Good character – Some lessons from the character of Muhammad PBUH

We want to become better people but we end up looking to others as role models that are closer to the modern day, but who would be better than the Prophet PBUH.

It was mentioned in a hadith that the Prophet PBUH said that he was sent into this world to perfect righteous character. He was asked about the deeds that would result in someone obtaining paradise, he said the consciousness of Allah SWT (Taqwa) and good character.

I will be touching on some characteristics of the Prophet PBUH, I apologise in advance if I have provided any of the wrong information; this is information that I have collected from a few lectures.

Care

We have been told to love for another person what you would love for yourself. We tend to think that this may mean in terms of material objects, but this also applies for character too, so not only should we give the best of what we love but treat others the way we would love to be treated.

He not only carried a smile with him but he had a want to make others feel joyful. It is known too that a smile can break many barriers and it can spread amongst people.

The Prophet PBUH had a want to help others, not just people that he knew but even people that were complete strangers to him. When we see someone sin or do something wrong we should not want to tell others about sins that they have done, but we should keep it hidden and advise the person if appropriate. We have been taught that if we are to give advice on such a matter that it should be done in private and not to humiliate them in front of others. If we are able to help them in any way that then that is better than no help at all.

We need to be considerate people, we should not want to make anyone struggle for us; instead we should go out of our way a bit more to make things more convenient and better for others. We should think when we do a task if we are inconveniencing someone and how would we want to be treated if we were in their position instead. Going out of the way for something could be something so small that the person may not even notice, but just know that you have done something good. Some people say that it is the smallest of actions which make the largest difference, we often overlook the small actions by always looking at the larger actions but the smaller ones stand out more as not many of us aim for them, if the person was to notice this act of kindness it may even inspire them to show this kindness back in another form or to another person.

He said to keep relations with those who cut you off and do good to people even if they harm you. Imagine a person being constantly nice to you with kind character even if you do not give anything to the person, it will definitely stand out and change the perception of the person on you.

He was a man of justice, during times of war it was said do not kill an old man amongst your enemies if he is not fighting, do not kill a woman who is not fighting, do not kill a child, do not cut off branches of trees, do not kill an animal, do not ruin soil, do not be excessive in killing, do not mutilate the bodies and if you hold captives out of this war then feed them what you feed from your family and treat them like a guest. When we think war and captives being held we automatically think that they would be treated badly in order for the other side to want to save them; but with the captives being treated like this makes me think why would the captives even want to go back to the opposition when they are being treated well. Even if it is in war Allah SWT does not like oppression to the weak ones when they have power over them.

Honesty

The Prophet PBUH was an honest man, to the extent that even his enemies trusted him when he said something. They were just not willing enough to give up the benefits that they were getting and they did not want to diverge from their forefathers paths.

There was once a man that said he was in a crowd of people trying to get the chance to see the Prophet PBUH and when got the opportunity to see him the first impression he had was he knew that the Prophet's PBUH face was not the face of a liar; in some words it is said that the inner beauty of the Prophet PBUH showed also as the outer beauty. Just from seeing and hearing the first few words of the Prophet PBUH he accepted islam right there and then.

Once there was a disagreement between Aa'ysha and they chose for her father Abu Bakr RA to help regarding the matter. Once they were in front of Abu Bakr RA she said to the prophet to speak the truth of the matter; her father got angry at her for saying that he only speaks the truth; but the Prophet PBUH stopped Abu Bakr RA even though he was being defended, he did not want her to face any consequences from what she had said but he wanted to focus on the topic.

Humility

Being humble was one of the characteristics of the Prophet PBUH. Despite the fact that he has such a high status, he never had pride or boasted about it; the way he dressed was like his people and he did not wear anything that made him stand out.

As Muslims we are taught that carrying pride is bad, we have all been created from Allah SWT and we believe that everything we have is because of him. The Prophet PBUH carried himself with humility and humbleness, it has been mentioned do not walk on earth with arrogance; walking with our chin high and looking down at other people in a way that we are better than others. When the Prophet PBUH walked he walked softly but quick paced, he looked down and walked in a way that it looked like he was walking down a hill even if he was climbing a hill.

When the Prophet PBUH instructed the companions to do something he himself would help out and get involved, he would also be the hardest working people in these tasks too.

We have been told to show humbleness even in situations such as differences of opinion. We like to think that we are always right and others are wrong. Sometimes we know that we are correct yet the other person does not agree, it can be discussed in a calm manner to put each others points across. If we know there is no budging with the differences then we should sacrifice our opinion and we should have faith in Allah SWT. As humans we love to always have the correct opinion, again coming back to something that was mentioned to us which is to spend of what we love, in this case it is our opinion that we can give up if there is no end to the differences.

Speech

The Prophet PBUH was very thoughtful when it came to speech, he said things in the nicest way possible so that the other person is at ease. When he talked to individuals he used to analyse the subjects that were sensitive to the person in order to avoid it, this was to prevent causing the person grief and distress.

He watched his language he was never vulgar or mean in any way, he showed respect to people in many ways, one of them being not raising his voice or tone to a person. He was careful about the words he used, Aa'ysha RA mentioned that when he didn't like something he used to hint, he would not be straight up such "I don't like this"; sometimes we think that being straight forward is good in some terms but it could hurt the other person whether they admit it or not.

