Morals and manners in Islam

Morals and manners in Islam

‘Khulq’ means a good disposition and personal behavior. The late scholar, Faiz Kashani defines morals thus: Disposition is an aspect, which has become deeply rooted in the soul of man, in such a way that easily and without any need of thinking and contemplating acts are committed by him. Thus if from that aspect such acts are committed by him, which are logically and religiously praiseworthy that aspect is called as a good disposition and if acts are evil, the disposition is called as bad.[21]

Intellectuals, in defining moral acts, have said: Act or quality is a value, whose good or evil is detected by perfect reason and all human beings, at all times and places are having consensus on its goodness or evil. Moral act is an act that realization can perceive its goodness and the duty of man itself sees that it should be performed, or it perceives its evil and personally feels that its performance does not befit his humanity and it should be abandoned.

Good character in Islam is having great status and lofty position. So much so that it is considered to be a sign of perfection of faith. Good character is described as the heaviest act that would be placed in the scale of deeds. Development of good morals was so important that it was said to be the aim of the sending of the Prophet.

The Holy Quran says:

 لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولاً مِّنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيْهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَبَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُواْ مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِى ضَلَلٍ مُّبِينٍ‏

Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them an Apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.” (3:164)


The Messenger of Allah (s) said: I advise you to adopt good morals, because Allah, the Mighty and Sublime has sent me with this aim.[22]

The Holy Prophet said: I have been sent to perfect morals.[23]

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a) said: The most perfect of the believers are those whose morals are the best.[24]

The Messenger of Allah (s) said: On Judgment Day, nothing would be placed on the scale of deeds more valuable than good nature.[25]

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) said: Allah, the Mighty would reward a servant for good morals with such reward, which is given day and night to the fighter in the way of Allah.[26]

The Holy Prophet (s) said: Good moral is half the faith.[27]

Islam had advised much with regard to purification and discipline of self and development of good character. A large number of verses of Quran are with regard to moral science, so much so that most stories of Quran pursue moral aims. Thousands of traditions of the Holy Prophet (s) and the Holy Imams (a) have been narrated on the topic of good and bad morals. Glad tidings for adopting a good character and punishments of smearing oneself with bad morals which are mentioned are definitely not less than that which is mentioned about the obligatory and prohibited acts, because they can either lead one to the perfection of self and proximity to Allah or decline of self and remoteness from God.

On the basis of this, ethical matters should be considered at par with Islamic laws or higher and one cannot be shortcoming and careless in observing them under the pretext that they are ethical commands. Basically, human life is not possible without good morals; therefore every nation and community of the world followed ethical matters and does so even today.

Moral affects success and comfort or misfortune and restlessness in two ways:

A: Worldly life and community living: If individuals of a society are aware of their duties, they fulfill rights of each other, they are kind and concerned for each other, they are having cooperation in good deeds, they hasten to solve the difficulties of each other and in one word it can be said that they consider success and comfort of society as success and comfort of themselves, they have a happy and healthy life and as much as possible, they take advantage of worldly bounties.

On the contrary, if they were not bound by ethical restraints, they would not have got their comforts. Therefore, success or misfortune of a society should be searched in observance of restraint in ethical criteria or lack of it in its individuals. That is why Islam has emphasized too much on adoption of social ethics.

The Messenger of Allah (s) said: Success of man lies in good morals and his misfortune lies in bad morals.[28]

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) said: No life is more pleasing than good morals.[29]

In the same way, he said: Good behavior increases sustenance.[30]

And he said: Good manners and morals populate towns and increase lifespans.[31]

He also said: One who is having bad morals is putting himself in hardship and punishment.[32]

We have a large number of traditions with regard to social manners and communal behavior, which are recorded in books like: Biharul Anwar, Vols. 74 and 75; Al-Kafi, Vol. 2; Jami Ahadith Shia, Wasailush Shia etc.

B: Spiritual perfection or decline: Good morals give perfection to the self and bring man close to God. Bad morals also cause decline and destruction of the soul of man and they make one distant from Almighty God, the consequences of which would become clear in the hereafter.

Amirul Momineen (a) said to his son: Allah, the Mighty and Sublime has made good morals as means of connection between Himself and His servants; do you not like to observe morals, which would be means of getting connected to God?[33]

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) said: Good morals are ornaments in the world and promenade for the hereafter. Faith of man is perfected through good morals and it is the means of proximity to God.[34]

The Messenger of Allah (s) said: The things most instrumental to get my followers admitted to Paradise are fear of God and good morals.[35]

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) said: Good morals destroys sins just as sun melts ice.[36]

The self of man is a noble essence, which is illuminated, ethereal and is superior to matter, which due to being ethereal is superior to all animals.

It is here that the status of moral values would become clear. Perfection of morals with the humanity of man and its ethereal spirit is having proportion and originality. If we take away perfections and excellence of morals from man, there would be no difference between him and animals.

That is why Islam has emphasized that man should guard his ethereal soul and personal nobility and should always endeavor to strengthen it.

Amirul Momineen (a) said: One who considers his self as great; it would be easy for him to abandon has animal desires.[37]

He also said: One, who considers his self noble, does not besmear it with sins.[38]

He again said: One who is attentive to the nobility of his self; he keeps it from degrading desires.[39]

And he said: Self is a valuable gem, one who takes care of it, scales a lofty position and one who drags it to meanness, has taken it to lowliness.[40]

In the same way, he said: A noble self will increase compassions.[41]

It is said with regard to perfection of ethics: All human beings in all periods of time and in all the places have consensus on beauty and value. Yes, the pure nature of man possesses such perception and ethical discrimination and the ‘should be’ and ‘should not be’ also show this holy perception. It is this same self knowledge and attention to humanity of man that gives control to his ethereal soul over body so that he may control his animal desires and inclinations and may come to the level of gaining human values.

Prophets were also sent to help human beings in this holy struggle, in the path of purification and to strengthen the discipline of self. Prophets say to the people: Why are human beings and not animals. Do not forget your humanity and do not submit to animal desires that you suffer loss. The worst loss is that human being should sink into the terrifying whirlpool of animal desires and lose his humanity and finally enter the world of the hereafter in form of a wild beast.

The Holy Quran says:

قُلْ إِنَّ الْخَاسِرِينَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَ أَهْلِيهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَلَا ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ‏

Say: The losers surely are those who shall have lost themselves and their families on the day of resurrection; now surely that is the clear loss.’ (39:15)


Amirul Momineen (a) said: I am astonished at one who in the world is in pursuit of his lost property, whereas he has lost his self, but is not in pursuit of it.[42]


[21] Haqaiq, Pg. 54

[22] Biharul Anwar, Vol. 69, Pg. 375

[23] Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 11, Pg. 187

[24] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 100

[25] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 99

[26] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 100

[27] Mishkatul Anwar, Pg. 223

[28] Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 8, Pg. 447

[29] Biharul Anwar, Vol. 71, Pg. 389

[30] Biharul Anwar, Vol. 71, Pg. 396

[31] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 100

[32] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 321

[33] Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 11, Pg. 192

[34] Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 8, Pg. 449

[35] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 100

[36] Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 100

[37] Nahjul Balagha, Saying no. 449

[38] Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 627

[39] Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 434

[40] Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 227

[41] Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 600

[42] Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 460