[Friday Sermon] Islam Teaches Muslims Good Character, By Imam Murtada Gusau

Imam Murtada Gusau


 By Imam Murtada Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All perfect praise be to Allah, we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and he whom He leaves astray there is none to guide him! I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His slave and Messenger.


To proceed:

“O you who have believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared, (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Al-Imraan: 103]


“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) he created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisaa’: 1)


“O you who have believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter paradise).” [Al-Ahzaab: 70-71)


To Proceed:

Verily the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). And the worst matters are the newly invented matters (in the religion), and ALL new matters are innovations into the religion, and all the innovations are misguidance, and all the misguidance lead to the fire.”


Servants of Allah!

Good character, morals, ethics and manners are fundamental to the religion of Islam and the means by which we can achieve salvation in the life to come. Good character is a major theme in the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadiths of the Prophet (SAW). True righteousness is defined by it and the best Muslims are those who practice it. The believers with the most complete faith, who are most beloved by Allah and His Messenger, are those with the best character. A good Muslim is a person who received good training and upbringing from his parents. Therefore he will not abuse or insult the leaders and elders of other people nor listen to those untrained people who are trying to tarnish his image, defame him or spreading the campaign of calumny against him. Because he have believed that it’s lack of good training and proper upbringing that would make a person to behave so.


Allah praised the Prophet’s character and set him as the example and role model for all believers to follow. Allah the Most High said:


Verily, you are upon great moral character.(Surah Al-Qalam 68:4)


The commentators of the Qur’an say the “great moral character” mentioned in this verse is the Qur’an, the Prophet, and the religion of Islam itself.


Imam Ibn Kathir also comments on this verse, saying:


“The meaning of this verse is that the Prophet would emulate the Qur’an in its commands, its prohibitions, and it became his temperament. His character became accustomed to it and he abandoned his visceral carnal nature. Whatever the Qur’an commanded he did, and whatever it prohibited he abstained. Along with this, Allah ingrained within him great character traits of modesty, generosity, courage, forgiveness, forbearance, and every beautiful trait.” (See Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim, 68:4)


The primary mission of the Prophet was to instill good character within the believers in every aspect of their lives.


Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


Verily, I have only been sent to perfect righteous character.” (See Musnad Ahmad, 8729)


In another narration, the Prophet said:


“I have been sent to perfect good character.” (See al-Muwatta, 1614)


And in another narration, the Prophet said:


“Verily, Allah has sent me to perfect noble morals and complete good deeds.” (See al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, 7073)


Brothers and sisters!

With respect to Allah, good character means upholding the sound creed (aqeedah) and acts of worship (ibadah). With respect to people, good character means being just, merciful, forgiving, kind, generous and patient in our interactions with them (Mu’amalat).


This comprehensive view of good character coloured the Prophet’s preaching in Makkah and throughout his life. The companions would recall how good character was one of the first Islamic teachings they had ever heard.


Ibn Abbas reported: When Abu Dharr heard that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had appeared in Makkah, he said to his brother, “Ride to this valley and tell me about this man who claims to have received revelation from the heavens. Listen to his words and then inform me. “The man rode along until he arrived in Makkah and he listened to the Prophet, then he return to Abu Dharr and he said:


“I have seen him order noble morals, and his speech is not that of poet.” (See Sahih Muslim, 2474)
Since good character is so important, behaving in a morally upright manner is a religious obligation. The Prophet commanded Muslims to behave well in every circumstance and with every human being, not simply those close to us.


Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


“Behave with good character toward the people”. (See Sunan At-Timidhi, 1987)


Good character is not merely recommended or secondary to issues of doctrine. Rather, good character, morals, ethics, and manners are the spirit that breathes life into our doctrines. It is the very essence of the righteousness spoken about all throughout the Qur’an. It is accessible to our innate rational nature as Allah has bestowed upon all of us the power to recognize righteousness and sin, even without the aid of revelation.


An-Nawwas ibn Sam’an reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


“Righteousness is good character and sin is what waivers in your heart and you hate for people to find out about it.” (See Sahih Muslim, 2553)


In another narration, the Prophet said:


“Consult your soul, consult your heart. Righteousness is what is satisfying to your soul and your heart, and sin is what wavers in your soul and causes hesitancy in your chest, even if the people give you a judgment, and again give you a judgment.” (See Sunan Ad-Darimi, 2533)


From all this, many classical scholars understood that good character is essential and required in Islam, even equivalent to the religion itself.


