judgment. An obvious example is, if a person gets addicted to drugs or hooked to intoxicants, their use influences his personal and social relations, freedom of will, as well as personal integrity. In Islam independence of reason and rational judgment is a pre-condition for all legal transactions. The Qur'an considers the use of intoxicants immoral (fah}ash). It is not only sinful but also legally prohibited. Modern medical research also confirms the harmful effects of drugs and intoxicants on the mental health of people irrespective of their race, color or religion. However Islam's concern for reasoned and rational behavior in personal and social life is not peculiar to Muslims.

It's universal values have global relevance to the conduct and behavior of all human beings at a global level.

The fifth principle, protection of linage and dignity of genealogy, too, has relevance to people of the entire world, irrespective of their religion, race, color or language. It makes protection of genetic identity and protection of lineage an ethical and legal obligation. The Islamic social and legal system considers free mixing of sexes and pre-marital conjugal relations immoral as well as unlawful. This has serious implications for health sciences, social policy and legal system. This global ethical principle deters a person from commercialization of the human gene and also from the mixing of genes (such as in the case of a surrogacy). This principle helps in preserving high standard of morality in human society. It also discourages anonymity of the gene and helps in preserving tradition of genetic tree.

This limit review of the objectives of Islamic shari'ah indicates that every principle has global relevance to ethical and moral conduct of persons in a civilized society. The purpose of this brief resume of universal and foundational Islamic ethical and moral principles, has been first to dispel the impression that Islamic ethics is particular to the Muslims; second to understand the objectives and origin of these values in the Divine guidance and third, to find out how viable they are in the contemporary world.

The principles and the objectives of the Shari'ah, as mentioned above, are practically the objectives of humanity. Many of the biological, emotional or intellectual and social needs of man have been interpreted in western social sciences as blind drives, instincts and animal desires; Islamic ethical principles clearly differentiate between a reasoned and rational judgment and a judgment based on the so-called blind drives. For instance, some human actions may have apparent similarity but they may be poles apart. A person may take a loan from a bank on a mutually agreed interest rate to establish an industry. Another person may also borrow money from a bank on the Islamic ethical principles of profit sharing, and with no interest at all. Both appear industrial loans yet essentially one supports the capitalistic exploitative system, while the other encourages commercial and industrial growth without indulging in interest or usury, totally prohibited by Islam.

Legitimacy of Ethical Values

Before concluding, it may also be appropriate to add a few words on the legitimacy of Islamic ethical principles. It may be asked, "do these principles draw their legitimacy from their customary practice, or draw their power and authority from somewhere else?

Ethical behavior in all walks of life is a major concern of Islam. However it does not leave ethical judgment to the personal like or dislike, or to the greatest good of the largest number of people, though one of the maxims of the Shari'ah directly refers to public good or maslaha 'amah. The origin and legitimacy of values in the Islamic world view resides in Divine revelation (wah}i). Revelation or kalaam/speech of Allah should not be confused with inspiration or intuition, which is a subjective phenomenon. Revelation, wah}i or kalaam of Allah is knowledge which comes from beyond and therefore, it is not subjective but objective. Being the spoken word of Allah, makes it transcend the finitude of space and time. Though revealed in the Arabic language, it addresses the whole of humanity (an-Naas). It uses Arabic language only incidentally, for clarity in communication. The purpose of revelation in Arabic was to Islamize the Arabs and not to arabize those who enter in to the fold of Islam.

Islamic values by their very nature are universal and globally applicable. None of the ethical norms have their roots in local or Arabian customs and traditions. These are not particularistic, temporal values that normally change with the passage of time. These are universal values having their roots in the Divine, universalistic revelation. The principle of 'adl discussed above, is not particular to a race, color, groups or a specific region, or period of history. Respect and promotion of life is also a universal value. Similarly honesty, fairness, truth are neither Eastern nor Western, these are universally recognized applied values.

The purpose of these universal Islamic values is to help human beings develop a responsible vision of life. It is a gross underestimation to consider life a sport, a moment of pleasure. Life has meaning, an ethics by which it has to be lived, fashioned and organized.

The Islamic world view, as pointed out earlier looks on human life holistically. It advocates integration and cohesion in life, and avoids compartmentalization and fragmentation. Tawh}id or unity in life is created when one single standard is observed in private and public life and all human actions are motivated only by one single concern i.e how to gain Allah's pleasure by observing an ethical and responsible life.

Islamic ethics can be summarized in only two points. First and foremost, is observance of the rights of the Creator; living an ethical life with full awareness of accountability on the day of Judgment as well as in this world. Secondly, to fulfill obligations towards other human beings not for any reward, recognition or compensation, but simply because it pleases Allah. Serving humanity for the sake of humanity may be a good cause but what makes serving humanity an 'ibadah or worship is serving Allah's servants for His sake, and not for any worldly recognition by winning an excellent reward.

