The Characteristics of a Muslim

Publisher(s): 

Simple accounts of good morals and behavior, God's love, parents, and how to be a good Muslim.

Category: 
Topic Tags: 
Miscellaneous information: 
Published by: Al Balagh Foundation P.O. Box 1977/19395, Tehran Islamic Republic of Iran

Introduction

This book is the second in a series on Fundamental Aspects of Islamic Culture, specially written for young readers or anyone wanting a simplified version of Basic Islamic Doctrines.

The first book developed a few simple concepts, such as the Omnipotence of Allah, the Creator and Bestower of Blessings on mankind as well as other pillars that are fundamental to Islam, like Judgement Day, life in the Hereafter, Angels, etc... All aspects are very basic in presenting a glimpse of the comprehensiveness of the great Islamic religion.

This volume focuses mainly on the behaviour of man as a moral being under the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (s). It tackles the issues of what makes up good conduct and how it is practised by a true believer as part of Islam being a complete way of life.

Most discussion can be said to be simple common sense towards righteous behaviour and building a moral society beneficial not only to the life of this world but also towards seeking the pleasure of Allah for the life in the Hereafter. It is this very nature of being so basic that often means the small important things in life are forgotten and from this aspect alone this book may prove enlightening.

As servants of Allah, we are all humble in His Hands and we trust that this offering helps to put our personal mission on earth into perspective.

Glory is to Allah and to Allah alone.

Al-Balagh Foundation

The Best of Morals

It is reported from the Prophet (s) that he said:

“I was sent to complete the best of morals.”

Allah, the Almighty, has given man intellect and made him a creature who thinks and differentiates between good and evil. He shows him what is the best and what is the worst and what is the most desirable and what is the most disliked among deeds. Man indeed knows that injustice, lying and tormenting others are hateful while justice, truthfulness and being benevolent are good. His ability to think makes him distinct from animals; to love good, praiseworthy and moral behaviour and dislike bad, and immoral conduct.

It is man's sense of morals that is among the essential characteristics which distinguish him from other creatures. Animals neither know morals or principles nor are responsible in the same way as man is in being able to differentiate between what is good and righteous and what is bad and evil.

Therefore a man who is characterised by bad morals, like lying, cheating, being unjust, deceitful and hypocritical is worse than an animal and his existence in human society is a danger to all other people.

Islam teaches us as human beings to follow a life of principles, characterised by the best moral virtues, and to avoid wrongful behaviour.

The Holy Prophet (s) explains through his saying: “I was sent to complete the best of morals.” That among the fundamental aims of Islam is to educate man with the most virtuous principles and to steer him clear from vices and immoral conduct.

A man with a bad character causes harm not only to society but also to himself. He who tells lies, does unjust deeds, backbites, hates, deceives and betrays others, surely loses the trust and respect of others.

An ill-tempered man also exposes himself to Allah's anger as well as to people's aversion. He causes the spread of corruption in social life, and becomes a decaying influence and a destroyer among the people. Therefore, the Holy Prophet (s) warns us against such ill-natured men through his sermon: “Whoever is ill-tempered causes harm to himself” in which he also instructs Muslims to be good-mannered and virtuous as the path towards man's perfection.

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a) quotes the Messenger of Allah (s) as having said:

“Indeed the most perfect among the believers is of the best of morals.”1

The Glorious Messenger (s) further told us that among the best deeds on the Resurrection Day are good manners. He said: “Nothing will be put on man's scale on Resurrection Day better than good manners.”2

It is obligatory for Muslims to improve their manners and to treat people gently and avoid those who are characterised by ill behaviour. Prophet Muhammad (s) himself, due to his truthfulness, honesty, and his fair dealing with people, forgiving evil-doers, and being generous, courageous, just, and the doer of good for all, is exemplary and the prime model of conduct for all Muslims to follow.

The Holy Qur'an aptly and precisely describes and praises such people by saying:

“And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.” Holy Qur'an (68:4)

  • 1. Kulaini, Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.99.
  • 2. Ibid.

Practising Good Manners

The human soul is in need of developing educationally in order to become characterised by the best of morals and refrain from evil doings. This can be achieved by teaching ourselves the following points:

1. Following in the footsteps and copying the examples of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s), his infallible household (Ahlul Bayt) and the most righteous among his companions. Studying their biographies and considering all aspects of their virtuous behaviour are essential ways of being led on the right path.

2. Practice makes perfect and we should practise conducting ourselves with the best of morals, like truth, courage, generosity, mercy, benevolence and forgiveness. Whoever repeatedly does good deeds and behaves in a principled manner, such conduct will undoubtedly become habitual, whereas whoever commits misdeeds and ill-natured vices like hypocrisy, lying, deceiving ...etc. will accept them to such an extent that they will not feel their abomination and the damage they cause.

3. Avoiding people characterised by bad manners and not making them friends, because not mixing with such people removes the danger of being misled and should also discourage their unprincipled behaviour.

4. We should also ask the forgiveness of Allah in case of committing sins or doing evil deeds and should regret and repent for such actions. This can be done through reprimanding ourselves and feeling that such action is bad and should not be repeated.

To Summarise

1. Good manners surely indicate the goodness of the upright human soul while bad manners indicates that the soul of that man is evil and wicked. A good human soul is like a sweet flower from which fragrant perfume is emitted. Conversely one which is wicked can be likened to a poisonous smell that harms people.

2. Allah bids us towards the best morals and will reward us accordingly on the Resurrection Day and also forbids us against bad morals for which He will duly punish us.

