Chapter 8: What is Islam by Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry



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What is Islam

By Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry


Moral Code

I- Foundations

II- Basic Concepts

III- Virtues

IV- Vices

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I- Foundations

Moral or ethical code of Islam is based on taqwa (fear of God), tawakkal (trust in God) and self purification (tazkia nafs). Let us study these foundations in a little detail.

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Fear of God (Taqwa)

The root of the word ‘Taqwa’ is ‘Waqa’ which stands for saving or guarding i.e., the guarding of a thing from that which harms it. The verb is ‘Ittaqa’ which means "he saved or guarded himself properly". ‘Muttaqi’ is the nominative for this verb and it means one who guards himself against evil or one who is careful and keeps his duty well. Taqwa, and the verb and nouns connected with the root, according to Abdullah Yusuf Ali, signify: (1) fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom; (2) restraint, or guarding one’s tongue, hand and heart from evil; hence righteousness, piety, good conduct. Muttaqi, according to Muhammad Asad, is God-conscious who has awareness of Allah’s all-presence and has the desire to mould his existence in the light of this awareness.

In brief, taqwa means fear of God, restraint from evil, piety, righteousness, right conduct, warding off evil, keeping duty to God. Muttaqi is the person who is fearful of God, who guards his tongue, his hand and his heart from evil; who is pious, righteous and possesses good conduct.

Once Caliph Umar asked Abi-bin-Kaab: What is Taqwa? The latter questioned him as to what he would do if he had a chance to pass through a forest full of thorns. Umar replied that he would keep his clothes closer to him and would pass through the forest with utmost care to escape from the thorns. Abi aptly replied that his utmost care if exercised in avoidance of sins is taqwa.

‘Taqwa’ or fear of God is the foundation of Islamic society. The merits of ‘Taqwa’ and the qualifications of those (Muttaqin or righteous persons) who possess it have been highlighted by the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam along with the rewards which are due to such persons. Some of the verses of the Qur’an and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are:

  1. This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil): Who believe in the unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful. (Al-Qur’an 2:2-5)

  2. Say: Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who keep from evil, with their Lord are Gardens underneath which rivers flow, and pure companions, and contentment from Allah. Allah is Seer of His bondmen.  (Al-Qur’an 3:15)

  3. And the reward of the Hereafter is better, for those who believe and ward off (evil). (Al-Qur’an 12:57)

  4. Lo! Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him and those who are doers of good. (Al-Qur’an 16:128)

  5. Abu Dharr said: I asked God’s Messenger to give me some instructions and he replied: I enjoin you to fear God, for that will be the best adornment for everything that concerns you ………….. (Miskhat-ul-Masabih)

  6. Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) has reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked: What is that pursuit which will stand foremost to lead a man to Paradise? He replied: Fear of Allah and good conduct. Then he was asked: What is that indulgence which will admit a man to Hell (Fire)? He answered: The mouth and sexual organ. (Tirmizi)

  7. In his famous sermon delivered on the occasion of farewell pilgrimage, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) addressed the people as under: “O people! Be ware: your God is one. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, and no non-Arab any superiority over an Arab, and no white one has any superiority over a black one, and no black one any superiority over a white one, except on the basis of Taqva (piety). The most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most pious and righteous of you,”

  8. Abu Hurairah reported God’s messenger as saying: “There are three things which save and three which destroy. Those which save are fear of God in secret and in public, speaking the truth both when pleased and displeased, and moderation both when wealthy and when poor. Those which destroy are passion which is followed, niggardliness which is obeyed, and self-conceit which is the worst   of them.”  (Baihaqi)

  9. Abu Zarr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Surely I know a verse. If people would have followed it, it would have  sufficed them ─ “And whoso fear Allah, He will find out a way for him and He will give him provision from where he will not know ─ 65:30  (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

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Trust in God (Tawakkal)

‘Tawakkal’ comes from ‘wakl’ which means to resign or to rely or to trust. Another derivative of this word is ‘Wakil’ which means a pleader to whom a legal suit is entrusted as an agent for pursuing in a court of law. So Tawakkal-al-Allah means to rely on Allah and entrust Him all the worldly affairs. A true Muslim absolutely submits himself to Allah and entrusts all his affairs to the Will of Allah believing that “my prayer, my sacrifice, and my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” (Al-Qur’an 6:162).

But reliance on Allah does not mean that one should not take any action and do any work and sit idle entrusting all affairs to Allah believing that Allah would provide him every thing without any effort or action on his part. This is rather sluggishness and not trust in Allah. At least Islam does not support this passive attitude to life. True reliance on Allah means that a person works hard and makes his best efforts to achieve a goal and then he entrusts the results thereof to Allah with the belief that Allah would accept his efforts and would bless him with success. The Qur’an says: “There is nothing for man but what he strives for” (53:39). Therefore a Muslim is expected to set himself wholeheartedly to action and then rely on Allah for good results.

According to a well known tradition, some companion asked the Prophet: “Should I not leave my camel free and rely on God for its safety?” The Prophet replied: “You must tie the camel and then trust in Allah.” An absolute belief in the Will of God, His Omnipotence and His Ability to do everything is essential but a true believer is not supposed to resign himself to idle life and expect from God that He would do every thing for him.

