How to Build the Best of Character

June 15th, 2010 @   -  No Comments

Allah SWT tells us in the Holy Quran referring to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) “And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character.” (Quran 68:4). The prophet (PBUH) tells us “I was only sent to complete good morals” This means that the teachings of Islam are only to forge people of the highest level of character.

Masruq narrated “we were sitting with ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr who was narrating to us: He said, “Allah’s Apostle was neither a Fahish (obscene) nor a Mutafahhish (dwells in obscene things), and he used to say, ‘The best among you are the best in character (having good manners).”

What does it mean to have good character or manners?

To have good manner is Islam is first of all to obey all the commands of Allah SWT given in the Quran or explained in the Sunnah of His Prophet (PBUH). Indeed, when Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the character of the Prophet (PBUH), she replied “his character was the Quran” i.e. he was the ideal model bringing the Quran alive in his daily life.

How do we build good manners and character?

The first step in building a good character is the remembrance of Allah and that He watch and sees everything that we do. Remembrance of Allah can be done in many forms and the highest is the recitation of the Quran and establishing regular prayers. When done with sincerity and concentration, regular prayer stops us from doing all evil acts. Allah says in the Quran: “Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.” (Quran 29:45)

The second step is to observe the other forms of prescribed worship such as fasting, giving zakat and performing Hajj. Allah says in the Quran “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may attain Taqwa (self-restraint)” (Quran 2:183). Fasting leads to Taqwa or self-restraint which in turn leads to a good character. In another verse Allah says “Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them” (Quran 9:103). This means that giving Zakat (alms) will purify and bless the Muslims in every sense of the word. It will purify their wealth from any wrong that might have crept in the course of their business. It will also purify the manners with which they deal with other people in their business by avoiding what is haram and taking only what is lawful to them.

The third step is enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong. Allah said: “Let there be among you a community who enjoin good and forbid evil; it is they that shall be successful” (Quran 3:104) and He also said: “You are the best community that has ever been brought forth for mankind: you enjoin good and forbid evil, and you believe in God” (Quran 3:110). The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said:”Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot do even that, then in his heart. That is the weakest degree of faith.”

Some of the most common wrong behaviours we see in our society today and which will definitely prevent us from building great character are:

  • Cheating in dealing with others. The Prophet PBUH is reported to have said: “the one who cheats us is not from us”.
  • Lying to deceive people, even jokingly. The prophet (PBUH) said: “Do not ever lie, because lying leads to very abhorrent sins, and those in turn lead to Hellfire. One keeps on lying and seeks to do that until one is recorded as a liar in some books of Allah.”
  • Backbiting people. The Quran compares this to eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. Allah says: “O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not and do not backbite each other. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But fear Allah. For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. “(Quran 49:12)
  • Giving false testimony. The prophet (PBUH) said “False testimony is similar to claiming that Allah has partners.” Claiming that Allah has partners is the biggest sin.
  • Breaking promises or trust. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest)”.
  • Wasting one’s time and resources. Allah compares the wasteful to the brothers of the Evil Ones. Allah says: “Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful. “ (Quran 17:27)
  • Ingratitude to parents. Allah said: “Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. “ (Quran 17:23)
  • Severance of kinship. Allah has linked severance of kinship to mischief on earth. Allah says: “Those who break Allah’s Covenant after it is ratified, and who sunder what Allah Has ordered to be joined (kinship), and do mischief on earth: These cause loss (only) to themselves.” (Quran 2:27)

I pray that Allah helps us remember Him at all times, help us observe the obligatory form of worship with sincerity, make it easy for us to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil and help us practice what we preach in order to forge the best character.

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