Our Lord says about Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that surely, he is indeed on an excellent standard of character (68:4). Allah has not sent our Prophet except as a mercy to all the worlds (21:107). Some of his qualities are described in this verse: “Surely, there has come to you, from among yourselves, a Messenger. He feels it very hard on him if you face a hardship (i.e. your suffering distresses him); he is very anxious for your welfare (i.e. he is deeply concerned for you), and towards the faithful he is very kind, full of mercy” (9:128). So take the Prophet as your example, for Allah has said, “There is indeed, in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent role model for you, you who hope for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah with much remembrance.” (33:21)
How can we strive to ensure that our intentions for worship are and remain steadfast for Allah? One way is to make those acts of worship not seen by any but Allah. Hide your good deeds and seek only His attention. His approval. His Pleasure.
It is reported that Shurayḥ the Judge used to have a house in which he would spend time alone on Fridays; no one knew what he did in it. (Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā` Vol 4 p105)
It is reported that Dāwūd b. Abī Hind fasted for forty years without his family knowing; he would take his lunch out with him and donate it in the street. (Ibid. Vol 6 p378)
And it is reported that Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī used to pray all night and hide it. In the morning, he would raise his voice as if he had just woken up. (Al-Dhahabī, op. cit. Vol 6 p17)
Al-Hasan al-Basri said, speaking about the striving of the Salaf in hiding their deeds, “Indeed, I came across a people, there was not a single deed on the face of this earth which could be done in secret, that they ever did in public!” These Muslims would strive to supplicate to Allah, and nothing could be heard from them except a low whisper between them and their Lord. That is because Allah says, “Call upon your Lord in humility and privately; indeed, He does not like transgressors.” Qur’an surat al-A’raaf (7:55). (Ibn al-Mubarak, az-Zuhd p35-36.)
Who is the best of us? To answer that, Abdullah ibn Amr reported, that the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said, “The best of you are those with the best character” (Sahih Bukhari 3366; Muttafaqun Alayhi). In another narration, Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said, “Verily, the believers with the most complete faith are those with the most excellent character and who are most kind to their family” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2612; Sahih). Such is the importance of upright character, that the Prophet of Allah s.a.w. himself said, “Verily, I have only been sent to perfect righteous character” (Musnad Aḥmad 8729; Sahih). From these ahaadith we can understand why Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “The religion itself is entirely good character, so whoever surpasses you in character has surpassed you in religion” (Madārij al-Sālikīn 2/294).
In Singapore, there is a popular way with which some people measure success by, and that is the five C’s, namely, (1) cash, (2) cars, (3) credit cards, (4) condominiums, and (5) country club memberships (I didn’t know this before, but that’s because I live in a cave*). It is easy to equate material things to success, perhaps due to the tangibility of such possessions. However, one cannot help but ask, “Is that all? Is that all that I want in life? Will obtaining the five C’s mentioned above fulfill my needs and make me happy?” Continue reading