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Universal Human Values in Islam Essay

Human values have long been considered a definition of how individuals live life. These are considered to be foundations for good living, and should therefore be respected and protected. In Islam, the basic human values consist of life or al nafs, reason or al aql, descent or al nasab, property or al mal, and religion or al din. These Islamic values are further categorized into three hierarchical levels: necessities or dharuriyyat, convenience or hajiat, and refinements or kamaliat. It is an established ideal of life for Muslims to realize these values in acquiring their necessities (al dharuriyyat).

This is complemented by recognition of the importance of their needs (al hajiyyat) and its added embellishments (tahsiniyyat) (Akgunduz). Concepts on good and evil are universally understood by all, regardless of religion. It is human nature to have a sense of what is right or wrong; and this is inherent in all mankind. As the holy book of Islam, the Quran, states:”” Allah has revealed to human nature the consciousness and cognition of good and evil (91:8). It is also standard, not only in Islam, that good is desirable and evil is the opposite.

It is cited in Islam101’s last paragraph that the Quran that good is Marif (well-known) and evil is Munkar (unknown). Islam guides human beings on how to determine the good and the evil way of life. It does not base the knowledge of evil and virtue on one’s own reason, intuition, and experiences because these bases constantly undergo changes. This therefore can not provide constant standards of morality where values arise. Islam instead provides an objective source which is the Divine revelation.

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This is a book revealed through the Prophets and prescribes a standard of moral conduct. This is permanent, universal, and is applicable in every culture and every stage of life. Islam’s moral code contains even the smallest details on how to live individually and how to interact with others to contribute to international progress (Shaikh). Islam imposes five basic values for humanity which should be strictly followed. Individuals are advised to respect and preserve these values for mankind, as Islam teaches, can not leave without these basic values (dharuriyyat) (Akgunduz).

Professor Akgunduz teaches that one of the universal human values of Islam is life (al nafs), which deals with physical self. This includes a person’s basic needs in order to survive, and is practically the same as those of non-Muslims. Food, clothing, shelter, and health are examples of these, which should be acquired to have a healthy body, which would in turn lead to a purposeful life. Islam also gives high esteem to the human soul and considers violence against an innocent man a grave sin. This is stated in the Quran: …

“whoever kills a human being/ it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all…” (5:32). This encompasses the values of all other religions wherein all human beings should be treated equally regardless of color and race (Akgunduz). Diseases which deteriorate an individual’s health and crimes which violate morality are globally occurring and obviously difficult to control. They freely penetrate a country, a society, or a culture and individual effort can not minimize their effects.

Islamic human values on life are negated by these occurrences (Akgunduz). Islam101 also states in “The Islamic Concept of Life and Morality” that it is the duty of man to live his life according to the will of Allah and to follow the Him with perpetual obedience. This is the right path of life which will prepare an individual to the hereafter or the universally known life after death. A human being’s stay on earth will be assessed based on his conduct by his Creator who records all his actions and even his innermost intentions.

These beliefs provided the basis for formulating the human values as a guide through life, for following them would mean obeying the will of their Master, who in the first place, gave them life. Islam has a concept that man’s existence in the universe should serve for the pleasure of Allah. This concept is the rule of life for the Islamic community. Their mode of actions is judged based on the compliance of this standard. In mystic Islam or Sufism, ardor is the medium to get in touch with God. It teaches that the driving force of creation of life is love and mercy of the Creator Himself.

It is this divine love that leads Sufi followers to enlightenment. A Sufi longs for an intimate experience of the divine presence which is believed to bring her into direct contact with the true, fundamental nature of being. It a Sufi’s goal in life is to love every life as your own. This means that to achieve a mature spiritual life, one must also be socially engaged in promoting the goodness of other people’s life. Caring for one’s self should be hand-in-hand with caring for other individual’s well-being.

Community ethics arise in this belief which focuses on service for the improvement other’s life also rather than focusing on one’s life alone. This would also aid in achieving justice and equality (Shaikh). Knowledge or intellect is another Islamic universal human value. This refers to man’s ability to reason (al aql). This value is given high regard by Islam and is even classified into two, depending on its foundational aspect. Every individual should possess basic or fundamental knowledge while only a few can acquire specialized knowledge (Akgunduz).

In Sufism or mystic Islam, a person cannot be taught until he is in a state in which he can perceive what he is learning. This is why Sufis do not speak about profound things to people who are not prepared to enhance their power of learning. Like the universal adage, it is also a Sufi saying that: “Ignorance is pride, and pride is ignorance” (Shaikh). Family or descent is also considered a basic human value in Islam. Professor Akgunduz also stated that the family is the heart of a society. This is also followed by non-Islamic communities where family is considered to be the core of a society.

Whenever values are violated by an individual, the family or the individual’s descent (al nasab) may also be regarded to be in danger of deterioration of values. It is hence important that this value be maintained from generation to generation (Akgunduz). How an individual deals with wealth (al mal) is a fundamental Islamic human value. This also applies to other religions or groups, and is constantly being threatened by greed and corruption. The distribution of global wealth is being inclined more to a single side.

This is proved by the existence of jobless and poor people and worldwide poverty. Since there is overlapping of the universal human values, wealth definitely has a huge effect on all the others. Education to acquire knowledge may be unattainable for the poor, family relations and health may be destroyed, and wealth-related crimes can wound the human conscience (Akgunduz). Convenience (hajiat) of life refers to all activities and things which are not vital to preserve the human values. Its main purpose is to eliminate the difficulties life can bring.

Professor Akgunduz cited the enjoyment of things that man can do without as an example, such as having a car to avoid the difficulty of transport and travel. On the other hand, refinements (kamaliat) refer to luxurious items or way of living which are beyond those for convenience. Refinement is distinguished from convenience in that it functions not only to remove difficulty but to promote comfort as well. An example, in relation with the first, is having both a car for ease of transport and a chauffeur for an even more comfortable travel (Akgunduz)

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