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Ingredients of an Ideal Muslim Character

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By Aisha Mohsin

Allah swt says in the Noble Quran:

“You are the best of nations sent to man. You command good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah”. (Surah Al-Imran)

The character of a true Muslim is infused with the guidance of the Quran and teachings of the beloved Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This article aims to highlight some of the ideal characteristics of an ideal Muslim.

1) Faith

The heart and soul of what constitutes an ideal Muslim character is faith.

Faith in this context is defined as unflinching belief, uncontaminated by any stain of ignorance, superstition or illusion. Faith in Allah swt and His Power over all the worlds. That none can be compared to Him, and there is none worthy of worship but Him. And the belief that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the last Prophet. Faith in Qadr, being content with the inescapable decree of Allah swt while humbly acknowledging His blessings with gratitude and exercising patience whenever a calamity befalls.

It comes as no surprise that the real test of the true Muslim’s faith lies in the following of the commandments of Allah swt and His Messenger.

“None of you truly believes until his inclination is in accordance with what I have brought.”

– An-Nawwai’s forty Hadith, hadith no. 41

“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. They remember God, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! You did not create all of this in vain. Far removed are You from every imperfection! Preserve us from the punishment of the Hellfire.” (Quran 3:190-191)

2) Quest for knowledge

And say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (Quran 20:114)

Faith is based in one’s heart, it is however, complemented in an intellectual capacity. Striving to apply Islamic teachings not based on blind faith but educational rigor and curiosity.

In the doctrines of Islam, the quest for knowledge and faith are compatible and complementary; both require diligent efforts and intention to place Allah swt, the Lord of the universe, at the centre of our lives.

For a true Muslim, knowing Allah swt is the greatest and noblest of knowledge. It is the Ilm – the beneficial knowledge we are all encouraged to seek to find a sense of purpose and direction in our lives.

It is important to know that the heart of a true believer is filled with Allah’s swt love and fear, together these two ingredients help serve as a guiding compass that doesn’t let him go astray or become negligent of his duties towards His Creator.

The love and reverence for Allah swt is the key incentive for a true Muslim when it comes to maintaining good ties with his relatives. He knows that when a Muslim takes care of his affairs with fellow humans, both closely and distantly related, Allah swt takes it upon Him to rectify all his matters with honour.

3) Good manners

In the wake of prejudices against Islam and the Muslims, the need to respect and honour all human beings irrespective of their religion, colour, race, gender, language, status, property, birth, profession/job, has become extremely important than ever.

A true Muslim should demonstrate to all people the goodness of Islam with his good manners like truth, courage, tolerance, generosity, mercy, benevolence and forgiveness.

“Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel [Evil] what is better: then will he between whom and you were hatred become as it were your friend. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint – none but the persons of good fortune.” (41: 34-35)

Bukhari and Muslim reported the Hadith of Anas “No one is a believer if he does not like for his brother what he likes for himself.”

The scholars said that the word ‘brother’ here is used in the most common context and thus means brothers in humanity both Muslims and non-Muslims. A Muslim would love for his non-Muslim brother, as he loves for himself, to become a Muslim to enjoy the benefits of Islam and rewards of Allah swt.

4) Unique long-term focus

“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Will you not then understand?” (Quran, Al-An’aam: 32)

Another important quality of a true Muslim is his intentions to be beneficial to others coupled with the long-term perspective of life & its ultimate objective.

Driven by short-term rewards, we have figured routes and shortcuts to instant gratification. All of the worldly pursuits have one thing in common and that is to “maximize one’s self and capitalize on the greed – the I, me & myself narrative. Whereas, Allah (swt) in the Noble Quran reaffirms the temporary nature of this world redirecting our concern towards lasting rewards and benefits both in this world and the after.

A true Muslim is always mindful of his brief time on earth and knows that it’s wise to turn his focus away from ‘self’ to fellow humans by doing as many acts of kindness as he can.

He models generosity and spends in the path of Allah, he invests precious resources such as effort, energy and time in da’wah and does it all for the sake of Allah (swt) and not as mere worldly pursuits with little or no outcome in the Hereafter.

5) Virtue of noble intentions

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.”

Truth is, our “intention” behind an action sets up an important dichotomy.

A true believer internalizes the fact that a seemingly insignificant choice of helping someone purely for the sake of Allah (swt) can shape the ramifications of his future for the better.

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, related from his Lord the Blessed and Exalted, “Verily, Allah has recorded good and bad deeds and he made them clear. Whoever intends to perform a good deed but does not do it, then Allah will record it as a complete good deed. If he intends to do it and does so, then Allah the Exalted will record it as ten virtuous deeds up to seven hundred times as much or even more.” (Bukhari)

A true Muslim knows that the niyyah/intention with which all his actions, big or small, are purposed, has a far-reaching impact irrespective of how practically invisible and materialistically insignificant it appears in the infinite scheme of things. Indeed, the reward is bound to be in stored in the hereafter for the people with God-consciousness.

May Allah (swt) help us to embody these amazing characteristics and bless us with the wisdom, capacity and courage to manifest Islam in all its wonderful beauty.

The ideal Muslim is the embodiment of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ – sayings, actions and the approvals of the Prophet Muhammad,  sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) starting with his relationship with his Lord, his own self, his family and the people around him. Learn more about how to develop the ideal Muslim character with our online course, ‘The Muslim DNA’, as we delve into the Tafseer and hadith to extract the life lessons we need to become better people.