Akhlaq: The Forefront of Islam
Akhlaq is the Arabic term which refers to the practice of morality, ethics, virtue and manners. It is the plural of “khulq” which relates to disposition (malakah). Furthermore, it is a person’s inherent qualities of mind and character. Manners are of two types; Husn al Khulq (good manners) and Su al Khulq (bad manners). Good manners ultimately signify the completion of one’s faith and closeness to Allah. On the other hand, partaking in Su al Khulq will negatively affect a person in this world and the hereafter. Imam Ali (as) has said, “O Believer! This knowledge and good manners are the value of your soul so strive to learn them, for however much your knowledge and good manners increase, so will your value and worth accordingly” (Mishkat al-Anwar, p 135).
Although good manners are promoted heavily by our Prophets and Imams, people have unfortunately kept Akhlaq as their last priority to focus on. Generally speaking, we focus more on controversial topics by formulating bias opinions and being closed minded rather than focusing on the basics on Islam. The Ahlul Bayt (as) are the primary and most ultimate examples we are provided with when it comes to being a person of good Akhlaq; They have taught us from their own virtues of good akhlaq, regarding how to eat and drink to how one should behave with their family and friends. An individual who places good Akhlaq as their moral and ethical forefront will be the one who is predominant with the best of knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “Good manners are the beauty of the mind” (Bihar al Anwar, v.77, p 131, no 41). It is evident that in the Quran, Allah states that the Prophet (s) was sent to perfect the best of manners. The Prophet (s) had displayed the best of Akhlaq in all aspects of life, many of which we do not even consider Akhlaq (due to our ignorance). In Sunan an Nabi (Allamah Tabatabai), it states that the Prophet (s) would never lean his back against the wall in the presence of others, rather he would turn his entire body around to the person he was conversing with. It is also narrated that the Prophet (s) would always lower his gaze and would only look up to the sky ever so often.These are a few of the plenty of narrations we are provided with regarding the good Akhlaq of the Prophet (s). As an ummah, we have been provided with blessed examples such as the Ahlul Bayt(as) who have not only talked about good akhlaq, rather they have also implemented this concept within their daily lives for us to learn and act upon.
One of the main categories to learn and apply from good Akhlaq is that of silence. Surly silence is a sign of Aql (strong intellect) however constantly talking about useless matters is a sign of weak intellect and arrogance. The following hadith will further explain the Prophets(s) silence and which things it was based on. Narrated in Makarim al Akhlaq by Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al- Taqalani from Imam Hussayn & Imam Hassan.
[The Prophet’s] silence was based on four things: forbearance, caution, consideration and contemplation (Sunan an Nabi: 39):
Consideration: In order to look and to listen to everyone equally
Contemplation: It was about what remains and what perishes
Forbearance/Patience: Nothing would enrage him or upset him
Caution: In 4 things
– He displayed caution in performing good deeds
– He was cautious to abandon evil deeds
– Making best decisions to reform his community
– Performing that which secures the good of this world and the next
Through the act of good Akhlaq, one can gain proximity towards Allah; for good manners are what lead to knowledge, wisdom and humility.