Permanent Values from the Quran

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What is a value? Personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, etc. Values generate behaviour and help solve common human problems for survival. (Wikipedia).Permanent values do not change with time and are applicable both at the individual and collective level. The following is not an exhaustive list.

•    Concept of God: The concept of God as revealed in the Quran is an external objective standard for us to follow as far as it relates to the development of the human Self. ‘…don’t be like those who forgot Allah and He made them forget their own Selves….’ (59:19)

•    Equality as a Human Being (Unity in humanity):  At birth we are equal and the same is true when we die. The Quran declares: ‘Mankind was one community….’ (2:213)

•    Respect as a Human Being: Every human being possesses a Self which has the attribute of free will. This entitles every human being to equal respect, so that there can be no discrimination due to reasons of family, tribe, race, community, nationality, religion, gender, colour, language, culture, tradition, …. ‘Verily, We have honoured all children of Adam.’ (17:70)

•    Freedom: Since every human being is born free, then he /she should remain free. According to the Quran freedom means that no-one can extort obedience from another human being. Only the Quranic Values should be followed as it is only by operating within the confines of these values that the Self can develop. See verses (3:78), (5:44), 10:15) and (82:19)

•    Freedom to Choose (No Compulsion): Responsibility for the act of a human being is determined by his own volition and intent. It is our choices in life which define us. The Quran invites us to use the power of our intellect and reasoning to acquire evidence to then make informed decisions. ‘Those who,  when they are reminded with the signs of their Lord, droop not down at them as if they were deaf and blind’ (25:73)

•    Righteousness as a Criterion: The level of development of the Self and individual conduct should be the criterion for higher responsibility within a society. The Quran declares: ‘The noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the best in righteousness’ (49:13)

•    Tolerance:  Freedom to choose means that we need to be tolerant and accept the choices made by others in their lives. The Quran asks us to understand this at a fundamental level i.e. by being in possession of a Self with freedom to choose, we need to recognise this state exists in others and accept it. (22:40), (2:256)

•    Existence of Human Self:  We all have a strong sense of identity and are aware of our existence. We have self- consciousness and the ability to make decisions. Our inner attributes of emotions, thinking, memory, etc  help us to live our lives and in the process we gain experiences which helps to develop our self-concept. (39:41)

•    Accountability: Human beings possess free will, emotions, and the ability to think about thinking, and memory. Our thinking and decisions leave an impact on our Self i.e. it changes our personality and the way we think and act. The Quran declares that every cause has an effect in human daily living. This is called the Law of Requital. The purpose of human creation is that none of our deeds remains unaccountable and none of us is dealt with unjustly.(45:21)

•   Responsibility cannot be shared at the level of the Self: At an individual level each one of us is a complete unit therefore none can share our responsibility at this level. The Quran asks us to follow this value in our interactions as well. (53:38)


•    Free Will: The use of this Value is up to us as individuals to use by exercising our freedom to choose.  However, our choices have consequences and we are accountable for these. The Quran tells us that this is your world and you can live your life as you wish.  ‘….do what you will: verily He sees what you do’ (41:40)

•    Warning/Admonition: We need to warn each other about the consequences of what we think, say and do in our lives. The Quran asks us to think of the consequences of every action we take in our lives both in the short term and the long term.  The Quran calls its message a warning to mankind  - to be accepted or rejected and then to live with the consequences of those choices. ‘that it gives warning to any who are alive’ (36:70). (6:70), (7:51). The Quran asks us to keep reminding each other about the purpose of life. (103:1-3)

•    Justice: When dispensing justice, no distinction is allowed between friend and foe, us and others: ‘and let not the dislike of a people incite you not to act equitably.  Be just: that is nearer to observance of responsibility’ (5:8). Also see (2:283), (4:135), (4:105), (4:135).  The changing of God’s laws is declared to be injustice by the Quran: (50:29)

•    Good deeds replace the effects of bad deeds:  The Quran declares: ‘.. for those things that are good remove those that are bad..’ (11:114). ‘Repel bad with that which is good..’ (23:96)

•    What is Good for Mankind remains on Earth:  ‘..while that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth….’ (13:17).  

