Indeed all praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we rely solely on Him. We seek His refuge from the evil in our souls and from our wicked deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, He is One, with no partners, and I testify that Mohammad (ﷺ) is His Messenger and His slave.
The paper is divided into five parts:
- Part 1 - Introduction: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (1)
- Part 2 – Deen ul Islam & Foundation of Ethical code: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (2)
- Part 3 – Muslim Character Building through faith: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (3)
- Part 4 – Pillars of Islam, Morals & Character Building: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (4)
- Part 5 – How to attain high morals standards: Pillars of Islam & Ethics (5)
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PILLARS OF ISLAM & DEVELOPMENT OF EXCELLENT MORALS & CHARACTER
PART 3: CHARACTER BUILDING THROUGH FAITH
We discussed the purpose of our creation earlier and the reason of Allah (swt) sending us on Earth to be his vicegerent. Allah (swt) gave us a mission on Earth to bring awareness amongst the people about their Creator and their origin, and to inform them about their mission.
In order to help us in our mission and goals, Allah (swt) did not leave us helpless. He provided us with various tools and means that we can use to find guidance and truth. These means are in three areas:
- Creating us on a human nature (فطرة) that are the true traits of normal human being. And provided a person is not given wrong information, he continues to live on original human instinct/nature.
- By giving us conscience and intellect. That we use them to analyze our surrounding and make judgments of right and wrong.
- Send His Messenger with the Book of Allah (swt)’s Commands, who not only explain us our mission but also lived by us to proof by example on how to live it.
When we put these three together we find the right means and tools that we need to fulfill our missions.
Now, you may ask how does this relates to character building? There is a direct relationship between Faith and Character building as we discussed it in detail in next section.
Allah (swt) created Human on specific nature. This nature suites good character and qualities that distinct human beings from other creations (e.g. animals, devils). But when a child is growing and lives in a system or society his nature is affected and influenced by his surroundings. A good surrounding, good teachers, and good friends can help child build a good character and ethics. Similarly, A bad surrounding and bad influence from family, friends and social system will affect the child to build bad habits.
Further, these bad habits and influence may affect his conscience and intellect. A good human nature suggests killing another person is bad and this is also supported by natural conscience and intellect. However, a badly influenced person may not have his natural conscience and intellect, and his bad nature may take over his ability to think like a natural human being.
Hence, it is of utmost importance to build the right nature and conscience in a child or person, so he can think and act like a normal human being.
For this reason, Allah (swt) sent His Messengers with His Books. These Messengers came to teach us Allah’s guidance and keep us on right path.
All of this guidance is teaching us high moral and ethical standards that are required to maintain good environment and peace on Earth. If these Moral and Ethical Standards are not closely followed, then there is likely to be bloodshed on Earth.
Deen Islam is a Universal Religion
Islam is a universal religion. It is the religion that started with first man came to Earth – Adam, who was the first Messenger and vicegerent of Allah (swt) on Earth. After Him, came many Messengers who all brought the same common Message from Allah (swt).
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
16:36 “And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], "Worship Allah and avoid taghoot." And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed. So proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.” 33
Quran testifies and confirms all Islamic Religions that came before Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) including all Abrahamic faiths like Judaism and Christianity:
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ، نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنْزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ، مِنْ قَبْلُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَأَنْزَلَ الْفُرْقَانَ
3:2-4 “Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence. He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. Before, as guidance for the people. And He revealed the Qur'an”. 34
As we mentioned earlier, all Prophets brought same message of submission and obedience to Allah and rejection of anyone who rebel against Allah. All the Prophets submitted to Allah and accepted Islam as their Deen:
- Read more on Islam is universal religion here: The Deen - All Messengers delivered same Message
The summary from the history of all these Nobel Prophets and Messengers of Allah is that:
- The Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) did not found a new religion. Nor did any other Prophet. They all brought the same religion from same God (Allah)
- They were all Muslims (مُسْلِم). They all submitted (أَسْلَمْتُ) to Allah (swt).
