January
05
2009
Islamic Education- Ways of Access and Signs of Acceptence- Lesson (3-70): Al-Ihsan (striving to do what is good and repelling harmful things)-1- Means and Fields of Ihsan.
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Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations, and Peace and blessings be upon our prophet Muhammad, the faithful and the honest.
 Oh, Allah, we know nothing but what You teach us. You are the All- Knower, the Wise. Oh Allah, teach us what is good for us, and benefit us from what You taught us, and increase our knowledge. Show us the righteous things as righteous and help us to do them, and show us the bad things as bad and help us to keep away from them.
  O Allah our Lord, lead us out from the depths of darkness and illusion, unto the lights of erudition and knowledge, and from the muddy shallows of lusts unto the heavens of Your Vicinity.

Al-Ihsan and its fields:

 Dear brothers, I would like to start with the main topic of this series of lectures, Means of Accesses and Signs of Acceptance. Our topic comes at top of all other topics due to its importance, it is Al-Ihsan. Al-Ihsan is defined, according to scholars, as performing whatever is "Hasan" (good), and "Hasan" is an Arabic word that is derived from the word "Husn" (beauty), so Ihsan is the tangible and spiritual beauty. Forbearing is Husn, spending on the poor is Husn and the beautiful face is Husn. Furthermore, Husn is related to man's perfection and Fitrah (an inborn natural predisposition which cannot change, and which exists at birth in all human beings. It is inclined towards right action and submission to Allah, the One Deity).
  The manifestations of Husn, start with the intention, and herein lies the difference between people. Some people have the passion for goodness and tolerance, whereas others have grudge, superiority and arrogance. Thus, Ihsan embraces a pure soul that tends to spread goodness among all creations. Man's state of mind is another manifestation of Husn, for some people are in a continuous state of optimism, whereas others are in a state of pessimism. Also, some people are in a state of compassion for all people, whereas others are in a state of hatred. Man's deeds are the third manifestation of Husn. Let me repeat again: the manifestations of Husn are, the intention, the state of mind and the deeds.

The Philosophy of Ihsan:

  As for the philosophy of Ihsan, the Almighty Allah subjugated to you everything in the heavens and the earth, so that you get acquainted with Him as a Creator and in order to honor you as a creature by bestowing the grace of existence, provision and guidance upon you.

﴾Is there any reward for good other than good? ﴿

[Ar-Rahman, 60]

 The philosophy of Ihsan is manifested in being benevolent (Muhsen) towards other people in return for Allah's Benevolence (Ihsan) towards you through His graces of existence, provision and guidance.

﴾Is there any reward for good other than good? ﴿

 The second philosophy of Ihsan is that the Almighty Allah created you for a Paradise that is as wide as the heavens and the earth, but in order to be admitted to this Paradise, you have to be in this life benevolent (Muhsen), as it is proved in the following Ayah:

﴾ By the night as it envelops* And by the day as it appears in brightness* And by Him Who created male and female* Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse (different in aims and purposes)* As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him* And believes in Al-Husna﴿

[Al-Lail, 1-6]

 "Al-Husna" is Paradise, which means that by giving charity, man is paying for Paradise in the worldly life. Hence, the price for Paradise is divided in to two halves: the first half is being disciplined (on Allah's Path) and the second one is being charitable:

﴾As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him,﴿

 Because he fears disobeying Allah, he gives charity from his money, his knowledge, his expertise, his time and his strength:

﴾As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him* And believes in Al-Husna* We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness) * But he who is greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient. And gives the lie to Al-Husna);﴿

[Al-Lail, 5-9]

 Al-Husna is Paradise, and some people, according to the previous Ayah, deny its existence and believe only in the worldly life. Moreover, they do without obeying Allah, and instead they build their lives on taking only. Hence, Ihsan is manifested in giving, so taking only is the opposite of Ihsan. There are people who give and others who take.

