Human moral standards are universal

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Morality Views: 2801

A moral sense is inborn in man and, through the ages, it has served as the common man's standard of moral behavior, approving certain qualities and condemning others. While this instinctive faculty may very from person to person, human conscience has consistently declared certain moral qualities to be good and others to be bad.

Justice, courage and truthfulness have always found praise, and history does not record any period worth the name in which falsehood, injustice, dishonesty and breach of trust have been praised; sympathy, compassion, loyalty and generosity have always been valued, while selfishness, cruelty, meanness and bigotry have never been approved of by society; men have always appreciated perseverance, determination and courage, but never impatience, fickleness, cowardice and stupidity. Dignity, restraint, politeness and friendliness have throughout the ages been counted virtues, whereas snobbery and rudeness have always been looked down upon. People with a sense of responsibility and devotion to duty have always won the highest regard, those who are incompetent, lazy and lacking in a sense of duty have never been looked upon with approval.

Similarly, in assessing the standards of good and bad in the collective behavior of society as a whole, only those societies have been considered worthy of honor which have possessed the virtues of organization, discipline, mutual affection and compassion and which have established a social order based on justice, freedom and equality. Disorganization, indiscipline, anarchy, disunity, injustice and social privilege have always been considered manifestations of decay and disintegration in a society. Robbery, murder, larceny, adultery and corruption have always been condemned. Slander and blackmail have never been considered healthy social activities, while service and care of the aged, helping one's relatives, regard for neighbors, loyalty to friends, aiding the weak, the destitute and orphans, nursing the sick are qualities which have been highly valued since the dawn of civilization.

Individuals who are honest, sincere and dependable, whose deeds match their words, who are content with their own rightful possessions, who are prompt in the discharge of their obligations to others, who live in peace and let others live in peace, and from whom nothing but good can be expected, have always formed the basis of any healthy human society.

These examples show that human moral standards are universal and have been well-known to mankind throughout the ages. Good and evil are not myths, but realities well understood by all. A sense of good and evil is inherent in the very nature of man. Hence in the terminology of the Qur'an good is called ma'ruf (a well-known thing) and evil munkar (an unknown thing); that is to say, good is known to be desirable and evil is known not to commend itself in any way. As the Qur'an says: God has revealed to human nature the consciousness and cognition of good and evil. (al-Shams 91:8)

This is an excerpt from a translation of a talk given by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi on Radio Pakistan, Lahore, on January 6, 1948


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  37 Comments   Comment

  1. Paul from UK

    Thank you Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi,

    A declaration of civilisation. World thinking for Human kind.

    Peace.

  2. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Wa'alaiykum as'salaam Peter,

    There is a book called "The Next World Order" by Ahmed Thompson, you will find that to be very interesting, there is a section about Gog and Magog and their relationship to Zul Qurn'ain. Translators of Qur'an to english and commentators have said that Zul Qurn'ain was Alexander The Great. But there are others who say that he was King Cyrus of Persia. Zul Qurn'ain is described as a Godly person who ruled over two nations and was a just and fair king/ruler. There are verses in the Bible which also talk about King Cyrus, in the Book of Ezra he is described as God revering person, a description which matches the qualities of Zul Qarn'ain. Zul Qarn'ain in the Qur'an is described as building a barrier of copper and iron to stop the corrupt Ya'juj wa Ma'juj people who spoke a language that was uncomprehendable. King Cyrus also built a similar barrier in the Daryal Pass, and the remains of it are still existing. If you read in Sura Al Kahf(18), Verses 83-98, an excellent description if given of him.

    Now still some people say Alexander is Zul Qarn'ain, but the fact that Alexander is not mentioned in the old testament, but King Cyrus is, and we know that Cyrus built a wall at Daryal Pass, and the Kingdom of Khazaria was situated at the Caucasus mountains..there is also so much information which points towards King Cyrus as being Zul Qurn'ain. The book of Daniel, Chapter 8, verses 20,21 describes Cyrus as being the King of two nations, the Medes and the Persians, Zul Qurn'ain means, the one who rules over two eras. Qarn is a single mark, the 'ain added turns the single into double, or just two.

    These links explain a lot: http://salam.muslimsonline.com/babri/yajujmajuj.htm

    http://www.marvast.com/great/cyrus.htm

    Another must read book, "The Thirteenth Tribe, by Arthur Koestler, talks about the converted Ashkenazi Jews, who surprisingly come from Daryal Pass and make up 90% of world Jewry.

    Wassalaam!

