“And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” [Qur’an; 68:4]
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” [Qur’an; 33:21]
“…And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed…” [Qur’an; 6:151]
“The most beloved to me amongst you is the one who has the best character and manners.” [Sahih Bukhari]
“I was sent to perfect good character.” [Muwatta Malik]
“Every deen has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty” [Muwatta Malik]
“Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [Tirmidhi]
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from evil character, evil actions, and evil desires.” [Tirmidhi]
“I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarreling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good.” [Abu Dawud]
Narrated AbuUmamah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarreling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good.” [Abu Dawud]
On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu Abdur-Rahman Muadh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people. [Arba’oon An-Nawawi]
Wabisah bin Ma’bad (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: I went to Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he asked me, “Have you come to inquire about piety?” I replied in the affirmative. Then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Ask your heart regarding it. Piety is that which contents the soul and comforts the heart, and sin is that which causes doubts and perturbs the heart, even if people pronounce it lawful and give you verdicts on such matters again and again.” [Ahmad and Ad- Darmi]
“The poor of my Umma would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and zakat but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues) since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others and shed the blood of others and beat others, and his virtues would be credited to the account of one (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then his sins would be entered in (his account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire.” [Sahih Muslim]
“Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people.” [40 Hadith of An-Nawawi]
“You (people) cannot satisfy people with your wealth, but satisfy them with your cheerful faces and good morals.” [Bulugh Al-Maram]
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said, “Do you know who is the bankrupt?” They said, “The bankrupt among us is one who has neither money with him nor any property”. He said, “The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting, and charity, (but he will find himself bankrupt on that day as he will have exhausted the good deeds) because he reviled others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at his hand). If his good deeds fall short to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire”. [Muslim]
Sayings from the Companions and Early Muslims
The son of Luqman asked his father, “Oh father, which fine qualities in a man’s conduct are good?” Luqman said, “Religion, treatment, shame, good conduct and generosity.” When these five qualities are united in a person, he becomes pure, God-fearing, a friend of Allah and freed from Satan.”
Al-Junayd said, “Four virtues raise a man to the highest rank, even should his works and knowledge be little: patience, modesty, generosity and good conduct. Good conduct completes faith.”
Yahya ibn Muadh said, “Bad conduct is the worst evil. Even if a person had many virtues alongside it, they would not do him any benefit. Good conduct, on the other hand, is a good attribute. Even if a person had many sins alongside it, they would not do him any harm.”
Ibn Abbas was asked, “What is honour?” and he replied, “Allah explains it in the Quran:”Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” [Quran, 49:13]”
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would supplicate for good character. As we see from the hadith in the Muwatta above, a great deal of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) message was to do with character. Hence it is impossible to cover all ends of his noble character (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in this brief section. The Attributes for Success page leads to brief descriptions of various attributes of character in the light of Islam.
Conduct is determined by four things:
- doing good or bad actions
- possessing power to do actions
- having knowledge of both (good and bad)
- the condition of the heart by which it inclines to one side or the other
Knowledge (coupled with wisdom) is the root of good conduct, for it is through knowledge that we discern right and wrong. When anger conducts itself under knowledge and Shari’ah, it can be termed bravery. When greed is subject to wisdom and shame, it can be termed patience.
It has been argued that one’s nature cannot be changed. However if this were true, then sermons, education, and learning would be of no use.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I was sent to perfect good character.” [Adab al-Mufrad]
The object of good character and conduct is to sever the heart’s attachment to the world, confining it to the love of Allah.
It is not enough to hate sins, but rather one must find pleasure in doing good deeds by become habituated to them. The taste of good conduct may not be felt due to the presence of diseases in the heart. Therefore it takes diligence to diagnose and remove these diseases.
The medicine of a diseased heart is to accustom it to an opposite attribute. If it has, for example, the disease of miserliness, its medicine is to give constant charity and spend money. But there is a limit to charity and expenditure. Whoever exceeds the limit has another diseases–extravagance. The objective is to reach a level of moderation and avoid the two extremes.
When a person knows his faults, he can try to remove them. There are four ways to discover one’s faults.
- to disclose one’s faults and evils to one’s spiritual guide, who can help treat his diseases. However, spiritual guides are rare.
- to appoint a true and pious friend to detect one’s faults and defects
- to gather them from enemies, for the attention of enemies is on the faults of their adversaries
- to mix with people and know their faults. If you see their faults, you may assume that you have those faults in you.
The best representation of ideal adab is the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We study his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) life to learn about adab in every aspect of life; be it at personal, society, or government level. It is the model that is worthy of being sought, the uswatun hasanah. He was protected from sin and evil inclinations throughout his life (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).