In Life, your Character is More Important than your Reputation

Verily, you are upon great moral character — Qur’an 68[Al-Qalam]:4

Majority of the challenges facing the world today can be traced back to one single thing — moral standards. From corruption to murder, every criminal activity stems from a lack of values and inappropriately build characters. A man who steals doesn’t think he’s harming his brother while he’s seizing the property. People focus more on how the world perceives them to be than building a relationship with their Maker and benefiting humanity. We live in a world where people are so concerned about what others think about them than who they truly are.

Hundreds of centuries ago, the Arabian peninsula was in a state of quagmire. They buried the girl-child alive, injustice was spread on the land and the people were misguided in a higgledy-piggledy state. However, God raised from amidst them a man of virtue and great character. Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a giver of glad tidings and mercy to the world. He restored justice, cured them of vices and also instill in the people a sense of compassion towards their fellow man. This piece examines the character of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), and how the values he held and practiced gave him the strength to influence the world around him. Emulating these attributes will build a great character that will help you go far in life.

Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. — Qur’an 33[Al-Ahzab]:21
  1. Be sincere and honest in your dealings: The prophet (PBUH) was known as an honest man even before his call to prophethood. He was first sincere with Allah through his monotheistic belief and this is the bedrock of it all. He was then sincere with the people such that he was nicknamed Al-Ameen — The trustworthy. This earned him a lot of praise, trust and even resulted in his marriage to Khadijah. Honesty is an uncompromising virtue, it’s easier to be truthful than to be remembered as a liar.
Allah’s Apostle was reported to have said: Verily, truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man may speak the truth until he is recorded with Allah as truthful. Verily, falsehood leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Hellfire. A man may tell lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar. — Saheeh

2. Treat people kindly or at least give goodwill: Do not forget the golden rule of Islam — love for your brother what you love for yourself. Allah’s Apostle treated people in the best of manners, even his enemies were not spared of his kindness. After the battle of Badr, he instructed that the war prisoners be treated kindly, fed appropriately and not be maltreated. He even ordered that anyone of the captives who would teach a Muslim how to read and write can have that as a ransom to free himself. And in everything, he would always give glad tidings and goodwill to the people.

3. Shun pride and arrogance: Pride and arrogance are awful acts, not only in the Eyes of God but the people detest it as well. Everyone hates those who are arrogant, except alike of his. The prophet never looked down on people nor was he ever reported to be arrogant.

Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said: No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise. Someone said, “But a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” The Prophet said: Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people. — (Saheeh)

4. Keep a mild sense of humor: People sometimes think Islam gives no room for jokes. This is a misconception, however, our jokes have to be truthful and not provocative. The Prophet (PBUH) made jokes with stringency and the finest sense of humor. His was not vulgar nor would he debase or make fun of someone.

Anas (RA) reports such an example by saying:

“Once a man asked Muhammad (PBUH) for an animal to ride. He replied that He would give him the baby of a she-camel to ride on. The man asked ‘What would he do with a she-camel baby?’ Muhammad (PBUH) replied, ‘Is there any camel which is not born of a she-camel?’”

5. Be self-reliant and ask less from people: The Rasul was so self-reliant, He only put His trust in Allah. If we do the same today, we will not only find Allah sufficient for us, we will equally find happiness as well. People tend to ridicule you the more you go and ask them to meet your needs. So if you need anything, always ask from Allah.

Sahl bin Sad As-Sai’di (radi Allahu anhu) reported: “A man came to the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, guide me to such an action which if I do Allah will love me and the people will also love me.’ He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘Have no desire for this world, Allah will love you; and have no desire for what people possess, people will love you.’” — [Ibn Majah]

If you spend time sincerely building a portfolio of these great characters, by default, reputation will come chasing you pants down. Reputation is what people think you are, but your character is who you truly are. So focus on your character and relate with people in best of manners. In sha Allah I’m hoping to share a more comprehensive piece subsequently. We ask Allah to keep us guided and steadfast.


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