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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family The Principle Of Education (Up' Bringing)

The Principle Of Education (Up' Bringing) - 7. Ethics and Etiquettes

Article Index



The period of childhood is the right time for the modeling of "good citizen" or an "Ideal Muslim". Those parents who try their utmost from what is available to them, for physical safety and nourishment of their children, ought to pay full attention and concentration towards their mental development, i.e. the social and cultural education, and they must know for sure that the basis of decent culture, and amicable living mainly depends upon ethics.

But the meanings of ethics is not that, what has been infused upon us, by feudalism and has engrossed upon every mind that anyone who has acquaintance with the prevailing etiquettes of cordially meeting each other, (hypocritical) mutual hospitality, and etiquettes of eating and drinking, and moreover modest use of charming words and melodious tone during discussion, is considered to be the total domain of ethics! No, it is definitely not so!

While considering the limits of ethics, this is but a very particular or brief definition of ethics, just a meagre notion! Well! it is accepted that provided it is not hypocrisy, then a decent way of living and a modest style of meeting others, is an essential and a desirable feature of a cultured character, however the issues of ethics does not end up here!

Well, "the science of ethics" is an art of living, with the help of which man can distinguish between "virtue and evil", and recognize "good and bad". For everyone, ethics is an effective means of learning the skills to shape one's self, seek the correct direction, trod along the right path, and live a better cultured life. The cultured manners are linked with all the domains of life, and only pleasant manners could help achieve a dignified place in all walks of life.

The great philosopher of Islam, Hazrat Ali-lbne-Abi Talib (ASWS), while discussing the "philosophy of ethics" highlights the significance ethics in the following way:- 35

Even if we do not have the desire of the Heavens, the longing for reward, the fear of Hell, and the concern regarding punishment, still the aspiration for "noble actions (maka'rim-e-Akhlaq)" cannot be separated from life, because man can only seek the path of success in the brilliance of ethics. 52

The truth is, that Islam is a religion for the realization of all directional accomplishment for the sons of Adam. As by it's principles, ideology and approach, this legitimate religion intends to shape an ever better human being. That is why in this system there is an extra ordinary emphasis on ethics, and the ethical virtues have a distinguished stature.

Therefore the highest quality of the Last Prophet (SAWAW) enumerated by the Holy Quran is:- "And there is no doubt in it that you possess an extremely elevated position of ethics." 53 And the Holy Prophet (SAWAW), the emerald amongst the prophets, by his virtuous tongue (quenched in Vah'i) elucidates regarding himself that:-

I have descended upon (this world), to raise the moral virtues to it's zenith. 54 The renowned scholar, Sa'adi Shira'zi, has elegantly elucidated this great human virtue of the Holy Prophet (SAWAW). He says:-

From amongst the thousands of His miracles were: Elegant manners and generosity..

As a matter of fact in this world, only he who has decent habits, is virtuous. The grading of the dignity of a personality is only by the intellectual standards it bears. The person, whose physical qualities and spiritual virtues are favourite to all, is considered reliable.

Hazrat lmam Zain-ul-Abi'deen (ASWS) enumerates:-

"Oh what a luck! that person is really fortunate, who has decent manners; a pious soul, fine temperaments, fair intentions, and is apparently unblemished. Moreover, he helps others from his savings, keeps his tongues under control, and is fair in attitude with everyone." 55

Keeping these facts in view, we have no hesitation to comments that in the development of a religious mentality and a spiritual culture, ethics is of prime significance!

In the school of monotheism, the "spring" of ethics neither sprout from the creditable concepts of Aristotle, nor from the fascinating statements of the western scholars who are influenced from the Greek philosophers!

As an example, this saying of Matthew Arnold, that:-

"Religion is, but the name of zealous and enthusiastic ethics" 56 This could be classed as a nice statement, but it can in no way be an authority for a believer, because just like all the source of beliefs and realities, the limitless wealth of ethics, also radiates from the Holy Quran, and also as guided by the Book of Allah, the second source is the "exemplary model (Us'wa-e-Hasana)" of the Prophet of Allah (SAWAW).

"In fact their is an exemplary model for you in the Prophet of Allah (SAWAW). " 57 Further in the light of the instructions of the Holy Prophet (SAWAW), another source of direction and guidance is in the pious conduct of those leaders, who assimilated all the facilities and qualities of the "master of all ethical virtues (Sa'hib-e-Khulq-eAzeem)" (i.e. the Holy Prophet (SAWAW)) in such a way that their remained no difference in their self and the verdict of Quran!

These are the members of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Prophet of Allah (SAWAW). We observe that, from the very instance of the birth of a child in a Muslim family, the "system of Sharia'h (Divine code of life)" directs the parents or the guardians of the infant to take special care for his religious and moral education.

