Islam’s Ethical Teachings: Khilafa, Responsibility for Your Actions and Good Deeds

The true purpose of an Islam adherent is the worship of Allah, the attainment of his understanding and complete devotion to Him. Like the world’s other major religious traditions, Islam has numerous ethical teachings. In various ways, these ethical teachings guide Islam’s adherents to live a life which pleases and honours Allah.

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Firstly, one way in which Islamic ethical teachings guide adherents to live a life which pleases and honours Allah is Khilafa. Khalifa means that adherents are given the task to maintain and keep creation as God’s stewards. For example, in regards to water conservation, the ethical teaching of Khilafa guides Muslims by encouraging them to save water as it is seen as a blessing that gives and sustains life. By being obedient to this teaching, adherents place their full trust (Amanah) in Allah to provide water to purify humankind and the Earth. Also, as evident in Surah Al Araaf, The Heights 7:31, “O Children of Adam! Eat and drink but waste not by excess, for God loveth not the wasters”, it clearly states that water is to be conserved and not wasted. Additionally, as Bino, Biswas and Faruqui suggested, Muslim adherents cannot hoard excess water. Rather, they are obliged to allow others to benefit from it. Moreover, as revealed in the findings of al-Dīn, Dien and Izzidien, pouring too much water for ablution is an action of the devil.

Next, being accountable for your actions is a second way in which ethical teachings help Islam followers to live a life which satisfies and honours Allah. Akhira refers to the afterlife of Islam adherents and whether they will be admitted into paradise or hellfire on Judgement Day. The ethical teaching of Akhira guides Islam adherents by assuring them that if they are accountable for their actions they will reach paradise. For instance, in regards to the interdependence of humans and animals, following the correct process of slaughtering animals highlights the caring and respectful relationship between the two. As well, as clear in the Quran 6:38, “There are not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you”, it shows that animals should be treated as humanely as possible. In addition, as Md Nazrul and Md Saidul espoused, all Islam adherents should recognise the inherent value of animal life and the need to avoid animal suffering. Furthermore, as shown in the work of Broom, Geers, Jezierski, Sossidou and Szucs, the creation of certain elements of the animal kingdom is with the purpose of making humans reflect upon the divine Beneficence they receive.

Additionally, believing and knowing that Allah is seen in all aspects of the Earth is another way in which ethical teachings help Islams followers to live a life which comforts and honours Allah. Ayat refers to the signs of Allah through nature, which is a constant reminder to Muslims that Allah is present. The ethical teaching Ayat guides Islam adherents by inspiring them to be more respectful towards the environment. For instance, in regards to resource wastage, if a farmer plants an excess amount of crops than what is required, it is considered to be arrogant, a lack of appreciation and disrespect to Allah. This protects the environment for future generations (intergenerational equity). Furthermore, as exhibited in the Quran 5:87, “O you who believe! Do not make unlawful the wholesome things which God has made lawful for you, but commit no excess for God does not love those given to excess”, it demonstrates that Allah commands human beings to avoid doing mischief and wasting resources, as these acts cause degradation of the environment. Likewise, as Jusoff and Samah indicated, the wastefulness of natural resources is prohibited because they are unjust in the way they jeopardize current and future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. In the same way, as revealed in the findings of Dr Mian and Dr Rahman, to enjoy the bounties of God’s provision and not to overindulge, is the way of Muslim society.

Finally, maintaining a higher balance of good deeds over bad deeds is one more way in which ethical teachings help Islam adherents to live a life which gratifies and honours Allah. Mizaan refers to the scale of balancing and measuring deeds against sins on the Day of Resurrection. The ethical teaching Mizaan guides Islam adherents by motivating them to do more good deeds so that when they are held accountable on Judgement Day (Akhira), they will either be admitted to paradise or hellfire. For example, in regards to Allah’s intentions for the world, if a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift and a good deed. Also, as evident in Quran 30:41, “Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men’s hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return”, it clearly states that Allah will show the evil consequences of the bad deeds before Judgement Day so that adherents can understand the reality, feel the error and turn to righteous belief which Allah presents. Additionally, as Darbaalah, Ibrahim and Maajid suggested, those who are aware of nature and know Allah, prefer to devote themselves and their actions to seek Allah’s pleasure. Moreover, as revealed in the findings of Dr Ashtankar, being the trustee of nature, this is humans’ duty to take care of environmental sustainability.

In conclusion, Islam’s ethical teachings guide its adherents to live a life with pleases and honour Allah, and they do so in a range of ways, including Tawhid, Ayat, Mizaan, Khilafa, Amanah and Akhira. However, there is a compelling argument that the most significant way is Khilafa. Without this responsibility, adherents would not be able to acknowledge that the natural environment belongs to Allah, they would not believe that Allah is present in everything, they would not be able to have a balance of accomplishing more good deeds over bad deeds, they would not be able to achieve Allah’s trust and finally, they would not be accountable for their actions.  

07 July 2022

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