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ihsan & akhlaq / was Morality /was Sexuality

Subject: Re: ihsan & akhlaq / was Morality /was Sexuality
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 07:43:41 -0400 (EDT)

The word ihsan in Islamic language means both "the doing of good" and "the
making of beauty".  It is from the root .ha' - sin - nun, which means both
"good" and "beautiful".  I am not aware that ihsan has ever been used as a
synonym for "morality".  Rather, when we speak of ihsan we are implying a
context that is already assumed to be moral, and ihsan takes us to a deeper
level of meaning behind the surface level of behavior. 

The Arabic word used for "morality" is akhlaq, the plural form of khulq or
khuluq.  Khuluq means "character", as in "you should be a person of good
character." (not as in, "Oh that Lobster, he's such a character.")
Akhlaq is from the root kha' - lam - qaf, meaning "to create."

As a matter of fact, ihsan is often used as a synonym of Sufism.

In Sufism there are three levels: the plane of the will (fear of God), the
plane of the soul (love of God), and the plane of the intellect (gnosis of
God).  When we speak simply of akhlaq, good & proper conduct (obeying the
divinely revealed law, the Shari`ah), that is all on the plane of the will.
 This level is what Sufism shares with the exoteric Muslims.  Sufism begins
from this foundation, and takes one to deeper levels of inner meaning.
 Beauty is the key meaning of ihsan.

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