3. Bad morals cause the destruction of society and the spread of corruption; he who has vices, his personality will be disliked and he will be liable to punishment, and people will avoid and humiliate him.

4. The man with good morals is considered the foundation on which the structure of a sound Islamic society is built, and is among the causes of giving strength to Muslims.

5. But if Muslim communities lose their good morals of justice, mercy and benevolence, they will be destroyed, and all the scientific progress and abundance of wealth can not prevent it. When moral principles are abandoned, the quality of life is disrupted and led astray.

Thus we see war, gross injustice and rising crime spreading in immoral societies.

Vices like lying, selfishness, greed, deceit and hypocrisy fester in the same way as germs destroy the human body.

6. The onus is on all Muslims to ensure good morals which are preserved by way of self-education and practising exemplary behaviour.

The Truthful Belief

Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq1 (a) reportedly quotes his forefathers from the Messenger of Allah (a) as saying:

“Whoever recites sincerely that there is no god but Allah enters paradise, and his sincerity should forbid him what Allah has forbidden.”2

It is well established that everything has a foundation and the foundation stone of Islam is confirming the Oneness of Almighty Allah. Whoever truthfully says, “There is no god but Allah”, indeed fixes the foundation of Islam in his heart as a builder digs the foundation for a building.

Whoever believes in the Oneness of Allah, and that Allah alone is the Creator and Provider in whose hand is death and life that He is Able over everything and He alone should be worshipped ...is a truthful believer, who is sincerely committed to Islam.

Whoever believes that there is no god other than Allah Who is All-Powerful over all things and Who punishes man for his misdeeds and sayings...does not disobey Him but avoids what is forbidden (haram) because he believes that Allah is All-Knowing of what we do and will judge us on the Resurrection Day for our actions.

This truthful belief restrains man from doing forbidden acts; he neither wrongs nor deceives anyone, nor does he steal or drink alcohol; he is neither undutiful towards his parents nor does harm others.

The Messenger of Allah (s) teaches us that Islam is a confession from the heart spoken by the tongue, that a true Muslim is one who applies Islamic methods in organising his personal and social life as well as in his public life. So, a true Muslim has truthful belief that deserves paradise and Allah's pleasure.

But whoever utters “There is no god but Allah” only with his tongue while his heart does not confess it and does not refrain from what Allah has forbidden, is not a true faithful. If he were truthful, he would not commit forbidden acts and would not disobey Allah; hence ultimately his end will be in hell.

In Summary

1. Islam is a belief in the heart and doing righteous deeds in this life.

2. A true belief in Allah is belief that causes man to abstain from what He has forbidden.

3. A true belief is the base to reform society and spread the goodness and virtues of life.

4. The consequence for those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and obey Him is paradise and blissful eternal life.

Say: There is no god but Allah, and you will succeed.

  • 1. Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a), is the son of Muhammad al-Baqir (a). son of Ali al-Sajjad (a), son of al-Hussain al-Sibt (a), son of Fatimah (a), the daughter at the Messenger of Allah (s), and Imam Ali (a). He was born in Madina in the year 83 A.H. (after hijra). He narrated Prophetic traditions through his forefathers from the Messenger of Allah (s). It is from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a) that all the scholars and Imams after him took the Prophetic traditions, the interpretation of the Qur'an and the Islamic laws concerning what is lawful and what is unlawful.
  • 2. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol.6, chapter on Jihad al-Nafs, no. 20440.

Who is a Believer

The Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“Whoever is pleased with his good actions and displeased with his bad actions is a faithful.”1

How happy you feel when you see a poor needy man and help him with some money.

How elated you are if you recite some verses of the Holy Qur'an at dawn.

Your sense is of great satisfaction, when you do an action which pleases your parents.

All are good deeds which you love because you are a believer and are happy to do them and always think of doing them.

Conversely, people who do evil deeds, are emotionally disturbed in feeling pleased by cheating people, or lying to them or stealing something, or doing something that is forbidden. He gives up prayer without feeling himself a sinner because he loses his conscience. He does not judge himself for his irresponsibility or question why he has done such evil deeds.

Surely, there is no truthful belief in the heart of such a man.

Surely, the true believer is he who suffers in case he has committed a mistake, and finds himself guilty in the case of committing an evil action. Consequently, he asks Allah's forgiveness and then repents. He apologizes to the people whom he has wronged.

The Messenger Muhammad (s) says:

“The faithful is he whose evil deeds displease him.”

This Prophetic tradition means that he is displeased with himself when committing a misdeed and feels a strong aversion to doing it again.

He who likes doing evil deeds cannot be good but he who loves doing good deeds shows his virtuous nature and can only be good.

As an example we can compare flies with bees; flies, on the one hand live in dirt and gather germs, even from dead animals. In this way, they carry sickness to people, causing people to dislike them and spray poisonous substances to kill them and prevent the spread of disease.

Bees, on the other hand love beautiful flowers, from which they gather pollen, which gives us honey as a useful nourishment for our bodies. Therefore, people approve of bees and even breed them and safeguard their lives.

In Summary

People feel happy and satisfied by doing good acts and giving charity, but dislike doing evil deeds, which causes harm, This feeling in us is called conscience.

The Islamic religion wants to bring out the conscience in us in order that we do beneficial acts and avoid committing evil deeds and actions. The aim is to speed us on our way to becoming true faithfuls.

  • 1. Bihbodi, Sahih al-kafi, p.100.

