MORALITY AND ETHICS BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN


MORALITY AND ETHICS BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN


In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.


وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُولَٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ وَعَدَ اللّٰهُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ وَالۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِىۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِهَا الۡاَنۡهٰرُ خٰلِدِيۡنَ فِيۡهَا وَمَسٰكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِىۡ جَنّٰتِ عَدۡنٍ ؕ وَرِضۡوَانٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ اَكۡبَرُ ؕ ذٰ لِكَ هُوَ الۡفَوۡزُ الۡعَظِيۡمُ

The believing men and believing women are allies (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors)  of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey God and His Messenger. Those – God will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. God has promised the believing men and believing women Gardens beneath which rivers flow. They shall abide in it. There are delightful dwelling places for them in the Gardens of Eternity. They shall, above all, enjoy the good pleasure of God. That is the great achievement. [9:71-72]


قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ (ص) :‏ أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا

The Messenger of God (ص) said: “The most complete of believers in faith are those with the best character (morals, ethics, kindness etc) and the best of you are the best in character (morals, ethics, kindness etc) to their women.”

[Wasa’il Al-Shia, Al-Hur Al-Amili, Volume 12, Page 157, Jami` At-Tirmidhi 1162]


Morality and ethics are undoubtedly one of the most important Islāmic subjects. We live in a time where morality and ethics have disappeared, both in Muslim and non-Muslim communities. People today believe that it is important to learn just what is right and wrong, halal or haram, and then they think that they can ignore morality and ethics. Talking too fast or talking too loud is not haram, but it is something Islam does not want you to do. There are moral and ethical guidelines within Islam that one should follow as a Muslim to perfect one’s faith (Iman).  Muslims should not just focus on what is halal and haram. Muslims should also focus on the depths behind halal and haram, and see the spiritual, moral and ethical guidelines behind every act in Islam.


It is reported from the Prophet (s) that he said: “I was sent to complete the best of morals.”

God, the Almighty, has given man intellect and made him a creature who thinks and differentiates between good and evil. He shows him what is the best and what is the worst and what is the most desirable and what is the most disliked among deeds. Man indeed knows that injustice, lying and tormenting others are hateful while justice, truthfulness and being benevolent are good. His ability to think makes him distinct from animals; to love good, praiseworthy and moral behaviour and dislike bad, and immoral conduct. It is man’s sense of morals that is among the essential characteristics which distinguish him from other creatures. Animals neither know morals or principles nor are responsible in the same way as man is in being able to differentiate between what is good and righteous and what is bad and evil.

The Glorious Messenger (s) told us that among the best deeds on the Resurrection Day are good manners. He said: “Nothing will be put on man’s scale on Resurrection Day better than good manners.” [Al-Kafi]


It is obligatory for Muslims to improve their manners and to treat people gently and avoid those who are characterised by ill behaviour. Prophet Muhammad (s) himself, due to his truthfulness, honesty, and his fair dealing with people, forgiving evil-doers, and being generous, courageous, just, and the doer of good for all, is exemplary and the prime model of conduct for all Muslims to follow.

The Holy Qur’an aptly and precisely describes and praises such people by saying: “And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.” Holy Qur’an (68:4)


Islam teaches us as human beings to follow a life of principles, characterised by the best moral virtues, and to avoid wrongful behaviour.

The Holy Prophet (s) explains through his saying: “I was sent to complete the best of morals.” That among the fundamental aims of Islam is to educate man with the most virtuous principles and to steer him clear from vices and immoral conduct.


A man with a bad character causes harm not only to society but also to himself. He who tells lies, does unjust deeds, backbites, hates, deceives and betrays others, surely loses the trust and respect of others.

An ill-tempered man also exposes himself to God’s anger as well as to people’s aversion. He causes the spread of corruption in social life and becomes a decaying influence and a destroyer among the people. Therefore, the Holy Prophet (s) warns us against such ill-natured men through his sermon: “Whoever is ill-tempered causes harm to himself” in which he also instructs Muslims to be good-mannered and virtuous as the path towards man’s perfection.


