How should we understand the concept ethics and the hadith stating “I was sent to complete the high ethics”?

Details of the Question
How should we understand the concept ethics and the hadith stating “I was sent to complete the high ethics”?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We use the word “ethics” to mean temper, nature, personality, person’s spiritual attributes, attitudes and manners.

When we say “man” two concepts come into mind: Soul and the flesh. One defines the form, and the other defines the individuality. When we deal with the matter in terms of creation, the creation of the body is referred to as ‘khalq’ (creation) and the souls as ‘khuluq’ (ethics). The concepts ‘high ethics’ and ‘beauty of ethics’ express the beauty of man’s inner world By means of the creation both soul and the flesh of man is beautiful.

There is no lacking or redundant organ in man’s body. Similarly, there is no redundant attribute, quality or feeling in his soul. Just as there is a perfect harmony among the organs, so too is there a perfect harmony among the feelings of man.

Then, what do we mean when we say high ethics and low ethics? With this question, we face one of the most apparent features of the soul, “free will”. With the correct or wrong usage of the person’s will, one is able to beautify or destroy her/his inner world.

Everyone thinks alike about the importance of the outer beauty. There is not much difference about it among people. When we look in the mirror, if we have something like dirt, stain or wound on our face, we think that it spoils our beauty. However, we cannot show this sensitivity for beautifying our soul or for a common viewpoint on the beauty of the soul. Why? It is because we prefer different mirrors.

As for the hadith “I was sent to complete the high ethics”: As it is known, every Prophet set an example of high ethics for his ummah (community) and tried to educate them in accordance with a model of ethics that Allah will accept. The last Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), was sent to complete the high ethics. That is to say, he was given the task of teaching the last and most advanced part of the lesson - which started with Prophet Adam (pbuh) - with the most perfect application.The greatest divine revelation had been sent to our Prophet.

We should pay attention to the word “to complete” in the hadith. As we know, something which is half or incomplete can be completed. Something that does not exist or is not mentioned cannot be completed. So, this means that some attributes of high ethics were already available but it was not complete.

With the influence of the divine religions, in many societies, things like lying, fornication, theft, gossip etc, had already been blamed and punished. All of them are harmonious with the divine will and some parts of the ethics of the Quran. However, it is not sufficient. We should take into consideration all of the commands and prohibitions, encouragement and the threats in the Quran and we should accept that high ethics can only be achieved through obeying all of the commands and avoiding committing all of the prohibitions.

Let us look at this verse:

“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth;” (Surah of Nisa/Women, 48)

The most important part of high ethics is eeman (faith) and tawheed (the Divine Unity, oneness), believing in Allah and accepting His unity. The biggest crime is shirk (idol-worship, to associate anyone or anything with Allah). The one committing this crime will never be forgiven and will not be forgiven in the afterlife unless he repents and gives up committing it in this world. In other words, he cannot enter Paradise.The person committing that crime cannot be regarded as a good person before Allah and cannot enter Paradise no matter how well he gets on with people and no matter how careful he is in his relations with people.

Let us remember an important rule of Islam here: “Love for Allah. Hate for Allah.” So, we will love the ones that Allah loves, and say “good”, “nice”, and “having high ethics” only for them...

We will not regard those people who act immorally and show disrespect to Him as having high ethics for the sake of their some good attributes. We will appreciate their good attributes but we will know well that their ethics is incomplete and will not be complete unless they begin to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who was sent to complete the high ethics.

Mother of the believers Hazrat Aisha is asked: How was the ethics of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)?

She answers: “Did you not read the Quran? His ethics was the ethics of the Quran.”

With this exemplary reply, it is shown which mirror the Muslim must look in and pull himself together, rearrange his attributes and talents. This mirror is the Quran, and the ethics that Allah wants to see in human beings is the high ethics of the Quran. There are many verses teaching us that high ethics in the Quran.

The believer reading the verse "Allah loves the doers of good" tries to protect the people in need, feed those who are hungry and help those who are spiritually hungry with his knowledge and understanding.

The one reading the verses “And do not go about in the land exultingly, for you cannot cut through the earth nor reach the mountains in height.” and “surely He does not love the proud.” abandons pride and assumes modesty. The believer drawing a lesson from the verse “surely Allah loves those who trust.” abandons complaints, objections and ambition.

After taking the necessary actions, he does not say “of course, surely, definitely” any more; he says “Insha'Allah (If Allah wills), if it is in the destiny, let us hope for the best” instead. His heart is freed from indecisiveness and worries, fills up with obedience and submission. More examples can be given.

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