What we refer to as "moral values" are the concepts introduced
by religion that make life beautiful and rewarding. Whenever these values
are distorted, we face a really disturbing picture in society. First of
all, in an environment where no rules and limits are observed, "lawlessness"
prevails. In this system, everyone lays down his own rules and principles,
based on highly variable criteria. In the ignorant society the basic principle
that is applied is not to go to extremes in social conduct and hence not
to incur any reaction from the society. It is wholly acceptable to do
anything wrong, as long as it is not publicly disclosed. Ignorant people
deliver speeches about virtuous conduct and morals, or severely condemn
those who hold a contrary view. However, they themselves violate these
values when they are convinced that nobody sees them.
This is actually the main basis upon which their philosophy rests. They
never think that God surrounds them all at every moment; they never conceive
that He sees every deed they commit and hears every word they utter. They
perceive degeneration as a "modern" way of living.
They fear being humiliated if they do not project the image of a "modern
person." This image essentially calls for the flouting of such moral
values as honesty. Someone, for instance, who returns the money he found
on the street to its owner is ridiculed. In such a situation, acceptable
behavior according to ignorant people would be not to give the money back.
This example reflects only one aspect of the ignorant society's understanding
about moral values however. Concepts like honesty and chastity also lose
their importance. Forgery and lying are accepted as normal. A person may
commit burglary since he finds nothing wrong with it. Likewise, anyone
can tell a lie whenever he wishes. In this system other people have no
right to object because they also have the right to behave "freely"(!)
in accordance with their own moral values.
The Qur'an makes it clear that people who adhere to the moral values
of the age of the ignorant suffer for doing so:
Indeed, God will not deal unjustly with man in
any way. It is man who wrongs his own soul. (Surah Yunus: 44)
In a society where people adhere to religious values, they conduct themselves
responsibly towards each other since they go in fear of God. They never
deign to be dishonest or insincere, and certainly never push things to
such extremes as to make life difficult for others. Moral values become
the basis of all acts and conduct.