Fundamentals of the Islamic Ethics
Translated from Russian into English
© Antonov V.V., 2005
This book is available also in German.
Islam is one of the three major religious systems on the Earth.
But this is not the only reason why one needs to know about Islam. Islam expresses the ethics of the attitude of man to God in a laconic and methodologically true form.
Moreover, the attitude to God, which was taught by Jesus Christ, was realized in Islam and not in the mass Christianity.
What is Islam, specifically?
Historically, it has the roots in Judaism and Christianity. Islam esteems the Jewish prophets, Jesus Christ (in Arabic — Isa). It calls its followers to God-the-Father (in Arabic — Allah) as the Jewish prophets and Jesus understood Him. The Quran — the main holy book of Islam — contains their sayings and description of their acts. The narration in the Quran is communicated through prophet Muhammad from God, Who gives Muhammad both personal advice and explanations on the correct understanding of Him (God) and of the Path to Him.
What is the newness of Islam? Why did not God spread Christianity in the regions that are covered nowadays by Islam?
The matter is that many people calling themselves Christians strayed from the Teachings of Jesus Christ even at that time. And the contemporary mass Christianity has lost God; its followers can be called Christians only relatively — only because they continue to observe the ancient Christian rites.
… Let us compare it to India. The people of India have the Bhagavad Gita, where there is a detailed description of what is God and what man has to do in relation to this. But in India, too, the majority of people are unable to accept the concept of monotheism (due to the fact that in any region of the Earth, the people of early stages of psychogenetic development are in majority). For example, the contemporary followers of the mass Hinduism and Buddhism of Mahayana worship not God, Who is so vividly represented in the Bhagavad Gita, but pagan fictitious “gods”: Ganesha, Kali, etc., with corresponding iconography. And in some degenerated branches of Buddhism, this tendency has gone so far that for God there is no room left and He is denied completely.
But people relying on the Jewish and Christian Bible turned out to be in even worse situation, since these books do not contain a description of God which can satisfy the inquiries of an intellectual searching person: there God is depicted so that He becomes an object of belief and not an object of knowledge.
Therefore, the return to the pagan form of religious outlook, which is more convenient for young souls, was even easier among people involved in Christianity.
The loss of God in the mass Christianity manifested in the fact that God preached by the Jewish prophets and by Jesus as the Main Object of one’s attention, aspiration, and love, was superseded by the pagan cults of Nicholas the Wonder-worker and of other “patron saints”, by the cult of the earthly mother of Jesus, who though was undoubtedly a remarkable and virtuous woman, yet could not understand and accept what her Son taught. Once she even counted Him insane (Mark 3:21,31-35). And the main essence of the Teachings of Jesus about aspiration to the Perfection, to cognition of God-the-Father was superseded… by religious panhandling.
It came to a point when in Russian Orthodoxy the Universal Primordial Consciousness is pictured as an old man sitting on a cloud, and the Holy Spirit — as a pigeon.
It is important to note, that the pagan tendency was legalized by Orthodoxy even in the liturgical tradition, where the very good but not Divine woman Mary, the mother of Jesus, is called “my all-blessing Queen”, “Our Lady”, and we are her slaves with no hope to receive help from anyone but her (as one can see, God in this case is of no importance).
So, seeing the beginning of this tendency, God once again repeated through prophet Muhammad that people have to concentrate attention on Total Universal God-Creator and devote their lives to Him.
The word Islam, by the way, is translated as “obedience to God”, and the word Muslim — as “devoted to God”.
The essence of Islam is expressed in two formulas: “La ilaha illallah” — “there is no god besides God!” and “Allahu akbar” — “God is great!” (of course, “great” not in the sense, that He is such a notable, fearsome, and mysterious person, whom one has to respect and be afraid of, but that the Divine Consciousness has really no borders in the universe and that God is really the Almighty Creator and the Governor of the destinies of the entire Creation and of every one of us).
Seeing the degeneration of the faith of many Christians, Muslims even decided to take such extreme measures as the prohibition on pictorial and sculptural images of people and animals, so that one does not get tempted to worship them (this prohibition was slightly eased only recently).
