Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Five commands of Allah for Building an Excellent Akhlaq (Character)
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani
And by the Mercy of Allâh, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh¬hearted, they would have broken away from you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allâh's) Forgiveness for them; consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him)
 Surah Ali ‘Imran 3 : 159

Prophet Mohammed ﷺ was blessed with an inborn noble character. Allah also taught him more through His revelations and inculcated great habits. The above verse mentions five characteristics that the Prophet ﷺ  was instructed to adapt and these habits should be incorporated in our lives, too.

There are five characteristics mentioned in this verse that the Prophet ﷺ  learned from Allah which helped him in building and maintaining connections with people of different temperaments and relations, building his team, and inculcating love, harmony and obedience amongst his Companions. A formula for success for any leader!

Let’s go through the above verse again;

And by the Mercy of Allâh, you dealt with them gently.

The gentleness or kindness towards people in the heart of the Prophet ﷺ  is a Mercy of Allah. Prophet ﷺ was a soft spoken person with a kind heart and a cool temperament. All of these qualities were blessings of Allah.

And had you been severe and harsh¬hearted, they would have broken away from about you;

The gentleness of the Prophet ﷺ  had brought a lot of trustworthy people close to him They were so devoted to him that they did not wish to leave him even for a while. If leaders and elders are harsh and stern , they are deserted by their own people. For any mission to be successful, the leader has to be kind as the Prophet ﷺ said:

You must be gentle. Verily, gentleness is not in anything but that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything but that it disgraces it.”
Source: Musnad Aḥmad 24417

Pass over (their faults)- Second important blessing mentioned in the verse

It has been instructed to overlook the faults of people and to avoid punishing them. Harm can be reciprocated with an equal punishment, yet forgiveness is preferred and is considered the better option.

Let’s take an example:

A criminal is brought before his victim yet he receives a pardon. Great patience (Sabr) is required to pardon a person though you are in a position to take revenge. It is unfortunate to see relations, friendships and partnerships getting severed because of the vengeful attitude of people.

Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was amongst the most well informed persons as far as the teachings of Akhlaq (character) were concerned because she was the wife of the person who had the best Akhlaq (character) in the entire universe, the Prophet ﷺ who said:

 “The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.”
Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3895

A man stays with his friends or colleagues for a limited time as compared to his wife. Therefore, a wife knows her husband more than others. If she testifies that her husband is a kind and noble person, then it is a highly valued testification. A wife spends years with her husband.. She knows all of his habits and his character; his behaviour towards his parents, wife and children, his dealings with friends, family and guests, his behaviour when facing a setback or a happy event, his tolerance towards young and old. She is well aware of all these. That is why a wife’s testimony regarding her husband’s Akhlaq (character) holds great importance.

A person’s Akhlaq (character) can be judged by the testimony of his close family. People might portray good behaviour when they are with others outside their homes, but they cannot keep appearances when they are amongst their close family. This results in exposing their true colours.

One of the most important ways to strengthen human relationships is overlooking the faults of people and pardoning them instead of exacting revenge or punishment.

When Abu Dhar Ghafari embraced Islam, the Prophet ﷺ asked him to return to his family but he was reluctant to go because he did not want to leave the company of the Prophet ﷺ. That was due to the charismatic personality of the Prophet ﷺ, as he was the perfect model of all the Quranic teachings regarding Akhlaq (character)

And ask (Allâh's) Forgiveness for them;

There were two types of people around the Prophet ﷺ. Those who were against him and those who believed in him but had also committed some sins, by disobeying Allah. The command “to overlook the fault”, as mentioned in the above mentioned verse, was for both categories of people. And asking forgiveness from Allah for his followers who had erred, is a beautiful part of the guidance by Allah for our Prophet ﷺ to cultivate his noble Akhlaq (character).

When a person errs, he should not be driven out but corrected and dua should be made so that Allah forgives him. What an honor! A person errs but the Prophet ﷺ prays for his pardon!

And consult them in the affairs.

Discuss with them and ask for their opinions. This is one of the ways of keeping your team together. In the absence of this attribute , a lot of disputes arise in the society, families as well as amongst business partners. People make decisions on their own without discussing with others. Even the Prophet ﷺ has been instructed to discuss with his companions before taking any decision.. That was a sunnah and it should be implemented in our lives, too.

Scholars have explained this verse in this way:

What would the need be for the Prophet ﷺ to discuss and take advice from others when Quran was being revealed to him by Allah and Jibrael descended with messages from Allah every now and then? For the Prophet ﷺ there was no need, but it was a part of an exercise to keep the Companions together in harmony. Had the Prophet ﷺ taken the decisions on his own, the attitude would have turned off the enthusiasm of his Companions. Seeking opinions and advice from your colleagues and companions, boosts up the morale of your subordinates. Consulting others before taking a decision is one of the many commands of Allah mentioned in Quran. It joins the hearts and minds of the team and brings out harmony amongst them.

There were twelve things the Prophet ﷺ mentioned in a hadith:

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Three deeds are destructive vices (مهلکات), three are salvific virtues (منجیات), three are expiations (کفارات), and three are a rise in ranks (درجات). As for destructive vices, they are greed that is obeyed ( فَشُحٌّ مُطَاعٌ), whims that are followed ( وَهَوًى مُتَّبَع ), and man being impressed with himself ( وَإِعْجَابُ الْمَرْءِ بِنَفْسِهِ). As for salvific virtues, they are justice in a time of anger or pleasure, moderation in wealth or poverty, and fear of Allah in public and private. As for expiations, they are waiting for prayer in between prayers, thorough ablution on cold mornings, and walking to the congregations. As for rises in ranks, they are feeding the poor, spreading peace, and prayer at night while people sleep.”
Source: al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 5750

The Muhlikat are the deeds that cause destruction of society as well as individuals. Everyone wants freedom to take decisions and make his own choices. Many organizations are formed,which garner the support of many people across the world but fail to take off, or even if they manage to take off but fail to sustain for long or fail to achieve their goals. This applies to several Muslims organisations that were created across the world. Why did they fail?

Because their leaders or elders did not take their colleagues and subordinates into confidence, because the leaders followed their own desires and eventually lost all the support. Due to the same reason, many organizations have collapsed within a month of their formation.

Three Destructive Vices ( مهلکات):
  1. Greed that is obeyed ( فَشُحٌّ مُطَاعٌ):
    The greed to cling onto wealth despite knowing about the rights of others. Being dissatisfied by the halal if it is less in quantity. Greed to earn more even if it is through haram or despicable means. That is why the Qur’an says:
    “And whoever is saved from the greed of his soul, then such people are the successful.”
    (Al-Hashr 59:9)
  2. Whims that are followed ( وَهَوًى مُتَّبَع ):
    Following one’s selfish desires. Ignoring the commands of Allah and His Prophet ﷺ. Refusing to accept any moral, ethical boundaries.
  3. Man being impressed with himself ( وَإِعْجَابُ الْمَرْءِ بِنَفْسِهِ):
    Considering yourself the most intelligent and wisest of all. Considering yourself to be superior to others. Feeling all others are lesser in rank and importance than you.

It is an essential part of successful leadership that one is open to advice and suggestions. Even at home, as a father or son, one must consult others. Suggestions from elders at times can be beneficial. It is strange that the Prophet ﷺ as the head of ummah, has been commanded to consult others but his followers prefer to act on their own.

Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him)

Once you have consulted others and a decision has been taken, then for the rest, place trust in Allah. This is Tawakal al Allah توکل علی اللّٰه (Trust in Allah).