Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Book of Good Conduct



The Book of Good Conduct
By Al-Imam An-Nawawi

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger

Allah, the Exalted, says:


·   "And verily, you (O Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)) are on an exalted (standard of) character." [Al-Qalam 68:4]
·   "The Jannah is prepared for those... who repress anger, and who pardon men." (Ali- ‘Imran 3:134)
·   "This is the Paradise that you have made to inherit because of your good deeds which you used to do" (Surah al-Zukhruf, 43:72).
·   “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east and the west [in prayer].  But righteous is the one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Scripture and the Prophets; who gives his wealth in spite of love for it to kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the wayfarer, to those who ask and to set slaves free.  And (righteous are) those who pray, pay alms, honor their agreements, and are patient in (times of) poverty, ailment and during conflict.  Such are the people of truth.  And they are the God-Fearing.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:177]
·    “Surely, the solah prevents lewd acts and bad deeds…” [Al-`Ankabut, 29: 45]
·   "But Allah who caused faith to be dear to you and have given it beauty in your heart, and has made hateful to you denial of the truth and all inequity and all rebellion against what is good" (Surah al-Hujarat, 49: 7).

621. Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was the best of all the people in behaviour.[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

622. Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: I never felt any piece of velvet or silk softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, nor did I smell any fragrance more pleasant than the smell of Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). I served him for ten years, and he never said 'Uff' (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said 'why did you do that?' for something I had done, nor did he ever say 'why did you not do such and such' for something I had not done.

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith reflects the sublime morality of Messenger of Allah that he never found faults with the doings of his valet nor did he ever scold him during his ten-year-long service. To be sure, this is something unique in human history. May the Ummah, too, adopt the refined way of the living of its Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) .

623. Sa'b bin Jaththamah (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: I presented a wild ass to Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as a gift but he returned it to me. When he perceived signs of despair on my face, he said, "I have declined to accept it because I am in the state of Ihram."

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: As, in the state of Ihram, hunting is not allowed to a pilgrim; similarly, the meat of the game, killed on his suggestion or instruction, is forbidden to him, too. For this reason, Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) sent back the gift of the wild ass to his Companion. The Hadith further illustrates that if the recipient has any valid excuse for not accepting a gift, he should explain it so that the sender may not feel dejected. It may be mentioned here that some Ahadith allow us to eat the meat of a game killed by others, whereas this Hadith shows it is not permissible. The orthodox 'Ulama', however, have attempted to reconcile the two seemingly incompatible sets of Ahadith with each other. According to the first category of Ahadith, a man, not in the state of Ihram who kills a chase and gives a portion of it as a gift to someone who is in Ihram, the gift will be permissible to the latter. As for the second category of Ahadith, the former kills a game for the latter, or on his suggestion, the man in the state of Ihram will be barred from eating it (as mentioned in Fathul-Bari). Similarly, it will not be lawful if the game is sent alive to the man in the state of Ihram with this intention that he should himself sacrifice it. The Hadith under discussion depicts this very situation. Imam Bukhari, as we know, has consequently adduced from this Hadith that if an unkilled game, like the wild donkey, is sent as a gift to a man in the state of Ihram, he should not accept it.

624. Abu Nawwas bin Sam'an (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: I asked Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) about virtue and sin, and he said: “Righteousness (virtue) is good character, and sin is whatever bothers you and you do not want people to know.” [Recorded by Muslim

[Muslim].

Commentary: An important principle enshrined in this Hadith says that courtesy is a virtue (Righteousness), because a refined mind cultivates good habits, performs good deeds, and shuns all that is bad and corrupt. Also, a simple and understandable principle is laid down about sin. Man feels the pricking of conscience over every bad deed and is also afraid of the reproach of fault-finders, provided he has not reached the lowest point of moral depravity. But a seared conscience is least disturbed even by a heinous and deadly sin or by public censure. We can understand it by the example of man's smelling sense. If it is not dead, man can feel a stink and repugnant odour. But a long association with a dung heap robs away one's smelling sense and feeling of refuse.

625. 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'as (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not indulge in loose talk nor did he like to listen to it. He used to say, "The best of you is the best among you in conduct."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith, apart from describing the refined behaviour and sublime morality of Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), tells us that a person with the highest moral sense is in fact the best among people.

