The Importance of Good Morals in Islam I

Musa Kazim GULCUR

January 3, 2023

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And verily, you (O Muhammad SAW) are on an exalted standard of character.” (Surah The Pen, 68/Al-Qalam, 4)

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

بِـــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمٖينَ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وسلـم عَلَى الْأَوَّلِ فِي الْإِيجَـادِ وَالْـجُـودِ وَالْوُجُودِ، اَلْفَاتِـحِ لِكُلِّ شَــاهِدٍ وَمَشْـهُودٍ، حَضْرَةِ الْمُشَـاهَـدَةِ وَالشُّهُودِ، اَلـسِّــرِّ الْبَـاطِـنِ وَالنُّـورِ الظَّاهِرِ الَّذِي هُـوَ عَيْنُ الْمَقْصُودِ، مُمَيِّزِ قَصَبِ السَّـبْقِ فِي عَالَمِ الْخَلْقِ الْمَخْصُوصِ بِالْعُبُودِيَّةِ، اَلرُّوحِ الْأَقْدَسِ الْعَلِيِّ وَالنُّـورِ الْأَكْمَلِ الْبَهِيِّ، اَلْقَائِمِ بِكَمَالِ الْعُبُودِيَّةِ فِي حَضْرَةِ الْمَعْبُودِ، اَلَّـذِي أُفِيضَ عَلَى رُوحِي مِـنْ حَضْرَةِ رُوحَانِيَّتِهِ، وَاتَّصَلَتْ بِمِشْكَاةِ قَلْبِي أَشِـــعَّةُ نُـورَانِيَّتِهِ، فَهُوَ الرَّسُـــولُ الْأَعْظَمُ وَالنَّبِيُّ الْأَكْـرَمُ وَالْوَلِيُّ الْمُقَرَّبُ الْمَسْـعُودُ، وَعَلَى أٰلِـهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ خَزَائِنِ أَسْـرَارِهِ، وَمَعَارِفِ أَنْوَارِهِ، وَمَطَالِـعِ أَقْمَارِهِ، كُنُوزِ الْحَقَائِقِ، وَهُدَاةِ الْخَلَائِقِ، نُجُومِ الْهُدَى لِمَنِ اقْتَدَى، وَسَلَّمَ تَسْلِيماً كَثِيراً كَثِيراً


What is the importance of good morals? First of all, it is half of the religion, the most perfect and most beautiful state of faith, the best donation bestowed upon man, the pinnacle of goodness. It is the headline of a believer’s book of good deeds and God’s best reward for the faithful’s good deeds. It is the heaviest reward for a devoted, the best occasion of God’s mercy and it is the most important reason for being closest to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

What are the effects of good morals? It relaxes the human self, causes other people to respect him, increases the sustenance of the person, and prolongs his life. What are the effects of bad morals? It causes a person to suffer psychological torment, to distance himself from people, to suffer from financial difficulties, to degenerate his behaviors, to prevent him from repenting to Allah, and to distance himself from our Prophet (pbuh).

What are good morals? A person who understands the importance of good morals, the reward he will achieve due to good morals, and the positive effects of good morals must learn how to achieve good morals. In this article, these will be the issues that we will try to see in the hadiths narrated from our Prophet (pbuh), each of which defines good morals.

Good moral thought is a very important freshwater source that can be a solution to the increasing social problems today. Only by keeping the good moral rules alive, bad moral elements can be prevented. The mental blockages, which tend to become widespread today, have made the issue of good morals more important.

If we define “good morals” in the broadest sense as “positive individual attitudes and behaviors, positive behavioral changes”, it could be easily understood that the idea of good morals is an important element that contributes to the individual.

In this modern age of communication, where information can be easily accessed at any time, it requires effort to keep the right path and to walk in a chaste and decent line without being swept away. Individuals who cannot take the notion of good morals cannot bear the enormous weight of social problems.

The legal systems of countries can help individuals up to a point. However, for a person to regulate his relations with nature and the environment healthily, a strong moral imagination is needed. Good moral thought and practice can easily fulfill a supportive role to laws and can give individuals a more positive and powerful vision.

