Ihsan

by Abū Bakr Jābir al-Jaza'iry

The Muslim does not consider Ihsan - meaning to do things in the best possible manner - to be merely a virtuous trait that beautifies character. Rather he considers Ihsan to be part of his creed and a major part of his Islam, since the religion of Islam is founded upon three matters: faith, Islam and Ihsan. This was explained by Allah's Messenger (SAW) to Jibril, upon him be peace, in the agreed upon Hadith when he asked him. about faith, Islam and Ihsan. After the questioning was finished, he (SAW) said:

  "This is Jibril who came to teach you about your religion." (Al-Bukhari)

He (SAW) explained the religion with these three terms. Indeed Allah the Almighty has ordered Ihsan more than once in His Noble Book, sayng:

  "And practice Ihsan. Truly, Allah loves the doers of Ihsan." (2:195)  

And Allah the Glorious and the Exalted says:

  " Verily, Allah enjoins justice and Ihsan. " (16:90)  

Allah the Glorious and the Exalted says:

  "And speak well with people." (2:83)  

Allah the Glorious and the Exalted says:

  "And do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess." (4:36)  

Allah's Messenger (SAW) said:

  "Verily, Allah has prescribed Ihsan towards everything. Therefore, when you kill, kill in the best manner. When you slaughter, slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal." (Muslim)

In the case of worship, the meaning of Ihsan is that the servant performs his act of worship, whatever type it is - be it prayer, fasting, Hajj, etc., correctly, fulfilling its conditions, pillars, the Sunan elements required in it, and with the proper etiquette. No one will accomplish this until he performs his worship in a state deeply submersed in awareness of Allah's observation of him, being cognizant that Allah is looking at him. He must at least sense within himself that Allah is watching over him. This is the only way he would be able to perform his worship in the state of Ihsan, and protect it, and fulfill what is sought from him in the most complete fashion. This is what Allah's Messenger (SAW) instructed when he said:

  "Ihsan is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him; and if not, He is certainly seeing you." (Al-Bukhari)

Concerning Ihsan in dealings, it is done in regard to parents by being kind to them and obeying them, helping them in good, preventing harm from them, supplicating and seeking forgiveness for them, fulfilling their agreements, and honoring their friends.

With regard to relatives, Ihsan includes being kind and merciful with them, being forgiven and lenient with them,doing what pleases them, and avoiding what they dislike, not speaking in a disgraceful manner with them, or behaving in a disgraceful way with them.

With regard to orphans, Ihsan includes protecting their wealth, maintaining their rights, educating and instructing them and keeping them away from what would harm them, not being forceful with them, being cheerful with them, etc.

With regard to the poor, Ihsan includes curbing their hunger, clothing them, without degrading them or treating them in a bad manner that would displease them.

With regard to the wayfarer, Ihsan includes helping him fulfill his needs, removing his hunger and thirst, looking out for his wealth, maintaining his honor, giving him correct directions, and showing him the way if he is lost.

With regard to workers, Ihsan includes paying him his wages before his sweat has dried, not forcing him to do unnecessary jobs, or jobs he is not responsible for or not capable of performing. Preserving his honor and respecting him as a person. If he is a servant who works in the home, then he should be fed with the food of the people of the home, and clothed with the same kind of clothes they wear.

With regard to people in general, Ihsan includes speaking to them in a kind manner, dealing with them well, and addressing them well after commanding them with good and forbidding them from evil. It includes providing guidance to those who have strayed, teaching those who are ignorant, being fair with them, recognizing their rights, preventing harm from them and not doing anything that would harm them or constitute a crime against them.

With regard to animals, Ihsan includes feeding them when they are hungry, tending to them when they are ill, not overburdening them, showing kindness to them for their work, and letting them rest when they are tired.

With regard to work, Ihsan includes being dedicated and professional in one's work, and doing one's work without cheating, according to what is recorded in the Sahih, that the Messenger (SAW) said:

  "He who cheats us is not one of us "

Some Examples of Ihsan

The following are some of examples of the Ihsan: 1. On the day of Uhud, the idolaters killed and mutilated the body of the uncle of Allah's Messenger (SAW); they broke the teeth of Allah's Messenger (SAW), and lacerated his face. One of his Companions requested him to supplicate against the tyranny of the idolators. But he said:

  "O Allah! Forgive my people, because they are ignorant."

2. One day, 'Umar bin 'Abdul-'Aziz said to his slave girl: "Fan me so I can sleep." She fanned him, and he slept. She was overcome by sleep until she dozed off. When he awoke he realized that she is sleeping, then he took the fan and fanned her so she would feel cool. When she awoke, she saw that he had the fan. He said,

  "You are only a human like me, and the heat effects you as it effects me, so I wanted to make you feel soothing breeze as you did for me."

3. One of the pious predecessors became severely angry with his slave and decided to punish him. The slave said, "Allah has praised those who repress their anger." The man said: "I repressed my anger." The slave said: "Allah has praised those who pardon others." The man said, "I have pardoned you." The servant said, “Allah loves those who do Ihsan." Thereupon the man said, "You can go now, you are free for the sake of Allah."

Extracted from “Minhaj al Muslim” published by Dar as Salam


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