The moral of the Quran

The moral of the Quran

Approaching the Koran through its moral foundations without falling into repetition, this is the challenge that Mohamed Abdallah Draz has taken up to bequeath to posterity his major work, after having passed between the caudine forks of a wise jury, under a thesis defended at the Sorbonne in 1951.

With the exercise of the definitions, the Koran would be according to the author at the same time harmony and paradoxes, freedom and constraints, continuity and change. As such, it would bring together, on the one hand, a body of legislation aimed more at unifying unity than at totalitarian uniformity; and on the other hand a collection conducive to questioning. Philosophy would thus join it in an iterative way; the moral aims being the same, without having a convergence of the ideological foundations.

Morality, for its part, would express in the first place, an obligation determined by several lines of force with multiple intersections but without an apparent focal point.

At the level of the individual, morality, the essence of our human conscience, is inspired in us. In total autarky, it is self-sufficient, needing neither a prerequisite nor an objective. Its finality is absolute, self-existing and without contingency. It is due to the image of a feedback loop, the effect acting as a causative agent of its own origin. The law thus enacted takes the form of a non-binding obligation because it is subject to the filter of free will. Freedom of conscience (in the first and non-politicized sense of the expression) and the aspiration to an ideal backed by the constraints that underlie it, allow us to solve the equation of the transition to the collective level. Thus, to guarantee the conditions of living together, good and evil are within our reach on the intellectual level and we are entitled to approach them from the angle of the positive law, according to the Koran, the tradition of the Prophet (sunna ), consensus (idjmâ) and reasoning by analogy (qyas). The objective of the jurists, guarantor of the spirit of the laws, is to try to identify through this whole, the divine will which is three-dimensional by its exhaustiveness on the one hand, its temporal and spatial stability on the other hand.

The Koran calls for harmony between the opposing forces, on the one hand, the ideal and the absolute; and on the other side, the real and the relative. The balance is fine between an inalienable right to free choice and an imprescriptible duty. The field of possibilities gains in depth what it loses in breadth, by the way of conforming to the divine order. The apparent antinomy becomes a simple dichotomy, duality does not imply duplicity.

Weighting is also required, including for worship. Winning a race of which we know neither the duration nor the difficulties requires, beyond the strategy, more resource management. A duty is limited by the full expression of another duty. Fulfilling an obligation requires being in an optimal interval between a minimum below which one should not go and a maximum which it is not good to exceed. However, this is in no way an arithmetic result, for which compliance with the obligation would be a tolerated lower limit without being valued.

Beyond the passive obligation (submitted, some would say) and the controlled duty; responsibility is active, inherent in our social, moral and religious being. “Responsible” will rhyme in a contemporary narrative with “accountant” and “responsible”. Responsibility is inherent in our conscious nature, endowed with both an intelligence that measures and a will that decides and then acts. As such, the responsibility begins with the passage to the act, the intention not being sufficient to be a matter for a moral judgment. The divine breath pushes us, after having created the conditions for our purpose to hatch. We can then legitimately have the ambition of merit. The freedom intrinsic to our human nature can then be fully expressed. From the outset, responsibility has in the Koran a modern and accomplished meaning on the moral level: human, individual, unitary, voluntary, and without power of attorney. It is probably the counterpart in terms of rights, of the individual freedoms so often carried as a banner by the supporters of a world inclusive of all differences.

Accountability is invoked as a tribute to responsibility. If the moral sanction is repentance, the legal sanction is only possible if rendered publicly in the face of the impossibility of establishing innocence. The divine sanction without temporality brings us back to the primary meaning which establishes the balance between a punishment and an approval. Allah in his infinite justice does not content himself with exonerating or compensating. It rewards in a seamless continuum between our material state, so little aware of what is imperceptible, and our immaterial state when it encounters absolute truth.

The responsible and punishable human being is accountable for his intention, both motive and motive for the action, carried by a conscious objective and possibly fully assumed. The Islamic perspective implies the existence of the two conditions, knowledge and will. Beyond that, the consequence of an action depends on the hypothesis (provisionally admitted explanation) or on the probability (quantity which evaluates the chance that a phenomenon has of occurring) and constitutes, in an intellectually deterministic context, a real test for the faith. Our human nature also links our intention to the ambition to benefit from our moral rectitude. It is a utilitarianism that does not exclude a state of innocence due to the natural inclination of faith. Evil intentions cannot then find a space of expression through cunning, hypocrisy, laziness or wickedness. Thus divine satisfaction as the ultimate objective is within our reach through equally laudable intermediate objectives. The divine intention is then a necessary condition and finality in a form of absolute moral symbiosis.

If the will is subsidiary to the intention, the effort is likewise a consequence of the action. To act implies a struggle against essentially centrifugal forces of inertia. Perseverance is then a sign of sincere commitment. Driven by love, reason or fear, effort should lead not to avoiding evil but above all to doing good to please Allah above all else. Koranic morality encourages us not to “good” out of duty, but to “best” out of conviction. This “better” is to be sought in a kind of divine proportion between a state of desired tensions and limits legitimately assumed within a cohort of duties that must be reconciled with accuracy. The optimum then becomes virtue and wisdom.

From obligation to effort, the moral doctrine finds, through Draz’s demonstration, an academic framework in the Koranic perspective. In harmony with the levels of adherence to the Message, the Koranic morality is first normative religion Islam (obligation – responsibility – sanction) then faith (intention) then excellence (effort). The Text thus definitely retains all its temporal, spatial and above all human universality, opening for everyone the channels leading from its small history to the great History.