Muslims and non-Muslims today are far from moral and ethical guidelines which they should follow. There is a strong lack of moral and ethical upbringing. The focus is only on actions, but Muslims today have totally forgotten the intentions, thoughts, intellect, feelings, spirituality, morality and etiquette behind the actions. Muslims pray and fast, but do not know why they pray and fast. Muslim women wear hijab, but do not know why they wear hijab.The Muslims marry because their parents want them to marry, but in fact, they do not know the purpose and philosophy of Islāmic marriage. Muslims eat, but do not know how to eat, and I am not shocked that Islāmic countries and regions such as Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia are some of the world’s most obese countries. I repeat it again: just because a thing is halal does not mean that you should behave the way you want. There are moral and ethical guidelines one must follow as a believing Muslim in order to reach the highest level of faith and virtuousness.


Chastity is also a very important virtue a believer should have.

 Chastity is also very important virtue a believer should have. The Prophet (saw) has explained to us that many Muslims will receive God’s justice over them because they have used their stomachs and genitals incorrectly far from chastity, modesty and balance. [1]

Imam Al-Baqir (as) said: “The best worship in the sight of God is the chastity of the stomach and the genitals. “ [2]

A man said to Imam Al-Baqir (a) that his practices of worship were weak, and his prayers and days of fasting were few; however, he hope he would eat and copulate only in legal ways. The Imam answered: “No jihad is better than the chastity of the stomach and the genitals.” [3]


The Reality of Chastity

Chastity does not mean to deprive oneself of the legal desires of food and sex. It only represents the moderation in the use of such desires. As a matter of fact, negligence and excess are always harmful to humankind. The excessive desires for food and sex cause gross dangers to which we will refer in our discussion of gluttony. Shortage in such desires also causes deprivation of the life enjoyments and legal pleasures. It also causes bodily weakness as well as feebleness of energies and morale.


The Sought Moderation

It is difficult to identify the moderation in the desires for food and sex because of the different needs and energies of individuals. Moderation of an individual may be considered as exaggeration or shortage for another. The relative moderation is to have only the quantity that is sufficient. The best criterion in this regard is that which was stated by Amirul- Mu’minin:

“Son! May I instruct you four words after which you will no longer need medicine? Do not eat unless you are hungry. Stop eating while you are still hungry. Chew food deliberately. Before sleeping, go to toilet. You will not need medicine if you follow.”

“In the holy Quran, there is a Verse gathering the whole matter of medicine. It is: “Eat and drink but do not be excessive.” (7:31) [4]


Advantages of Chastity

Chastity achieves happiness on both levels of individuals and communities. It beautifies man, raises him above gluttony, guards him against flattery to the mean ones, and enjoins him to gain the means of living and desires of life through legal ways.

Don’t forget that the best of the Muslim men are also they show the best morals towards their women. I must say that many Muslim men in the world have lost their morals, ethics and chastity in front of women. attitudes and behaviour towards women have deteriorated. This applies to Muslim and non-Muslim communities. New concepts such as taharrush (harassment) have emerged over the years, and it is harassment against women who have grown in the Middle East. Islam’s moral guidelines are completely opposed to these behaviours.


Seek Chastity

We as Muslims should live as the Prophet (saw) and the Ahlulbayt (as). We shall observe their lives and how they treated women. The best men with the best faith are men who show the best morals and ethics to the women of the society and the men are the protectors and maintainers of women .. [4:34]

The problem with the men in our communities is that they do not know how to treat the woman in all social aspects. Just observe how today’s Muslim men do mut’ah. After they are done with their animalistic instincts, they throw the woman and boast to their friends that they have slept and played with her and her feelings, while in fact she was his wife before God. These immoral men make mut’ah look like fornication and adultery, and not a religious and spiritual marriage where the two are supposed to get closer to God through their relationship, and not the other way around. They use terms such as “friends with benefits” and “one-night stand,” while they themselves know that these are Western terms that symbolize immoral and unchaste relationships of fornication and adultery.


