A True Muslim Character:
While a personality is what makes one individual different from another, the Islamic character is what makes the person truly a Muslim.
The Prophet (s.a.w) said,
عن أبي هريرة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال إنَّما بُـعِـثـتُ لِأُتَـمِّـمَ صَـالِـحَ الأخْلَاقِ [وفي رواية أخرى: لأمم مَـكَارِمَ الأخلاقِ] والحديث بكلتا روايته عن أبي هريرة أخرجه الهيثمي في مجمع الزوائد، وصححه الألباني وقال ابن باز إسناده جيد.
The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Verily, I have only been sent to complete the noble of the characters.” [Reference: Maj’ma Zawaid, classed as Sahih]
First is our character towards Allah
First and foremost is the character of a Muslim with Allah. In fact, the character of a Muslim, as taught in the Qur’an and by the Messenger of Allah, has its solid foundation upon the belief in Allah, submission of our whole selves to Him with worship, devotion and obedience.
And the rest just flows!
With a character built upon this foundation, the remaining characteristics of a true believer flow naturally – characteristics that please Allah, please the creation of Allah, and of course please one’s own self.
Character with humanity and entire creation
Thus the hall mark of a true believer is to not fear poverty and so to be honest in one’s dealings with others, to not fear abandonment by the people and so to be honest and sincere to do what is in everyone’s best interests – out of trust and obedience to Allah – as opposed to appeasing people to win their favors!
Similarly, the character of a believer is to be charitable and generous towards the needy realizing full well that all wealth and richness comes primarily from Allah and via deeds of obedience to Him and righteousness, being fearless that neither poverty nor calamity can befall a person except if Allah willed, and even if Allah did will so then it is only to expiate our sins, elevate our rank in Paradise and bring blessings to whatever of dunya we have left after charity and spending in good causes.
Given a firmly rooted belief in Allah as the ultimate giver or denier, a believer is kind character and is forgiving towards others knowing, as the Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Verily Allah shows mercy to those who are merciful from among His slaves.”
Self-composed, confident, honorable but not arrogant
A believer, on one hand, is not arrogant nor, on the other hand without a good self-esteem.
A believer is not arrogant as he realizes that Allah is the Almighty, the One Who gave us whatever we have to be proud of, and Allah has given it to us only for a specified short time and will for sure take it away from us one day after a chance to do good deeds with it.
On the other hand a believer’s character is not one with low self-esteem, realizing full well that whatever we may be lacking, we are nevertheless more fortunate than others in that or other ways, and realizing well that it is neither our pride over what goods Allah decreed for us not a shame for what Allah withheld from us but in fact all that concerns our self-esteem is whether Allah – and not other human beings – is pleased with us. Allah’s pleasure or displeasure towards us is not dependent on how much wealth, power, fame, beauty or other materialistic good that we possess, rather Allah’s pleasure towards us is dependent solely on our worship of Allah.
Hence a believer’s self-esteem is tied to Allah’s pleasure or displeasure towards him based upon his good deeds of obedience to Allah. Since Allah, with respect to His pleasure or displeasure towards us, doesn’t look at our bodies nor our appearances but looks only at our actions, and when our actions fall short, He forgives us so long as we try to do well sincerely, then a believer pursues doing good deeds in obedience to Allah while completely self-secure that other people’s perception is immaterial while Allah is pleased with us.
The character of a believer, male or female, towards her/his wife or husband respectively is mutually satisfying. A believer fulfills his/her duty towards their spouse, not expecting reciprocation, but rather fulfils the duty towards the spouse primarily out of a sense of duty and obedience towards Allah. Hence the relationship stands to always improve as one or both spouses increase in their devotion and submission to Allah. A husband and a wife are mutually keen to please one another as they realise their eternal welfare and blessings in the marriage in this life depend primarily on their fulfilling obligations in marriage as best as they can and fulfil obligations for the sake of Allah not expecting any reward from their spouse. And a husband and a wife are mutually forgiving for the same reason. A husband considers it a matter of highest importance to sacrifice other desires and instead to earn an income and be a breadwinner for the family, as enjoined in the Qur’an, while a wife considers it a matter of highest importance to have numerous children, as the Prophet encouraged the Muslim wives, and to take care of these children and the entire home with more passion and sense of fulfilment than their achievement in any careers of secondary importance to that of the family. A believer has a character of loving one’s spouse, caring, sacrificing, and striving to make the spouse happy seeking the pleasure of Allah while being forgiving towards them as they expect Allah to be forgiving towards their own selves. A sense of responsibility of a Muslim husband and wife towards the spouse and children stems from a sense of responsibility towards Allah to please whom Allah loves for them to please.
