No Coercion la Morality
To generate goodness in someone by coercion and to call him a man of good moral character is not possible.
Similarly no faith can be developed in any person by means of force or terrorism. Only personal and intellectual freedom is the sole basis of responsibility and accountability.
Islam understands this reality and respects it. It builds up its edifice on the foundation of the excellent moral character.
Where is the need for Islam to use force and coercion to bring man to the right path and to make him run towards righteousness, when it has full confidence in the human nature and is certain that if the obstructions before man are removed then the best generation can be developed?
Goodness is ingrained in the human nature. It does not mean that it cannot do anything except good, but it means that only good can co-ordinate with his original nature and offer resistance. The nature wants to attach itself to good only and wants to function in its light, like the bird that after getting free from the cage flies round and round in the sky in ecstasy in accordance with its foremost wish.
According to Islam the right method is to break nature’s checks and chains. After this when man falls down to the ground, and has no strength to rise and walk, then be should be considered as sick and efforts should be made to treat him.
Islam does not order such kind of sick persons to be thrown out of society, provided his existent is not harmful and damaging to others.
Within the limits of this sphere, Islam fights against moral crimes. At first it imagines that every man wants to lead a decent life and wants to live by the sweat of his brow and enjoy luxuries on what be earns from his own labours, that is he does not depend on thefts and looting.
Then what thing compels him to take to thieving?
In order to provide him for the necessities of life. Therefore, Islam says that the necessities and the means should be in such abundant quantifies that they may make him indifferent and above taking wrong steps.
This is the responsibility of the society. If it is deficient and compels the individual to steal, then the responsibility for this crime falls on the deficient society, and not on the head of the wrong-committing individual.
But if the society provides his requirements, and after this the individual advances in the wrong direction, then the actual condition of the individual should be ascertained before inflicting any penalty (Hudd) on him. Probably there may be such extenuating circumstances that may save him from the punishment. As it Is, Islam desires delay in inflicting punishment. The Messenger of Allah has reported to have said: “It is better if the Imam pardons somebody by error than he penalises him by error”
Fixation of Penalties for the Security of the Society
When after examining the conditions and problems it is ascertained that the individual’s nature is bent on rebellion, and that the society which has brought him up and had provided for him is being subjected to his depredations and he wants to repay its kindness with disturbance of peace, then if that society inflicts some penalty on this kind of an individual and wants to cut away that harmful limb, it cannot be criticised or blamed.
The Holy Quran has termed a theft deserving the penalty of cutting the hand as the theft of tyranny and corruption,and about such a thief it has stated as under:
“But if the thief repent after his crime, and amend his conduct , Allah turns to him in forgiveness ;for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Malda:42)
The penalty which Islam inflict in reality for saving the reformist , welfare , and just society from the damage that a harmful member may cause it. A criminal who repays’ justice with cruelty and reform with corruption-who would like to consider him deserving of mercy?
Islam Appeals to the Heart
I have mentioned this example merely to show that the penalties for moral crimes have not been fixed with a view to generating forcefully goodness in society, nor does it amount to coerce people to follow the right path.
For Islam the better way is to appeal to the hearts of men, to awaken their sleeping nature, to stir their repressed inclination and desire towards progress and perfection, to return them to the presence of God, and to adopt such a method that would have convincing arguments and the sweetness of love and brotherhood.
The moral values should be explained and clarified in such a way that the heart may be convinced that it is a necessary to adopt them for attaining the good and the righteous qualities.
In such an environment the rule of that law is necessary which helps in nourishing the human capabilities and in developing excellent habits and good moral character.
There is nothing wrong if this useless and profitless limb is cut and thrown away, because in the society we are undertaking farming of various kinds of produce. The purpose is growth and nourishment, whether it may involve the clearance of the wild plants or the thorn bearing shrubs.
The security of the interests of common man and their safety is not a thing of less important, therefore, there is no reason for being critical of these penalties which are inflicted by Islam. This thing has been mentioned in the Torah, and all the divine religions have placed emphasis on this.
The Responsibility of the Society
According to Islam the society itself plays a very important role in the spread of good or evil that spreads in that society. It (Islam) wants to attain power because it wants, with other things, to form a society in such a way that it may be helpful in encouraging chastity, righteousness, aversion from wickedness, proliferation or good acts, indifferent to love for world, steadfastness for the right path and consistency.
The Prophet bas told the story or a murderer who wanted to repent for his crimes. He inquired of the address of the greatest learned man of the land. His name was given to him, whom he saw and said :
“I have committed hundred murders. Is there any chance of repentance for me ? He was told: “What thing can come between you and repentance. Go to a particular place where some good slaves of Allah reside and are always found worshiping Him. You also join them in worshiping. and do not return to your village, because it is a bad place” (Buhari)
In another version it is narrated that he went to a monk and .related his whole story and placed his difficulty before . him. The monk told him :
“You have committed a big mistake. How am I concerned with this, However, there are two villages One of them is named ‘Nasrah’ that is supporter , of Allah and the other one is named ‘Kufrah’ that is rejector of God. The people of Nasrab perform the deeds of the people of the paradise. Any person who follows other method cannot stay there. The citizens of Kufrab perform the deeds of the people of the hell. There is no room for the people following other policies to stay there. Therefore, you go to the people of Nasrah. If you stayed there and worked like those people, then there would be no doubt about the acceptance of your repentance.” (Tibrani)
For this reason Islam says that for the safety of the healthy nature and for the training and reform of the rebellious tendencies the care and vigilance of the environment is necessary, and in the formation of the good moral character it plays a very important role,
We are sure that if all these aspects are taken care of, then a clean and tidy society can be brought into; existence, in which pure qualities and chaste character may be nourished.
Source : Muhammad Al- Ghazali, Muslim Character, Chapter 5