[Readers are requested to follow the sequence of the chapters to have better clarity]
14.1 RULES ARE THE BASIC REQUIREMENT OF A SOCIAL LIFE
Living in a group or community is not a hotchpotch of activities, but it requires an organized way, consisting of rules and regulations, that could bring coherence to moment-to-moment activities. This coherence brings peace to different social activities, which is essential for social life. No group or community can maintain its existence or flourish for a long time unless its individuals uphold knowledge of the rules of what, when, and how to act in different social situations. Based upon this knowledge, they organize their behavior and consolidate their society.
Rules for social life are thus important because they provide guidance for what is appropriate in a specific or everyday social situation; they clarify how people should perform their roles. They also provide order, predictability, and reciprocation in social relationships and help in understanding and making sense of each other’s behavior. Rules or norms, thus, bring social understanding and social control in a society; they prevent chaos, and facilitate peace in social setups.
14.2 ETHICS IN HUMAN SOCIETY ARE INTRODUCED BY ALLAH
Rules that have become norms of a human civilization are not ordinary rules that humans have ever created themselves. They were especially given to humanity by Allah because, in the course of evolution, there was no sign in the physical environment from which humans could ever learn these rules. Rules essential for peace and peacemaking consist of humility, kindness, justice, honesty, tolerance, compromise, patience, respect, and cooperation. These are all abstract concepts that humans can only learn through proper verbal instructions and guidance.
Allah has thus sent these instructions [to mankind] through His different messengers by creating a perfect system of communication between Himself and humans [details have already been given in Chapter Three]. These Commands gradually shaped human behavior and introduced ethics in their societies. If such guidance from Allah was not present at all, people would never know how to live in a society and interact with others around them.
14.3 OBEDIENCE TO A COMPLETE SET OF RULES IS IMPORTANT
Here it is important to note that it is a complete set of rules [given by Allah] that brings peace to a society; acceptance of some [rules] and rejection of others or observing some in one situation and ignoring them in the other does not fulfil the purpose.
Whoever submits himself wholly to Allah, and is a doer of good, has grasped the most trustworthy handle. ……….. (31: 22)
In societies where a complete set of ethics/ norms/rules are not followed, their people face different kinds of personal and social problems. Lack of rules cause conflict and confusion in social relations which eventually break the society into pieces. Such a broken society cannot sustain its existence and thus fades away with time [details in next chapters].
14.4 PERSISTENCE IN OBEDIENCE IS ALSO IMPORTANT
Persistence in the observance of these rules not only brings peace in the present life but it is also a test that determines success for the next life. As mentioned in previous chapters, the criterion of success for the next life is perfection and the required perfection can only be achieved through absolute and persistent obedience.
O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims/ Peacemakers [in submission to Him] (3: 102)
14.5 RULES OF PEACEMAKING HAVE REMAINED CONSTANT THROUGHOUT TIME
The theme of religion is peace, that has always remained the same throughout history. Similarly, the purpose of religion has also remained the same: preparing people for peacemaking. Religion has always highlighted the importance of good relationships, cooperation, and the solidarity of mankind. As the theme and purpose of religion have remained constant, basic rules have also remained constant throughout time. It is because of this consistency that the followers of the rules of peacemaking have always been called Peacemakers [details have already been given in Chapter Two].
……………….Allah named you “Muslims” [Peacemakers] before [in former scriptures] and in this [Quran] ……………. (22: 78)
Nothing is said to you, [O Muhammad], except what was already said to the messengers before you. ……………….(41: 43)
14.6 THE BOOK OF RULES
As mentioned in Chapter One and Chapter Six, the Quran is the only Divine Book that is available in the original form. It is thus the only Book where the original rules of making peace can be found in detail. Readers are requested to see the Quran for details because this chapter highlights only a few rules [due to certain limitations].
The Quran explains all rules which not only help people in making peace in the present life but also in attaining perfection for the next [life].
…Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path. (10: 25)
The Quran is the Book by which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and bring them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path (5: 16)
………………And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims/Peacemakers (16: 89)
So when the Quran is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy (7: 204)
…………. whoever follows My guidance, will not go astray, nor suffer. (20: 123)
The Quran explains everything in detail that Whose rules should be followed, with whom social ties are relevant, and how to live in that social circle.
Worship Allah, and ascribe no partners to Him, and be good to the parents, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and the neighbor next door, and the distant neighbor, and the close associate, and the traveler, and your servants. Allah does not love the arrogant showoff (4: 36)
14.7 THE RULES OF MAKING PEACE
(a) RULES FOR THE ATTITUDES OF PEACE
To follow the rules of peace, it is important for a person to adopt the attitudes of humility, politeness, patience, tolerance, self-control, and forgiveness. Without these attitudes, peace in social relationships is not possible.
And do not treat people with arrogance…………….. (31: 18)
And do not walk proudly on earth. You can neither pierce the earth, nor can you match the mountains in height (17: 37)
And moderate your stride and lower your voice. The most repulsive of voices is the donkey’s voice.” (31: 19)
Human society is a mixture of a variety of personalities.
It is He who created you. Some of you are unbelievers, and some of you are believers. And Allah perceives what you do not (64: 2)
The creation of different personalities has a reason; it is a part of the test.
…………And We have made some of you (people) as trial for others – will you have patience? And ever is your Rubb, Seeing (25: 20)
If an obedient follower of the commands of Allah gets a chance to meet someone whose personality does not match his personality, he has been given these instructions:
Be tolerant, and command decency, and avoid the ignorant (7: 199)
The servants of the Merciful are those who walk the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “[No debate but] Peace”. (25: 63)
They control their emotions and overlook faults and misconduct of others.
……………when they are angry, they forgive (42: 37)
… when they hear vain talk [or ill speech], they avoid it, and say, “We have our deeds, and you have your deeds; peace be upon you; we do not desire the ignorant.” (28: 55)
(b) RULES FOR THE INITIATION OF POSITIVE INTERACTION
Before making a thorough interaction with other people, a person needs to create an aura where he can act comfortably. A humble and polite person not only creates a good environment for others, but he also opens the doors of a good environment for himself as well. When a person creates a good environment, the chances of good interaction increase automatically. The more he creates a good environment for others, the more it becomes good and comfortable for himself, and vice versa. Each person, thus, creates and controls his own social environment and all the vices and virtues [joys and glooms] related to it.
The simplest gesture that can create an aura of peace in a social environment is simple greeting.
……………. when you enter any home, greet one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and good. Allah thus explains the revelations for you, so that you may understand (24: 61)
When you are greeted with a greeting, respond with a better greeting, or return it. Allah keeps count of everything (4: 86)
(c) RULES FOR RESPECTING THE PRIVACY OF OTHERS
Though humans are social beings, they, however, need privacy in certain situations. Respect for the privacy of others is thus important for a peaceful personal and social life.
O you who believe! Do not enter homes other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted their occupants. That is better for you, that you may be aware. And if you find no one in them, do not enter them until you are given permission. And if it is said to you, “Turn back,” then turn back. That is more proper for you. Allah is aware of what you do. There is no blame on you for entering uninhabited houses, in which are belongings of yours. Allah knows what you reveal and what you conceal (24: 27-29)
Privacy within the premises of a house is also important and it must be respected.