626. Abud-Darda (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language."[At-Tirmidzi].

Commentary: The most beneficial thing on the Day of Resurrection will be a courteous behaviour which will outweigh all good actions. But that will be witnessed in case of a believer as there is no question of weighing a non-believer's good actions. Allah Himself says in the Qur'an: "So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign no weight for them." So will a morally depraved and nonsensical man stand unfavoured with Allah, and this will be a sign of his frustration and disillusionment in the Hereafter.

627. Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was asked about the deed which will be foremost to lead a man to Jannah. Rasūlullāh replied,Fear of Allah and the good conduct.” Then he was asked about indulgence which will admit a man to Hell (Fire) and he answered, “The tongue and the genitals.” [At-Tirmidzi].

Commentary: This is also a very comprehensive Hadith. Fear of Allah really links up a man to Him, and moral refinement prevents him from falling short of his duties to people. To be sure, adherence to this two-fold practice will cause the entry of a lot of people to Jannah. Many a man, on the other hand, has a long, sharp and dangerous tongue and this causes him to pour out heretic utterances and indulge in backbiting, slandering and abusive and nonsensical talk. All this activity leads to Hell. As for genitals, an unwary and unrestrained attitude incites one to indulge in immoral pursuits. In both these cases countless people will be led into Hell. For this reason it is imperative for everybody to develop Taqwa (consciousness of Allah or fear of Allah) and refined behaviour and shun the wickedness of tongue and genitals so that his life in the Hereafter may not be ruined.

628. Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: "The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives."[At-Tirmidzi].

Commentary: This Hadith brings into light the corollary of faith and complaisant manners. We may put it in this way that the degree of a man's excellent behaviour determines the degree of his faith. Or the sublimity of faith calls for the sublimity of morals. Similarly, a man who is polite and courteous to his wife will be considered as the best.

629. 'Aishah (radiyallāhu’anha) reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying: "A believer will attain by his good behaviour the rank of one who prays during the night and observes fasting during the day."[Abu Dawud].

Commentary: The two practices are difficult. But those who manage to keep them will be richly rewarded by Allah. There is a third category of men who fail to observe the above mentioned voluntary practices. Yet they are polite, and courteous in their behaviour towards others and by virtue of this sociable quality, they will also be graded up in the two other categories. And this highlights the significance and excellence of a polite and pleasing behaviour.

630. Abu Umamah Al-Bahili (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners."[Abu Dawud].

Commentary: Withdrawal from one's right in order to end a dispute is a manly act of great merit. Likewise, this Hadith tells us that a man should avoid telling a lie even in a light vein. If he gives great importance to the rules of the Shari'ah (Islamic Law) and the Commandments of Allah and His Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) , he will definitely refrain from telling a lie even in a chat session or just for the sake of joke. Usually, people don't mind if one tells a lie in a jocular mood, rather some will perhaps approve it. Yet, Allah disapproves of even the harmless or trivial form of falsehood and commands His slaves to keep away from it. From all considerations, however, moral excellence carries immense weight. Because no wrong or evil thing can be shunned without it. In other words, moral excellence surpasses all forms of goodness.

631. Jabir (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be one who is the best of you in manners; and the most abhorrent among you to me and the farthest of you from me will be the pompous, the garrulous, and Al-Mutafaihiqun.” The Companions asked him: "O Messenger of Allah! We know about the pompous and the garrulous, but we do not know who Al-Mutafaihiqun is." He replied: "The arrogant people."[At-Tirmidzi].

Commentary: This Hadith lays emphasis on polite and polished behaviour. Besides, it teaches us to refrain from unnecessary, incautious and insincere talk intended to influence others and assert superiority over them. But to talk less and in simple words is a good thing. On the other hand, to talk much, showing off cleverness with a tinge of affectation, is detestable.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.


[Via Guided Ways, “The Book of Good Conduct Chapter # 73,” Riyad-Us-Saliheen Compiled, By Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi]



Addendum:

Righteousness Is Good Character

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-‘ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger.