One may ask: why it is so important to direct the attention mainly at God-the-Father, instead of, say, at Jesus Christ or another Avatar? It turns out, that it is really of principal importance from the standpoint of the methodology of spiritual development. It is so because only the strict monotheism predisposes mature adherents to actualization of the need to study and explore practically the multidimensional structure of the Creation and to making their search of the Creator, the Purpose, the Teacher being directed to the depths of this structure, instead of being directed “on a plane” in coarse spatial dimensions, what is peculiar to pagans.
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Though we value so much the theological concept of Islam, it is necessary to warn the readers against a non-critical attitude to what may be preached by some Muslims or by some Muslim groups. Even the fact that in the Islamic world there is no unanimity in some religious issues demonstrates that only God knows everything, and people make mistakes.
Let us note also that the Quran is intended only for laying and strengthening the foundation of the true faith in man, so that adherents may advance then on the religious Path. In Islam the step of gaining and strengthening the faith and learning the religious discipline is called shariah. On this stage — so as not to repel the masses of potential adherents — the Quran did not require from them even renouncing the habitual for the population of that region of the Earth “killing” nutrition, which is incompatible with the higher steps of advancement on the religious stairway — tariqah, etc.
There is obviously no sense to introduce into the modern life of all people the rules of conduct which God gave through Muhammad to a concrete group of people in the concrete historical period, on the background of constant military actions. It makes sense to call people not to the petty observance of the rules of everyday life stated in the Quran, which concern the matters of what to eat, how to dress, and how to marry, — but to encompassing the basic principles of man’s attitude toward God.
Below we give some of the most important citations from the Quran (with several minor clarifications; based on the Russian translation by I.J.Krachkovskiy) and from Sunna.
Reading them, one should not forget that the word Allah is the Arabic equivalent of the words the Creator, God-the-Father, Ishvara, Tao, Primordial Consciousness and others synonyms.
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In the name of Allah, the loving, the compassionate!
1:1. Praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds,
1:2. the loving, the compassionate,
1:3. the Ruler in the Day of Judgment!
1:4. You we worship and You we ask for help!
1:5. Lead us along the Straight Path!
2:22. … Do not set up anyone as equal to Allah!…
2:107. Do you not know that Allah’s is the power over the sky and the Earth, and that besides Allah you have no protector or helper?
2:115. To Allah belongs the East and the West, therefore, whithersoever you turn, there is Allah’s Countenance…
2:117. He is the Creator of the sky and the Earth, and when He decrees a matter, He says to it: “Be!” and there it is.
2:142. … Say: “To Allah belong both the East and the West; He leads whom He likes on the Straight Path!”.
2:147. The Truth is from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the doubters!
2:148. Every one has a direction to which he turns. Therefore strive to outrun each other in good deeds!
2:154. And do not speak of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “Dead!”, nay, alive! But you do not perceive.
2:155. We try you with something of fear, hunger, lack of property and lives and fruits; and gladden the patient,
2:156. who, when a calamity befalls them, say: “Verily, we belong to Allah and to Him we return!”:
2:157. those are them on whom are Blessings from their Lord, and Mercy, they go the right path.
2:163. And your God is one God, there is no Deity but He; He is the loving, the compassionate!
2:165. And there are some among men who take others besides Allah, as equal (to Him); they love them as they love Allah. And those who believe love Allah more…
2:216. … It may be that you hate a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, — verily, Allah knows, and you do not know!
2:256. There is no compulsion in religion! The Straight Path has become clearly distinct from delusion! He who rejects worshipping idols and believes in Allah has grasped a firm Handhold which will never break off!…
2:264. … Allah does not lead on the Straight Path the unbelieving people!
2:271. … Allah is aware of what you do!
2:282. … And fear Allah; verily, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things!
3:2. Allah, — there is no Deity but He, — the living, the self-subsisting!
3:3. He sent down to you the Scripture in truth, confirming the truth of that which was sent down before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this, as a guidance for the people…
3:5-6. Verily, from Allah nothing is hidden on the Earth or in the sky. He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He likes…
3:28. Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends!… And whoever does this, he shall have nothing of Allah, unless you be cautious of their fear. Allah cautions you about Himself, (because) to Allah is the return!
3:54. … Allah is the best of schemers.
3:60. The Truth is from your Lord, so be not a doubter!
