Good Morals

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Description:  Two lessons will explain a variety of good morals in Islamic ethics to make us better human beings. Objectives ·         To ap...

Description: Two lessons will explain a variety of good morals in Islamic ethics to make us better human beings.
Objectives
·       To appreciate the importance of good morals.
·       To learn about 10 good Islamic morals.

Introduction

When asked about the best of the believers, the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, replied, “They are those who have the best character and manners.”[1]
Good character will be the heaviest righteous deed to be placed on a person’s scale of deeds on the Day of Judgement.
The Prophet Muhammad said, “No deed that will be placed on the scale of deeds (on the Day of Judgement) will be heavier than good character. Indeed, a person with good character will attain the rank of those with a good record of voluntary fasts and prayers.”[2]

1.   Truthfulness

Islam teaches that truthfulness is far more than having an honest tongue. In Islam, truthfulness is the conformity of the outer with the inner, the action with the intention, the speech with belief, and the practice with the preaching. As the Prophet Muhammad related:
“I order you to be truthful, for indeed truthfulness leads to righteousness, and indeed righteousness leads to Paradise.  A man continues to be truthful and strives for truthfulness until he is written as a truthful person with God.  And beware of falsehood, for indeed falsehood leads to sinning, and indeed sinning leads to the Fire.  A man continues to tell lies and strives upon falsehood until he is written as a liar with God.”[3]

2.   Honesty and integrity

Honesty, an essential ingredient of the Muslim character, includes being truthful towards Allah by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to Allah’s laws; and being truthful with others by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling and marriage.  There should be no deceiving, cheating, falsifying or withholding of information, thus a person should be the same on the inside as he is on the outside. 
The Quran states,
“Woe unto those who give short measure, those who, when they are to receive their due from people, demand that it be given in full but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due.” (Quran 83:1-6)

3.   Tolerance

Although Muslims might disagree with other ideological systems and religious dogmas, it should not prevent them from tolerant and respectful interaction with non-Muslims:
"And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say we believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him." (Quran 29: 46)
Islam through the course of its history has granted the people of other faiths the highest degree of tolerance by allowing them to follow their way, although some of their practices might have been in conflict with the religion of the majority.
Even among themselves, Muslims should generally be tolerant of their differences.

4.   Being kind and merciful

Kindness is a hallmark of a Muslim. Allah says about Himself,
‘Indeed, Allah is kind and merciful to the people.’ (Quran 2:143)
Allah has described the Prophet Muhammad as kind in the Quran (9:128). The Messenger of Allah said, “The believer is kind and gracious, for there is no goodness in one who is neither kind nor gracious. The best of the people are those who are most beneficial to others.”[4]
He commanded even his wives to be kind, “O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.”[5]

5.   Trustworthiness

An important part of the noble Islamic character is being trustworthy. Prophet Muhammad was known, even before his prophethood to be Al-Amin (the trustworthy one). Being trustworthy implies being honest, fair in dealings and punctual as well as honoring trusts and keeping promises and commitments. 
Prophet Muhammad said,
“Allah says, ‘There are three people whom I shall be their opponent on the Day of Judgment: A man who was given something in My Name and then betrays; a man who sells-off a free man (as a slave) and consumes the price; and a man who hires a laborer, makes use of his service then does not give him his wages.’”[6]

6.   Humility

Humility is one of the greatest blessings Allah can bestow on a human being.  It allows one to achieve genuine submission to Allah. Humility comes from knowing about Allah and recognizing His greatness, venerating Him, loving Him and being in awe of Him; and it comes from knowing about oneself and one’s own faults, and weaknesses.  Allah gives this characteristic to those who struggle to become close to Him through deeds of piety and righteousness. Prophet Muhammad said,
“Wealth does not decrease because of charity, and God increases His slave in honor when he forgives others.  And no one humbles himself before God but God will raise him (in status).”[7]
A Muslim is expected to respect others and be humble with them.

7.   Being fair and just

In the Islamic worldview, justice denotes placing things in their rightful place.  It also means giving others equal treatment.  The Prophet of Islam declared:
“There are seven categories of people whom God will shelter under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His.  [One is] the just leader.”[8]
Allah spoke to His Messenger in this manner:
“O My slaves, I have forbidden injustice for Myself and forbade it also for you.  So avoid being unjust to one another.”[9]

8.   Generosity

Generosity was among the countless good qualities of the Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most generous in Ramadan.
Some people came to the Prophet Muhammad and asked, “If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.”[10]

9.   Being grateful

A Muslim is always grateful to Allah for all His countless blessings. There are many ways to express gratitude to Him.  The first and foremost way is to worship Him in the manner that He has prescribed.  The Five Pillars of Islam were ordained upon us by Allah and they guide us to worship Him easily. The believer also expresses gratitude by giving charity.  Allah says,
“Therefore, remember Me (by praying, glorifying, etc.).  I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless Favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.” (Quran 2:152)
A Muslim is also appreciative and grateful to those people who favor him. Allah says,
“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Quran 55:60)
Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever does you a favour, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him until you think that you have reciprocated him.”[11]

10.                   Forgiving

Forgiveness means to relinquish the right of retaliation that you have over somebody for something wrong done to you.  Allah offers innumerable rewards for those who forgive. He says in the Quran,
"Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Quran 24:22)
"But if someone is steadfast and forgives, that is the most resolute course to follow." (Quran 42:43)
"… (those) who repress anger and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves the doers of good." (Quran 3:134)
The inability to forgive can affect us deeply, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.  It causes stress and ill health. 


