A brother approached me recently looking for advice. He said that he had gone through several phases in his development and in each stage he would add more acts of worship to his daily life. He started by getting his five prayers down, then their sunnahs, then adding the forenoon prayer (ḍuḥā), then trying to pray in the night, and finally, fasting Mondays and Thursdays. His concern was that recently, when he was trying to pray more in the night, he was having a hard time doing it and felt that he was stagnating.
As I thought about his situation and his struggle to improve himself, I remembered something that I was reading in Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn just a few days before. I was preparing for a talk that I was to give on arrogance and the chapter after it in Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn happened to be the chapter on good manners. I was overwhelmed.
I will mention some of the ahadith that were compiled in this section by Imam al-Nawawi and perhaps share a few thoughts on a couple of them. One thing that we will see is that sometimes we are not in need of increasing our acts of worship, but rather in improving the quality of our acts of worship and the quality of our interactions with people.
Anas (ra) said, “I did not touch any silk brocade nor silk softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I did not smell any scent sweeter than the scent of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I served the Messenger of Allah ﷺ for ten years and he never said to me, ‘Uff‘ nor did he say about anything I had done, ‘Why did you do that?’ nor about anything I had not done, ‘Why did you not do that?’”
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-’As (ra) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was neither obscene nor indecent. He used to say, ‘The best of you are the best in character.’”
Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The believers with the most perfect belief are the best of them in character. The best of you are the best of you towards your wives.”
‘A’isha (ra) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘By his good character a believer can reach the same rank as someone who fasts and prays at night.”
One of the commentators on this hadith said that the reason for this is because the one who prays in the night or fasts in the day struggles against his self while being disconnected from the people, but the one who deals with the people with good character struggles against himself while dealing with others, with all their differences, so they are equal to the one who prays or fasts, or maybe even better.
Abu Umama al-Bahili (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I guarantee a house on the outskirts of the Garden to anyone who abstains from disputation, even if he is in the right, and a house in the middle of the Garden for anyone who abandons lying, even when he jests, and a house at the summit of the Garden for anyone who has good character.”
Jabir (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Those I love most and those sitting nearest to me on the Day of Rising will be those of you with the best character. Those most hateful to me and the furthest of you from me on the Day of Rising will be the pompous, the braggarts and the arrogant.’ They said, ‘Messenger of Allah, we know the pompous and the braggarts, but who are the arrogant?’ He said, ‘The proud.’”
‘A’isha (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness nor for anything else.”
The Prophet ﷺ said to his companions, “Shall I not tell you something that is better than fasting, and praying, and giving charity?” They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Reconciling between people.”
O Allah (swt), bestow your peace and blessings upon the best man to ever walk the face of the earth, our Prophet and master, Muhammad ﷺ. May He allow us to be true inheritors of his legacy.