- They accepted Allah (swt) as Rabb (اللَّهَ هُوَ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكُمْ).
- They all asked their followers to become slave to Allah (swt) (اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ).
- They all accepted Allah as Illah (إِلَهٍ), and accept Allah as legislator (إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلاَّ لِلّهِ), and they proclaimed la illaha illa Allah (لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الله).
- They all asked their followers to reject the rebellious (وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ).
Deen Islam is Guidance from the creator
In the beginning all nations on earth were united and they lived together peacefully and followed the commands of Allah swt. However, subsequently disagreement appeared and they parted their ways. Allah swt sent His Messengers to guide the people of earth, who bring them the commands and laws of Allah to establish social justice and peace.
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ وَأَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ فَهَدَى اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
2:213 “Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path.”53
Contrary to Darwinist who claims man evolved from another life form, or those who claim that man started life as polytheist until later when man progressed and monotheism arrived, Quran proclaims that human life began as Allah swt created Adam, the first man who was created in best of human form, and then created his wife and rest of their children were born54. Allah swt taught Adam all aspect of life55 before sending him to earth. Here he lived for long age and with His wife and guided his children to Shariah of Allah swt. Human race remained on right path and on teaching of Adam, however, later they deviated from the path of their father and divided themselves into groups and they differed with each other. Hence, Allah swt send new Messengers and Prophets who would guide them back to Allah’s Deen. These Messengers were given detailed laws to judge between people in matters in which they differed, and they warned them of reward and punishment that awaits them in after life.
However, people continued to differ for various reasons, sometimes sheer animosity, sometimes to control power, sometimes to control resources or wealth. Enslaved by their own desires they oppressed other people, either by physically empowering them or by controlling the resources and not giving fair share or access to others, or by enchanting laws that will make them more powerful and richer.
Allah swt sent His guidance to erode oppression, tyranny and injustice, and also to defend against evildoing and obscenity. His Messengers were sent to all nations and they will invite people to the truth and follow guidance of Allah the creator and reject the evildoers and rebellious transgressors. And Allah swt warned them that don’t create disagreement after His clear guidance has reached the masses, and do not deviate people from right path just for their desires and to control resources.
Some people agreed with the Truth and the guidance of Allah swt, and sided with the Messengers. They affirmed their faith and lived according to the commands and laws of Allah swt. Allah swt showered His mercy over them and guided them to the right path.
However, some continued to disagree. Amongst them are those who reached the ultimate limits in their transgression and prejudice. They would go to any length to prove their transgression and hate against the Deen of Allah swt. They killed their Prophets and Messengers, they tortured them, the deprived them of food, they stoned them; they oppressed anyone who helped the Messengers56.
Hence, we think the Guidance of Allah swt is applicable to people in two ways:
- Those who are either misled by others or by their own whims but they have not reached the limit of transgression, or they are unaware of proper teachings and guidance of Allah swt..
Or those people who are still searching for goodness and truth and ever willing to find out why are we here? And who created us? They do not side with oppressor and they help the humanity.
They can benefit from universal guidance of Allah swt if they have true intention to find ultimate truth, to know their creator.
- Those who have crossed all limit and bounds in transgression and they misguided people after Allah swt sent his clear guidance. They oppressed people to serve their own desires and agendas. They created wars to establish their own control and killed people. They deprived people of their right. Once their evildoing reaches certain level then Allah swt seals their fate.
These people are wretched and they will never attain faith in Allah swt. They have hate against Allah swt and His Deen. So, Allah swt has sealed their fate and increase their hate. These groups of people have lived in all times and they will never be guided, regardless of how strong evidence is produced for them.
Quran is a Book of Allah swt that with it Allah swt guide the people who are in first category and misguide the people who are in second category. As Allah swt stated: يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيراً وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيراً وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفَاسِقِينَ – “Allah leads astray many and guides many to the right way by the same thing And He leads astray only those who disobey Allah”57.