A Believers Attributes

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.

“Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, and who keep aloof from, what is vain, who are givers of poor-rate and who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not to blame.

But whoever seeks to go beyond that, these an they that exceed the limits. And those who are keepers of their trusts and their covenant, and those who keep a guard on their prayers, these are they who are the heirs, who shall inherit paradise; therein they shall dwell forever.” Holy Qur'an (23:1-11)

This narration from the Holy Qur'an is about the believer's attributes.

1. It describes believers as humble in their prayer; so the believer is he who stands before Allah in absolute sincerity and without any feeling of vanity. He calls upon Allah, worships Him and approaches Him; he asks His forgiveness and remission; his heart, mind and bodily limbs are focussed together as a mere being in front of the Almighty, the Most High.

2. When believers hear untrue profanity spoken by disbelievers such as curses, they avoid such people because their characters are aloof from such matters and never indulge in meaningless or debasing conversations.

3. Believers pay poor-rates (zakat), which is an obligatory amount of money paid by the rich to the poor. They help in funding charitable projects such as schools, hospitals, dwellings, mosques, libraries ...etc. so that no one in an Islamic society has to remain poor, or in need of education, or a place to live or medical care. Indeed, Islam wants to protect people from poverty, ignorance, illness and need.

4. Male and female believers are able to guard themselves from committing forbidden acts through Allah's constituting marriage as the lawful way for people to live together and be near families.

5. Believers keep the covenants which they have made, pay back trusts and never betray. If a believer agrees to do something, he does it; if someone entrusts him with property, with a secret, with a will, he guards them for their owners, or if people choose him to be a judge for them, he returns their confidence in him by acting fairly.

6. Another obvious signs of a true believer is prayer, which distinguishes him or her from a disbeliever. Whoever stops praying or despises it as a burden is disliked by Allah, the Almighty, and His Messenger, and even believers dislike them and cut their relations with them. They do not talk, greet, visit nor help the one who does not pray.

7. Wherever we find the above mentioned attributes in the individuals of any community, that society will be an Islamic one, happy and progressive; far from corruption and vice, in which people live contentedly in security.

The reward of such believers will be paradise and happiness in the hereafter as well as benefits in the life of this world as long as Islamic laws and principles are applied to behaviour and manners.

The Characteristics of a Believer

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) describes the believer in his sermon:

“Blessed is he who earns his living through lawful ways and he whose inward status is good, outward is decent; spends his surplus wealth in charity; abstains from excessive talking; people remain safe of (any) evil from him; he treats others with justice. Surely whoever believes in Allah fears Him, and whoever fears Allah guards himself against the evils of this world.”1

Let us ponder on the meanings, thoughts, and instructions of these everlasting words of the Glorious Messenger of Allah (s) in order to understand and apply them in our daily life. We can learn morals, good behaviour, laws, and a whole system of life from Prophet Muhammad (s) who made clear the right path for us in order to guide us, so that we could purify ourselves and inform the rest of society.

Surely, the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (s) wanted, through his sermon, to teach us various things. Among them are:

1. That congratulations are for the servant of Allah, who makes his living through lawful means and does righteous deeds; and, as the result, he leads a fulfilling and successful life both in this world and in the hereafter.

The Messenger (s) certainly wants us to earn our living through lawful ways and avoid what is unlawful.

2. That congratulations are for whoever improves his moral behaviour. Indeed, happiness and a good life are found where there are good morals and other people are treated well. These are well-known attributes of a believer and of a praiseworthy character.

Congratulations thus are for whoever improves his own character and thus improves his life.

3. In the sermon, Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) praises faithful men who are simple-hearted, i.e. he who bears no evil in his heart towards anyone nor is hypocritical, hasty or deceitful, but whose heart is pure and his self is cleansed against any filth or evil.

4. The believer of whom the Messenger (s) praises his character and attributes is also the one who spends whatever he can out of his own wealth in charitable and benevolent programmes, and deeds, seeking Allah's pleasure.

A believer is the one who strives to obtain his living through lawful means and not depend on others, dissatisfied with unemployment and squandering time. He uses his income thriftily on himself and provides for his family according to their needs, while he spends the rest in the cause of Allah. Never is any money amassed for its own sake or deprived from helping the poor and needy as this is against Islam.

5. Another characteristic of a believer who deserves a good life and pleases Allah is in the way of speaking. Controlling the tongue eliminates all idle chatting and presents one from interfering in or provoking any hostility. A believer says nothing which displeases Allah, the Almighty and instead voices what is useful in knowledge and advice, in uttering what is good and saying what is righteous.

6. A believer never does harm to others. People will feel safe and secure when they live with a believer because he is the doer of good, who shows his love of good by performing it and his dislike of evil by avoiding it.

Apart from this, he is also just and never forfeits the rights of others. He respects another's rights and abides by them.

7. In the same sermon, the Messenger of Allah (s) explains that belief in Allah and knowing Him makes a man fearful of committing sins and evil deeds. He, who fears Allah, never becomes over-involved with the life of this world in which people strive against each other for mere material gain. Instead he directs himself towards life in the Hereafter and strives for its sake.

In Summary

A believer is one who deserves Allah's pleasure and for him there will be a good life and happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. The believer is the one in whom the following characteristics are found:

1. Doing what are lawful and righteous deeds.

2. Having good morals and treating people with respect.

3. Having a purified heart and soul, neither hating others nor being hypocritical.

4. Spending whatever he has out of his wealth in the cause of Allah i.e. in the fields of charity.

5. Being offensive to no one.

6. Causing no harm to others.

7. Respecting other people's rights.

8. These characteristics are only found in truly faithful persons who know Allah well and fear His punishment because those who know Him do not think much of this world's life, and wish only to achieve the performance of as many good deeds as possible in it, in order to be rewarded in the life hereafter.

