THE THIRD SESSION in our series on Ethics in World Religions was a lively and inspiring one on Ethics in Islam, held in September at the Baab-ul-Ilm Shia Muslim Centre in Moortown. We visited this centre in May for the Walk of Friendship and to share in Iftar in ]uly (see Simon Phillips’s report), and the welcome on this occasion was as warm as it was before. The President of the Centre, Rasool Bhamani, gave a presentation which invited audience participation, and he was supported by the imam and scholar in residence, Hadi Taki. Rasool referred to several well-known definitions and approaches to ethics, such as those of Aristotle, Freud and Kohlberg, noting their weaknesses and that their common feature is that they advocate a relative morality. Islam, by contrast, offers
an absolute morality based on the teaching of the Qur’an and the sayings and practice of the Prophet Muhammad. Outlining the context of the Prophet’s work, the lawless, violent and ignorant society of Arabia, Rasool showed how in just 23 years Muhammad effected extensive reform, making life safer and better for everyone. The violent jihad today of Islamic Society (ISIS) in Iraq betrays the values of Islam, reverting to the practices that Muhammad condemned. Rasool went on to outline ten commandments of morality in Islam, illustrating their application and relevance in everyday life today. They include: worship of one God; kindness to parents; no extravagance nor miserliness; no killing in feuds; no adultery; no unjust killing; care of orphans; keeping one’s promises; being honest and fair; avoiding arrogance. All of these can be found in Sura 17 of the Qur’an. The presentation was followed by a session of questions and comments, and conversation over tasty refreshments. We are very grateful both for the vigorous, interesting and sincere presentation and for the hospitality we received from these good people.
John S. Summerwill