The Holy Qur’an says : And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse nor taking them as girlfriends. And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers. [5:5]


The Holy Qur’an also says: The believing men and believing women are allies (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors)  of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey God and His Messenger. Those – God will have mercy upon them. Indeed, God is Exalted in Might and Wise. God has promised the believing men and believing women Gardens beneath which rivers flow. They shall abide in it. There are delightful dwelling places for them in the Gardens of Eternity. They shall, above all, enjoy the good pleasure of God. That is the great achievement. [9:71-72]


The Messenger of God (ص) said: “The most complete of believers in faith are those with the best character (morals, ethics, kindness etc) and the best of you are the best in character (morals, ethics, kindness etc) to their women.” [5]


In every social aspect, we as men must show morality, ethics, chastity, kindness, compassion, affection, love, etc to our women. Our women need it most nowadays. The Holy Qur’an says:  ..and live with them in kindness (in a good manner). For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and God makes therein much good. [4:19]


The best traits of women

وقال عليه السلام : خِيَارُ خِصَالِ النِّسَاءِ شِرَارُ خِصَالِ الرِّجَالِ: الزَّهْوُ وَالْجُبْنُ وَالْبُخْلُ، فَإذَا كَانَتِ الْمَرْأَةُ مَزْهُوَّةً لَمْ تُمَكِّنْ مِنْ نَفْسِهَا، وَإِذَا كَانَتْ بِخِيلَةً حَفِظَتْ مَالَهَا وَمَالَ بَعْلِهَا، وَإِذَا كَانَتْ جَبَانَةً فَرِقَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شِيْءٍ يَعْرِضُ لَهَا.

Amir al-mu’minin, peace be upon him, said: The best traits of women are those which are the worst traits of men, namely: vanity, cowardice and miserliness. Thus, since the woman is vain, she will not allow anyone access to herself; since she is miserly, she will preserve her own property and the property of her husband; and since she is weak-hearted, she will be frightened with everything that befalls her.

[Nahjul Balagha, Part 2, Hadith 234]


(زهو) (Zahw means inviolability that is a woman must be inviolable in her social activities and her sense of pride should be dominant over her predisposition.[6])

If a woman is inviolable, she would never allow a stranger to have authority over herself and if a woman has niggardliness, she would take care of the economy of the family and if a woman is timid she would never be involved with things that would be a threat to her chastity.

If these three elements of the personality of a woman, which have been mentioned according to Imam Ali’s (as) perspective, seem unusual, more explanation and interpretation are required. These elements, which endanger woman and put her in a predicament are of two states, the general and particular here, the particular state is mentioned. Such destructive characteristics in both woman and man are not desirable in the general state, since Islam endeavours to educate human beings who are free from arrogance, fear and pride.


So, Imam Ali (as) does not consider the elements of pride and inviolability in its general state, however, inviolability has a different meaning from pride. Inviolability means that Islam has defined a structure for a woman’s personality. According to educational and training standards, a woman must be an extrovert and be able to relate with others easily and if she could not relate with the opposite sex, she may have reservations with the opposite sex, while according to Islam, a woman must observe a boundary in her social responsibilities.


Regarding the characteristic of niggardly, its general state is considered as well. When the Holy Qur’an states:

…وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“Those who are shielded from their own avarice will be prosperous.” (59:9)


So, the praiseworthiness of these characteristics is referred to in the particular state. The martyr, Professor Motahari, regarding disapproval of these three characteristics for women by some individuals, states: “Are the moral characteristics relative and are they for men in one dimension and for women in another dimension? Does this subject indicate that these characteristics are relative or has the role of man been separated from the role of woman, according to Imam Ali’s (as) speech?”

