Aiming For Character Traits Like The Prophet PBUH
Every day we have so much to be grateful for alhumdulillah. But there is no denying that some days are harder than most, and then there are days that truly test your imaan! During the past ten years, I’ve had many of those days and I have met a few people who were, to put it nicely, “challenging”.
As the world gets more hectic and becomes more advanced, people are rushing around, far too busy for their own good. At times, it seems that this busyness is a ticket for some people to be inconsiderate, obnoxious, and even toxic. I’m sure you've noticed that there is higher lack of concern, compassion, and empathy for one other’s plight as we scramble around trying to keep up with our own problems.
However, as Muslims, it is not only our obligatory duties that determine our strength of faith but our etiquette of how we treat others. If you are feeling this way then you are not alone. It's sad to say, but many Muslims are not behaving the way they should nowadays - aiming for the character traits like the the Prophet SAW.
You'll find people who talk in circles, thinking that being vague makes them noncommittal and less likely to hurt another's feelings. They hide behind excuses and false sweetness thinking they are being nice when their fakeness is blatant and more hurtful to the other person.
Some people struggle with the mere act of being punctual by failing to think of the other person who is waiting for them. Their time is more important than your time, and it seems that the person with the better manners gets the short end of the stick.
What about the sisters who treat one another with deceit, being envious, backbiting and slandering another sister only moments after enjoying a chat, a meal, and some laughter together. No remorse is felt because of the misconception that “I have a right to say what's on my mind” and “that’s just how I feel” trains of thought.
Some people think that freedom of speech gives anyone the privilege of being judgmental and critical of what others think and say. People are so concerned with feeling wronged by others, that they fail to see how much they wrong others. The Prophet SAW Said:
“Do not express joy at your brother’s misfortune or else Allah will pardon him for it and test you with it” - At-Tabaraanee
He SAW also said:
“I was only sent to perfect noble character.” - Ahmad
“There is nothing heavier on The Scales than good character.” -Bukhari and Tirmidhi
Where is the straight talk, the honesty, the wish for your brother what you wish for yourself mentality? Why is there such an unfair treatment towards one another and so much lack of concern lately? We cannot keep blaming society for its ills, but have to take responsibility and look within ourselves to see what's lacking. If only every word that left our mouths and every action we did with our hands was given a few seconds of thought as we asked ourselves,
"Would the Prophet SAW say it this way?" "Would the Prophet SAW do it this way?"
If we thought of everything in this manner, most times we would need to refrain from what we were going to say or do. We know how the Prophet SAW handled his affairs and more importantly, how he treated people. He was compassionate, kind, honest, trustworthy, and never insulting - even to the worst of people. He gave others the benefit of the doubt and was the greatest man who ever lived. He SAW had the best of manners!
Yet some people choose to take from his example a few Sunnah and leave the ones they can’t manage. We cannot choose the Sunnahs that's most convenient, we have to choose them all and do the right thing! I know that having good manners, talking nicely, or being patient with ignorant people takes more time, more effort, and is more selfless. It's not easy for sure, but it's necessary and it’s important if we want to aim for character traits like our beloved Rasoolullah. The Prophet SAW said:
“Whoever has wronged another concerning his reputation or anything else should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money [to compensate for wrong deeds], but, if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to the wrong he has done. And if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him.” - al-Bukhari
Every one of us can improve something about ourselves. We can learn to do more things fi’sabilillah - wanting to do something purely for the sake of Allah SWT without measure or gain. We can work more on being humble by knowing that all knowledge, intelligence, and worldliness we've attained, is not from ourselves but from Allah’s Blessings. We can work on becoming more empathetic, compassionate, patient, and helpful towards one another.
This is what the scholars mention about having good character:
"The scholars explain that the basis of good character in one’s dealings with others is, above all to avoid harming, annoying or inconveniencing them. The Light of Guidance, our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) explained that,
“The [true] Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe.” - Bukhari and Muslim.
Thus, any act that harms, annoys, or inconveniences others, without sound justification, is a manifestation of bad character, and contrary to the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). When we understand the manners prescribed by the Prophet whom Allah Most High Himself described as being, “Of tremendous character,” and whose example was praised as, “The most beautiful of examples” in the Qur’an, we see that their basis is to promote the social good, and spread love and mercy between humanity. Allah tells us:
"The (faithful) slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace.” - The Holy Quran"
We should teach our children how to be better Muslims with adhab and character traits like the Prophet SAW, and educate them about his manners and the way he dealt with people. If we look at his example, we will see that he never showed enmity to anyone except those who waged war against his people.
There was an old lady who used to throw rubbish in his way on the street everyday. On one occasion she was missing, so he decided to go and see what was the matter with her. She was ill in bed and to her amazement, the Messenger SAW came to see her and find out about her health. She accepted Islam from seeing his character.
On another occasion, the chief Thumamah, who had killed many Muslims, was caught on his travels by Muslim soldiers, taken to the Prophet’s SAW masjid, and tied to one of the pillars. The Messenger of Allah commanded his companions to untie him and give him the best food. The Prophet SAW was indeed a mercy to the worlds.
We will only prosper if we follow the character traits of the Prophet SAW and that’s why it's so important to learn the Seerah and teach it to our children. Ignorance is no excuse on the Day of Judgment and we will be accountable for our actions whether we knew better or not. Also, if we have wronged anyone, we should apologize to them, because forgiveness is linked with piety and God-consciousness. Allah SWT says in the Quran:
“Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.” - Surah al Imran; 3:133-134
Allah loves us to have hearts that are ready to forgive.
The Prophet SAW once asked his companions; “Do you know what will cause you to have high walled palaces in Paradise and will cause you to be raised by God?” When they replied in the negative, he said, “To be forgiving and to control yourself in the face of provocation, to give justice to the person who was unfair and unjust to you, to give to someone even though he did not give to you when you were in need and to keep connection with someone who may not have reciprocated your concern.”
Similarly, the Prophet SAW said that the best of people are those who are slow to anger and quick to forgive. On the other hand, the worst of people are those who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. The characteristic that makes a person most likely to forgive is the purity of their heart. We may believe that to forgive easily is a sign of weakness and humiliation, but honor in the eyes of Allah lies in forgiveness.
May we all be guided to the siratul mustaqueem and be auliya to one another, ameen.
“The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another." - Quran: At-Taubah, 9:71