Imam ibn Al-Qayyim writes:


“The religion itself is entirely good character, so whoever surpasses you in good character has surpassed you in religion.” (See Madaarij al-Saalikin, 2/294)


And he also writes:


“Good manners itself is the religion in its entirety.” (See Madaarij al-Saalikin, 2/363)


The true measure of a good Muslim is how good are his character and manners, particularly in his or her relationships with their families and all people. Men are specifically called upon to treat their women in the best manner. The honour of a Muslim man is directly proportional to his behaviour towards women.


Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


“The best of you are those with the best character.” (See Sahih Bukhari, 3366)


In another narration, the Prophet said:


“The most complete of the believers in faith are those with the best character, and the best of you are the best in behaviour to their women.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 1162)


And in another narration, the Prophet said:


“Verily, the believers with the most complete faith are those with the most excellent character and who are most kind to their family.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 2612)


Servants of Allah!

Good character is among the greatest of good deeds to be placed on the scale of a believer on the Day of Judgment, even more so than an abundance of voluntary acts of worship.


Abu Dardaa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


“Nothing is heavier upon the scale of the believer on the Day of Resurrection than his good character. Verily, Allah hates the shameless, obscene person.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 2002)


Aisha reported: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:


“Verily, the believer may reach through his good character the status of one who regularly fasts and prays at night.” (See Sunan Abu Dawud, 4798)


The Prophet informed us that good character is the leading cause of people entering paradise. On the contrary, character flaws involving bad speech, defaming, attacking, abusing and insulting people and sexual immorality are the leading cause of people entering the Hellfire.


Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet was asked, “What enters most people into paradise?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him said:


“Righteousness and good character.”


It was asked, “What enters most people into the Hellfire?” The Prophet said:


“The mouth and the private parts.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 2004)


Those who practiced good character and manners will be the closet to the Prophet and the righteous in paradise, whereas those who indulged in bad manners will be the furthest from them.


Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him, said:


“Shall I tell you about the most beloved to me and the closest to my assembly on the Day of Resurrection? They are those with the best character.” (See Musnad Ahmad, 6696)


In another narration, the Prophet said:


“Verily, the most beloved and nearest to my gathering on the Day of Resurrection are those of you with the best character. Verily, the most reprehensible of you to me and the furthest from my gathering on the Day of Resurrection will be the pompous, the extravagant, and the arrogant.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 2018)


My respected people!

The scholars have written many books and articles about the virtues of good character and their practical manifestations: acts of mercy, justice, fairness, patience, forbearance, modesty, humility, generosity, piety, kindness, compassion, and so forth. In each case, good character involves the respect due to Allah, as well as the respect due to human beings and animals as the creations of Allah.


Ibn Taymiyyah summarizes the good character of Islam, saying:


“The believers encourage people to reconcile relations with those who have cut them off, to give charity to those who have deprived them, and to forgive those who have oppressed them. They order people to be benevolent with parents, to uphold family ties, to be benevolent with neighbours, to be kind with orphans, travelers, and the poor, and to be gentle with servants. They forbid bragging, arrogance, and transgression. They discourage people from feeling superior over others, rightly or wrongly. They enjoin people to use lofty manners and prohibit them from pursuing trifles. All that they say or do from these virtues and other teachings, in all of it they follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Their path is the religion of Islam with which Allah has sent Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.” (See al-Aqidah al-Wasitiyah, 1/71)


Dear Servants of Allah!

As Muslims, our goal should be to behave well towards Allah by continuously seeking knowledge of the religion and performing acts of worship, while at the same time behaving well towards all people, upholding divine values of justice, fairness and mercy, and responding to evil with good.


“O Allah! Make us among those who earn your forgiveness and acquire safety from the Hell fire, Ameen.


All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Prayers, peace and mercy are upon our beloved Master Muhammad, the son of Abdullah (SAW), his family and his companions.


Success comes from Allah, the Lord of all that exists, and He the Most High knows best.


This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumaada al-awwal 24, 1437 A.H (March 4, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: +234 80 3828 9761.