Who would have thought that Islam is all about character building? Well, despite everything the media says, Islam really is a religion of peace, love and mercy. As Muslims, we are taught to behave in the best manner to all of the creation because that’s what the Creator wants us to do.
Here are some virtues of having good character that are mentioned in authentic Hadiths:
⭐️The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked, “What enters most people into Paradise?” He said: Fear of Allah and good character. (Tirmidhi)
⭐️“Nothing is heavier upon the scale of the believer on the Day of Resurrection than his good character.” (Tirmidhi)
⭐️“The best of you are those with the best character.” (Sahih Bukhari)
⭐️“Verily, the believer may reach through his good character the status of one who regularly fasts and prays at night.” (Abu Dawud)
⭐️“I guarantee…a house in the highest part of Paradise for he who makes his character excellent.” (Abu Dawud)
The Three T’s: Truth, Time and Tone.
Showing good character is the best way to invite people to Islam. Your character speaks louder than your words. So how do we put this knowledge into practical use? Before we speak to someone, we need to ensure that we are saying the truth, at the right time, in the right tone. We can remember this strategy by using the Three T’s: Truth, Time and Tone.
1) Are you going to say the truth?
This is the first thing we need to consider. It’s perhaps the most difficult principle to remember and the easiest to forget. We know that we must always tell the truth but in the midst of a conversation, when someone decides to add some salt and pepper, the integrity dies. How many times have you heard the phrase “I heard that _____ did _____”? I have to be brutally honest here because there is just too much gossip floating around in almost every house, street and school. There’s no need to repeat everything we hear. It’s quite unfortunate that some people miss the point of having two ears and one mouth. It gets tiring to hear the same negative comments about different people. For the majority of the time, the rumors are not even true and it’s sad to see people waste their breath on such trivial matters. Furthermore, it only reflects the immaturity of the speaker and no one respects such loose behaviour.
Lying and spreading rumours are extremes on one end of the spectrum of truth. Can we still talk about someone if what we’re saying is actually true? Even if it’s as true as the sun in the sky, we are not allowed to backbite. It’s as simple as that. I will write a post about this in the near future, In’sha’Allah. But for now, try not to speak about people in their absence unless you have something genuinely nice to say. I know it’s hard and some days we just want to let all of it out. I’m sure you could ‘say it to their face’ if you wanted to. Yes, they probably do know that you talk about them behind their back. But remember that on the Day of Judgement, we’re going to have to answer for what we said. If we spoke ill of someone, we’ll have to pay up. And this could mean that we lose our good deeds or we gain their bad deeds. The loss is much more significant, enduring and greater than any benefit we might gain from backbiting.
2) Is it the right time to speak about this topic?
If you want people to listen, they need to be mentally engaged. If you try to talk to someone who is in the middle of a phone call, there’s a pretty big chance that they won’t hear a word you’re saying because their brain is already dealing with something else. I’ll show you an example. (Don’t try this one at home!)
“Mum, can I go to the cinema tomorrow?”
“Thanks Mum, you’re the best.”
“-But make sure you bring the paper plates because I forgot to buy them.”
“Paper plates are better because we can just throw them away afterwards.”
“I think fruit punch should be okay. What do you think?”
“I don’t really like fruit punch…”
“Alright, that’s great! I’ll see you tomorrow, In’sha’Allah. And please remember the paper plates! Salam.”
“Sooo, hold on. Do you want me to go now?”
“Go where? Tomorrow is Eid! Your Aunty just called to tell me that the girls want to have a sleepover.”
“Oooh, right. That explains a lot. I thought you were talking to me.”
As you saw from the dialogue above, there was a lot of misunderstanding going on. If your parents are on the phone, try not to interrupt them unless it’s an emergency. The very last thing you want is your parents to say ‘yes’ whilst they’re on the phone only to receive a disappointing ‘no’ when they’re done. Just be patient and let them finish speaking. If you can do this, you’ll learn how to communicate what you need in a more effective way, rather than just eagerly waiting to hear a ‘yes’. In the real world, things don’t work like that. You need to negotiate and reason in a respectful manner in order to get the things you want. And sometimes, you may not get the response you hoped for and that’s okay. You’ll learn a valuable life lesson: some days are for you and others are not.