The Qur’an enjoins the believer to put their trust in Allah in every situation. It says:

  1. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him). (Al-Imran 3:159)

  2. If Allah is your helper none can overcome you, and if He withdraw His help from you, who is there who can help you? In Allah let believers put their trust.  (Al-Imran 3:160)

  3. They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when the revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith, and who trust in their Lord; (Al-Anfal 8:2)

  4. And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Al-Anfal 8:61)

  5. Say: Naught befalleth us save that which Allah hath decreed for us: He is our Protecting Friend. In Allah let believers put their trust! (At-Taubah 9:51)

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Purification of self (Tazkia)

‘Tazkia’ is actually ‘Tazkia Nafs’ which means purification of self. It is internal purity as well as external purity. In other words it is purification of body as well as of mind and soul. But in religious and spiritual sense we generally understand from Tazkia Nafs the purification of one’s self i.e. one’s mind and soul of evils and vices. Since mind and soul cannot be purified or cleansed without cleanliness of body, so internal and external purity becomes interconnected as body and mind are connected inseparably. If both body and mind are clean, then the man is healthy. But if any of them is unclean, then the man is unhealthy and impure. Since cleanliness of body and mind is not possible without cleanliness of house, place of worship, place of work and physical environment around the people, so cleanliness of these things is also essential.

Islam emphasises cleanliness of its followers and of everything around them so that they should be physically and mentally healthy with healthy soul.

Therefore, the followers of Islam have been enjoined to keep their bodies, minds and souls clean and also to keep their houses, places of worship and work, roads and streets, and even their wealth and goods clean. For cleanliness of their bodies, ablution and bath have been prescribed; for cleanliness of their minds and souls, prayer, fasting and Hajj have been prescribed; for cleanliness of their goods and wealth, Zakat, Sadaqat and charity have been recommended.

The purification of self, particularly of mind and soul, from evils and vices is very difficult as it is not possible without fight and struggle against oneself, therefore this struggle has been called by the Prophet of Islam as Jehad-e-Akbar (the greatest war).

Some of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which emphasise cleanliness of body, soul and environment are:

  1. Abu Malik al-Ash’ari reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Cleanliness is half of faith.    (Mishkat-ul-Masabih)

  2. Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The key of Paradise is prayer, and the key to prayer is cleanliness. (Ahmad)

  3. Jaber reported: The Prophet came to see us and found a man of disheveled hairs whose   hairs were not arranged. Then he said: This man is not finding with what he should comb his head! And he saw a man with dirty clothes on. So he said: This man is not finding with what thing he should wash his clothes! (Ahmad, Nisai)

  4. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily Allah is pure. He does not accept but what is pure. And verily Allah ordered the believers with which He ordered the Prophets. He said: O Prophets! Eat of the pure things and do good deeds. And he said: Eat of the pure things with which We provided you. Then he mentioned about a man disheveled in hair and laden with dust, making his journey long and extending his hand towards heaven: O Lord! O Lord! While his food was unlawful, his drink unlawful, his dress unlawful and he was nourished with unlawful things. How can he be responded to for that?    (Muslim)

  5. Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said to a people who returned from holy war: Welcome to you all, you have come from little fight to the greatest fight. It was questioned: O Messenger of Allah! What is the greatest fight? He said fighting with passion.    (Baihaqi)

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II- Basic Concepts

 In this section we will explain some of the basic concepts which play key-role in founding the social and moral edifice of Islam. Without comprehending these concepts such as – good and evil, right and wrong, Halal (permitted) and Haram (forbidden), reward for good deeds and punishments for evil deeds – we can hardly be motivated to do pious acts, to adopt virtues and to shun vices, to observe good manners, and to discharge our obligations to others. A comprehensive discussion of these basic concepts would be made in the light of the Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, and the traditions of Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Islam.

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Good and Evil

The terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ have not been defined by Islam. Neither the Qur’an nor the Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad provide any exact definition of these terms. Without giving any definition of good and evil, the Qur’an and the Sunnah, however, throw a lot of light on what is good and what is evil as the concepts of good and evil are fundamental in the socio-ethical structure of Islam. Islam enjoins upon its followers to do good and refrain from evil. Things or actions which are good and which are bad have been clearly demarcated by the Qur’an and Hadith. The doers of good actions have been promised rewards whereas doers of evil actions have been threatened with awful punishment.

According to Holy Qur’an, the man may have many justifications for his actions but he knows what he is. This knowledge "he knows what he is" is in fact human conscience which Almighty God has bestowed upon everyone. Conscience is a lamp which is enkindled in every human mind and which guides the man about what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is evil. If this lamp switches off due to continuous and prolonged wicked acts, then the voice or opinion of the people around one would help him to know what is right and what is wrong. It is said: you are good if the people say that you are good; and you are bad if the people say that you are bad.

Righteousness and sin have been explained by the Prophet of Islam in a very precise but vivid way. When asked by a companion about righteousness and sin, the Prophet replied: Righteousness is good character, and sin is that which revolves in your heart about which you do not want people to know.

