Following notes on characteristics of Islamic Civilization have been taken from An introduction to Islamic Ideology by Anwar Hashmi.
Table of Contents
In the Glorious Qur’an, God emphasizes the purification and purity of the human soul as follows:
“I swear by the sun and its brilliance and the moon when it follows the sun and the day when it makes manifest the sun (and her beauty) and the night when it covers the sun and the heaven and Him who made it and the earth and Him who extended it and the soul and Him who made it perfect, then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it. He will indeed be successful who purifies it and he will indeed fail whoever pollutes and corrupts it.” (91:1-10)
So, after swearing eleven times, after so much emphasis, God declares that the person who purifies his soul will be successful and whoever pollutes and corrupts his soul will fail.
Purification of the soul is a prerequisite for closeness to God. Indeed, the whole point of morality and spirituality is to purify one’s soul.
One of the main tasks of all the Prophets (a.s.) and a major aim behind all their endeavors in teaching the divine message was to help people to purify their souls. Referring to the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the Glorious Qur’an says:
“He is the one who has sent amongst illiterate people an apostle from among themselves who recites to them His verses and purifies them and teaches them the Book and the wisdom.” (62:2)
God describes the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), purification precedes teaching the Book and wisdom. This indicates the priority and great importance of purification. This also suggests that a prerequisite for learning the Book and wisdom is to be pure.
There are a number of sources of impurity. A major or the major source of impurity is the attachment to the materialistic life and worldly affairs
Zakat is derived from the same root as tazkiyah (purification) i.e. za-ka-wa which means growth and purity. It seems more reasonable to suggest that the main reason for calling alms “zakat” is that it helps in purifying the soul by getting rid of the love for this world. This is why God says to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.):
“Take charity from their possessions to cleanse them and purify them thereby, and bless them. Indeed your blessing is a comfort to them, and God is all-hearing, all-knowing.” (9:103)
Thus when someone spends some money for the sake of God on things such as giving to the needy people or building places for common good such as Mosques, seminaries, schools and hospitals both giver and receiver benefit. However, the main beneficiary is the giver who is giving some money which is the least valuable thing in the sight of God and instead achieves purity and pleasure of God.
“… You can only warn those who fear their Lord in secret, and maintain the prayer. Whoever seeks purification for himself, seeks purification only for his own sake, and to God is the return.” (35:18)
The reason for such a great emphasis on self-purification is the fact that God is the Most Pure and the Most Perfect and it is only by purification of the soul that we can achieve our ambition of getting close to Him. One major way of purification is to get rid of attachment to the materialistic life by giving out one’s own money for the sake of God.
Dignity of Man:
All human beings possess equal human dignity as their birthright and enjoy the right of access to God equally, because He is equally the God of all. And because He is nearer to every human being than his jugular vein, no one needs any priest or priestess in his dealings with Him. He is Himself the Bestower of all Blessings on whomsoever He considers worthy; He Himself judges and forgives the sins of whomsoever He seems deserving; to Him belongs the Absolute Sovereignty and His contact with everyone is direct and constant.
As regards respect for human dignity, it is, in the Quranic view, the birthright of every human being.
We read the direct and unqualified affirmation of the dignity of man in the following Quranic text, where God Most High declares:
“We have bestowed dignity on the progeny of Adam and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our creation.” (Al-Isra’, 17:70)
The dignified status (al-izza) of the believers is thus expounded alongside that of God Most High and His Messenger, Muhammad:
“And honor (al-izza) belongs to God, to His Messenger and the believers”(al-Munafiqun,63:8)
Unity of humanity and human family is one of the basic concepts of Islam and the Holy Quran considers the diversity of people in language and color as a sign of God and therefore, these differences should not be a basis of superiority of one over another.
“O mankind! We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-wary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware. (Al-Hujurat: 13)
Right to life:
Human’s most important right is the right to life and other rights originate from this right to life.
The Quran as well as Sunnah protect right to life, wealth and prestige and ensure a free society in which no one, even the non-Muslim, shall be deprived of life, property, and honor without due procedure of law. These instructions have been repeated in the Holy Quran in:
“Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except through the due process of law … “(6:151)
Right of Religiosity:
It is explicated in the Qur’an that freedom in selecting and practicing a religion is humans’ undeniable right
“There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error” (Al-Baqarah: 256).
God says in the Holy Quran that all of you are the children of Adam and Eve.
