The Islamic Personality
The Islamic Personality – what is it? How can we develop a system or a methodology that will enable our children to imbibe the Islamic values naturally even as they grow? Obviously it is not an easy task but not something that is insurmountable. This is a task that the Ummah will have to undertake if they wish to come out of the morass in which they find themselves in today. There are sacrifices that will have to be made and the people who can play the most important role in this are those who are on the threshold of matrimony or the young married with little children. It is these people whose hearts and minds have to be opened to the responsibility that beckons at them and how it is they who can truly help raise their children as the true Standard Bearers of Islam or those with an Islamic Personality, writes SYED ADIL.
Islam grew by leaps and bounds only after the conquest of Makkah. The Makkan Jews, Christians and Pagans saw the Islamic way of life that was based on justice and fairplay, equity and honour, valour and concern for others, truthfulness and trustworthiness. These were the qualities of Muslims that endeared them to one and all and as a result Islam went on to spread light to all parts of the World. The Khulaf-e-Rashidin following our Prophet (pbuh) were able to successfully enshrine the Islamic form of governance that was based on the rule of Allah with the Khalifa merely being a trustee at best. The subsequent elements of kingship and hunger for power initially diluted and subsequently completely took away the concept of Allah’s rule in Khilafat to set in motion a process of degeneration in the Ummah as a whole. However, the initial good work of the four Sahabas (Khulafa-e-Rashidin) was enough to establish Islam as a faith that continues to even today attract Non-Muslims in its fold in large numbers. Only this time it is so not because of us as a People but despite us.
As an Ummah we will have to collectively reflect on our affairs on the basis of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This has to be understood in no uncertain terms if we really desire to make our respective contribution to the cause of our Deen. I said ‘if’ for something that is really a must. As the Best of Ummah (Aal-e-Imran: 110) chosen by Allah (swt), it is enjoined upon us to act in a certain manner, which in a nutshell amounts to not just live Islam as it is prescribed to us for peace, contentment and happiness in this world, but also to ensure a smooth transition into the Afterlife or the Hereafter. The Hereafter is our Goal and the way to it is through a test by fire in this world. Remember: Iblees/ Satan with not so inconsiderable powers and with due permission from Allah (swt) Himself is out here to make this journey into the Hereafter as difficult as possible. This is the test we have to live and this is the test we have to pass and the examiner in this case is the Most High, the All-Powerful Allah (swt) Himself.
What is the system or the method that we need to develop and put in place for our young to imbibe and follow? First and foremost of all we need to understand what is the way Allah (swt) has shown through His Words (Qur’an) and how the same was practiced by our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) (i.e., his Sunnah). It has to be understood that Islam is not just about the so called five pillars (Shahadah, Salah, Saum, Zakah and Hajj) because they only constitute the first two aspects of the larger whole, i.e. Total Deen, which comprises of (Imani’yaat [Belief and Aqaaid], Iba’daat [Worship], Mua’malat [Dealings with people], Mua’shirat [Environment and Society] and Akh’laq [Manners]). This in turn can be split into various attributes that go into making of an Islamic Personality.
As we all know, it was the persona of the Prophet (pbuh) himself that can be termed as an ultimate Islamic Personality. It is the attributes of his personality that we should seek to impart on our young even when they are growing up and are able to evolve as an Islamic personality naturally. The Prophet (pbuh) himself possessed in abundance a personality that was based on forbearance (hilm [state of dignified bearing and constancy despite provocation]), self-restraint (ihtimal) in the face of pains and physical injuries, patience (Sabr) which encompasses a much larger meaning and incorporates values of moderation and restraint in what we eat, how much we sleep, what we say, see and do. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, forgiveness (Awf [the will to not hold something against someone or the courage to let go]).
Allah says: “Show forgiveness, enjoin good and turn away from the foolish.” (al-A’raf: 199). When the Prophet (pbuh) asked Jibril to interpret this Ayat to him, Jibril said: “Wait until I ask the One Who Knows,” and then after coming back, he said, “O Muhammad (pbuh), Allah commands you to unite yourself with those who cut you off and to give to those who refuse to give to you and to pardon those who are unjust to you.” Elsewhere Allah says: “Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?” (An-Nur: 22).
There are innumerable instances that can be cited to establish how the Prophet (pbuh) always stood true to the highest values of character and piety. Indeed, at one time in the Battle of Uhud when the Prophet sustained severe injuries on his face and his tooth broken, the Prophet never lost his temper nor cursed the enemy. In fact, the Prophet supplicated to Allah to forgive them and guide them. When some of the Companions including Umar (ra) said, “If only you had invoked a curse against them,” the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “I have not been sent to curse, but I have been sent as a Summoner and as a mercy. O Allah, guide my people for they do not know.”
The Prophet never took revenge for himself unless the honour of Allah was violated. One recalls the Prophet forgiving the man who had come to kill him while he was resting alone under a tree and at another time when someone used black magic against him or even when a Bedouin pulled at the Prophet’s cloak so hard that it made an impression on his neck.
`A’isha (ra) said about the Prophet that she never saw him strike anyone with his hand, except in Jihad in the way of Allah. Instances of the Prophet’s forbearance, patience, piety and kindness, generosity, liberality, courage, bravery, modesty, good manners, good nature, integrity, probity in contracts, maintaining ties in kinship, humility, sense of justice, trustworthiness, decency, truthfulness, sedateness, silence, deliberation, manly virtue, excellent conduct, abstinence regarding worldly things, his fear of Allah, obedience and intensity of his worship are so many that one can go on counting them endlessly.
The point to note is that here is a Prophet of Islam, the Mercy to Mankind who is a shining example of one who possesses all that is good (al-Birr) and one whose every word, deed and practice is recorded to the last detail, yet his Ummah (the nation of Islam) finds itself so lost and struggling to blend the Qur’an and Sunnah to obey Allah and His Messenger, together as a community, in order to create a Society, a people, an Ummah that we are meant to be, i.e., we enjoin al-Ma’ruf (the Islamic Monotheism and all that Allah has ordained) and forbid al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). (Al Imran: 110)
In order to keep this brief, I have chosen to highlight the attribute of forgiveness (Awf) in greater detail simply because I have seen from my own experience that harbouring of ill-will, or not letting go your suppressed anger at an injustice done to you, can simply consume you and even bring to nought the positive traits in your personality.
(The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)