Some of the verses of the Qur’an and traditions of Muhammad (PBUH) which highlight the concept of good and evil are:

  1. Whoso interveneth in a good cause will have the reward thereof, and whoso interveneth in an evil cause will bear the consequence thereof. Allah overseeth all things. (Al-Qur’an 4:85)

  2. Whoso bringeth a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof, while whoso bringeth an ill deed will be awarded but the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (Al-Qur’an 6:160)

  3. The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. (Al-Qur’an 41:34)

  4. An-Nawwas b. Sam’an told that he asked God’s Messenger about righteousness and sin and he replied: “Righteousness is good character, and sin is that which revolves in your heart about which you do not want people to know.”  (Muslim)

  5. Huzaifah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Don’t be silly by saying: if people do good, we will do good; and if they do wrong, we will do wrong;; but accustom yourselves to do good if the people do good and not to do wrong if they do wrong. (Tirmizi)

  6. Ali said that the following was inscribed on the sword of the Holy Prophet: pardon one who does harm to you, join him who cuts you off; do good to one who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself.  (Ihya)

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Truth and Falsehood or Right and wrong

Truth and falsehood are being taken as English equivalents of Arabic words ‘Haq’ and ‘Batil’. Truth is what is just, morally good, ethically right and conforms to fact, reason, or some standard or principle. Truth is in judgment, opinion, or action. Actuality, veracity, spiritual or philosophical verity, accuracy, exactness, equity, fairness, righteousness, genuineness, legitimacy are some of the words which describe some shades of meanings of truth. False is untrue; it is lie, incorrect, unjust, unfair act, opinion or judgment. It is wrong, not according to rule, wish, design or the like. Falsehood is the act of lying; something that is untrue, want of truth or veracity, not right according to moral law.

Truth and falsehood, like good and evil, are basic human values which cannot be defined so easily. Islam, therefore, elaborates the concepts of truth and falsehood without defining the same in words. Truth is light while falsehood is darkness, and as darkness vanishes when the light comes, the falsehood disappears when the truth comes. Falsehood, according to Islam, is a great sin while truthfulness is a great virtue. Hence Islam enjoins upon its followers to shun falsehood and be truthful. Truth is to be rewarded while falsehood is to be punished. Truth is to be found in six things i.e. in words, in motives, in intentions, in determination, in obedience, in action, and in religious duties. Truthful is he who is true in all these things.

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Halal and Haram (legal and illegal)

Islamic conception of Halal and Haram governs all the economic activities of man especially in the field of production of wealth and consumption of wealth as well as consumption of food items. Certain means of earning livelihood and wealth have been declared unlawful such as interest, bribery, gambling and games of chance, speculation, short weighing and short measuring, business malpractices, etc. Unlawful means of earning are strictly forbidden and a follower of Islam is permitted to earn through lawful and fair means. Similarly in the field of consumption certain items of food are unlawful such as dead animals, blood, swine flesh and animals slaughtered in the name of other than that of Allah. Even expenses on certain items such as drinks, narcotics, debauchery, prostitution, pornography, things that promote obscenity and vulgarity, lotteries and gambling are strictly disallowed.

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Reward and punishment

To keep its followers on the right track and to make them do good deeds and abstain from evil, Islam, like other religions and systems, follows policy of reward and punishment. Those who believe, perform righteous actions, worship Allah only, act upon religious injunctions and do good to others as enjoined by Islam are promised high rewards and Paradise. But those who do not believe, do evil deeds, ridicule religious injunctions and violate rights of their fellow-beings are threatened with painful doom and Hell.

About Islam’s Philosophy of reward and punishment, the Hoy Qur’an says:

  • Nay, but whosoever hath done evil and his sin surroundeth him, such are rightful owners of the Fire; they will abide therein. And those who believe and do good works: such are rightful owners of the Garden. They will abide therein. (Al-Baqarah 2:81-82)

  • It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor the desires of the People of the Scripture. He who doth wrong will have the recompense thereof, and will not find against Allah any protecting friend or helper. And whoso doth good works, whether of male or female, and he (or she) is a believer such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged the   dint in a date-stone. (An-Nisa 4:123-124)

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Satan (Devil)

According to Islam’s religious and moral code, devil (called Satan in the Qur’an) is enemy number one of mankind. The Qur’an tells us that God created Adam, the father of all mankind, and asked the angels and also Iblees (the Satan or devil) to prostrate before Adam.

All prostrated save the Satan. When God asked him why he disobeyed and did not prostrate, the Satan said: “I am superior than him as You have created me of fire and him of mud.” At this God declared the Satan outcast. Satan then threw challenge to God that if he was given respite, he would beguile Adam and his children from right path. God gave him reprieve till the Day of Judgement or the Doomsday accepting his challenge. The Satan misguided Adam and Eve to eat fruit of the forbidden tree and thus got them expelled from Paradise. From here starts the enmity between children of Adam and the Satan and also war between good and evil. God guides the mankind to right path and to Heaven through His Prophets; while the Satan lures mankind to evil path and to Hell.

The Qur’an, the book of God, and the traditions of Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Islam, teach the believers how  to combat the Satan, how to refrain from evil and keep to the right path of God which leads to Heaven.