Time and place go together. Think about the place you are in and whether the topic you want to discuss is appropriate for that situation. Does your friend really need to know about the new movie that’s coming out soon whilst you’re in the Masjid waiting to pray? I mean, imagine if one of the uncles or aunties in the Masjid heard you! Movies in the Masjid?! Not a good combination. Not only that, but your friend might have a hard time concentrating in Salah if their mind keeps wondering off to think about the movie. Do your friend a favour and save the details for after the prayer.
3) Are you speaking in the correct tone?
I can tell you from my own experience that when people speak in a disrespectful tone, the listener doesn’t care about what you’re saying anymore. They’re too busy trying to regulate their own emotions to even hear the truth in your words. It’s no longer a battle of words, but a war between the egos. You could be saying the most honest of statements, but if your tone doesn’t match, the meaning behind those words changes.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you went shopping and a stranger accidentally bumps into you. The stranger mutters a quick, “Sorry.” They apologised. However, you don’t hear the sincerity in that statement because their tone was bitter, cold and quite accusing, as if to say that you are the one who should be sorry and not them. Undoubtedly, you feel disrespected and annoyed. That experience could leave a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of the day. Sometimes tone tells you more truth than you’d ever know from words alone.
On a more positive note, let’s say you’re a sister who, for the first time in many years, decides to go to a Masjid near your home. You enter and see so many unfamiliar faces. Suddenly, a lady walks towards you and greets you with a beaming face, “Asalamu alaykum, my sister!” Her enthusiasm washes over you and you feel warmly welcomed by her delightful tone. Her smile makes you want to smile. It’s such a beautiful moment of sisterhood that you wish every woman in the world experiences. And so you reply to her greeting with a grand smile, “Wa alaykum salam, sister! It’s nice to meet you.” After such a heart-warming encounter, you want to go to the masjid everyday, not only to recieve greetings of peace, but also to give them to those who may be in dire need of benevolence and kindness.
If, instead of a smile and an enthusiastic tone, you were met with judgemental stares and were spoken to in a snobby tone, you would never wish to go back there. Unfortunately, this happens to many reverts and Muslims who are on the brink of coming back to the religion. They are verbally abused and made to feel like outcasts for reasons they do not know. We should be happy to have them in our company. We’re all one family, we’re all children of Adam and we ought to show people that they are welcome. They are welcome to embrace the religion. They are welcome to find peace and happiness in the Masjids, celebrations and gatherings of the Muslims. And it’s our duty as Muslims, as believers in Allah and as followers of Prophet Muahmmad (peace and blessings be upon him) to welcome them.
In my own experience- and perhaps many of you can relate to this too- I’ve found that when those who seem religious behave in a way that is quite arrogant or obnoxious, it drives people away from the religion. This is because you are made to think that religion makes one heartless. However, the truth is quite the contrary. Islam teaches us to be loving, caring and merciful to all beings. And one of Allah’s names is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful. So if following the religion makes you a merciless, self absorbed individual, you are not following the religion correctly.
I’m sure you now understand that tone makes a whole world of difference.
Putting it into Practice:
People are so much more likely to listen to you and see the truth in what you say when you are:
- Sincere (be truthful)
- Respectful (respect people’s time and space)
- Well-mannered (use an appropriate tone)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
” I have only been sent to perfect good character.” (Bukhari)
Now, let’s see how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) won the hearts of people by embodying good character and manners.
In a Hadith, we learn that during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), there was a Bedouin man from the desert who urinated in the Masjid. The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) became angry and they wanted to stop him. However, our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) told them to let him finish. Then he called the man over and gently told him that the Masjid is not an appropriate place for this. He then asked for some water to be poured on the floor to clean it. Such a perfect example of mercy and good character!
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) respected the Beduion man’s need for privacy in that moment. Then when the time was appropriate, he sincerely told the man that it was not right to urinate in the house of Allah. He spoke in a gentle tone, not a harsh one, because he could see that the man didn’t know it was wrong. Then, he didn’t dwell on the problem or make a big issue out of it. All he did was ask for the floor to be cleaned with water.
The lesson we learn from this is that our character and conduct speaks louder than our words. If we want people to truly know Islam, we shouldn’t constantly lecture them, point out every single one of their flaws or brag about all the good things we do. Show them what Islam is through your good character and manners.
✨If speech was silver and silence was gold, neither would shine as bright as good character.✨