Good Conduct (حسن الخلق)
All praise is due to Allaah, the Beneficent and the Merciful. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions.
Brothers in faith! Fear Allaah, obey Him and beware of His punishment.
Fellow Muslims! One of the goals of Islaam is the establishment and fulfilment of Allaah’s rights upon mankind, and the rights of man over his fellow human beings. Allaah says that which translates as: “Worship Allaah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed Allaah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” (An-Nisa’: 36).
Whatever people may be busy in, aside from the goals stated above, such as living their day to day lives, abiding by the law and abstaining from injustice, etc. are only secondary obligations and merely a means to achieve the first and primary objective in life.
Good conduct is the foundation for the fulfilment of one’s obligations to Allaah and to other human beings. Good conduct increases ones rank in the sight of Allaah and erases one’s misdeeds. Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, related that she heard the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam saying: “A believer achieves by his good conduct the same reward as a person who fasts much and prays (the voluntary prayer) during the night.” (Abu Dawood).
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam also said: “Nothing is heavier on the scale of a believing slave (of Allaah) on the Day of Resurrection than good conduct. Indeed Allaah dislikes the rude and disrespectful.” (At-Tirmidhi).
Good conduct includes all commendable characteristics and all other matters which are good according to Islamic Law and sound reason. Some scholars have stated that: “Good conduct is to spread all that which is good and abstain from all that which is evil.” Good conduct entails that one performs all that which Allaah has enjoined and abstains from all that which He has forbidden.
One must endeavour to be pious, sincere, patient, forbearing, modest, deliberate, decent, dutiful to one’s parents, kind to kith and kin, passionate, courageous, generous, truthful, gentle, enjoin good and possess good neighbourliness, humbleness and tolerance. One must also abstain from trickery, betrayal, immodesty, disgraceful behaviour, consuming unlawful food and drink, lying, slandering, miserliness, cowardliness, showing-off and self-glorification.
Good conduct benefits a believer in this life and the next, and increases his rank before his Lord. Both good and evil people benefit from their good conduct; but as for the disbeliever, his good conduct will only benefit him in this world and Allaah will reward him for it only in this life while on the Last Day, he will receive nothing. Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, narrated that she once said: "O Messenger of Allaah! What do you think about 'Abdullaah bin Jad’aan? For he took care of his guests, looked after the destitute and assisted people through their difficulties; will all this be of any use to him (in the hereafter)?” The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam answered: “No, for he never once said, ‘My Lord! Forgive me my sins on the Day of Reckoning' (for he was a disbeliever).”
Brothers in Islaam! Allaah enjoins in His Great Book all noble characteristics and forbids all unpleasant ones. The prophetic Sunnah also enjoins good conduct and forbids filthy behaviour.
In His Glorious Book, Allaah says that which translates as: “…And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed …” (Al-An’am: 151). “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good and turn away from the ignorant.” (Al-A’raf: 199). “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon, the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (Fussilat: 34), and He says that which translates as: “…And lower your wing [i.e., show them kindness] to the believers.” (Al-Hijr: 88).
Allaah also says which translates as: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace. And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord, prostrating and standing [in prayer]. And those who say: 'Our Lord! Avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering; Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence. And [they are] those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate. And those who do not invoke with Allaah another deity or kill the soul which Allaah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse…” (Al-Furqan: 63-68). Allaah also enjoins that which translates as: “O you who have believed! Fulfil (your) obligations.” (Al-Maa’idah: 1).
From the Sunnah, it is reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “I am the guarantor of a home in the upper part of Paradise for whomsoever possesses good conduct.” (Abu Dawood). He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam also said: “Shall I not tell you of the person for whom Hell is forbidden? – Hell is forbidden for every person who is tolerant, unpretentious and pleasant.” (At-Tirmidhi).
‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Gentleness does not but adorn one’s deeds and when something is devoid of gentleness, it becomes disfigured.” (Muslim). Nawwaas bin Sam‘an, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaahsallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam about righteousness and sin and he replied: "Righteousness is good conduct and sin is something that is deeply rooted in your heart which you would not like anybody else to know about.”" (Muslim).
