Ihsaan means striving to reach the best standards of



Ihsaan means striving to reach the best standards of
performance in any circumstances or situations. It
represents excellence, graciousness and benevolence.
While ‘Adl (fairness and justice) requires
satisfactory performance of one’s obligations to
others and fulfilling the rights of others on oneself,
Ihsaan suggests doing more than that which a person is
obligated to do and giving more to others than what
they are entitled to. Thus, while ‘Adl ensures peace
and security of human society, Ihsaan makes it loving
and caring and adds beauty to it. It is the single
most distinguishing feature that raises a human
society above any other creations of Allaah SWT and
makes Allaah proud of humanity. That is why Allaah SWT
has mentioned the following in five different verses
of the Holy Qur-aan:

Allaah loves those who practice Ihsaan.” Al-Baqarah
2:195; Aali Imraan 3:134, 148; Al-Maaidah 5:13, 93.

Like ‘Adl, Ihsaan is a comprehensive concept that
covers all human affairs whether it is about one’s
relationship with Allaah, interactions with people or
fulfilling social obligations. When it is applied to
one’s relationship with Allaah, it represents
excellence in servitude to Allaah so that a person
performs his servitude to Allaah as if Allaah is right
in front of him keenly observing his performance.
Naturally, when we perform in this world with a
consciousness that we are being observed by Allaah
SWT, our performance is going to be the most sincere
and the most excellent just as people perform better
when they are being watched by those in whose good
books they want to be in e.g. a supervisor or best

When The Messenger of Allaah was asked what is Ihsaan,
he responded:

“You fear Allaah as if you are seeing Him, because if
you cannot see Him, He is watching you.” Reported by
Aboo Hurairah in Bukhaari and Muslim

When it is about people, it represents benevolence
towards people and graciousness in dealings. The most
important is this respect is Ihsaan towards one’s

“We have enjoined on man to behave with his parents
with Ihsaan.” Al-Ahqaaf 46:15

While dealing with other people, the most important
aspects of Ihsaan are giving, patience and

“Those who spend (in the way of Allaah) in prosperity
and in adversity, who repress their anger and who
forgive people; and Allaah loves Muhsineen (those who
practice Ihsaan).” Aali Imraan 3:134

“So, forgive them and overlook (their offensive
behaviour), verily, Allaah loves Muhsineen.”
Al-Maaidah 5:13

“Indeed, who maintains Taqwa and remains patient and
steadfast, Allaah does not let those who practice
Ihsaan lose their reward.” Yousuf 12:90

It applies to what we say as well:

“And say to my slaves that they should utter only
what is the best.” Banee Israaeel 17:53

Once the Messenger of Allaah asked his companions:

“Should I guide you to the qualities, because of
which, Allaah raises people’s ranks?” On affirmative
response, he said, “Be patient (forbearing) with him
who treats you ignorantly; forgive him who is unfair
to you; give him who deprives you; and, fulfill social
obligations to the relative who is delinquent in doing
his part.” Reported from ‘Ubaadah Ibn Saamit in
Targheeb n Tarheeb With reference to At-Tabaraani

The same message was conveyed, among other things, in
the following Hadeeth:

The Messenger of Allaah said, “My Lord has commanded
me nine qualities:

1. Fearing Allaah both secretly and openly;
2. Saying only the words of justice both when angry
and when happy;
3. Maintaining moderation both during poverty and
4. Making up (social obligations and relationships)
with a relative who shirks his obligation to me or
breaks away from me;
5. Giving even to the person who deprives me;
6. Forgiving him who is unjust to me;
7. Reflecting when I am quiet; remembering Allaah when
I speak; and, learning lessons from what I see,
8. Enjoining good; and,
9. Forbidding evil.”

Aboo Hurairah in Mishkaatul Masaabeeh

Normally, responding to negative behaviour in the best
manner and practising Ihsaan consistently as mentioned
in the verses and Ahaadeeth given above, results in
winning the hearts of those who are treated with
Ihsaan. So much so that it has the potential of
converting enemies into loving friends, as stated in
the following verse:

“Good and evil are not equal. Respond in a way that is
the best. Then, he between whom and you was enmity
will become as if he was a close friend.” Fussilat

Sometimes, however, a person practising Ihsaan may not
individually witness the benefits of his best
practices. In such situations, a sincere believer may
feel discouraged, used, or broken hearted. Allaah SWT
assures them that:

“Verily, Allaah does not let the Muhsineen (who
practice Ihsaan) lose their reward.” At-Towbah 9:120,
Hood 11:115, Yousuf 12:56, 12:90.

“We do not let the reward of one who performs in the
most excellent manner be lost.” Al-Kahf 18:30

He also assured:

Allaah is with those who have Taqwa and practice
Ihsaan.” An-Nahl 16:128

Allaah’s Mercy is near those who practice Ihsaan.”
Al-A’raaf 7:56

“Yes indeed, who turns his face submissively toward
Allaah and he practices excellence (Ihsaan), his
reward is with his Lord.” Al-Baqarah 2:112

And the rewards Allaah has promised to those who
practice Ihsaan are also the best. For example:

“Is the reward for excellence other than excellent.”
Ar-Rahmaan 55:60

“To reward those who do their best with what is the
best.” An-Najm 53:31

“For those who perform excellently is the best
(reward) and even more.” Yoonus 10:26

Hence, Allaah expects us to perform in the best
possible way that we can:

“Who can be better in deen than him who turns to
Allaah in submission and practices Ihsaan.” An-Nisaa

“And Practice Ihsaan, Allaah loves those who practice
Ihsaan.” Al-Baqarah 2:195

Wa aakhiru da'waanaa anilhamdu lillaahi
Ayub Hamid



Read also Excellence (Ihsaan) in Interacting with Parents



Copyright ©2003, Ayub A. Hamid

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