The most fundamental messages in the Qur'an which apply to all mankind are: belief, prayer, and good deeds. The verses which contain the above themes are among the most frequent in the Qur'an. In order of frequency the following divisions can be made:
(i) Belief and good deeds
(ii) Prayer and good deeds
(iii) Prayer only
Two important conclusions can be drawn from the above.
1. 'Belief' and 'good deeds' are absolutely the basic requirement in Islam. Numerous verses confirm this. To believe in Allah is the primary requirement, and in this sense we must also believe in Allah's revelations, His messengers and the Day of Judgement.
(2:177) It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East and West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth his wealth, for the love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and set slaves free; and is steadfast in prayer and invests in zakat. And those who keep their treaty when they make one and are patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing (muttaqeen).
2. Prayer is important, but has little value on its own without the good deeds. As a matter of fact every good deed is an act of obedience to Allah (ibadat, see Section 11.2) and even the work we do to earn our living, as long it is done honestly, is ibadat. The following verses give weight to the above assertions:
(4:95) Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary.
(3:200) O ye who believe! Endure, out do all others in endurance, be ready, and observe your duty to Allah, in order that ye may succeed.
(4:124) And whoso does good works, whether male or female, and he (or she) is a believer, such will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them.
(34:4) That He may reward those who believe and do good works. For them is a pardon and a rich provision.
Note: The Qur'an has many similar verses as above, including: 2:227; 5:9,93; 7:153; 4:57,122,124,173; 17:9; 18:2,30; 19:96; 20:75,112; 22:14,23,56; 24:55; 25:70; 29:7,9,58; 30:15,45.
The following two sections are taken from chapter seventeen of the book entitled Educational Philosophy of the Holy Qur'an, by Dr. Mahar Abdul Haq. The verses quoted from Dr. Haq are summarised, as he has done, instead of using the full verses. Also, the verses with similar implications have been classed together.
Section 6.1 takes a selection from the Qur'an which instructs us how to behave with family, friends, neighbours, relatives, acquaintances, and foreigners, as well as instructing us on our mode of living. Section 6.2 gives a selection of verses on human rights. The Qur'an is the first charter of liberty ever given to mankind. It enjoins the Islamic Order (Deen) to protect these rights irrespective of cast, creed, colour, gender, occupation or any other arbitrary differentiation.
All the verses used in these sections are absolutely clear, without any ambiguity, and yet we concern ourselves more with the allegorical verses which we have no knowledge of. Note Allah's Word on this:
(3:7) He it is who hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture wherein are clear revelations -- They are the substance of the Book -- and others (which are) allegorical. But those in whose hearts is doubt, they pursue that which is allegorical seeking (to cause) dissension, by seeking to explain it. None knows its explanation save Allah. And those who are of sound instruction say: We believe therein; the whole is from our Sustainer; but only men of understanding really heed.
6.1 Basic teachings on behaviour and conduct1
Mutual contacts, conduct and attitude
(4:86) When a (courteous) greetings is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy.
(24:61) Do it even if you enter your own houses.
(24:27) Or you enter other houses.
(25:63) Or even if an ignorant man addresses you.
(4:94) Say not to anyone who offers you a salutation, "You are not a believer".
(49:9) If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them; but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then you should fight against the party that transgresses until the other party complies with commands of Allah. But if the other party complies, make peace between them with justice, and be fair.
(49:10) All believers are brothers to each other.
(33:70) Always say what is directed to the Right (in a straightforward manner).
(22:30) Shun the word that is false.
(17:53) Say those things that are best.
(31:19) Speak fair to the people.
(31:19) Lower your voice and be moderate in your bearing.
(6:152) Whenever you give words, do justice even though it be against a kinsman.
(24:27) Enter not anyone's house without permission.
(2:42) Cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when you know what it is.
(31:18) Turn not thy cheek away from men in scorn, and walk not in the earth exultantly; Allah loves not any man proud and boastful.
(6:151) Come not near shameful deeds, whether open or secret.
(7:33) Avoid shameful deeds.
(23:3) Avoid vain talk and (28:55) Do not listen to vain talk.
(25:72) Witness no falsehood. If you have to pass by futility, pass by it with honourable avoidance.
(24:19) Do not spread scandal.
(17:37) Walk not on earth with insolence, for you cannot rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height. (25:63) Walk on earth in humility.
Back-biting, false accusation, jealousy, etc.
(4:148) Evil must not be noised abroad in public speech except where injustice has been done.
(49:11) Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they are. (9:79) No slandering and ridiculing.
(49:12) Avoid suspicion as far as possible and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs.
(49:11) Do not defame or be sarcastic to each other. Call not each other by offensive nicknames.
(24:4,23) Slander not chaste women.
(4:54) Envy not mankind for what Allah has given them of His bounty.
(24:12,15,16) Think of everybody as innocent till guilt is proved against him.
(49:6) If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth.
