Good Manners And Noble Qualities
Good manners and noble qualities of mind and character enjoy a place of crucial importance in the structure of Islamic teaching. Moral evolution and uplift was one of the main objects for which the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) was raised up. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) himself has said:
"I have been sent down by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) to teach moral virtues and to evolve them to highest perfection."
An idea of the supreme importance Islam attaches to the cultivation of good manners and noble moral qualities can be obtained from the under-mentioned Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam):
"The best of you are those who posses the best of manners."
"On the Day of Recompense nearest to me will be one who display in one's daily life the best of manners."
"On the day of Reckoning the most weighty item in the Balance of Deeds, will be good manners."
Once a Companion asked the Prophet (Sallallahu AlaiheWasallam), "What is there that takes a Muslim to paradise?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) replied, "Fear of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and good manners."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), again, is reported to have said, "A Muslim with good manners and good moral disposition gets the same reward as he who fasts (permanently) during the days and spends his nights in prayers."
The last Tradition tells that a believer who possesses good manners and carries out scrupulously the moral duties imposed on him by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) but does not engage himself much in fasts and prayers attains the degree of excellence of the man who stands up in prayer all night and fasts all day long.
The Curse of Bad Manners
We have been warned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) in an equally forceful manner against the curse of bad manners. He has said:
"A man with bad manners and a bad moral conduct shall not enter Paradise."
"No sin is more detestable to Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) than bad manners."
Some More Important Virtues
Though in the Holy Quraan and the Traditions we are taught to cultivate all good and noble moral and social qualities and to avoid everything that is mean or wicked, here we will take up only such virtues that are more important and without which no one can hope to be a good Muslim and a true believer.
Truthfulness is a matter of such supreme consequence in Islam that in addition to speaking the truth always a Muslim is exhorted also to keep company only with those who are truthful. The Holy Quraan states:
"O ye who believe fear Allah and be only with those who are true (in word and Deed). [IX:119]
Says the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam):
"He who wishes to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and His Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), or wishes Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and His apostle (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) to love him, must take care to speak nothing but the truth whenever he speaks."
"Speak the truth even if you see your ruin or death in it, for, surely, salvation and life lie alone in truth, and avoid falsehood even if it may hold out to you the promise of success and salvation, for, the end of falsehood is nothing but failure and frustration."
Once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) was asked, "What is the hallmark of the dwellers of Paradise?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) replied, "Truthfulness."
Conversely, another Tradition reads:
"To be a liar is one of the special signs of a hypocrite."
It was asked of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) whether a believer could be a coward. He said, "It is possible." It was asked whether a believer could be a miser. He said. "It is possible." Again, it was asked of him whether a believer could be a liar. He said, "No". (The idea was that a believer in Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) could not develop the filthy habit of lying. Faith could never accommodate falsehood; they could not go together).
It is also a part of truthfulness that when a promise is made it should be fulfilled. The Holy Quraan and Traditions are very clear on the point. Our faith demands of us never to go back on our pledged word. States the Holy Quraan:
And fulfill (every), engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). [XVII:34]
To fulfill the contracts which ye have made. [II:177]
And the, Traditions say:
"He who does not fulfill promises made by him has no share in the faith."
"Not to fulfill one's promises is a special sign of a hypocrite."
Closely allied to truthfulness is the quality of trustworthiness. It is an important branch of truthfulness. Islam has laid a special emphasis on it also. Here is what the Holy Quraan says:
Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due. [IV:58]
On two occasions in Holy Quraan, it has been mentioned, in the qualities of true believers; and the people who safegaurd the trusts and their promises (i.e. pay back the trusts and fulfill the promises). (Surah Moominun & Surah Ma'aarij)
It is reported that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) often used to say in his Sermons;
"O People! In whom there is no trustworthiness, in him there is, so to speak, no faith."
In one Tradition Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) says:
"Look not alone at anyone's prayers and fasts to decide about his spiritual excellence (i.e. do not be impressed by anyone's spirituality simply because you find him devout in his prayers and fasts). You should also see that he is truthful when he speaks, restores honestly what he has received in trust to whom it is due, and remains righteous in times of adversity and suffering."
My dear Muslims! If we want to be a true believer in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), too, and want to be claimant of His blessings, it is necessary to adopt trustworthiness and honesty in every case and to make the fulfillment of promises the principle of life.
Remember, one amongst us, who does not have these qualities he is not a true believer and complete Muslim in front of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam).
