How can we attain good moral quality?
The main axes of the subject:
1- What does good moral behavior mean?
2- What is the stature of someone with good moral behavior?
3- How can we attain good moral quality?
We will draw attention to the stature of people with good moral qualities in this life and in the afterlife as well as pinpoint the issues that will help achieve this noble quality through findings and corroborations.
Exporting the Subject:
The prophet (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “Allah (The Exalted) rewards his servant for his good moral behavior equally like the one that struggles in the cause of Allah, gives him back and forth.”
a- What does good moral behavior mean?
– Commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Good moral behavior resides in three issues: avoiding Haraam, seeking Halal, and one’s generosity towards his children.”1
– Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “Good moral behavior can be explained as: satisfaction with what you get in this world; if not, you must not feel resentment.”2
– Imam Abu Abdullah Jaafar Bin Muhammad al Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about the limits of good moral behavior. He replied: “Demonstrate clemency and speak kind words; meet your brother smiling.”3
– Book Tanbih al Khawatir narrates that the prophet (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “Those with the best moral behavior are: the most welcoming, those feeling friendly and showing friendship.”4
One can conclude that good moral behavior rises upon two sides:
1- The first is obligatory, avoiding Haraam and seeking Halal.
2- The second is a behavior that is only demonstrated by the people of faith.
b- The stature of someone with good moral behavior:
The virtuous stature where good moral behavior places its owner renders its negligence an issue that contradicts with religion and faith; it also traps man in a position of sorrow which he will not realize until it is too late.
Contracting and embracing good moral behavior obliges happiness in both worlds. This is because its owner is like the struggler in the cause of Allah. Imam al Sadiq (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Allah (The Exalted) rewards his servant for his good moral behavior equally like the one that struggles in the cause of Allah, gives him back and forth…”5
Good moral behavior adds heavy weight to the scales of deeds on the Day of Judgment. For example, the prophet (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “Nothing is heavier on the scales than good moral behavior.”6
Enough for the owner of good moral behavior to be the nearest to the messenger of Allah (s.a.a.w.); for instance, the prophet (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “My dearest amongst you and the nearest to be seated next to me on the Day of Judgment is the one with the best moral behavior and most humble.”7
Even for some of those who do not believe in the Day of Judgment while rewarding and punishment means nothing, yet one can find them logic with great interest in the noble morals. For instance, the Hadith narrates that commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Suppose there was no anticipated reward or existing punishment, would you still abstain from noble morals.”8
c- How can we attain good moral quality?
Now we know the stature of someone with good moral behavior on the Islamic and dogmatic level as well as in the eyes of Allah (The Exalted) and his messenger (s.a.a.w.); rather on the general level of mankind, it is something that must not be ignored. It is necessary to search for the means that can help attain these aptitudes and deeply enroot them within if they actually exited. There are several issues than can help strengthen good manners and create them within oneself, such as:
1- Strengthening the good qualities that actually exist within man’s soul because good qualities generate each other, strengthen each other, and neighbor each other. For example, commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “If a man had a serene characteristic, expect its siblings.”9
Moreover, Imam al Sadiq (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “The noble qualities are attached one another.”10
2- Also, to help finding and establishing good manners one must avoid wrongdoings and abstain from seductions in this word as well as work on struggling and taming oneself.
Commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Undesired actions generate noble characters, struggle brings reward.”11
He (a.s.) was also quoted as saying: “Do your best towards noble qualities and you will rid of sins and gain noble qualities.”12
He (a.s.) was also quoted as saying: “If you seek noble qualities, avoid wrongdoings.”13
Hence, in order to reach good moral behavior and gain reward, one must abstain from wrongdoings and be accustomed to bearing hardships.
3- A grown responsible person must force himself to be accustomed to good moral qualities; with time and repeat it will become habitual.
Commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Be accustomed to forgiveness and choose from each quality its best, goodness is a habit.”14
4- Take care of the health and safety of the body with its apparatuses and the equilibrium of its nutrition combination. For example, Imam al Sadiq (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Meat grows meat; however, if someone abandons meat for forty consecutive days, his moral behavior will worsen.”15
5- Good choice of companionship: one must choose friends with good traits and avoid evil people; people with bad moral qualities. Companionship is one of the strongest causes for someone to be characterized by the same characteristics of the companion.
One of the taboos prohibits man from making friends with those who have bad qualities.
– Some of these qualities were quoted from commander of the faithful (a.s.) as saying: “Do not associate or fraternize with four: the stupid, the miser, the coward, and the liar.”16
– He (a.s.) was also quoted as saying: “A Muslim must avoid association with three: the impudent debaucher, the stupid and the liar.”17
On the other hand, there are brothers who enjoy good qualities and behavior; associating with them is encouraged according to the accounts. For example, commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “Your true brother is he who forgives you for your slip, accepts your apology, conceals your defect, denies your fear and fulfills your wish.”18
Moreover, Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) was quoted as saying: “Your best brethren are those who help you obey Allah, obstruct you from disobeying him, and instruct you to satisfy him.”19 And the narrations are countless regarding this field.
6- Embrace the morals of the holy Quran and emulate the prophet and his inerrant household (a.s.).
– Commander of the faithful (a.s.) was quoted as saying: “If the Quran invites you to a beautiful quality take yourself toward its examples.”20
Allah (The Exalted) said: “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.”21
Allah (The Exalted) said to the prophet (s.a.a.w.): “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.”22
And said: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you.”23
1- Bihar al Anwar, by scholar Muhammad Baqir al Majlisi, Vol. 71, P. 294, H. 63.
2- Kanz al Ummal, by al Muttaqi al Hindi, H. 5229.
3- Ma’ani al Akhbar, by scholar al Saddouq, P. 253, H. 1.
4- Bihar al Anwar, Vol. 71, P. 393, H. 63.
5- Al Kafi, by Muhammad Yacoub al Kulaini, Vol. 2, P. 101, H. 12.
6- Oyoun Akhbar al Ridha, by Sheikh al Saddouq, Vol. 2, P. 37, H. 98.
7- Al Bihar, Vol. 71, P. 385, H. 26.
8- Ghorar al Hikam wa Dorar al Kalam, by al Qadi al A’midi, wisdom 6278.
9- Nahjul Balagha, short wisdoms, wisdom 445.
10- Al A’mali, b Sheikh al Tousi, P. 301, H. 597.
11- Ghorar al Hiham, wisdom 43, 44.
12- Same source, wisdom 9899.
13- Same source, wisdom 4069.
14- Al Bihar, Vol. 77, P. 213, H. 1.
15- Al Kafi, Vol. 6, P. 309, H. 1.
16- Al Khisal, by Sheikh al Saddouq, P. 244, H. 100.
17- Al Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 639, H. 1.
18- Ghorar al Hikam, wisdom 3645.
19- Tanbih al Khawatir, Vol. 2, P. 123.
20- Ghorar al Hikam, wisdom 4143.
21- Holy Quran, Surat al Ahzab (the parties), verse 21.
22- Holy Quran, Surat al Qalam (the pen), verse 4.
23- Holy Quran, Surat a’l Imran (family of Imran), verse 159.