Despite applying modern pedagogical and didactic methods in developed and developing societies, a moral weakness is unfortunately one of the biggest problems. In particular, protecting the psychology of the new generations and preventing soul-destructive behaviors and habits is an important issue. The youths should be helped to stay in the direction of their good moral thoughts and practices because a strong soul and character acquisition are possible only on the peaceful ground of good morals. Therefore, the idea of good morals has a dynamic that can positively support and affect the modern education process of today.

In this respect, the statements of our Prophet (pbuh) that directly define good morals are important for our new generation. Of course, it will be appreciated by everyone that the great person who can best describe good morals to us is the Prophet (pbuh) himself. The descriptions of our Prophet (pbuh) about good morals are the most powerful guides to follow.

High Statements of Our Prophet (pbuh) Regarding the Importance of Good Morals

Today, the power of people, societies, and states is measured by the culture they produce, respect for trust, truthfulness, not lying, being away from ugly behaviors, mutual respect, and tolerance. All Prophets drew attention to knowledge, wisdom, and most importantly the importance of elements of good morals and considered it a very important responsibility to take care of this great and precious issue. These high personalities, who are the spiritual suns have struggled with all their might against ignorance, degeneration, and low and ugly behaviors.

Abu Ad-Darda narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

مَا شَيْءٌ أَثْقَلُ فِي مِيزَانِ الْمُؤْمِنِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ خُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَبْغَضُ الْفَاحِشَ الْبَذِيءَ ‏.‏

Nothing is heavier on the believer’s scale on the Day of Judgment than good character. For indeed Allah, Most High, is angered by the shameless obscene person.”[1]

When we consider the teachings of Islam we clearly see that; it is very important to reach good moral elements such as getting rid of sorrows, avoiding pain, modesty, courage, generosity, happiness, justice, equality, love, friendship, and protecting mental health. On the other hand, it is very important to stay away from bad morals and ugly behaviors such as malice, frivolity, anger, greed, vulgarity, aggression, stinginess, and cruelty.

A good person is a person with a lofty purpose. Such a person is not content with only practical virtues such as fasting and prayer. In his attitudes and behaviors towards himself, his surroundings, and his Lord, he becomes able to take pleasure only from good morals and is purified from all disgrace.

Narrated Aisha, Ummu’l Mu’minin (r. anha) The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لَيُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ ‏.‏

By his good character, a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day.”[2]

One of today’s problems is the chin up, phrasing, talkativeness, random conversations, and utterances that come to mind out of place, especially through social media. Another problem is the inability to keep a secret. Another problem is saying things you can’t do and bragging about yourself. These negative situations are dangerous obstacles in front of good morals.

Jabir narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

إِنَّ مِنْ أَحَبِّكُمْ إِلَىَّ وَأَقْرَبِكُمْ مِنِّي مَجْلِسًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَحَاسِنَكُمْ أَخْلاَقًا وَإِنَّ أَبْغَضَكُمْ إِلَىَّ وَأَبْعَدَكُمْ مِنِّي مَجْلِسًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ الثَّرْثَارُونَ وَالْمُتَشَدِّقُونَ وَالْمُتَفَيْهِقُونَ‏ ‏.‏ ‏

Indeed, the most beloved among you to me, and the nearest to sit with me on the Day of Judgment is the best of you in character. And indeed, the most disliked among you to me, and the one sitting furthest from me on the Day of Judgement is the Thartharun, and the Mutashaddiqun and the Muthafaihiqun.

They said:

O Messenger of Allah! We know about the Thartharun and the Mutashaddiqun, but what about the Muthafaihiqun?”

He said:

الْمُتَكَبِّرُونَ ‏.‏

The arrogant.”[3]

We can see all kinds of good attitudes and behaviors in the category of kindness. All the states that bring qualities such as beauty, competence, sobriety, and a strong spirit of solidarity and happiness to us and to our environment in any way are in the category of goodness.

All kinds of attitudes and behaviors that arise contrary to divine orders and prohibitions, morality, and conscience, straying from the right path, violating the covenants, breaking family, and social ties, and causing spiritual pollution are called sins.

The factors that lead people to sin are the negative inclinations and desires in the human structure and the negative factors that affect them from the outside. Sin is the failure of the will to act according to the right thoughts and ideals.

Nawwas b. Sam’an al-Ansari reported:

I asked Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) about virtue and vice. He gave me this answer:

الْبِرُّ حُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ وَالإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي صَدْرِكَ وَكَرِهْتَ أَنْ يَطَّلِعَ عَلَيْهِ النَّاسُ‏ .