  • 1. Ya'qoobi, Tarikh al-Ya'qoobi, vol. 2, p.89, Dar Sadir, Beirut, Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul an aal al-Rasul, Mawa'idh al-Rasul.

Whom Allah Loves Most

The Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“All mankind belongs to Allah; therefore the most favoured by Allah is the one who is good to his or her own family”1

A man once asked the Messenger of Allah (s):

“What people does Allah love most?”

He said: “Those who are most useful to other people.”2

Through the quoted holy traditions (hadith), the Messenger of Allah (s) teaches us in simplistic terms how to deal with people and how a Muslim should behave with individuals in society.

Indeed, a Muslim should be a useful member of the community in which he or she lives, because human society is like the human body. The human body consists of different organs for different functions, for instance the eye takes the duty of seeing, the tongue for speaking, the legs for walking and the hands for working. Consequently, each of these organs has a benefit and use for the human body without which man cannot live normally.

Therefore, human society is made up of different people, who carry out certain duties to perform necessary services.

A farmer supplies food, a doctor attends to the sick, the holy struggler (mujahid) defends his religion and country, and the teacher educates people. These few examples show that each person offers advantages in providing for people.

The Messenger of Allah (s) likens human society to a single family by saying:

All mankind belong to Allah, the Exalted, Who loves goodness and benefits them; and Who preserves their interests and welfare, like a man who takes care of his or her own family by providing care and assistance.

Therefore, Allah loves those who do good to people and whoever helps the needy, cares for the sick, provides food for the hungry, reconciles people, discovers new medicines, builds a school or establishes an orphanage to look after children without parents. Indeed a true believer does all these for the benefit of other people and is a useful asset to his or her society.

Consequently, the most useful person in society is he who is the best and most beneficial, whom Allah loves most, because an Islamic society cannot be a strong and caring one, in which peace and happiness prevails, unless people do good to the advantage of all and ignore their own personal interests.

To Summarise

1. The best among people is the one who does good to all and is most useful to society.

2. A Muslim is one who loves to do good for society.

3. Allah surely loves those who do good for society.

  • 1. Ya'qoobi, Tarikh al-Ya'qoobi, vol. 2.
  • 2. Ibid.

Bestowing Love and Peace

The Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“I swear to Allah in Whose hand my life is, that you cannot attain heaven and eternal happiness unless you have faith, and you cannot have faith unless you love each other. Should I not guide you towards some task, as a result of which, love and friendship will be created among you?” They answered: “Yes, O Prophet of Allah” He added: “So, salute each other (with peace) openly and clearly.”1

Our religion is Islam. It is the religion of fraternity and brotherhood among people. Prophet Muhammad (s) called people towards friendship and caring because they are the foundation of co-operation and happiness in this life. One feels happy and at peace when living with one's own family or with loving friends. That feeling and love and respect goes both ways and one cannot forget family and friends because of one's loves for them.

It is when there is no love that enmity among people is created which often leads to aggression breaking out. If there was real love, fighting among people would not erupt nor would one steal another's property nor would there be such a gap between rich and poor.

Allah will not be pleased with us and we not will live in happiness unless we love each other.

Our Prophet (s) guides us towards the right path by instructing us to greet each with the salutation of peace (salam) as the first sign of showing affection for each other. He says: “Salute each other (with peace) openly and clearly.”

He guides us in this way because such a salutation and greeting make both love and happiness enter our souls.

Love among Muslims is a sign for their true and sincere belief, and all Muslims are brothers and they love each other.

So, whoever dislikes his Muslim brothers and hurts them is not a true believer. This is endorsed by the Messenger of Allah (s) who says: No believers will be true in their belief unless they love each other.

These holy traditions (hadith) guide us to the knowledge that Allah will be displeased with us and will not let us enter Paradise unless we believe and act upon the guidance of His Prophet. His Messenger has spelt out: It is obligatory for Muslims to love each other in order to be believers and thus enter Paradise.

To Summarise

1. No one will enter Paradise except the person who truly believes in Allah.

2. A Muslim cannot be a true believer unless he loves his other Muslim brothers.

3. Initially saluting each other with peace causes love and fraternity among people and reaches their hearts.

4. Those who salute and greet others deserve and gain the double reward of happiness in the life of this world and in the Hereafter.

  • 1. Tabrasi, Mishkat al-Anwar, p. 123, Sunan Abi Dawood, vol.4, narrated by Abu Huraira.

Benevolence Towards Parents

Allah, the Exalted, says:

“And your lord has commanded that you shall not worship (any) but Him and (show) goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Ah' nor chide them, but speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gently to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) small.” Holy Qur'an (17:23-24)

If your friends give you a nice present, you will certainly thank them and your love will grow towards them.

If someone offers you help and assistance in your life, surely you will respect them and recognize their favour and kind attitude.

No one does more for you than your parents and it is they of all people who deserve great love, thanks, and respect. They are the ones who bear tiredness and difficulty for the sake of us, their children.

A mother first carries her child as an embryo (foetus) in her womb and it is fed by her blood. Then when she has given birth, she spends nights on attendance, taking care of and watching over her baby with love and affection.