Justice is an integral part of Islamic ethics. We must practise it in all spheres of life. Trhe Holy Quraan states:
Allah commands justice and doing of good. [XVI:90]
In Islam we are commanded to be just and fair not only towards our own people or co-religionists but also towards others even if they be the enemies of our life, property or faith. It is candidly stated in the Holy Quraan that:
And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just that is next to Taqwaa (piety). [V:8]
The above verse enjoins justice to those also, individuals as well as communities, who may be harbouring ill-will against us. Otherwise, we are sure to incur the displeasure of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and become grievous sinners and criminals in His sight.
To refer now to some of the Traditions:
"The most beloved of men in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) on the Day of Resurrection, and the nearest to Him, shall be the just ruler, and the most hateful of men in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) on the Day of Resurrection, and the farthest removed from Him, shall be the tyrannical ruler."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) is reported to have enquired one day from the Companions. "Do you know who will be the first to come under the shadow of Divine Mercy on the Day of Requital?" The Companions replied, "Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and His Apostle know best."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) then said, "They will be those who accept their rights when offered to them and give willingly the rights of other when they demand for their rights, and who judge in respect of others exactly as they would in respect of themselves."
The pity is that we ourselves have forgotten the glorious teachings of Islam. If we can produce these qualities in us today and become truthful in word and deed, and honest in the matter of our trusts and promises, and just and fair in our dealings with others, the success of the world is bound to kiss our feet and we will attain a high place in the paradise, too.
Compassion and Forgiveness
To feel pity on a fellow human being in distress, to be compassionately drawn towards him, to bring him succour, to pardon the guilty and the fault are virtues which are valued very highly in Islam. Take these Traditions, for instance:
"Show kindness, and kindness will be shown to you; forgive, and you will be forgiven."
"They will not obtain the mercy of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) in whose hearts there is no feeling of kindliness for others."
"His sins will not be forgiven by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) who does not forgive the fault of others."
Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will have mercy upon them that are merciful. Treat kindly the dwellers of the earth, He who dwells in the heavens will treat you kindly."
It is apparent from the last Tradition that our kindliness and gentleness are not to be confined to our own people alone. We ought to be kind and compassionate towards friend and foe alike and to all the creatures that exist on the earth.
It is reported from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) that once a person who was travelling by road saw a dog licking wet earth in the agony of its thirst. The traveller was moved by the spectacle and gave water to the dog to drink. This simple service of the man to the thirsting dog pleased Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) so much that He blessed him with salvation.
Tenderness in transactions, and in all other fields of one's activity, and the readiness to oblige and to put others at ease are all virtues of the highest order in the Islamic pattern of morality. We will reproduce two Traditions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) in support of our contention. Said he:
"Hell's fire is forbidden for those that are mild and gentle and make it easy for others to deal with them."
"Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) is compassionate and likes compassion in His creatures. He grants more to the kind and the tender hearted than to those who are harsh and severe."
Tolerance, affability, self-restraint, and the ability to control one's temper and to overlook what is unpleasant and disagreeable are qualities that Islam wants everyone to cultivate. Believers who possess these fine moral attributes hold a very high place in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa).
In the Holy Quraan where the blessed ones are mentioned for whom the paradise has been laid out such people are specifically referred to:
Who restrain anger and pardon all men. [III-134]
Said the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam):
"Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will hold back His punishment from him who will hold back his anger."
B1essed indeed, are men who remember these verses and Traditions during moments of provocation and exercise restraint, and in return, Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) holds His chastisement away from them!
Gentleness of Speech
Gentleness of speech is a religious virtue in Islam and rudeness a sin. The Holy Quraan declares:
And speak fair to the People. [II:83]
We have it from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) that:
"To speak politely is Taqwaa and kind of charity,"
"To indulge in intemperate language and in harsh behavior is to perpetrate an injustice and the home of injustice is Hell."
"Rudeness in speech is hypocrisy (i.e., the quality of a hypocrite)."
Humility is a virtue Islam wants its followers to practice as a distinguishing feature of their moral and spiritual behavior. It does not become a Muslim to be haughtily or vainglorious.
Greatness with Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) is not for those who look down upon others. Instead, it belongs to those who desist from thinking too highly of themselves and practise meekness and humility. In the words of the Holy Quraan.
And the servants of the Most Gracious (Allah Subhaanahu Wata 'aalaa) are those who walk on the earth in humility. [XXV:63]
That Home of the Hereafter We shall give to those who intend not highhandedness or mischief on earth. [XXVIII:83]
The Holy Prophet (SallallahuAlaihe Wasallam) has said:
"He who observes humility Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will make him so exalted that, ultimately, he will attain the highest grade in paradise."