The most pious and great amongst you is he who is the best of the lot (men and) the best is to be selected on the basis of actions. (49:13).
Hinduism had allowed caste-system to flourish in the Indo-Pak sub-continent and on the soil of Arabia too there was a division into tribes on a mass scale on the basis of race, color and language etc.
Among the Hindus, the Shudras and in the Arabs the Negroes were the low castes but Islam preached equality without discrimination of caste, color and also office one held, for example a caliph had the same rights in the matter of justice as the ordinary slave.
Hazrat Bilal originally a slave and of Negroid race, black in color, enjoyed the same status as ’Ansars” and ’Muhajirin’.
God, the One, has created them all; and He originated the existence of the human species on the earth through one original pair of man and woman. This gives us the Quranic principle of the Unity of Mankind, in which all prejudices of race, color, caste and sex are obliterated and the only principle of distinction in respect of status is achievement in terms of spiritual and moral character and knowledge.
The great poet Allama Iqbal presents the picture of ideal Islamic society thus:
“The servant of God i.e. man has not to care the least about anything and especially his place in Society because neither he is anyone’s’ slave nor he has any slave; he is free because the land and government all, belong to God”.
Justice, Kindness and Pardon: (Adl, Ihsan and Ifow)
Justice, Kindness and pardon have got a fundamental importance in the Socio-moral code of Islam.
These three things are also amongst attributes of God Himself.
“Adl” in Islam means justice- to others as well as to one’s own self, and also to the gifts bestowed by God.
“Adl” is of two kinds: (i) legal justice (ii) Personal justice
Legal justice is related with the society and the state i.e. no one can take laws in to ones own hand: it is the duty of the state to decide according to the laws. A wayfarer, if gets hold of a murderer, can hand over the murderer to the police, but cannot kill the murderer. If he will kill the murderer, he will be punished.
Personal justice can be practised in society and the family and independently e.g., one can be just to one’s wife, children, neighbors, relatives, servants, subordinates and friends.
The Holy Quran says that one must be just because undoubtedly God loves the just.
God has instructed the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to render justice among people, through the instructions given in the Holy Book.
Breaking of promise and contract has been described as the greatest of all injustices, and one should refrain from these.
Justice does not distinguish between the high and the low, the white colored and the Negro.
“Surely, We have sent down this Book to thee with the truth. That thou mayest judge amongst men by means of what God has shown thee.” (An-Nisa: 105)
“And keep up the balance with justice and shorten not the balance.” (Ar Rahman: 9)
“And when you judge amongst men, you judge with equity.” (An-Nisa: 58)
“And God guides not the unjust people.” (Al-Baqarah: 258)
Even the enmity of a nation should not make you deviate from justice. We can notice this commandment being practised in the early period of Islamic history. When a dispute between a Muslim and a Jewish citizen was brought before Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), he found the Jewish citizen to be right and he decided in his favour.
Toleration means good behavior towards non-Muslims.
The history of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) testify to the fact that Islam has always practiced toleration.
Never by force Islam was thrust upon any non-Muslim and it was surely on account of God’s orders in this respect:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah: 256)
Islam does not permit saying any bad words to the other religions and it is enjoined in the Holy Quran that
“O Muslims! Do not use bad words for them who do not respect God and worship other gods or objects, lest they may use bad words for your God, may the reason be their ignorance or short knowledge”
The life of Holy Prophet (PBUH) is also a noble example of toleration. Though he met many vicissitudes in life yet he was never vindictive and allowed amnesty to non-Muslims.
Freedom of worship and Liberty of conscience were allowed to the dhimmis (Non-Muslims). Hazrat Ali said:
“Their Blood (of Non-Muslims) was like our blood.”
To refrain from bad actions and to pursue good actions is the goal of Islam. And this is known as morality (Ikhlaq).
The moral organization has the characteristics of (i) moral standard built after making good-will of Allah as the sole subject of Life (ii) to establish the good and prohibit the evil.
“Whatever people were born for the guidance of mankind. Ye (Muslims) are the best among them, that Ye preach and practice good and prohibit evil and fear God”. (A’al-i-Imran: 109)
According to the promise of God, good will be rewarded and evil shall not escape unpunished. The Holy Quran says:
“For those who do good there is good and more…” (Yunus: 26)
The Holy Prophet himself declared that the purpose of his prophethood was reform and morality:
“I have been sent for the completion of morality (Husn-e-Iklaq). Certainly I have been sent for the completion of the good qualities of morality”.