Ihsan and justice:

 The point I have just referred to leads us to categorize people in two groups: the first group includes those who give and never take, and they win people's hearts. Furthermore, they live for others, and they are the Muhsineen (plural of Muhsen: benevolent). Unlike this group, the other group includes people who own the necks of other people, and they are powerful and are served by people. There is a big difference between living for people and being served by people, between giving and taking and between winning the hearts and owning the necks.

 Again, the philosophy of Ihsan is manifested in being benevolent (Muhsen) towards other people in return for Allah's Benevolence (Ihsan) towards you through His graces of existence, provision and guidance, and it is manifested as well in offering a good deed that nominates you to enter Paradise (which is Al-Husna). In fact, Allah has enjoined the believers to treat people with Ihsan, when He says:

﴾Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in a perfect manner]﴿

[An-Nahl, 90]

 Verify, Al-Adl (justice) is obligatory, whereas Al-Ihsan is voluntary, and you are ordered to treat people with both. There are a lot of problems that cannot be solved by applying justice only, so their solution lies in Ihsan. The law and the religion might be on your side when you want to collect your loan (you have given to a brother of yours), but this is your brother, and justice might oblige him to pay his debt to you, but Ihsan is manifested in disclaiming part of it. Hence, Adl is to take, whereas Ihsan is to give. Allah says:

﴾Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in a perfect manner]﴿

[An-Nahl, 90]

 Some scholars said, "Al-Ihsan is the extra step one treats people with besides fulfilling the religious obligation." Take for example divorce; man might divorce his wife after fully giving her religious rights, but some husbands, I know, allocated monthly payments to their divorced wives for life, which is but Ihsan. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((…and to join and connect with the one who got separated and denounced relations with me (Ihsan) Granting that person who deprived me (Ihsan) Forgiving the one who committed excess upon me.))

[Ziyadat Razeen, by Abi Hurairah]

 The full version of this Hadith is the following:

((The Lord has recommended nine things to me: Sincerity, secretly and apparently (both in solitude and public). Observing of justice and equity in contentment, consent and anger. Acting moderately in poverty and wealthy condition. Forgiving the one who committed excess upon me. Granting that person who deprived me. And to join and connect with the one who got separated and denounced relations with me. And meditating while silent. And remembrance of Allah while conferring. And taking lesson while seeing.))

[Ziyadat Razeen, by Abi Hurairah]

 It is enough honor for the Muhsen (good-doer) to be endeared by Allah.

Allah loves the Muhsen, so He never tortures him:

  Believe me dear brother, when you are Muhsen, you will pleased because of your Ihsan, which will be the inside source of your happiness, tranquility and satisfaction.

﴾Verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun ﴿

[Al-Ma'idah', 13]

 If Allah loves you, who can ever hurt you? None can hurt you as long as Allah loves you, because the Almighty Allah never punishes those He loves. This outstanding fact is deduced by Imam Ash-Shafi'i from the following Ayah:

﴾"We are the children of Allah and His loved ones."﴿

[Al-Ma'idah', 18]

 The Divine Response for their saying is:

﴾"Why then does He punish you for your sins?"﴿

[Al-Ma'idah’, 18]

 In other words, if Allah had loved them, He would never have punished them. Thus, the Almighty Allah never punishes those He loves, and when you are Muhsen, you will be loved by Allah, and He will never punish you.

The outcomes of Ihsan:

  We move to the outcomes of Ihsan, which are gained in the worldly life before they are gained in the Hereafter:

﴾ Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are Muhsinun (good-doers, - see the footnote of V.9:120). ﴿

[An-Nahl, 128]

 If Allah supports you, who can defeat you? If Allah abandons you, who can do you any good? If Allah grants you victory, protection, support, happiness, tranquility, prosperity, wisdom and tolerance and if He supports you, who can do you any harm? However, If Allah abandons you, none can benefit you.

