Islam has outlined good manners in a precise way. It combats vice and moral corruption by every means. Islam has taken care of educating the psychological talents, purifying the conscience, habituating the soul, and training man to follow righteous moral behavior. Islam does these things in order to produce good moral talents to man, forming a habit so he can choose sound behavioral attitudes, and train him to adopt noble human values. So, Islam helps man to be far away from corruption, instinctive inclinations and immoral behaviors.
Islam has followed two constructive methods to achieve its aims. They are:
1. Moral awareness
2. Moral education and behavioral exercise
Islam has followed the way of moral awareness forming knowledge with noble human values and manners, limiting the quality of righteous behavior and urging man to follow it while warning him against ill fated moral education and behavioral exercise and estranging the believer from them.
Islam has followed such a way to make sound moral awareness and scientific understanding for each behavior man practices in order that he may know its value, results and reward. So, man must pay great attention to his behavior because it is very important.
Verses from the Holy Qur’an, traditions and Muslim directions have followed in succession to emphasize that Islam has taken care of this noble human side and urged the Muslim to adopt it. The Holy Qur’an says:
“By the soul as it is perfected! And inspired unto it against its vices and (about) its piety! Indeed succeeds he who purifies it! And indeed fails he who pollutes it! “ (Holy Qur’an 91:7-10)
The Holy Prophet (SAW) was asked:
“Which one of the believers is the best in belief?”
“The best of them is who poses good manners.”
Concerning manners, he (SAW) said the following:
“Certainly, patience, truthfulness, clemency and good manners are among the prophets’ characteristics. On the Day of Resurrection, nothing better than good manners will be put in one’s scales.”
“Certainly, Allah, be He blessed and Exalted, will give the slave a reward as He will give the mujahid (warrior) in the way of Allah.” “I have been sent to complete good manners.”
Islam has encouraged man to adopt good manners. It has taken care of increasing moral awareness, moral knowledge and directing man towards high human concepts and values. Still, it has warned man of misbehavior, inclining towards vice and moral meanness. Islam has considered misbehavior as corruption against man’s soul, for good manners suit the natural righteousness of man, while bad manners are anti-Islam so; Islam has stressed this fact through the following holy tradition:
“He whose manners are bad tortures himself.”
That is because an ill-mannered person always lives in psychopath. This condition happens because of the tension between him and his society, for the society turns away from him and refuses his attitudes and maltreatment. Besides this, he is the farthest person from Allah, for Allah, glory be to Him, has perfect attributes. Then, the more perfect the person’s manners are, the more perfect his nearness to Allah will be. The worse his manners are, the further he will be from Allah. Meanwhile, he will be deprived of Allah’s love and mercy.
In Islam, good manners are an invitation to perfect the higher side in man, namely, the side of the human qualities that are higher than the emotions and incentives that know nothing but express themselves and do respond to their motives. These emotions and incentives are rash, anger, lust injustice, revenge, self-fishiness, greed, etc.
“And those who strive hard in us certainly will. We guide them in our ways; and verily Allah is (always) with those who do good.” (Holy Qur’an, 29:69)
“…Verily Allah changes not the condition the people until they change what is in themselves….” (Holy Qur’an, 13:11)
Education and self-jihad are so important that Islam regards self-jihad as a stage higher than jihad against the enemy on the battlefields. It was reported from Allah’s Apostle (SAW) that he sent a brigade for jihad. When they came back, he said to them: “Welcome to the people who have finished the minor jihad, but they will continue the major jihad.” So it was asked to Allah’s Apostle, “what is the major jihad?” he said: “Jihad against self”.
For this reason, Islam has made self-education and developing good manners a jihad. Jihad needs readiness, habituating the self, will power, and endurance. All these things raise the self to the level of the mujahid.
The mujahid who wages holy war against the internal evil disposition and the external, corrupt powers makes efforts to support truth and good.
These efforts are equal, in aims, sufferings and results, in waging holy war against the enemies of Allah. So the person who tries to habituate himself to good behavioral education is a mujahid. He is worthy of success and guidance granted by Allah. Such a mujahid is loyal in his search for good. Whenever a person goes on jihad, training and educating the self in good behavior, he will be able to build a usual moral power in himself. Such a power becomes fixed with frequent practice. With this power, he will be able to do good and avoid evil easily.
This is the Islamic method in building the Muslim character and turns the principles into behavioral attitudes and practical movements.
Here are the steps Islam follows to educate the noble moral feelings and perfect those feelings in obtaining virtue with a natural, automatic incentive.
1. Educating the moral conscience (good and evil or internal feelings). Such a conscience helps man to know the good attitudes and follow them. Meanwhile, it helps him to know the evil attitudes and avoid them.
There are many factors involved in creating the moral conscience. Some of them are: the idea of punishment and reward, the feeling of extreme guilt while committing vice, and the feelings of happiness and pleasure while doing good and virtuous actions.
Islam has made the moral conscience as a mark to distinguish between the believing persons and the unbelieving ones.
2. Islam has founded stable moral values and ideals as clear moral principles in order that the Muslim may confirm to them and regard them as life values, such as justice, mercy, trust and truthfulness.
3. Islam has founded moral prototypes in order that the believing person may follow them. They are the prophets and the apostles.
“These are they whom we gave the book and the authority and the apostleship; so If these (people) disbelieve in it, indeed we have (already) entrusted it to a people who are not disbelieving in it.” (Holy Qur’an 6:89)
Thus Islam has made a practical moral code for man in which he will find a unique moral model before him. This human prototype will clarify man’s way towards moral perfection.