The truly Islamic character is always marked by humility— the paramount virtue to be cultivated by the believing Muslim. “The true servants of the Merciful One are those who walk humbly on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they say: ‘Peace!’
(The Quran, 25:63)
The above verse makes it clear that true servants of God are humble in their bearing. This is because, having become aware of their own position in relation to God, they have lost all sense of self-importance. Such people are meek in their dealings’ not only with God but also with their fellowmen. That humility is the very essence of an Islamic character is illustrated by this saying of the Prophet of Islam:
“God has revealed to me that His servants should be humble towards one another. One person is not to commit excesses upon another, nor should one look with scorn upon one’s fellow human being.” ( Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 2865).
Hoping for a reward from God.
It is in becoming acquainted with God that one knows what characteristics one should, as a Muslim, cultivate in oneself. Along with the discovery of God, there comes the realization that one is not free to do as one pleases in this world. God’s special reason for setting us down in this world for the few years that we are to live out our lives is that He wishes to put us to the test. Then, after death, we will return to Him, and, depending upon how we have behaved while on this earth, we shall either find our eternal abode in Gardens of Delight or else we shall be consigned forever to the raging fires of Hell.
When this reality of life dawns on an individual, his prime concern is then to save himself from God’s eternal punishment, and to make himself deserving of His mercy and forgiveness. This concern for his own salvation in the life after death has a direct bearing on his worldly demeanor towards his fellows. He becomes compassionate and forgiving towards others, in the hope that God will in turn shower mercy and forgiveness upon him. He also shows great-heartedness in all his daily transactions, hoping that in this way he will be treated in like manner when he comes before God.
Such is the treatment, which a believing Muslim should mete out to others. This has been explained in various ways by Prophet Mohammed. A selection of his sayings on the subject is given below: Truly, God shows mercy to those of His servants who are themselves merciful. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 1284) Be ready to pardon, so that you may also be pardoned. Be merciful to those on earth; the One on High will then be merciful to you. (Musnad Abu Dawud, Hadith No. 333)
In a long hadith related by Abu Hurayrah, the following words of the Prophet appear:
“Whosoever relieves a believer of one of the hardships of this world will himself be relieved of one of the hardships of the Day of Judgment by God; and whoever lightens the burden of one who encounters hardship will have his own burden lightened by God, both in this world and in the next. God helps His servant, so long as that servant is actively helping his brother.”
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 9699)
All these statements are summed up in a hadith related by Jarir, according to which the Prophet said: “God will not show mercy to one who is not merciful to others.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 7376)
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