Deen Islam is Deen of Fitrah (دين الفطرة)
Firstly, Islam teaches us that human are created on correct nature (فطرة). Human in their true nature always align to righteousness, truth, honestly, bravery, justice, and well being of all kinds. The reason is that Allah (swt) created all human on correct nature.
Even to believe in a Creator is part of human nature. If a person is not disturbed with his surrounding, he will always try to find his creator and purpose of his life. Most people during all times have always recognized there is a Superior power controlling the universe. Even the non-believers in the past agree with that:
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ فَأَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ
43:87 And if you asked them who created them, they would surely say, "Allah." So how are they deluded? 58
قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ والأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيَّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الأَمْرَ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللّهُ فَقُلْ أَفَلاَ تَتَّقُونَ
10:31 Say (to mushrekeen), "Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter?" They will say, "Allah," so say, "Then will you not fear Him?“ 59
Most people do not deny that Allah (swt) is the creator, neither do they deny Allah (swt)’s Lordship over all creation, but most of their Kufr (disbelieve) is due to worshiping other than Allah (swt), by disobeying the commands of Allah and by rejecting His laws and by rejecting His Messengers.
Hence, Allah (swt) mentioned that one should never change the fitra on which He created us:
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
30:30 So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. 60
Meaning that all humans are created on correct nature, i.e. they believe that Allah (swt) is their creator who run affair of all universe, and we must submit only to one Creator. If one believes otherwise, he works against the true nature. Similarly, human in their true nature always speaks truth, but if they lie they work against their nature – and they always know their guilt. Then we can look at all sinful acts, in our true nature we know they are not right, e.g. bribery, fraud, injustice, harming any one, stealing, robbing, killing, dishonoring others, back biting, cheating etc. We feel against these acts primarily because the true nature of human is to feel against it. Now, if someone still insists on killing other then it is against the true nature of human being.
Islam is called “Deen al-Fitra” (Religion of correct nature) because it calls people to return to their correct and true human values on which they were created. This is very reason that Islam is against mutilation of body, e.g. tattoos, piercing, or changing or dressing in such a way that looks inhuman or unnatural. The nature is to be clean, neat, and tidy, wear proper clothes, and hide parts of body that should be hidden in public. Thus, Islam enforces modesty in dress code and emphasizes cleanliness all the time. Islam calls for circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping the mustache and considers this as part of Fitra.
Islam calls for marriages and having children, family values, obedience and utmost respect of parents and elderly, keeping good relations with kins and friends, education, good character, speaking truth, justice, denounces zulm (in justice) and jabr (oppression), helping poor, charity, cleanliness, look after environment etc. These are all traits of good nature of human that are built into human character when he is born. Islam calls people to these natural traits of human.
Islam prohibits illicit sex. Animals have instinct to have open sex and some of them have sex with other breads. Islam teaches us that human character is higher than animals, and they can’t get sex out to everyone or anyone, but only with their legitimate wife. Again, this is part of human true nature that they mate with their legitimate wives, and not with neighbor’s wife. For this very reason, Islam defines two basic laws:
- Law of Mahram (محرم)
- Law of Polygamy
The first one deals with incest, and second one deals with nature of man to have more than one woman as their wife. Incent is one of the worst disease that has taken over society today. It is one of the horrors of today’s social injustice. Islam has clearly defined laws that prohibit mingling of sexes and identifies who is allowed to marry who, i.e. marriage between brothers and sister, or fathers, step father, or mother, step mother, or with aunts and uncles either on mother’s side or fathers side, or with grand parents or grand children is all prohibited. These relationships are defined as “mahram” (محرم). So, a person is allowed to mingle with (male or female) relatives that are “mahram” but any illicit relation or marriage, romance, sex, flirt is illegal and strongly prohibited and condemned.
And in all honesty, this is the true nature of human. Having incest is inhuman and whoever commits it knows in his heart that he committed sin.
