Improve Our Character Like the Prophet SAW
Every day we have so much to be thankful for alhumdulillah. But there is no denying that some days are harder than most, and then other days can test your imaan! As the world moves faster and gets more advanced, people are rushing and becoming far too busy. At times it seems that this busyness is a ticket for a few to be inconsiderate and obnoxious. As Muslims, it is not only our obligatory duties that determine our faith but etiquette (adhab) in Islam is a crucial part of being a good Muslim. Some people struggle with the mere act of being punctual by failing to think of the other person who is waiting for them. Our time has become more important than their time, and it seems that the person with the better manners gets the short end of the stick.
If you are feeling this way then you are not alone. It's sad to say, but not many people are behaving the way they should nowadays - behaving the way the Prophet SAW did. 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 the fakeness is blatant and more hurtful to the other person.
What about how people treat one another lately, our fellow brothers and sisters in Islam. Backbiting and slandering each other only moments after enjoying a meal, some laughter, and chatter together. No remorse is felt because of the misconception that they have a right to say what's on their mind. The freedom of speech gives them the privilege of being judgemental and critical of what others think and say. They are so concerned with feeling wronged by others, that they fail to see how much they are wronging others.
“Do not express joy at your brother’s misfortune or else Allah will pardon him for it and test you with it” (reported by multiple sources including by At-Tabaraanee in Al-Kabeer 22/53).
The Prophet (saw) said, “I was only sent to perfect noble character.” [Muwatta’ and Musnad of Ahmad] and, “There is nothing heavier on the Scales than good character.” [Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]
Where is the straight talk, the honesty, the wish for your brother what you wish for yourself mentality? Why is there unfair treatment of one another and so much lack of heart? We cannot keep blaming society for the ills, we have to take responsibility and look within ourselves to see what's lacking. If only every word that left our mouth and every act done with our hands were given a few seconds of thought, "Would the Prophet SAW do it this way?"
If we think of everything in this manner, most times we would have to retract what we were going to say or do, because 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 choose to take from his example a few Sunnah and leave the other rest. We shouldn't choose the Sunnah that's more convenient in our busy lives, but choose to do what's right. Yes, having good manners takes more time, more effort, and more selflessness. It's not easy but it's necessary and important for our character and society to grow wholesome.
“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.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
We can all improve something about ourselves today! We can learn the true meaning of wanting to help somebody purely for the sake of SWT without expecting anything in return. We can work on being humble knowing that all knowledge, intelligence, and worldliness we've attained, is not from anyone but Allah. We can work on becoming more empathetic and compassionate and help one another.
"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 sunna 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. (025.063 )" Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
We can teach our children how to be better Muslims with adhab like the Prophet (SAW). We can educate ourselves about his manners and the way he dealt with people. Then we can ponder a few seconds before we say or do anything and remember to ask ourselves, "Would the Prophet (SWT) do it this way?"
If we look at the example and the character of the Prophet (saw), we will see that he never showed enmity to anyone except those who waged war against him. 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. She was ill in bed, and to her amazement, the Messenger (saw) came to see her and find out about her. She accepted Islam.
On another occasion, Thumamah, the chief of his tribe who had killed many Muslims was caught on his travels by the Muslim soldiers and was taken to the Prophet’s (saw) masjid and tied to one of the pillars. The Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded his companions to untie him and give him the best food. The Prophet (saw) was indeed a mercy for the worlds.
We won't be able to take a wrong step if we follow the Prophet's (SAW) life and look to his example of a good Muslim. That is why it's so important to learn the Seerah of the Prophet (SAW) and teach it to our children. Ignorance will be no excuse for us on the day of judgment, so we should make the time to learn our deen. Also, if we have wronged anyone, we can apologize to them, because forgiveness is linked with piety and God-consciousness. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.” [Surah ali Imran; 3:133-134]
And 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 is humiliating, 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).