  3. Peter from USA

    Assalaamu' Alaiykum, Akbar, my friend it is good to see you. Yes, I find the sophmoric preaching of the evangelical christians (lower case intentional) very offensive. In Catholicism we are taught to repsect both Jews and Muslims as fellows of the Abrahamic tradition. I am much mroe intreested in meaningfull dialogue than some vacuous attempt at preaching (an act that was reserved for the initiated, you may recall that Jesus told the apostles to preach the Good Word after the Tongues of Fire had descended upon them. Somehow I doubt if this has happened to Chris or Frank)

    I agree that Muhammad was the paraclete, how else can we explain the marvels of Islam, its accomplishments in the world? Also, the archangel Gabriel is invovled with the establishment of both religions (you know, in some versions of the story, Gabriel fathers Jesus).

    You may find this surprising, but I think that part of why Christians don't understand Islam is that they don't know what a prophet really is; they aren't familiar with the prophetic tradition (I was ignorant until I studied it in university) because so much focus is given on the role of Jesus as Redemptor. If you told a Christian that Noah was a prophet, his reaction would probably be surprise.

    Incidentally, I did not know that Shariah meant 'the Way'. That is a very interesting point. Did you know that in ancient times refernces were made to a 'Secret Gospel According to Mark'? This text is lost to us today, but its existence is accepted by accedmics.

    Also, can you tell me more about Zul-Qurn'ain or refer me to a book?

    Salaam

  4. Yahya Bergum from USA

    And seemingly those who corrupt the consciousness and cognition of good and evil will fail (91:10). May Allah be pleased with Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi.

    Salaam

  5. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Sorry for going off topic with that Peter, but just thought I'd bring up the point of Shari'ah and it's meaning of "the way"...okay take care my friend. salaam.

  6. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Assalaamu'Alaiykum Peter,

    You really hit the nail on the head in describing the proselytizing of Chris and Frank, and it's lack of effectiveness.

    By the way Frank and Chris, I am a Muslim, if you don't know this already, if a Muslim denies the that Jesus is the Christ, then he/she is a rejecting a vital part of the Islamic faith, that is why I believe he is the Christ, because like Jesus says in the gospel of John, that the comforter who shall come after him will uphold the teachings of Jesus. This comforter, and spirit of truth, is Muhammad. Muslims are the only group which came after the people who follow the way who uphold the messages previously brought by Jesus, Elijah, Enoch, Moses, David, Abraham - may peace be upon them all. Otherwise could you please present me with any other prophet who came after Jesus who uphold his teachings and respect for him, since you are so in the mood of getting me to convert?

    As Peter mentioned, Jesus said to follow the way...in reality Peter when you first mentioned that I thought to myself the word Shariah, because it also means "the way"....all these government puppet heads claiming to be enforcing Shari'ah are not, but have simply misused the basic guidelines of it. For that reason I hope you don't think ill of Shari'ah. It does take a lot of study to understand it, but once you do you see how just it is...how in divorce mothers are awarded custody of children, or how husbands are forbidden from abusing their wives physically or verbally. In reality, the Qur'an does not endorse wife beating. This is due to poor english translation of the word idribuhunne in Sura Al Nisa. The root word of idribuhunne is Daraba, which literally means to leave or get out, and has other multiple meanings . Therefore any governement claiming to have Islamic law allowed the beating of women, or cuts off peoples hands and gives them lashes, have lost sight of the message sent beautifully in the Qur'an

  7. Peter from USA

    P.S. If Jesus is the only way to heaven, then how did Enoch and Elijah both manage to get there well before Jesus was born?

    P.P.S. The origninal Christians didn't call themselves Christians, but called their movement "The Way". You may recall that Jesus also refers to himself as "The Way" ("I am the way, the light and the truth). When he said there was no Way to the Father except through the Son, he was speaking in symbolic terms (you might recall he did this a lot, they're called 'parables') and referred to the metaphysical philosophy he was teaching (hence, the term 'The Way'). This is clearly shown in the Gospel according to Mark where Peter asks Jesus why he isn't teaching the masses what he's teaching the apostles, and Jesus replies that the masses aren't prepared, and to them he must speak in parables. The actual Aramaic term used is 'dimoot' which means, literally, 'riddle'. So, my boys, you mustn't take your religion at face value. Especially when you present it to these fine people.

  8. Peter from USA

    Chris and Frank: Although your intentions may be well and good, I seriously doubt if your proselytizing has done any benefit here. Your high handed preaching about the forgiveness of sins comes across (to me) as offensive and arrogant. Chris, your statements are cyncial to the extreme. Humans are evil? Give me a break. Last time I checked Human beings were made in God's image and that image isn't evil but good. If people err, it is inevitable, we aren't perfect (God alone is perfect), and that's obvious, we make mistakes, the point is to learn from them.

