Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Ignorance (Unenlightenment) - A Trait of Bad Akhlaq
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani

Bad or inferior Akhlaq (character) causes a huge damage to the society by uprooting relations and increasing atrocities. It causes deterioration of personal moral values and causes the society to collapse, if widespread.

There are four traits that need to beware of. If they infiltrate a society and become widespread, they can easily push the society to its complete collapse.

  1. Jehl ( Ignorance, lack of knowledge or unenlightenment)
  2. Zulm (Atrocity)
  3. Shahwah (Desire)
  4. Ghazab  (Anger)

Jehl means ignorance and lack of knowledge or understanding. It is one of the major causes for bad behaviour and breach of discipline amongst the people. If you are ignorant and lack judgement, you would be more likely to be attracted towards bad elements considering them to be good; Thus, resulting in rejecting the good, while accepting the worthless.

 Prophet Yusuf ﷺ could guard his modesty because he steered clear of Jehl!

When the wife of his master tried to seduce Yusuf (AS), he refused to budge an inch towards evil. It was at that time that he asked Allah to provide him refuge because wrong-doers never prosper. According to the story, when he tried to flee from her temptation, she chased him and while doing so she caught hold of his shirt and it got torn. At that time, her husband opened the door and entered. The lady was quick in turning the tables and putting the allegation upon Yusuf. She said, “What is the punishment of the one who intended evil upon your wife, but that he be imprisoned or be given a painful punishment?”

Because Yusuf did not incline towards sin, Allah saved his honour through the testimony of a person from the family of his master who said, “ If the shirt is torn from front, then he is guilty, but if the shirt is torn from the back, then your wife is guilty.” It was found that the shirt was torn from behind.

The lady did not give up her efforts, but when she failed in her pursuit, she threatened to get Yusuf imprisoned.

 It was then he said,

“If You (Allah) do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant."
(Surah Yusuf, verse 33)

This is the testimony by Prophet Yusuf ﷺ that indicates that Jehl (ignorance or lack of understanding) is the root cause of many evils.

When Allah sent a punishment upon the people of Prophet Noah ﷺ, water started coming out from the earth. Prophet Noah ﷺ called upon his son to join him because he knew that there would be no other refuge that day.

The ignorant son refused to accept the pitiful plea of his father. His ignorance made him believe that the high mountains would be enough for him to be saved from the flood. Seeing that his son was about to be drowned, the humble Prophet pleaded to Allah to save his son.

Allah responded by saying,

"O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant."
(Surah Hud, verse 46)

The above two verses of Qur’an show us clearly that due to ignorance and lack of understanding, people commit grave sins.

That is why Qur’an instructs to avoid getting into fights with ignorants.

 It is a part of good Akhlaq (character) of a person that he avoids getting into disagreements with the ignorant because the ignorant would sink deeper into evil through their bad words and behaviour.

Note the following verses from the Qur’an:

When the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace
( Surah Furqan, verse 63)
And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity
(Surah Furqan verse 72)

Islam lays a lot of stress on learning and acquiring knowledge so that a person can avoid bad Akhlaq (character).

A hadith mentions this:“It is compulsory upon every Muslim man and woman to acquire knowledge”

The Quran has instructed believers to drive away ignorance with correct knowledge and understanding.