O you who believe! Permission must be requested by your servants and those of you who have not reached puberty. On three occasions: before the Dawn Prayer, and at noon when you change your clothes [put aside your clothing, for rest], and after the Evening prayer. These are three occasions of privacy for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to intermingle with one another. Allah thus clarifies the revelations for you. Allah is Knowledgeable and Wise (24: 58)
When the children among you reach puberty, they must ask permission, as those before them asked permission. Allah thus clarifies His revelations for you. Allah is Knowledgeable and Wise (24: 59)
(d) RULES OF CONVERSATION
O you who have believed, when you converse privately, do not converse about sin and aggression and disobedience to the Messenger but converse about righteousness and piety. And fear Allah, to Who you will be gathered. (58: 9) [the might of Allah, and the Day of gathering have already been discussed in previous chapters]
All vices and virtues are contagious; the more one talks about them, the more they spread. Thus, cautiousness in every word is required if social peace is desired.
………………And speak to people good [words]…………….. (2: 83)
Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing (4: 148)
……………….And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed……………….(6: 151)
Those who love to see immorality spread among the believers – for them is a painful punishment, in this life and in the Hereafter. Allah knows, and you do not know (24: 19)
(e) RULES OF GETTING TOGETHER
O you who believe! When you are told to make room in your gatherings, make room; Allah will make room for you. And when you are told to disperse, disperse. Allah elevates those among you who believe, and those given knowledge, many steps. Allah is aware of what you do. (58: 11)
O you who believe! No people shall ridicule other people, for they may be better than they. Nor shall any women ridicule other women, for they may be better than they. Nor shall you slander one another, nor shall you insult one another with names. Evil is the return to wickedness after having attained faith [and knowledge]. Whoever does not repent – these are the wrongdoers (49: 11)
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. (49: 12)
(f) RULES OF TAKING ANY NEWS
False information sometimes has very bad consequences; it may disrupt social peace and unity.
O you who believe! If a troublemaker brings you any news, investigate, lest you harm people out of ignorance, and you become regretful for what you have done (49: 6)
And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it……………… (4: 83)
(g) RULES OF EATING TOGETHER
One of the most basic social activities is eating together. Allah explains its norms:
There is no blame on the blind, nor any blame on the lame, nor any blame on the sick, nor on yourselves for eating at your homes, or your fathers’ homes, or your mothers’ homes, or your brothers’ homes or your sisters’ homes, or the homes of your paternal uncles, or the homes of your paternal aunts, or the homes of your maternal uncles, or the homes of your maternal aunts, or those whose keys you own, or the homes of your friends. You commit no wrong by eating together or separately. ……………………. (24: 61)
…………and eat and drink, but do not be excessive. He [Allah] does not Love the excessive (7: 31)
………. And do not waste. He does not love the wasteful (6: 141)
[In Chapter Four it has been mentioned how wastage (overuse and misuse) of natural resources generate various social problems].
(h) RULES OF COOPERATION
Humans are socially dependent on each other; they cannot live on their own. Their interdependence binds them to share their resources, skills, and knowledge. If they do not share, it can disturb the balance in their society. The imbalance means disturbed peace.
Those of you who have affluence and means should not refuse to give to the relatives, and the needy, and the emigrants for the sake of Allah. And let them pardon and let them overlook. Do you not love for Allah to pardon you? Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful (24: 22)
O you who believe! Give of the good things you have earned, and from what We have produced for you from the earth. And do not pick the inferior things to give away, when you yourselves would not accept with eyes closed. And know that Allah is Sufficient and Praiseworthy (2: 267)
………………If any of your servants wish to be freed, grant them their wish, if you recognize some good in them. And give them of Allah’s wealth which He has given you…………. (24: 33)
It is not only skills and resources that should be shared but knowledge as well. Knowledge can be shared by giving a good piece of advice. Thus, peacemakers are:
..those who respond to their Rubb, and pray regularly, and conduct their affairs by mutual consultation, and give [good advice] of what We have provided them [of knowledge] (42: 38)
Cooperation is the backbone of social life. If cooperation is not done in the right direction, it causes an imbalance in social peace.
…………………………….And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty (5: 2)
(i) RULES ABOUT MONEY TRANSACTION, BUSINESS, AND LOAN
A single person cannot hold all resources, skills, and knowledge necessary to live a normal life; they need to depend on others for one reason or the other. This interdependence compels people to develop a system for the exchange of resources [skills, and knowledge]. Business, trade, and commerce are the result of such compulsions. No business, trade or commerce can contribute to peace if it is not based on honesty and justice.
