Good character goes beyond smiling!
By the renowned spiritual guide and Amir of Ahl al-Sunnah, Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Attar al-Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ
The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
"Indeed, among you the most beloved to me and the closest to me in the Hereafter will be the one who has the best character. And indeed, among you the most disliked to me and the furthest from me in the Hereafter will be the one who has the worst character."
Character encompasses a collection of virtues, and its meaning includes habits, qualities, and manners. Good conduct, good behaviour, or good habits are referred to as "good character" or "excellent morals." Nowadays, when someone smiles and greets others in a pleasant manner, people only consider such a person to have good character. While speaking politely and smiling when meeting someone are indeed good actions, good character is not limited to these aspects alone. It includes many other qualities and actions.
Acts of worship such as prayer, charity, and fulfilling other obligations and duties, along with empathy, encouragement, patience, humility, sincerity, and more, all fall under good character. On the other hand, neglecting obligations and duties, and sins such as lying, deception, fault-finding, backbiting, belittling others, unnecessary anger, and other vices, are examples of bad character.
Mufti Aḥmad Yār Khān NaꜤīmī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
"Good habits lead to correctness in worship and transactions. If one's transactions are correct, but his worship is flawed or vice versa, then they do not possess good character. Good character is a comprehensive quality that brings satisfaction to both the Creator and the creation.”
One's character can be recognized not only through travelling together or conducting business transactions but also by observing his behaviour towards neighbours. It is narrated that when the second Caliph of the Muslims, Sayyidunā ꜤUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, heard someone praising another person, he inquired, "Have you travelled with him?"
The person replied, "No."
Sayyidunā ꜤUmar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ then asked, "Have you engaged in buying and selling or other transactions with him?"
Again, the answer was "No."
Finally, he asked, "Do you spend your mornings and evenings in his neighbourhood?"
The person responded, "No."
Sayyidunā ꜤUmar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ concluded, "By the One other than whom there is none worthy of worship, I think you do not know him."
May Allah Almighty harmonise our outer and inner states with piety, grant us good character and be forever pleased with us .
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم
Note: This article was prepared with the help of the Madani Muzakarah that was convened after tarāwīḥ prayer on the night of 29th Ramadan al-Mubārak 1441 AH (22nd May 2020). It was then given to the renowned spiritual guide and Amir of Ahl al-Sunnah, Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Attar al-Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ for it to be reviewed before being presented here.