3:73. … Say: “Verily, the direct guidance is the guidance of Allah!…”.
3:80. And He will not command you to take the angels and the prophets for lords…
3:110. … And if the people of the Scripture* had believed it would have been better for them! There are believers among them, but the most of them are transgressors.
3:113. Not all of them are alike: among the people of the Scripture there is a staunch community…
3:150. … Allah is your Protector! And He is the best of helpers!
3:157. And if you are slain or die in the way of Allah, then forgiveness from Allah and mercy are certainly better than what you amass!
3:169. And never reckon those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they are alive! They are provided sustenance from their Lord!
3:176. And let not those grieve you who run to unbelief: for they can do no harm to Allah!…
4:36. And worship Allah! And do not set up anyone as His partner! And do good to the parents and to the kinsfolk and to orphans and to the needy and to the neighbor of your kin and to the neighbor not of your kin, and to the fellow-neighbor and to the wayfarer… Verily, Allah does not like those who are proudly boastful,
4:37. who are niggardly and enjoin people to be niggardly and hide what Allah has given them of His grace!…
4:78. If some good befalls them, they say: “This is from Allah!”; but if evil befalls, they say: “This is from you!”. Say: “All things are from Allah!”. Why these people cannot understand that which they are told?
4:79. … Whatever good befalls you, it is from Allah, and whatever bad befalls you, it is from yourself.
4:111. … And whoever incurs sin, he incurs it against himself: verily Allah is knowing, wise!
4:175. … Those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him, He will let them to enter into His Mercy and Grace and will lead them to Himself along the straight way!
5:15. O people of the Scripture! Our Messenger has come to you to explain much of what you conceal in the Scripture…
5:59. Say: “O followers of the Scripture! Do you take revenge on us for aught but that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?”.
5:67. … Verily, Allah does not lead straightly the unbelieving people!
5:72. They disbelieve who say: “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Maryam!”. But the Messiah said: “O children of Israel! Worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord!”.
5:73. They disbelieve who say: “Allah is the third one of the three”, whereas there is no Deity but One God…
5:116. And Allah said: “O Isa, the son of Maryam! Did you say to men: ‘Take Me and My mother for two Gods besides Allah’?” He (Isa) said: “Glory to You! How could I say what I have no right to say?…
5:117. “I did not say to them aught save what You enjoined Me with: ‘Worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord!’”…
6:17. And if Allah touch you with affliction, there is none to take it off but He…
6:32. The life of this world is naught but a play and amusement; the abode of the hereafter is for those who are god-fearing. Do you not then understand?
6:51. … There is no guardian or protector… besides Him…!
6:106. Follow what is revealed to you from your Lord: “There is no Deity but He!”, and turn away from the polytheists!
7:7. … We are never absent!
7:27. … Verily, We made the shaitans* to be the patrons of those who do not believe!
7:42. As for those who believe and do good — We impose on any soul only that which it can bear — they are the dwellers of paradise…
7:180. Allah’s are the most beautiful names*, call Him by them, and leave alone those who dissent about His names! They will be requited for what they do!
9:51. Say: “Nothing happens to us except what Allah has predestined for us! He is our Protector!”. And let the believers rely on Allah!
9:116. Verily, Allah’s is the power over the sky and the Earth! He brings to life and makes to die; for you there is no any guardian or helper besides Allah!
10:12. And when evil touches man, he calls on Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove the evil from him, he passes on as though he had never called on Us for the evil that touched him…
10:44. Surely Allah does not do any injustice to men, but men are unjust to themselves.
10:107. And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He. And if He intends good to you there is none to repel His Grace…
11:15. Whoever desires this world’s life and its finery, We will help them to finish their deeds therein, and they will not be underpaid there.
11:16. For them there is nothing but fire (hell) in the next life, and vain is what they did herein, and nothing is what they worked.
13:36. And those to whom We have given the book (Quran) rejoice in that which has been sent down to you… Say: “I am commanded that I should worship Allah and not set up anyone as His partner; to Him do I call and to Him is my return!”.
16:119. … Verily, your Lord is forgiving, merciful — to those who did an evil in ignorance but then repented and redressed the wrong.
