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Clarity Of Moral Values: Al-Ghazali [rahimahullah]

September 14, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments


Clarity of values gives us a sense of who we are and why we do what we do. If we have an internal conflict between our values and our strategy, we will not succeed. Values determine what really matters in life. They provide us with a basis from which to make sound judgments about what makes life worth living.


Al-Ghazali refers to verses [23:1-10] of the Quran as an example of believers who have succeeded by incorporating Quranic values:

Certainly will the believers have succeeded:

  1. They who during their prayer humbly submissive;
  2.  those who turn away from ill speech;
  3. they who are observant of the poor-due;
  4. they who guard their private parts except from their wives and those their right hands possess for indeed, they will not be blamed, but whatever seeks beyond that, then they are the transgressors;
  5. and they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive;
  6. and they who carefully maintain their prayers. Those are the inheritors. (Q. 23:1-10)


Al-Ghazali then summarizes the verses to describe a person of good character:

A person of good character is he who is modest says little, causes little trouble, speaks the truth: seeks the good,worships much, has few faults, meddles little, desires the good for all, and does good works for all.


He is compassionate, dignified, measured, patient, content, grateful, sympathetic, friendly, abstinent, and not greedy.


He does not use foul language, nor does he exhibit haste, nor does he harbor hatred in his heart. He is not envious.


He is candid, well-spoken, and his friendship and enmity, his anger and his pleasure are for the sake of Allah Most High and nothing more.


As a result of the performance of the acts of worship, if accompanied by Divine Grace, the one who submits to the Will of Allah will be receptive to the adoption of positive dispositions (the deliverers) like temperance, courage, wisdom, and justice and be able to avoid negative dispositions (the destroyers) like anger, fear of other than Allah, cowardice, lust, envy, apathy, preconsciousness (knowing that you do not know), unconsciousness (not knowing that you do not know) and over-consciousness (knowing but deceiving the self about it), but only on the condition that others benefit from the positive dispositions one has attained.


This, then, makes it incumbent on the one who has submitted to the Will of Allah to come to know and act upon the commands that underlie the relationship of self to others.


[Al-Ghazali on disciplining the self, page 8-9]


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