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Two Stories of Islamic Ethics in Practice

Two Stories of Islamic Ethics in Practice

Editor note:

In the first part, the author discussed the emphasis Islam lays to morality and ethics. He explored some of the Islamic morals that were cherished by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions.

In this part, the author recounts two wonderful stories inspired by Prophet Muhammad’s teachings:

Putting Ethics into Practice

It has been related that when Sulayman, the Umayyad caliph (C.E. 715-717) and the son of `Abd-al-Malik, went to Al-Madinah for a visit, he sent for Abu Hazim and asked him to give a discourse. Abu Hazim dutifully obliged, addressing the Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful) in these words:

“Take not possessions from other than their proper place, and deposit them not except with whom they belong.”

The Caliph inquired, “And who is capable of so doing?”

Abu Hazim replied, “He whom Allah has granted control over the affairs of subjects as He has granted you.”

The Caliph then said, “Preach to me, O Abu Hazim .”

Abu Hazim proceeded: “Know that this command fell to you upon the death of your predecessor, and it will depart from your hands in the same manner it came into them.”

The Caliph then asked, “Why do you not come to us?”

Abu Hazm answered, “And what would I do if I came to you, O Commander of the Faithful? If you drew me nearer, I would be distracted from my way; and If you sent me away, you would disgrace me; and you do not possess what I would ask for, nor do I possess anything that I fear you for.”

The Caliph then said, “Ask me, then, for what you want.”

And Abu Hazm replied, “I have already asked Him Who is more capable than you; whatever He grants, I accept, and whatever He withholds pleases me.”

Here we have an example of the imprint of Prophet Muhammad’s Message on the character of man, exalting and purifying it. The annals of Muhammad’s Companions and followers- for that matter, of Muslims everywhere-abound with fine examples of Godliness, kind treatment, the shunning of turpitude, and faithful counseling of Allah’s servants.

Ethics in Business

It is said that one Yunus ibn-`Ubayd sold tunics of different values; some were worth four hundred dirhams each, and others only two hundred each. Entrusting his nephew with the care of the shop, Yunus departed to offer his prayers.

A bedouin entered the shop and asked for a tunic priced at four hundred, but received one priced at two hundred instead. The bedouin liked it, was perfectly satisfied, bought it, and departed, carrying the tunic on his arm.

While on his way, he came upon Yunus, who recognized his tunic and asked the bedouin how much he had paid for it. The bedouin replied that he had paid four hundred dirhams.

“But it is not worth more than two hundred,” said Yunus. “Come with me and I will exchange it for you.”

The bedouin replied, “This is worth five hundred in my country, and I am pleased with it.”

Yunus then declared, “Do not say that, for the counsel of religion is more rewarding than the provisions of this world.”

Returning to the shop, he refunded two hundred dirhams to the bedouin, and scolded his nephew, saying, “Are you not ashamed? Do you have no fear of Allah? You would accept gold and abandon the counsel of the Muslims!”

The nephew replied, “May Allah be my witness, he accepted it only because he was pleased.” The uncle then said, “But have you pleased him as you would please yourself?”

It has been said about Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir that in his absence his servant sold a bedouin a piece of goods worth only five dirhams for ten. The master looked for the bedouin all day, and when he found him he stated, “The boy erred and sold you for ten what is worth only five.”

The bedouin, astonished, replied, “But I was pleased!”

Muhammad replied, “Even if you were, we would please you only with what pleases us,” and returned him five dirhams.

Such is the character of the person who has been truly influenced by the Message of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and who has abided by the Prophet’s dictum, “Truly, none of you believes until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.” The true Muslim does not deceive, cheat, or swindle.

The effect of Muhammad’s Message was decisive on those who followed its guidance. It called not for extravagance, pretentiousness, or boastfulness, but for faith and good deeds both openly and silently, for according to Islam it is more appropriate that man fears Allah than his fellow man.

A person was once asked to testify before the Caliph `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). The Caliph asked him to bring forth someone who knew of him. He produced a man who praised him generously. `Umar thereupon inquired, “Are you his closest neighbor who knows him inwardly and outwardly?”

“No,” the man replied.

“Were you his companion on the journey which reveals a man’s character?”

“No,” he again replied.

“Perhaps you deal with him in dinars and dirhams, which reveals the honesty and integrity of this man?” “No,” was the answer.

“I think you behold him in the Mosque, whispering verses of the Qur’an, lowering and lifting his head in prayer.” “Yes,” replied the man.

`Umar then snapped, “Away with you, for you know him not!” And turning to the would-be witness, he commanded, “Go and bring forth someone who knows you.”


References

Taken with slight editorial modifications from the Book: The Eternal Message of Muhammad.


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