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Qur'an and Islamic Ethics
by Imam Zaid Shakir



You will surely be tested in your wealth and
your lives. And you will hear from those given
the scriptures before you and from the
idolaters much abuse. If you patiently
persevere, and remain mindful [of God],
surely in this is a manifestation of firm
[Al-Qur'an 3:186]


Enduring trials, tribulations, and bearing abuses are the crucibles through which the ability to move towards this state of godliness is forged. Because the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him)is our leader in guiding us to this standard, in word and deed, no one was more tried or abused than he. He could not order anyone to adopt these characteristics, until he himself had adopted them, just as he could not urge the arduous traversing of the obstacles leading to them until he himself had traveled that difficult road. It is by traveling that road that we turn away from the creation and orient ourselves towards the Creator.

You have nothing to do with the outcome of
their affair [O, Muhammad!] Whether He
accepts repentance from them, or punishes
them, they are indeed wrongdoers.
[Al-Qur'an 3:128]

Not equal are good and evil. Repel [evil] with
what is best; you will unexpectedly see one
with whom you had enmity become an
intimate friend.
[Al-Qur'an 41:34]

The Prophet's (peace and blessings upon him) cousin and close companion, Ibn 'Abbas, may God be pleased with him, is related as saying concerning this verse: God commands the believers with patience in the presence of anger; forbearance in the face of ignorant acts; and pardoning when offended. If they do that God will protect them from Satan and subdue their enemies.

Imam Al-Burusawi mentions in his commentary: Do not allow their boldness in entertaining vile character traits prevent you from engaging in good ones.

No single verse could better embody the spirit of Islamic ethics [Al-Qur'an 41:34]. Not only does it prescribe a lofty course of action, it also shows how that action, far from leading to worldly weakness, is a source of worldly strength and exaltation. However, if one is not in touch with God, one cannot perceive the veracity of His promise, or the scope of His power. Regardless of our perceptions, God has the power to transform our enemies into friends. However, in a worldly sense, we unleash that power through principled, ethically lofty behavior. As the verse after the one being discussed proceeds to remind us:

No one is granted this lofty state except those
who patiently persevere; and no one is granted
it except the possessor of a great portion.
[Al-Qur'an 41:35]

Imam Zaid Shakir.





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