Relationship between fiqh (Syariat) and Akhlak (Ethics)
According to Imam al-Ghazali, character is an established state (of the soul) from which actions proceed easily without any need for reflection or deliberation.
Ethics in Arabic is ‘ilm al-Akhlāq (science of morality), which is the branch of knowledge that studies akhlaq (morals).
al-Akhlāq (the plural of khuluq/ خُلُق) refers to morality, which means a nature, or an innate disposition or temper.
The proper signification of khuluq is the moral character; or the fashion of the inner man; his mind or soul and its peculiar qualities and attributes
Morality (Ethics) and law (syariah)
Both law and morality are action-guiding.
Law provides a series of public statements (a legal code), or system of dos and don’ts – to guide humans in their behavior and to prevent them from doing harm to others and violating their rights.
Morality provides a similar system though might not be in written form.
In addition to that, morality provides reasons behind any significant laws governing human beings and their institutions.
Morality precedes law, whereas law sanctions morality; that is, law puts morality into a code or system that can then be enforced by punishment.
Scope: In general, the law is taken to be concerned with acts, rather than attitudes.
The mere fact of having certain intentions is not really the sort of thing about which you can have a law.
In morality, by contrast, bad intentions may sometimes amount to a moral wrong. On the other hand, good intentions are in themselves good values.
Morality is wider than law. What is moral in not necessarily enforced through law.
But there are some things which are governed by law (driving on the left or right side of road) which are presumably matters of indifference from a moral point of view.
Conformity between morality and law:
= In Islamic law:
- Law should be a reflection of Islamic morals.
- Laws, rules and regulations are not supposed to be against Islamic moral principles
= In secular law
The relationship between law and morality is not entirely reciprocal. What is moral is not necessarily legal and vice versa.
Many practices have been inscribed in the law, that are clearly immoral (e.g., homosexuality, same sex marriage, mercy killing, abortion, usury, changing munkar …).
Sanctions: If you break the law, you may be fined or imprisoned or executed. Various bureaucracies exist precisely to hand out legal sanctions.
If you do something that is morally wrong (but not also illegal), however, no similar bureaucracy is going to come after you.
In divine religions you suffer a punishment on the Day of Judgment.
In non-religious world views you may suffer the sense of guilt in your own conscience, or your reputation may suffer, or you may be exposed to the blame of other people
Morality and Etiquette
For the most part, “etiquette” pertains to norms that are of little ethical significance.
It concerns form and style rather than the essence of social existence.
Etiquette determines what is polite behavior rather than what is right behavior in a deeper sense. It represents society’s or religion’s decision about how we are to dress, greet one another, eat, celebrate festivals, express gratitude and appreciation etc.
In a nutshell : a comparison between fiqh (syariah) and ethics can be seen as follows ;
i. aim / goal - same ... to fullfil the needs of mankind as a servant and khalifah of Allah.
ii. scope / approach - different .... syariah emphasize more on external or bodily aspects ...in terms of validity or hukm, meanwhile akhlaq emphasize on internal aspects or values in human life such as purify the heart, intention ,truthworthy, justice, ihsan etc.
iii. Akhlaq is wider than syariah / fiqh in terms of its application / implementation all the time regardless condition, place, time, etc.
iv. As both are subjected to the will / command of Allah swt, both complement each other.