Ihsan motivates people and increases by time:

Ihasan is a marvelous property, for it increases by time in a way that every good deed, you offer, will lead you to offer a better good deed, and the proof is in the following Hadith:

((Abu Dharr reported: I said, "O Messenger of Allah, what will save a servant from the Hellfire?" The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Faith in Allah." I said, "O Prophet of Allah, what deeds must accompany faith?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "He should give in charity from what he has been provided." I said, "O Messenger of Allah, what if he is poor and he does not find anything to give in charity?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "He should enjoin good and forbid evil." I said, "O Messenger of Allah, what if he is unable to enjoin good and forbid evil?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "He should work for the needy." I said, "What if he is needy and unable to work?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "He should support the oppressed." I said, "What if he is weak and unable to support the oppressed?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "You do not want your companion to be deprived of goodness. Let him refrain from harm." I said, "O Messenger of Allah, will he enter Paradise if he does that?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "No Muslim practises one of these virtues but that I will take him by the hand to enter Paradise.))

[Ibn Abi Shaibah, by Abi Dharr]

 Refraining from harm is enough deed to be admitted to Paradise! The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((No Muslim practises one of these virtues but that I will take him by the hand to enter Paradise.))

[Ibn Abi Shaibah, by Abi Dharr]

 Start with a simple Ihsan (good deed), and surely it will lead you to a greater one, for Ihsan increases by time, and it motivates the Muhsen to do something better. Thus, it never stays at a certain level (it moves to a better one by time). Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz said, "I have an aspiring soul. Whenever it is given something in this world, it aspires to that which is better. So, when I was given the best thing in this world - the Khilafah, my soul longed for what is better, meaning Paradise." Ihsan increases by time.

The path towards Ihsan is reached by having faith in Allah:

  I would like now to talk about the path that leads to Ihsan. The rank of Ihsan is higher than the one of faith, whereas faith is in a higher rank than Islam. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((He then enquired: "Tell me about Ihsan." He (peace be upon him) said, "It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him; and although you do not see Him, He sees you.))

[Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi and An-Nasa'i, by Abdullah Ibn Umar]

 Believing in Allah is the path of Ihsan. Accordingly, you should keep in mind that Allah is watching you when you treat your brother in humanity, and He will ask you, whether you gave him any advice, forgave him or honored him, and whether you were patient with him or not.

The ones whom should be treated with Ihsan:

  Dear brothers, let us pass to those whom should be treated with Ihsan. In concise, Ihsan embraces everything and everyone, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (kindness) for everything))

[Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi and An-Nasa'i, by Shaddad Ibn Aws]

  Even if you are about to kill a scorpion, you should do that with one strike instead of torturing it:

((Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (kindness) for everything. So when you kill, you must make the killing in the best manner; when you slaughter, make your slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal (in order to reduce his pain).))

[Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi and An-Nasa'i, by Shaddad Ibn Aws]

((The Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) was upset when he saw a man who was about to slaughter a sheep in the presence of another one, so he said to him, "Do you intend inflicting death on the animal twice".))

 Hence, Ihsan embraces everything and everyone:

((Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (kindness) for everything))

1- Being Muhsen towards one's own self:

  The minimum application of Ihsan is to be Muhsen towards your own self keeping obedient to Allah, getting it acquainted with Him and to draw it closer to Him. Allah says:

﴾ "If you do good, you do good for your ownselves,﴿

[Al-Isra', 7]

2- Being Muhsen towards parents:

  The second people whom you should be Muhsen towards are your parents:

﴾ And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents.﴿

[Al-Isra', 23]

 Allah elevates the level of Ihsan towards the parents to the level of worshiping Him, and the conjunction "and" in the Ayah means that both have the same level.

﴾ And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents.﴿

[Al-Isra', 23]

 This is the second kind of people whom should be treated with Ihsan.

