Allah ﷻ praises the Prophet ﷺ in the Quran saying, “And you are surely on an excellent standard of character.” Allah ﷻ Himself is describing the Prophet ﷺ has having the absolute best, beautiful, and amazing character. This is seen in every single aspect of the Prophet’s life ﷺ.
The importance of akhlāq, or good character, in Islam can’t be overstated. In today’s society, when a person thinks of religion they think of rules and regulations, restrictions, and devotional acts of worship. Even Muslims are guilty of limiting Islam to devotional acts of worship. Generally, when a person hears the word Islam, automatically they think of praying, fasting, giving charity, and reading Quran. These devotional acts of worship are a fundamental part of Islam as way of life, but they aren’t the only part. As a matter of fact our success simply isn’t in prayers, fasting, charity, or hajj. Rather, it is in good manners coupled with these acts of worship.
The Prophet ﷺ himself described perfecting good manners as the reason why he was sent as a Prophet. “I have only been sent to perfect good character” (Haythamī, Majmaʿ al-Zawā’id, 9:18). Through this statement the Prophet ﷺ explained that one of the primary objectives of his mission was to perfect good character. Interestingly, the acts of worship that have been prescribed in Islam help a person build good character.
Akhlāq isn’t simply a few manners or qualities; rather, it is a group of praiseworthy characteristics and qualities that a person has. For example, generosity, forbearance, forgiveness, leniency, chastity, fairness, gentleness, humility, justice, mercy, kindness, honesty, and bravery. That is why when a person is polite and respectful to others, humble and kind to the poor and needy, they are showing good character.
The Prophet ﷺ throughout his life stressed the importance of having good character both in speech and deed. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The believers most complete in faith are those who have the best character” (Abū Dāwūd, k. al-Sunnah, b. al-dalīl ʿalā ziyādah al-īmān wa nuqṣānihī, 4682). When asked about what deeds will lead people to Paradise, the Prophet ﷺ responded, “God-consciousness and good character” ( Tirmidhī, k. Al-birr wa al-ṣilah ʿan rasūlillah ﷺ, b. Mā jā’a fī ḥusn al-khuluq, 2004). When he was sending Muʿādh (ra) as a governor to Yemen he ﷺ reminded him, “and show good manners in your dealing with others” ( Tirmidhī, k. Al-birr wa al-ṣilah ʿan rasūlillah ﷺ, b. Mā jā’a fī muʿāsharah al-nās, 1987).
Not only did the Prophet ﷺ encourage others to have good character but he showed them how to as well practically. The Prophet ﷺ had the best character himself. Anything he said about character he practiced himself. Allah ﷻ addressed the Prophet ﷺ saying, “And verily, you (Muḥammad) are on an exalted standard of character” ( 68:4 – وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ). Anything the Quran mentioned regarding character, the Prophet ﷺ embodied it. That is why when ʿĀishah (ra) was asked about the character of the Prophet ﷺ, she said, “His character was the Quran” (Bukhārī, al-Adab al-Mufrad, 308). Literally, he was a walking and talking Quran.
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Source: Muslim Matters