In a hadith narrated by An-Nawas ibn Sam’an (radiyallāhu’anhu), who reported that Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said:  “Righteousness is good character, and sin is whatever bothers you and you do not want people to know.” (Recorded by Muslim)

An-Nawas ibn Sam’an (radiyallāhu’anhu) is a famous Sahabi of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam).  He belonged to the Arab tribe of Kalab and settled in Syria after the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam).

This Hadith, apart from describing the refined behaviour and sublime morality of Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), tells us that a person with the highest moral sense is in fact the best among people.

Abud-Darda (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.” [Recorded by At-Tirmidzi].

The above hadiths are important as it sheds light on some of the more subtle aspects of righteousness and sin, helping to define them both.  This hadith also shows that one of the main consequences of correct and true belief is good character, and that it is an intrinsic aspect of the meaning of righteousness

Apart from emphasizing the importance to the belief in and worship of One God, Al-Qur’an also emphasizes some of the meanings that righteousness, as well as a being a combination of a correct belief and prescribed worship, is also proper conduct in human relations:

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east and the west [in prayer].  But righteous is the one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Scripture and the Prophets; who gives his wealth in spite of love for it to kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the wayfarer, to those who ask and to set slaves free.  And (righteous are) those who pray, pay alms, honor their agreements, and are patient in (times of) poverty, ailment and during conflict.  Such are the people of truth.  And they are the God-Fearing.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:177]

Rather than being an end in itself, one of the main purposes of worship is to bring about traits beneficial to the self and society. 

Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala says about the Solah (Prayer): “Surely, the solah prevents lewd acts and bad deeds…” [Al-`Ankabut, 29: 45]

Hence Islam as a whole came to perfect good manners, as did the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) himself:  “Indeed, I was only sent to complete the most noble character traits.” [Recorded by Muslim]

Good character is any trait that is beneficial to humans, both to oneself as well as to others, at the same time not being generally or specifically prohibited by Islam.

As Islam is not a mere religion but a complete way of life, incorporating all of its various facets and aspects, good manners is actually regarded as a means of worship by which one may achieve the same reward of doing other more obvious voluntary acts of worship. 

The Prophet, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) stated: “Through his manners and good conduct, the believer can attain the status of a person who frequently fasts and prays at night.” [Recorded by Abu Dawud]

Rather, the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) even stated good conduct to be one of the best forms of worship, second to none but the obligatory mandates of Islam:

“On the Day of Resurrection, nothing will be heavier in the scale (of good deeds) of the believer than good conduct.  Allah hates the one who swears and hurls obscenities.” [Recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidzi]

It is through maintaining good conduct; one would become one of the beloved servants of Allah.  The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “The most beloved servants of Allah to Him are those who have the best manners.” [Recorded by Al-Hakim]

When one realizes the importance of good character and its essentiality in defining righteousness, an aspect which is the goal of Islam, this exhorts Muslims to fulfill this aspect of faith as well, since one cannot become “righteous” through mere belief and devotion to Allah in themselves without good character.

What is constituted as good character?

But what is regarded as good character?  We find that the Qur'an and Sunnah in various texts define it to be any trait that is beneficial to humans, both to oneself as well as to others, at the same time not being generally or specifically prohibited by Islam. 

1- Those that suppress their anger, and forgive other people

Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala says: “Those who suppress their anger, and forgive other people – assuredly, Allah loves those who do good.” (Al-‘Imran 3: 134)

2 - Who does not utters foul or coarse language

Abud-Darda (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.”  [Recorded by At-Tirmidzi].

4- Righteousness is dealing fairly, justly and politely with one’s family.

The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “The believers with the most perfect faith are those with the most perfect conduct and manners.  And the best ones amongst you are those who are best to their families.” [Recorded by At-Tirmidzi]


In another narration from Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu’anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his neighbour. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his guest.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] 

5- Truthfulness is an essential aspect of good character which leads to Paradise.

The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “Indeed truthfulness is righteousness, and indeed righteousness leads to Paradise.” [Recorded by Muslim]

These are but a few examples of the numerous texts which define and exhort Muslims to excel in their character and manner.  Although righteousness is those deeds which are naturally pleasing to the conscience of humans, religion plays a vital role in defining what it is.  For example, anything of which its harm is greater than its goodness cannot be defined as righteousness, even if it may be otherwise regarded as goodness and righteousness.  

