Article appeared Friday, March 22nd, 2013 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (270)

yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD

Over the years, the subject of Ethics has gained importance as a part of all professional qualifications. In many universities across the world, ethics has been introduced as a compulsory course. Why? Unethical behavior ultimately harms individuals, people, societies and in the long run nations. It is to prevent possible harm from unethical practices that the subject of Ethics has gained importance. What does the subject of Ethics deal with? Ethics is said to be independent of laws, emotional inclinations and religion. Ethics “refers {1} to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.” The question is can or should the terms “rights”, “obligations” and/or “fairness” be applied to the Creator as well? If we say that we believe in the Creator, this means that we accept the fact that the life that we are enjoying has been given by the Creator. If so, having given us life, should the Creator have any rights? By the same token, would we have any obligations towards the Creator? In addition, if we feel that we ourselves have created our own destinies, would it be fair to the Creator who has given us endless opportunities and grants success? The “science” of Ethics however does not deal with the topic of the Creator. If Ethics deals with “rights” and wishes to remain truly impartial or neutral, it should also suggest obligations just in case there is a creator. On the other hand, it is the job of science to find the Creator through the identification of design. Science unwittingly accepts the fact that without deliberate design activity, fitness to purpose cannot be achieved. This is part and parcel of the fact that scientific research is carried out to discover laws or rules governing all forms of behavior. To understand how both these concepts apply, let us imagine that a scientist stumbles upon the jet propulsion engine of a plane. Imagine that the scientist knows nothing of the origins of the engine or what it does. Applying scientific method, the scientist could discover many laws, e.g. that the speed of rotation is proportional to the propulsion force. Having discovered many laws of behavior, would it be logical for the scientist to suggest that since the engine and propellers fulfill a purpose there is a deliberate and intelligent design behind such detailed functionality? Likewise, for example, the construction and functionality of the human tongue cannot be without intelligent design. We cannot see the Designer, however, the construction and functionality of the tongue stands witness to the expertise and greatness of the Designer or the Creator. Prophets throughout the ages have informed mankind of the Creator’s rights, obligations towards the Creator and that we should be fair in according credit, i.e. giving credit where credit is due. For example, in the most recent Revelation, the Qur’an, the Creator enlightens us that He sent a messenger to the lost people of Madyan {2}: “To the Madyan people We sent Shuaib, one of their own brethren: he said: "O my people! Worship Allah; you have no other god but Him. Now has come to you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! Give just measure and weight nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you if you have faith.” [7.85] In addition to providing rules for Ethics, the Qur’an furnishes an additional purpose for ethical behavior – to please the Creator. Against this straight forward logic and reasoning, Satan proposes logic and reasoning to disregard the rights of the Creator and overlook our obligations towards Him – just like he managed to deceive Adam and Eve in paradise. Therefore, our Creator warns us in the Qur’an:

“O children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden stripping them of their raiment to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where you cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith.” [7.27] Satan and evil ones continue to furnish examples of logic and excuses to disregard our obligations towards the Creator. For example,

7.28 “When they do anything that is shameful they say: "We found our fathers doing so"; and "Allah commanded us thus": say: "Nay Allah never commands what is shameful: do you say of Allah what you know not?"”
On the contrary,

7.29 “Say: "My Lord has commanded justice; and that you set your whole selves (to Him) at every time and place of prayer and call upon him making your devotion sincere as in His Sight: such as He Created you in the beginning so shall you return (to Him)."”
If we believe, we should look for signs of design in our lives and seek the Creator from the heart of our hearts, feel what He has done for us and be grateful.

7.30 “Some He has Guided: others have (by their choice) deserved the loss of their way: in that they took the evil ones in preference to Allah for their friends and protectors and falsely think that they received guidance.”
He has provided beautiful clothes (raiment) to wear and good, wholesome and tasteful food to eat. So to demonstrate gratefulness, He Guides:

7.31 “O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess for Allah loves not the wasters.”
We should not create self-prohibitions:

7.32 “Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah which He has produced for his servants and the things clean and pure (which He has provided) for sustenance? Say: they are in the life of this world for those who believe (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand.”
Good things are for believers to demonstrate their gratefulness for a limited period of time. After the Day of Judgment, the good things would be reserved for those who have demonstrated their preference for the Creator.

7.33 “Say: The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah for which He has given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” 7.34 “To every people is a term appointed: when their term is reached not an hour can they cause delay nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation).”
---------{Notes}: {1} http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/whatisethics.html {2} http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2886&Itemid=66