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Taubah is repentance which signifies retreating or turning back from sin. It is accompanied with Istighfar which means to seek forgiveness from Allah for sins, wrongs, irregularities, commissions and omissions, whether specific or general. Taubah has generally three elements namely: to have knowledge that the act done is wrong and sinful; to repent sincerely and ask for forgiveness, and to make sincere commitment that such act would not be repeated in future. Repentance, if made with all these conditions, earns God’s pleasure who forgives past sins and bestows immense rewards on His slave. However, repentance of those is not acceptable who turn back to sins again and again after repentance. Nor the repentance of those is accepted who continue doing evil deeds up till their death and offer repentance only at the time of death. The Verses Holy Qur’an  and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) say:

  1. Lo! those who disbelieve after their (profession of) belief, and afterward grow violent in disbelief: their repentance will not be accepted. And such are those who are astray. (Al-Imran 3:90)

  2. Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah toward those who do evil in ignorance (and) then turn quickly (in repentance) to Allah. These are they toward whom Allah relenteth. Allah is ever   Knower, Wise. The forgiveness is not for those who do ill deeds until, when death attendeth upon one of them, he saith: Lo! I repent now; nor yet for those who die while they are disbelievers. For such we have prepared a painful doom. (An-Nisa 4:17-18)

  3. Abu Musa reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Allah extends His hand at night to accept repentance from one who commits sins during the day, and He extends His hand during the day to accept repentance from one who commits sin at night, till the sun will rise from its place of setting.     (Muslim)

  4. Ayesha reported that the Apostle of Allah said: When a servant recognizes his sin and then repents, Allah will accept his repentance.  (Bukhari, Muslim)

  5. Anas reported that the Apostle of Allah said: The Almighty Allah said: O son of Adam! I will forgive you as long as you implore Me and hope in Me in spite of what you have done, and I don’t care. O son of Adam! If your sins are so numerous as to reach the clouds of heaven and thereafter if you seek forgiveness from Me. I would forgive you and I don’t care. O son of Adam! If you were to meet Me with an earth- full of sins and then if you were to meet Me without setting up anything with Me, I would certainly come to you with an earth-full of forgiveness.   (Ahmad, Darimi, Tirmizi (Approved, Rare))

  6. Ibn Abbas reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Whoso sticks to seeking forgiveness, Allah will create for him a way out from every difficulty and a relief from every anxiety, and He will supply him provision from where he did not think.     (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)

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III- Virtues

The virtues of human character are those good qualities which raise the status of human beings above all other creatures and make them the best of God’s creations. Many rewards have been promised in this world as well as in the next world for those Muslims who possess these virtues. Such virtues are numerous and no exhaustive list of them can be prepared. Therefore, we would discuss in this section only a few important virtues.

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Contentment is satisfaction or state of happiness or complacency with what one has got. It is opposed to discontentment, unhappiness or dissatisfaction. It is a great treasure and a great virtue in a human being. Contentment saves a person from many unnecessary worries and troubles which are generally caused by discontentment. Contentment brings peace of mind which is not only essential for leading a happy life but also for concentration of mind in achieving one’s goals in life. A contented mind can concentrate in the divine service and worship of Allah. A discontented or disturbed mind can hardly give proper attention to remembrance of Allah. Therefore, Islam enjoins the believers to live a happy and contented life. The Prophet of Islam has said that wealth is not in vast riches but it is in contentment. Hence a   Muslim should content himself with what Allah has given him and he should spend in Allah’s path out of that if he can afford. He should not look towards those people who are wealthier than him as it would make him discontented. Discontentment generally arises out of greed for more and more wealth and hence it should be shunned. In fact discontentment is ungratefulness whereas contentment is gratefulness to Allah.

Belief in pre-measurement of sustenance (rizq) and pre-determination of human destiny is an article of faith with a Muslim. It teaches one to remain contented with one’s determined share of fortunes and misfortunes. There is no use to worry and grieve over what has not been given to one. It is Allah who enlarges the provision for whom He will and decreases it for whom He will. Fortune and misfortune comes from Allah. Wealth and children are a test for man. Allah has exalted some people in rank above others that He may try them.

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To forgive means to remit, to let off or to pardon. Forgiveness is act of forgiving or state of being forgiven. Absolution, acquittal, amnesty, condonation, exoneration, mercy, overlooking, pardon, remission are its synonyms. By forgiveness we generally understand that a person is able to take revenge for the wrong done to him but he does not do so.

Forgiveness is a virtue which is akin to mercy and kindness. It is one of the greatest attributes of Almighty God. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful and He forgives the biggest sins of His creatures if they repent, turn to Him and ask His pardon sincerely. Those of the mankind who adopt this attribute of forgiveness and forgive each other’s mistakes have been promised great reward by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. Forgiveness does not gain but honour. A pious person who is able to retaliate or get revenge forgives his foe and thus shows magnanimity and large heartedness.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most forgiving person. On the day he conquered Makkah, he forgave thirteen years of merciless persecution of himself and his companions by the Quresh, though there was none who could stop him from taking revenge. The Quresh had driven him and his companions from their home town of Makkah and had forced them to take refuge in a distant town of Madinah. The Quresh had persistently chased the Muslims in Madinah and had waged a continuous war against the Prophet. But on the day of conquest Muhammad (PBUH) forgave all his enemies. He even forgave Abu Sufian who was his greatest enemy and had led expeditions against him. Not only Abu Sufian was forgiven, but his house was also declared a place of amnesty for those who entered into it. Abu Sufian’s wife Hind who had chewed liver of Prophet’s uncle Hamzah was pardoned. What a great amnesty it was! The history of the world cannot produce another such example!

The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam have enjoined the Muslims to practice this virtue of forgiveness. According to the Qur’an, forgiveness is better than alms-giving followed by injury. According to a Hadith, the most honourable of Allah’s servants is he who pardons when he is in a position of power to take revenge.

