How Is Spiritual Excellence Attained?

Question: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) defined spiritual excellence (ihsan) as, “To worship Allah as though you behold Him,” in the Hadith Jibril. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this, and and have found this message of beholding Allah in many other hadiths too, like the hadith in the Forty of al-Nawawi in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Take care of Allah and He’ll take care of You. Take care of Allah, and you will find Him before you…” How is this spiritual excellence reached?


In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful


Spiritual excellence (ihsan) comes from a root linguistic sense of perfecting and beautifying something. The state of spiritual excellence (ihsan) is a gift from God, normally granted the one who sincerely and consistently strives to perfect and beautify their faith, submission, worship, conduct, character, and dealings, on the footsteps of the
Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

Spiritual excellence (ihsan) is the result of true sincerity (ikhlas), which is defined as seeking Allah Most High alone in all one’s actions, in the ways most beloved to Him.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Actions are by their intentions,” defining for us that the reality of actions is not in their forms but, rather, in the sincerity of intent underlying them. “And each person shall have whatever they intended,” from which the foremost of his followers realized that the best of what is sought–in every matter–is Allah Himself. This is the essence of the Prophetic concern, and the sum of the Prophet’s way.

Allah Most High tells us, “Truly you have in the Messenger of Allah the most beautiful of examples, for whoever seeks Allah and the Last Day, and makes much remembrance of Allah.” [Qur’an, 33.21] This is spiritual excellence: seek Allah in all your affairs; take the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as your example in all your affairs; uphold that example in the best and most beautiful of ways; and make much remembrance of Allah.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani