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A Muslim's Character and Behaviour
By: Yasin Syed
Sincerity, compassion and forgiveness are qualities that are very important to an individual. They form the basis of a person's character and help him or her interact with society. These values are also some of the most essential qualities that are to be present in a Muslim. Islam teaches Muslims to beautify their character and Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala commands Muslims to reflect their religion by demonstrating a noble character and having a good personality. But in order for Muslims to possess such qualities, we must follow our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. Since Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "Surely there is for you the best example in the Messenger of Allah (that is, in Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam), for whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah often (much)." (Verse 21, Surah Al-Ahzab).
The life of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam was full of compassion, forgiveness and sincerity. He excelled in virtue and piety. The people of Makkah called him "Al-Ameen" (The Trustworthy) and "As-Sadiq" (The Truthful). It was through these fine qualities and noble values, that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam was able to win the hearts of the people of Makkah and Madinah and bring them to the fold of Islam.
Apart from maintaining a strong faith, a Muslim also has to maintain a good character. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said, "Modesty and faith are twins. One who gives up one has to lose the other too." A Muslim should refrain from being ill-mannered and immodest. When a Muslim has strong faith, his/her character will also be strong. If his or her character is very weak, then the faith will also be very weak. A Muslim can create a good character within one's self by praying salah five times a day, fasting and paying zakaah. These forms of worship instill good manners and an exemplary behaviour within a Muslim. The daily salah cleans a person physically and spiritually. It also prohibits evil and obscenity. Fasting teaches a person self-control and makes him righteous while zakaah creates kindness and sympathy within a person. It helps Muslims to become more charitable and more caring about the less fortunate in the society.
Muslims should also demonstrate an excellent character to their neighbours and the community that they live in. They should always present themselves as helpful and caring individuals to their neigbours. In a Hadith, a person inquired the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam about the fate of a woman who was very famous for her prayers and fasting but who always talked very rudely with her neighbours. The Prophet replied that she would go to Hell. The same person also asked the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam about another woman who prays and fasts and doesn't harm her neighbours. The Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam replied that she would enter Paradise. This Hadith shows that it is not sufficient enough for a Muslim to just pray and fast in order to enter Paradise but also, a Muslim has to be compassionate and caring towards other members of society.
Muslims should continue to display their exemplary behaviour and should show mercy and forgiveness even to their enemies. Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam forgave non-believers who caused great harm and injury to him. Rather than praying for their death and their destruction, the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam instead prayed for their forgiveness from Allah. Even during the incident at Ta'if, where the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam was pelted with stones by the people, he was asked by Angel Jibreel Alayhissalam to give permission to destroy the town, but the Prophet refused but instead prayed that their progeny may become Muslim. Muslims should also treat non-Muslims with respect and dignity. They should show compassion and mercy towards them. Once, the Holy Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam was walking at a very slow pace with his companions. The Sahaba were very puzzled and asked him if they could walk faster. But the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam replied that there was an old man walking ahead of him. His companions told him that the man was a non-believer but the Prophet replied that the man was worthy of respect because of his old age.
Islam spread to many parts of the world because of the noble character and the excellent qualities that were demonstrated by Muslims. Their compassion, tolerance and generosity spread throughout the world. It helped introduce Islam to other places and also showed our tolerance and respect to people of other faiths. Excellent behaviour and good qualities are an important part of our religion. It helps us live peacefully together as a society and it also reflects our beautiful religion to the outside world.