The main point of attention in the Qur’an thus far has been what one believes.  “There is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”  This is called the shahadah, the statement of faith, the first of five pillars of Islam.  It is a part of the daily prayers of a Muslim, it is what one would publicly recite to convert to Islam, and it is the backbone to the entire Islamic belief system. 

The Shahadah in Arabic

It is wise to place emphasis on belief.  Our behavior is generated and shaped by our beliefs.  Change beliefs and you are on the road to a transformed way of living too.  To some degree at least, we are “believers” before we are anything else, the main term the Qur’an has been using for people. 

But believers eventually must act.  How is a Muslim to act in this world?  We know what one is to think, but what is the desired lifestyle?  To be sure, we have already been given several answers along our way through the Qur’an so far.  In today’s reading we find much more:

  • Do what is just or fair to others (16:90)
  • Do the good or right thing in the situation (16:90)
  • Be generous to relatives (16:90)
  • Avoid actions that are shameful (16:90)
  • Avoid actions that oppress others (16:90)
  • Be a person of your word, fulfilling pledges and keeping oaths (16:91-92)
  • Do not lie (16:105, 116)
  • Avoid forbidden foods (carrion, blood, pork, ritual food) unless that is all there is to survive (16:115)
  • Argue with others in only the most courteous ways (16:125)
  • Try to avoid fighting back when opposed (16:126)

Aren’t these the very same ethics Christians (and others) wish to have as well? 

Before we finish with this surah let’s stop and notice that it has been several chapters since we have read much that could be interpreted as violent.  Direct attacks on Christianity or Judaism have been non-existent as well.  Is the Qur’an saying what we expected?