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Hospitality means friendly and generous reception of guests or strangers or new ideas. In common parlance, hospitality stands for large heartedness and broad-mindedness shown in the entertainment of guests.

The Holy Qur’an as well as Prophet of Islam have admired the virtue of hospitality and exhorted the believers to adopt this virtue. According to the Prophet, a Muslim must entertain his guests at least for three days with as good food as he can afford and if he entertains them beyond three days then he would get rewards of charity for each meal. A believer is obliged to show hospitality even to those who had failed to show him hospitality. Manners of hospitality prescribed by the Prophet require that the host should bid the guest farewell at the door of his house with a smiling countenance and the guest should not leave the house of his host without his permission and should not become economic burden on his host.

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Humility means humbleness, meekness or humble condition, lack of pride, etc. Modesty, diffidence, unpretentiousness, loneliness are its synonyms. Its antonyms are arrogance, haughtiness, pride, pretentiousness, snobbishness, vanity, etc. Humility or modesty is one of the best virtues of human conduct and is found in the great men and the Prophets. Islam exhorts its followers to adopt this virtue of humility in their conduct and avoid pride and haughtiness. As soon as a man lowers himself by way of humility, he rises proportionately in the sight of his Creator Who makes him highly respectable among his fellows. A man is not great because he calls himself great or considers himself great but the great man is he who is most pious and who makes himself humble in his conduct with others. According to the Qur’an, the faithful slaves of God are those who are humble and who walk upon the earth modestly. According to the Prophet of Islam, nobody humbles himself for Allah but Allah raises him up. He is small to himself but great to the eyes of men.

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Kindness is an attribute of Almighty Allah and in showing kindness Allah does not make distinction between man and man. ‘Follow the divine attributes’ is the advice of the Prophet of Islam to his followers. We should, there fore, adopt this attribute of kindness and show kindness to Allah’s creatures. We should be especially kind to our children, our parents, our kith and kin, our neighbours, our friends, our juniors, our seniors, our servants, the weak, the distressed, and to others with whom we come in contact. In order to invoke kindness from Allah, we should show kindness even to those who are not kind to us. We must not forget to follow the example of our Prophet who gave very kind treatment even to his bitter enemies on the day of conquest of Makkah. They had persecuted the Prophet and his companions for years and had expelled them from Makkah. But despite that,   Prophet forgave them and treated them kindly.

The Qur’an enjoins upon the believers:

  1. . . . . . . (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbour who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbour who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveller and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful,  (An-Nisa 4:36)

  2. Lo! Allah enjoieth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and for-biddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed. (An-Nahl 16:90)

The Prophet of Islam said:

  1. Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah Said: he who is devoid of kindness is devoid of good.        (Muslim)

  2. Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He who is given his share of kindness is given his share of good of this world and the Hereafter; and he who is deprived of his share of kindness, is deprived of his share of the good of this world and the Hereafter.    (Sharh-i-Sunnat)

  3. ‘Abdullah reported God’s Messenger as saying: “All creatures are God’s children, and those dearest to God are the ones who treat His children kindly.”  (Baihaqi)

  4. Jaber reported that the Holy Prophet said: Whoso has got three things in him, Allah will make his death easy and will admit him in Paradise: mercy to the weak, kindness to the parents, and doing good to the slave.  (Tirmizi (Rare))

  5. Jarir bin Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah is not kind to one who is not kind to men. (Bukhari, Muslim)

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Mercy is one of the greatest attributes of Allah Who is the most Beneficent (Rehman) and the most Merciful (Rahim). As Allah is merciful to us, we should be merciful to His creatures especially to the weak, to the distressed, to the people under command, to the minorities living with us, even with the animals. Mercy is opposed to oppression. We should avoid oppression and practice the attribute of mercy but no pity should be shown to the criminals in the matter of punishment and in the establishment of Hudood and justice. The Qur’an says: “The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah…….” (24:2)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has highlighted this virtue in his following traditions:

  1. Jarir b. ‘Abdullah reported God’s Messenger as saying: “God will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others.”   (Bukhari, Muslim)

  2. Abu Hurairah told that he heard Abul Qasim who spoke the truth and whose word was verified say: “mercy is taken away only from him who is miserable.”     (Ahmad, Tirmizi)

  3. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported God’s Messenger as saying: “Those who are merciful have mercy shown them by the Compassionate One. If you show mercy to those who are in the earth He who is in heaven will show mercy to you.”  (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

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Patience is calm endurance of pain or of any provocation. It is perseverance, forbearance, or quite and self-possessed waiting for something. It is the quality of being able to calmly endure suffering, toil, vexation, or the like.

Patience is an attribute only of men and not of animals or beasts who are subordinate to instincts and passions. Patience is not only to show endurance during hardships, poverty, diseases calamities, assaults, tortures and other physical troubles but it also means resistance to temptations and control over passions and immoral and evil tendencies. The former is called physical patience while the latter is spiritual patience.