Footnotes:
[1] Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud
[2] Tirmidhi
[3] Saheeh Muslim
[4] Mu’jam Al-Awsat
[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[6] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[7] Saheeh Muslim
[8] Saheeh Muslim
[9] Saheeh Muslim
[10] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[11] Abu Dawood

Part 2

Description: Two lessons will explain a variety of good morals in Islamic ethics to make us better human beings.
Objectives
·       To learn about 10 more good Islamic morals.
Arabic Terms
·        Haram - Forbidden or prohibited.
·       Ikhlas - sincerity, purity or isolation.  Islamically it denotes purifying our motives and intentions to seek the pleasure of Allah.    It is also the name of the 112th chapter of Quran.

1.   Keeping promises

The human society cannot function without the institution of promises and assurances of their fulfillment.  It is obligatory to fulfil promises and covenants, and it isharam to break them and act in a treacherous manner. Allah says,
“And fulfil (every) covenant.  Indeed! the covenant, will be questioned about.” (Quran 17:34)
Fulfilling promises is a means of attaining security in this world and preventing bloodshed, and of protecting the rights of people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as Allah says:
“but if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance, and Allah is the All-Seer of what you do” (Quran 8:72)

2.   Being punctual

Without any doubt the level of one’s punctuality tells us how much respect he/she has towards time.  Punctuality includes being respectful of other people’s time.   When one gives someone a time to meet or do something, then he/she should be prompt in fulfilling it.
On a community level, if there is a program it should start as scheduled and those who reached on time should not have to wait for the late comers.  Likewise the program should end on time to allow people to leave for other engagements they may have planned, instead of detaining them longer than they expected. 
The day of a Muslim is built around prayers which need to be performed at specific times, and this gives a Muslim a fairly good practice to be punctual.  Allah’s other creations like sun, moon, night, and day follow a disciplined course,
“See you not that Allah merges the night into the day, and merges the day into the night, and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for an appointed term; and that Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Quran 31:29)

3.   Being polite and respectful

To be one of those who are successful, Islam requires that each individual learns to obey the Creator and thus treat humankind, the environment, the believers, and ourselves with respect. 
Respect involves staying completely away from the major sins of backbiting, lying, slander, and gossip.
Respect for humanity means staying away from sins that will sow discord among the people and lead to destruction.   Respect includes loving for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.   Respect involves treating others the way we expect to be treated and the way we hope Allah will treat us –with compassion, love and mercy. 

4.   Being friendly

A Muslim who truly understands the teachings of his/her religion is gentle, friendly and likeable.  He mixes with people and gets along with them.  He understands that keeping in touch with people and earning their trust is ‘Muslim-like’.  Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Shall I not tell you who among you is the most beloved to me and will be closest to me on the Day of Resurrection?” He repeated it two or three times, and they said, ”Yes, O Messenger of Allah.“  He said: “Those of you who are the best in attitude and character.”[1]
Some reports add: “Those who are down to earth and humble, who get along with others and with whom others feel comfortable.”

5.   Self-control

Self-control is a quality that is embedded in the religion of Islam.  We are faced with choices and temptations in every direction.  We are asked to lower our gaze, to control our anger, and to consider our words before speaking.   The fasting month of Ramadan is an exercise in self-control.   We refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset.   We might be hungry and thirsty but we exercise self-control in order to please Allah and to build our resilience.   Following our own desires is not something that Islam encourages.
“…they only follow their own lusts.   And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allah?” (Quran 28:50)

6.   Being helpful and cooperative

Let’s work together: on the playing field, at the office, raising children.  Humankind cannot live except by cooperating with others.  We need one another.  Every professional needs the assistance of others.  By cooperating life continues smoothly; but if there is no cooperation, life will come to a standstill.  Islam calls for cooperation and urges the Muslims to cooperate in order to retain their unity.  Allah says:
“Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” (Quran 5:2)

7.   Having empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand and share the feelings of others, like walking in someone else’s shoes.  Is empathy encouraged in Islam? Absolutely! Consider this verse about our Prophet Muhammad:
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves.  Grievous to him is what you suffer; (he is) concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.” (Quran 9:128)
Our Prophet would always feel our suffering and is praised by Allah for his empathetic nature.
The Prophet himself also encouraged us to feel empathy for one another, he was reported to have said:
“The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body.  When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”[2]

8.   Modesty

All prophets and messengers encouraged modesty, as the Prophet said:
“Indeed from the teachings of the first prophets which has reached you is, ‘If you do not have shyness, then do as you please.”[3]
Modesty as a sense of shame or shyness in human beings is the shrinking of the soul from foul conduct, a quality that prevents one from behaving badly towards others or encouraging others to behave badly towards you.   Islamic ethics considers modesty as more than just a question of how a person dresses, and more than just modesty in front of people; rather it is reflected in a Muslim’s speech, dress, and conduct: in public in regards to people, and in private in regards to Allah.

9.   Sincerity

Ikhlas (sincerity) is to do everything, internal and external, only desiring the pleasure of Allah.  It is to forget the eyes of the people, and whether they view your deeds or not, with the only thing on your mind that Allah is watching you.  There are beautiful verses in the Quran in this regard, where Allah describes the righteous in Paradise:
“They (are those who) fulfill (their) vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread.  And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, (saying), “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah.  We wish not from you reward or gratitude.” (Quran 76:7-9)

10.                   Repelling evil with good

Allah has praised those who respond to evil with good deeds.  Those who repel evil with good will find that their enemies will become their friends.  Allah says,
“Not equal are the good deed and the bad deed.  Repel evil by that which is better, and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend.  But none is granted it (this quality) except those who are patient and none is granted it except one having a great fortune.” (Quran 41:34-35)
Allah has reminded the believers in several verses to repel evil with good by being patient, merciful, and forgiving.


Footnotes:
[1] Musnad
[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

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Jama Masjid: Good Morals
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