Similarly, second law of polygamy deals with two natural phenomenon. One, that man often has tendency to desire more than wife to satisfy them, and if they can afford financially, they are allowed to marry more than one wife. This gives legal means to have more than one wife, instead of lethargic man who commit illicit sexual relationship and corrupt the society. As we see in various part of world where woman’s status and honor is shattered by turning her into commodity, selling them in brothels and illicit images that appears in magazines and media. All of that occurs, because man abuse woman’s right of honor and respect.
Second aspect is the ratio of man and woman, as earth’s population is growing in favor of females, and there are often more females then mans they can marry. And when this balance is disturbed either naturally or due to wars, it creates similar impact and corruption in the society.
Thirdly, Islam places higher objective with respect to lineage. And while it allows polygamy for man, it doesn’t do same for woman. The reason is protection lineage and honor of woman. That if woman marry multiple man at one time, the children from her will become disputed. It will not only harm woman and spouses, but the children will psychologically disturb and will never attain proper human nature.
Hence, these laws calls for restoration of honor of woman and provide them social justice and protection from man’s abuse.
All these are perfectly true nature of human being and this was how he was created by the Creator. Islam only educates us to return to true nature.
Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) is the best example of Morals & Ethics
It is the mercy of Allah (swt) that he sent us his beloved Messenger with His Book of guidance. His Messenger taught us this Deen by his own example. The Prophet (ﷺ) possessed high virtues of moral character and was admired by even his worst enemies. He presented us the Deen of Allah by living it himself and him being the example of the best character.
Allah (swt) attested to this by stating in Quran that He (Prophet Mohammad) is Prophet of Mercy.
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
21:107 And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the Alameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists).
Abu Hurairah said that it was said, "O Messenger of Allah, pray against the idolators.'' He said: The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: «إِنِّي لَمْ أُبْعَثْ لَعَّانًا، وَإِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ رَحْمَة» - “I was not sent as a curse, rather I was sent as a mercy” [Sahih Muslim]
Prophet (ﷺ) reported to have said: «أَيُّمَا رَجُلٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي سَبَبْتُهُ (سَبَّةً) فِي غَضَبِي أَوْ لَعَنْتُهُ لَعْنَةً، فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ وَلَدِ آدَمَ أَغْضَبُ كَمَا تَغْضَبُونَ، إِنَّمَا بَعَثَنِي اللهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ فَاجْعَلْهَا صَلَاةً عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة» - “Any man of my Ummah whom I have insulted or cursed when I was angry -- for I am a man from among the sons of Adam, and I get angry just as you do. But Allah has sent me as a Mercy to the Worlds, so I will make that [my anger] into blessings for him on the Day of Resurrection.'' [Sahih Muslim, Imam Ahmed] 61
The Prophet (ﷺ) said “I have been sent to perfect the noble qualities of character” [Muwatta Malik].
Aisha (ra) reported that none was more well-mannered than the Prophet (ﷺ) [?]. He would not speak unnecessarily and avoid those who talk rudely. His meetings manifested tolerance, trust, honesty, and righteousness without raising voices or picking on others. The Prophet (ﷺ) was very honest and he never lied. People gave his title of al-Ameen (الصادق) and al-Sadiq (الامين). When he spoke, his companions would sit completely silently.
