If the ummah was to return to this knowledge of good character, then
The world should return as a student to the teacher of sayedina Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
We have to look at the name: “usul al akhlaq alnabawiyya” –
Usul: it is the basis of something:
Khuluq: it is something on the inside from which all actions springs, whereas “khalq” is the outward characteristics. If someone asks about the “khalq” of someone, then they will tell you about his hand, eyes, face, etc- the outward
The “nafs” is the “khuluq” – the inward
We have to differentiate between, khuluq (inward character), tab’ (habit), fitra (natural way), instinct (gareeza), and adab.
Al-tab’ is the habit of a person, something that he is disposed to doing.
Gareeza is something the human being shares with animals, such as the instinct to eat, and procreate. They are things which one thinks or feels one needs.
Fitra is something else that is naturally in man, the instinct towards goodness and righteous. There was a child who was placed alone in a country, and was not told anything about his parents, and the first time he spoke, he said “Allah”. So this is the natural instinct towards good things.
Adab are praiseworthy habits of behaviour like when you seek permission before entering someone’s house.
Why do we call this “Prophetic” character? Is it just because it is a matter for Muslims? Yes it relates to Muslims, but that is not why. It is because he came as a perfection of all good character, and as an example for it. By Prophetic character, we mean good character. Elevated character that takes you to Allah
The world today is living a crisis, and there is an absence of good character.
The Secret of the Prophetic message was to “perfect good character”
When the Prophet said “I came to perfect good character” and did not say I came “to teach” or “came with” or “came with the foundations of” good character, but rather he came to “perfect it”, because the basis of good character is present in all of us, it is linked with fitra, and we deviate from this according to our environments, the principles we are raised upon, our company, etc
Thus the inclination to good character in our fitra is present in Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.
The Prophet came after other Prophets, so his message came to complete the previous messages. He came to complete the characteristics that other Prophets came with. Like for example, Sayedina Ibrahim was known to be generous with his guest, etc. So the Prophet peace be upon him came to perfect and complete this way.
The Muslim who seeks the good pleasure of God, why is he in need of good character? Practicing people are in need of this more than others.
There is a narration of a woman who was known to pray and fast, and she dealt with her neighbours with bad character, and the Prophet said of her that she will be in the fire.
The worshipper may reach the lowest levels of the hellfire due to his bad character, whereas a Muslim who does not fast or pray nawafil may reach the highest ranks of paradise due to his good character.
Our religion is based on good character. We are a religion who’s traders did dawah before its scholars due to their good character.
If we look at the reality that the ummah is living today, and we look at the states in our homes, sons with fathers, bosses with their workers. Where is the Prophetic character today? If you go to the street at asar time in Ramadan, and someone pushed him by mistake he shouts and swears, and if you ask him what’s wrong he’ll say “I’m fasting!”- What is fasting?
Someone may say that a Muslim may be to moderate/nurture/change their anger habits and other such things, but I tried, but I am like this. So can character change and become better?
The Prophet said: “Knowledge is by learning; Hilm (forbearance) is by training” – what does this second bit mean? It means that you have to struggle with the self to reach these fruits
Do we not see this with animals? For example with horses. If you bring an untrained horse, bit by bit the rider trains the horse. If the horse throws off the rider, does the rider give up? No, but he keeps trying. Slowly and slowly the horse is tamed and starts to listen. This isn’t just with a horse, there are other examples. [...]
Good character comes from 4 strengths that Allah has placed in man. The first 2 arise from inside man, 1 can can be developed, and 1 can only be obtained.
The first two are present in all men, old, young, knowledgeable or otherwise: angerand desire
The other two are intellect and knowledge (religion).
1) If “desire” is tamed and reigned in, then it creates the characteristic of Virtue, which is from the usul of good character. From it comes modesty, patience, asceticism, etc.
2) The second strength is anger: This has also been placed in man
Imam Shafi said, “Whoever is provoked to anger and doesn’t get angry, he is a donkey.” Because it is as though he does not have feelings! If it is tamed then it leads to courage, and if it is lost completely, then it results in cowardice.
3) Aql- good perception. If someone leans to excess in this, then he becomes a conspirer/ plotter/someone who deals in evil- and if he loses it completely then he leans towards stupidity – and the fruit of managing aql is good governance/management
4) The fourth is religion which is from knowledge, and practicing that knowledge.
All of good character goes back to 4 strengths: anger, desire, intellect, religion
And if they are tamed and controlled they have 4 fruits, which are: courage, virtue, good governance and wisdom
May Allah make us from those with good character.