  9. Israfil from USA

    This article presented itself as an enduring beacon to the idealist who believes in the thought that society in general has a general view of morality. Though I remember discussing this before on the websites forum, I have come to find that morality with its components good and eveil, are mere principles with the allocation of individual action.

    In other words these principles that we are aware of such as good and evil are indeed constructed and shaped by our society. But what we must wonder is where our own idea of good and evil come from. Not every society regardless of the similarities of moral truths do not profess the same idea of good and evil.

    For the individual who kills because "demons in the mind says so" believes that the action of killing may be a just and moral thing to do. Of course, the reality outside this insane mind would condemn the act, but the act no less is a truth of the various ideas of what is good and evil. As the author states God has given us the mechanism to know this good and evil but to what varying degrees do we as a society define what is good and evil because surely we all have our own ideas about both?

  10. abdulwasii ibrahim from Nigeria

    asalam alaikum waramatullal bros &sisters i really appreciate your effort may Almigthy Allah reward u abondantly

  11. yasmeen khan from india(hyderabad)

    as salamalaykum

    i was very much impressed by urs messages iam surprised that i have very little knowledge about islam thnx for informing me about islam plz sent some book if possible i will be thankfullto u my adress;- yasmeen khan

  12. aminu shehu yakasai from nigeria

    may Allah reward you abundantly.i read your article on human moral,it was interesting and educative so also that on spending for Allah.i will also be gratefull if you can send me pictures of islamic places of history and again of life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (saw). Bissalam.

  13. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Chris, thank you. Please consider (just one) alternative - that mankind is not precisely "evil by nature" but rather lost to evil without the guidance of God.

    It seems like a minor point, but an assertion that man's "vice-regent" on this particular planet is inherently defective would sound to me to be potentially disrespectful to God.

    My understanding (currently) is that God has chosen to tolerate rebellion, perhaps to test the loyalty of some of his more gifted creatures (who but God can really say?) rather than will into existence creatures that were less than perfect.

    Why would God bother creating imperfect creatures, when a test for rebellion among the God's most talented servants could achieve the same thing for free, so to speak?

    Not that I would really know the answer to that question, of course.

    A more useful question is probably, what would be the glory in creating imperfect creatures? I personally believe that the Glory of God (in and of itself) is the greatest reward imaginable.

    Please consider also that there are indeed others planets besides the one we're on. The Quran indicates as much - in the second verse, no less. (Do you remember anything about Galileo?) Please let God be your source of strength and do not abandon those who (would) depend on you.

    If I missed your point, I apologize. The error, but not the success, of course, would be entirely mine - although I am grateful (of course) for the opportunity to fail on my own.

    It's always a pleasure to exchange understanding with someone who sincerely seems to believe in God - before God, I really mean that! God bless you! Thank you for your contribution to this discussion, made in the interest of furthering God's Glory. God (alone) is worthy of praise.

  14. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Jazak Allahu Khair for presenting that Ayah (al-Shams 91:8) and providing the (highly relevant) excerpt of the lecture from 1948 (CE). May Allah's servants be rewarded for those fruits of their labors, for which a true accounting could surely not be performed without the help of Allah. Assalamo Alaikum.

  15. Qadeer from USA

    Dear Frank,

    Which muslim country are referring to? There is NO country in the present day world that follows Islam. You are right, all of them are ruled by despots in one form or another and their sole purpose is to stifle the islam in one or more ways. Do you know that in some of these countries things as simple as having a beard or wearing a headscarf could be the reason for incarceration or worse still, extermination? Do you know that if there are fair and free elections, most of the countries have chosen people with some islamic inclinations? So you cannot comment on islam based on your observations of so called islamic rulers. Where did you get this idea that today's rulers read The Quran? It is obvious that either you don't know anything in which case I advise you to read a little bit of history and current affairs (NOT from the corporate American media)or you know a lot and trying to misinform people in which case you are committing an unpardonable sin.

    May almighty God guide you towards the right path!

  16. Frank from hernando

    Your Message is 100% true, you mention justice, freedom and equality. Well most Muslim countries do not live by these three values, they don't vote or have a fair court system, and people of a different faith are not treated equal.

