Islamic teachings nurture noble, moral character

HE IT is Who raised among the inhabitants of Makkah a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in manifest error." [Quran, 62:2]

By Abid Ishaq

Published: Fri 11 May 2007, 9:22 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:25 AM

Dear readers, the purification mentioned in this divine verse includes the purification of the self (amongst other forms of cleanliness). Exalting the soul through high morals and cleansing it from wickedness, morality appears not only to be one of the goals of the final Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mission, but one of its most distinctive purposes. Possessing moral integrity is obligatory and essential as is clear from some of the Prophet’s supplications listed below.

"O Allah, guide me to good character, none guides to good character but You...." [Muslim]

"O Allah, I seek refuge in you from bad character, deeds, and desires." [Tirmidhi.]

"O Allah, You perfectly created me, so perfect my character." [Ahmad] "O Allah, I seek refuge in you from disability and laziness; from cowardice and avarice; from decrepitude and harshness; from negligence and impoverishment from lowness and humiliation. And I seek refuge in You from poverty and disbelief; from sinfulness, disunity and hypocrisy; from notability and riyaa’ [show]..." [Hakim]

Dear readers, because morality is one of the goals of the Prophet’s mission that Allah blessed the entirety of mankind with, He specified that the believers alone possess a special kind of it. Morality occupies such a lofty position in Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "I have only been sent to perfect moral integrity." [Ahmad] If we look at morality as a transaction between the servant and Allah, and between people, then the matter becomes clear. This is the whole religion. How do you deal with the Creator? How do you worship Him, profess belief in His oneness, and avoid His Wrath? How do you deal with created beings including the angels, the Prophets, the righteous, the close relatives who possess the rights of love and affection? What should be a Muslim’s stance towards sinners and hypocrites? All these and many other rulings are based on the divine morality that the Prophet was ordered to preach!

The wife of the Prophet, Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) described him as, "His character was just (a reflection of) the Quran." [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ahmad] The famous scholar of Islam, Ibn ul Qayyim (May Allah have Mercy on his soul) had the following advice for those striving to attain high moral values through the Prophet’s example. He wrote:

Such excellent character cannot be attained without three conditions:

1. The foundation must be good. If one has a rough and dry nature, it will be hard for him to submit to this [excellence of character] through knowledge, will, or practice. On the other hand, a mild and smooth nature will be ready and willing to receive the plowing and the seeds [to prepare it for character excellence].

2. The soul must be strong and capable of conquering calls of laziness, transgression, and desire. Those matters contradict perfection, and souls which cannot defeat them will always be defeated and conquered.

3. [One must possess] a discerning knowledge of the truth of matters, enabling one to put them in the rightful position, and to distinguish between flash and cancer —between glass and jewels.

If these three qualities are present in a man, and Allah’s facilitation helps him, then he will be among those whom the best (husnaa) has been decreed and for whom Allah’s care has been secured.

Dear readers, in times when morality is losing ground to unethical lifestyles, Muslims have an important role to play in all societies. Moral communities in turn offer security and bring about positive change. For Muslims to assist and take more leading roles in organisations, moral characters of the righteous are the starting point. A noble character is crucial in calling others to Islam.

Abid Ishaq can be reached at

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