Fathers also take part in caring and giving affection, and go to work and strive to provide food, shelter and other material necessities. In addition, both parents spend time educating their children and rearing them towards adulthood.

In the verses quoted above, Allah commands us to worship and obey none but Him. And at the same time He commands us to love our parents and acknowledge their favour and benevolence to us.

Allah also enjoins us not to speak unkindly or harm them, not to give even as much as a sigh against them, especially when they grow old or are in need, or unable to do things for themselves.

Hospitality Towards Guests

The Messenger of Allah (s) further guides us by saying:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be hospitable with his or her guests.”1

Our great Prophet (s) teaches us to be generous and how to entertain guests. He wants a Muslim to show gratitude and be kind and happy when receiving guests. One should respect and welcome his guests, in particular when they are strangers, or have no family or friends in that country.

It may even happen that a guest comes while relatives or friends are being entertained, or other travellers are staying and there is lack of space; or you are unprepared and have few provisions or are even short of money. In any eventuality, guests who come to your home should be made welcome, shown respect and be provided with whatever food and drink are available. One should sit with them in order to make them feel comfortable and happy, and take care to pay great attention to them.

Surely, our glorious Prophet (s) guides us towards respecting guests and being generous towards them. In this respect, he says: “Indeed whoever believes that Allah is All-Generous, Who provides for His creation and rewards those who are hospitable towards their guests, should look after his guest.”

Surely, Allah will increase our provision if we welcome our guests and give them food and drink, and will reward us on the Resurrection Day.

Allah is All-Generous, who loves the generous ones and dislikes those who are mean.

  • 1. Shaikh Abbas Qummi, Safinat al-Bihar, Bab Dhaif, Sunan ibn Maja, vol. 2, Haq al Jiwar (The rights of neighbours), Ikram al-Dhaif (Respecting the Guest).

Controlling The Tongue

The Messenger of Allah (s) says:

“Blessed is the man who speaks good and is triumphant; or keeps silent in the face of evil and is secure”1

Among Allah's blessings upon man is that He made him a thoughtful and sane being and created a tongue for him. He made him able to utter sounds and clarify what he wants through the words which he speaks. He has only to speak to let people know what he wants.

Thus, we should thank Allah for the blessings which He bestowed upon us. We should use our speech in useful ways; not to speak but goodness. For example, if we are in a meeting or a gathering and want to speak with people, or any discussion comes up then we should first think what we want to say and choose which words to use. If we can offer useful counsel to people or offer advice, we should speak in such a way to make others want to listen.

Hence your words will be acceptable to Allah and the people because your speech is beneficial in guiding towards goodness or reconciling people, or teaching useful knowledge, and will increase the love of people to each other. If we say a word of goodness we will get Allah's reward and the love and respect of the people and so we will be triumphant.

As our glorious Prophet Muhammad (s) says: If man is not able to say something useful, he should keep silent from bad words and his silence will keep him far from Allah's wrath and from the harm which might befall him as a result of saying bad words. Whoever does evil deeds to people, people will surely confront him with evil too. And certainly, if you speak bad words it may cause you problems and harm and make you regret and wish you had kept silent and had not spoken.

Consequently, our Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) educates us with good manners saying: Either you speak a useful and good word, or be silent which is better for you than speaking evil words.

In Summary

1. Among the best characteristics of a Muslim is to speak only the words of goodness and reconciliation.

2. It is better to remain silent if you cannot speak the word of goodness.

3. Whoever does not keep a check on his tongue will regret it.

For those who do good is good (reward) and even more than that.

  • 1. Tabrasi, Mashkat al-Anwar, p. 175, 2nd Edition.

Faithful To A Promise

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a) quoted the Messenger of Allah (s) as saying:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should keep their promise when they make it.”1

Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) teaches us the best morals and the most useful customs, and also how to fulfil a promise and be punctual.

Imagine that one day you have an appointment with your friend and have agreed to meet him half-an-hour before noon prayer in the mosque to recite the Holy Qur'an together. You arrived on time and waited until the prayer caller (Mu'adhin) called for the noon prayer. You performed the prayer but your friend still had not come. Certainly, you will blame your friend for not keeping his promise and making you wait. Hopefully your friend will feel responsible and apologise to you.

But how happy and glad you are if someone promises to do something for you and keeps his promise. Keeping a promise is among the morals of the true believer. And whoever does not fulfil their promise, no one will respect their word nor trust them.

It is obligatory for us to be honest in making a promise and keeping an appointment we have made. It is also obligatory upon us to be punctual about time and not to waste it. We should be exactly on time in school, at work, or at an agreed meeting place.

A Promise Fulfilled by our Prophet Muhammad (s)

Prophet Muhammad (s) promised a man that he would remain sitting in a certain place until the man returned. That man went away and the sun rose. Soon it became very hot but the Prophet never changed his place. One his companions said: “O Prophet of Allah! What difference does it make if you come and sit in the shade?” The Prophet replied: “I promised to meet him here and not to change a place till he comes, in order to fulfil my promise to him. If he does not come, then it will be he who is breaking the promise.”

And Most Surely You Conform (Yourself) To Sublime Morality.

  • 1. Bihbodi, Sahih al Kafi, vol.1, p.117.

Considerate with Young and Old

Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) reportedly quotes from the Prophet (s):

“Whoever has no pity for the young and does not respect the old is not one of us.”1

When you see a baby crying, your heart is sympathetic and you feel kind. You begin to joke and play with the baby in order to stop its crying.