In fact, Imam Ali (as) aims to state the attitudes, which are the outcomes of those characteristics but not the qualities of personality. For instance, when God states:

الله يستهزئ بهم

“God will throw back their mockery on them.”

How can God ascribe that characteristic to Himself? Or when He states: “If a servant requests something three times from God, he/she will be addressed at the third time that God is ashamed of His servant”.

If such passive and reprehensible characteristics would be in the personality, how can the Exalted God deserve these characteristics? Consequently, in these instances what is referred to is the manner of Dominion and Sovereignty of God. His Holiness Ali (as) discarding such an incorrect concept through the analysis and interpretation of his words, states:

فإذا كانت المرأة مزهوة لم تمكن من نفسها

“If a woman continually observes a boundary and certain precautions in her own social relations, she will never be exploited and vulnerable :

لم تمكن نفساً ً

“She never allows herself to be misused.”

فإذا كانت بخيله

“If she has the characteristic of stinginess……”

حفظت مالها ومال بعلها

“.. she will safeguard her own property, that of her marital life and also that of her husband.”

فإذا كانت جبانة فرقت شيء يعرض لها

“If a woman is concerned in social interactions, she will have fright and together with precaution and apprehension, she will drive away many calamities and contention as well.”

Nevertheless, Imam Ali (as) considers the best characteristics of women as the worst attributes of man pointing out that from the Islāmic point of view the role and position of woman is completely different from that of man in marital life. The nature and personality of woman had been created in a manner that is compatible with such characteristics and virtues.


The martyr, Motahari states: “The reason why the characteristics mentioned in this narration are not considered in general, in its absolute state and include particular instances, is that regarding stinginess, if its general state is mentioned, it will be incompatible with the certainties of the Holy Qur’an. The verse:

…وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“Those who are shielded from their own avarice will be prosperous.” (59:9)


Considers the element of prosperity as the point opposite to stinginess. It is expected of a woman to be proud towards strangers and not towards the husband, other women and/or her relatives close to her. What is focused upon is the pride in order to safeguard chastity and perform social responsibilities.

According to the above-mentioned verse, obsession of this world is condemned and one who can rescue oneself from this obsession and free oneself from worship of worldly matters or wealth will reach the stage of prosperity. So, it is not the best characteristic for a woman not to spend out of her property. Her Eminence Zahra, (as) as an example did not have stinginess in its general state. Stinginess is for the purpose of:

المرأة راعية على بيت اهلها

“The woman is the supervisor and the one responsible inside the house, in the family and in relation with her husband.”

As I have mentioned, Islam considers some characteristics favourable to woman, which are undesirable for man. Definitely, the general state of these characteristics because of its incompatibility with the certainties of the Holy Qur’an is not desired. The preference and encouragement of the characteristics of pride fear and stinginess is because of the vulnerability of women. Stinginess and niggardliness are for the conjugal property according to Imam Ali (as) who states:

إذا كانت بخيلة حفظت مالها ومال بعلها

“Of course, both woman and man are responsible to safeguard conjugal property.”

The woman has an essence called chastity, which is vulnerable in social interactions therefore, she must possess a characteristic required to guard this vulnerability. Throughout history nowhere has it been mentioned that a woman violated a man, on the contrary, there have been so many cases regarding violations against women.

Therefore, fear is for safeguarding the chastity of a woman and encouraging to have this characteristic is observing precaution. Accordingly, perseverance and sensitivity in defending chastity as the basis of personality and complement of woman’s dignity has been recommended to her.


The Martyr Motahari states: “A woman’s fear in the position of enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong is condemned. The verse:

المؤمنين والمؤمنات بعضهم اولياء‌ بعض يأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر

“Some men believers and women believers are superior over the other believers they command decency and forbid dishonour.”


