Perfecting Moral Integrity

By Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah

Among the Prophet's (sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam) authentic supplications are:

"O Allah, guide me to good character, none guides to good character but You...." [Recorded by Muslim]

"O Allah, I seek refuge in you from bad character, deeds, and desires." [Recorded by Tirmidhi.]

"O Allah, You perfectly created me, so perfect my character." [Recorded by Ahmad]

"O Allah, I seek refuge in you from disability and laziness; from cowardice and avarice; from decrepitude and harshness; from negligence and impoverishment from lowness and humiliation. And I seek refuge in You from poverty and disbelief; from sinfulness, disunity and hypocrisy; from notability and riyaa' [show]..." [Recorded by Hakim]

Perfecting Moral Integrity

Morality occupies one of the greatest positions in Islam, so great that the Prophet (sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam) said, "I have only been sent to perfect moral integrity.” [Ahmad, Malik, Bazaar, Haithami and Ibn `Abd al Barr authenticated it. From Abu Hurairah.]. As if he (sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam) restricted the duty with which he was commissioned to this matter alone...

If we look at morality as a transaction between the servant and Allah, and between people, then the matter becomes clear. This is the whole religion. How do you deal with the Creator? How do you worship Him, profess belief in His oneness, and avoid His wrath? How do you deal with created beings including the angels, the Prophets, the righteous, the close relatives who posses the rights of love and affection? Including also the different categories of shayateen, kufaar, sinners, hypocrites. Those who we hate for Allah's sake, such as the kufaar, or those who we partially hate such as the sinners who at the onset believe in Allah and His Messengers.

If we understand morality with an exclusive meaning, a transaction with the people only, then the hadeeth demonstrates the greatness of genuine morality, and its high position in the religion. Therefore, it its like the hadeeth, "Hajj is 'Arafah." [Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nisaa’ee, Ibn Majah, Darimy and others. All upon 'Abd al-Rahmaan bin Yahmir al-Dayliy.] And the hadeeth, "The religion is sincere advice." [Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Nisaa'ee from a hadeeth complete with Darimy.] That is not that the whole of Hajj is restricted to `Arafah, nor the whole religion restricted to sincere advice. But it signifies that standing on `Arafah is the greatest of the pillars of Hajj, and that sincere advice holds a lofty position in the religion. Therefore, in this hadeeth, there is no uncertainty of these two meanings, and both of them emphasize the greatness of morality in Islam.

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