It may also happen that you help and be kind to a small child who is lost in the market or cannot find its family.

Surely, these moral attitudes are among those of the faithful whom Allah and His Messenger love most. The believer is the one whose heart is full of mercy for people, especially the needy and the oppressed, and small children, as they are the most vulnerable and weak and are in need of our help. So, if we give them our help and assistance, surely Allah will be pleased with us and will help us in this world by making our lives successful, and will also have mercy upon us in the Hereafter.

Our Prophet (s) teaches us to be kind to the young, and respect the old.

You may have your grandfather, grandmother or one of your relatives living in your home, and see that they have grown old and are unable to do much, and are in need of help and assistance. Our Prophet enjoins us to respect such people and if they are in need of something to help them. If they ask us, we should bring them food and drink, help them reach where they want to go, and get the things which they need.

When we sit with old people, we should sit properly and leave a comfortable place for them. When we speak to them, we should not raise our voice nor talk before they start speaking, nor interrupt them. If we walk with them on the street, we should take care that their way is easy and make sure to walk at their pace.

  • 1. Tabrasi, Mashkat al-Anwar, a chapter on respecting the old.

Giving Thanks To Allah

The Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“Surely the faithful who is satisfied with food and drink; and then thanks Allah, is given the same reward as a fasting man. Allah is Gracious and appreciates gratitude.”1

One of the companions of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) 2 reported the following incident, when he was travelling with the Imam on the road towards Madina. On the way, he saw the Imam get down and began prostrating to Allah, which greatly surprised him. After completing his prostration the Imam said to his companion:

“It seems that you are astonished to see me prostrating”

His companion answered: “Yes,” and the Imam said:

“Remembering one of Allah's blessings to me, I could not continue until I had given thanks to Him.”3

Thus the infallible Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a) instruct us to thank Almighty Allah for each of His blessings.

As we see, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a), remembering one of Allah's blessings on his way, stopped and prostrated to Allah to give thanks for His blessings.

Surely Allah gives us so many favours (blessings) that we are not able to count them all, He provides us with good health, and intellect with which to think; eyes with which to see; ears with which to hear. He also supplies us with food and drink. It is through His favour that we may be healed when we are ill. We should always feel thankful for the blessings of Allah and praise and thank Him.

Certainly we thank Allah when He gives us food and drink.

And how grateful we are when He saves us from danger or harm!

And how we thank Him if He delivers us from drowning, or a car accident!

And how we thank Him when we see a disabled man or a blind man while we are in a good health!

We are aware of Allah's blessings upon us when we see all these happenings.

Indeed, from the hadith of the Prophet of Allah (s) we know that our Prophet said: “Whoever is satisfied with food and drink and praises Allah for His blessings, Allah will certainly reward him for his thanks as surely as He gives the fasting man a reward for his fasting, because Allah appreciates the good deeds of His servants and He loves them to show their gratitude.”

My Lord, Sustain me that I may be thankful for the favours that You have conferred upon me and my parents, and to do what is righteous that I may receive Your satisfaction.

  • 1. Tabrasi, Mashkat al-Anwar, p.28, 2nd Edition.
  • 2. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir is the son of Ali al-Sajjad, son of Imam Husayn, son of Imam Ali (a). He is considered as the Imam for all Muslims and the leader for all believers and from him other Imams and scholars (ulama) quoted Prophetic narrations and religious science.
  • 3. Tabrasi, Mashkat al-Anwar, p. 29.

The Best Things about Being Muslim

The Messenger of Allah (s) says:

“Among the best things about a man being Muslim is that he does not interfere in things with he is not concerned, so beware of this as you will not be excused it.”1

In this hadith, the Holy Prophet (s) forbids us from interfering in the affairs of people which have nothing to do with us and with which we have no connection.

For example, if you see two persons holding a private conversation, do not eavesdrop or try to join in. It maybe that they have certain confidences between them which they do not want others to be aware of or involved in.

If someone says something which has nothing to do with you, do not try to involve yourself in such a conversation, or speak as a representative for one who has not asked you. And if you find out something which does not concern you, do not use it to intervene.

For example, do not lend your friend's book to another person. It is not yours to do so, and if you do indeed you have interfered in another person's business.

For sure, the faithful with strong beliefs and good morals is not arrogant and never interferes in other's affairs.

If you do involve yourself, indeed you have committed a grave mistake against people and must correct yourself by apologizing because you have done harm to others in affairs that do not concern you. Among the best characteristics of the believer is not doing harm to anyone and in case of erring, one should repent and confess their fault.

A faithful differs from a hypocrite, who never admits his/her mistake nor apologizes for the harm he/she continually does against people.

Although it is among the believer's characteristics not to become involved in others' affairs and not to be officious, it is necessary to distinguish between interfering and intervening in the case of bidding what is right and forbidding what is wrong.

For instance, it we see a person committing a crime, or lying, stealing, or oppressing others, or deceiving or behaving in a vulgar manner, it is obligatory upon us to advise them of their wrong doing in order that they abstain from such misdeeds. Such intervention is not interfering but only doing one's moral duty as a true believer.

Summary

1. Surely, among the faithful's characteristics is not to interfere in the affairs of others.

2. The faithful neither hurts others nor causes them harm, and if he commits a mistake he apologizes.

3. The hypocrite only harms and hurts others and never apologizes to them.

There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

  • 1. Yaqoobi, Tarikh al-Yaqoobi, vol.2 p.95; Al-Hurr Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 6, Book on Bidding to do good.

