Explanation of Ethics – Dictionary Definition

What are ethics?

Webster’s Dictionary Definition …

Ethic: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.

Ethics: the code of conduct or behaviour governing an individual or a group; the science of the ideal of human characters.

Moral: relating to, dealing with, or capable of distinguishing between right and wrong in conduct; designating support that involves sympathy without action.

“Your attitudes and emotions, thoughts and desires, all reveal your ethics.”
— Everyday Ethics, Joshua Halberstam

“If one is to lay any claim to character, he must live his convictions daily, reflectively, in a hundred tiny ways.”
— Harry Stein, Ethics (and Other Liabilities)

“The faith establishes the moral framework within which material endeavour is to be encouraged and a ‘social conscience’ has always been a key part of our lives. Hence, as Imam, I am concerned with the encouragement of all forms of endeavour and further with the quality of its performance, because that affects the quality of human life. What is done must be done honestly, sincerely and well. We cannot afford to be incompetent because if we are, we damage the people we seek to serve.”

— Speech by Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Luncheon Hosted by the Aga Khan Social and Development Institutions, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, November 25, 1982

“The new notions of free enterprise, of creating wealth, these are sound notions but they should be followed within the ethic of our faith…The question is, not only what have I achieved, the question is what have I helped others to achieve? That is the notion of social conscience in Islam.”

— Mawlana Hazar Imam, Press Conference, Maputo, Mozambique, August 1998, Source: The Ismaili – Realising the Social Conscience of Islam, December 1998


Value: the social principles, goals, or standards held by an individual or society

Compassion: sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another with the urge to help

Integrity: uprightness, honesty and sincerity; unimpaired condition

Ethos: the characteristic attitudes, habits, beliefs of an individual or group

— Webster’s Dictionary

“The Muslim world offers deep roots in a system of values, emphasizing service, charity, and a sense of common responsibility, and denying what it sees to be a false dichotomy between religious and secular lives.”

— Mawlana Hazar Imam, Commencement Speech, MIT, Boston, USA, May 27, 1994

“Differences must be resolved within the ethic of our faith, through dialogue, through compassion, through tolerance, through generosity, through forgiveness, through kindness.”

— Mawlana Hazar Imam, Badakshan, May 1995, The Ismaili – Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Central Asia, 22-31 May 1995

Next: Explanation of Ethics – Islam’s Message


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