"By Carving the impression of the greatest reality of the universe on the plain (lucid) memory of the newly born, by transmitting the unadornable (factual) melodies of Aza'n in his right ear, and Aqa'mat in his left.

And along with it, they ~re instructed to observe Aqi'qah. 59 That is to say that the opening page of the infants life, should start from the aspect of the philosophy of Islam in which the care of people of Allah has been considered as essential, along with His remembrance. So that this Ideology gets infused in the life and blood of the infant, and mixed in the life stream of all the generations to follow.

After this first step, the parents are expected to persistently endeavor, in organising the brains of their children; keeping in view the ethical standards, and help develop in him the religious customs and culture. It needs to be so, so that they may be regarded as an esteemed personality in this world, and on every step and at all instances be considered as the exponent of the human virtues and Quranic view point.

Therefore, the prime obligation on those responsible for the education of their dear ones is to nourish them under the canopy of truth, breed them with virtues deeds, accord them an organised mind and make them time conscious. Moreover this new generation should be so nurtured that the respect of word and treaty becomes a part and parcel of their personality! They should

They -should not consider power in equivalence to justice, and material success as a sign of virtue. They should be refuge for the destitutes, a fortified barrier against the tyranny and aggression, and be blessed by the supplications of the oppressed. In this regard, through his dignified son, the leader of the pious Ame'r-ul-Momene'n Hazrat All (ASWS) has conveyed us an ideal path and direction, which is of extreme importance, for us and for our children.

In 37 A.H. i.e. 657 A.D., while returning from the Battle of Shif'fen at the location called Hazereen. Ali-lbne-Abi Talib (ASWS) inscribed this "ethical scripture".

This "manual of education" is based on twenty one (21) points, in which the genius of the secrets of Allah has specially highlighted the following realities:

-the relationship of man with Allah.
- the relationship of man with his own self.
- the relationship of a person to others.

The whole document is addressed to his elder son Hazrat lmam Hasan-e-Mujtaba (ASWS). The actual text is quiet lengthy. We are mentioning here, just few of it's sections.

The will of the father is that, my son! with utmost zeal you should kindle the sentiments of tenderness and responsibility. Obey every commandment of Allah Almighty. Habitate your heart with His remembrance. Never let loose, the rope of Allah, remember! that the association you owe with Allah, there is no other association more firmer than this for contact.

Behold! keep your brain and conscience alive with elegant discourse! If interim desires tries to over power you, diffuse them with the power of devotion and piety. The strength of faith luminates heart and vision.

Enlighten the environment of your heart (chest) with the light of wisdom. If the desire for longevity tries to over take you, defeat it with the rememberence of death. Preoccupy (yourself) this fact with certainty that this world is a passway and is mortal. Apprise your soul with the misfortunes and calamities of this place. Make it feel the insurgency of time. Make it realize the befalling calamities of the days and nights. Reveal.

to it the admonitory events of the past. Tell it, what befell upon those who passed away. Roam in between the ruins and rumbles of the past.

Observe that those who proceeded away from this destination, from where did they come, and to which place did they left for? (As the' verse says:) From where they departed, and where did they stayed:

Well, if you would focus your attention, you would soon realize that they went away leaving besides all their friends (and inmates)! They have now habitated a new land! and moreover very soon, you too would turn into "a symbol" of the past! Therefore where you are destined for, manage a nice place of stay there, before you arrival. And be cautious! never bargain your eternity, with your worldly life.

The issue which is not related to you, always abstain from opening your tongue for it. And the issue which is not your liability, never make it as a topic of discussion.

Note my son! the path whose bend and twist endangers you to lead astray, do not try to trod along it. Because it is better to stop your steps from moving further and be on track, than to go off the track, and get shattered and lost.

Arouse in the people the awareness of Divinely admired conduct and behaviour, awake conscienceness, so that you may be considered amongst the pious and auspicious personalities.

Well of course, negate evil deeds and Indecent discussions by speech and conduct.

Moreover, to the extent possible isolate your self, from the nefarious segment of the society! You are required to keep on conducting praise worthy and examplary style of crusade (war against evils) in the path of Allah! and never bother about any indecent taunt and blemish about it, Moreover surmount all the difficulties for the attainment of dignified standards, and consider all difficulties transitory.

The competence in religious knowledge is essential. Habituate your self in bearing hardship, and note that the demonstration of forbearance and patience, enlightens the virtues of ethics! Oh my son! In every affair submit yourself to Allah. In this way you would find yourself to be in a strong refuge, and you would be blessed with an extremely powerful preservator! 60