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By activating the values of noble character – and not just human rights, which represent the bare minimum essential for
human coexistence – like clemency, compassion and altruism, solidarity, helping the poor and disabled without regard to race, religion or national origin – we would advance a new concept or understanding of humanity beyond the neutral principle of human rights represented by equality and an ‘indifference to difference’. Such an advancement would create positive interactions and cooperation with the other thereby creating a feeling of warmth, love and fellowship. This runs according to the wisdom of Arab proverb: Treat others as you want to be treated. The Prophetic hadith alludes to an even deeper meaning: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’
The hadith adds that the value of ‘love’ and the value of ‘human brotherhood’ is that one feels the bonds of kinship. This interpretation is not by me for the occasion. Scholars centuries ago such as Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his explanation of Shabrakhiti’s ‘Forty Hadith’ said that the hadith on ‘brotherhood’ is in fact an expression of the fellowship of humanity.
Love is a beautiful value because everyone likes to be loved; rarely could you find a man who would like to find that others hate him. It is ironic that some fight others on the grounds that they do not like them, thereby missing the point. If love is realised from both sides aggression is excluded. Love is an emotion and a behaviour, it is also an announcement and declaration; as is related in the hadith: ‘If one of you loves his brother, tell him so.’
Why is it a value? Because all people admire it, even those who do not exhibit its way; and thus is the criterion of value: that it does not please anyone except s/he who is characterise by it, for no one is pleased except that one is fair, forgiving. Yet these values may wither if not undertaken and developed by education. As the poet says :
‘Ethics sprout forth like the plants – if watered by the water of honour’
If this important value is to be a key to solving the world’s problems, we must respect differences and even love differences such that they are perceived as enrichment, beauty and foundations for the formation of the human complex.
It is in our best interests with respect to difference and the promotion of virtue – the law of virtue – as well as human rights law that we create a basis for the activation of shared values in order that difference becomes harmonious and antagonism becomes love, in accordance with the Quran: ‘Repel evil with what is better. Then see: the one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend’ (Quran: al-Fussilat, verse 34). It is a moral law evidenced by the Quran: beneficence brings about beneficence, love begets love.
Can we hope to develop aspects of goodness and of the human values of shared benevolence? Only our virtuous behaviour, tolerance, generosity, sincerity, loyalty, and trust will convince others to treat us with the same noble conduct. Such a person will be one who bears the same admiration of those values because good calls for good, nobility calls for nobility. Our persuasion of the other by good behaviour is the most important human issue. To quote from Plato: ‘The creation of the world is the victory of persuasion over force.’
The value of humans consists in their ability to persuade, to convince and be convinced by the manifestations of various methods that can be replaced one over another; some are better and some are worse, and civilisation maintains social order by an innate persuasion, which is embodied in choosing the best.
Translated by: Yusuf Lenfest