Aisha (ra) reported that: “The Prophet (ﷺ) would speak in such a way that his words could be counted. He liked fragrance and used perfumes a lot” [?] Abdullah b. Umar reported: “The Messenger of Allah was neither ill-mannered nor indecent in his speech. He used to say: ‘the best among you are those who are best in their moral characters’”62
The Prophet (ﷺ) was joyful and approachable, and he will always ask people about their health. Abdullah b. Harith reported: “I have not seen any man smiling more than the Prophet (ﷺ).” Anas reported:”My mother would hold him by hand and take him wherever she wanted. If a person advanced to shake his hand, he would never withdraw his hand until the latter withdrew it from him, and would never turn his face away from the person until he himself did it. He would never squat in such a way that his knees would stretch beyond the person sitting next to him” 63
Anas reported: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was the best in manners. I had an adopted brother Abu Umair, who had a sick sparrow called Nughair. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would be playful with him and ask “How is your Nughair?”64
The Prophet (ﷺ) never spoke rudely to anyone. Anas reported: “I served the Prophet (ﷺ) for ten years, and I swear by Allah that he never said Uff, never asked me why I did this or didn’t do that” 65
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to visit his ill companions and make prayers for their good health. Once he visited a young Jewish boy who used to serve him and visited his uncle [Abu Talib], who was a polytheist at the time; he offered Islam to them. The Jewish boy embraced Islam . 66
When Prophet (ﷺ) visited an ill person, he used to say: <لاَ بَأسَ طَهُورٌ إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ > “Don’t worry, your illness will be a means of cleansing of your sins, if Allah will)”. 67
He (ﷺ) used to rub the ill person with his right hand saying: “Take away the illness, O, Lord of the people! Cure him as you are the One who cures. There is no cure but yours, a cure that leave no disease”.68
The Prophet (ﷺ) loved companions around him and respected them without any discrimination to their tribe or nation or where they came from. The Prophet (ﷺ) would visit the poor, allow the beggars to sit in his company, mingle with his companions. He would enjoy witty exchanges with his companions, mix with them freely, and play with their kids. He would accept invitation from free man or salves, from poor, and he would go to distant places in the city to visit the sick.
Thus, Allah (swt) has commanded us to follow the Noble Prophet (ﷺ):
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
33:21 Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much
Islam faith can be divided into three categories based on the famous Hadith Jibreel, as the Prophet (ﷺ) explained69:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, "What is Iman (faith)?" Allah's Apostle replied, 'Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection."
Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan."
Then he further asked, "What is Ihsan (perfection)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you..." [Sahih Bukhari]
In order to fully understand and implement Islamic Moral values and Ethical Code one must fully comprehend the Islamic Faith.
- Read more about Al-Iman, Iman - Reality of Iman (1)
The Iman (الايمان) – the belief - is at the root of it all, i.e. Without Iman (الايمان), there is no Islam (الاسلام) or Taqwa (التقوى), or Ehsaan (الاحسان). Word “Iman” (ايمان) is literally translated as Faith or belief, means “to know”, “to believe” and “to be convinced beyond the least shadow of doubt”. Faith, thus, is firm belief arising out of knowledge and conviction. And the man who knows and reposes unshakable belief in the unity of God, in His Attributes, in His Law and the Revealed Guidance, and in the Divine code of Reward and punishment is called Mo’min – مومن (faithful)70.
The word Iman is based on word peace (الأمن) which means (الطمأنية) tranquility. A truthful person is satisfied (يطمئن) with his news while a liar is not. Like they say in Arabic “الصدق طمانية و الكذب ريبة”, “truth is tranquility while lie is suspicion”71. Hence, a Mo’min attains tranquility by believing in true faith and by putting his trust in Allah (swt). This faith (ايمان) on true Deen (دين الحق) invariably leads man to be completely obedient to Allah (swt) and submit to His will.
Iman itself constitute of three pillars:
- معرفة - Knowledge: i.e. No one can understand a subject until he has prior knowledge of it. How can a person testify on statement when he is not aware of it and does not know its details? Thus, one has to know and learn Tawheed first before he can believe in it.
- التصديــق – Attesting: Means to attest that knowledge to believe in Allah and all His commands, Messengers and Guidance. Some people mistakenly believed that Islam is only about attesting (that is saying shadateen شهادتين). The fact of matter is that just attestation doesn’t provide proof for established Iman, and the real actions must follow the sayings.
- الـتزام – means commitment: or (أو الإقرار أو الطاعة و الانقياد) This is the most important component of Iman that is needed to save from Hell fire (خلود في النّار). By having the Knowledge (of Deen) and attesting it that it’s from Allah does not establish any one as believer. The attestation must be followed by serious commitments and actions. A person believed in Allah (swt), accepted Allah (swt) as the creator and law maker, he then accepted Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) as his last messenger and admitted to His Shariah, and he doesn’t reject anything from this Shariah and Deen. Then he show serious commitment by following and practicing it.