3- Being Muhsen towards kin and neighbors:

  The third kind of people whom should be treated with Ihsan includes the kinship and neighborhood, for the latter is a relation that is based on residence, whereas the former is a relation that is based on blood. Hence the third kind of people embraces kin and neighbors:

﴾Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful; ﴿

[An-Nisa', 36]

 This is the third of people towards whom you should be Muhsen.

4- Being Muhsen towards the weak individuals in the society:

  The fourth kind of people towards whom man should be Muhsen are the weak members of the society though they might be your kin or neighbors. The weak include the Masakin (the poor), the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. The one whom your right hand possesses includes whoever serves you, like the female maid in the house.

﴾and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess.﴿

 Have mercy on your servant, do not ask her to do what is beyond her scope and let her sleep well, eat well and dress well like you do. The fourth kind of people whom should be treated with Ihsan includes the weak members of the society.

5- Being Muhsen towards those whose beliefs are against your Aqeedah:

  The fifth kind of people towards whom you are supposed to be Muhsen are those whose beliefs and doctrines are against yours. Allah says:

﴾So because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard. They change the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. And you will not cease to discover deceit in them, except a few of them. But forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds). Verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (good-doers - see V.2:112). ﴿

[Al-Ma'idah', 13]

 Thus, you should be Muhsen towards even those whose beliefs contradict yours, and here is another proof of that:

﴾ and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice﴿

[Al-Ma'idah', 8]

 You should be Muhsen towards those you dislike and those who have different creeds than yours:

﴾Be just: that is nearer to piety﴿

[Al-Ma'idah', 8]

 When you are just to him, you will draw him closer to Allah and to your religion (Islam).

6- Being Muhsen towards animals, plants and inanimate objects:

 Let us move from being Muhsen (towards people) to being Muhsen towards animals. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

(("While a man walking in the road, he got very thirsty, then he found a well which he descended to. He drank then got out, whereby he saw a dog panting, eating sand from thirst. The man said, "This dog felt thirst the way I did", then he descended to the well and filled up his shoe then he held the dog from his mouth and made him drink. Hence, Allah praised him for that and forgave him. Then the companions said, "Do we get rewarded for animals?" He replied, "In every living soul there is a reward"))

[Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Malik, by Abi Hurairah]

Animals and plants should be treated with Ihsan:

((While a man was walking along a path, he found a thorny twig lying on the way and put it aside. Allah appreciated it and forgave (his sins).))

[Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmizi, by Abi Hurairah]

 There is another Hadith, and it goes as follows:

((I saw a man going about in Jannah (and enjoying himself) as a reward for cutting from the middle of the road, a tree which was causing inconvenience to the Muslims))

[Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi and Malik, by Abi Hurairah]

 Though plants are useful to us, sometimes you find a tree which causes harm to Muslims, so cutting it (which is supposed to be a negative act) is an act of Ihsan. In other cases rather than this one, we should deal with plants in a positive way, according to the following Hadith:

((If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.))

[Al-Bazzar, by Anas Ibn Malik]

 Therefore, Ihsan embraces plants, ground and even rocks:

﴾And do not do mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order﴿

[Al-A'raf, 56]

 Mischief on earth includes causing pollution to the environment by noise and carbon dioxide which is the main cause of the global warming, and this is a serious mischief on earth.

The fields of Ihsan:

1- Social affairs:

  The social affairs are one of the fields of Ihsan:

﴾When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things. ﴿

[An-Nisa', 86]

2- Economic and financial affairs:

  The economic and financial affairs are another field of Ihsan:

﴾And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).﴿

[Al-Baqarah, 195]

3- In adversities:

 You are required to be Muhsen in adversities:

﴾And be patient; verily, Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers. ﴿

[Hud, 115]

 You should be charitable though you might be in financial hardship, and you should be kind to those who wronged you:

﴾then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. ﴿

[Fussilat, 34]

 Ihsan is manifested in adversities.