On the other hand, pride is so greatly repugnant to Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) that the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) has warned us, again and again, against it in such strong words:
"Whoever has pride in his heart even of the weight of an atom shall be cast head-long into the Hell by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa).
"Whoever has pride in his heart even of the weigh of the weight of a mustard seed, shall not be entered into paradise."
"Beware of pride! Pride was the sin which first of all ruined the Devil."
May Almighty Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) save us all from the Satanic evil of pride, and endow our hearts and minds with meekness and humility which He admires so much and which is the symbol of His slaves.
It needs, however, to be remembered that it is demanded of us to practise meekness and humility in our personal matters and not in matters where truth or faith is involved. When it comes to faith or truth we must be bold and outspoken and give the fullest proof of courage and firmness, for this is the Will of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) for such occasions.
The way of a Muslim, in sum, is that while he is meek and humble in his own individual sphere of existence, he is firm like a rock and allows neither fear nor weakness to come near him where faith or truth or justice is at stake.
Courage and Fortitude
There occur periods of hardship and adversity in the lives of men. Sometimes there is need, sometimes there is disease, sometimes our enemies harass us. And, so forth. For such situations the teaching of Islam is that we should bear them with courage and fortitude, remain firm and stout of heart and do not waver from our principles inspite of a thousand trials and calamities that may assail us. For such men there is the assurance of the Holy Quraan that they are the Beloved of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa).
For Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) love those who are patient and persevering. [III:146]
Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) surely, is with those who patiently persevere. [II:153]
And to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and through all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, and the people who are Allah-fearing. [II:177]
And the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) says:
"No boon conferred on man more precious than that of patience."
"Patience is one-half of faith."
Contrarily, impatience, chicken-heartedness and cowardice are the most lamentable of evils against which the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) used to beg Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) for refuge in his prayers.
Sincerity is the life and soul of the entire moral edifice of Islam, nay, of Islam itself. By sincerity we mean that all our deeds and actions should solely be for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and prompted by no other urge than to earn His approbation. Apart from it, there must be no other desire, motive or intention behind whatever we do.
Monotheism which is the arch of Islam attains fulfilment through sincerity. Faith in Divine Unity remains imperfect unless all our acts are performed wholly for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), and we have no other objective before us while carrying them out except winning of Divine pleasure and reward. States the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam):
"He who loves or hates, offers favours or withholds them, and whatever he does, does so for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) he perfects his faith."
It shows that a perfect Muslim in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) is only he who succeeds in subordinating his entire conduct, his social relations and all his other affairs to the Will of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and is not influenced in them by his personal desire or likes or dislikes or by any other urges or impulsions.
Another Tradition reads:
"Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) is not regardful of your fine visages or your wealth. He is regardful only of your hearts and intentions."
The idea of the above Tradition is that Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will judge and requit on the basis of our motives and intentions.
Now, here is a Tradition with which we propose to round off the present discussion. About this Tradition it is reported that Hadhrat Abu Hurairah often used to faint while he related it. It says:
"The first of those who shall be called to account, on the Day of Resurrection, shall be one who had learned the whole of the Holy Quraan by heart, and he who had been killed in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), and he who had an abundance of wealth. Then shall Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) say to him who had got the whole of the Holy Quraan by heart, "Did I not teach thee what revealed to my Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam)?" He will say, "Yes , my Lord!" Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will ask, "And what hast thou done with regard to what thou didst learn therein?" He will say, "I was constantly at it in the hours of night and in the hours of day. I learn it myself and taught it to others, and I did it all for Thy sake alone". Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will say, "Thou art a liar; thou didst only desire that men should say that such a one was a recieter of the Holy Quraan and that has been said already".
"And the master of wealth shall be brought before Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), and He shall say, "Did I not give thee an abundance of wealth, so that thou wast not in want of anything?" He will say, "Yes, my Lord! Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will say, "And what hast thou done with what I gave thee? "He will answer, "I regarded the rights of kinship and gave alms and I did; so for Thy sake." Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will say, "Thou art a liar; thou didst desire that men should say that such a one was a generous man, and that has been said already."
"Then shall he who had been killed in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) be brought before Him, and Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will say to him, "What was it that thou wast killed for?" He will reply, "Thou didst bid us to do Jihad in Thy way and I fought and was killed." Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will say, "Thou art a liar; thou didst desire that men should say that such a one was a valiant man, and that has been said already."
"These are the three men who, of all creatures shall be first sent into Fire."
Brothers! Now, let us examine our thoughts and deeds in the light of the above Tradition and see where do we stand in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa)!
O Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa)! Endue our hearts with sincerity and set right our motives and intentions and make us Thy devoted and dedicated slaves.