Good conduct is a blessing for a person and their community. It is indicative of progress and a high position in the sight of Allaah and it causes one to be loved by others. It gives peace of mind, easiness in one’s affairs, earns people’s praise and ultimately means success on the Last Day. Bad conduct on the other hand brings curses, removal of blessings, people’s hatred, darkness in the grave and misery in this world and the Hereafter.
Fellow Muslims! Emulate our righteous predecessors who possessed noble characteristics and which Allaah attests to in His Book when He says that which translates as:“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer] seeking bounty from Allaah and [His] pleasure…” (Al-Fath: 29).
He also addressed these righteous predecessors when He says that which translates as: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allaah…” (Aal-‘Imraan: 110).
He also says about them that which translates as: “Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allaah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death], and among them is he who awaits [his chance]. And they did not alter [the terms of their commitment] by any alteration.” (Al-Ahzaab: 23).
Everyone from among the Sahaabah, may Allaah be pleased with them, was a nation by himself in terms of noble characteristics and the abstention of dwelling upon unimportant matters.
However, the example par excellence in noble characteristics and all commendable attributes was of course the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Allaah confirms this when he says that which translates as: “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allaah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allaah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allaah often.” (Al-Ahzaab: 21). His Lord refined him in the best possible way and he in turn exerted great effort in reforming his nation and teaching them commendable characteristics. In this regard, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “I was only sent to bring good conduct to perfection.” (Ahmad). Allaah also praises His Prophet greatly when he says that which translates as: “And indeed you [O Muhammad] are of a great moral character.” (Al-Qalam: 4).
Once, ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, was asked of the character of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, she replied: “The Qur’aan was his character.”
Commenting on this statement, Imaam Ibn Katheer, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “(This means) abiding by the injunctions of the Qur’aan in terms of what it enjoins and forbids had become his behaviour and accustomed character. Whatever the Qur’aan enjoined on him, he did and whatever it forbade, he abstained from. He was naturally disposed to generosity, courage, forbearance, forgiveness and all other forms of beautiful conduct.”
Even before he was commissioned as a Prophet, no fault or defect was recorded against him. When revelation first came to him, he sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said to his wifeKhadeejah, may Allaah be pleased with her: “I fear for myself.” Khadeejah, may Allaah be pleased with her replied: “No! I swear by Allaah that He will never disgrace you for you are kind to your kith and kin; you speak only the truth, you are patient, you take care of your guests and assist others upon the truth.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
The above are but a few of the exemplary qualities that he possessed even before he was commissioned as a Prophet. After this, Allaah made him a Prophet and completed His favour upon him by increasing him in these qualities and others.
Therefore emulate him, dear Muslims, by adhering to your religion firmly and implementing his commands, and by imitating his good conduct by as much as Allaah will permit you to. Follow his path and Sunnah with sincerity and without innovating anything in the religion. Allaah says that which translates as: “Say [O Muhammad], 'If you should love Allaah, then follow me, [so] Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Aal ‘Imraan: 31).
Fellow Muslims! Be aware that the prevention of evil through a good word or deed and the spreading of the truth with tact and understanding are praiseworthy and commendable acts. Conversely, cowardly acts of flattery and sycophancy, such as the refusal to speak out for the truth, or turning a blind eye to, or even expressly approving sinful acts are acts of grave misconduct. Allaah says that which translates as: “O you who have believed! Bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good - that you may succeed.” (Al-Hajj: 77).
Brothers in faith! Fear Allaah as He should be feared and abstain from all that He has forbidden; He has commanded you with that which translates as: “Indeed, Allaah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (An-Nahl: 90) This verse encompasses all noble qualities and prohibits all unsavoury characteristics.
Mu’aadh bin Jabal, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Fear Allaah wherever you are, follow up an evil deed with a good one – and it will erase it - and treat people with good conduct.” (At-Tirmidhi). Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was asked which act gains paradise for the people the most and he replied: "Fear of Allaah and good conduct." He was also asked which of act that makes people enter Hell the most and he answered: "The mouth and the private parts.” (At-Tirmidhi).
Dear Muslims! Hold fast to the qualities enjoined by your religion and keep to the path of your Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam so that you will prosper in this life and the Hereafter.