Islamic values: a distinctive framework for moral education?
The first half of this Editorial examines the implications of the close link between morality and religion in Islamic thinking. There is no separate discipline of ethics in Islam, and the comparative importance of reason and revelation in determining moral values is open to debate. For most Muslims, what is considered halāl (permitted) and harām (forbidden) in Islam is understood in terms of what God defines as right and good. There are three main kinds of values: (a) akhlāq, which refers to the duties and responsibilities set out in the shari'ah and in Islamic teaching generally; (b) adab, which refers to the manners associated with good breeding; and (c) the qualities of character possessed by a good Muslim, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. Among the main differences between Islamic and western morality are the emphasis on timeless religious principles, the role of the law in enforcing morality, the different understanding of rights, the rejection of moral autonomy as a goal of moral education and the stress on reward in the Hereafter as a motivator of moral behaviour. The remainder of the Editorial is concerned with the two main aspects of moral education in Islam: disseminating knowledge of what people should and should not do, and motivating them to act in accordance with that knowledge. Ultimately, moral education is about inner change, which is a spiritual matter and comes about through the internalisation of universal Islamic values.
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