    They are run by kings and dictaters who all read the Koran subjectively and make laws based on there own opinion. Now the U.S. today is not any better in some ways worse. But the Christian foundation it holds (barely) Is why it is so grand, and why many Muslim come here. I think it is time for all nations of the world to wake up to the PRINCE OF PEACE JESUS! Some of the qualities you mention are what most Arab nations lack, and do you notice they also lack jobs, healthcare, tourism ,education, and exspecially Peace and Joy. You started your message with "all man", well it's time for all men to have the freedom to find the Prince of Peace, and the equality given to men who already know Him. Tell Islam to practice what it preaches and tell America to return to what it was founded on. Then JESUS will reveal God's true Love and Prosperity.

    God Bless you and your family

  17. Mustaq Ahmed from Australia

    Asalamalikum Brothers

    i have already taken ur registration to become the memeber of ur site Al hamdilliah but yet i didn't receive any confirmation. brothers please send me ur advice. Jaza khair.

    Allah Hafiz

  18. Rayan B.T.S.A. Rafay from Canada

    Pardon me MDSOALEH, but you have obviously no idea about the matter that you speak of. It is a great error on your part to say something is haraam when you have no knowledge of what you speak of. Photographs for animals are not haraam and it would be ridiculous of one to say that they are. Pictures of animals have so many beneficial uses, how is a child supposed to learn about animals wihtout seeing them, honestly. Besides this, photography is so broad like a blank canvas or threads of cotton, you can make anything out of it, if you use it for haraam purposes such as pornography or obsene photos then it is haraam. I wonder if you carry a passport around with you or is it just a blank space.

  19. Chris from U.S.A.

    History, both relious and secular, records human tendancy towards evil rather that good. Left to their own devices, humans have embraced warfare for personal gain, immorality for personal satisfaction, and moral relativism for personal pacification. Given the opportunity, humans choose their own intersts. We find the seminal event in this case in the story of Adam and Eve. Without God's intervention in the lives of humans, the curse of eternal separation from the Almighty remains unavoidable. It is only through the plan laid from the foundation of the world that God made a way for reconciliation. Humans are evil by nature. Without the ability to choose evil, they could not have the choice to do good. The choice people must make is whether or not to accept God's offer through his Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. We have no hope apart from God. Hope comes in the form of Christ.

  20. ADESHINA rasaq from ENGLAND

    I'm very happy to read your postings they're very helpful morally and spiritually especially in the type of society we live now.

    I pray that Allah bless you and may you continue to blessed.

    Maa Salaam.

  21. mdsoaleh from india

    it is nice to see this islamic site progressing day by day.i highly appreciate the way your network work but there is a slight problem which i am witnessing past few days in your site, that is photographs on various items like the pevious day i found photographs of animals on the cd in your advertisment section meant for children. i know without photographs ad seems to be dull but remember photos are haram in islam.i am not complaing but just advising,in quran there is a verse which means,command for the good and protect from the evil.

  22. Rayan B.T.S.A. Rafay from Canada

    The human race, since the beginning of time (whenever that was), by instinct have the same morals; our environment is what corrupts them. For example, if my parents were homosexuals, I would think nothing of it, or if I was born with a gun in my hand I would consider it normal. Without offense to anyone most religions have changed their faith to compensate with time; the Jews accept this and also believe in the Talmud, a collection of writings by scholars; whereas Christians have denied many parts of the bible, and changed the interpertations and meanings. Had they kept the actual texts, they would say the same things. Similarly, had religions such as Hinduism, Taoism and so on kept their original meanings we would all have the same morals. With the vast differences among religions, the core is still the same; be good people. In a world where we reward the sly, and two-faced, we may think there is no point to being good, besides human nature, which brings us to the point of universal moral standards. There has been no religion of the past save for Satanism, and some others that has actually told people to do bad; part of this is because we as humans want to be good and if someone encourages us to do so, then there is nothing stopping us from being good.

  23. Usman Ghumman from United States

    If human moral standards are so inherent, is the guidance from ALLAH and messages from his messengers in a way the call to affirm our inhereted moral standards back to its basis and away from what shaitan and perhaps our nafs have made it ????

  24. Michael Shipman from usa

    I always enjoy your articles. They are very uplifting and sound. i pray you will be allowed to continue (inshallah).

  25. Muslim from Singapore

    To Anwar,The writer was not saying that this values has been practiced all the time but they are highly valued by society.Even in a theocratic state or a secular state values like these are always implemented.egxample,In All countries there is always a punisment for stealing,In Islam we believe in The Shari'a.And in the secular state they have their own manmade laws itself to ensure that this values are not lost as they are very valuable:)

  26. jameel md ali from india

    kindly continue to provide comments from great scholars like moudodi, who has contributed to indepth understanding of islam thanks

  27. kulamulla from usa

    Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

    2 Pet 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

    2 Pet 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

    2 Pet 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

    2 Pet 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,

    2 Pet 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

    2 Pet 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  28. Ismail al-Shams from United States

    For most of the world this is true. However, you have negated the human experience of being in a culture where slavery have been allow to grow. During the period when there was slavery in America, human kindness and the issues of high human standards was not the case for all humans beings. Those evil people that instituted slavery are being praised today in American History. This country and other countries had laws negating certain humans rights. The government that enforced these laws are praised during those time and still today.