الاسلام - Islam is built on the Iman, and they complement each other. It includes (Tawheed) principle of oneness of God and what applies of it, (Salat) the routine daily prayers of remembrance, (Zakat) the charity to help needy, (Sawm) the fasting in month of Ramadan for the sake of Allah, (hajj) the holy pilgrimage – a journey to purify one’s soul.
The word Iman and Islam are often interchanged. The salaf agreed that if words Islam and Iman are mentioned together, then Iman carries the meaning of internal beliefs of heart and Islam is outwardly actions. However, if they are mentioned independently, they carry meaning of both. Hence, if word Islam or Iman is mentioned independently, it carries meaning of both Islam and Iman.
التقوى - Taqwa means fear of Allah (swt). It is also very important Quranic concept on which Islamic Moral and Ethical Code is built upon. The purpose of Taqwa is to establish accountability and responsibility. Knowing that Allah (swt) has created us for a purpose and we have a function and responsibility, and we are accountable to Allah (swt) for all our acts. Our action must conforms to justice and norms commanded by Allah (swt). Hence, the fear of Allah’s accountability enforces sense of responsibility and ownership.
Until the spirit of Iman and essence of Tawheed and Islam is correctly understood and established, the stage of Taqwa cannot be fully ascertained. Hence, we notice some people try to skip the first to levels to reach Taqwa, see it merely as outwardly act of dress code, abstinence from alcohol, and intensive prayers, whilst the stage of Taqwa is lot deeper in establishing ethical code for Muslims, and to achieve the highest state of Ehsan.
الاحسان - Ehsan is the elite state when one rises to fulfill its commitment to the Creator above and beyond, and to recognize that even though we cannot see Allah (swt), He is always watching us. This establishes sense of agility and pro-activeness in meeting our responsibilities and the objectives set out for us by the Creator.
These categories of Islam are very broad and require volumes to explain. In brief, the point we are trying to make here is that they bring awareness and knowledge to establish sense of responsibility, accountability and ownership in a person, which is key to any character building. The more commitment a person makes to his Creator, the more he rises in his character and morals standards.
Purification of inner self (تزكية النفس)
The last category of Islam is “Ehsan” where a person achieves inner cleansing of his character. This is a state where he reaches the level in moral standards where his outward actions and inward feelings and intentions align completely. At this stage hypocrisy dies completely, and the person believes exactly what he says. At this stage a person does not do good deeds to show off to other fellows, but he does good deeds in true spirit and intention. At this stage a person reaches the level of honesty and courage that is the hall mark of genuine humans where he rises above self centeredness, desires, opinions, allegiances, prejudice and side with truth and real justice.
Quran uses the word “Tazkiya Nafs” (تزكية النفس) for it. This is one of the fundamentals of Islamic Civilization to is to purify our soul and provide spiritual guidance and growth of our character. Hence, the person will only enter the Paradise after his soul is cleansed of all crimes and evil.
تزكية - Tazkiyah means to purify, develop and cultivate. The term Tazkiya embraces the purification of beliefs and outlook, morals, habits and customs, and social, cultural and political life; the purification of man's life in its totality. It clearly means the one who purifies himself of sins and develops it to the level of Taqwa (fear of Allah) and cultivates in it the Good, will attain to eternal success72 .
For this purpose Allah (swt) sent down His Messengers who brought the guidance from Allah (swt) to purify our souls and spiritual guidance of our character.
كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولاً مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُواْ تَعْلَمُونَ
2:151 Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know.
Our father Ibrahim (as) also made supplications to Allah (swt) to send a Messenger (Mohammad (ﷺ)) who can give guidance to mankind and help them to purify their soul.
