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A Message to Perfect Morals

A Message to Perfect Morals

Anyone who reads the life story of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) will be amazed by the weight put on morals and good manners be it between the Prophet and his Lord, his Companions, his family, his neighbors, and the whole society including the unfaithful.

Here is the testimony of one of the Companions who accompanied the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for a very long time. It is Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet’s servant, who said,

I served the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) for ten years, and, by Allah, he never said to me any harsh word, and he never said to me about a thing as to why I had done that and as to why I had not done that.” (Muslim)

They say that in times of anger and fear the inner self surfaces. In such unusual emotional conditions the real self intertwined with its innate characteristics appear and one acts accordingly. So, an incident like the following reveals the true character of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Anas ibn Malik said,

“While I was walking with the Prophet who was wearing a Najrani outer garment with a thick hem, a Bedouin came upon the Prophet and pulled his garment so violently that I could recognize the impress of the hem of the garment on his shoulder, caused by the violence of his pull.Then the Bedouin said, ‘Order for me something from Allah’s fortune which you have.’

The Prophet turned to him and smiled, and ordered that a gift be given to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Yes, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) turned to him in a friendly manner, gave him a radiant smile, and he further rewarded him with a financial gift!

Good manners

Good manners occupy one of the greatest positions in Islam as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “ I was sent (by Allah) to only perfect the sublime morals.” (Ahmad) As if the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) summed up his entire divine mission in this matter.

There is nothing weird in this if we come to understand ‘morals’ as the relationship between man and Allah and between him and the rest of mankind; a matter which sums up the whole faith of Islam.

How to deal with the Creator? How to worship Him and avoid what may incur His wrath? How to deal with the created including the Angels, Prophets and Messengers, righteous people and otherwise, relatives and all the others?

Notwithstanding, if we understand ‘morals’ in the narrow sense of the word which is dealing with mankind only, then the hadith denotes the significance of good manners and the lofty position it occupies in the religion of Allah. Indeed, both understandings are correct and valid and both denote the immense significance of good morals in Islam.

Allah blessed His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with the sum of all noble and lofty manners. The Almighty says, {And indeed, you are of a great moral character.} (Al-Qalam 68: 4)

In the same vein, when Lady `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the character or morals of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) she said, “His morals were the morals of the Qur’an.” (Muslim)

`Abdullah ibn `Amr mentioned the Messenger saying that he was neither a Fahish nor a Mutafahish(never used bad language). `Abdullah ibn `Amr added, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.”(Al-Bukhari)

Indeed, morals are not something superficial that can be ignored or done without. Rather, they are the basics of life as advocated by religion. Even the acts of worship ordained in Islam are not empty or vague rituals that may burden man with obscure or meaningless movements or exercises. Instead, they are regular exercises to help man live one’s beliefs while observing good manners no matter what the conditions are.

Concerning Salah (i.e., Prayer), for example, Allah says,{…and establish Prayer. Indeed, Prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing.} (Al-`Ankabut 29: 45)In connection with the above hadith where the Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon him) says, “I was sent (by Allah) to only perfect the sublime morals.”

Scholars say that the previous divine missions brought to humanity by preceding Messengers and Prophets of Allah all of them advocated good morals, but, in this last message, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) brought with him the most perfect of all manners. Consider the following example of retaliation (Arabic: Qisas) to get this straight forward.

In Judaism, for instance, it was inevitable that a killed person be avenged by killing the murderer while the heir or defender of the killed person’s rights had no other choice but accepting retaliation. In Christianity, forgiveness was mandatory and revenge or retaliation never was an option.

However, the two options are available as far as Islam, the seal of all divine legislation, is concerned. The heir or guardian of the killed person’s rights is free to choose either to take revenge or to show mercy. He is allowed either to retaliate in a way as to deter all other wrongdoers in the society, or to pardon the murderer as a sign of showing mercy and magnanimity.

Thus, Islam never ignores or overlooks any of the needs of man or his psychological demands. In short, one is entirely free either to take revenge and establish justice on earth or to forgive and set a good example of grace.


About Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

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