Islamic Ethics

Written by Alfonso Elizondo 



The ethics of Islam is not individualistic; it is about wisdom and free opinion; it is speculative without having recourse to tradition or concrete practice. It is both theoretical and practical. On the one hand, there is a cognitive tradition, and on the other there are the actions of the individual. Basically it is cognitive with knowledge being the foundation and the guide for each ethical issue, while ethics seeks to provide the greatest possible knowledge to the individual.

In reality, Islamic ethics seeks the happiness of the individual. According to Islam, the soul was created for joy and not for suffering. According to its Prophet (PBUH) ‘This is a world of joy and the best of joys is a good wife’. Its goal is to know Allah, who is maximum joy and total happiness. The ethics of Islam is a contemplative and intellectual, and not a just an abstract, ethics. What it wants to achieve is happiness in this world and the vision of the Divine Lights in the next. So the core of Islamic ethics is the knowledge of Allah and of oneself, so it is not an external object because by taking care of one’s own soul and discovering it, one can achieve goodness itself and happiness.


Forgetting and remembering Allah is like forgetting oneself. The responsibility for good and evil is within man. It is not Allah who benefits from good works but man himself. The model of Islamic ethics is an example of a very particular anthropology and psychology. For Islam, ethics is in the soul and is its only spiritual wealth.

The Prophet (PBUH) says ‘He who knows himself knows his God. In taking care of your own soul, discovering it, knowing it, you acquire the assurance that is essential for achieving good and happiness since, according to the Qur’an, they are inherent in the soul, while evil is ignorance and Divine Pardon has no limits.


Islam also rejects original sin. According to the prophet (PBUH) ‘every unborn child is born according to pure human essence until language is expressed through him. Those that Judaize, Christianize or Mazdeanize him are all forces. Do we see animals being born defective? How is it possible for man to be born with a negative charge if all of nature is complete and Allah’s work is perfect? ‘

The 10 principles of Islamic ethics are:


1.- The superiority of good over evil. Although man is inclined by nature to do evil, this is not equivalent in quantity to good. But good is happiness and evil is affliction (2: 225)


2.- Qualification as ethical is based on the intention of the act. There will be no guilt if man errs, as long as there is no evil intention. (33: 4-5).


3.- Qualification based on knowledge: It is the responsibility of man to take a path and overcome prostration to reach a high ethical level.


4.- He who works well does good to himself.


5.- A good word is like a good tree. It is deeply rooted, it germinates, it flourishes, it enhances the self, while evil is vanity. This constitutes the objective character of ethical examples.


6. According to the Qur’an, whoever detests Allah’s idea of the ‘beyond’ and Divine Reality will have a miserable life and will be taken blind from his grave on the Day of Resurrection (20: 124).


7.- The one who does good, whether male or female, and is a believer will undoubtedly live a pleasant life and their reward will be much greater than the life they have lived (16: 97)


8.- Responsibility.- Its foundation is the freedom received by man from his God and it implies conviction and intention, since the main thing in man is the intellect that will be judged by God. Actions born of ignorance will not be punished. The Qur’an says that ‘actions are as good as intention’


9.- Sociability.- Islam has an ethics that seeks to socialize man on the basis of a transcendent experience with a metaphysical foundation where it is argued that good comes only from Allah to whom no injustice and no evil should be attributed. From his Prophet (BDP and C): ‘Imitate the behavior of Allah. Is the reward for good not good itself? (55:60)


10. Politics.- One of the foundations of Islamic ethics is that of “ordering good and forbidding evil and corruption” and this is linked to the social and political life of the Islamic community. The Qur’an says: ‘let those who are believers take care of their souls as no harm will come to those who go astray.


Addendum: Of all the religions that are most well-known and that have a large number of believers in the world today, the most difficult to understand and accept is the Islamic religion because it has a huge load of negative elements, such as hatred, revenge, criticism of other world views, misogyny, xenophobia, confusion of constitutional laws with religious commandments, education at all levels and the major problems it is creating in all regions of the world.

 Note: When speaking of Muhammad one always follows his name with (PBUH) which means peace be upon him.