6 -Anything of which its harm is greater than its goodness cannot be defined as righteousness, even if it may be otherwise regarded as goodness and righteousness. 

It is not righteousness that you fast during travel. The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “It is not righteousness that you fast during travel.” [Recorded by Al-Bukhari]

As long as a person seeks righteousness, they will know when they have done something wrong through their conscience, even though they might find numerous ways to excuse themselves for what they are doing.

Although fasting is one of the most meritorious of deeds, here it is not considered righteousness due to the harm it may incur to the individual during a journey.  Also, to steal from the rich in order to give to the poor may not be regarded as righteousness, as stealing has been specifically prohibited in the religion.

7 - At the same time, a deed which may sometimes be seen as harsh may also be considered good character at times, such as striking a child at certain age as a means of education.

The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “Command your children to pray when they are seven, and strike them [if they do not] when they are ten…” [Recorded by Abu Dawud]

The Guidance to good character

As for the basis, we look to divine guidance in order to define for us good manners and character, exemplified by the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam).

 Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala says: “Surely, you (O Muhammad) are upon a high standard of moral character.” [Al-Qalam, 68: 4]

Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala also says: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a beautiful example of conduct to follow…” [Al-Azab, 33: 21]

‘Aishah, (radiyallāhu’anha) the wife of the noble Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam), was asked about his character.  She replied: “His character was that of the Qur'an.” [Recorded by Muslim and Abu Dawud]

Modesty (Haya') produce but goodness

In the second part of this hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) mentioned another subtle aspect of sin, which is that sin is anything which bothers a righteous person’s conscience and which a person seeks to hide from others. An array of actions comes into a person’s mind once they hear these words.

Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala has inspired within each soul the ability, although limited, to recognize truth from falsehood.  Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala Says: “He inspired it (the soul) to know its sin and its piety.” [As-Shams, 91: 8]

As long as a person seeks righteousness, they will know when they have done something wrong through their conscience, even though they might find numerous ways to excuse themselves for what they are doing.  They would never like anyone to come to know of that thing, for they are ashamed of it; their religion is enriched with bashfulness and modesty (haya'). 

The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said: “Modesty (haya') is from the perfection of faith.” [Al-Bukhari]

In another narration:"Haya' does not produce but goodness." [Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) said:"Haya' (modesty) and Iman (faith) are two that go together. If one is lifted, the other is also lifted." [Recorded by al-Hakim];

Modesty or haya' is something which can prevent a person from committing evil. 

Abu Mas'ud 'Uqbah bin 'Amr al-Ansari al-Badri(radiyallahu’anhu), reported: The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam), said:  "Among the things that people have found from the words of the previous prophets was: 'If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.'"  [This is recorded by Al-Bukhari]

These sentiments of conscience and modesty are a natural consequence to true belief and faith, and this is what the religion of Islam seeks to create within an individual, an Islamic conscience which guides humans through their lives.

This inner conscience is what tells the state of the heart of the individual, whether it is alive seeking the truth, or dead, filled with the desires of this worldly life.  Lack of religiosity and indulging in sin caused a person to lose one’s conscience, and it can no longer be used as a source of guidance.

“…why then did they not believe with humility?  But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made fair seeming to them that which they used to do.” [Al-`An’am, 6: 43]

“Have they not traversed through the land, and have they heart with which they perceive, or ears with which they hear?  Indeed it is not the sight which is blinded, but rather what is blinded is the hearts which are in the breasts.” [Al-Haj, 22: 46]

The heart can be used as a guide, in conjunction with the intellect and revelation, in order to ease the search for the truth.  The heart of one who is searching for the truth is indeed one which is alive, for it is this life and yearning which causes them to search for it.  This type of person will never find peace at heart in any other religion except the religion which Allah ordained for humanity, and as long as their yearning for the truth exists, their conscience will continue to bother them until they find the true religion of Allah.  

Indeed if the person is sincere, Allah will guide them to the truth:

“And those who desire Guidance, He (God) will increase them in Guidance, and inspire them with [the way to] piety.” [Muhammad, 47: 17]

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Excerpted from with editorial modifications, from: www.islamreligion.com Via OnIslam 30 May 2011]

1 comment:

Pola Butt said...

this site is very informative for Muslims....and good to read I Love Muhammad S.A.W.W