And do not defraud people of their belongings, and do not work corruption in the land (26: 183)
And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with accurate scales. That is fair, and the best determination (17: 35)
O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [do not destroy yourself in the Blaze]. Indeed Allah is to you ever Merciful. And whoever does that in aggression and injustice – then We will drive him into Fire. And that, for Allah, is easy* (4: 29-30) *[details have already been given in Chapter Six]
And do not consume one another’s wealth by unjust means, nor offer it as bribes to the officials in order to consume part of other people’s wealth illicitly, while you know (2: 188)
What is beneficial for the human eye may not necessarily be so in reality. Human society, as mentioned before, is based on cooperation – which lessens the burden and ease the hardships of each other. Usury increases the hardships and puts the affected party in loss and stress. Stress, as mentioned in Chapter Four spoils physical, mental, and social peace. Usury thus, acts against the rules of peace. It is therefore discouraged by the religion of peace.
The usury you practice, seeking thereby to multiply people’s wealth, will not multiply with Allah. But what you give in charity, desiring Allah’s approval – these are the multipliers (30: 39)
Those who consume interest cannot stand except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, “Trade is like interest.” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Rubb and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein (2: 275)
O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal [capital] – you do no wrong, nor are you wronged. And if someone is in hardship, then [let there be] postponement until [a time of] ease. But if you give [from your right as] charity, then it is better for you, if you only knew (2: 278-280)
A loan is a form of help and cooperation. Allah has assigned detailed rules for giving and taking of loan.
O you who believe! When you incur debt among yourselves for a certain period of time, write it down. And have a scribe write in your presence, in all fairness. And let no scribe refuse to write, as Allah has taught him. So let him write, and let the debtor dictate. And let him fear Allah, his Rubb, and diminish nothing from it. But if the debtor is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable to dictate, then let his guardian dictate with honesty. And call to witness two men from among you. If two men are not available, then one man and two women whose testimony is acceptable to all – if one of them fails to remember, the other would remind her. Witnesses must not refuse when called upon. And do not think it too trivial to write down, whether small or large, including the time of repayment. That is more equitable with Allah, and stronger as evidence, and more likely to prevent doubt – except in the case of a spot transaction between you – then there is no blame on you if you do not write it down. And let there be witnesses whenever you conclude a contract, and let no harm be done to either scribe or witness. If you do that, it is corruption on your part. And fear Allah. Allah teaches you. Allah is aware of everything. And if you are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, then a security deposit should be handed over. But if you trust one another, let the trustee fulfill his trust, and let him fear Allah, his Rubb. And do not conceal testimony. Whoever conceals it is sinner at heart. Allah is aware of what you do (2: 282-283)
(j) RULES OF JUSTICE
Allah instructs you to give back things entrusted to you to their owners. And when you judge between people, judge with justice. Allah’s instructions to you are excellent. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing (4: 58)
During judgment, a person unknowingly may cause harm to one party by showing sympathy to the other party. Injustice, even with good intentions, disturbs peace; so, it is important to uphold justice even if it is against the emotions or desires.
O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice/honesty, as witness to Allah, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah takes care of both. So do not follow your desires, lest you swerve. If you deviate, or turn away – then Allah is aware of what you do (4: 135)
………………..And if you judge [between the conflicting people or groups], judge between them with justice/honesty. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly (5: 42)
O you who believe! Be upright to Allah, witnessing with justice/honesty; and let not the hatred of certain people prevent you from acting justly. Adhere to justice for that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Allah is informed of what you do (5: 8)
(k) RULES FOR PUNISHING THE OFFENDER
And if you punish, punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient (16: 126)
(l) RULES FOR THE DETERRENCE OF CRIMES
Human society needs certain laws. Laws are specific codes of conduct that obligate each member of a group or a community to obey. Basically, laws are formulated to regulate peace and provide security to the society. The deviations from such rules are considered punishable crimes. The purpose of punishment is not humiliation but correction of those who deviate from the law. Punishment is important for behavior shaping; it corrects criminals, incapacitates them from doing more harm, and deters others from committing such kind of crime. It educates and reminds everyone about what society stands for and how important norms are. Punishment to a criminal in some way relieves or repays the victim and helps him to recover from the trauma. Punishment is thus a form of justice.