4- In paying blood money:

 Al-Ihsan should be clear in paying blood money:

﴾But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives, etc.) of the killed against blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood money, to the heir should be made in fairness ﴿

[Al-Baqarah, 178]

 Why should someone, who accidentally killed a person, ask the family of the deceased to resort to courts? Simply, he can pay blood money and that is it.

5- In divorce:

  In divorce, there should be Ihsan:

﴾The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. ﴿

[Al-Baqarah, 229]

 In divorce cases, usually the parties scandal one another, and in most of these cases there is no Ihsan at all. I do not know why.

﴾The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. ﴿

6- In defending one's country and fighting the enemies:

 Ihsan is required in Jihad:

﴾And many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets, peace be upon him) fought (in Allah's Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah's Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)* And they said nothing but: "Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions (in keeping our duties to You), establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk."* So Allah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers - see the footnote of V.3:134).﴿

[Aal-'Imran, 146-148]

 In the Quran, Allah describes defending your country, fighting the plotting party and gaining victory over them as Ihsan.

﴾And those who, when an oppressive wrong is done to them, they take revenge. ﴿

[Ash-Shura, 39]

 When you overcome fierce vicious enemy and you humiliate them, you will be considered Muhsen. A companion (Abu Dujanah) started strutting proudly amongst his fellow soldiers before the battle started, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, commented on that:

((This is a sort of walking that Allah detests except in such a situation (Jihad).))

 This will make you see very strong in the eyes of your enemy.

7- In debating with the other party:

  In intellectual discussions, which are widely spread nowadays, there should be Ihsan:

﴾And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best. (Because) Shaitan (Satan) verily, sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy. ﴿

[Al-Isra', 53]

 Be Muhsen in arguments and discussions and never accuse the other party of ignorance. Instead, you should say to him, "I believe that this point is not true". Believe me there is a big difference between the two ways of expressing your opinion, so be Muhsen while you are debating with the other party.

﴾And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses) ﴿

[Al-Ankabut, 46]

 This is a Quranic order.

8- In disagreements:

  Ihsan in disagreements is indicated in the following Ayah:

﴾The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) ﴿

[Fussilat, 34]

 This is a very important matter:

﴾The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) ﴿

﴾then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.﴿

[Fussilat, 34]

9- Ihsan towards orphans and weak people:

 Man should be Muhsen towards orphans and weak people:

﴾"And come not near to the orphan's property, except to improve it﴿

[Al-An'am, 152]

 If you want to invest an orphan's money, you should not take any wage if you were rich.

﴾And whoever amongst guardians is rich, he should take no wages﴿

[An-Nisa', 6]

 However, if you are poor and you invest an orphan's money, you should take the wage of any employee in a position like yours, or you should take only your need (choose the less of the two). If your share (according to the investment contract) is two million Liras in one year, but your need is only one million, then take one million only.

10- In politics and wars:

  In politics and wars, there should be Ihsan:

﴾We (Allah) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness."* He said: "As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him; and then he will be brought back unto his Lord; Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell). "But as for him who believes (in Allah's Oneness) and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, (Paradise) ﴿

[Al-Kahf, 86-88]

 I would like to remind you of the points we have discussed so far. You should be Muhsen in politics, in wars, towards orphans, towards the weak, in disagreements, in arguments towards the other party, in intellectual debates, in Jihad, in divorce, in paying blood money, in adversities, in economic affairs and in social affairs. Those are the fields of Ihsan. As for those whom you treat with Ihsan, they start with inanimate objects like the ground, then the animate objects like the plants, the animals, and those who have different beliefs from yours, the weak members of the society, kin, neighbors, parents and the soul.

 I would like to remind you with one last thing, which is the essence of Ihsan:

((It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him; and although you do not see Him, He sees you))[Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi and An-Nasa'i, by Abudullah Ibn Umar]

 I said at the beginning of the lecture that Ihsan is the first topic in this series in order and priority.

Translation  : Noora Al Sharabi
Edited by      : Kawthar Hajj Saleh