Morality, A Quranic Perspective
Derived from a larger work by the same author, this book gently introduces divine moral concepts in an easy to read and accessible manner.
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وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا.
The servants of the All-beneficent are those who walk humbly on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, say, ‘Peace!’ (25: 63)
Summary of Commentary:
In this verse, the reference is made to one of the most outstanding attributes and moral virtues of a group of God’s special servants. Verses 63-74 in Sura al-Furqān lists twelve great virtues of this group of the faithful, and the first one is humility. This confirms that as arrogance is the most dangerous vice, humility is the most important or one of the most important virtues. God says, “The servants of the All-beneficent are those who walk humbly on the earth.” He adds then, “and when the ignorant address them, say, ‘Peace!’”
This verse discusses the humility of this group of servants towards the pure nature of AllahT. God says, “Those who spend the night for their Lord, prostrating and standing [in worship]” (25: 64).
In his book entitled “Mufradāt”, Rāghib writes that the word “humble” has two meanings. One of them is the humiliation that is in the nature of mankind and is worthy of praise (then he refers to the verse in question) and a hadith from the Prophet a who is narrated to have said “the believer is humble.”
The second virtue is the humiliation imposed upon man by another person and makes him despicable.
The sentence “those who walk humbly on the earth” does not mean that they only walk humbly, but it also means to deny any selfishness and arrogance that are apparent in all deeds of mankind and even in the quality of his walking as the easiest act. Moral traits always manifest themselves in the context of man’s speech and behaviors to the extent that many of his moral traits can be seen in the many ways he walks.
The first indication of God’s special servants is their humility that influences all parts of their existence and is even manifested in their walking. And when in verse 37 of Sura al-Isrā, God orders to the Prophet a, “Do not walk exultantly on the earth”, it is not just about walking, but the humility in all affairs as a sign of being God’s servant and worship Him.
. Kanz al- `Ummâl. No of hadith, 290.
ذَرْهُمْ يَأْكُلُواْ وَيَتَمَتَّعُواْ وَيُلْهِهِمُ الأَمَلُ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ.
Leave them to eat and enjoy and to be diverted by longings. Soon they will know. (15: 3)
Summary of Commentary:
In this verse and addressing the Prophet of Islam a, AllahT refers to the infidels and polytheists and says, “Leave them to eat and enjoy and to be diverted by longings. Soon they will know.”
They are like livestock that does not understand anything except for water and grass. The only difference they have with these animals and make them lower than the animals is a bunch of long-term ambitions filling their minds so full that they are unable to think about their destiny, avoid ignorance and go back to the right path before they pass away.
Here, the negative influence of long [worldly] ambitions in man’s existence is well explained and shows how much the wishes engage man and make him neglect God.
The phrase “leave them” clearly indicates that there was no hope to guide this group; otherwise, the Prophet a would have never been ordered to leave them.
How one can be hopeful to lead a group whose ultimate goal is to eat and sleep like animals, and long-term [worldly] ambitions do not allow them to think for a moment about the end of life, about the Creator who provides them with these life benefits, and about the purpose for which are created.
Islamic narrations with various interpretations condemn long-term wishes; for instance, Imām ‘Alī G says, “The previous nations were tormented just because of their long ambitions and forgetting the end of their life until the time of the promised doom, the doom when any apologize will be rejected and the doors of repentance will be closed.”
. Nahj al-balāgha, No of khutbah, 147.
Extracted from the larger Corpus of the works of the Grand Ayatollah, this book is a brilliant introduction to morality from the Islamic perspective. The verses are explained succinctly and clearly.
An easily accessible book that would appeal to any age and level of knowledge. The choice of verses is profound and highlights the divine nature of morality and ethics, something sorely needed in this day and age.