The Holy Qur’an enjoins patience and admires those who are patient in its following verses:

  1. Seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is hard save for the humble minded.  (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

  2. And  surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast, Who say, when a misfortune striketh them: Lo! we are Allah’s and lo! unto Him we are returning.    (Al-Baqarah 2:155-156)

About patience, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:

  1. Abu Sayeed reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no patient man but possesses power and no wise man but possesses experience.     (Ahmad, Tirmizi (Rare)

  2. Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet said to the wounded men of Abdul Qais tribe: Surely there are in you two attributes which Allah likes-patience and delay. (Muslim)

  3. Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Patience is half of faith. (Abu Nayeem)

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Keeping or fulfillment of promise has been much emphasized by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet of Islam. The Qur’an commands its followers: “O ye who believe! Fulfill your promise…” (5:1). According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), breaking of promise is one of the characteristic of hypocrisy. The breaker of the promises would be one of the three persons against whom Allah, the Almighty God Himself would contend on the Day of Judgment. A person who has got no promise has in fact got no religion. Fulfillment of promise is one of the characteristic of the conduct of Prophets. The Qur’an praises Prophet Ismael as a keeper of promise. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) waited for three long days for a companion at a place who had promised him to deliver a thing. Fulfillment of promise is so much stressed that even the promise of a deceased should be fulfilled by his successors. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, fulfilled the promise made by the Prophet to a companion after Prophet’s death.

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Speaking Truth

Speaking truth is the greatest virtue of human character and it has been enjoined by Islam upon its followers with great stress. It is an attribute of the great Prophets of Allah like Ibrahim and Ismael and has been praised by the Qur’an which mentions Ibrahim as truthful Prophet in verse 41 of its Chapter 19 and calls Ismael as truthful of promise in verse54 of Chapter 19. Truth is light and falsehood is darkness, and as darkness vanishes when light comes similarly falsehood vanishes when truth comes. The best man is he who is pure of heart and truthful of tongue. Truth is bitter but it is very sweet in its rewards. It greatly contributes to peace of mind and removes doubts and anxieties.


The Holy Qur’an exhorts the believers to be truthful and promises them high rewards. It says:

  1. Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth.   (Al-Baqarah 2:42)

  2. Allah saith: This is a day in which their truthfulness profiteth the truthful, for theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they are secure for ever, Allah taking pleasure in them and they in Him. That is the great triumph. (Al-Maidah 5:119)

  3. O ye who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful. (At-Taubah 9:119)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon his followers to speak truth and has highlighted the merits and rewards of truth as follows:

  1. Abdullah –b-Amr reported that the messenger of Allah was asked: Who among men is the best? He replied: Everyone, pure of heart, truthful of tongue. He was enquired: “Truthful of tongue” – we know it. But what is ‘pure of heart’? He said: he is pure and pious upon whom there is neither sin, nor transgression, nor deceit, nor malice.  (Ibn Majah)

  2. Abdullah-b-Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: you shall speak the truth, because truth leads to piety and piety leads to Paradise. A man continues to speak the truth and to adhere to truth, till he is enrolled near Allah as a great truthful man. Beware of falsehood and falsehood leads to transgression and transgression leads to the fire. A man continues to speak falsehood and to adhere to falsehood till he is enrolled as a great liar in the sight of Allah. Agree upon it; and in a narration of Muslim, he said: Truth is piety and piety leads to Paradise; and falsehood is transgression and transgression leads to Hell.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

  3. Hasan bin ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he remembered (these words) from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): Give up what appears doubtful to you and adhere to that which is not doubtful, for truth is peace of mind and falsehood is doubt. (Tirmizi)

  4. Malek reported: It has reached me that Luqman the wise was asked: How have you acquired what we see meaning excellence? He replied: Truth in talk, fulfilment of trust and giving up of what is of no use to me.  (Muatta)

  5. Obadah-b-Swamet reported that the Holy Prophet said: If you guarantee me six things from yourselves, I shall then guarantee you Paradise. Speak the truth when you talk, fulfil trust when you are entrusted, guard your private parts, shut up your eyesight and withhold your hands.    (Baihaqi)

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IV- Vices

The vices are bad qualities, bad characteristics, demerits or weaknesses of human character which bring down human beings to the lowest ebb and make them as the worst of God’s creations. The possessors of these vices have been informed by the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about painful doom especially in the Hereafter.

List of vices dealt in this section should not, however, be taken as final. The vices are numerous and no exhaustive list can be made of them. In this section only some of the very notorious vices are being discussed. The believers have been exhorted by Islam to avoid these vices.

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Anger is a violent, revengeful passion or emotion, excited by a real or supposed injury to oneself or others. Extreme anger (wrath or rage) implies a certain outward manifestation, violence and want of self-command. Annoyance, antagonism, fury, indignation, outrage, rage, wrath are its synonyms. Anger is a fleck of fire lodged in the heart of man. In the state of anger it is very difficult to control oneself. In the case of extreme anger, people lose self-control and sometimes commit major crimes even murders in order to quench their thirst for revenge. Islam condemns such type of anger. According to the Prophet, anger spoils faith as aloes spoil honey. The strong man is not the wrestler; the strong man is only he who controls his anger. The Qur’an admires those who control their anger and forgive (3:134, 42:37).

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Backbiting means to slander, to speak ill of. It can be defined as speaking evil of one who is absent. In other words, backbiting is to say something bad in one’s absence which you would not like to say in his presence.

The meaning of backbiting has been explained by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in very beautiful way. When asked what is backbiting the Prophet said: Your talk about your brother (in his absence) which he dislikes. He was questioned: Inform if what is said is found in my brother. The Prophet said: If what you say is in him, it is backbiting, and if it is not in him it is slander. Backbiting, according to Islam, is one of the major evils connected with the tongue. In the words of the Qur’an backbiting is like eating the flesh of one’s dead brother (49:12).

