This article, dear reader, is a message of hope and action. Our life on this earth is short; the real life is what Allah (I) has prepared for the believers in Jannah. To enter Jannah, we have to pass the test of life and score high on the Day of Judgment. How can we achieve high scores and how can we be close to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) on the Day of Judgment? In short, by achieving his character.
Amr ibn Shu’ayb reported from his grandfather that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Shall I tell you about the most beloved to me and the closest to my assembly on the Day of Resurrection?” They were silent, so the Prophet repeated himself two or three times. They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Those with the best character.”
There is no doubt that following the teachings of the Qur’an and the example of Allah’s beloved Messenger (ﷺ) will help us acquire the best character.
In the Qur’an, Allah (I) praises Prophet Muhammad’s high standard of moral excellence:
وإنك لعلى خلق عظيم
And indeed, you are of a great moral character. [Surat Al-Qalam, 68:4]
When asked about the character of Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) his wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) replied,
“His character was the Qur’an.”
So what are the characteristics or qualities that formed the Prophet’s distinctive character that he acquired from the Qur’an? And what does Aisha’s statement mean in terms of the way the Prophet (ﷺ) dealt with people? The Qur’an gives us plenty of guidance for knowing what the best of character is:
Affectionate and merciful with spouses:
And of His [i.e., Allah’s] signs is that He created for you from yourselves spouses that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for those who reflect. [Surah Rûm, 30:21]
Kind and humble with his relatives, neighbors, companions and the weakest members of community:
Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor [who may be a relative too], the neighbor farther away, the companion by your side, the wayfarer [you meet], and those [slaves] whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are arrogant and boastful. [Surah Al-Nisâ’, 4:36]
Generous, liberator of slaves, fulfilling his promises and steadfast:
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Scripture and the prophets; [one] who gives wealth—in spite of love for it—to relatives, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [one] who establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those] who fulfill their promise when they promise; and who are patient in poverty, hardship and time of stress. Those are the ones who have been sincere, and it is those who are the righteous. [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:177]
His generosity extending even to his enemies:
And they [i.e., righteous servants of Allah] give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], “We feed you only for the countenance [i.e., approval] of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude. [Surah Al-Insân, 76:8-9]
Never hurting the feelings of those he (ﷺ) helped:
Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up their gifts with reminders [stressing their generosity] nor injury [i.e., hurting the feelings of the recipient], will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:262]
Graciously patient, enduring trying circumstances without complaint:
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:155-156]
So be patient with gracious patience. [Surah Al-Ma’ârij, 70:5]
Honest, trustworthy and unbiased:
Indeed, Allah commands you to deliver back trusts to their [rightful] owners, and when you judge between people, to judge with fairness. Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He [i.e., Allah] gives you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing. [Surah Al- Nisâ’, 4:58]
And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best [i.e., intending improvement] until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember. [Surah Al-An’âm, 6:152]
Fair even with enemies and responding to evil with good:
O you who have believed, be ever steadfast in your devotion to Allah, bearing witness to the truth in all equity, and never let hatred of anyone prevent you from being just. Be just: this is closest to Taqwa [i.e., being conscious of Allah, fearing and loving Him]. And be conscious of Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. [Surah Al-Mâ’idah, 5:8]
And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am of those who have surrendered themselves to Allah [i.e., Muslims].” 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. But none is granted this [character] except those who are patient, and none is granted itexcept one having a great portion [of good]. And if there comes to you from Satan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing. [Surah Al-Fuṣṣilat, 41:33-36]
Not following those who invite to evil:
Do not obey every worthless habitual swearer [or] scorner, going about with malicious gossip—a preventer of good, transgressing and sinful, cruel, moreover, and an illegitimate pretender. [Surah Al-Qalam, 68:10-13]
Lenient, compassionate, polite, pardoning and a good listener:
So by mercy from Allah, you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. [Surah Âl ‘Imrân, 3:159]
Reconciling believers, never ridiculing them:
Surely [all] believers are brothers. So make peace among your brothers, and fear Allah, so that mercy may be shown to you. O you who have believed, let not some people ridicule others; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the [iniquitous] name [calling] after [ one has come to] faith. And whoever does not repent [of this practice]—then it is those who are the wrongdoers. [Surah Al-Ḥujjarât, 49:10-11]
Seeing the best in others, no spying or backbiting:
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. [Surah Al-Ḥujjarât, 49:12]
No discrimination or racism:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and All-Aware. [Surah Al-Ḥujjarât, 49:13]
Proper manners when talking and walking:
And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys. [Surah Al-Luqmân, 31:19]
Give [your] relatives their right, and [also] the needy and the wayfarer, and do not spend wastefully [i.e., on that which is not unlawful or in disobedience to Allah]. Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord. [Surah Al-Isrâ’, 17:26-27]
Adopting the manners of “the Servants of the Most Merciful”:
And the [true] servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth gently [i.e., with humility], and when the ignorant ones address them [harshly], they reply back with words of peace. And [they are] those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrating and standing [in prayer]. And [they are] those who say, “Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, this punishment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence.”
And [they are] those, who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but hold a medium [way] between those [extremes]. And [they are] those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except in [the pursuit of] justice, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated—except for those who repent, believe and do righteous deeds. For them Allah will transform their bad deeds into good ones. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
And he who repents and does righteousness does indeed turn to Allah with [accepted] repentance. And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity. And [they are] those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, do not fall deaf and blind to them.
And [they are] those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” Those will be awarded the [Highest] Chamber [ in Paradise] for what they patiently endured, and they will be received therein with greetings and [words of] peace. Abiding eternally therein; excellent it is as an abode, and as a place to dwell. [Surah Al-Furqân, 25:63-76]
Finally, we supplement the Qur’an’s guidance with some of the sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ) regarding the character expected of Muslims:
The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.
The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.
The best of you in Islam is the best of you in character when they possess understanding (of the dîn).
The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.
The best of you – or among the best of you – are those who pay off their debts in the best manner.
The best of you is the one whose goodness is hoped for, and people are safe from his evil. And the worst of you is he whose goodness is not hoped for, and people are not safe from his evil.
The above characteristics spelled out for us in the Qur’an and those taught by the Prophet (ﷺ) in the Hadith, if closely adhered to, will be our ticket to achieving the “great moral character” that the Qur’an ascribes to the Prophet. May Allah (I) help us be from those who follow our beloved Prophet (ﷺ), making the Qu’ran our moral compass and the core of our manners and behavior. May Allah make us among the most beloved to Prophet Muhammad on the Day of Resurrection.