The word "Deen" is a significant term used in the Qur'an and could mean... way of life, framework for governance, recompense, reward, requital, judgment, dominion, obedience, religion or natural order. The word has been used in the Holy Qur'an in all these senses (Qur'an 4:125, 5:3, 12:76, 24:2, 3:85, 37:53, 3:83). The fact that over fifty percent of Islamic Law pertains to mu'amalah social relations, emphasizes social relations as an essential component of the Deen (Islamic Way of Life) and clearly indicates the significance of social relations to human existence.
Rituals and Values
When we look at the 'religious' dimension of Deen, we find that it consists of beliefs, dogmas, traditions, practices and rituals. A believer born in a religious tradition inherits all this and believes that every thing he or she has inherited is an essential and integral part of religion. For him/her rituals are as important and integral as the values. However, while rituals are performed regularly, values are often either violated, neglected or practiced merely symbolically. Rituals, however, are observed far more meticulously than adherence to the essential values which are in fact more fundamental to the Faith.
Key Qur'anic Values
Though many misconceptions about Islam prevail, both among Muslims and non-Muslims: these arise from dogmatism on the one hand, and from lack of information on the other. Getting familiar with the key values of the Deen as expounded in the Qur'an could clear much of the confusion.
Among the key terms used in the Qur'an that constitute major themes in Islamic ethos are ...rahmah compassion, 'adl justice, ihsan benevolence, 'aql reason and hikmah wisdom. These values are characteristics of the Divine and we have been commanded (takhallaqu bi akhlaqillah) to inculcate in ourselves these divine values; values which are all inextricably linked to each other.
Rahmah The words Rahman and Rahim are derived from the root rhm, which signifies tenderness, care, consideration, affection- requiring the exercise of beneficence, goodness, love, compassion, benevolence and mercy. Allah says in the Qur'an, "My rahmah encompasses everything." (Q 7:155). To indicate the intensity and comprehensiveness of the Mercy of Allah, two intensive forms of the word rahmah are used side by side and in opening verse of the Qur'an (Surah al- Fatihah) it is repeated in the third verse as an independent ayah (Ar- Rahman-ir-Rahim). As a matter of fact, no other attribute of Allah as so often been stressed in the Holy Book (over 300 times) than the Divine attribute of Rahmah. At the very threshold of one's study of the Sacred Scripture, one is ushered into the awareness of the Creator and made conscious of His Holy Presence and reminded of His boundless grace and limitless Mercy.
The Qur'an emphasizes the fact that the Revealer (Allah), the Messenger (Muhammad) and the Message (Qur'an) are embodiments of mercy. (Q1:1 & 6:12, 21:107, 17:82) and Believers are those who manifest mercy as the Prophet instructed that if you do not show mercy then no mercy wil be shown to you ; while Sayyidna 'Ali challenged us... How do you expect the complete mercy of the Most Merciful , when the Most Merciful is most merciful to those who are merciful to others?
'Adl Justice is paramount in Islam; 'Adl - Qist - Justice is...
A major mission of all Prophets (peace be upon them) was the "establishment of justice among people" (Q 57:25)
"Allah commands justice and goodness in everything" (Q 16:90)
Justice is an individual and collective responsibility. Allah inspired the Prophet with the saying ... "O my worshippers! I have made injustice unlawful for Myself, and have forbidden injustice among you; so do not be unjust."
We are divinely commanded "to stand up for justice as witnesses to Allah" under all circumstances and without any discrimination to any one whatsoever. (Q 4:135, Q 5:8)
Manifesting justice is equated to piety. "Be just, that is closest to piety" (Q 5:8)
Ihsan Benevolence and justice are the most comprehensive commands of Islam after Faith. In the Qur'anic terminology, 'adl and ihsan go together (Q 16:90), for justice must be tempered with benevolence. Rigorous justice sometimes may have an adverse impact and hence requires the gentle influence of benevolence. Benevolence ihsan has its independent significance but is also complementary to compassion rahmah. Ihsan reinforces rahmah while also infusing human relationships with meaning. Since Allah is Muhsin/Benevolent, his servants must also be benevolent in their attitude and behavior and in all social relations.
Part of the fruits of faith is the commitment of the faithful to do good while avoiding the wrong and the harmful (Q 3:110).The very presence of the Believer should be a source of benefit, a resource for goodness whose every action reflects ihsan goodness (Q 16:90); and Allah surely loves the muhsinin those who manifest goodness (Q 2:195).
'Aql Divine revelation addresses the intellect (Q 2:242), the seat of understanding (Q 13:4). The Qur'an also uses synonymous terms such as tafakkur thinking (Q 30:21) and tadabbur reflection (Q 47:24). Reason is a gift from God, a faculty that plays a key role even in deciding right from wrong and good from bad. Qur'an addresses intellect (Q 12:2) Reason is not sufficient by itself and can be used both for good as well as for evil. One can use reason to promote self-interest also, as is often done. Reason, it must be noted, is an instrument, not a goal and the exercise of it is essential for understanding and implementing the Deen. The Prophet warned, that person who does not exercise the intellect has no Deen.
Hikmah Wisdom is reason synthesized with higher values of compassion, justice and benevolence. Hikmah (Q 16:125) is concerned with reason as an instrument for the promotion of higher values that lead to spiritual growth, inner peace and happiness. Allah thus informs us of the high estimation of wisdom by saying, whosoever has been granted hikmah has been granted tremendous good. (Q 2:269)
Synthesis of Values
A true Believer synthesizes all these values of rahmah compassion, 'adl justice, ihsan benevolence, 'aql reason, hikmah wisdom; and imbibes them as part of his or her character and manifesting these in all levels of his or her existence.
Sadullah Khan completed memorization of the Quran and furthered his studies in Law in South Africa, Journalism in England and Islamic Studies in Egypt. As a motivational speaker he addresses issues of spirituality, empowerment. He is the author of the book "Dimensions of the Qur'an" and translator of "Message For The Seekers Of Guidance". He has served in several roles in Universities and Islamic Centers in Southern California and is currently involved with Impower Development International based in South Africa.