Topic: The moral values of Qura`nic parables and similitudes.
“Alif Laam Raa. A book which we have revealed to you (Muhammad) so that you may lead the people from out of the darknesses into the light by their Lord’s leave to the path of the All-Mighty, the Praiseworthy.” [Qur'an 14:1]. To start with, it is necessary to introduce the Qur’an. It is a Message from Allah to humanity, which was transmitted to us in a chain starting from the Almighty Himself to the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. This message was given to the Prophet in pieces over a period of approximately 23 years. The language of the original message was Arabic, but it has been translated into many other languages. The Qur`an includes numerous moral values which are worth mentioning. In this essay, the moral values of Qur`anic parables and similitudes will be discussed in detail.
The moral values of the community we live in are rather distorted. These moral principles, which are the products of selfish passions and the greed of people, yield then to selfishness, arrogance, sarcasm, rudeness and cruelty. People believe that, in order to improve their living standards they have to cheat or deceive others. However, these are not the values that Allah has determined for the human beings He created. The Qur an orders people to be dignified, modest, trustworthy, kind, faithful, mature and responsive. The Qur an even describes the way we should walk: “Turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boast” [Surat al-Luqman, 31:18]
On that account, duty of a believer is to apply these superior principles that Allah has decreed. Yet, today believers live in a mislead community where these divine ethics have been forgotten. For that reason, they have to be extremely careful against the perpetrating effects of this perverted culture. They must continuously judge themselves within this community not to be affected by their degenerated culture, and to be able to apply the moral values of the Qur an.
The tongue and the language are two great gifts of Allah. These gifts that Allah has given humans make them superior to all other creatures: The most Gracious Allah has taught the Quran; He has created man; He has taught him speech. [Ar-Rahman: 1-4].
The greater the gift, the higher would be its re-payment. Being grateful for it is as necessary as being ungrateful is reprehensible. Islam has explained how people can derive benefit from this unparalleled blessing, and how the speech that flows from their tongues throughout the day be used for goodness and truth. People who are never tired of talking are not few in numbers. If you examine their talks you will find that most of these consist of senseless, absurd and trash things, whereas Allah has not given men their tongues for this purpose, nor these capabilities were given for such a purpose: In most of their secret talks there is no good; but if one exhorts to a deed of charity or justice conciliation between men, (secrecy is permissible); to him who does this, seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall soon given a reward of the highest (value). [An-nisa a , 4:114]
The Qur an informs us of the true attributes of Allah: Allah! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Surat al-Baqara, 2:255)
Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge. (Surat at-Talaq, 65:12)
However, most people not perceiving Allah as He is described in the above ayas, and they cannot comprehend His eternal power and greatness. They believe in superstitions that they have made up themselves, and think that Allah is somewhere far off in the universe, and rarely interferes in earthly matters . The limited understanding of these people is mentioned in the Qur an, in Surat al-Hajj, 22:74. No just estimate have they made of Allah: for Allah is He Who is strong and able to Carry out His Will.
Having a picture of the extent of Allah s power is the first step in the chain of belief. True believers leave behind them the distorted vision of Allah prevailing in their community, and deny these perverted beliefs by saying: There were some foolish ones among us, who used to utter extravagant lies against Allah. (Surat al-Jinn, 72:4)
The faithful believe in Allah in the way the Qur an describes. They examine the signs of Allah in both external and internal worlds, and thus begin to understand the great art and power of Allah. But if the believers happen to overlook Allah and fail to ponder deeply on Him and on His Creation, they may start to be influenced by immoral beliefs particularly at times of difficulty. Allah mentions this as a potential risk in the verse of Surat Al-Imran, 3:154, about the believers who gave up during the war, and who were anxious on their own account, thought wrongly of Allah, the thought of ignorance.
A believer would never like to make such a mistake, therefore he should free his heart from everything that appertains to the beliefs of the ignorant, and accept this real faith with all his heart in the way the Qur an describes.
Another moral value mentioned in the Qur an is the fear of Allah. To fear Allah is the beginning of all. The more one fears Allah, the more superior does one become in the presence of Allah. The Qur an gives the examples of the prophets, with whom the believers can compare themselves so that they may understand that they really can increase their fear of Allah. Allah wants people to fear Him to the greatest possible extent. Various ways of showing reverence for the Almighty can be found, for example; spending in Allah s way, doing good deeds, taking the prophet as an example, obeying him, and being attentive to the rules of Allah etc.
So fear Allah as much as you can; listen and obey and spend in charity for the benefit of your own soul. Those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, are the ones that achieve prosperity. [Surat at-Taghabun, 64:16].
O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. [Surat Al-Imran, 3:102].
Another moral value mentioned in the Qur an is believing that there is goodness in all . All things are created with wisdom and there are benefits for the believers in all happenings because Allah is on the believers side and does not let them down.
Encounters in life may at first seem unfavourable for the believers. Allah will sooner or later save them. Therefore, believers should be completely sure that there is goodness in all.
There are many examples of this kind of situation in the Qur an; the life of Yusuf (Joseph) is one of the most remarkable. In his childhood, his brothers had thrown Yusuf down to the bottom of a well. He was later rescued and then accused and imprisoned, even though he was innocent. For a person without faith, these incidents may be thought of as the greatest misfortunes. Nevertheless, Yusuf always kept in mind that these could only happen under Allah s direction and that all would certainly turn out for the better. And this proved to be true. Allah turned the disasters to good account; Yusuf was released from prison and in time became one of the governors of that land.
The situation with Yunus (Jonah) was no different. He fled to a laden ship, where, to retain his place, he drew lots. When the draw proved unfavourable, he was thrown into the sea where he was swallowed by a gigantic fish. The Qur an informs us that he was rescued and was sent to a nation a hundred thousand men or more, only because he had glorified Allah.
Had he not been of them who glorify All h, He would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, And We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more. And they believed; so We gave them enjoyment for a while. (Surat as-Saaffat, 37:143-148)
All these examples given in the Qur an teach us that the events which seems to be a misfortune are not really so for the believer. If he puts his trust in Allah, seeks refuge in Him and asks help only from Him, then nothing will be a matter of regret for him. Allah does create certain difficulties, but they are only to put man to the test and to strengthen believers loyalty and faith.
The opposite holds true for the unbelievers. Nothing in this life can be good for them. Things that strike them as delightful or pleasant are indeed misfortunes , and these will increase their torment in the Hereafter. Anything that they achieve unjustly is entered in their record, and for this they will ultimately be responsible. On this score the Qur an records Allah s commandments:
And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; the things, which they covetously withheld, shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Well Acquainted with all that you do. (Surat Al-Imran, 3:180)
Furthermore, Allah tells people to refrain from mocking. Mockery can take many forms: open laughter, sly grins, verbal teasing under the pretence of joking, or sidelong glances to convey something, which cannot be openly discussed. Such behavior belongs to the culture of the ignorant and does not befit true believers. The Qur an tells us that people who indulge in such behaviour will have to suffer the Fire of Allah.
To conclude, there are many moral values in the Qur`an which has been ignored by people nowadays. This ignorance is one of the main reasons for the weakness of the Islamic nation today. Once moral values fade away, strength fades away. Sadly, our Islamic nation seems feeble and that s due to the lack of faith and ignorance of moral values.
+ Izutsu, Toshihiko (1959) The Structure of the Ethical Terms in the Koran. Volume 2. Tokyo. The Keio Institute of Philologial Studies.