He spoke in such a way that his words could reach many people. He spoke clearly and didn't speak so fast, in a narration it was mentioned that if a person wanted to count the words the Prophet PBUH was saying while he spoke. In a Hadith it is mentioned that it is discouraged to use slang as it as it will reduce your respect. Likewise using proper and correct language will increase your respect. Be careful of using deep complicated words, it makes us feel more intelligent in a casual conversation but there is no real need to prove this point to others, we should communicate in a way that most people can understand.

He did not talk unnecessarily with no purpose, he tried to bring value to all his speech by benefitting others. Nobody needs to know all our business especially with the thought of evil eye that can affect us. We should speak the truth even if it is against ourselves.

The Prophet PBUH was known to also joke with people, he was not always serious; we should have a good balance, most of the time when we think of someone pious we imagine someone that is too serious or maybe even boring. Aa'ysha RA mentioned that he was always joking with them in the house. However, we have also been told not to joke too much as people will take us less serious in everything. We have also been told that we should not joke about people in an attacking manner e.g. race, religion and colour; this could be the cause for someone in return to talk badly on islam.

Gratefulness

He was always grateful and didn't find a fault in blessings such as any type of foods or even the quantity. We always tend to forget the things we have become blessed with especially in during challenging times. Not only does this apply to things in which we gain but we should also show gratefulness to the people in our lives and learn how we can appreciate the good in others.

Interaction

Having a good character is a large form of dawah. Indonesia has the largest population of muslims, this all started from muslims that came from Yemen to do business with the Indonesians. These muslims were known not known to have a lot of knowledge on Islam but they had good character which the Indonesians saw and started to accept Islam after seeing how good these people were.

Each of the companions at the time of the Prophet PBUH felt like they individually were the closest and the most loved person by the Prophet PBUH, this shows the level of importance he made people feel even out of the many companions he had. We should aim to make people feel important and good. This could be shown in many ways, a few being saying nice things, respecting them and going out of the way to do extra for them, after all actions speak louder than words.

When he was in a conversation with someone, he didn't just partially move to the direction of a person, but his body faced the person to give full attention to them. In research it is said that body language is most of our communication and this shows that the person wants to listen to them and likes the person. When he shook the hands of people he would not be the first person to let go of the handshake, he would wait for the other person to let go of the handshake first; to me this shows a level of respect to the other person and an eagerness to meet them.

We should not make anyone feel like they are different due to certain things such as colour, status or money. This could also apply for people that have a disability in some terms, most people just want to feel like and be treated like a normal person. We should all strive to treat everyone with the same respect; the same respect that is shown to a wealthy person should also be shown to the non wealthy person, likewise with a CEO and a cleaner.

The Prophet PBUH said that the best of us is the one that is best to their family. We tend to show more of ourselves to our family as they are constantly around us while growing up and living together, this includes even being more harsh than we would than others. It's a lot easier to seem like a nice person to everyone that isn't family as you haven't constantly been around them and you only see them for a limited time in the day so you can be on your best behaviour. But unfortunately some of us go home, we're harsh, rude and tend to show a bit more emotions than on the outside world.

Calmness

Prophet PBUH stayed in such a calm manner that there was once someone urinating in the corner of a masjid, while that would usually anger people there was the Prophet PBUH calming the companions down after they saw this. He told them to wait for the man to finish out of respect for the mans health. He told the companions to get a bucket of water to clean the area, while the companions went to do that Prophet PBUH went to talk to the man and nicely told him the formalities of the masjid and that it is not for the type of activity. The fact that the matter was took to a private matter in a calm manner shows the consideration that the Prophet PBUH gave; he was considerate in a way that he saved the man from the embarrassment of many people crowding and the anger of the companions.

A man came to the Prophet PBUH and asked him for advice. The Prophet PBUH answered don't get angry, the man asked multiple times for more advice but the Prophet PBUH kept on answering don't get angry. Anger will quickly destroy bonds and your character. I recall hearing/reading something similar that mentioned anger is like fire and if someone is angry with you then you should be the water to their fire; when two people are angry with each other then they will not get anywhere and hurtful comments could be made to each other which would fuel the fire even further.

If someone comes up to you showing a rude attitude, shouting at you, then greet them, smile and walk away. Replying back to the person may start an argument. Sometimes controlling the use of our words will prevent situations from becoming any worse.

When the Prophet PBUH had people that were rude to him he smiled and he never returned their bad manners with rudeness, but instead he would respond with good character. If someone had wronged him he did not want to find a way to get back at them in any way.

The word was going around saying that the Prophet PBUH was a bad person. There was an elderly lady that the Prophet PBUH did not know but he was helping her by carrying her shopping, on the journey she was talking bad about that person that she had been told about and that he should be aware of coming across such a character due to what they classed as disrespect to their forefathers religions. The Prophet PBUH stayed quiet while she was talking bad about him without knowing she was talking to the Prophet PBUH, towards the end of the journey he asked the lady if she requires any more help, the lady asked for his name and he revealed himself; she accepted Islam then and there due to seeing the character that the Prophet PBUH had displayed. 

We tend to always focus on the sunnahs that are on display and we forget about the having character that is similar to the Prophet PBUH.

Just like appearance, character is something that is a reflection of us as people and the things that we associate with. It is always said that it is what is inside that counts.

A want to gain the characteristics of the Prophet PBUH will not only make us better people, but of course it will also make ourselves a better servant in the eyes of Allah SWT.

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