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Good Muslim, Good Human Being Taken From Albalagh

Ihsan is a
special Islamic
term, defined by the
famous hadith known as
the Hadith-Jibreel. Once Angel Jibreel, alayhi salam,
visited the Prophet, Salla- Allahu
alayhi wa sallam, in
the guise of a man and in
the presence of
companions. This happened toward the end of the
Prophetic mission and its purpose
to summarize some
fundamental teachings of
Islam for the education of
all of us. Jibreel, alayhi salam, asked questions
about Islam, Iman, Ihsan, the Day
of Judgement, and
Fate. Regarding Ihsan, the
Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi
wa sallam, responded: “It is that you worship Allah as if
you are seeing Him. For though
you see Him not,
verily He is seeing you.”
Obviously, our worship will
be at its best when performed with that
feeling. Ihsan, therefore, means
striving for
excellence in achieving
piety, through an
overwhelming feeling of closeness to Allah. For anyone
seeking spiritual
purification, this is the goal.
Abdul-Hameed Siddiqi, well
known for his English
translation of Sahih Muslim, notes that what is implied by the
term tassawuf is
nothing but Ihsan. With that
in mind we can understand
the joy of the person who
once reported to his mentor that he had achieved
Ihsan in his
prayers. He felt being in
the presence of Allah every
time he stood up for
prayers. “It is great that you should feel that way while
praying, ” his mentor
replied. “But, do you have
the same feelings when you
are dealing with others?
Have you attained Ihsan in relations with your spouse and
children? In relations
with friends and relatives?
In all social relations?” To
the perplexed disciple he
went on to explain that one must not restrict the
concept of Ihsan to the
performance of ritual
prayers. The term is
general and applies to all
endeavors in our life. The Sufi mentor in this
story was Dr. Abdul Hai Arfi,
himself a disciple of Maulana
Ashraf Ali Thanvi. One of
the many great
contributions of Maulana Thanvi was that he
reintroduced Islamic
teachings regarding social
relations and dealings with
others as a religious issue.
His message: You must become a good human
being before you can ever
become a good Muslim. This
message destroys a
disastrous and tragic
misconception that reduces Islam to only the
performance of the ritual
acts of worship—the
pillars—thus robbing it of
much of the rest of the
building. (Some others try to construct the building
without the pillars—an
even more devastating and
futile act—but that is
another subject). A very
important and integral section of that building
deals with our social
relations. It is concerned
with how we behave in the
family. How we interact
with relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and
all the rest of humanity. The
cornerstone of Islamic
teachings in this area is the
requirement that we do
not cause anyone any hurt through our words or
actions. A famous hadith states,
“A Muslim is the one
from whose hands and
tongue other Muslims are
safe.” [Tirmidhi]. Keeping others safe from our hands
and tongues does not only mean
that we do not hurl
stones or abuses at them,
it also means that we do
not say or do anything that will hurt them. This hadith
clearly describes
this as a defining trait of a
Muslim. While it refers to
“other Muslims,” scholars
agree that it is a general requirement that equally applies
to non-Muslims
except those who are at
war with the Muslims. A
person who, through his
intentional or careless actions or words inflicts
unjustified pain on others is
not worthy of being called
a Muslim. We can begin to
appreciate
the value of this teaching by realizing that most
problems in our lives are
man-made. Life can become
living hell if there are problems
within the family:
the tensions between the spouses, the frictions
between parents and
children, the fights
between brothers and sisters
and other relatives.
Today these are common stories everywhere. But
can these problems occur
and reach the intensity
they do if everyone is genuinely
concerned about
not hurting others? The same applies to relations
between friends, neighbors,
colleagues, and communities. Islam
wants to build a
society, which is a model of
civility, courtesy, and consideration for others. It
does so by emphasizing
these attributes at a matter of
faith. One hadith
says that Iman (faith) has
seventy-seven branches. The highest one is the
declaration that there is no
God except Allah and the lowest
one is the removal
of harmful objects from the
path. This is consideration. And obviously, there is no
trace of Iman below this. We see
this consideration
for others throughout the
life of the Prophet
Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Of course, such
an attitude shows itself in
“minor” details. For example,
whenever the Prophet Sall-
Allahu alayhi wa sallam
visited a group were some people were asleep and
others were not, he would greet
them with a low
enough voice so those
awake could hear him while
those asleep would not be disturbed. Every night when
he used to get up for Tahajjud
(midnight prayer)
—a voluntary prayer for
the rest of us—he would
walk out of the bed very quietly so as not to disturb
his sleeping wife. Whenever he
saw someone
commit a wrong that
needed to be corrected in
public for the education of others, he would mention it
in general terms, not naming the
person who did
it. This last practice also
shows the two extremes in
this regard that must be avoided. On the one hand is
the temptation to compromise
on the issue of
right and wrong to avoid
hurt feelings. On the other
is the temptation to correct the wrong with
total disregard to the fact that
one might be insulting
or injuring the other
person. While we may see
these extreme attitudes in people who seem to be
poles apart in terms of their
practice of religion,
both stem from the same
narrow vision of religion
that holds our dealings with others as worldly affairs,
outside the realm of Islam! It is
good to remember
that Islam is a way of life.
We must submit our whole
life, not a small subset of our choosing, to the
commands and teachings of Allah
and His Prophet, Sall-
Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Our
commitment to Islam must
not only be life-long but also life-wide.


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