17:23. And your Lord has decreed that you shall worship none but Him, and do good to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them “pish!” nor shout at them, but speak to them a generous word.
17:24. And lower unto them the wing of humility out of mercy and say: “O Lord! Have mercy on them, as they cared for me when I was little.”.
17:26. And give to the near of kin his due and to the needy and to the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully,
17:27. for the squanderers are the brothers of shaitans!…
17:30. Verily, your Lord provides abundant sustenance to whom He pleases and whom He gives. Verily, He is ever seeing, aware of His slaves.
17:37. And do not walk on land haughtily!…
18:110. Say: “I am a person like you; the Revelation has been sent down to me that your God is One God. Therefore, whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and in worshipping the Lord he should not join anyone to Him!”.
20:8. God! — there is no Deity but He; His are the most beautiful names!
20:46. He said: “Fear not, I am with you, I do hear and see!”…
21:35. Every soul tastes of death*; We try you by evil and good for probation; and to Us you will be brought back!”.
22:75. Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men…
28:50. … Who is more astray than he who followed his passion without any guidance from Allah? Surely Allah does not lead on the Straight Path the unjust people!
28:59. And your Lord never destroyed the towns until He had sent there a messenger, reciting to them Our communications (for turning people to righteousness). And We never destroyed the towns except when their people were unrighteous!
31:21. And when it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down”, they say: “Nay, we follow that on which we found our fathers!”…
31:22. And whoever turned himself to Allah and does good, he indeed has grasped a firm handhold!…
31:23. And whoever disbelieves, let not his disbelief grieve you! To Us is their return, then We will explain to them what they did…
32:11. Say: “The angel of death, who is in charge of you, takes you in death, and then to your Lord you will be brought back”.
32:12. And could you but see when sinners hang down their heads before their Lord: “Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard! Therefore send us back, so that we may do good! We are (now) sure of the truth!”.
32:20. And as for those who are wicked, their abode is the fire (of hell). Whenever they desire to go out from it, they are brought back into it and told: “Taste the chastisement of the fire (of hell) which you called a lie!”.
33:5. … There is no sin on you in what you did by mistake, but (there is sin) in what you intended (evil)…
33:16. Say: “Running away will not help you if you run away from death”…
33:41-42. O you who believe! Remember Allah, remembering frequently, and glorify Him morning and evening!
35:41. Surely Allah upholds the sky and the Earth lest they come to naught…
37:182. And all praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
39:42. Allah receives souls at the time of death, and (a soul) which has not died yet — during its sleep…
39:55. Follow the best that has been sent down to you from your Lord!…
39:66. … Worship Allah and be thankful!
40:60. And the Lord said: “Call upon Me, I will answer you!”…
41:6. Say: “I am only man like you; it was revealed to me that your God is one God, therefore follow the straight way to Him and ask His forgiveness!…”.
41:8. And those who believe and do good, they shall surely have a reward inexhaustible.
41:46. Whoever does good, it is for himself, and whoever does evil, it is against himself…
41:51. When We show favor to man, he turns aside and withdraws; and when evil touches him, abundant are his prayers.
42:10. … Allah, my Lord, on Him do I rely and to Him do I turn!
42:13. … Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns (to Him).
42:30. And whatever affliction befalls you, it was incurred by your hands; and He forgives much.
42:48. … And surely when We make man taste mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; and if an evil afflicts him on account of what his hands have already done, then man is ungrateful!
42:49. Allah’s is the power over the sky and the Earth; He creates what He pleases; He grants to whom He pleases daughters and grants to whom He pleases sons.
42:50. Or He joins them: men and women; and He makes whom He pleases barren…
46:3. We created the sky and the Earth and what is between them, with truth and for an appointed term…
59:20. Not equal are the dwellers of the fire (hell) and the dwellers of paradise. The dwellers of paradise are those who achieved success!
59:23. He is Allah, there is no Deity but He — the King, the Holy, the Peace, the Faithful, the Guardian, the Great, the Mighty, the Supreme; glory be to Allah…!
59:24. He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Teacher. His are the most beautiful names! He is praised by whatever is in the sky and on the Earth. He is the great, the wise!
84:6. O man! You aspire to your Lord with striving and you will meet Him!
87:1. Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High…!