As for the thief, whether male or female, cut their hands as a penalty for what they have reaped – a deterrent from Allah. Allah is Mighty and Wise. But whoever repents after his crime, and reforms, Allah will accept his repentance. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (5: 38-39)
All humans are allowed to act freely unless their actions harm or interfere with the freedom of others or with the functions of a society. The safety of a society and its institutions is, in fact, the safety of humanity itself. Negative behavior may hurt the community, and it must be stopped at any cost. To live in a society, an individual must conform to social norms. Extreme punishment [such as execution] sometimes becomes necessary in circumstances when criminals become harmful to the lives or wellbeing of others.
(m) RULES FOR THE RETRIBUTION OF AN EVIL ACT
And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward is [due] from Allah. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers (42: 40)
As for those who retaliate after being wronged, there is no blame on them. (42: 41)
Blame lies on those who wrong people and commit aggression in the land without right. These will have a painful punishment [from Allah] (42: 42)
But whoever endures patiently and forgives – that is a sign of real resolve (42: 43)
(n) RULES FOR THE RETRIBUTION AND COMPENSATION OF A MURDER
A difference of opinion sometimes leads to extreme actions [such as murder] that may disturb peace. Allah does not leave people unguided if such a situation arises.
And do not kill the soul which Allah has made sacred, except in the course of justice. If someone is killed unjustly, We have given his next of kin certain authority. But he should not be excessive in killing, for he will be supported [by the law] (17: 33)
O you who believe! Retaliation [retribution] for the murdered is ordained upon you: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. But if he is forgiven by his kin, then grant any reasonable demand, and pay with good will. This is a concession from your Rubb, and a mercy. But whoever commits aggression after that, a painful torment awaits him. There is life for you in retaliation [legal retribution], O people of understanding, so that you may refrain (2: 178-179)
In case a person mistakenly kills someone, Allah provides solutions to relieve him or her from the stress of guilt.
Never should a believer kill another believer, unless by error. Anyone who kills a believer by error must set free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the victim’s family, unless they remit it as charity. If the victim belonged to a people who are hostile to you, but is a believer, then the compensation is to free a believing slave. If he belonged to a people with whom you have a treaty, then compensation should be handed over to his family, and a believing slave set free. Anyone who lacks the means must fast for two consecutive months, by way of repentance to Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, Most Wise (4: 92)
Whoever kills a believer deliberately, the penalty for him is Hell, where he will remain forever. And Allah will be angry with him, and will curse him, and will prepare for him a terrible punishment (4: 93)
………………………..And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right……………(6: 151)
And whoever commits a mistake, or a sin, and then blames it on an innocent person, has taken a slander and a clear sin (4: 112)
Guidance is one of the greatest blessings of Allah upon humans. If such guidance had not reached humans, they would never know how to find the right [peaceful] course of life.
…………. do not take the verses of Allah in jest. And remember the favor of Allah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book and wisdom by which He instructs you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things (2: 231)
………………. Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this; and we would never have been guided if Allah had not guided us………… (7: 43)
[Please note: Rules mentioned in this chapter are not all rules about the above-mentioned aspects of life. “The Clarity” is a human effort therefore there might be a chance of missing some points. Readers are thus requested to study the Quran for more clarity on these rules. To know about further rules regarding other aspects of life, kindly read the next chapters]