Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad tackles the topic of ethics and what it means within the context of Islam. He begins with a fundamental point; that in the foundation of Islam as with other great faiths the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was no mere theoriser; he laid down no well outlined manifestos or texts titled ‘ethics’. Instead he, foremost amongst the greats of the religion, took history by the horns and changed it for the better in a natural way. It was up to those who followed, up to our day, to discover the spirit of how the Prophet was able to take his people and turn them around in an unprecedented time and manner. Many who followed him tried to find that subtle thing, that charisma, that made people hand over the keys to their hearts to him in a way that unified a land that had never been brought together before. It is revealing to note what his wife A’isha – may Allah be pleased with her – said about him: kana khuluquhu al-Quran, his character was that of the Qur’an. The message of Islam is thus intertextual, in a way the book and the messenger and two facets of the same thing. Thus the Sheikh notes that Akhlaq, ‘character traits’, is the Islamic term for ethics.
The Sheikh outlines the current polarities of the age, where a post-Enlightenment West claiming to have found a Universal basis for ethics that apply to all human beings clashes with an often Muslim world that is seen as puritanical and backward. Sheikh Abdal Hakim goes on to see whether the virtues of the the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, can go some way to bridging this divide that is felt so keenly in contemporary society.