The Greatest Sins

The Messenger of Allah (s) says:

“Shall I inform you of the greatest sins? Associating others with Allah, being undutiful to parents, and false words.”

Sin and crime are both evil for people. Associating other partners with Allah, being undutiful to parents, and uttering false words are all mentioned by the Holy Prophet (s) in this hadith as being among the greatest sins. Others include theft, murder, deceit, gambling, sorcery, and harming others...etc.

All cause as much harm to their doers as they harm other people. Indeed, Allah promises the wrongdoers who commit these offences severe punishment, i.e. hell, but some of these sins are worse than others. This is because they are more harmful and endanger the lives of people, and also because they cause sins.

The most abominable of these atrocious sins are the following:

1. Associating other Partners with Allah

Associating other partners with Allah is to believe in the existence of a god other than Allah, or to say that Allah has sons as the Jews and the Christians allege, and Whose beginning is like that of other creatures. Such beliefs are considered among the greatest sins because they cause people to deviate from the straight path, and it is telling lies about Allah.

And he whose belief is corrupt and lies against Allah, does not respect people, nor guards the welfare of humanity nor forbids crimes and wrongdoing. That is why polytheism is among the greatest sins.

2. To Be Undutiful towards Parents

A Muslim's heart is filled with love and kindness towards parents. Both have favoured for us and are the origin of our existence in this life. Our education, instruction and care are due to them. No one forgets his father's favour, who strives to work and supports his family. And no one forgets his mother's favour, bearing us in her womb while her life blood nourishes us, and watching over us many a night sleepless for our sake, keeping us, rearing us and educating us.

Parents are the source of love and benevolence for each individual in society, and whoever wrongs their parents and does not carry out his duties towards them is surely an unrighteous person, having no respect and being ungrateful to those who bestowed such benevolence upon us. Such a person will become habitual in doing evil against others and extorting from them their rights.

The Holy Messenger (s) instructs us that being undutiful towards our parents is among the greatest sins, and Allah is wrathful with those who wrong their parents and deny them respect.

3. False Words

Speaking false words is denying what is true. Indeed, the Holy Messenger (s) says: It is considered among the greatest sins because the liar causes harm both to people and to himself.

Lying is the result of doing various evil deeds, like a thief stealing property and denying it belongs to others. When asked why he has stolen another's property; he will claim that he did not take it. Or there is the oppressor who denies people their basic rights and when he is asked why he behaves in such a bad way, he lies about it.

Lying is the route to destruction of all moral behaviour in contrast to being really truthful and confessing misdeeds to ensure they are not committed again.

It is said one lie leads to another, and the Messenger Muhammad (s) says: Surely, lying is among the greatest sins due to its being the cause for crimes, and when man gives it up and is truthful, he will be far from such crimes.

Controlling Anger

Once a man approached the Messenger of Allah (s) and asked: “Advise me”. Then the Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“Do not be angry”. The man repeated the same question and (the Prophet) again said: “Do not be angry,” and continued: “He is not strong and powerful who throws people down but he is strong who withholds himself from anger.”1

Allah created man and gave him different psychological emotions like love, hate, fear, anger...etc. Every man feels these emotions in him according to conditions and circumstances. Thus, he likes and dislikes, becomes afraid or enraged in certain situations. Each emotion offers some profit to man if used correctly. But equally, there is the grave danger of provoking harm if they are used incorrectly. Harm will be inflicted not only on others but also will backfire on the inflictor.

For instance, Allah, the Almighty, made fear in the human soul so that he might protect himself against danger, and stay away from evil and crime. For such an occasion, fear is a good way to keep man from evil and corruption.

The faithful who fears Allah also fears committing sins and evil deeds. Consequently, he keeps to the right path by staying away from such crimes. But there is a difference between fear and cowardice. It is not right for the faithful to be a coward or to be controlled by weakness, without standing up to an aggressor or without confronting oppression, evil and corruption. Being afraid in a cowardly way only leads to being submitted to humiliation and aggression.

Anger as an emotion existing in the human soul, has a useful aim for man and can be a counterbalance to cowardice if he uses it in a correct way.

Man should be angry about an evil action or corruption in society. He should be angry for the right, for Allah alone, and he should defend good and goodness. But anger can harm himself and other people and even be changed to evil if he becomes angry for meaningless causes and does not control himself, allowing his anger to overwhelm his will. Anger then pushes man to oppress others and to commit crimes by its uncontrollable use, which is in gross disobedience to Allah.

The Messenger of Allah (s) forbids man against such anger but considers one who controls himself when he is confronted with evil sufficient to make him angry, as a man strong in will, mind and wisdom. He is more powerful than a wrestler, as his mental control is more than physical strength, and defeats evil and aggression not only in others but also in himself.

The man who can control himself when angry, and prevent himself from doing harm to others or oppressing them or punishing them, has a will of iron and is of exalted character. He couples pushing problems away and alleviating harm from himself with spreading the spirit of love, forgiveness and tolerance among people.

Indeed, Allah loves those who control their anger and He forgives those who do not seek revenge or punishment.

Certainly, Allah, the Exalted is All-Forgiving Who forgives His servants and tolerates them and He also loves His servants to forgive each other, to tolerate each other and not be vindictive to each other.

If a man wrongs another man or makes a mistake, and he repents, then Islam recommends forgiving such a man and not punishing him, because Allah is All-Pardoning and He loves those who pardon people.

