Uphold Good Character

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the second in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Allah praises the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), thus:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِیم

“And verily you are upon a sovereign mighty character.” [Quran, 68:4; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

This is a descriptive praise of the character of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was commanded by Allah:

فَٱعۡفُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لَهُمۡ وَشَاوِرۡهُمۡ فِی ٱلۡأَمۡرِۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمۡتَ فَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِۚ 

“So pardon them, ask His forgiveness for them, and consult with them on matters of weight; And when you decide, then trust wholly to Allah ” [ Quran, 3:159; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

This command was fulfilled by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the most perfect and beautiful of ways. 

What Is Entailed by Proper Manners

Adab (proper manners) entails overlooking errors and mistakes (unless there is a clear interest otherwise). Seek forgiveness for others. Have concern for them. Consult them in your affairs. 

As believers, we should be consulting one another, but the context is about those who made a mistake. Do not just tell them you did wrong, consult them in general and consult them regarding the mistake they made.

Be Easy Going

Our mother Aisha was asked about the character of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). She replied, “His character was the Quran.” Why? The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) embodied every command in the Quran in the most beautiful of ways. Allah says:

خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِینَ

“Accept from people what they can do, bid the good, and turn away from rude fools.” [Quran, 7:199; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

Being easygoing in relations. Not being too demanding and having an affectionate, caring relationship with people is a means for strengthening the bonds of fraternity, brotherhood, and sisterhood.

This cultivates love. It makes it easy for people to be together. If people have good relations, there will be worldly and religious well-being. People need good company to fulfill their religious duties.

The Believer Is a Brother

The believer is a brother for the believers. On this Allah says:

كَأَنَّهُم بُنْيَـٰنٌۭ مَّرْصُوصٌۭ

“As if they were an impenetrably solid building.” [Quran, 61:4; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

The believers are like a building for one another. Each part reinforces and strengthens the other. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “None of you believes until they love for their brother what they love for themselves.”

The brotherhood here is the brotherhood of faith and humanity. You love for others all that you love for yourself. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ إِخۡوَة 

“Believers are plainly but each other’s own brothers” [Quran, 49:10; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

One should consider three things in this regard:

  • Firstly, none of you believe until they view others as their brethren. 
  • Secondly, you want good for them. 
  • Thirdly, you want as much of the good for them as you want for yourself. 

Individualistic society calls for one to only consider oneself without thinking so much about one’s brethren. A thing one could do is pay attention to subtle cues that others may give. Somebody may have an interest in something or they drop a hint, or you see them admire something. You could be the one to get that for them before they get it themselves. 

In this day and age, certain things may be easier such as sending a gift via delivery. These are tokens of care. Act upon what one has learned. Unless you act upon it, it will not become a virtue. 

Noticing Virtue

Particular occasions in one’s life can highlight the virtues in others that can can learn from. An example of this could be after the passing of a person. A relative may take a huge time off his work to drive people around, help relatives, and support them even when that relative may be distant. 

Virtue is not just within the family but also amongst friends, neighbors, colleagues, and with anyone whom you have any relationship. 

Our relationships are not just circumstantial. It is not that one has a concern as long as one is working with the other. It is not about forgetting the other when things change. We should think about it.

Everyone is like brethren. We are all descendants of Adam and Hawa.

Uphold Good Character

One should uphold good character, especially with family and friends. Good character is described by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “The weightiest of matters on the scales of good deeds on the day of resurrection is good character.” In another Hadith, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character.”

There are three aspects to upholding good character:

  • Do not hurt and harm anybody. 
  • Know their right and fulfill them. 
  • Do good to them. 

Someone asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “O messenger of Allah, what is the best a person can have in life?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Good character. Good character.”

Otherworldly Quality

Good character is more important than any otherworldly quality. The distinguishing quality a person should strive to have, if they want to be a person of religion is good character. 

With family and friends, one may be the most brutally blunt. One may be often provoked by them. Having good character here is where it shines. Be grateful for your family members and good friends. Check up on your friends. Send them a message or give them a phone call. See that they are okay. 

Do not forget those other than friends and family. You may not always catch someone’s name but they could still be someone who has offered you help. Thank them. Simple and beautiful.