Islam and Ethics

The word ‘Islam’ means to relinquish oneself to God (Allah). It is basically derived from an Arabic word-‘Salema’, which means purity, obedience, peace and submission. In the spiritual sense, it means acquiescence to the God’s will and conformity to His law. Except man, every other thing and phenomenon inthis universe is controlled by God. All things and facts are submissive to God and His laws,states Islam. God has blessed man with the traits of aptitude and choice. To become a Muslim, man needs to devote himself to the way of Allah and follow his laws.

Islam and Ethics

There exists a set of moral principles in Islamto differentiate between wrong and right. It prescribes what to do and what should be abstained from.Every day, man has to face a lot of ethical issues and no person can posses an instinctive, untaught and unlearnt knowledge of how to deal with these concerns.

Ethics of Islamdeal with those things that are prohibited in Islam and prohibition of which is beneficial to all mankind.  Nowadays, youngsters as well as adults find themselves in the thick of difficult situations and conflict. The habit of getting into these difficult spots is often attributed to ignorance towards the Islamic laws. On the basis of recent surveys, it was noticed that the main issues being faced by the current generation were employee theft, drugs and alcohol, misuse of proprietary information, abuse of company expenses, conflicts of interest, discrimination in hiring and promotion and many such things that shake the pillars of one’s existence.

Factors Influencing Ethical Behavior In Islam

Ethical behavior of a person living under the umbrella of Islam may be defined as the manner in which a man is going to do justice to the teachings of Islam and how he is going to distinguish between right and wrong. These factors have been identified as:

·         Legal Interpretations

In modern societies, legal interpretations are supported by modern and often momentary morals and values; but in the Islamic point of view, these morals and values are directed by shariah and the assortment of earlier ‘fiqh’ verdict. There were some conflicting approaches that arose from Islamic principles e.g. once there was discrimination in hiring minorities and women in America, but now by applying affirmative action laws, they have made these practices legal. While on the other hand, Islam provides women with unalienable and permanent rights, and never categorizes against minorities.

Prophet Mohammadonce said, “people cannot be differentiated on the basis of their color, caste and creed, unless you excel them in piety”.

·         Organizational Factors

Any organization has a great influence on its members’ deeds. The key element of organizational influence is the level of commitment of the organization’s manager to overall ethical conduct. The pledge can be communicated through policy statements, code of ethics, publications, speeches and many other mediums. The copious use of a code of ethics in many organizations is gaining a lot of popularity and varies from industry to industry. Sometimes, the use of such codes is inappropriate, but with each passing day they are greatly enhancing ethical behavior among participants in organization more and more. There are many organizations that deal with operating or selling of some ‘Haram’ (disallowed by Islam) services or products, for this reason the demeanor of whole organization is immoral. Mounting and implementing code of ethics in such an organization is undoubtedly flawed in the traditional sense. However, in the universal sense, organizations that are involved in selling and trading ‘Halal’ (endorsed/ allowed by Islam) services or products can promote ethical behavior by means of developing ethical code of Islam.

·         Individual Factors

Every individual operates with different values and principles. Those factors, which affect one’s ethical behavior include:

1. Stages of moral behavior.

2. Personal values and morals.

3. Family influences.

4. Peers influences

5. Life experiences.

The Three Primary Ethical Influences

a) Family Influences

The ethical standard of an individual begins from his childhood. If one desires that his child should grow up as a good Muslim, he should try to shape him up with proper ethical standards. A child attains all his basic ethical standards through his family.

b) Peers Influences

When a child is admitted to school, he is largely influenced by his peers. A child keeps focusing on the peers’ behavior and imitates them. So, if peers possess good ethical standards, your child will automatically follow them.

c) Life Experiences

Whether positive or negative, an individual is greatly influenced by the events and experiences of his lifetime. This experience helps them in determining ethical beliefs and behaviors.

Stages Of Moral Development

The apostle of Allah suggested that there are two stages of moral development for every individual i.e. the prepubescent stage and adulthood.

Furthermore, Islamic scholars have suggested that there are three stages, where a man can develop:

1. ‘Ammara’, which leads to evil and if not controlled at the right time, will lead to perdition

2. ‘Lawwama’, which deals with consciousness of evil and the power to resist it

3. ‘Mutmainna’, which is where the soul receives complete satisfaction.

The ethical behavior of an individual is governed by the level of piety or ‘taqwa’ of his soul.

Personal Values And Morals

Ethical standards influence an individual’s morals and values. People possessing different moral standards behave differently e.g. a person who exhibits honestly will behave differently as compared to a dishonest person. Similarly, in Islam, the disappearance and decay of sincerity is a mark of the proximity of the Judgment Day. The locus of control is the key variable, which affects the ethical behavior of an individual. Locus of control is the degree, which shows to what extent one is the master of his own faith. One should not try to hurt others by showing unethical behavior.

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