To Summarise

1. Anger, like fear, is a psychological condition, and cause of evil and aggressive actions.

2. One who does not control his anger loses control of his mind. The enraged man cannot control his actions, and harms and hurts himself and others.

3. A faithful should have a strong will not to become angry over everything but only when he sees evil deeds or corruption, which he should try to reform.

4. A believer is one who forgives and tolerates people's mistakes because Allah loves those who forgive others and will reward them on the Day of Resurrection.

  • 1. Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul an aal al-Rasul, p.33, 5th Edition.

Cheating And Deceit

The Messenger of Allah (s) says:

“Whoever deceives another Muslim or harms him or even dislikes him is not one of us.”1

Deceiving is strictly forbidden

Like other acts it harms others as well as the deceiver.

How cheated you feel and how you complain if you buy food and then discover that it is bad and the seller has deceived you and has benefited himself at your expense!

How cheated you feel and how you complain if your watch is broken and you take it to a watch-maker to repair, but he deceives you about fixing it and after a few days it breaks down again with the same fault!

Indeed, you feel that these people are mischievous and troublesome and have misled you by taking your money in an unlawful (haram) way and by deceiving you and causing annoyance to you. You have the right to return the bad food to the one who cheated you and get your money back; and you have the right to return the watch to the watch-maker to repair it again because both tried to deceive you.

Surely, deceiving is unlawful and an immoral deed, so believers never do it.

Among our Islamic morals is to advise others both in speech and action on what is correct. Thus if one of us does something or carries out a task, it is obligatory for him to do it with sincerity and without deceiving people. If someone asks for advice, a believer should advise him truly without deceiving him.

Surely, the Holy Messenger (s) says: He who deceives Muslims is incomplete in belief and is not one of us!

Causing Harm is Forbidden

As the Messenger of Allah (s) warned us against deceiving people through this hadith, he also warned us against any deed which causes harm and hurts others. Whoever causes harm to others intentionally is not a believer, so it is obligatory for a believer to indemnify people for any harm caused by him to them.

For example, the farmer who prevents water from reaching other farmers in order to destroy their crops is surely a destructive man who deliberately wants to cause harm. Whoever deliberately damages a footpath indeed causes harm to other people. These acts and others like them are intentionally damaging and cause destruction to society. A faithful should avoid doing anything which harms others. A Muslim is a useful man, who does good actions, tries to benefit others and never thinks of just himself.

Cunning is Forbidden

Indeed, the Islamic religion wants a Muslim to deal with people in a straight manner - not to deceive or cheat them. Indeed, neither the cheater nor the deceiver are believers.

Among the examples of deceiving is the way some traders behave in order to cheat each other, such as one who goes to another trader and tells him: Surely, this product is no good, so do not buy it. He says this so that no one competes with him in buying that product, and if others listen to him, he can buy it in order to obtain maximum profits for himself.

Verily, this act of cunning and the like are forbidden, as it is a form of deceiving, which a Muslim with true belief never does.

Indeed, a Muslim does not cheat another Muslim nor does any act which causes harm to him.Indeed, a Muslim does not cheat another Muslim nor does any act which causes harm to him.

  • 1. Harrani; Tuhaf al-Uqul an aal al-Rasul, Prophet's Sermons.

Repentance

The Messenger of Allah (s) says:

“A repentant person is like one who has no sin.”1

Allah, the Most High, sent us prophets in order to clarify the right path and explain what is lawful (halal), what is permitted for us to do, and what is forbidden (haram) and harmful which we should avoid, such as lying, murdering, gambling, stealing, being deceitful, being undutiful towards parents, and other forbidden acts. Also he instructed us on what is obligatory (wajib) for us to perform such as prayer, fasting, helping the poor, respecting Prophet Muhammad (s) and his holy progeny (Ahlul-Bait) (peace be upon them all) and so on.

Some people deliberately disobey Allah and His orders which are beneficial for mankind and the welfare of the society. They do the forbidden such as stealing another's property or oppressing people or doing harm to their parents, or giving up their duties which Allah made obligatory, like paying poor-rates (zakat) for the needy, not performing prayers, and behaving badly towards their parents.

For whoever stops doing an obligatory duty or commits a forbidden act, it is obligatory for him to repent, take responsibility for his action and ask forgiveness from Allah by regretting the mistake. If someone oppresses people or takes their property unlawfully, then that person should apologise to them and return their rights so that Allah is pleased with him.

Surely, Allah is Most-Merciful to His servants; therefore He accepts their repentance and forgives them if they regret for their evil deeds and want to make righteous people out of themselves again.

The Messenger Muhammad (s) says: Surely, Allah is Oft-Pardoning and Most-Merciful, Who forgives His servants' sins if they ask forgiveness and give them up, as if they had not committed any sin.

Thus, repentance purifies the self from sin as water purifies clothes from dirt.

Among the rights of Allah is to punish the disobedient and not accept their repentance but He is Most-Merciful with His servants and loves to help them by giving them opportunities to think and repent in order to set them on the right path towards reforming themselves and society.

Thus, repentance is “Giving up disobedience without repeating it again”

Summary

1. Disobedience is to commit forbidden acts and give up obligatory ones.

2. Repentance is to give up disobedience and refrain from repeating it.

3. Allah is Most-Merciful with His servants. He accepts their repentance and forgives them if they regret their misdeeds.

4. It is obligatory for a man to ask Allah for forgiveness and to do the obligatory acts and give up the forbidden ones, and to regret his evil deeds.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

  • 1. Tabrasi, Mashkat al-Anwar, p.110, 2nd Edition.