Allah knows what is in our hearts

Ethics of Reciprocity in Islam

The ethics of reciprocity, known as the “golden rule,” is any moral dictum that encourages people to treat others the way they would like to be treated. The principle exists in the sacred texts of the world’s religions as well as the writings of secular philosophers. Islam, as a world religion with over one billion followers, has an important role to play in facilitating dialogue and cooperation with other groups in the modern world. The golden rule in Islamic traditions has been explicitly by the Quran, Ḥadith. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“O you who have faith, let not people ridicule other people; perhaps they are better than them. Neither let women ridicule other women; perhaps they are better than them. Do not insult each other, nor mock each other with nicknames. Wretched is the accusation of wickedness after faith, and whoever does not repent has done wrong.” (Surah Hujurat 49:11)

Sometimes people argue that the Golden Rule is imperfect because it makes the assumption that everyone has the same tastes and opinions and wants to be treated the same in every situation. But the Golden Rule is a general moral principle, not a hard and fast rule to be applied to every detail of life. The Golden Rule is not an injunction to impose one’s will on someone else. Trying to live according to the Golden Rule means trying to empathize with other people, including those who may be very different from us.

الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ النَّاسُ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُ مَنْ أَمِنَهُ النَّاسُ عَلَى دِمَائِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ

“The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one people trust with their lives and wealth.” (Sunan al-Nasa 4995)

The rule cannot be captured in a static interpretation for it engages the thoughtful doer in a process of growth. To follow it to the end is to move from egoism to sympathy, to sharpen moral intuition by reason, and to find fulfilment beyond duty-conscious rule-following in spontaneous, loving service. In the process of identifying maturely with others, adopting the other’s perspective imaginatively may be helpful, along with every other technique of understanding and cooperating with others. Thus the unity of the rule, amid its wide diversity, is its life as a symbol of this process of growth.

The golden rule in Islamic texts and modern interfaith dialogue with Muslims:

  1. Islamic golden ruleRegard yourself whatever you regard for others
  2. Islamic golden rule is expressed in the sayings of Muhammad
  3. Islamic golden rule is one should treat others as oneself
  4. Islamic golden rule reciprocity is a code of morality
  5. Islamic golden rule has a history that long predates
  6. Islamic golden rule, Allah is The Merciful Forgiving
  7. Islamic golden rule is one should have fear of God
  8. Islamic golden rule is speaking kindly to orphans
  9. Islamic golden rule is one should not harm others
  10. Islamic golden rule is that ultimately be judged
  11. Islamic golden rule is bent on mutual caring
  12. Islamic golden rule is made our life be better
  13. Islamic golden rule is an apologist religion
  14. Islamic golden rule does have an equivalent
  15. Golden Rule is to develop a peaceful society 
  16. Golden Rule teaches us about good and bad
  17. Islam’s golden rule is actually the true way of life
  18. Islamic golden rule provides equal opportunity
  19. Islamic golden rule is a trend to a believer in God 
  20. Islamic golden rule is considered to rights of others
  21. Islamic golden rule gives a person a clear perspective
  22. Islamic golden rule teaches that God is the Most Justice
  23. Islamic golden rule is taught love for his brother and neighbour
  24. Islamic golden rule relating others as one would wish to be treated
  25. Islamic golden rule Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous
  26. Islamic golden rule is not oppressed as you do not like to be oppressed
  27. Islamic golden rule is to do good as you would like good to be done to you

The mere act of thinking about how your actions affect others changes your life. It’s like waking up and seeing the world in a whole new way – through the eyes of another. Much of the meaning of the rule can be put into practice without any religious commitment since it is a nontheological principle that neither mentions God nor is necessarily identified with the scriptures or doctrines of any one religion.

خَيْرُ الأَصْحَابِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرُهُمْ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَخَيْرُ الْجِيرَانِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرُهُمْ لِجَارِهِ

“The best companion to Allah is the best to his companions, and the best neighbour to Allah is the best to his neighbours.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1944)

The Golden Rule is, from the first, intuitively accessible, easy to understand; its simplicity communicates confidence that the agent can find the right way. The rule tends to function as a simplified summary of the advocate’s oral tradition. First and foremost, the best Muslims are those who have the best character. Allah says:

“O you who believe! Spend [benevolently] of the good things that you have earned… and do not even think of spending [in alms] worthless things that you yourselves would be reluctant to accept.”  (Surah  “The Calf,2:267)

The meaning of ‘character’ here is comprehensive; good character towards Allah, towards other people, and towards society at large. It encompasses all of the Islamic virtues such as justice, compassion, humility, and truthfulness. Nevertheless, the rule is a principle in the full sense. Empathy is at the root of kindness, compassion, understanding, and respect – qualities that we all appreciate being shown, whoever we are, whatever we think and wherever we come from.

There are several other verses of the Quran which repeat the message that every nation on the earth was sent a Prophet for their guidance:

  • “And there are not a people but a warner has gone among them.” (Quran 35:24)
  • “And for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger.” (Quran 10:47)
  • “Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.” (Quran 22:47)
  • “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger.” (Quran 16:36)
  • “Of some messengers, We have already told you the story; of others, We have not.” (Quran 4:164)
  • “Verily as for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly we shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does his righteous deeds in the most perfect manner.” (Quran 18:30)
  • “Be maintainers of justice and bearers of true witness for Allah, even if it (the truth) goes against your own selves or parents or relatives or someone who is rich or poor.” (Quran 4:135)
  • “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.[…]” (Quran 4:135)

A simple word of wisdom, however, cannot help with a complex problem unless its simplicity expresses a life that comes from being connected with a universal network of truths. The more deeply the Golden Rule is grasped, the less it seems an easy answer. But those who learn to practice it fully, conjoining material sympathy with moral reason under the guidance of spiritual love, will point the way toward a brighter future. Allah says:

فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لَا أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ ۖ بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ

“Their Lord responded to them: Never will I cause to be lost the deeds of any among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.” (Surah Imran 3:195)

The Quran acknowledges that the behaviour of such a high moral standard is difficult but shows the way to achieve such a standard and encourages us to follow the rule. The objective is to make even an enemy an intimate friend. This is more than even forgiveness since forgiveness does not require returning what is good for evil. Allah says:

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ

“Do not curse those they invoke besides Allah, lest they insult Allah in hostility without knowledge.” (Surah An’am 6:108)

The rewards for bringing out the universal truths and supporting them are great for obvious reasons. These truths can revive and renew dormant and misguided people. May Allah guide us to the truth and make us support it. Allah knows the truth best and may Allah guide us all to His Light.