•    Knowledge:  The Quran has referred to both perceptual and conceptual knowledge and asked mankind to explore both the visible and the invisible worlds to understand the Truth and the purpose behind human creation. ‘Taught man that which he knew not’ (96:5. ‘He taught Adam the ability to characterise….’ (2:31).

•    Science: The Quran asks us to make efforts to discover both the physical and the psychic worlds and bring them into use for the good of mankind at large.  ‘and He has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, all from Himself’. (45:13).

•    Aesthetic Sense:  As human beings we have an aesthetic sense, an appreciation for beauty. The Quran acknowledges and respects this and considers it as a necessary element in the growth and development of human personality: ‘Say: who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good things of His providing…’ (7:32). However, the pursuit of the aesthetic sense should be within the confines of the permanent values.

•    History as a Model:  The Quran asks mankind to study history and the rise and fall of civilisations with a view to learn lessons. This helps us to study the permanent values and see that violations of these values leads to wars and conflicts and leads to a waste of valuable human time. ‘Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before them? They were more numerous than these and superior in strength and in the traces they have left in the land. Yet all that they accomplished was of no profit to them.’(40:82). (10:39)

•    Subsistence:  Basic necessities [1] for all human beings must be met and an environment should be created for the development of the human Self.  Meeting the physical needs of the human body are essential before intellectual reasoning and creative activity can be brought into play. This is the reason why the Quran declares that the aim is to establish an economic system in which there is no accumulation of wealth – ‘and they ask you as to what they should give for the benefit of others. Say: whatever is surplus to your requirements..’ (2:219)

•    Reward is for the Work and not the Capital:  This value defines the economic system proposed by the Quran. Life is a journey and not a destination. The capital must remain in continuous flow and must not be accumulated.  Reward for work must meet the necessities of life. (53:39); (59:7).

•    Patience and Perseverance:  Since the Self takes time to develop, as it has to gain knowledge and overcome the challenges of life, it therefore needs time to build up its inner conviction and strength. It needs guidance as an external criterion of reference to sign post its progress towards its development. ‘..follow the revelation ….. and be patient and constant ….’ (10:109). An analogy is a seed which needs to be nurtured to grow to its full potential

•    No Restriction on Human Movement: The world is available for each one of us and is open to the use of anyone within the remit of the permanent values. No human being owns this world – the fact that with death we leave it all behind proves this. The world is ‘loaned’ to human beings to use it for a short time only. The Quran declares: ‘….and brought forth therewith fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah knowingly’ (2:22). (29:56), (39:10).

•    Relationships: Human beings need the presence of other human beings within individual relationships and at the level of community in order to function, grow and develop the Self. ‘was but one nation, But it differed’. (10:19)

•    Marriage: A contract between two equal individuals to live their lives within the confines of the permanent values (2:221). Chastity is one of the permanent values within this context and the Quran demands observance from both men and women (24:30-31).

•    Freedom from Fear:  For free will to operate effectively, there has to be freedom from fear as this constrains it. The Quran declares that living within the permanent values will eliminates all fears. (2:38)

•    Freedom from Grief: Grief is caused by events affecting human beings within a society. Most events causing grief can be linked directly or indirectly to human actions e.g. economic, wars, oppression, exploitation, slavery, etc. The Quran recognises this and refers to it in many verses. (2:38), (3:138), (12:84), (15:77).

•    Death:  This is a deadline to remind us that we have a finite time to live in this life and our conduct here in this world will define the status of our next life after death.  When we consider the event of death at the level of Self, the Quran declares: ‘every Self shall have the taste of death…’ (29:57.

•    Hereafter:  The life of the ‘emerged’ human Self continues beyond death. The ‘emerged’ human Self   is one that has reached a minimum threshold as per the Quran, when on balance the effects of the good deeds exceed those of the deeds which have negative effects. ‘….let every Self look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow…..’ (59:18).  ‘then shall each Self know what it has sent forward and what it left behind’ (82:5)


by


Dr Ejaz Rasool


Glasgow, UK

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