From Issue: 941 [Read full issue]

Ethics of Responsibility

The Russian writer Dostoevsky wrote, "If God doesn't exist, everything is permissible." Exactly. God is and not everything is permitted. The message of Islam follows this vein and is very clear: For humans, thinking of God is thinking of personal responsibilities, this is the path to receive His love. It is the only path.

When the criteria of success become success itself, or performance, gain, power, or notoriety, then heartfelt Muslims line up with a consciousness of resistance. Not every direction is permitted on the road to secure money, pleasure, or power: being with God means promoting and defending values, understanding the extent of our tests, evaluating the means, and determining the legitimacy of the ends, everywhere and under all circumstances.

The ethics of responsibility that are at the heart of Muslim spirituality state and affirm that good and bad exist and that one must make a choice between them. Ethics are therefore underlined by the requirement of personal commitment and effort. It is life's test and we must face up to it by refusing to victimise ourselves and allow ourselves to fall into a state of perpetual complaint. In Europe, as elsewhere, life is difficult, the choices are perilous, but our humanity comes at this price. "Over there" they may certainly have some of the things that we lack. To each his own trials, God is and will always be just. We must face up to our weaknesses as we do our temptations in this world, where the mere mention of the word morality causes many to cringe. In this sense, our references confirm the aesthetic intuition of the poet Baudelaire, who said, "the devil's greatest trick is to make us believe that he doesn't exist." We must recognise the vigilance required.

Compiled From:
"Western Muslims: From Integration to Contribution" - Tariq Ramadan