Virtue is a kind disposition and vice is what rankles in your heart and that you disapprove that people should come to know of it.”[4]

The accuracy of speech is of great importance in terms of the correctness of one’s actions. Because talking about matters that do not concern him at all can lead that person to sin.

On the other hand, envy is one of the most important immoral characteristics and psychological disorders in the heart that can lead people to evil. Envy prevents people from developing high perspectives about their own life and fulfilling their responsibilities properly. The envious person is inexplicably disturbed by the absence of blessings he does not have.

It is also an important virtue not to be too concerned with property, ostentation, luxury, worldly pleasures, and material gains, but to strive to reach the Lord’s approval. The question here is how to reach all these virtues and especially the last level we have mentioned.

According to what was narrated from Ibn Umar (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) said:

أفضل المؤمنين كل مؤمن مخموم القلب صدوق اللسان .

The most virtuous of the believers is the one whose heart is closed and whose tongue is correct.

Thereupon, the Companions asks:

What does it mean to be heart closed, O Messenger of Allah?

The Prophet (pbuh) answers:

التقي النقي الذي لا إثم فيه ولا بغي ولا غل ولا حسد .

It is that the heart is sinless, does not go to extremes, does not envy anyone, is pure, and has piety.

Companions ask again:

Then who is the most virtuous?” The Prophet (pbuh) answers:

. الذين نسوا الدنيا وأحبوا الآخرة

Those who forget the world and love the hereafter.

The Companions ask again:

So, who is more virtuous than these, O Messenger of Allah?

The Prophet (pbuh) completes it as follows:

. المؤمن في خلق حسن‏

A believer who is on good morals.”[5]

The word “hayâ / modesty” means, the nafs / soul is disturbed by ugly behaviors and abandons them, the distress felt by a person due to a bad deed being done or a good deed being abandoned.

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

إِنَّ لِكُلِّ دِينٍ خُلُقًا وَإِنَّ خُلُقَ الإِسْلاَمِ الْحَيَاءُ‏ ‏.

Every religion has its distinct characteristic, and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty.”[6]

It is the main element of good morality to restrain the self from negative desires, to avoid excess in all pleasures, to stay away from vulgarity, the friendship with those who say ugly words, and to preserve the feeling of shame.

It was narrated from Anas that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

مَا كَانَ الْفُحْشُ فِي شَىْءٍ قَطُّ إِلاَّ شَانَهُ وَلاَ كَانَ الْحَيَاءُ فِي شَىْءٍ قَطُّ إِلاَّ زَانَهُ ‏.

There is never any obscenity in a thing, but it mars it, and there is never any modesty in a thing, but it adorns it.”[7]

The important elements of good morals are not looking for people’s faults, avoiding deceit, being generous without being extravagant, not losing courage in frightening situations, trying to imitate the virtues of others, to be patient in important works. On the other hand, trying to stay far away from greed, aggression, frivolity, disloyalty, treachery, arrogance and lying is another aspect of good morality.

In a narration from Abu Said, the Prophet (pbuh) states the following, expressing all these elements stated above:

. الإسلام حُسْنُ الخُلُق

Islam is good morals.[8]

One way of behaving with good morals towards people is to balance the three basic forces in human beings, namely, the power of reason, anger, and lust. For this reason, a person should be friends with people who have knowledge and virtue and should stay away from envious, vindictive, and malicious people. In addition, he should develop good habits himself, be careful about his own mistakes and adopt moral principles to avoid the areas of blame. As a result, the attitude of behaving with good morals towards people becomes a good habit and natural.

Muadh ibn Jabal said, “The last advice the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave me when I put my foot in the stirrup was that he said:

أَحْسِنْ خُلُقَكَ لِلنَّاسِ يَا مُعَاذُ بْنَ جَبَلٍ‏ ‏.‏

Make your character good for the people, Muadh ibn Jabal![9]

Godliness and Good Ethics

Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation.” (Surah The Combined Forces, 33/Al-Ahzab, 56)

Are good morals and religiosity the same? What is the relationship between good morality with religiosity? Is religiosity a concept that only expresses the importance of religion in a person’s daily life and shows the degree of belief and commitment to religion? Here is the hadîth-i-sherîf, which is a comprehensive answer to these questions:

Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) narrates. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said that he would send me to Yemen I asked: “O Messenger of Allah, can you give me any advice?” He said:

I advise you to be of good moral character. Because the person with the best morals is also the best in religion.”[10]

Our Prophet (pbuh) was the most generous of people.[11] In addition, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would not turn away anyone who needed him.[12] In Holy Qur’ân, not expecting any praise and thanks (Al-Insan, 76/ 8-10), avoiding offending the person being helped (Al-Baqarah, 2/261-265), and the valuableness of the goods given as aid are accepted as conditions of generosity (Al-Baqarah, 2/267; Ali Imran, 3/92).

It was narrated by İmran b. Husayn that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

Allah (cc) has chosen this religion for Him. In this respect, generosity and good morals are very important benefits for your religion. So, embellish your religion with these two attributes.”[13]

The family is the foundation of social life. The stronger the institution of the family, the higher the morality of society. In such a society, individuals gain confidence. Thus, societies reach the pinnacle of good morals. They become worthy of fulfilling their duties and become available to arrange their areas of responsibility as Allah wills. In such a society, spouses are expected to support each other in feelings, thoughts, morals, and beliefs and to show benevolent behaviors. There will be neither peace nor abundance in a home where spouses do not respect each other.

Abu Hurairah narrated that The Messenger of Allah said:

The most complete of the believers in faith is the one with the best character among them. And the best of you is those who are best to your women.”[14]

The word “faith”; means “safety and trust” and means to wholeheartedly affirm the truth of a person’s word. In terms of meaning, it is affirming with the heart the existence of Allah (cc), angels, books, prophets, the Hereafter, good and evil aspects, and qadar, confessing with the tongue, and acting with the organs.

It was narrated that Ali bin Abu Talib said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

Faith is knowledge in the heart, words on the tongue, and action with the physical faculties (limbs of the body).”[15]

With these fundamental pillars of faith, a bright path is opened in the heart of the believer for knowledge and conversation. It is important to develop faith, which has been formed through continuation, perseverance, and increase in faith, through imitation and cumulative deductions, and enriching it with good morals, prayers, and good deeds. Those who can distinguish the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly in this way, gain a high personality in terms of good morals and behavior.

It was narrated that Mutarrif b. Abdullah said: A man came and asked the Prophet (pbuh) the following question:

O Messenger of Allah, which faith is more virtuous?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied:

Good morals.

The man asked the same question twice. The Prophet (pbuh) replied again:

Good morals.

The man asked the same question for the third or fourth time. Our Prophet (pbuh) replied in the same way. After the man got his answer and sat down, the Prophet (pbuh) continued as follows:

It is treating your brother with a smile.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) continued to talk about good morals. Then he said:

Good morals are from Allah. Bad morals have been made ugly. Bad morals are from the devil. Do you not see the reddening of the eyes and the swelling of the cheeks (because of anger)?”[16]

Abu Hurairah narrated that The Messenger of Allah said:

The perfection of faith is only with good morals.”[17]

Anger, one of the destructive attributes of the soul, is the heart’s act of revenge. Some people get angry at everything as soon as it happens. They are harsh and ruthless. Others get angry, but quickly get rid of their anger. Anger creates hatred and envy in the heart and becomes a source of various evils. The effect of anger on language; is the uttering of bad, rude, and ugly words that a sane person would be ashamed to say and regret when his anger subsides. The effect of anger on behavior is the events that lead to brute force and penal consequences. A person who is overwhelmed by feelings of anger cannot make sound decisions.

It was narrated from Anas that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

A servant cannot attain perfection in faith unless he beautifies his morals. Unless he wants for other people what he wishes for himself, he cannot get rid of the anger in himself. Although he had no good deeds, many people became Paradise simply because of the good advice he gave to people.[18]

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

Two traits are not combined in a believer: Stinginess and bad manners.[19]

It is important for a person to have a will and determination that will lead him to perfection. We can define the word intention as the unchanging decision at the beginning of taking an action. Intention, when combined with action, expresses a consciousness. The intention is the presence and alertness of the mind before the action. In this respect, a strong intention is needed in order to aim at good morals. Such an intention should contain at least two elements: 1. Designing the thing to do, 2. Willing to do it. Because deeds exist only with intentions. An intention is an act of the heart. The intention is a prerequisite for the perfect realization of good morals. In the narrations, it shows that the Prophet (pbuh) consciously invoked Allah Almighty and His Holiness, to be guided to good morals and to be kept away from bad morals, after saying takbir for prayer. There is no doubt that this prayer also has a motivational purpose for us. Because he (pbuh) was already on the highest morality.