Considers woman and man as partners and equal in enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong. To safeguard values, it is said that one has to offer one’s wealth or life unless it may cost your chastity. So, fear has a meaning only at this point. Where it is stated “enjoin the good”, it says:

المؤمنون والمؤمنات. . .

“Men and women believers.”

or says:

الرجال قوامون على النساء بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض

“Men are the ones who should support women since God has given some persons advantages over others.”

It does not say:

بما فضل الله الرجال على النساء

“Since God has given men advantages over women.”


In fact, here it means mutual rights not superiority. The interpretation of guardianship is presented, and guardianship is not specified to men, rather woman is the one who safeguards values and fundamentals as well. God considers the characteristics of both woman and man.

In the words of the Chief of the Faithful, fear in its absolute sense is not considered, for instance, the action of Her Eminence Zahra (as) to reclaim Fadak, is an example and the action not being for material gain indicates the courage of that lady.

His Holiness Ali (as) observing one, who has such an indifference towards the world, comes to the field in like manner, bears difficulties and never fears, never stated that the actions of Her Eminence Zahra (as) were incompatible with the fundamentals of Islam. For instance, at the time of usurpation of the caliphate, she, along with a group of women of Quraish entered the mosque to prove the legitimacy of the guardianship leadership of the Chief of the Faithful (as) and safeguard the principles as well. This shows why fear is reasonable on some occasions and is not desirable in any conditions. It can only be practical for safeguarding and protecting the woman.


Always be a role-model of morality and ethics for all people

You should not only show morality and ethics to your family members or your women, but you must also show morality and ethics to all of humanity. You have to be kind and soft, but you also have to have strong principles and you have to be just. The problem with Muslims and non-Muslims today is that they lack balance. If you do not have balance and moderation, you also lack balance in morals and ethics. Smiling and laughing are good and positive qualities which create joy, friendships and social relations of goodness, but if you exaggerate with smiling and laughing, then that behavior can be considered very childish and immature.

Both men and women should have strong personalities. A man should have good qualities such as faith, nobility, wisdom, knowledge, kindness, chastity, humbleness and justice. The same goes for the woman, but a woman must not be easy and pull herself into the criminal hearts as many Muslim and non-Muslim women do nowadays. One should never bow down and be humble in front of a criminal or an evil person, but because of the influence of the media and the film industry, many women today have begun to love criminal and evil personalities. This is a tragedy and this love is far from chastity, purity and nobility.

That is why there is a difference between a Muslim and a Believer. Not every Muslim is a Wali of God. You have the general Muslims and then you have the special Muslims, who are the believers and they are from the small minority. It is through this small minority of light that the banner of Islam is upheld. It is the small minority that protects the honor, dignity and light of Islam. The light of God shines through this small group that has fought for the good qualities. May God make us from this small minority that has really shown us what true faith, morality, chastity, modesty, goodness, fairness and jurisprudence are.


Peace and Blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Family (as)


| Sayyid Mahdi As-Sadr, Al-Balagh foundation, Shaykh Abbas Ali Shameli and Amir Zabidi


Further reading 


https://www.al-islam.org/sw/node/31103

https://www.al-islam.org/it/node/30886

https://www.al-islam.org/ahlul-bayt-ethical-role-models-sayyid-mahdi-sadr/chastity


References


[1] Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 15, part 2 page 183

[2] Al-Kafi

[3] Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 15, part 2 page 184 (as quoted from al-Barqi’s al-Mahasin. In al-Kafi, there is a similar narration).

[4] Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; 2/79 (as quoted from ar- Rawandi’s ad-Dawaat).

[5] Wasa’il Al-Shia, Al-Hurr Al-Amili, Volume 12, Page 157, Jami` At-Tirmidhi 1162

[6] Ibn Abi Al- Hadid, “Description of Nahjul Balaghah”, Vol. 19, Chapter 231, Page 65.


| MORALITY AND ETHICS BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN

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