(4:112) If anyone earns a sin or a fault and throws it on to one who is innocent, he carries on himself both falsehood and a flagrant sin.
Health, cleanliness, eating and drinking
(2:247) Wisdom and health are better than abundant riches.
(16:69 & 26:80) If you fall ill, seek cure in Allah's laws
(9:108) Purity in body, mind and heart. (4:43 & 5:6) Cleanliness.
(2:173; 5:3; 6:145; 16:115) Certain things such as pork and dead meat prohibited.
(5:90, 91) Strong drinks and wine prohibited.
(2:168) Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good. (7:31) Eat and drink but waste not by excess.
Husband-wife, children, parents, relatives, friends and neighbours
(30:31) "He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts)".
(25:74) "Wives and offspring be the comfort of our eyes". (2:187) Husband and wife should be like garments of each other.
(6:151) Be good to your parents.
(2:83) Treat with kindness your parents and kindred. (17: 23, 24) Do not rebuke your parents in their old age.
(17:26) Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and squander not (thy wealth) in wantonness.
(4:36) Do good to neighbours whether relatives or not.
(4:36) Do good to the companions by your side.
Orphan and needy
(93:9) Treat not the orphan with harshness.
(6:152) Come not nigh to the property of the orphan except to improve it until he attains the age of full strength.
(2:83) Treat with kindness those in need.
(2:273) (Charity) is for those in need, who in Allah's cause, are restricted and cannot move about in the land, seeking. The ignorant men think because of their modesty, that they are free from want. You shall know them by their mark: they do not beg of men with importunity.
(2:263-264) Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury.
(2:275) Usury is forbidden.
(2:282) Put in writing transactions involving future obligations.
(2:280) If a debtor is in difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is the best for you.
(5:1; 62:5) Keep your promises and fulfil obligations.
(6:141; 17:26,27,29 & 25:67) Tie not your hand (like a niggard's) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach.
(42:38) Dispose of your affairs by mutual consultation.
(5:2) Help one another in acts of righteousness and piety, but not in sin and rancour.
(6:70) Leave alone those who take their Deen to be mere play and amusement and are deceived by the life of this world.
(4:140) When you hear the Signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, you are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme.
(2:136,285; 3:84; 4:150,152) Make no distinctions between the prophets.
(18:29 & 2:256) No compulsion in your Deen (code of life).
(16:125) Invite all to the way of your Sustainer with wisdom and beautiful preaching: and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.
(2:44) Do not enjoin right conduct on the people and forget to practise it yourself.
(3:167) Never be hypocritical, saying with lips what is not in the heart.
(5:100) Not equal are things that are bad and things that are good, even though the abundance of the bad may dazzle you.
(31:20, 45:12,13) Conquests of the universe for the welfare of mankind.
6.2 Human rights2
(33:35) Equality of sexes. (Also many other verses where men and women are both mentioned)
(46: 13, 19) Honour and respect is due only to that individual whose "deeds" qualify him for the distinction.
(3:79) No one can enslave another human being in any form of slavery.
(39:70) No one's fruits of labour will be denied or usurped or misappropriated. To every soul will be paid, in full, the earning of his "deeds"
(16:90) Justice must be done to everyone. (4:58, 5:8) Judge between mankind justly.
(6:152) And if ye give your word, do justice thereunto, even though it be (against) a kinsman.
(6:152) Each individual (rather every living being) has a right to claim essential necessities of life from the social order. (16:90) Equity is not enough. It must be supplemented by charitable kindness also.
(7:85; 17:35 & 6:152) Give full measure and weight, in justice.
(2:286) The burden of one cannot be placed upon the shoulders of another. Also, no burden can be placed upon a soul greater than it can bear.
(6:152 & 17:31) Each individual (rather, every living being) has a right to claim essential necessities of life from the social order.
(2:188; 5:32; 6:152) Protection of life and property. (2:85) No one can be banished from his home.
(24:2,4 & 33:59) Protection of chastity.
(7:32) Appreciation of beauty. Aesthetic taste.
(2: 256; 9:6; 10:99; 16:106, 125 & 18:29) Religious Freedom.
(4:148) The right of complaint for the oppressed to seek redress of his grievances.
(4:148) Protection against malevolent scandal and libel.
(24:12) The accused to be considered innocent unless proved guilty.
(6:165) Personal responsibility. (17:34) Fulfilment of all promises, engagement and obligations.
(2: 205) Protection of crops and progeny.
(2:217, 3:99) No one can be obstructed from the path of Allah.
(17:20) Allah's free bounties must not be withheld or closed to anyone.
(30:22) Differences in colours and languages are signs of Allah. They must not be exploited for the disunity of mankind.
Note: The list in 6.1 and 6.2 is not exhaustive.
1. Educational Philosophy of the Holy Qur'an, by Dr. Mahar Abdul Haq.Published by Naushaba Publications, D.D.A. Flats, New Ranjit Nagar, New Delhi - 110008. p. 194-201.
2. Ibid., p. 192,193.