From this we can understand that the real purpose of sending down guidance (from Allah) is to achieve Tazkiyah Nafs (cleansing and purification of Soul), and the other things that Allah (swt) gave us like fitra, intellect, the Messengers, their recitation of Allah’s inscriptions and guidance are just the means to achieve the Tazkiyah (purification).
The importance of reaching this stage is so important in Islamic teaching that Purification of Soul (Tazkia) is a necessary condition to be successful in hereafter and to find a place in paradise, as Allah (swt) said:
وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا- فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا- قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّـهَا- وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّـهَا
91:7 And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it 91:8 And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, 91:9 He has succeeded who purifies it, 91:10 And he has failed who instills it [with corruption].74
This verse explains us that Allah (swt) created man with ability to do both good and evil, and also gave man ability and intelligence to understand the difference between the two, and then provided His guidance for the success and betterment of mankind. Then He (swt) established the justice that whoever chooses the good and cleansed his soul will be successful in this test.
The purpose of Tazkia is that it reforms our life from every angle. It removes all false elements from our life and aligns them to truth. It removes all kinds of wickedness and greed from our character and install righteousness and self contents. It replaces ego and pride with humbleness. It replaces our anger with calmness. It takes away any prejudice and ignorance and replaces them with brotherhood, kindness and wisdom. Hence, it reforms our life and aligns it on Deen of Allah in such way that our heart is content with it.
This is the state that Allah (swt) defined in Surah Fajr: يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ، ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً – “89:27 (It will be said to the pious): "O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! 89:28 "Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him!” 75
This content and satisfaction with Allah and His Deen in our inner self (نفس) means lot more than us just praying and fasting. Rather it means that Allah (swt) wants us to excel in His Deen and acquire a state where living His Deen becomes very nature of our self. And every activity every action every step we take in life, we follow Allah’s Deen naturally. And while we follow Allah’s Deen in our outward action we also feel content and satisfied inwardly.
In another words, this is the true Fitra (nature) of human, when Allah (swt) created us we were on this Fitra (nature). And through His Deen, His Books, His Messengers and His guidance, Allah (swt) is merely calling us back to our original state of Fitra (nature).
END OF PART 3
PART 4: PILLARS OF ISLAM, MORALS & CHARACTER BUILDING. Pillars of Islam & Ethics (4)
- Quran, Chapter 16:36
- Quran, Chapter 3:2-4
- Quran, Chapter 2:213
- Quran, Chapter 4:1, An-Nissa (The Women)
- Quran, Chapter 2:33, Al-Baqara (The Cow)
- Quran, Chapter 2:61, Al-Baqara (The Cow)
- Quran, Chapter 2:26, Al-Baqara (The Cow)
- Quran, Chapter 43:87
- Quran, Chapter 10:31
- Quran, Chapter 30:30
- Tafsir Ibn Khatir 21:107
- Sahih al-Bukhari
- Sahih al-Bukhari
- Sahih al-Muslim
- Zaad ul Maad, Ibn Qayyim. Sahih al-Bukhari # 5227 for visiting companions reported from Saad Ibn abi Waqqas. Sahih al-Bukhari # 1268 for jewish boy reported from Anas ibn Malik.
- Sahih al-Bukhari # 3347
- Sahih al-Bukhari #5243, Sahih al-Muslim 4062
- Sahih Bukhari, Book #2 Iman, Hadees # 47. Also reported by Ibn Umar from Umar ibn al-Khattab (Sahih Muslim, Book #1 Iman, Hadees #1)
- Towards Understanding Islam, Al-Mawdudi
- Haqiqatul Iman, Dr Tariq AbdelHaleem
- Tafheem, al-Mawdudi
- Quran, Chapter 2:129 - Al-Baqarah (The Cow): (رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولاً مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ العَزِيزُ الحَكِيمُ).
- Quran, Chapter 91:7-10 – Ash-Shams (The Sun)
- Quran, Chapter 89:27-28 – Al-Fajr (The Dawn)