The importance of Moral and Ethics in Islamic Shariah can be understood by the fact that there is so much text in Quran and Sunnah that if we were to collect all of it, it will create many voluminous books. Islam is a religion that came to guide the high standard of morality to human race. The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) repeatedly said that the best Muslim is the one who has the best Moral character.
Usama bin Sharik reported: “We were sitting in the company of the Prophet (pbuh) so quietly as if the birds were sitting on our heads. None of us had the courage to speak. In the meantime some people came and asked The Prophet (pbuh): “Who among His slaves is dearest to Allah?” He replied: “One who has the best moral character” [Tabarani]
The Prophet (pbuh) was asked: “Which Muslim has the perfect faith?” He answered: “One who has the best moral character.” [Tabarani]
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “On judgment day there will be no deed weightier in the scale of the believer than his noble character. Allah (swt) does not like an obscene and rude talker, and the person who has a good character achieves the status of a person who prays and fasts” [Imam Ahmed]
Islam is the religion that heavily focuses on character building and doesn’t grant the place in paradise by merely admitting into Islam. In fact, it teaches that sins can be washed not just by accepting commands of Allah but by physically doing these commands in Actions, and that bad deed can be washed away by doing good deeds. The person who acts on Allah’s commands and perform good deed invariably attain good character.
There is strong relationship between Strong Iman (faith) and good character. A person cannot attain full or perfect faith without attaining good character. In fact, a person with bad character is likely to find a place in hell then in paradise.
Anas reported Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as saying: “A person can reach a high status in the hereafter by his good conduct though he may be weak in matters of worship, and he can also go down to the lowest part of Hell by his wicked character” [Abu Dawood]
The person with good character elevates himself to the status of those who are pious in their prayers and worships.
Aisha (ra) reported Prophet (pbuh) saying: “A believer with his noble manners achieves the rank of one who prays late night and fast during the day” [Abu Dawood]
Similarly, Ibn Omar related that he heard the Prophet (pbuh) saying: “A Muslim who worships in moderation reaches by means of his good manners and noble nature the rank of a person who fasts and recites the holy Quran in the night prayers.” [Imam Ahmed]
Islam has five main pillars, namely i) Tawheed ii) Prayers iii) Charity iv) Fasting v) Pilgrimage to Makkah. These are various acts of worship and obedience to Allah. All of these pillars are attributes directly towards character building and bestowing high morals and ethics into Muslims. For instance:
01Tawheed (oneness of Allah) is to believe in Allah as one God with unmatched power and attributes, and admit to these unmatched powers of Allah by submitting to commands of Allah (swt) unconditionally. Tawheed teaches humbleness, human nature, humility, philanthropy, piousness, righteousness and doing the right thing and abstaining from all evil and sinful activities.
02Salah (prayers) are five daily prayers evenly distributed throughout the day. Allah (swt) said in Quran that prayer protect from sins and unlawful activities: “… and perform As-Salat (وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha (الْفَحْشَاء - i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (الْمُنكَرِ - i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) ...” [al-Ankaboot 29:45]
03Zakat (charity) is due on all Muslim (based on financial ability). Zakat not only serves the purpose of welfare of citizens, but it also establishes relationship of kindness and love amongst various classes of the society. It reduces the love of material wealth in heart and increases the sense of helping other people in need.
04Sawm (fasting) is compulsory for Muslim in month of Ramadan. Fasting brings piousness and tawqa to Muslims. It not only teaches self control and abstinence from worldly desires but it also teaches the pain of others (who do not get enough food to eat).
05Haj (pilgrim to Makkah) is a ritually obligatory on Muslims who can afford it (financially and physically). The Haj teaches attributes of self control, high morals, humility, modesty, brotherhood, kindness and caring.
All these pillars teaches disciple, self-control, piousness, humility, humbleness, modesty, high morals, caring and love, and purify Muslims so much so that they attain moral perfection both inner and outward, while people see it and when no one is watching them, from their tongue and what they have in their heart. They complete eliminate hypocrisy and Riya (show off), and instill real character and noble qualities.