Do Everything with Ihsan

ExcellenceSlide1Today, I was tidying up the kitchen, and I put a jar of peanut butter back into the cupboard very quickly (because when you have a child, you try to get everything done in those precious moments where she’s taking a nap!). Unfortunately, I didn’t put it back properly; it was sort of dangling on the edge. Well, later when I came to open the cupboard to get something, it came crashing down and knocked a glass plate off the counter, which shattered into about a thousand pieces on the floor. I had to spend a very long time cleaning up and making sure there wasn’t a single shard of glass that my toddler might pick up (God forbid) and swallow.

I thought to myself: If I had just done everything properly in the beginning, I would have actually saved myself from wasting time and energy, and getting stressed. And that would’ve been Ihsan. I guess when we don’t strive for perfection in what we do, we suffer in the future. And that’s why Allah (swt) loves those who do things with Ihsan (excellence).

Staying away from Tit-for-Tat

tit for tat

Every one of us, at some point in life, may encounter enemies in the form of envious colleagues, disagreeable supervisors or unreasonable in-law relations. Our heart directs us to treat them the same way they treat us. However, what is the most appropriate way of dealing with such people according to our Deen?

  1. Be the Mohsin

Like always, the Quran holds our hand and guides us to the precise solution. Allah (swt) has said: “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better…” (Fussilat 41:34) The Arabic word used here is ‘Ahsan’ which is the superlative form of goodness. In the face of negative attitudes, Ihsan melts away hatred and cultivates love. For example, in an exchange of uncomfortable words, Ihsan would be to remain calm and instead, make sincere Dua. Your composure should not be out of powerlessness, so that you sit crying afterwards. It should be voluntary, for the sake of Allah (swt). Nonetheless, this is easier said than done and requires a great deal of forbearance, as stated in the aforementioned verse.

  1. Speak Good or Remain Silent

From the golden, (albeit difficult!) rules of life is to speak good or remain silent. The moment you start answering back, angels forsake you and Shaitan takes their place. Be smart and let the angels do your part in a quipping duel.

  1. Dua can work wonders!

Make earnest Dua for cordial relations and love to develop between you and your rival. Also, recite the Duas taught by Rasulullah (sa) regarding protection from the evil of adversaries. One is stated below. For more, refer to Hisnul Muslim or other Dua books.

“O Allah, we place You before them and we take refuge in You from their evil.”

اللّهُـمَّ إِنا نَجْـعَلُكَ في نُحـورِهِـم، وَنَعـوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شُرورِهـمْ

  1. Spread Smiles and Salam

Smile and Salam are the ice breakers that pave way for reconciliation. That is why it is prohibited for two believers to forsake Salam for more than three days. Muhammad (sa) has said: “It is not lawful for a Muslim to desert his brother beyond three nights, the one turning one way and the other turning to the other way when they meet; the better of the two is the one who is the first to greet the other.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

  1. Be cautious of the real enemy!

Remember! The feelings of animosity and hatred placed by Allah (swt) have a positive direction, too. They belong for you to exercise towards your actual enemies: Shaitan and the enemies of Allah (swt). Don’t exhaust them among your wrongful relatives and colleagues. Save up some for the real enemies. After all, Allah (swt) wants to see us Muslims as ‘severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.’ (Fath 48:29)

A wining situation is not when you defeat your opponent, shun them and quieten them. It is when you are able to overcome the traps of Shaitan and stay firm on the principles of truth, morality, sincerity and Ihsan.

[Hadeeth Commentary] Prescription of Ihsan (Excellence)

Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Tasneem Vali

hadith2

On the authority of Abu Yala Shaddad bin Aws (ra), the Messenger of Allah (sa) said:

“Verily Allah (swt) has prescribed Ihsan (proficiency and perfection) in all things. So, if you kill, then kill well; if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim)

Ihsan is an Arabic word and is a derivative of Ahsana, which means, ‘doing things better’. The literal meaning of Ihsan is achieving the best. Ihsan is normally translated as excellence but because it has a broader concept, it cannot be translated into English accurately. There is no word in the English language that portrays its meaning fully. Ihsan has four aspects.

As with any Islamic injunction, this Hadeeth contains a principle and provides an example in compliance with that principle. The Prophet (sa) used this method extensively to train Muslims to use logic and apply one principle to other similar situations. Due to our commitments, we understand the example, but fail to implement the principle. Sometimes, we do not give a 100% to the tasks we perform for Allah (swt). Ihsan means that we must not be satisfied unless we do something to the best of our ability. We should be motivated by the sole reason that Allah (swt) has prescribed this for us. The Hadeeth mentioned above can be applied in any situation. It may help reform the society if practiced correctly. Whoever tries to be proficient (practice Ihsan), can do so in two situations:

  • To benefit others.
  • To complete and refine worship.

Ibadah or worship includes the prescribed acts of worship, as well as the routine habits. Everyday actions and mundane chores can become worship if performed with the correct intention. Hence, they must be completed to perfection. A believer must practice Ihsan in everything. The best people are those whose actions and dealings are the best. For example the companions of the Prophet (sa).

“If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” (Al-Isra 17:7)

The golden rule of behaviour as told by the Messenger of Allah (sa) is: “Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah (swt) and the Last Day. And should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them.” (Bukhari)

What are some of the things we should aim for perfection in?

ihsan

The principles of Ihsan should be our lodestone, the test we do to determine the amount of effort we exert to live up according to its suggestions. Our appearance, the way we eat or sleep, the way we conduct our professional lives, our Dawah – Ihsan should be observed in all these actions, which are Ibadah. Some other principles to implement in life are:

  • To respect the scholars and not to compare them with each other;
  • To obey your rulers. Follow the rules that they have set as long as they do not contradict the rules of Allah (swt);
  • To be kind to animals, and not to torture them. Feed them regularly and not to abuse them by overloading them etc.

Even in killing, Muslims must apply Ihsan. Rules of combat/war are:

  • Not to kill old people, children, women, and those who are not fighting.
  • When killing the aggressive enemy/criminal, Ihsan must be applied and observed. They must be killed without torture. We should not cause any harm or suffering to anyone we kill.
  • Captives should be treated with Ihsan as well.
  • Harmful animals such as snakes, scorpions etc. must be killed quickly, no torture is permitted. Animals must be slaughtered with a sharp knife, causing minimum pain. Their necks must be cut with a single, clean stroke and must not be slaughtered in view of other animals.

Thus, if you think logically, using weapons of mass destruction contradicts the concept of Ihsan.

Living in accordance with the concept of Ihsan and applying it to all that you do, entitles you to acquire Allah’s (swt) Mercy and Forgiveness. Insha’Allah you will be amongst the Muhsineen.

Reward for the Muhsineen- in the light of Quran

“Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

“And verily Allah is with the good doers.” (Al- Ankabut 29:69)

“For those who have done good is the best (reward, i.e. Paradise) and even more (i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Countenance of Allah (swt).” ( Yunus 10:26)

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Ar-Rahman 55:60)