Why backbiting is that much hated in Islam? The reason is simple. The blood, the property and the honour of a Muslim is unlawful to another Muslim. Backbiting is a crime against the honour of a Muslim and hence it is the most despised thing. Backbiting is violation of basic human rights and the person whose right has been violated is entitled to revenge or compensation. In the sight of Islam, it pertains to Huqooqul Ibad (rights of men) where Allah does not pardon. The backbiting can be forgiven only by the aggrieved person and if he does not, then the backbiter will have to compensate the aggrieved person.

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Deception is act of deceiving or state of being deceived. Deceive means anything intended to mislead others; persuade of what is false, mislead purposely. It is also concealment or perversion of the truth for the purpose of misleading. It is to cause to believe what is false or disbelieve what is true; to mislead; to delude; to beguile; to disappoint with regard to hopes, expectations. Synonyms of deception are deceit, craftiness, fraud, guile, deceitfulness, deceptiveness, dissimulation, duplicity, hypocrisy, illusion, treachery, cheating, bluff, trick, stratagem, etc.

Islam condemns deception and deceit. A deceitful man or a cheat or a fraudulent man will never enter paradise. Cursed is he who injures a believer or plays deceit with him. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enjoined upon his followers to avoid deception and fraudulent practices in business which were not uncommon in those days as today. According to the Qur’an, the life of this world is an illusion. Let this life not deceive you and let not the deceitful deceive you about Allah. Iblis (Satan or Devil) deceived Adam and mislead him to taste the forbidden fruit and thereby got Adam expelled from Paradise. The Qur’an has prohibited fraudulent practices in measuring and weighing. It has also strictly prohibited to beguile or mislead the people in the matters of religion.

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Envy means feeling of resentment, discontent or jealousy excited by the sight of another’s superiority, his successes, his possessions or his advantages. It is envious resentment against a successful rival or the possessor of any coveted advantage. Envy is a mental uneasiness due to suspicions or fear of rivalry. It is a feeling, may be on account of known or suspected rivalry, that makes a person begrudge another in respect of his good fortune.

Islam condemns jealousy or envy which is a negative passion, while it encourages healthy competition amongst its followers specially in the matter of religion and pious acts. Medicine for overcoming negative feeling of envy prescribed by Islam is that one should have a strong belief that all our fortunes or misfortunes have been predetermined and they come from Allah, the Almighty.

 About envy, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:

  1. Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Beware of jealousy because jealousy consumes the virtues just as fire consumes the fuel.  (Abu Daud)

  2. Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no envy except for two: a man whom Allah has given wealth and whom He gave power for spending it for cause of truth and a man whom Allah has given wisdom and who acts upto it and teaches it (to others).  (Bukhari, Muslim)

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Fornication (Zina)

The Arabic word ‘Zina’ is used for illicit or unlawful sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other. This term stands both for adultery and fornication and does not make any difference between the two. In English language there is difference between adultery and fornication. Fornication stands for illicit sexual relations between two unmarried persons; while adultery denotes unlawful sexual relationship between the persons, one or both of whom are married to other or others.

Zina (adultery and fornication) is the most abominable act and has been expressly made unlawful by the Islamic penal code. It is one of the gravest sins and one of the greatest crimes. The revealed book of Islam strictly prohibits its followers even to go near it because it is an abomination and evil way. It is one of the crimes liable for hudood. The punishment for it has been prescribed in the Holy Qur’an and the Suunah of the Prophet (PBUH).

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Greed is insatiate longing for wealth or food or possessions. It is excessive eagerness for gain, property, children, fame, power, or desire to have more than needed. A greedy person has inordinate appetite or craving to posses more and more. Desirous, avaricious, covetous, selfish, eager, ravenous, cupid, are other names of greedy person.

Islam condemns greed for wealth, worldly gains and possessions as it is a disease which arrests the progress of man in the path of Allah. The greed also adversely effects mental and spiritual progress of man as it makes the man acquire as much as he can through foul or illegal means such as theft, plunder, dacoity, corruption, embezzlement, hoarding, business malpractices, etc. Wealth, children and possessions, according to Qur’an divert the people from remembrance of Allah. Hence the Qur’an calls them a great temptation and a great trial. So it advises the believers not to envy such people who have been given abundance in riches and children as Allah thereby punishes them. The Prophet says that a man’s greed for wealth never ends even if he has been given mountains of gold and only earth (of the grave) fills the belly of the (greedy) man. Therefore, the believers should find riches in self-contentment as it does not lie in vast wealth.

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Hypocrisy in simple dictionary meanings is pretence of virtue or simulation of virtue or goodness. It is the act or practice of simulating or feigning feelings or beliefs, especially the false appearance of piety or virtue.

According to the Qur’an the hypocrites are those who say: We believe in Allah and the Last Day, when they believe not; they utter with their mouths a thing which is not in their hearts. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and remember Allah but little; swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these nor to those. The likeness of a hypocrite in the view of Qur’an is that of one who worships Allah upon a narrow marge so that if good befalls him he is happy, but if a trial befalls him he falls away. Thus the tongue and the mind of a hypocrite or what he says and what he does is not one. A believer, on the other hand, is one in mind and tongue as he believers in Allah and His apostle in heart and utters the same from his tongue.