Iman leads to a better husband or wife:
The Hadith below highlights the drive behind a great character of a husband or wife towards their spouse is their conviction of belief/faith in Allah.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " لاَ يَفْرَكْ مُؤْمِنٌ مُؤْمِنَةً إِنْ كَرِهَ مِنْهَا خُلُقًا رَضِيَ مِنْهَا آخَرَ " . أَوْ قَالَ " غَيْرَهُ ". [صحيح مسلم الرقم 1468a]
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another. [Sahih Muslim, Hadith number 1468a]
Duty to Allah is a stronger drive for nobility than instinctive love for spouse
And the next hadith underlines the minimum and primary reason for a Muslim husband or wife fulfil their duties towards their spouse or family.
حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ، حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ دِينَارٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ " أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، فَالإِمَامُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ وَهْوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهْوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُمْ، وَعَبْدُ الرَّجُلِ رَاعٍ عَلَى مَالِ سَيِّدِهِ وَهْوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُ، أَلاَ فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ". [صحيح البخاري (7138) وصحيح مسلم].
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar:
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Surely! Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: The Imam (ruler) of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband's home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for it. Surely, everyone of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges."
[Reference: Sahih Bukhari (7138), Sahih Muslim and others]
Islamic character from the adorable Islamic faith & outlook
In summary, characteristics such as honesty, sincerity, kindness, love, compassion, justice, patience, forgiveness, determination, sense of altruism – whether towards one’s wife/husband, next door neighbor, a colleague at work, a client in business – all these traits are part of the character of a Muslim that stem from and remain alive within a believer out of a sense of Tawheed – unparalleled devotion to, obedience and worship of Allah. The beautiful and noble Islamic character is not in need of police as it is based on a consciousness of gratitude and a sense of duty towards Allah.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيَقُلْ خَيْرًا، أَوْ لِيَصْمُتْ، وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلاَ يُؤْذِ جَارَهُ، وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ ضَيْفَهُ ". [صحيح البخاري (6475) وصحيح مسلم]
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbor; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should entertain his guest generously." [Reference: Sahih Bukhari (6475) & Sahih Muslim]
Greatest means for reform & improvement
As we leave this topic, consider how Luqman reforms and advises his son to uphold the Islamic character and appeals for each characteristic upon his son’s consciousness of, and a sense of duty towards, Allah.
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ ﴿١٨﴾ وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ ﴿١٩﴾ [سورة لقمان 32]
And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys." [Surah Luqman 32: 18-19]
Key to developing the beautiful Islamic character
And the Prophet reassures that Allah gives success to have a great Islamic character provided you put the effort:
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ نَاسًا مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ سَأَلُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَعْطَاهُمْ، ثُمَّ سَأَلُوهُ فَأَعْطَاهُمْ، حَتَّى نَفِدَ مَا عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ " مَا يَكُونُ عِنْدِي مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَنْ أَدَّخِرَهُ عَنْكُمْ، وَمَنْ يَسْتَعْفِفْ يُعِفَّهُ اللَّهُ، وَمَنْ يَسْتَغْنِ يُغْنِهِ اللَّهُ، وَمَنْ يَتَصَبَّرْ يُصَبِّرْهُ اللَّهُ، وَمَا أُعْطِيَ أَحَدٌ عَطَاءً خَيْرًا وَأَوْسَعَ مِنَ الصَّبْرِ". [صحيح البخاري (1469، 6470) وصحيح مسلم، وسنن أبي داود وسنن الترمذي وغيرهم]
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:
Some Ansari persons asked for (something) from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) (p.b.u.h) and he gave them. They again asked him for (something) and he again gave them. And then they asked him and he gave them again till all that was with him finished. And then he said "If I had anything. I would not keep it away from you. (Remember) Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience."
[Reference: Sahih Bukhari (1469, 6470), Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Tirmidhi and other sources related this authentic hadith].
Truly all praise if to Allah, our Creator, Sustainer and Guide,
And may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of God the Prophet Muhammed!