    Usually when those type of evil are pointed out the person that reminds the people of the past evils are dismissed as being wrong and out of context for remembering the truth.

    I have found that there is wide spread critism whether in an Islamic setting or a dunya setting this is one true that people don't like to acknowledge.

    Again you may say like most of the world that just forget this and move on , or I am tired of these black pittiful lazy folks who wants something for nothing. But I not talking about African only there is a civilization of people who was native to America, and also Muslim that we have forgotten also. You should look into this.

    Ismail al-Shams

  29. Bilal Assad from USA

    ASALAMU ALYKUM W. W. It is not very often that I post my response to what I read, however this article is EXCEPTIONAL. I highly commend the writer and thank you for passing it to me. I , in turn, shall pass it on. Thank you again, Bilal Assad ( Wa Salam)

  30. lynn Zaman from USA

    Thank you so much for the Bullitin this morning. While pandering such thoughts since I awoke, You have given me the answer to my anxeties from yesterday. You see, I live in a very bad area for snow and I drove because others where afraid do to weather. I took to care of children at 6 am to get them off to school and took a man to see his father before an operation. I stayed with the family until the patient was in the recovery room. I did not go to a doctors appointment as a result. I was faced with the two choices. I saw the doctors appointment as selfish, and helping the family as what allah whould have wanted. Today I was nervouse about being yelled at by the doctor and staff even if I explain. I am not nervous now, thank you for giving me the strength to be yelled at and say nothing. 'salaam Zaman8695

  31. S from Japan

    From a religious stand-point, the "universality of human moral standards" seems easy to proclaim. Sadly, when when you change the platform the issue becomes controversial (e.g. when looking at this question thru the lens of international politics or any political theory). That's when you learn of not just "universality" of morality but also "relativism" of those standards -- the latter denying the existence of the former!

    An illustration is in order here. The Eurocentric claims of universality of human rights (rights enjoyed by all human kind by virtue of their existence regardless of location or culture) are usually brushed aside by some (if not most) Islamic countries and developing countries who argue for relativism of human rights. Relativism means that human rights are based on particular/specific culture which in turn informs the morals of that society ...

    My point is that, if all humanity had the same moral standards the whole world would have had more or less similar convictions and vision about human rights ... The reason why adultery is an offense in Zanzibar but it is not in the Mainland is but one example of moral relativism rather than universality ... You could also talk about homosexuality, gay marriages, abortions, etc to see how this debate gets more controversial ...

    I hope I haven't confused issues ...

    G Ndika.

  32. Hannahzarah Avarraschild from U.S.A.

    Good and evil are truely universal concepts but my observation has been that, in addition to being a rational creature, man is also a rationalizing creature. It seems to be too much in the nature of man to twist things around to come out to what a culture's or individual's definition of those concepts means. And then too many feel that expediency is a value.

    Blessings,

    Hannah

  33. Ardiela Savahl from South Africa

    Assalaamu Alaikoem ,

    We know that what we read in the article is the Haq , yet how many of us get caught up in these very situations without even a second thought . The Fitnah and Fasaad is so great , is seen and done everywhere that rather it be the exception , it has become the norm . And thats the frightening part . How often do we make excuses for people committing these sins ,and by our very actions then condone what is being done .Have we not learnt through the anals of history that the decay of a society starts with the decay of moral values.May we not loose sight of this , Insha Allah .

    May the Almighty grant us the Toufeeq and Hidaayat to abstain from those things that are detrimental to us and our societies in order to gain success in this world and in the Hereafter.

    Salaam

    Sister Ardiela Savahl

  34. Gordon Bakken from USA

    Thank you for your web page. However, I am looking more for a political defense of the

    Arabs and Muslims thatn a presentation of the Muslim religion. Can you suggest another source.

  35. Anwar Haroon from India

    If at all these human aspects were well known & practiced all the time, why is that Rasolullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam was bitterly opposed by the Arabs for His Moral Preaching among his people in the name of Islam?.

    Is not all the religions of the world got revivied after the teachings of Islam by Rasoolullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam?

    By reading this article, People will think that nothing new has been given to the people by Rasoolullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasllam through Quran & Hadeeth.