The concept of morality and good character in Islam centers around certain basic beliefs and principles. Among these are the following: 1) Allah is the Creator and Source of all goodness, truth, and beauty. 2) Man is a responsible, dignified, and honorable agent of his Creator. 3) Allah has put everything in the heavens and the earth in the service of mankind. 4) By His Mercy and Wisdom, Allah does not expect the impossible from man or hold him accountable for anything beyond his power. Nor does Allah forbid man to enjoy the good things of life. 5) Moderation, practicality, and balance are the guarantees of high integrity and sound morality and good character. 6) All things are permissible in principle except what is singled out as obligatory, which must be observed, and what is singled out as forbidden, which must be avoided. 7) Man’s ultimate responsibility is to Allah and his highest goal is the pleasure of his Creator.
The dimensions of morality and good character in Islam are numerous, far-reaching, and comprehensive. The Islamic morals deal with the relationship between man and Allah, man and his fellow men, man and the other elements and creatures of the universe, man and his innermost self. The Muslim has to guard his external behavior and his manifest deeds, his words and his thoughts, his feelings and intentions. In a general sense, his role is to champion what is right and fight what is wrong, seek what is true and abandon what is false, cherish what is beautiful and wholesome and avoid what is indecent. Truth and virtue are his goal. Humbleness and simplicity, courtesy and compassion, are his second nature. To him, arrogance and vanity, harshness and indifference, are distasteful, offensive, and displeasing to Allah.
More specifically, the Muslim’s relationship with Allah is one of love and obedience, complete trust and thoughtfulness, peace and appreciation, steadfastness and active service. This high-level morality and good character will, undoubtedly, nourish and reinforce morality and good character at the human level. For in his relationship with his fellow men, the Muslim must show kindness to kin and concern for the neighbor, respect for the elderly and compassion for the young, care for the sick and support for the needy, sympathy for the grieved and cheer for the depressed, joy with the blessed and patience with the misguided, tolerance toward the ignorant and forgiveness of the helpless, disapproval of the wrong and rise above the trivial. Moreover, he must respect the legitimate rights of others as much as he does his own. His mind must be occupied with constructive ideas and serious pursuits; his heart must beat with compassionate feelings and good will; his soul must radiate with peace and serenity; his counsel must be sincere and courteous.
The Muslim’s moral obligation is to be a vivid example of honesty and perfection, fulfill his commitments and perform his tasks well, seek knowledge and virtue by all possible means, correct his mistakes and repent his sins, develop a good sense of social consciousness and nourish a feeling of human response, provide for his dependents generously without extravagance and meet their legitimate needs. Nature and the world are the field of exploration and the object of enjoyment for the Muslim. He must utilize their elements and ponder their marvels, read them as signs of Allah’s greatness and preserve their beauty, explore their wonders and discover their secrets. But whether he uses them for utility or for sheer enjoyment, he must avoid waste and excess. As a responsible agent of Allah and a conscientious trustee, he must always be mindful of others who share the world with him and who will succeed him in the future.