Islam condemns hypocrisy in the severest possible terms. According to the Qur’an, the hypocrites will be in the lowest deep of the Hell. The Holy Prophet was exhorted by Allah to fight against the hypocrites and against the disbelievers. The Prophet was forbidden to seek forgiveness for the hypocrites as Allah would not forgive them even if the forgiveness for them is sought seventy times. The Prophet and the believers were also forbidden to offer the funeral prayer on the death of a hypocrite. Thus the sin of hypocrisy, according to Islam, is bigger than that of disbelief.

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Dictionary meanings of pride are: unduly high opinion of one’s own qualities, merits, etc.; arrogant bearing or conduct. Vanity, arrogance, conceit, egotism, haughtiness, boastfulness, vainglory are all synonyms of pride; whereas humility, meekness and modesty are some of its antonyms. Objects in which pride is taken are: ancestry, tribe, wealth, power, physical strength, beauty, learning and knowledge, social status, personal achievements; even pride is taken in excessive divine service. The worst type of pride is that which is expressed against God, Prophets and religion. Iblis, Namrud, Pharaoh, Qaroon, Shaddad, and the tribal chiefs who opposed various prophets are the examples which have been given by the Qur’an of this type of pride. The next worst to this type of pride is that which is expressed in dealing with men. The wealthy, the powerful, the beautiful, the strong, those having more influence and following, the learned, those belonging to royal and feudal families, etc. despise the poor, the less powerful, the ugly, the weak, the less influential, the illiterate and the  persons of modest or humble background. Pride in any form and against anyone is condemnable. ‘Pride hath a fall’ is the general saying. No religion, no system of morality ever praises the proud and boastful man who brings the people, religion, things, and institutions to ridicule. Islam regards pride as one of the worst attributes and has condemned it in very strong terms.

The Qur’an tells us that God expelled Satan (the devil) from paradise when the Satan refused to prostrate before Adam and showed pride saying: “….. I am better than him. Thou created me of fire while him Thou did create of Mud” (7:12-15). So the Qur’an advises its followers:

  1. And walk not in the earth exultant. Lo! thou canst not rend the earth, nor canst thou stretch to the height of the hills.   (Bani-Isra’il 17:37)

  2. Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward folk, nor walk with pertness in the land. Lo! Allah loveth not each braggart boaster.  (Luqman31:18)

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Telling lie

To tell lie means to speak falsely or to tell untruth knowingly; to express what is false or convey a false impression. Lie is an intentional untruth. It is a false statement with intent to deceive. Its synonyms are: deceit, fabrication, falsehood, misrepresentation, perjury, dissimulation.

Islam condemns falsehood in the severest possible terms and the Qur’an enjoins upon its followers to shun the filth of idols and filth of telling lie. Thus, idol-worship and lie are, in a way, equal in sin according to the Qur’an. Allah does not guide a liar, an ingrate and a prodigal, as stressed by the Qur’an. Liars are those who do not believe in Allah and invent lie against Allah. Lying and hypocrisy are also the same thing. According to Prophet of Islam, lie is a sin equal to polytheism and disobedience to parents. The fasting of a man is meaningless if he goes on speaking lie during fast. Telling lie is one of the characteristics of hypocrisy. Truth leads to Paradise while falsehood leads to Hell. Narrating without ascertaining its truth whatever one hears amounts to telling lie.

Following traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) highlight the vices of falsehood and enjoin upon his followers to abstain from telling lie:

  1. Ibn ‘Umar reported God’s messenger as saying: “When a man lies the angel moves a mile from him because of the bad odour of what he produced.”  (Tirmizi)

  2. Sufyan b.Asad al-Hadrami told that he heard God’s Messenger say: “it is great treachery that you should tell your brother something and have him believe you when you are lying.”  (Abu Daud)

  3. Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Paradise. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is enrolled near Allah as a great truthful man. Falsehood leads to transgression and transgression leads to the fire of Hell. A man continues to speak falsehood till he is enrolled as a great liar in the sight of Allah   (Bukhari, Muslim)

  4. Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: It is enough for a man to prove him a liar that he should go on narrating whatever he hears.  (Muslim)       

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Use of narcotics and intoxicants

Wine drinking is a great vice and Islam absolutely prohibits wine – drinking and taking of drugs which produce intoxication such as opium, heroine, hash, etc. Some people are so strict in interpreting of Islamic law on this point that they bring even use of tobacco and smoking under this ban. Taking of intoxicants is not only a sin to be punished in the hereafter but it is also an offence punishable in this world.

The word used by the Qur’an in its Verse 219 of Chapter 2 and Verse 90 of Chapter 5, is Khamr. The word ‘Khamr’ is derived from ‘Khamara’ which means ‘he concealed’ or obscured’. The ‘khamr’ denotes every substance or intoxicating thing the use of which obscures or covers the intellect. Hence, the prohibition of intoxicant promulgated by this verse is not restricted merely to alcoholic drinks but also includes drugs which have a similar effect. This is the view based on many authentic Ahadith according to which the Prophet is reported to have declared: “Every intoxicant is unlawful”. “Every liquor which intoxicates is forbidden”. “Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden”. The Prophet of Islam is also reported to have said: “Wine is made from grape-syrup, raisins, dried dates, wheat, barley, millet, and I forbid you from every intoxicant”.

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