‘Ali b. Ali Talib said: When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood up for prayer, he uttered the takbir (Allah is most great), then said:

I have turned my face, breaking with all others, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not a polytheist. My prayer and my devotion, my life and my death belong to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, Who has no partner. That is what I have been commanded, and I am the first of Muslims (those who surrender themselves). O Allah, Thou art the King. There is no God but Thee. Thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant. I have wronged myself, but I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me all my sins; Thou Who alone canst forgive sins; and guide me to the best qualities. Thou Who alone canst guide to the best of them and turn me from evil ones. Thou who alone canst turn from evil qualities. I come to serve and please Thee. All good is in Thy Hands, and evil does not pertain to Thee. I seek refuge in Thee and turn to Thee, Who art blessed and exalted. I ask Thy forgiveness and turn to thee in repentance. When he bowed, he said: O Allah, to Thee I bow, in Thee I trust, and to Thee, I submit myself. My hearing, my sight, my brain, my bone, and my sinews humble themselves before Thee. When he raised his head, he said: Allah listens to him and praises Him. O our lord, and all praises be to Thee in the whole of the heavens and the earth, and what is between them, and in whatever Thou creates afterward. When he prostrated himself, he said: O Allah, to Thee I prostrate myself, to Thee I trust, and to Thee I submit myself. My face prostrated itself before Him Who created it, fashioned it, and fashioned it in the best shape, and brought forth its hearing and seeing. Blessed is Allah, the best of creators. When he saluted at the end of the prayer, he said: O Allah, forgive me my former and my latter sins, my open and secret sins, my sins in exceeding the limits, and what Thou knows better than I. Thou art He Who puts forward and puts back. There is a deity but Thee.[20]

In sha’Allah (if God wills), I will try to continue with the article “The Importance of Good Morals in Islam II”.

[1] Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Chapters on Righteousness and Maintaining Good Relations With Relatives, 62 (Hadith number: 2002).

[2] Sunan Abi Dawud, General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab), 8 (Hadith number: 4798).

[3] Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Chapters on Righteousness and Maintaining Good Relations With Relatives, 71 (Hadith number: 2018).

[4] Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtue, Enjoining Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Kinship, 5 (Hadith number: 2553).

[5] Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-Ummal, vol. 1, p. 157 (Hadith number: 783), Muassasa ar-Risāle, Beirut-1985.

[6] Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd 17 (Hadith number: 4182).

[7] Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd 17 (Hadith number: 4185).

[8] Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-Ummal, vol. 3, p. 17 (Hadith number: 5225).

[9] Muwatta Malik, Good Character, 59 (Hadith number: 3862).

[10] Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, vol. 20 p. 144 (Hadith number: 295), Maktaba Ibn Taymiyyah, Cairo, undated.

[11] Sahih al-Bukhari, Revelation, 5 (Hadith number: 6).

[12] Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtues, 13 (Hadith number: 2312).

[13] Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, vol. 18 p. 159 (Hadith number: 347); Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-Ummal, vol. 3, p. 18 (Hadith number: 5235).

[14] Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, The Book on Suckling, 11 (Hadith number: 1162).

[15] Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, vol. 6 p. 226 (Hadith number: 6254), vol. 8 p. 262 (Hadith number: 8580); Sunan Ibn Majah, The Book of the Sunnah, 9 (Hadith number: 65).

[16] Ali Sulayman b. Aboubakar al-Haysam, Bugyat al-Bahis an Zavâid Musnad al-Hâris, vol. 2, p. 817 (Hadith number: 851), Câmiatu’l-İslâmî, Madina-1992.

[17] Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-Ummal, vol. 3, p. 18 (Hadith number: 5236).

[18] Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-Ummal, vol. 3, p. 19 (Hadith number: 5244).

[19] Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Chapters on Righteousness and Maintaining Good Relations With Relatives, 41 (Hadith number: 1962).

[20] Sunan Abi Dawud, Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat), 121 (Hadith number: 760).

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