Islamic ethics in practice helps in binding the balanced, responsible, receptive and proactive personality of a professional. The primary Islamic ethical values briefly discussed above allow anyone who follows these in their letter and spirit to reflect as a global citizen, who transcends above discriminations of color, race, language or religion. The Qur'an invites the entire humanity to adopt the path of ethical living and practice, in order to make society peaceful, orderly and responsive to needs of the community. The Muslim community is defined in the Qur'an as the community of ethically motivated persons (khayra-ummah) or the community of the middle path (ummatan-wast}an) that does not go out of balance and proportion and implements good or ma'ruf.

Ethically responsible behavior means a behavior that follows universal ethical norms and laws and resists all immediate temptations. The strength of character simply means strict observance of principles a person claims to subscribe to. Thus Islamic professional ethics guides a professional in all situations where an ethical judgment is to be made, in medical treatment as well as in business transactions, and administrative issues.

Islamic ethics in practice encompasses not only formally known social work but practically every action a human takes in society. Islamic professional or work ethics is not confined to customer satisfaction. A believer has to act ethically in personal as well as social, financial, political and cultural matters. Change in space and time does not lead to any change in ethical and moral standards and behavior. Quality assurance as an ethical obligation is one of the major concerns of the Qur'an. The general principles of quality assurance are mentioned at several places in a variety of context.

"Weigh with even scales, and do not cheat your fellow men of what is rightfully theirs..."

It is further elaborated when the Qur'an directs, that while delivering goods or products one should not observe dual standards:

"Woe to those who defraud, who when, they take by measure from men, take the full measure, but when they give by measure or by weight to others, they give less than due."

A medical practitioner for example, when he gets his compensation in terms of consultation fee, it is his or her ethical obligation to advice a patient with full responsibility, care and sense of accountability to Allah. The same applies to a teacher, who must deliver knowledge with full honesty, responsibility and fairness without hiding the truth, or manipulation of facts. It equally applies to students and researchers who do their utmost in seeking knowledge and truth, and produce knowledge while avoiding plagiarism and other unfair means in research.

The divinely inspired ethical principles transcend finitude of humans mind and experience. These are not local, regional or national on their origin, they are not for a people with a specific denomination either. Their universality makes them globally applicable, absolute and applicable in changed circumstances and environment. They are human friendly but not a result of human intellectual intervention and offer appreciable solutions to human problem in this age of globalization.

Wama tawfiqi illa, bi Allah, wa Allahu A'lamu bi als}awab.

References:

Creel, H.G. Chinese Thought from Confucius to Mao Tse-tung. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.

Ley, P. "Phobia." in Encyclopedia of Psychology. edited by H.J. Eysenck, et al, Vol III. New York, The Seabury Press, 1972.

Reese, William. Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion Eastern and Western Thought. New Jersey: Huamanties Press, 1980.

Said, Edward W. Covering Islam, How Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Panthoos Book, 1981.

Yu-Lan, Fung. The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1947.

*Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad is a meritorious Professor and Vice Chancellor, Riphah International University, Islamabad. He is also Editor of Quarterly Journal Maghrab awr Islam (West & Islam), published by Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad.

1 Ley, "Phobia," 7.

2 Said, Covering Islam, 7.

3 Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy, 156.

4 Ibid, 156.

5 Yu-Lan, The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy, 10-12.

6 Creel, Chinese Thought from Confucius to Mao Tse-tung, 33.

7 Saheeh Muslim. Book 1. Hadith no. 72.

8 As-Saff:61:2-3.

9 Al-Infitaar: 82:6-7.

10 Al-Ma'idah: 5:8.

11 An-Nah}l: 16:90.

12 "That whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land, it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed all the human beings, and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the human beings..." Al-Ma'idah:5:32.

13 Ibid.

14 Ash-Shu'ara:26:182-183.

15 Al-Mut}affifin:83:1-3.

All known civilizations have their distinct concepts of good and bad. Even those considered as "uncivilized" also believe in certain norms and values.

Islamic ethics recognizes the role of intuition, reason, customs and traditions, so long as all these draw their legitimacy from the Divine principles.

The principle of coherence and unity in life is the first and foremost. It simply means that human behavior has to be coherent, unified and not contradictory and incoherent.

Second foundational ethical principle, is the practice of justice or equity, fairness, moderation, beauty and balance in life.

A human society may survive despite less food but no society can survive without fairness and justice.

Islamic ethical principles clearly differentiate between a reasoned and rational judgment and a judgment based on the so-called blind drives.

It is a gross underestimation to consider life a sport, a moment of pleasure. Life has meaning, an ethics by which it has to be lived, fashioned and organized.

Islamic ethics in practice encompasses not only formally known social work but practically every action a human takes in society.

The divinely inspired ethical principles of Islam - transcending finitude of human mind and experience - are not local, regional or national in their origin. Their universality makes them globally applicable, absolute and pertinent in changed circumstances.
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