Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Lessons in Islamic Character Building -Husn akhlaq is more than just pardoning and overlooking of faults
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani

It is said that Hassan ibn Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) was slightly short tempered. Once he was performing wudhu and his slave was pouring water for him. Suddenly, the pot fell down from his hand and fell on the soft earth. This caused a sprinkle of wet  mud on the white clothes of Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him). He got angry and the slave sensed it. He was afraid but said politely, “My master! Allah says, “(Good people are) Those who control their anger.” Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “Go away, I’ve swallowed my anger.” The slave further recited, “And they forgive the people .”  Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) responded again, “Ok go, I have forgiven you.”

The slave was happy to see his master’s response towards the Qur’anic injunctions. He completed the verse, “and Allah loves the Moshinoon (doers of excellence).” So Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) laughed and responded by setting the slave free. 

The above incident has many lessons that help to attain good Akhlaq (character).

  1. The slaves in those days were also learners of  Qur’an and could quote verses. Today, unfortunately even the educated Muslims do not spare time to study Qur’an.
  2. Islamic criterion of good Akhlaq (character) demands more than just accepting a ‘Sorry’. Forgiving someone for a mistake is good, excellence in Akhlaq (character) can only be attained by doing Ihsaan (excellent conduct). The price of a slave was quite high in those days, yet it was easy for them to free the slave as they applied Qur’an in their daily lives.
  3. Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) not only swallowed  his anger, but he chose to forgive and show excellence in Akhlaq by setting him free.

Sheikh Sa’di a noted Islamic scholar used to say, “It is very easy to respond evil with evil, but the real challenge, if you are an inheritor of the Prophetic traditions, is to respond evil with good.” Immense courage and determination is required to achieve that.